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Euroleague's Most Improved Players Of The 2013-14 Season

While Euroleague is on a short break, here are our Top 10 Euroleague's Most Improved Players Ranking. With the season halfway over, RealGM ranked players who have taken the next step in their Euroleague careers and contribute more in 13-14 season than they have been in recent years.

- All records and stats through Game 6 of Top-16.  

10. Nik Caner-Medley (Unicaja Malaga, Spain)

2013-14 (Euroleague): 13.6 points, 5.4 rebounds in 28 minutes

2012-13 (Euroleague): 4 points (46% 3FG), 2.9 rebounds in 14 minutes

Before making his Euroleague debut, Nik Caner-Medley proved he could lead a team in both Eurocup and Spain championships. However, Caner-Medley’s first Euroleague experience didn't go as well as expected. Caner-Medley didn’t get many chances to demonstrate his capabilities while playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv, but that changed once he returned to Spain. The forward became Unicaja’s leader on offense straight away, as Malaga scores 13 points more per 100 possessions with Caner-Medley on the court. The big man would be ranked higher if not for poor performances in first three Top 16 games in which Caner-Medley couldn’t find his range.

9. Sergio Rodriguez (Real Madrid, Spain)

2013-14 (Euroleague): 13.8 points (51% 3FG), 2.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.4 steals in 22 minutes

2012-13 (Euroleague): 7.5 points (30% 3FG), 1.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists in 18 minutes

Of course, Sergio Rodriguez had big Euroleague games before the 13-14 season and his role with Real Madrid has always been important. But more importantly, stories of how Rodriguez played this season might end up in European basketball history books. Rodriguez, despite not starting a single Euroleague game, was one of the key reasons why Real started the season with a 31-0 overall record. Speed, quickness, decision-making, scoring abilities and locking his opponents down on defense - Rodriguez has it all to be called as currently best point guard in the league. Moreover, so far Real looks like one of the best teams in modern Euroleague history and that wouldn’t be possible without Rodriguez, who might also become an eight member of 50-40-90 Euroleague club. Following the fifth round of the Top 16 stage, Rodriguez's percentages are 56 from close range, 51 from beyond the arc and 93 from the free throw line.

8. Zoran Erceg (Galatasaray Istanbul, Turkey)

2013-14 (Euroleague): 10.1 points (88% FT), 5.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists in 26 minutes

2012-13 (Euroleague): 6.2 points (30% 3FG), 2.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists in 14 minutes

Throughout his career, Zoran Erceg had a chance to play for two elite European teams, CSKA Moscow and Piraeus Olympiakos. But at that time, Erceg was more of a Euroleague prospect than a big man who can be productive right away. Well, that has changed in Turkey. Erceg was able to use the right situation - Galatasaray players’ injuries and Pops Mensah-Bosnu suspension - and all of the sudden he became one of the leaders of Galatasaray. For the first time in his Euroleague career, Ercen plays a major role and puts big numbers in Top 16 stage - 16 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

7. Emir Preldzic (Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, Turkey)

2013-14 (Euroleague): 11.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists in 29 minutes

2012-13 (Euroleague): 8.1 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists in 23 minutes

Emir Preldzic’s numbers this season didn’t increase as much as other members of the ranking but despite the increased level of talent in Fenerbahce Ulker, Preldzic became the most important player in Zeljko Obradovic’s team. While Linas Kleiza and Bojan Bogdanovic are trying to find a way to become more consistent, Preldzic brings his “A” game on a daily basis. Preldzic, who’s one of the most versatile players in the Euroleague, adapts his game every time as if he cannot find ways to score, he can still be a valuable facilitator or a solid rebounder due to his length and skill set. In 13-14 Preldzic finished game only once without collecting at least four boards and he’s also one of two players who managed to dish out at least four assists in every Euroleague regular season game.

