By Eurohoops team/ email@example.com
The votes have been counted and the identities of the five players who make up the 2022-23 All-EuroLeague First Team can be revealed! Members of the media, Turkish Airlines EuroLeague head coaches and team captains, and fans all voted to choose the best players from the 2022-23 season.
The makeup of the All-EuroLeague First Team combines fresh faces with long-standing stars. There are two returnees from last season’s first team in Walter Tavares of Real Madrid and Sasha Vezenkov of Olympiacos Piraeus.
This marks Tavares’s fourth All-EuroLeague nomination and his third time on the first team. It is Vezenkov’s second such selection. Mathias Lessort of Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade, Dzanan Musa of Real Madrid and Lorenzo Brown of Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv are all first-time All-EuroLeague members.
Mathias Lessort, Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade
The Partizan center was a force in the paint all season long and went on to lead the league in rebounds (7.1 rpg.) while placing second in average PIR (19.1). Mathias Lessort tied for the league lead with eight double-doubles and became one of just 10 players in the last decade to average more than 3 offensive rebounds per game. A model of consistency, Lessort had PIRs in double figures in all but three games this season. His 67.6% two-point shooting percentage was the highest of all players with as many two-pointers (4.3 per game) made. Many of those buckets were high-flying alley-oops and putbacks, which delighted his legions of fans in Belgrade, whom he would ascend into the Stark Arena stands to sing and dance with after home wins.
Walter Tavares, Real Madrid
The man who gives new meaning to the term rim protector, Walter Tavares set a EuroLeague record with 84 blocked shots this season. He led the league in blocks with 2.2 per game and finished third in rebounding (6.6 rpg.) while remaining a force in the paint. That was never truer than in the playoffs when, after missing Game 2 to injury, Tavares roared in Game 3 with 26 points and 11 rebounds for a PIR of 41, which is tied for the second-highest in playoff history. He had the third-highest average PIR in playoff history (26.8) and was chosen MVP for April/May. This is Tavares’s fourth consecutive All-EuroLeague nomination, which places him second all-time among centers behind only Nikola Vujcic.
Dzanan Musa, Real Madrid
Dzanan Musa was a revelation in his first full season in the EuroLeague. He led Real Madrid in scoring and was 10th in the league with 15.2 points per game despite averaging the fewest minutes per game among those 10 players. On a per-minute basis, Musa ranked fourth with an average of 25.2 points over 40 minutes. He was the only member of Los Blancos to appear in every game this season and ranked second on the team in both assists (2.7 apg.) and PIR (16.4). Musa made at least 10 free throws in a game four times this season and set a EuroLeague single-season record with 175 free throws made. After joining Real over the summer, he was the MVP of the Round three times (6, 9 and 29), which was second-most in the league.
Sasha Vezenkov, Olympiacos Piraeus
Winning this season’s Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy was just the start of the impressive campaign by Sasha Vezenkov, who was also the EuroLeague MVP of the month in both November and February. In addition to leading the league with 17.2 points per game, he ranked second in rebounding (6.8 rpg.) and his league-best PIR (21.2) is among the five best full-season marks in the last decade. Vezenkov did it all with impressive shooting marks (65.4% 2FG, 38.5% 3FG, 87.9% FT), too. He tied for the league lead with eight double-doubles and claimed MVP of the Round honors a league-most five times, too. This marks Vezenkov’s second consecutive selection to the All-EuroLeague First Team.
Lorenzo Brown, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv
Lorenzo Brown set career-highs in nearly every major statistical category this season, his fourth in the league, in leading Maccabi to within one game of the Final Four. He was the only player to rank among the top 5 in the league in both scoring (16.4 ppg.) and assists (5.5 apg.) and came within a whisker of a top 10 finish in steals (1.1 spg.), too. Brown had four games with PIRs of at least 30, including Round 5 when he earned MVP of the Round with 22 points and 9 assists against Panathinaikos Athens. His cool head in critical situations gave Maccabi the boost it needed in several big games and helped it turn in a winning season.
