EuroLeague is heading to the final month of the 2022-23 season and several newcomers have experienced their first year in the top European basketball competition. Although EuroLeague does not award the best “rookie” of the regular season, they are many examples of fresh faces who impact their team’s success.
While many of them are seasoned basketball players with many years of competitive basketball on their backs, here are the three best “rookies” in the EuroLeague as we’re heading to week 29 of the 2022/23 season.
Darius Thompson – Baskonia
If there was a rookie of the year award in the EuroLeague, Baskonia’s starting point guard Darius Thompson will likely be the front-runner for the award. Baskonia has been quite successful with him on the floor, and they have been constantly in the playoff race since the start of the 2022-23 season.
Thompson spent the past season in Kuban before joining the Spanish giants this past summer. He’s averaging 11.7 points, 6.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals through 27 games so far this season. In the last three, the American guard has been a walking double-double registering 16+ points and 11+ assists in every one of those games.
Johnathan Motley – Fenerbahce
Fenerbahce tried to return to the upper echelon of the top European competition this season after a disappointing 2021-22 campaign. The Turkish giants were leading the league for the first part of the season and one of the reasons were the strong play by their frontline led.
Johnathan Motley quickly became a regular in Dimitris Itoudis’ plans and has been one of the best players in his position in the EuroLeague this season. The former Lokomotiv Kuban bigman is averaging 14.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists with a PIR of 16 so far in his first EuroLeague season.
Semi Ojeleye – Partizan Belgrade
Many NBA players made the jump to the European scene the past few seasons and made the difference, helping EuroLeague team be successful. Virtus Bologna returned to the top European competition after many years and made a splash this past summer adding several big time players in the process.
Semi Ojeleye was one of the moves that were made ahead of the 2022-23 EuroLeague season. The former Celtics and Bucks’ made an immediate impact with his size and defensive play in the wing as Virtus Bologna still is in place to make the playoffs despite some bad results in the last few rounds.
Semi Ojeleye has been exceptional in the 19 games of the 2022-23 season he appeared so far averaging 9.3 points and almost four rebounds for a PIR of 9.4.