EuroLeague action continues tonight with various interesting matchups. After eight rounds, the competition provides us with some interesting stories, including the surprising winning spree of LDCL ASVEL and the dominant performances of FC Barcelona and Armani Milano.
Several players provided a huge boost to their teams, establishing a strong candidacy for the regular season MVP award. Apparently, our focus will be on winning teams, which are closer to the top of the table.
Here is our take after eight games:
1. Nikola Mirotic- FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona superstar Nikola Mirotic seems to be a strong candidate, taking the “center stage” in the Catalans star-studded roster. The Spanish giants have the second-best record in the league after eight games.
The former Bulls and Pelicans forward came out of the gates blazing and led FC Barcelona to wins, providing in the offensive end of the court.
He averages 15.5 points, shooting a whooping 61.1 on two-point field-goals and an impressive 45 percent from beyond the arc in eight starts.
He’s also averaging one of the best player index rating in the competition, with 19.6 per game. Even in his worst game this season (eight points, seven rebounds), he hit the winning shot in the round 6’s 74-76 win over Fenerbahce.
He was also named EuroLeague MVP for the month of October, leading Barca to a perfect 6-0 record during the first month of the competition.
2. Elie Ekobo- LDLC ASVEL
Elie Ekobo is maybe the most exciting rookie we have seen in the EuroLeague the last few seasons. Okobo has been excellent for LDLC-ASVEL leading his team to a surprising 6-2 start.
The French guard exploded for 35 points in ASVEL’s road win over Panathinaikos, to earn round 7’s MVP honors. Ekobo set career-highs in points and index rating in front of a passionate crowd in Athens.
The rookie nailed a double-digit PIR in all eight games he participated so far, leading the league in scoring with 19.6 points per game. He’s also first in 2-pointers made and field-goals made and three-point percentage, while he ranks third in index rating.
He’s already scored more than 20 points in four occasions this year, while he finished in double-digits in seven of ASVEL’s eight EuroLeague games.
3. Shavon Shields- Armani Milano
Armani Milano’s impressive record is based on the teamwork and chemistry, which seems to be the best indication of what Etorre Messina wants to achieve as a head coach in Milan.
However, the Italian giants have their own “go-to-guy”, when they need to get a basket, with Shavon Shields embracing this role in a well-experienced group of players.
The last season’s Final-4 participants started the year with seven wins in the first eight games, with Shields averaging the highest PIR (14.0) among his teammates.
The veteran forward is averaging a team-leading 12.5 points per game, shooting an impressive 48 percent in two-point field goals to go along with 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest.
He scored in double-digits through six contests so far this year, with his best game (17 pts,7 reb,5 ast) coming against CSKA Moscow in the opening night, showing his all-around repertoire since the start of the season.
4. Walter Tavares- Real Madrid
Real Madrid boasts one of the best front-lines in the league consisting of last season’s Defensive Player of the Year and former NBA players Vincent Poirier and Guershon Yabusele.
While all had their moments so far this season, Walter Tavares remains one of the most impactful bigs in the game. While he missed one game due to personal reasons, the star center has been an important part of the “Whites’” 6-2 start.
The veteran lead the league in index rating with an average of 20.8, while he haunts opponents in the defensive end with a league-leading 1.4 blocks per game.
He’s also remaining a capable threat in the offensive end, averaging a career-high 12.9 points through seven games this season, shooting on a massive 80 percent clip from the field.
Furthermore, the Real Madrid star is aggressive on the boards with averages of 7.4 rebounds (second in the league) and 2.9 (third in the competition) offensive rebounds per, providing his team with second-chance points and extra possessions.
5. Tyler Dorsey- Olympiacos
Olympiacos hopes to return to the postseason, after missing the playoffs for consecutive years. Sharpshooter Tyler Dorsey, who joined the “Reds” the past summer, is an important piece in Olympiacos’ offense this year.
Dorsey offered one of the most impressive performances of his EuroLeague career in the round 5 OT clash against the CSKA Moscow. The Greek giants could not come away with the win; however, Dorsey showed his offensive capabilities.
He finished with 32 points and a club-record nine made threes. Since then, Dorsey gradually became a huge part of his team offense.
He’s scoring a career-high 13.9 points per game on 48/42/78 shooting splits, while he is showing his potential as an all-around guard and secondary playmaker.
Through eight starts, the combo guard is averaging 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest, setting several career-highs in rebounds (seven vs. Monaco) and points (32 vs. CSKA).