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Euroleague MVP Race

As the Euroleague Top-16 phase approaches its end, here are our Euroleague MVP rankings, where there are six new faces and big changes since the beginning of the season. 

- All records and stats through Game 10 of Top-16. The number in brackets shows position in previous ranking.

1. (4) Keith Langford - EA7 Armani Milan (7 wins - 3 losses)

17.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3 assists in 30 minutes.

EA7 Armani Milan is changing its face from a permanent loser to a serious threat and possible candidate to make it to the playoffs. The Italian team won four games in a row and with seven wins ranks second in group E. Probably not even the most optimistic fans of EA7 Armani Milan saw that happening. However, that wouldn’t be possible without Keith Langford, who has been averaging 17.4 points per game to lead the Euroleague in scoring. Langford collected a 20 or better power index rating (PIR) in half of his Euroleague games this season. His productivity might take EA7 Armani Milan to the playoffs for the first time in the modern version of Euroleague.

2. (-) Sergio Rodriguez - Real (8-2)

14.2 points (55% 3FG, 92% FT), 2.1 rebounds, 5 assists in 22 minutes.

Sergio Rodriguez, 27, is likely the most powerful weapon for Real this season. If the starting five of Real Madrid don’t break their opponents, Rodriguez, who always come off the bench, sets such a high tempo and raises the quality of basketball to the level that the opposite team has nothing to do but collapse before halftime. Rodriguez is no doubt the best sixth man of the Euroleague and he will most likely join 50-40-90 club by the end of the season. Rodriguez ranks second in three-point shooting, third in free throw shooting and fourth in assists per game. Perfect all-around performances might soon lift Rodriguez to the top of the MVP ranking.

3. (-) Ante Tomic - FC Barcelona (10-0)

12.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists in 24 minutes.

First of all, let me remind you that at the beginning of the Top 16 Ante Tomic was nowhere close to this position. Tomic averaged 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in January and couldn’t finish any of his first five Top 16 games in double digits scoring. However, it’s a whole different story now as Ante Tomic is the most dominant center in group E, averaging 30 PIR points over his past four games. If Tomic continues to produce these amazing results, we’ll have to wait for the playoffs to see if somebody, including Nenad Krstic, Sofoklis Schortsanitis or Real's frontcourt, can stop the Croatian big man.

4. (1) Nikola Mirotic - Real (8-2)

12.9 points (54% 3FG), 4.8 rebounds in 24 minutes.

Nikola Mirotic fell in Euroleague MVP ranking, though not because his results have declined recently. The situation in Madrid doesn’t require Mirotic to produce 100 percent on a daily basis as he could likely average around 18 points and eight rebounds for any other Euroleague team. Nevertheless, Mirotic remains as productive as he was in the beginning of the season as he ranks fifth in points per possession (1.25). He’s also ranked third in three-point shooting, making 54 percent of his shots from the long range. Mirotic is the only big man to be ranked among Top 10 shooters.

5. (9) Malcolm Delaney - Bayern (5-5)

14.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists in 28 minutes.

Now it’s obvious that Bayern Munich made a great decision choosing Malcolm Delaney to be their leader in their debut 13-14 Euroleague season. Delaney, the best rookie of this season, is successfully leading Bayern towards the playoffs as he collected 20 PIR points or more in eight games. The 25-year-old guard might be the main factor in Bayern’s journey to the playoffs and the last four weeks may be the biggest challenge in Delaney’s professional career. However, going through to the Top 16 would be another sign for Bayern to sign a long-term deal with Delaney, who could be team’s face for years to come.

6. (-) Rudy Fernandez - Real (8-2)

12.4 points, 4 rebounds, 3.9 assists in 27 minutes.

