This week marks the last round of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague play before the new year, so once it finishes, the MVP for December will be determined. All teams will have played six games this month at the end of this week. After the first five games of the month, here are the main candidates, in alphabetical order, for the December award.
December MVP ladder: The top candidates
Lorenzo Brown, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv
Brown has led Maccabi took its first two road wins this season among three victories so far in December. With at least 15 points and 6 assists in December's first five games, he has been incredibly solid. Curiously, his top individual performance – 36 points and 7 assists for a PIR of 43 – came in a loss at FC Bayern Munich. He subsequently reached a PIR of 20 twice: 20 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists against EA7 Emporio Arman Milan; and 18 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds at Virtus Segafredo Bologna. Brown ranks second so far this month in both points (20.8) and assists (6.8).
Nando De Colo, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne
De Colo was pivotal as ASVEL claimed three much-needed wins in a row this month – against FC Barcelona, Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade and Olympiacos Piraeus – by a combined total of 7 points. In the first, his step-back jumper with 1.3 seconds left sealed the victory. In the second, he became the oldest player ever to score as many as 32 points in a EuroLeague game. In the last, besides becoming just the third EuroLeague 4,000-point scorer ever, he assisted on the game-winning, buzzer-beating shot. De Colo has been MVP of the Month three times previously.
Bojan Dubljevic, Valencia Basket
Dubljevic has led Valencia to three wins so far in December: at Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade to open the month, and then at home against Panathinaikos Athens and FC Barcelona. He has shot the ball extremely well for all five games this month, hitting 19 of 24 two-pointers (79.2%), 13 of 24 three-pointers (54.2%) and 7 of 8 free throws (87.5%). His top game yet this season – 23 points, 8 rebounds and a 32 PIR – came against Panathinaikos. He second best – 28 points and a PIR of 28 in less than 22 minutes – came in a loss at FC Bayern Munich.
Pierria Henry, Cazoo Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
Baskonia is the EuroLeague's sole 5-0 team so far in December, with home wins against Milan, Bayern and Virtus bracketing a dream double-round road sweep of Anadolu Efes Istanbul and Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul. Henry missed the game against Efes for personal reasons, but played really well in the remaining four showdowns. His top game – 14 points and 10 assists for a 28 PIR – came against Bayern. In the last game, against Virtus, he tied Baskonia's club record for assists in the EuroLeague with 13.
Mike James, AS Monaco
AS Monaco's 3-2 December to date included a pair of big road wins and an unusual won at home in which ALBA Berlin played a game-long special defense to stop James. It didn't work. Despite scoring just 8 points in that game, he led Monaco with a 22 PIR, as he did in the team's road win in Madrid, which featured his miraculous late four-point play to force overtime. James scored no fewer than 16 points in Monaco's other four games and was its top scorer in the wins at ASVEL (17) and Madrid (28).
Dzanan Musa, Real Madrid
Musa's impressive December includes double-digit scoring in all five games to date, of which Real won three: on the courts of Fenerbahce and Bayern, then at home against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. He had his best point totals in two defeats: 24 points against AS Monaco and 22 at Zalgiris Kaunas. He also led Real with 18 points as it handed then-leader Fenerbahce its first home loss. His 7 rebounds against Bayern and 6 assists against Fenerbahce were both career highs for Musa. His average PIR of 19.0 is the highest of any Real player this month.
Luca Vildoza, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
Vildoza has been the catalyst for Zvezda's December comeback, leading his team to a 4-1 record so far. He scored 14 points or more in all five games, pouring in 27 against Zalgiris Kaunas in Round 13 and 22 at Olympiacos Piraeus in Round 15. He had at least 6 assists and 3 steals in three games each. His assist led to the game-winning buzzer-beater as Zvezda topped archrival Partizan in the EuroLeague's first Belgrade derby. He scored 9 of Zvezda's final 11 points in an upset win at Olympiacos Piraeus. Vildoza's 21.0 average PIR ranks first among all players in December so far.