Ratiopharm Ulm became the 2023 German BBL champion, beating two Euroleague teams and the winner of the Basketball Champions League on their way to the title.
In European basketball, the run was historical: Ulm is the only non-Euroleague team this season to win a title in a domestic league with Euroleague teams (ALBA Berlin, Bayern Munich) competing in it.
It was a tough start for Ulm’s 1st-year head coach Anton Gavel, as the club began the BBL season 1-5.
Following key roster changes, including the release of Matt Mobley in October, the signing of Euroleague veteran Brandon Paul in December, and the acquisition of former NBA player, Bruno Caboclo in January, Ulm hit their stride, excelling during the latter half of the season, finishing top-5 in multiple statistical categories:
- 1st in forced turnovers per game, 15.5
- 3rd in assist percentage, 63.1%
- 4th best defensive rating, 111.8
Ulm eventually finished 7th to end the regular season, losing their final game at Bonn, who were 1st in the BBL, with a 31-2 record. However, despite a 2-point loss, the strong performance was an indicator of positive things to come.
1st Round: 3-1
- Ulm started the post-season by making a statement vs 2nd seeded Alba Berlin, winning game 1 on the road by 24
- After a home defeat, they won game 3 in Berlin, eventually closing out the 1st Euroleague team in Ulm, 83-81
2nd Round: 3-0
- In the semi-finals, Ulm handled Bayern Munich, the 2nd Euroleague team, with a clean sweep
- They won game 1 on the road by 18 before earning hard-fought victories with a combined margin of 7 points in games 2 and 3
Game 1: Ulm stole home-court advantage, winning by 6 in Bonn
Game 2: Telekom Baskets bounced back, winning convincingly by 29
Game 3: Unshaken, Ulm delivered a haymaker in a 28-point win, Bonn’s worst loss of the season
Game 4: Ulm stayed poised after losing a 12 point lead in the first half, which became an 8 point deficit heading into the 4th. However, with an 18-0 run, they shocked the basketball world, finishing Bonn in 4 games, clinching the first BBL title in club history
To truly appreciate Ulm’s historical run, our team analyzed their season to identify key metrics related to their success:
1. Offensive Efficiency: regular season (89.1 pts/game) –> postseason (87.7); when the pace of play typically slows
2. Diversified Scoring: in the regular season 33.3 2PA –> 28.4 in the playoffs (more outside shots); lowest among playoff teams
3. Ball Pressure: Ulm ranked top 5 in steals per game during the regular season, finished 1st in the playoffs
4. Increased Physicality: during the regular season, Ulm committed 20.0 fouls per game, which increased to 23.8, in the playoffs as the game became more uncomfortable for opposing teams
With every magical post season run, key players have to step up, and Ulm is no exception:
Yago Mateus Dos Santos
The Brazilian increased his PPG by 2.5, and FTA by 2.9 in the playoffs, consistently in attack mode, earning Finals MVP
In the finals, Paul’s PPG jumped to 14.8 from 10.7 in the regular season, including a improved shooting 3PT%, 31.5% to 42.1%
With increased minutes (in the finals), the athletic forward produced more in multiple categories, 7.8 Rebs, 2.8 Asts, 1.8 Stls