6. Joffrey Lauvergne (Partizan Belgrade, Serbia)

2013-14 (Euroleague): 11.1 points, 8.6 rebounds in 33 minutes

2012-13 (Euroleague): 6.6 points, 3.6 rebounds in 16 minutes

Looking back at the final of EuroBasket 2013, it seems that it would have been unrealistic to see France losing against Lithuania. Tony Parker, Nicola Batum and other NBA players from France have had a great season while Alexis Ajinca, who was one of the most dominating bigs in the Euroleague, has taken the next step in his career and was invited back to the NBA as well. The 22-year-old Joffrey Lauvergne is no exception as he became the main big man of Partizan Belgrade. Lauverge usually had to face more experienced Euroleague players but that didn’t stop him from doing great job inside the paint. Lauverge grabbed 13 rebounds against Real, 13 and 12 versus FC Barcelona and 12 facing CSKA. No surprise, solid performances helped Lauvergne to be the most minutes played, already almost 500, in the Euroleague.

5. Daniel Hackett (EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, Italy)

2013-14 (Euroleague): 12.4 points (41% 3FG), 3.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists in 31 minutes

2012-13 (Euroleague): 7.2 points (31% 3FG), 2.3 rebounds, 3 assists in 22 minutes

First of all, Daniel Hackett made this ranking for what he did while with Montepaschi. With Bobby Brown gone, Montepaschi became less competitive, but Hackett carried his team on his shoulders and helped them get three regular season wins. Hackett finished four regular season games with 24 performance index rating (PIR) points or more and was an absolute Euroleague leader in drawn fouls. After joining EA7 Emporio Armani, Hackett’s role decreased, but he took over Curtis Jerrells’ spot in the starting five and remains one of the most productive guards in the league.

4. Boban Marjanovic (Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, Serbia)

2013-14 (Euroleague): 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds in 20 minutes

2010-11 (Euroleague): 4.6 points, 3.5 rebounds in 12 minutes

Different from previous years, Boban Marjanovic was a super tall, unskilled big man who could spend no more than 15 minutes on the court per game. While playing for Crvena Zvezda, Marjanovic was more aggressive and more coordinated than ever before. Head coach Dejan Radonjic fit Crvena Zvezda’s game around Marjanovic, who was a decisive factor in some games. The Serbian center was one of the best rebounders in the Euroleague and was the only player who had three double-doubles in the regular season. More importantly, Marjanovic leads the Euroleague in total rebound percentage (23.4), which means almost one out of four rebounds ends up in Marjanovic’s hands.

3. Zoran Dragic (Unicaja Malaga, Spain)

2013-14 (Euroleague): 12.3 points (42% 3FG), 2.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists in 24 minutes

2012-13 (Euroleague): 4.5 points (13% 3FG), 3 rebounds, 0.5 assists in 16 minutes

Compared with previous seasons, both brothers Goran and Zoran Dragic, made big steps forward in their careers. While Goran demonstrate All-Star Game worthy results in the NBA, his brother Zoran played like an MVP candidate in Euroleague. Once Joan Plaza became head coach of Unicaja, Dragic’s role increased dramatically as he starts more games than last season, more often has the ball in his hands and he’s not afraid to lead in crucial moments. However, the biggest change happened in Dragic’s three-point shooting accuracy, which last season was absolutely horrible. In 12-13 Dragic made only four out of 31 attempts, while this season his shooting percentage increased to an impressive 42 percent.

2. Alessandro Gentile (EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, Italy)

2013-14 (Euroleague): 11.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists in 26 minutes

2012-13 (Euroleague): 6.3 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists in 13 minutes

Alessandro Gentile, just 21 years old, led the Italian national team, which had two NBA players in its squad, in scoring at EuroBasket 2013. It is therefore no surprise that Gentile used this experience in Euroleague as well. Despite huge competition between second line players, Gentile gets plenty of playing time and successfully uses those opportunities. Different from last season, Gentile became a member of EA7 Emporio Armani’s starting five and despite his age the Italian talent is not afraid to take responsibility in big moments. Gentile almost doubled his statistical numbers this season and don’t be surprised if he continues to grow as a player next year as well.

1. Bogdan Bogdanovic (Partizan Belgrade, Serbia)

2013-14 (Euroleague): 16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists in 31 minutes

2012-13 (Euroleague): 5 points (20% 3FG), 1.8 rebounds, 1 assist in 18 minutes

With the season halfway over, it is pretty much clear who is a top contender to win the Euroleague Rising Star award. The 21-year-old Bogdan Bogdanovic has became a true Euroleague star under coach Dusko Vujosevic. Last season, Bogdanovic scored more than four points only once, while it’s a completely different story this season. Bogdanovic collected 24 or more points three times already, having an outstanding offensive performances against teams such as CSKA and FC Barcelona. As Partizan currently deals with injures, Bogdanovic took advantage of the situation and successfully became a leader in Top 16. In the second round Bogdanovic averages 19.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists, which are amazing numbers without mentioning his age.

