MVP for April: Will Clyburn, CSKA Moscow

May 07, 2021 by Print

The last Final Four MVP is ready for his next appearance at the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague's crowning event later this month in Cologne, Germany. CSKA Moscow forward Will Clyburn proved that much while leading his team to a 6-0 record in April that included the highest average performance index rating for any player in the playoffs, which was more than enough to earn him Euroleague Basketball’s nod as MVP for April. CSKA swept its playoff with Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul while all other series reached five games, and Clyburn was the catalyst of that success. The fifth-year Euroleague veteran was at his best throughout the playoffs with a PIR average of 22.7 over three games to lead CSKA to its 17th Final Four in the last 18 opportunities. Before that, Clyburn helped CSKA close out the regular season wins against Khimki Moscow Region, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and Panathinaikos OPAP Athens by an average margin of 16.7 points, rounding out CSKA's perfect month of April.

The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 17th 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 during the month in question. Clyburn has earned the award for the first time in his career and is CSKA's third such winner, after Mike James in November and Nikola Milutinov in December.

Clyburn helped CSKA finish the regular season in style, averaging 10.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a PIR of 16.0 in his team's last three games before the playoffs. Those three victories let CSKA tie FC Barcelona for the regular season's best record, 24-10, although it would finish second due to a tiebreak disadvantage between them. Once in the playoffs against Fenerbahce, Clyburn stepped up to lead CSKA to three consecutive double-digit wins. In Game 1, he came off the bench to score 20 points on 8-for-11 two-point and 4-for-4 free throw shooting, adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists for a PIR of 25 in a 92-76 victory. CSKA went on to beat Fenerbahce 78-67 in Game 2 as Clyburn had 9 points and 4 rebounds off the bench. CSKA wasted no time in punching its Final Four ticket, downing Fenerbahce 68-85 in Istanbul in Game 3 for a sweep. Clyburn posted career highs of 34 points, the third-highest total ever in a playoffs victory, and a 38 PIR. Most importantly, Clyburn had led CSKA to its ninth consecutive Final Four appearance, a new all-time record.

Clyburn averaged 21.0 points on 63.2% two-point shots, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks for a PIR average of 22.7 in the playoffs, the best among all EuroLeague players. His PIR average ranks 10th all-time for playoffs winners. His 38 PIR in Game 3 established a new record for a Final Four-clinching playoff victory, although Chris Singleton of Anadolu Efes Istanbul would tie it and Shavon Shields of AX Armani Exchange Milan break it, with 39, one week later. Clyburn knows what it takes to be successful in the Final Four. With the injuries that kept him out most of last season way behind him, Clyburn sent a message in April that he will be ready when CSKA, the last champion, returns to the Final Four on May 28.