08 October, 2019
04 October, 2020
5 Keith Langford (AEK)
Igor Curkovic's Champions League Help-Side
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Help-Side Column: The race for the MVP of the Season, fourth checkpoint

ZAGREB (Croatia) - It's heating up. The Play-Offs are about to start, which means we are down to 16 teams, which means the picture in the MVP Race is becoming clearer and clearer with each passing week.

Now, there's still a long way to go, and the fact that the picture is clearer doesn't mean we've entered the 4K era of the MVP Race. We're getting there. But right now, we're at a 720p quality of the picture, going for that 720HD target as soon as possible.

If you've followed the First Checkpoint, the Second Checkpoint or the Third Checkpoint, you know that a) it's not an official race, b) we need a set of questions to set up the ranking, and c) the real award for the MVP of the Season will be handed during the Final Four.

That b) part is tricky. During the Regular Season, we could always point the finger to the team record and eliminate a lot of people because their team wasn't at .667 winning percentage - the winning percentage which turned out to be enough to have home court advantage during the Play-Offs. Having home court advantage is cool. Because we've flipped the format and we're playing best-of-three series. Series clincher at home is cool, you know.

Let's change the set of questions then. Here we go, these need to be answered so we can get our MVP of the Fourth Checkpoint:

  • (1) Is your team in the Play-Offs because of you?
  • (2) Will your team make the Final Four because of you?
  • (3) Did you have one game that said "OH MY, HE'S AN MVP!" this season?
  • (4) Do you have the season-long numbers to justify the nomination?
  • (5) Is it your birthday TODAY?


Good. In the words of one Mills Lane: "Let's get it on!"

#10 David Holston (JDA Dijon)

(1) Yep. Even if you don't count in the leadership skills he has, you could just rewatch the final minutes of the game against PAOK to see that his clutch three-pointers from the same spot gave Dijon a big time win.
(2) No. Because Lamonte Ulmer is playing really good. Because Rasheed Sulaimon just won the MVP of the Leaders Cup award in France. Because Axel Julien is also playing better than ever. Because Dijon figured it out and have more than Holston to beat you.
(3) Yep. He had 15 points, 13 assists, and Dijon were +38 (yes, plus thirty-eight) with him on the floor against Besiktas Sompo Sigorta on Gameday 7.
(4) 11.1 points, 6.9 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals. That's a yes, I guess.
(5) Nope, turned 34 a month ago. So he's not our number one MVP of this checkpoint, sorry.

#9 Brandon Brown (Nizhny Novgorod)

(1) Yep. The fact that Nizhny Novgorod are 1-3 in games where Brown scored less than 10 points suggests that they would've struggled greatly without him.
(2) Yep. Because he's the obvious star of the team and now needs to take over.
(3) Yep. Brown had not one, not two, but three points-assists double-double games, but the one which said "OH MY, HE'S AN MVP!" was against Iberostar Tenerife, with 26 points, 5 assists, 4 steals to lead Nizhny to an unlikely win.
(4) 13.9 points, 6.4 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.9 steals. Sure.
(5) Nope. Turned 30 in August. So he's not our number one MVP of this checkpoint, sorry.

#8 Kyle Wiltjer (Turk Telekom)

(1) Yep. The only time he scored in single digits, Turk Telekom lost that game at BAXI Manresa. Meaning, they would've been at 0-14 without his high scoring outputs, right? Right? I know it's wrong, but right.
(2) Yep. Because Kyle and Moustapha Fall are a nightmare matchup down low.
(3) Yep. His 33 points and 10 boards against Filou Oostende were just a week after his only single-digit-scoring game, so this shows character.
(4) 18.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 43.2 percent on nearly six attempts per game from 3PT range. Yep.
(5) Nope. Turned 27 in October. So he's not our number one MVP of this checkpoint, sorry.

#7 Giorgi Shermadini (Iberostar Tenerife)

(1) Yep. Because Tenerife's whole game plan depends on the one-two punch of Shermadini and Marcelinho Huertas.
(2) Yep. Because Tenerife's whole game plan depends on the one-two punch of Shermadini and Marcelinho Huertas.
(3) This is weird, but no. Shermadini has been rocksteady all season long, but there wasn't one game which shouted "OH MY, HE'S AN MVP!" Okay, maybe the one against Mornar Bar, when he had 22 points in 18 minutes. Bizarre stat of the season: Giorgi Shermadini is yet to post a double-double.
(4) 14.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, shooting 62.1 percent from the field. Good numbers.
(5) Nope, will turn 31 in April. So, not our MVP here.