Honorable Mentions: Joe Ingles, Maccabi; Stratos Perperoglou, Olympiakos; Przemyslaw Zamojski, Stelmet;, David Jelinek, Laboral Kutxa.

RealGM's 2012-13 Euroleague Awards

For the third consecutive year, RealGM presents the most outstanding players of Euroleague.

Victor Khryapa of CSKA Moscow is the winner of the RealGM Euroleague MVP award for the 2012-13 season. The 30-year-old forward has improved all of his main statistical numbers this season, averaging 10 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Khryapa has also helped his team, which holds a 23-5 record this season, to defeat Caja Laboral Vitoria in the playoffs to reach the Final Four.

For the second consecutive year, the RealGM Euroleague MVP award was given to a Russian player, as the winner of last season's prize was Andrei Kirilenko of CSKA Moscow.

The RealGM All-Euroleague First Team consists of Montepaschi's Bobby Brown and Olympiacos' Vassilis Spanoulis at guard, Khryapa and Maccabi's Shawn James at forward and CSKA's Nenad Krstic at center.

The RealGM All-Euroleague Second Team includes guards Jordan Farmar of Anadolu Efes and Zoran Planinic of Khimki, forwards Rudy Fernandez and Nikola Mirotic of Real and center Ante Tomic of Barcelona Regal.

Paul Davis of Khimki Moscow region is the winner of the Euroelague Rookie of the Year Award, while Aron Baynes (formerly of Union Olimpija before joining the San Antonio Spurs) was the RealGM pick to win the Most Improved Played Award.

Georgios Bartzokas of Olympiacos was named as the 2012-13 Euroleague Coach of the Year, while Kyle Hines (also from Olympiacos) is the winner of the 2012-13 Euroleague Sixth Man of the Year Award.

Euroleague MVP

Victor Khryapa (CSKA)

All-Euroleague 1st Team

Bobby Brown (Montepaschi): 18.8 points, 5.3 assists in 33 minutes

Vassilis Spanoulis (Olympiacos) - 14.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 30 minutes

Victor Khryapa (CSKA) - 10 points (45% 3FG), 7.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 28 minutes

Shawn James (Maccabi): 11.5 points (64% 2FG), 6.5 rebounds in 24 minutes  

Nenad Krstic (CSKA) - 13.6 points (63% 2FG), 4.6 rebounds in 24 minutes

All-Euroleague 2nd Team

Jordan Farmar (Anadolu Efes): 13.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 30 minutes

Zoran Planinic (Khimki): 12.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 31 minutes

Rudy Fernandez (Real): 13.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 27 minutes

Nikola Mirotic (Real): 11.7 points, 5.5 rebounds in 25 minutes

Ante Tomic (Barcelona Regal) - 11.5 points (63% 2FG), 6.3 rebounds in 23 minutes

Sixth Man Award

Kyle Hines (Olympiacos) - 9.1 points, 5.9 rebounds in 20 minutes

Most Improved Player Award

Aron Baynes (Union Olimpija) - 13.8 points, 9.8 rebounds in 26 minutes

Coach of the Year

Georgios Bartzokas (Olympiacos)

Rookie of the Year

Paul Davis (Khimki)

All-Rookie 1st Team

Paul Davis (Khimki) - 13.4 points, 5.5 rebounds in 20 minutes

Ricky Hickman (Maccabi) - 13.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 29 minutes

Blake Schilb (Elan Chalon) - 15.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4 assists in 33 minutes

Marcus Williams (Unicaja) - 10.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 22 minutes

Shelden Williams (Elan Chalon) - 11.3 points, 7.6 rebounds in 23 minutes

All-Rookie 2nd Team

Drew Gordon (Partizan) - 9.1 points, 7.5 rebounds in 29 minutes

Lukasz Koszarek (Asseco Prokom) - 11.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 4 assists in 30 minutes

Kelvin Rivers (Khimki) - 9.6 points, 2.7 rebounds in 26 minutes

Dashaun Wood (Alba) - 9.8 points, 2.5 assists in 24 minutes

Maik Zirbes (Brose Baskets) - 8.2 points, 5 rebounds in 20 minutes

Euroleague Rookie Ladder

- All records and stats through Game 13 of Top-16. 

