By Antonis Stroggylakis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
We have entered crunch time in the 2022-23 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season and while there’s an unprecedented dogfight among several teams for the available playoff spots, there seems to be a one-horse race in the battle for the MVP. No one can make a stronger case than Sasha Vezenkov as he keeps dominating and watch most of his rivals falling behind.
While Vezenkov seems to be in a league of his own right now, the rest of the MVP Ladder reflects mainly the players who have raised the level of their game to give their teams a necessary push as we enter the most decisive part of the regular season.
Previous 2022-23 MVP Ladders: Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3,
1. Sasha Vezenkov (Olympiacos Piraeus)
Season Stats: 18.2 points (1st overall), 7.2 rebounds (1st overall), 1.8 assists, 22.9 PIR (1st overall)
Team Record: 21-8 (1st overall)
Previous Spot on the MVP Ladder: 1st
The competition for the 2022-23 EuroLeague MVP isn’t even close at this moment as the more the regular season progresses, the more undisputed Sasha Vezenkov’s claim gets. With every round, the gap between him and the other challengers becomes wider, since he retains a quality of consistency that is unmatched by any candidate.
Since the previous edition of the MVP Ladder, Vezenkov has also become the competition’s scoring leader, apart from its top rebounder, while his shooting accuracy remains through the roof at 67% True Shooting. As for the games that Olympiacos played, the star forward stepped up in a big second-half comeback win at Valencia Basket (he had 14 of his 20 points in the last 15 minutes), casually demolished FC Bayern Munich’s defense (18 points on 4-for-6 triples in 20 minutes) and shattered the PIR system (40) at ALBA Berlin.
In the meantime, Olympiacos climbed into the top spot in the standings and now has the second-best offense (121.2 points per 100 possessions) with Vezenkov being a large reason for the team’s fluidity and efficiency; the Reds probably wouldn’t be able to implement such an effective system without someone like Vezenkov and his clinical off-the-ball movement, surgical cuts to the basket, and ability to be immensely productive without dribbling and carrying the ball much in his hands.
The only thing that Vezenkov hadn’t done this season (in EuroLeague) for Olympiacos was deliver a game-winner. And then, that took place in Kaunas against Zalgiris. The 27-year-old buried a difficult, off-balance jumper under pressure to grant his team victory on the road and cap yet another commanding performance of 25 points on 9-for-9 two-point shooting and 8 rebounds.
Even when he hit a freak slump (5-for-16) vs. Barcelona, Vezenkov scored 5 crucial points in the last 2 minutes to push his team toward the win. The endorsement he received from reigning EuroLeague MVP Nikola Mirotic who christened him as his successor was a special recognition of the remarkable season he’s having.