Similar to Mirotic’s situation, the statistical numbers don’t reflect Rudy Fernandez’s capabilities. With 12.4 points, 4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, those would be great numbers for any Euroleague player, but he could perform much better than that in a different situation. Also, Fernandez is one of the reasons Real has lost only twice in 20 games played. Both times, opposite teams were able to slow him down. Against CSKA Fernandez converted only two of 13 field goal attempts, versus Bayern - 4 out of 14. So if you plan to stop Real, slowing Fernandez down would be a great start.

7. (-) Emir Preldzic - Fenerbahce Ulker (5-5)

10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists in 29 minutes.

Emir Preldzic, who played great in the regular season, sank with Fenerbahce Ulker during the Top 16 stage. Preldzic’s statistical figures dropped significantly in all main categories - points, rebounds, assists, same as shooting percentages. However, while Fenerbahce Ulker shows its first signs of recovery and won four out of five last games, Preldzic fails to be as efficient as he use to be. In last three games, Preldzic averaged 4.6 points and 1.3 rebounds. If Preldzic continues to struggle, Fenerbahce Ulker will most likely have to put off their final four ambitions until next season.

8. (5) Derrick Brown - Lokomotiv Kuban (5-5)

13.9 points, 4.4 rebounds in 29 minutes.

At the beginning of Top 16, it seemed that Euroleague teams found a way to stop Derrick Brown, but the big man later proved that to be just a little slip. Same as in regular season, Brown averages 13.9 points per game in the second stage and constantly makes his input to Lokomotiv Kuban offence. Of course, for some of his points Brown must feel thankful for Marcus Williams. Brown and Williams duo is one of the most efficient in the league as Williams already dished out 27 assists to Brown. It’s a do-or-die time for Lokomotiv Kuban and soon we will see if Brown rises in this ranking or will fall with his team out of the Euroleague.

9. Vassilis Spanoulis - Olympiacos (4-6)

14.6 points, 2 rebounds, 4.8 assists in 28 minutes.

The 10-0 result in the regular season was a remarkable start  but that dream came to a quick end once the injury bug and losses struck. Vassilis Spanoulis was one of the reasons, as he played horrible in three of his seven Top 16 games. In the match against Unicaja Malaga, Spanoulis scored only one field goal out of 12; collected minus eight PIR points and played his worst Euroleague game ever. Looking back to previous seasons, Spanoulis can get hot anytime and put 20 or 30 points in few games in a row. But seeing Olympiakos in such difficult situation, Spanoulis needs to become a hero once again, and right now.

10. Carlos Arroyo - Galatasaray (4-6)

13.8 points, 2 rebounds, 5.2 assists in 32 minutes.

Carlos Arroyo's game in the regular season and Top 16 are stark in contract. In the first stage, Arroyo was about to become one of the biggest disappointments of the season, as he averaged 10.7 points and 9.8 PIR points per game. The situation has changed in the Top 16 as his numbers became very solid - 16.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists. Arroyo also demonstrates consistency in the Top 16, as he scored at least 10 points and dished out three assists in all of his Top 16 games. However, it seems that Arroyo is not capable of carrying Galatasaray to the playoffs on his own and in order to move on, he will need more help from his teammates than ever before.

Real Madrid Makes Case For Being Euroleague's Best Team Of The Century

If there were a voting for the most successful team of 21st century, Panathinaikos would be a main contender to finish at the top of the ranking. Five Euroleague championships in 13 years is something that no other team has achieved and that makes the Greens the most successful team of 21st century.

However, talking about Euroleague’s best team in a single season since 2000 usually leads to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 04-05. Some of the teams were close, such as 11-12 FC Barcelona, but a Maccabi team featuring Sarunas Jasikevicius, Anthony Parker and Nikola Vujcic set the standard so high that it was unreachable until now.

41-1. This is current Real Madrid’s win-loss record, which almost reads like a misprint. In more than 130 days of action, Real has lost only once and for most of the time reminded you of the Spanish version of the Monstars from Space Jam, which on a bad day would still beat their opponents by a double-digit margin. Last but not least, let me remind you that Real plays in Euroleague and Spanish championship (Liga Endesa), which are the second and the third best club competitions in the world behind just the NBA.

