04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
Basketball Champions League MVP Race: Season Seven, first checkpoint
16/11/2022
Igor Curkovic's Champions League Help-Side
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Basketball Champions League MVP Race: Season Seven, first checkpoint

MIES (Switzerland) - Halfway through the Regular Season, we are seeing the first real contenders emerge, not just in terms of teams aiming towards the Final Four, but also in terms of players deserving to be in the MVP Race.

Now, if you've ever read the Help-Side Column, you probably know that this is complete madness. It was never meant to be serious, it was always here to rotate once all the results and stats start beating you off the dribble, that's where you've got this kind of article to provide you help defense and guide you towards clarity.

In this case, with so many games going on, you probably have a hard time figuring out who are the main candidates to win the MVP award at the end of the season. Jordan Theodore won it in Season One, Manny Harris picked up the trophy a year later, Tyrese Rice claimed it in 2019, Keith Langford in 2020 and Bonzie Colson in 2021. Last season, it was Chima Moneke.

Here are some important reminders about the MVP Race process:

  • It's not an official race.
  • It is an actual update to see who's doing fine and who could end up winning the award at the end of the season.
  • First four questions are for real.
  • Fifth one is just random to lead you towards the leader of the MVP Race. It usually has nothing to do with basketball. It's just a hint on who's number one that week.
  • I avoid using my compatriots in the piece because I don't want to sound biased. But both you and I know that Miro Bilan is the real MVP.

Okay. Time to talk MVP stuff. All of our previous MVPs had some stuff in common. They were on teams that got far in the competition, they were the reasons why their teams got that far, they were the ones hitting the dagger shots and game winners, and their numbers were impressive all season long.

That's why the four serious questions are formed the way they are:

(1) Does his team have a winning record?
(2) Is he the reason they have a winning record?
(3) If his team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final Four, is he the one taking it?
(4) Does he have the numbers to be the MVP?
(5) Did he travel 13,000 kilometers in 36 hours to get his passport?

(See? Number five is just random. A clue for you, something to think about while scrolling down. Okay? Okay. Let's go.)

#10 Marcelinho Huertas (Lenovo Tenerife)

(1) Does his team have a winning record?
Of course. 2-1.
(2) Is he the reason they have a winning record?
Of course, already at eight assists per game in just 21 minutes each night.
(3) If his team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final Four, is he the one taking it?
Yep. Or, you know, he'll find an open man.
(4) Does he have the numbers to be the MVP?
14.3 points, 8.0 assists, 5-of-7 from three-point range in three games. So, that's a yes.
(5) Did he travel 13,000 kilometers in 36 hours to get his passport?
Not really. He is from Brazil, plays for Brazil so he probably traveled 15 minutes to get his passport. He does have Italian citizenship too, but he played for Fortitudo Bologna, so it probably wasn't a 13k trip. Not leading this race, then.

#9 Ludvig Hakanson (Surne Bilbao)

(1) Does his team have a winning record?
Yes, 3-0.
(2) Is he the reason they have a winning record?
Yes, top scorer of the team.
(3) If his team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final Four, is he the one taking it?
This is tricky. Because they also have Adam Smith in this lineup. Let's give it a yes.
(4) Does he have the numbers to be the MVP?
14.3 points, 6.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 46.2 percent from deep. Not bad at all.
(5) Did he travel 13,000 kilometers in 36 hours to get his passport?
Nope. Born in Stockholm, plays for Sweden.

#8 Justin Johnson (MHP RIESEN)

(1) Does his team have a winning record?
Yep, 3-0.
(2) Is he the reason they have a winning record?
Yep, 12.3 points on 15-of-21 shooting, including 6-of-9 from beyond the three-point line. Plus 5.3 rebounds, plus 2.7 assists per game.
(3) If his team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final Four, is he the one taking it?
Not really. Prentiss Hubb and Isaiah Whitehead are his teammates, just to name a few.
(3.5) So... He's not the MVP?
Nope. But he's statistically the best player on the most dominant team so far, so there you go. It's the same like we had Luke Maye from BAXI Manresa in the MVP Race last season, when it turned out Chima Moneke was their main man.

#7 Dylan Osetkowski (Unicaja)

(1) Does his team have a winning record?
3-0.
(2) Is he the reason they have a winning record?
Yep, 13.0 points and 5.7 rebounds in just 18 minutes per game.
(3) If his team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final Four, is he the one taking it?
I mean... They do have Kendrick Perry, Dario Brizuela, Tyler Kalinoski, Tyson Carter, Nihad Djedovic and a few more big names on the roster, so this is a "maybe" at best.
(3.5) So... Not the leader of the MVP Race?
Nope.

#6 Dee Bost (Galatasaray Nef)

(1) Does his team have a winning record?
2-1.
(2) Is he the reason they have a winning record?
Sure, he's the best leader in all of BCL, we talked about this already.
(3) If his team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final Four, is he the one taking it?
Yep yep yep.
(4) Does he have the numbers to be the MVP?
18.3 points, 6.3 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 40 percent on threes, on 30 attempts in three games.
(5) Did he travel 13,000 kilometers in 36 hours to get his passport?
He does have a Bulgarian passport, but he's been in Europe for the past ten years, so it was probably a trip in thousands, not tens of thousands of kilometers. But yeah, we're getting closer!

#5 Zach Hankins (Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem)


(1) Does his team have a winning record?
Yes, 2-1.
(2) Is he the reason they have a winning record?
The most consistent Jerusalem player across three games.
(3) If his team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final Four, is he the one taking it?
Nope. Think Levi Randolph or Speedy Smith or Mareks Mejeris for the dunk. Even Khadeen Carrington.
(3.5) So... why is he here?
Because he deserves a mention for shooting 20-of-26 from the field and averaging 14.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Not just a mention, he deserves a lot of love for his and Jerusalem's efforts so far.
(3.75) But he's not the leader of the MVP Race?
Nope.

#4 Matt Mitchell (SIG Strasbourg)

(1) Does his team have a winning record?
Yes, 2-1.
(2) Is he the reason they have a winning record?
Yep, the fact that he was kept by Strasbourg over the summer was already a win, now we get to witness his game grow week in, week out.
(3) If his team needs a game-winning shot to make the Final Four, is he the one taking it?
Oh yeah, without hesitation. He took the biggest one last season, but fell short against Hapoel Holon in the Quarter-Finals.
(4) Does he have the numbers to be the MVP?
Fourth in BCL in scoring with 22.0 per game, done on 55 percent from the field, two 20+ point games already, after having just one 20+ point game in his first 16 BCL games.
(5) Did he travel 13,000 kilometers in 36 hours to get his passport?
Nope. But yeah, he's right up there in the MVP Race.

#3 Errick McCollum (Pinar Karsiyaka)