#6 Vojtech Hruban (ERA Nymburk)

(1) Yep. Double digits in last nine Regular Season games, he's their main scoring threat.
(2) Yep. Because even though Jaromir Bohacik can float it up with the best of them, and Zach Hankins could be the best big man on defense, ERA Nymburk's chances will depend on Hruban's shooting.
(3) Yep. He had 28 points, done on 11-of-17 shooting from the field, against Mornar Bar. People seem to be having good games against Mornar, huh?
(4) 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.3 steals per game. But 17.2 points over the last nine.
(5) Nope. Turned 30 in August. Not the MVP here.

#5 Emanuel Terry (Teksut Bandirma)

(1) Yes. Terry is scary.
(2) Yes. Terry will be scary.
(3) Probably the most dominant game of the entire season, of all the teams and all the players. Terry had 24 points on 12-of-14 dunking shooting from the field, with 14 rebounds, 3 assists, efficiency rating 39. Scary Terry.
(4) 11.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 blocks, 20.1 efficiency per game. Definitely yes.
(5) Nope. Turned 23 in August. WAIT WHAT!? HE'S ONLY 23!? Oh man. He'll be an MVP soon, trust me.

#4 Keith Langford (AEK)

(1) Yes, very much so. His last game, when he got injured in Burgos after six minutes, was the only instance that he finished with less than 14 points.
(2) Yes, very much so. This is the time of year where Langford needs to switch through gears, and figure out all the matchups in the Play-Offs to send AEK back to the Final Four. He'll win games, or die trying.
(3) Yeah, like four of them. He hit the 30-point mark against San Pablo Burgos, had three 27-point games, basically, everything about him says MVP.
(4) 19.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists. MVP.
(5) Nope, turned 36 in September. So not the MVP in this checkpoint, but come on, we all know it. He's the MVP if AEK make a splash again.

#3 Dyshawn Pierre (Dinamo Sassari)

(1) Yep. Even coach Gianmarco Pozzecco said that NBA is the next step for this guy. So, I guess having an NBA kind of guy helps you book home court advantage in the Basketball Champions League, doesn't it?
(2) Yep. Dwayne Evans did take over some of the scoring and rebounding duties lately for Sassari, but Pierre could enjoy the matchup with Burgos in the Round of 16.
(3) Plenty of picks in this department. Gameday 1 MVP with 24 points, 12 rebounds against Lietkabelis, 16 points and 19 rebounds against Torun, 23 and 10 against Holon...
(4) 13.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists. MVP.
(5) Nope. Turned 26 in November. But he was at the top of the second checkpoint because of it.

#2 Marcelinho Huertas (Iberostar Tenerife)

(1) Yep. Because Tenerife's whole game plan depends on the one-two punch of Shermadini and Marcelinho Huertas.
(2) Yep. Because Tenerife's whole game plan depends on the one-two punch of Shermadini and Marcelinho Huertas.
(3) Tying a Basketball Champions League all-time record with 17 assists in a game, that sounds like "OH MY, HE'S AN MVP!" kind of a game. Marcelinho has been in double digits in assists five times this season, which is a lot since he only plays 25 minutes per game.
(4) 11.8 points, 8.8 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals. Come on. 8.8 assists is MVP caliber even if he scored 2.2 points per game.
(5) Nope. Will turn 37 in May.

#1 TaShawn Thomas (Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem)

(1) Yep. TaShawn Thomas shot 94-of-127 from the field during the Regular Season. 94. Of 127. Ridiculous.
(2) Yep. Even with James Feldeine, J'Covan Brown, Suleiman Braimoh, Tamir Blatt and all the others, TaShawn is playing at such a high level that you could see him set some sort of record in the Play-Offs.
(3) Oh yeah - 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks, 1 steal, 38 efficiency against San Pablo Burgos on Gameday 13. MVP of the week then.
(4) 15.8 points, 74 percent shooting (SEVENTY-FOUR), 6.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 blocks per game, just give him the trophy already.
(5) YESSS!!! Happy birthday Thomas the Tank Engine! You get to celebrate it as the front runner in the MVP of the Season race, and that's the best gift you could possibly receive on this wonderful day, right? Right.


The Basketball Champions League's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA or the Basketball Champions League.

The Basketball Champions League's takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic

Igor Curkovic is a Basketball Champions League writer and editor since day one of the competition, specializing in Power Rankings and his Takeaways on Gamedays. When he's not covering basketball, he's probably watching a Hajduk Split game somewhere.