But before comparing similarities and differences to 04-05 Maccabi, it is essential to remember how good Maccabi was nine years ago. In 04-05, Maccabi won back-to-back Euroleague championship and became the first Euroleague team to do so since 1991. Back in 04-05, Maccabi won 20 Euroleague games out of 24 and stayed undefeated throughout Top 16, playoffs and Final Four. The team from Israel had some well-known names on its squad such one of the best Americans ever to play in Euroleague: one of the most dominant point guards of 21st century in Sarunas Jasikevicius, the only player to register triple-double in Euroleague in Nikola Vujcic, as well as future NBA starter Anthony Parker. In that historical season, Maccabi led the league in all main statistical categories - in scoring, assists, field goal and three point percentages, and blocks.

Real also ranks in Top 3 in every major statistical category as they posted an average margin of victory of 20.5 points in its 16 wins. No surprise, some of the most talented players in the league wear Real’s jersey - former NBA player and now one of the best point guards in Euroleague in Sergio Rodriguez, future Chicago Bull and MVP candidate Nikola Mirotic, the winner of the 2011-12 RealGM Euroleague Sixth Man of the Year Award Jaycee Carroll and many others.

 

04-05 Maccabi

13-14 Real

PPG

92 (1)

88.2 (1)

RPG

33.9 (5)

36.9 (2)

APG

17.4 (1)

18.9 (2)

SPG

11.9 (3)

8.1 (1)

BPG

4.1 (1)

4.1 (1)

2FG%

57.6 (1)

56.1 (3)

3FG%

40.6 (1)

40.9 (1)

FT%

77.8 (2)

82.1 (1)

The number in brackets shows position among 24 Euroleague teams.

Three similarities and key difference

1. Keeping winning starting five: After winning the Euroleague championship in 03-04, Maccabi maintained its whole starting five and that helped them to repeat their success in the following year. Real did the same thing after reaching the Euroleague final in 12-13, as they didn’t initiate dramatic changes and only strengthened the center position by signing Ioannis Bourousis.

2. Versatile frontcourt: Maceo Baston and Vujcic played a major role in 04-05 and together averaged 28.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. At that time, it was the most dominant “do it all” frontcourt in the league - using post moves and back to the basket play, pick and roll, hitting threes and finishing on fastbreaks. Mirotic and Bourousis have the same importance for Real as they average 20.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game combined. Without their versatility and contribution on both ends of the floor 41-1 record wouldn’t be possible.

3. Unstoppable offense: The biggest Maccabi and Real advantage against their opponents is their dominant offense. Maccabi averaged Euroleague All-Time high 92 points per game in 04-05, while Real is not so far behind this year with 88.2 points. Both teams’ offences were things of beauty and Tel Aviv and Madrid clubs were able to score in as many possible ways as you can imagine. Also both teams scored more than have of their points off assists, therefore 04-05 Maccabi and 13-14 Real are one of the most fun teams to watch in Euroleague history too.

X. Striking starting five and bench depth: Three members of that historical Maccabi starting five later were named to Euroleague All-Decade Team (Jasikevicius, Parker and Vujcic). That’s a good example of how strong and talented Maccabi starting five was and that would be Maccabi’s advantage over Real. On the other hand, Real bench would probably make it to the Euroleague playoffs on their own and they have been much more efficient than Maccabi’s bench. Rodriguez, Marcus Slaughter, Felipe Reyes, Carroll, Dontaye Draper - pretty much every player of the 12-man squad (except Daniel Diez) can be a decisive factor and turn the game in favor of Real Madrid.

 

04-05 Maccabi

13-14 Real

PG

Jasikevicius

Rodriguez

SG

Burstein

Fernandez

SF

Parker

Darden

PF

Baston

Mirotic

C

Vujcic

Bourousis

Crunch-time fives of Maccabi and Real.

