The Most Valuable Player in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague is a player who was not only among the best in the competition, but who also led his team to make a run at the crown. Below are 10 star players from teams with title-aspirations, which makes them natural candidates to walk home with the 2022 EuroLeague MVP trophy.
Will Clyburn, CSKA Moscow
The Final Four MVP when CSKA won it all in 2019, Will Clyburn epitomizes the modern small forward by combining the best skills from every position. Clyburn can score in the paint or from the perimeter, aid in both ball handling and rebounding, and is a top-notch defensive player. What's more, Clyburn has a knack for making big plays with the game on the line.
Nando De Colo, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
Nando De Colo was the 2016 EuroLeague MVP with one of the great all-time EuroLeague seasons; he led CSKA Moscow to the championship and was both the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy winner and the Final Four MVP. Since joining Fenerbahce in 2019, De Colo hasn't skipped a beat. He has been a 50-40-90 shooter in seven straight seasons, been named to the last six All-EuroLeague teams and is a perennial MVP candidate.
Cory Higgins, FC Barcelona
Cory Higgins sank the game-winner in the semifinals at last season's Final Four in Cologne, Germany, and followed that up with 23 points in a championship game loss. He could emerge as the go-to scorer this season on a Barcelona team with lofty goals. And Higgins is more than just a scorer, he is an excellent perimeter defender. But what separated Higgins from others is his winning mentality and ways to be a major contributor even when he isn’t scoring.
Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
It was a forgone conclusion that Shane Larkin would have been the 2019-20 EuroLeague MVP had that season not been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last season injuries kept him from recapturing his form, even though he was an All-EuroLeague selection and played a key role in leading Efes to the title. A fully-healthy Larkin is on any shortlist for EuroLeague MVP.
Vladimir Lucic, FC Bayern Munich
Last season was historic for both Vladimir Lucic and FC Bayern Munich. Lucic was among the league-leaders in performance index rating and Bayern reached the playoffs for the first time and came within a whisker of advancing to the Final Four. As Bayern looks to mount another charge, Lucic will be at the fore as an all-around contributor and team leader.
Vasilije Micic, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
There is no more natural of an MVP candidate than the reigning MVP! Vasilije Micic did it all for Efes and then some in helping the team win the EuroLeague for the first time. He showed his mettle by scoring 25 points in both games at the Final Four and was selected Final Four MVP. What will he do for an encore?
Nikola Milutinov, CSKA Moscow
Last season Nikola Milutinov started slow as he recovered from an illness and did not play after January due to injury. In between, he wrecked the opposition. Milutinov was the EuroLeague MVP for December and posted eight double-doubles in a span of 14 games. If the big man can stay healthy for a full season, he and CSKA may be unstoppable.
Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona
Nikola Mirotic was among the league leaders in scoring, rebounding and performance index rating last season – and his numbers were down from the year before! There is little Mirotic doesn't do on a basketball court as FC Barcelona's leader. Last season he helped the team reach the EuroLeague championship game and this year the idea is to win one more game.
Walter Tavares, Real Madrid
The reigning two-time EuroLeague Best Defender, Walter Tavares improved his offensive output last season by more than 50 percent from the season before. If the competition's preeminent defensive stopper becomes a more dangerous scorer, the rest of the league is in trouble. So far, no one has figured out a way to stop him; Tavares is a career 69.3% shooter in the EuroLeague.
Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
Jan Vesely was the man who broke the seal for big men on winning the MVP award when he was named winner in 2019. He affects the game at both ends through his elite athleticism, quick speed and work endless work ethic. The product is often thunderous slam dunks, alley-oop jams or block shots that shift the momentum on the court and make Fenerbahce a title contender.