All-EuroLeague Second Team: Four US players and Nikola Mirotic
These five stars were chosen through a voting process that included members of the media, Turkish Airlines EuroLeague head coaches and team captains, and fans.
Two of the stars on the team are returnees from last season: Nikola Mirotic of FC Barcelona and Mike James of AS Monaco. This marks Nikolic’s fifth All-EuroLeague selection, which is tied for the fifth most in competition history. James is a member of one of the All-EuroLeague Teams for the third time. Wade Baldwin of Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv, Kevin Punter of Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade and Darius Thompson of Cazoo Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz are all such honored for the first time.
Kevin Punter, Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade
A magnet for big plays all season long, Kevin Punter led Partizan to its first playoff appearance in 13 years as the team’s go-to guy. He was Partizan’s top scorer and seventh in the league with 16.1 points per game. He also ranked sixth with 2.2 three-pointers made and set a EuroLeague record with 61 consecutive free throws made. Punter shot 44.3% from long range, 91.7% from the foul line and also posted 2.5 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals for an average PIR of 15.0. He came up big in clutch moments, like hitting a game-deciding three-pointer in the playoff-clinching 84-88 road win at AS Monaco and his memorable game-winner with 0.4 seconds left in the 87-89 road win over Real Madrid in Game 1 of the playoffs. This is Punter’s first All-EuroLeague selection.
Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona
After missing the first 10 games of the season with an injury, Nikola Mirotic took little time to catch up to speed and continue in his role as Barcelona’s leader and one of the most productive players in the EuroLeague. Mirotic finished the season ranked seventh with an average PIR of 17.1 and scored in double figures in all but three of his 27 appearances. His 15.9 points per game were ninth in the league. Mirotic’s on-court impact is even clearer looking at his per-40 minutes numbers, where he ranked second with 25.5 points and 27.6 PIR. Mirotic was especially efficient in Barcelona’s playoff sweep of Zalgiris, shot in when he shot 66.7% on two-pointers, 50.0% on three-pointers and made all of his free throws The EuroLeague MVP a season ago, Mirotic earns his fifth All-EuroLeague selection.
Darius Thompson, Cazoo Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
When it came to setting up his teammates for baskets, no one did it better and more often this season than Darius Thompson. In his first year in the competition, Thompson led the league with 6.7 assists per game. He ran Baskonia’s top-scoring offense, dishing at least 10 assists in nine games and led all guards with six double-doubles. Thompson’s perimeter play was strong on defense too; he ranked second with 1.7 steals per game. The Baskonia playmaker also posted 12.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game and had the eighth-best PIR on average, 17.1. Thompson is the only player from a non-playoff team who earned All-EuroLeague honors for the 2022-23 season.
Mike James, AS Monaco
The heart of an impressive Monaco outfit, Mike James earned his third All-EuroLeague selection with another outstanding season. He ranked sixth in scoring (16.2 ppg.), 11th in assists (4.6 apg.) and ninth in PIR (16.8), all while setting a career-high with 3.9 rebounds per game. James was red hot out of the gate in leading Monaco to a 5-1 start, for which he was named EuroLeague MVP for October. Four of his 12 20-point games this season came during that stretch. Always aggressive, James led the league in both fouls drawn (5.2 per game) and free throws attempted (5.5 per game) and in the end, led Monaco through a historic campaign and to its first trip to the Final Four.
Wade Baldwin, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv
In his first season in Tel Aviv, Wade Baldwin cemented his status as one of the top guards in the EuroLeague. He was second in the running for the Alphonso Ford EuroLeague Top Scorer Trophy, with his 17.2 points per game only a few baskets short of the league lead. Baldwin ranked fourth in average PIR (17.6) and seventh in assists (5.1 apg.). He got stronger as the season progressed; Baldwin was chosen as the EuroLeague MVP for March after leading Maccabi on a six-game winning streak. He was then the playoff leader in assists (5.8 apg.), ranked second in scoring (19.8 ppg.) and tied for second in PIR (24.0) as Maccabi pushed AS Monaco to five games before bowing out.