Two-time champion Kyle Hines of CSKA Moscow has been among the most highly respected defensive players in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague for several seasons. Now, the competition's head coaches have marked him as the new standard-bearer for stopping opponents by choosing Hines as the recipient of the Best Defender Trophy for the 2015-16 season. CSKA had one of the best offenses in Euroleague history, but it was the steady defensive presence of Hines that often made the difference in the team's 22 victories. Hines was among the Euroleague leaders in blocked shots, while forcing many more turnovers and missed shots with his athleticism and hustle, which left a lasting impression on all who saw him in action. The little big man – a center who stands at just 1.98 meters – had nine games in which he posted either multiple steals or blocks, and 11 games in which he pulled down at least 5 rebounds. Whether as a starter or substitute, his boundless strength and energy on defense was one of the keys for CSKA to overcome tougher opponents than ever and seal a trip to its fifth consecutive Final Four. Hines becomes the third CSKA player to win the Best Defender Trophy, joining Victor Khryapa (2010) and Andrei Kirilenko (2012).
Best Defender Trophy: Kyle Hines, CSKA Moscow
Fenerbahce Istanbul big man Jan Vesely was second to Hines in the coaches' voting, followed by Adam Hanga of Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz and another Fenerbahce player, Ekpe Udoh. The first of this season's Euroleague awards was announced earlier this week when Nando De Colo, also from CSKA, earned this season's Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy. Others to be announced in the coming days include the Euroleague Rising Star Trophy and the All-Euroleague honorees. The MVP award will be revealed at the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 12 in Berlin. The Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year Trophy and the Euroleague Club Executive of the Year are post-season awards.
Throughout this season, as ever in his career, Hines was as reliable, tough and an unfailing source of energy for CSKA. Despite being 10 centimeters or more shorter than many of the opponents he garded, Hines amassed 23 blocks and 18 steals, which only Ekpe Udoh of Fenerbahce Istanbul, Quincy Miller of Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade and Gustavo Ayon of Real Madrid matched this season. More than individual statistics, however, it is his presence that makes Hines such a factor in CSKA's success. That is reflected in how he was used this season, as only one other center (Ayon) accumulated more minutes on Euroleague courts. Hines's efforts were more crucial than ever to CSKA due to the injuries of his frontcourt mates Joel Freeland, Victory Khryapa and Pavel Korobkov, who combined to sit out 47 games. When all three were missing in action during the playoffs, the undersized Hines stepped up in a major way. In addition to team-highs of 30:29 minutes and 15.7 points per game in a series sweep, Hines also helped hold playoffs foe Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade to just 46.5% two-point accuracy, well below its 52% rate until then. For the season, Hines started 14 of 27 games and led CSKA in blocks (0.9 bpg.), while ranking second on the team in rebounds (4.7 rpg.) and third in scoring (10.9 ppg.).
This is the sixth Euroleague season for Hines, who after a four-year college career at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, started his professional career with Primo Veroli in Italy. He made his Euroleague debut with Brose Baskets Bamberg in the 2010-11 season before moving to Olympiacos Piraeus, where he went on to win Euroleague titles in 2012 and 2013. In his three seasons with CSKA so far, Hines helped the team reach as many Euroleague Final Fours.
Hines is only the sixth player to win the Best Defender Trophy award since its inception in 2004. He joins six-time winner Dimitris Diamantidis of Panathinaikos Athens (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011), Khryapa (2010), Kirilenko (2012), Stephane Lasme (2013) of Panathinaikos, and Bryant Dunston, who wore the Olympiacos Piraeus jersey while winning the trophy in 2014 and 2015.