By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague continues to reveal candidates for season individual awards. Now it is the time for seven MVP candidates, all strong names.
Mike James, AS Monaco
Nikola Mirotic was named the EuroLeague MVP in 2022, but James was one of the main contenders for the award after leading Monaco to the playoffs in its first-ever season in the competition. The nine-season EuroLeague veteran is Monaco’s go-to player and leader on the floor, and he has helped lead it to fourth in the standings with a record of 15-9. James, who was named the MVP of the Month for October, is averaging 17.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.2 steals and a PIR of 18.0, as he does a bit of everything for a team with big ambitions. Monaco is just two games back of EuroLeague leader Olympiacos, so some big performances by James down the stretch could help it rise further up the standings.
Mathias Lessort, Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade
Perhaps one of the surprise nominees to be in the MVP race is Lessort, who is playing in his fourth season in the competition and has represented a different club in each of those campaigns. The Partizan center is enjoying his best season to date in Europe’s premier club basketball competition, having averaged 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, the joint-second highest total in the EuroLeague, and the second-highest average PIR with 20.1. Lessort has been a menace for opposing big men all season long, and he is one of the main reasons why Partizan finds itself in the playoff spots. Should Lessort have a strong end to the season, he could see his MVP case gain even more support.
Vasilije Micic, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
The only previous winner of the MVP award in this list is Micic, who took home the prize back in 2021. That season, he played a key role as Efes won its first-ever EuroLeague title, and last year he was once again instrumental in his team grabbing back-to-back championships. This current campaign has not quite gone how Efes would have liked, with the team outside of the playoffs with an 11-12 record, but Micic has helped it stay afloat in Shane Larkin’s absence with average stats of 16.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.8 rebounds and a 19.0 PIR. Micic will be looking to end the regular season on a high note by leading Efes to the playoffs, which would improve his MVP odds in the process.
Johnathan Motley, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
Despite playing in his rookie EuroLeague season, Motley has been one of the main reasons behind Fenerbahce‘s turnaround from 2021-22 to 2022-23. The 27-year-old center is one of just three players to have earnt MVP of the Round honors on two occasions in this campaign, while he has posted season averages of 14.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and a 16.5 PIR across his 20 appearances. Motley came out of the blocks fast, scoring a double-digit number of points in seven of his first eight games, before enjoying a season-high 26 points on his return from injury in Round 16. Fenerbahce, which is fifth in the standings after going 14-9, will no doubt lean on Motley to help it wrap up a playoff spot.
Kostas Sloukas, Olympiacos Piraeus
Vezenkov may be the star for Olympiacos, but Sloukas is the one that helps the team tick. The 33-year-old guard is leading the league in assists with 6.5 per game, even though he has come off the bench in all 20 of his appearances this season. Olympiacos leans on Sloukas for his creativity, while he has also shown that he can step up in the clutch, notably executing a pump fake on Edy Tavares before scoring the game-winner at Real Madrid in Round 3. In addition to his playmaking and ability to step up in the clutch, Sloukas has averaged 11.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and a 16.7 PIR. He has been out injured since Round 21, but his return will no doubt see Olympiacos’s offense go to another level.
Walter Tavares, Real Madrid
There is no denying Tavares’s influence for Real Madrid, with ‘Sergeant Swat’ once again protecting the paint in his sixth EuroLeague campaign, all of which have come with Los Blancos. Tavares is comfortably this season’s blocks leader with 2.5 per game, and in December he became the all-time leader for blocks. What’s more, Tavares has the joint-second most rebounds with 7.2 per contest, and he also saw himself earn MVP of the Round honors in Round 18 in a big win at Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade. With Real having gone 16-7, leaving it second in the standings, Tavares’s presence inside is a large reason why Los Blancos are once again looking on course to book their place in the playoffs.
Sasha Vezenkov, Olympiacos Piraeus
After a breakout season in 2021-22 that saw him earn All-EuroLeague First Team honors, Vezenkov has taken his game to another level in this current Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season. Olympiacos has been one of the most enjoyable teams in the entire EuroLeague, and Vezenkov has played a key role in helping the Reds set a league-best 17-7 record. In addition to becoming just the fifth player to ever secure five MVP of the Round awards in one season, Vezenkov is the EuroLeague’s second-leading scorer (18.4 ppg.), the best rebounder (7.4 rpg.) and he also has the highest average PIR (23.5). With the November Player of the Month playing as he has done in these first 23 games, Olympiacos will have its sights set on another Final Four appearance.