Reigning EuroLeague champions Real Madrid had a relatively quiet summer in the transfer market. Adam Hanga, Anthony Randolph, and Nigel Williams-Goss departed, with only one signing: Facundo Campazzo.
The 32-year-old diminutive point guard is no stranger to EuroLeague fans or Real Madrid, as the Spanish royal club was his first team when he left Argentina for Europe in 2014. Over slightly more than four seasons with Real, Campazzo won the EuroLeague twice and earned numerous individual accolades.
After departing for the NBA and joining Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets in the fall of 2020, Campazzo spent just over two seasons in the league without making a significant impact. His struggle in the NBA was largely due to his size and lack of scoring ability.
When Campazzo’s North American adventure concluded, Real expressed interest in bringing him back, and Facu was keen on returning to Madrid. However, the South American initially signed for Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, mainly due to tax and salary issues in Spain.
Although Campazzo never explicitly stated that his stint with Zvezda would surely end after the season, it was evident to European basketball followers that a return to Real was inevitable. Eventually, it happened, and Real welcomed back their prodigal son.
Campazzo’s highlights for Zvezda:
Real Madrid’s Dominance
In the 2022/23 EuroLeague season, Real finished the regular season third with 23 wins, trailing Olympiacos (24) and Barcelona (23) while leading Monaco (21). This season, Chus Mateo’s team has asserted complete dominance, tallying 17 wins after Round 19, three ahead of the closest competitor, Virtus Bologna.
While some top teams from the previous season lost key players in the summer, weakening their squads, others improved. For instance, Olympiacos lost EuroLeague’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), Sasha Vezenkov, to the NBA, and legendary point guard Kostas Sloukas to arch rivals Panathinaikos Athens. Meanwhile, teams like Monaco retained their stars and bolstered their depth, yet they currently trail Real by seven wins.
Real’s two EuroLeague losses have been narrow. They fell to Fenerbahçe Istanbul in overtime and suffered their first El Clásico defeat this season against Barcelona (78:83), indicating that Real could have potentially won all their games so far.
However, attributing all of Real’s success solely to Campazzo would be unjust to the other players. As one of the wealthiest and most well-funded teams in the EuroLeague, Real Madrid has assembled a formidable roster brimming with depth and talent, mitigating the impact of injuries and fluctuating form.
Campazzo’s Remarkable Impact
Examining the statistics reveals Campazzo’s significance. He averages 12.1 points and 7.3 assists in 26 minutes and 35 seconds per game. Only Džanan Musa and Mario Hezonja score more for Real, while Campazzo leads the EuroLeague in assists, with Lorenzo Brown (6.5), Paris Lee, and Codi Miller-McIntyre (5.9) trailing.
Campazzo’s impact on Real is more evident in advanced statistics. His offensive rating is 124.2, and defensive rating 101.8, resulting in Real outscoring opponents by 22.4 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court. Although his net rating of 22.4 isn’t the league’s best, he ranks third among guards who have played at least ten games and averaged 15 minutes behind Stefan Jović (38.2) and Jerian Grant (23).
Campazzo leads the EuroLeague in the +/- metric, boasting a +232, which is by far the best in the EuroLeague, indicating how much his team outscored opponents while he is on the court. His closest rivals in this category are teammates Walter Tavares (162) and Gabriel Deck (148).
Campazzo’s November highlights:
It’s no surprise that Campazzo is one of the best creators in the EuroLeague, adept at scoring plenty of points himself. PTS+AST showcases the total points a player contributes to their team, either through their own scoring or assists. Campazzo’s 28.7 points ranks fourth in the EuroLeague, following Shane Larkin (31.7), Mike James (31.4), and Brown (28.8).
What distinguishes Campazzo from other high-usage point guards is his impressive low assist-to-turnover ratio. Real’s offensive orchestrator commits just one turnover for every 3.3 assists.
It’s crucial to note that Campazzo isn’t solely an offensive asset. He’s among the top on-ball defenders among guards, causing trouble even for physically larger opponents due to his high basketball IQ and aggressive playstyle.
Obviously Campazzo garners high regard throughout the EuroLeague. Basketnews, Europe’s leading basketball news website, published a mid-season survey among EuroLeague general managers where Campazzo earned multiple top rankings. GMs view him as the MVP front-runner ahead of Mike James, the best leader, most spectacular player, and best passer.
Another NBA Opportunity?
Campazzo will turn 33 years old in March, implying several more years ahead on the court in high level basketball. Other traditional point guards like Pablo Prigioni and José Caldéron played in the NBA well into their late thirties, so theoretically, Campazzo might contemplate a second stint in the world’s best league.
At the start of December, Campazzo dismissed those talks, stating he has no intention of returning, and it’s evident why – in the EuroLeague, Campazzo will consistently play a significant role, contend for titles, and remain one of the primary assets for his team.
Moreover, Campazzo’s shortcomings outweighed the positives during his time in the NBA. Despite being regarded by Nuggets head coach Mike Malone as a top-five pick-and-roll player globally, Campazzo’s inconsistent shooting and lack of threat inside, owing to his stature as one of the shortest players in the league, hindered his success.
Campazzo’s great passes in the NBA:
His height not only limited his offensive capabilities but also made him a target for larger guards and forwards, impeding his ability to contest shots effectively.
Additionally, Campazzo faced challenges adapting to different defensive rules between Europe and the NBA. He noted that referees in the NBA limited his use of hands-on players, emphasizing the need to rely more on footwork and less on physicality.
While Campazzo’s NBA tenure might have been disappointing, it proved a blessing in disguise for Real, enabling them to reclaim their star player.