MVP for November: Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul

Dec 02, 2019 by Print

His was a perfect month of basketball. And by the time that Shane Larkin capped it off with a new Turkish Airlines EuroLeague scoring record, there was no doubt that the 27-year-old Anadolu Efes Istanbul guard was the only choice for MVP of November. Larkin, a 1.83-meter force of nature, was unstoppable as Efes won all five games to finish November holding first place exclusively. His totals of 131 points and 154 in performance index rating were unprecedented for a single month, and his fireworks display to end November put him firmly in the record books. Larkin shattered the EuroLeague's mark for single-game scoring, with 49 points, and tied the record for three-pointers made, with 10, in a resounding 104-75 victory over FC Bayern Munich. It was memorable stuff for EuroLeague fans in general, and Efes fans in particular, making Larkin's November one of the most unforgettable months of individual greatness in the competition's history.

The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 16th 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 covers the five games that all teams played between November 7 and November 29. This is the first monthly award for Larkin, who is playing in his third EuroLeague season. He is the fifth Efes player so honored, after Kaya Peker in November of 2005, Dario Saric in November of 2014, Thomas Heurtel in February of 2017, and Vasilije Micic in November of 2018.

November began for Efes in Piraeus, Greece, where Larkin recorded a team-high 31 PIR based on 24 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists as the visitors rolled to a 67-86 win. He missed just 1 of his 8 shots from the field that night. Against Zenit St Petersburg in Round 8, Larkin had 22 points and 4 assists in a close 90-88 home win. In a double-round week of road games, Larkin hit 14 of 14 free throws as Efes prevailed 84-90 to ruin LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne's perfect home record. Two nights later, in a head-to-head battle among teams tied for first place, his game-high 17 points propelled Efes to a 71-86 road victory over AX Armani Exchange Milan. In November's finale, Larkin saved his best for the home fans: a 49-point explosion in just 31 minutes that shattered the single-game scoring record. The four players who shared the previous mark, 41 points, had all played at least 35 minutes. On his last shot of the game, Larkin tied the EuroLeague record of 10 three-pointers made to join Andrew Goudelock of Fenerbahce Istanbul, who did the same in 2014. What's more, his PIR of 53 was the fifth-highest in the EuroLeague this century, Most important of all, its victory over Munich left Efes, which had shared first place with five other teams in mid-November, alone at the top with a 9-2 record.

Larkin led all players in November in both average scoring, 26.2 points, and PIR, 30.8. He also contributed 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds in just over 30 minutes per game. In terms of history, other players have scored more or had higher PIRs over five consecutive games, but they all averaged at least 4 more minutes on the floor, and none won all five games. That Larkin's historic exploits came with a perfect 5-0 record will make Efes fans even more appreciative when he receives his MVP of the Month award at an upcoming home game.