To sum up, despite it still being midseason, Real Madrid is already in the conversation to be named the best team of 21st century. Without question Real seems to be just as good and dominant as Maccabi was in 04-05, if not better. However, in order to be a new number one, Real still has to do one thing and one thing only - beat everyone on their way to the final and raise the Euroleague trophy in Milan.

24 Questions For The Start Of Euroleague 2013-14

As the 2013-14 Euroleague season begins, RealGM presents 24 questions for the Euroleague fans.

1. Will Anadolu Efes be a better team with Zoran Planinic than it was with Jordan Farmar?

Anadolu Efes Istanbul replaced their biggest star, Jordan Farmar, with Zoran Planinic, who was dominant while playing for Khimki Moscow region during the 2012-13 season. Planinic averaged a career-high 12.4 points and league-high 6.3 assists per game, but is he good enough to do what Farmar couldn't and carry Anadolu Efes on his back all the way to the Final Four?

2. Can Brose Baskets remain competitive without Bostjan Nachbar?

German champion for four consecutive years, Brose Baskets Bamberg lost its main star Bostjan Nachbar this offseason, complicating its chances to make it out of the group. Nachbar averaged team-high 16.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in Euroleague action last season and there's a big question if anyone can fill the gap that was left with Nachbar's departure. 

3. Will the rise of Ukrainian basketball leave footprints for the future?

Ukraine has just qualified for the Worlds Championships for the first time in country's history and Budivelnik Kyiv will be the first Ukrainian team to play in Euroleague. Ukraine is also getting ready to hold EuroBasket 2015. It's clear to see that Ukrainian basketball has been on the rise and it's going to be interesting to see if this short-term success turns into a bright long-term future.

4. Will Blake Schilb prove that 2012-13 season was no fluke?

Blake Schilb's last season with Elan Chalon and his debut in the Euroleague was nothing less than remarkable. Schilb averaged MVP-worthy numbers, 15.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game and was unsurprisingly selected as a replacement for Igor Rakocevic in Crvena Zvezda. Now Schilb has a chance to demonstrate that the 2012-13 season was not an aberration and he's capable of putting MVP numbers on a daily basis.

5. Can you buy chemistry?

This is the question CSKA Moscow head coach Ettore Messina heard from RealGM last season. The coach answered, saying "choosing the right people is very important and maybe sometimes you have to sacrifice a little bit in terms of talent." However, CSKA didn't sacrifice any talent this offseason and did what seemed to be hardly possible - adding three more quality players to their roster. Kyle Hines, Jeremy Pargo and Vitaly Fridzon are the newest members of CSKA, which again has the most talent among all Euroleague teams.

6. How far can guards-based EA7 Emporio Armani Milan go?

EA7 Emporio Armani Milan has at least one reason to be happy at the beginning of the season. The Italian team likely has one of the strongest second lines in the league, made of Curtis Jerrells, Alessandro Gentile, David Moss and Keith Langford. Similar to theItalian national team, EA7 Emporio Armani's game will be based on guards, but how far this one-side basketball could take them?

7. Will FC Barcelona outrun Real?

Despite winning the Spanish cup, last season's FC Barcelona performance was worse than its main rival Real in both Euroleague and Spanish league. However, FC Barcelona added more strength to its roster by signing Maciej Lampe, Nachbar and young star Kostas Papanikolaou. FC Barcelona has one of the most versatile squads in Euroleague, but is it going to be enough to outperform their main rival Real?

8. How long will Bayern stay in Euroleague?

For the second consecutive year, one of the wild cards was granted to a German team due to Euroleague intentions to spread its league there in near future. It's the second push for Bayern made by Euroleague as a team from Munich has already received a wild card to play in Eurocup back in 2011. So far Bayern was granted with presents that might end soon and in order to stay in Euroleague for a bit longer Bayern will have to find ways to end Brose Basket's domination back in Germany.

