MVP for October: Walter Tavares, Real Madrid

Oct 29, 2018 by Print

On a team known for its prolific offense, a defensive ace stood tallest in the first month of the season, which is why Walter "Edy" Tavares of Real Madrid is Euroleague Basketball's choice as MVP for October in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. The 2.20-meter center was Madrid's anchor throughout a perfect 4-0 run in October, when the team's 386 points were the most ever collected in the season's first month. Tavares scored his fair share, averaging 10.3 points by making 72.7% of his two-pointers and 77.8% of his free throws. But it was his defense that shined as he ripped 9.5 rebounds and made 3.0 blocks per game, both of which rank him first among all EuroLeague players. Added up, his numbers gave Tavares a 19.5 performance index rating, sixth-best in the competition, while on a per-minute basis, he was third with a prorated PIR of 35.4 over 40 minutes. There is also his habit of discouraging and changing shots in ways that can't be seen in statistics. All of the above make this the perfect time for Tavares to be designated as MVP of the Month, the tallest one in EuroLeague history!

The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 15th 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 spanned the four regular season games that all teams played between Rounds 1 and 4.

One feature of his fantastic October is how Tavares got better with each passing game. And that is despite starting with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks for a PIR of 16 in Madrid's 109-93 opening game home win over Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul. On the road against AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan in Round 2, Tavares ran into early foul trouble and Madrid fell behind by 15 points. When he returned, Tavares changed the game with 8 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in the second half as Madrid rallied to win 85-91. Tavares finished with a PIR of 18, but his defensive presence was the key as Milan made 12 of 19 (63.2%) two-pointers in the first half and just 7 of 25 (28%) after he returned. Next, back at home, Tavares had 11 rebounds and 4 blocks and generally stopped KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in its tracks as Madrid won 97-79 and he had a PIR of 19. Tavares saved his best in October for last, posting a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds to go with 3 more blocks as Madrid ended its perfect month with an 89-55 home win over Buducnost VOLI Podgorica. That defensive effort, anchored by Tavares, gave Madrid the rare distinction of owning both the EuroLeague's best offense (96.5 points per game) and best defense (78 ppg. by opponents) at the same time.

By the end of October, Tavares had blocked 12 shots – 5 more than any other EuroLeague player – and had pulled 28 defensive rebounds – 6 more than anyone else – despite ranking 59th in minutes played for the month. Likewise, his 14 rebounds against Buducnost and his 4 blocks against Baskonia are both the most by any player in a EuroLeague game this season. What can't be counted easily are the many times that opposing players have dribbled into the paint, only to retreat or pass the ball outside for fear of getting their shots blocked by Tavares. That intimidation factor has not escaped the Madrid fans, however, and they will get a chance to show Tavares their appreciation when he is given the MVP for October award at an upcoming home game.