1. Blake Schilb - Elan Chalon-sur-Saone (France)

15.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4 assists in 33 minutes.

Former Loyola star Blake Schilb had a dream Euroleague debut season, averaging MVP-award-worth 15.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4 assists per game. The 29-year-old forward had a major role in Elan Chalon-sur-Saone, where he averaged 32 minutes per game (3rd most in the league) and brought his team to the doorstep of Top 16. Moreover, he also leads the Euroleague in ORAT rating (the difference between his team's scored and allowed points per 100 possessions) - Elan Chalon-sur-Saone scored 24.2 points more while Schilb was on the court.

Schilb successfully used his versatility and made himself best known in regular season's game 9, when he finished the game against Montepaschi with 28 points, seven boards and five assists. Schilb's career game secured him an MVP of the week award and helped him to climb to the top of Euroleague rookie rankings.

2. Paul Davis - Khimki Moscow region (Russia)

13.4 points and 5.5 rebounds in 20 minutes.

Paul Davis is not only one of the best rookies in the Euroleague this season, but undoubtedly he should also be considered as one of the most productive players in the league as well. Formerly of the Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards, Davis, together with Panathinaikos' Sofoklis Schortsanitis, ranks 1st in terms of scoring in 50 possessions (19 points).

Davis, a very crafty big man, usually comes of Khimki's bench and becomes a difference maker when Moscow region team needs it most. Davis excelled in Top 16 stage as he finished in double digits in all 13 games so far and lately has been producing an MVP worth numbers.

3. Ricky Hickman - Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

13.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3 assists in 28 minutes.

Hungary, Romania, Germany, Finland, Italy - journeyman Ricky Hickman played for many different level teams in various countries prior getting a chance to finally taste Euroleague basketball. But his patience definitely paid off as Hickman quickly became one of the key players for Maccabi, even though he didn't have any previous experience playing neither in Eurocup nor Euroleage.

Hickman, averaging 13.9 points per game, has been one of the biggest offensive threats in the league, as he also ranks 3rd in received fouls per game (5.3). At the same time, the fact he's playing meaningful minutes on a Top 8 contender gives him an edge over other rookies. 

4. Shelden Williams - Elan Chalon-sur-Saone (France)

11.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in 23 minutes.

Before Shelden Williams made his debut in Europe, there was a question will he become another Euroleague bust coming from the benches of the NBA? However, it didn't take long for former Duke standout to silence those who questioned his abilities, as Williams immediately became a very productive Euroleague player.

Williams quickly established himself as an elite rebounder, ranking 3rd in rebounds (7.6) and 2nd in offensive rebounds (3.1). No surprise, Williams' performance didn't remain unnoticed and Fenerbahce Ulker made an effort to bring 6-foot-9 center for the Top 16 stage, but Williams remained in France for the rest of the season.

5. Marcus Williams - Unicaja Malaga (Spain)

10.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 22 minutes.

Marcus Williams is another veteran American player who has succeeded by using his six-year professional experience in either the NBA, Russia or China. The 27-year-old playmaker instantly contributed, helping Unicaja to have a great 7-1 start in Euroleague, while Williams played big minutes replacing starting point guard Earl Calloway during that stretch.

However, Williams established himself as one of the best lefty point guards in the league, who is not afraid to shoot from beyond the arc. Williams is ranked 3rd in made three-pointers (48) and hit three or more long distance shots in nine Euroleague games this season. Despite that, Williams has been too inconsistent on his debut season to prove he can be a starter on a winning team, as he failed to produce big numbers on a nightly basis.

6. Drew Gordon - Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)

9.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in 29 minutes.

Partizan Belgrade is known as a great place not only for young European talents, but also for college graduates who want to kick-start their career in the Top European league. Oliver Lafayette, Curtis Jerrells and others made their name known with Partizan, and 22-year-old Drew Gordon is next on the list.