9. Is Obradovic the game changer Fenerbahce Ulker needed?

New coach of Fenerbahce Ulker Zeljko Obradovic had a negative Euroleague win-loss balance only once in his career. During the 2003-04 season, Panathinaikos won 45 percent of their games, while the team which was taken over by Obradovic was far behind this point. Fenerbahce managed to win only 29 percent of all Euroleague games they played last season. Will Obradovic be able to turn Fenerbahce Ulker's ship around and avoid the worst win-loss record in his coaching career?

10. How high will Carlos Arroyo be ranked in the MVP race?

After a break of five years, Carlos Arroyo is back in the Euroleague. Arroyo, who once was unstoppable with Maccabi Tel Aviv, averaging 14.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 2008-09, should be considered one of the main candidates to win MVP. Despite being 34, Arroyo averaged similar numbers in FIBA American championship and proved that he still has enough left in the tank to stay productive.

11. How long it will take to see a French team in Top 16?

It has been six years since a team from France made it to the Top 16 stage. The French national team has been dominant over the last three years, while 2007's Pau-Orthez was the last team from France to make it out of the Euroleague group. 

12. Will Laboral Kutxa miss the playoffs for the second time in the past ten years?

In the past nine years, Laboral Kutxa was one of the most stable European basketball clubs and had eight playoffs appearances during that time. But Laboral Kutxa couldn't find equal replacements this offseason for Lampe and Nemanja Bjelica, who departed to FC Barcelona and Fenerbahce Ulker, respectively. Making another playoffs appearance will become a huge challenge for new coach Sergio Scariolo.

13. Did Olympiakos make a mistake in letting Matynas Gecevicius go?

After getting back to Lithuania in just his third official game with Lietuvos Rytas, Martynas Gecevicius made eight three-pointers in a single game and repeated his career record. Gecevicius, who spent the past two seasons sitting on the bench of Olympiakos Piraeus and winning two Euroleague titles, will have a chance to prove he's still a top-notch shooter as he was before joining Olympiakos.

14. Can Marcus Williams fill the hole left by Nick Calathes?

Nick Calathes was undoubtedly the main player on last season's Eurocup winner Lokomotiv-Kuban team and the absence of the Greek guard will be felt. However, Lokomotiv-Kuban acquired one of the best Euroleague rookies of last season, Marcus Williams, in order to fill the hole left by Calathes. But will Williams be able to step up, improve his numbers and be as productive as Calathes was in 2012-13?

15. Is Tyrese Rice the next elite point guard of Euroleague?

Tyrece Rice's career has been steadily going up as he start with Artland Dragons, then moved to Lietuvos Rytas, then spent a season with Bayern and has now joined Euroleague powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv. Rice was dominant at EuroBasket 2013 while playing for Montenegro, averaging 16.8 points and 4 assists. All the signs show that Rice is about to establish himself as one of the elite European guards.

16. Who will become the next Bobby Brown for Montepaschi Siena?

When it seemed that Montepaschi was about to collapse, Bobby Brown carried the team on his back and almost took Montepaschi all the way to the playoffs. Now as Brown has signed in China, Montepaschi is in need to find another player to build around. Montepaschi signed five American players - Taylor Rochestie, Joshua Carter, Spencer Nelson, Kim English and Erick Green - but there's still a question if anyone of these can perform anywhere close to Brown.

17. What are the chances of Olympiacos achieving a threepeat?

There hasn't been a single team since 1991 to win three Euroleague champion titles in a row. But Olympiacos, which already has two titles under its belt, is aiming to write their name in European basketball history one more time. As long Vassillis Spanoulis is a member of Olympiakos, everything seems possible, but what are the real odds for the Reds to pull off a threepeat in 2014?

