By historic measures, this season is already among the most difficult this century in which to stay undefeated in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. Just four teams made it through two games unbeaten - a first - and only three have survived to reach 3-0 records. One player who had everything to do with his team's perfect October, Malcolm Delaney of Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar, is Euroleague Basketball's choice for the season's first MVP of the Month award. Lokomotiv is the only undefeated teams to have won twice on the road. In the season-opener against danger Panathinaikos Athens, Delaney played the most minutes as Lokomotiv won by double digits at home. In tense finishes the next two weeks, at Zalgiris Kaunas and at Stelmet Zielona Gora, Delaney was the top scorer and performer for Lokomotiv against hard-charging home teams; nonetheless, both wins went back to Krasnodar, Russia. Delaney finished October as the only Euroleague player scoring 20 points per game. He also ranks among the best five players in five more statistical categories. The bottom line is that in a season where seven of eight playoff teams from last year have already lost, Lokomotiv is the only team to stand alone in first place of its group at the end of the first month. It is hard to imagine that being possible for Lokomotiv without Malcolm Delaney, the Turkish Airlines Euroleague MVP for October.
The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 12th season. Although statistics and performance index ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team's performance. The award for October was based on the three regular season games that all 24 teams played during the month.
Delaney started his second Euroleague season where he had left off back in 2013-14, when he ranked second with an average performance index rating (PIR) of 17.4 in his rookie campaign for FC Bayern Munich. His first big test with Lokomotiv was this season's opener at home against mighty Panathinaikos. Delaney spent more time on the floor than any other player, 33 minutes, and used that time to deliver 5 assists, make 3 steals and score 14 points – including the last go-ahead shot for Lokomotiv, a three-pointer to end the third quarter – on the way to a solid 81-70 victory. Lokomotiv then headed on the road for a tough battle against experienced Zalgiris Kaunas, where Delaney led his team with 21 points, including some crucial fourth-quarter baskets, in a close 74-76 decision. His near-perfect shooting – 5 of 7 two-pointers, 2 of 3 triples and 5 of 5 free throws – plus 5 rebounds and 2 steals gave him that game's highest PIR, 22, as well. Lokomotiv's finished its perfect October away from home, too, this time being pushed hard by Stelmet Zielona Gora. Delaney's role was absolutely vital as he scored 25 points, a career high, and Lokomotiv won 75-83. Again shooting masterfully – 6 for 8 on two-pointers, 2 for 4 from the arc and 7 of 8 from the free throw line – Delaney was also Round 3's second-rated performer with a PIR of 28.
When October ended, Delaney was the league’s leading scorer with 20 points per game. He also has the second-most free throws made (14) and minutes played (98), third-most field goals made (20) and steals (6), and fourth-highest index rating (65) over the course of the month. He also had super-efficient shooting accuracy: 60.9% on two-pointers, 54.5% on three-pointers and 93.3% at the foul line. Most important, he has led Lokomotiv into an enviable spot as exclusive leader of Regular Season Group C, thanks to its team rankings as the fifth-best offense (80 points per game) and sixth-best defense, (73 points allowed per game) in the Euroleague so far. With four out of its last seven regular season games at home, Lokomotiv is positioned well to try to return to the Top 16, as it did in its competition debut two years ago. Fans in Krasnodar will have the chance to thank Delaney when he receives his MVP of the Month award at an upcoming Lokomotiv home game.