The former UCLA and New Mexico star, Gordon had a smooth transition to the European basketball style and successfully used his main weapons, rebounding and defensive skills. Due to his athleticism, Gordon ranked 4th in rebounds per game (7.5), 10th in blocks (1.1) and was one of the most influential players on the defensive end of the floor in the league. Despite that, his limited offensive game and poor results of Partizan kept him away from being ranked higher than 6th place in the Euroleague rookie ladder.

7. Leo Westermann - Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)

9.6 points (43% 3FG), 2.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 29 minutes.

Gordon's teammate, Leo Westermann, is the youngest and the first non-American player in the Euroleague rookie ranking. Despite a rough Euroleague start, the 20-year-old guard quickly earned the trust of Partizan head coach Dusko Vujosevic and had a very rare a chance to learn by playing and making mistakes against the best.

As usual for young prospects, Westermann led the league in received personal fouls per game (3.7) and ranked 7th in turnovers (2.7). His first season in the elite competition didn’t answer any questions, as Westermann remains a future player of Partizan with two years left on his deal.

8. Dashaun Wood - Alba Berlin (Germany)

9.8 points (43% 3FG) and 2.5 assists in 24 minutes.

Dashaun Wood is clearly worthy of inclusion on this list as one of the Euroleague's Top 10 rookies this season, but things definitely could have gone better for the 27-year-old guard. After leading the Eurocup in assists (5.4) and averaging 14.2 points per game in the second top European competition, Wood expected to be a dominating offensive player in the Euroleague too.

In fact, after the departure of head coach Gordon Herbert, Wood had to face a decreased playing time, impacting his game, and his statistical numbers dropped to 9.8 points and 2.5 assists per game. On a better note, Wood proved to be an elite shooter, making 43% of his long distance shots, and he’s worth getting a new offer from a Euroleague team as his contract with Alba ends this season.

9. Nemanja Nedovic - Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (Lithuania)

9.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 23 minutes.

In his Euroleague debut season, Nemanja Nedovic reminded a yo-yo guy with many ups and downs. The 22-year-old guard had a slow start but after Darius Maskoliunas replaced Alexander Djikic as a new head coach of Lietuvos Rytas, Nedovic’s adjustment was accelerated by received more playing time.

In front of NBA scouts, Nedovic had a 1-for-9 shooting from the field performance against CSKA, 6-for-15 against FC Barcelona Regal and 3-for-15 versus Brose Baskets. Clearly, Nedovic remains a rough, athletically gifted talent, who, as most of young players, lacks consistency. Moreover, Nedovic proved to be more of a ‘work in progress’, rather than a player who could make a difference right away.

10. Kelvin Rivers - Khimki Moscow region (Russia)

9.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 26 minutes.

Kelvin Rivers, 26, spent three seasons in Eurocup prior joining Euroleague, but still struggled to adapt to the second best league in the world. Rivers, who once made eight three-pointers in a single NCAA game, has struggled from beyond the arc in the first half of the season, making only 23% of his long distance shots. However, the percentage rose by 27% in the Top 16 as Rivers made 24-of-48 three-pointers he took.

Khimki became dependent on Rivers scoring as Moscow region's team is 6-1 this season when Rivers scored 14 points or more. Still, Rivers game remains very unpredictable as for example, in the middle of Top 16, former Clemson star scored 16 points against Caja Laboral and went scoreless versus Olympiakos in the next week's game. Then Rivers put 14 points against Besiktas; again was held scoreless versus FC Barcelona Regal, and scored 19 against Montepaschi. 16-0-14-0-19 points performance best illustrates Rivers' roller-coaster ride in the Euroleague debut season.

Honorable Mentions: Lukasz Koszarek, Rasid Mahalbasic, Asseco Prokom; Miro Bilan, Cedevita.

Euroleague's Most Improved Players Of The 2012-13 Season

Aron Baynes, Shawn James, Nemanja Bjelica, Curtis Jerrells, Vladimir Lucic, Pietro Aradori, Jaka Blazic, Ante Tomic, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Kostas Papanikolaou have had breakout seasons in Euroleague.

Euroleague Recaps, Finishing The Regular Season

The Euroleague Regular Season came to an end this week as we begin to move into the Top-16 stage.

Euroleague Power Rankings For Mid-December

With its regular season winding down, we evaluated and ranked all 24 Euroleague teams' performance over their first eight games and their perspective in future battles.
 

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