18. Does patience lead to success?

Panathinaikos Athens was the only Euroleague team that was capable of bringing back their entire starting five during the offseason. MVP candidate Dimitris Diamantidis and the rest of the team were just one win away from the Final Four last season, but will Panathinaikos be able to use that experience and be solid in 2013-14?

19. How will Leo Westermann's draft stock change during the 2013-14 season?

The results of Partizan Belgrade will depend heavily on Leo Westermann's development and his ability to learn from the mistakes he was making last season. Dusko Vujocevic had great confidence in Westermann during the 2012-13 season by playing him a lot at the top level. Now it's the time to see what the 21-year-old Westermann learned and how he's going to improve his draft stocks prior to the 2014 NBA Draft.

20. Could this be Nikola Mirotic's last season in Europe?

The buzz surrounding Nikola Mirotic and his future in the NBA is growing and the upcoming summer will be the first real chance for the big man to join the elite league. Mirotic had two very solid Euroleague seasons and now he's in a situation where he can be one of the leaders in Real and also finish (at least for now) his Euroleague career on a high note.

21. What does Stelmet and Bayern have in common?

The answer is both Euroleague debutants acquired the core of their squads from former Euroleague teams of their home country. Stelmet signed Lukasz Koszarek (last season), Adam Hrycaniuk and Przemyslaw Zamojskim who all played for Asseco Prokom in 2012-13, while Bayern got Deon Thompson, Nihad Djedovic and Heiko Schaffartzik from Alba Berlin.

22. Will Alexis Ajinca return to the NBA?

Alexis Ajinca played only 71 games in the four seasons he spent in the NBA and rarely was used in games that mattered. However, Ajinca drew NBA scouts attention in Slovenia, where he was more than solid at EuroBasket 2013. The French big man averaged 9.1 points and 7.0 rebounds there and was a big help for Tony Parker on France way to the top. Ajinca will wear Strasbourg IG's jersey for the third consecutive year, therefore he should feel confident to be team's number one guy in Euroleague.

23. Can the losses of main players take Unicaja out of the Top 16?

Unicaja Malaga suffered biggest losses among all Euroleague teams, letting their four main scorers, Williams, Krunoslav Simon, Andy Panko and Luka Zoric leave. The big changes made Unicaja to a team that performance in 2013-14 is hard to predict. If other players will be able to step up, Unicaja will remain a competitive Euroleague team. While in the worst-case scenario, Unicaja can exit before the Top 16 stage for the first time since 2004-05.

24. Can Zalgiris avoid the injury bug?

This offseason, financial problems led Zalgiris to be unable to re-sign most of their players who dealt with injuries last season. Martynas Pocius missed more than half of games with Real due to leg injuries, as Paulius Jankunas and Tadas Klimavicius missed the biggest part of 2012-13 too. Ksistof Lavrinovic is still hurt and Robertas Javtokas has the longest history of injuries among all Zalgiris players. At this point, Zalgiris looks like a house of cards that can collapse at any time.

RealGM's 2012-13 Euroleague Awards

Victor Khryapa wins Euroleague MVP, while Paul Davis is Rookie of the Year, Aron Baynes wins Most Improved and Georgios Bartzokas is Coach of the Year.

24 Questions For The Start Of Euroleague

As the 12-13 Euroleague season begins, RealGM presents 24 questions for the Euroleague fans.

Euroleague MVP Race

We are in the middle of the Top-16 phase of Euroleague competition, which makes it an opportune time to check in on the favorites to win MVP.

European Domestic League Power Rankings For February

We are past the halfway point in all of the European National Domestic Leagues and with January fully in the books, it is an opportune time to check in on team rankings for Spain, Italy, Greece, Russia, France, Turkey, Lithuania, Serbia, Croatia, Germany, Israel & more.

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.

Catching Up With Barcelona, Real Madrid

Here is an in-depth look at how a couple of Spanish teams are faring early on in Euroleague, including one that is about to feel the effects of the NBA lockout resolution.
 

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