A living link to the glory days of Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens did everything in his power last month to guarantee that the Greens will rise again. For leading Panathinaikos on its current winning streak despite a crushing, last-second road loss to start that month, Nick Calathes is Euroleague Basketball's choice as the MVP for November. Through six games over 30 days ending last Friday, the 28-year-old guard accomplished a collection of impressive firsts. He posted the best-rated single-game performance in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague this season; he registered career highs in scoring and assists, as well; he came within a single rebound of a triple-double; and he dished more assists in a six-game span than any player in competition history. Most importantly, with Calathes at the controls, Panathinaikos vaulted up the standings – from 12th to fourth place – by matching the season's longest winning streak, five games and counting. The fingerprints of Calathes were everywhere on that remarkable surge, making the 28-year-old guard a winning, first-time choice for MVP of the Month.
The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 14th 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 November spanned the six regular season games that all teams played between November 2 and December 1.
Panathinaikos started November by dropping to 12th place with a 2-3 record when host Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz won 85-84 on the buzzer despite Calathes getting 14 points and a career-high 14 assists, the most in the EuroLeague since last February. Staying on the road to face archrival Olympiacos Piraeus, then tied for first place, the Greens rebounded with a 62-70 victory in which Calathes had a quiet 6 points, 2 assists and 2 steals. He has been anything but quiet since then, however. At home against 5-1 Khimki Moscow Region in Round 7, Calathes warmed up with another double-double of 11 points and 11 assists as the Greens romped by 28 points, 93-65, their biggest win yet. Back on the road 48 hours later against Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Calathes outdid himself and every other player in the EuroLeague this season. Playing 36 minutes of almost mistake-free basketball, he scored a career-high 29 points, dished 10 assists and pulled 9 rebounds for a PIR of 42, which was the best in the EuroLeague for almost a year. What's more, his third three-pointer of the night fell through the net with 48 seconds left to give the Greens a thrilling 81-82 victory. At home in Athens the next week, Calathes was good for 12 points, 8 assists and just 1 turnover in 34 minutes as the Greens won another dramatic decision, 82-80, over Real Madrid, their third higher-ranked victim in four games. Finally, hosting Unicaja Malaga last week, Panathinaikos was in trouble at halftime, after which Calathes scored 14 of his 16 points and dished 9 of his 12 assists to lift the Greens to an 82-71 victory. Their fifth triumph in a row matched CSKA Moscow for the season's longest win streak.
Calathes finished his six-game, 30-day display with all kinds of good numbers, leading Panathinaikos with 14.6 points per game during the month even while setting up his teammates for many more, with 57 assists! Calathes was the EuroLeague's top passer in five of those six rounds, and his average of 9.5 assists is a figure that that no player in the competition has ever matched in a single month. His assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 5.2 proved crucial in a couple of close wins. There is no doubt that Panathinaikos fans will be ready with their own assist when, in his sixth EuroLeague season in the same uniform, Calathes receives his first MVP of the Month award at an upcoming home game.