Top 10 EuroLeague Ford Trophy candidates

Sep 18, 2019 by Euroleague.net Print
Top 10 EuroLeague Ford Trophy candidates

The Alphonso Ford EuroLeague Top Scorer Trophy annually recognizes the player who has been the best in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague at putting the ball in the basket. Every team has a go-to scorer - some teams even have many, but there are those who shine above the rest as the truly elite scorers. However, only one can be the top scorer. The trophy is named in memory of the late Alphonso Ford, who died of leukemia in September 2004 after a brilliant career in which he was the competition's leading scorer twice. He is also the last man to lead the EuroLeague in scoring in back-to-back seasons. Can Mike James become the first player to win the Ford Trophy in consecutive seasons? Can Alexey Shved or Nando De Colo nap the trophy for a second time? Can Peyton Siva become the EuroLeague's top scorer one year after leading the 7DAYS EuroCup? Let's examine their chances and others in the list of 10 Ford Trophy candidates.

10. Peyton Siva, ALBA Berlin

Siva came into his own last season, his third with ALBA Berlin. He was the top scorer and most-dangerous offensive weapon in the EuroCup as he led his team to the competition’s finals. In addition to his EuroCup-best 15.2 points per game, Siva also topped the charts with 7.9 assists and a performance index rating of 18.0. All that came despite missing multiple games at two different times to injury. A healthy Siva under the guidance of Coach Aito Garcia Reneses with the same core of players around him is a recipe for a lot of points. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to Siva's chances to challenge for the Ford Trophy is that he sets up his teammates so often for easy baskets! That's a good problem to have in your point guard.

9. Scottie Wilbekin, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv

His first season with Maccabi was an up-and-down one for Wilbekin, who had three EuroLeague games of 2 points or less, but still saw him lead his team and rank 10th in the league in scoring with 12.9 points per game. Now in his second season, a more consistent Wilbekin will try to recapture the magic that saw him produce one of the greatest individual seasons in 7DAYS EuroCup history the year before with Darussafaka Istanbul. He led the 2017-18 EuroCup in scoring with 19.7 points per game, set an elimination-round record with 41 points in the semifinals against FC Bayern Munich and kept scorching the nets until he lifted the EuroCup crown. With several new ball-handlers around him, Wilbekin could be a much more dangerous weapon for Maccabi this season.

8. Edwin Jackson, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne

Only two seasons removed from leading the Spanish League in scoring with 21.4 points for Estudiantes Madrid, Jackson returned home to France this summer where he has already been a league MVP and scoring champ. Now in his comfort zone, Jackson figures to be ASVEL's go-to guy and will have every opportunity to put up big numbers. Jackson has many tricks up his shooting sleeve; he can fire up shots from any range, but when overplayed is quick to attack the basket or pull up for a silky mid-range jumper. They will all be on display this season as ASVEL returns to the EuroLeague and Jackson looks to lead his team by knocking down shot after shot.

7. Kevin Punter, Olympiacos Piraeus

He has been one of the best scorers in the Basketball Champions League with 17.7 points over three seasons, led two different teams to that competition’s crown and was the final four MVP last season with Segafredo Virtus Bologna. Now Punter brings his smooth jumper and creative shot-making skills to the EuroLeague. The story goes that Punter rebuilt his jump shot in college by firing up no less than 2,000 shots per day and it has certainly worked out. He is a natural scorer who is dangerous from behind the three-point line or attacking the rim for a resounding slam. If Punter can do it, he would become the first player to win the Ford Trophy in his first EuroLeague season since Linas Kleiza with Olympiacos exactly one decade ago.

6. Nando De Colo, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul

No player has scored more points in the EuroLeague over the past five seasons than De Colo, who captured the Ford Trophy in 2015-16, finished second in scoring the next season and was third in 2017-18. An efficient offensive machine, the biggest question surrounding De Colo’s candidacy for a second Ford Trophy will be what his role will be and how quickly he builds chemistry with his fellow stars at Fenerbahce. When it comes to scoring the ball, few in any league can match De Colo, who recorded 50/40/90 shooting seasons in each of his past four campaigns. De Colo is the EuroLeague's all-time leader in free throw accuracy (93.8%) and no EuroLeague player with at least 500 attempted three-pointers has shot better than his career 43.6% from downtown.

5. Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona

Mirotic has found ways to put up big numbers in the point column at every stop in his career, but has yet to be a team’s go-to scorer. That should change this season. When we last saw Mirotic in Europe, he was a back-to-back All-EuroLeague selection with Real Madrid and recorded a 50/40/90 shooting season in 2011-12. Nonetheless, He was often below fellow stars Sergio Llull and Rudy Fernandez in the shooting pecking order. Not much changed in his five years in the NBA, where Mirotic was always an excellent scorer, but forced to play second fiddle to other big names. Now he is the big name and first option on a big club and with his versatile game, Mirotic can become the first forward to win the Ford Trophy since Linas Kleiza in 2010.

Nikola-Mirotic-Barcelona

4. Jimmer Fredette, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens

At nearly every step in his career, Fredette has been an elite scorer and now he looks to do so at the EuroLeague level. He set his high school record in scoring, led the NCAA in scoring in 2010-11 and more recently was the Chinese League’s top scorer in two of the past three seasons. Fredette had a record 52-point effort with Brigham Young University in March 2011 and a career-high 75 points for Shanghai - including a 40-point quarter - in November 2018. Fredette already showed his shooting touch has arrived with him in Athens by topping the 30-point mark in a preseason game. His scoring efforts will be aided by All-EuroLeague point guard Nick Calathes, who will get Fredette in position to keep posting gaudy numbers.

3. Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul

Larkin took some time to settle in with Anadolu Efes Istanbul, but when he found his zone he put up some of the most impressive scoring runs in league history. The quick guard averaged 7.2 points per game in Rounds 1 through 20 and nearly doubles that with 14.3 points over his next 10 games, including a 37-point effort against FC Barcelona, which was the most points by any player all season. Larkin then torched the same Barcelona for 19.6 points in the playoffs and rewrote the record book with 30 points in the semifinals at the Final Four and 29 in a losing cause against CSKA in the championship game. Now in his second season in Istanbul, Larkin comes in more comfortable and able to pump in points at an impressive pace.

2. Mike James, CSKA Moscow

James was the runaway winner of the Ford Trophy last season when he averaged 19.8 points per game for AX Armani Exchange Milan, which was 5.0 points more than the next-highest scorer. He also earned All-EuroLeague honors for the first time in his career before switching uniforms over the summer and joining CSKA. Playing for the champs and under Coach Dimitris Itoudis should give James plenty of opportunities to score. After all, De Colo won the trophy with the same team in 2016. James led the league with 70 three-pointers made and 147 successful free throws last season and that same recipe of heating up from the perimeter and drawing fouls on drives to the basket could potentially allow him to become the first back-to-back Ford Trophy winner in history.

1. Alexey Shved, Khimki Moscow Region

After rewriting the EuroLeague record books and capturing the Ford Trophy in the 2017-18 season, Shved averaged even more points and made more three-pointers on a per-game basis last season. Unfortunately for the mercurial guard, injuries denied Shved a chance to repeat as the EuroLeague’s top scorer. He tallied 23.3 points per game in 14 appearances last season; the only player in competition history to ever average more points in more games played was the man the award is named for, the late Alphonso Ford, with 24.8 points in 20 games for Olympiacos in 2001-02. His prime weapon is outside shooting; Shved’s 4.1 threes per game last season set a EuroLeague record and he owns the single-season record with 107 triples the season before. The 2019-20 Ford Trophy appears to be Shved's to lose.