Due to the split of January 31 and February 1 games in Round 22 next week, the last games being considered for the MVP of January award are on Thursday and Friday of Round 21. All teams will have played five games this month by the end of this week. As always, the winner will be named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team's performance during the month. In alphabetical order, here are some of the top candidates – all from teams with no more than one defeat so far – heading into the last eligible games of the month.
January MVP ladder: The top candidates
Xavi Lopez-Arostegui, Valencia Basket (3-1)
Valencia Basket heads into Round 21 on a three-game winning streak despite a bevy of injuries that saw four of the team's top five scorers miss time this month. Lopez-Arostegui rose to the challenge to lift Valencia when most needed. After producing 12 points and 2 steals in a victory over defending champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul, he went for 13 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals at LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. That came after averaging 6.2 points, 1.0 assist and 0.5 steals in the first 17 rounds of the season. Lopez-Arostegui, a EuroLeague rookie, has been at the heart of Valencia's winning run and continues to get better.
Johnathan Motley, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul (3-1)
After missing time in December due to injury, Motley has been a beast in the paint for Fenerbahce in January. His best game of the month came against Bayern as Motley won the Round 19 MVP honor by posting 22 points and 17 rebounds for a PIR of 38. It was the highest rebounding total and second-highest PIR of the month. In total, Motley has led Fenerbahce to a 3-1 record in January with 15.3 points and a league-high 9.8 rebounds per game. His PIR of 19.5 this month is tied for fourth. Those numbers soar to 17.7 points, 11.3 boards and a PIR of 24.0 in Fenerbahce's three January victories.
Augustine Rubit, FC Bayern Munich (3-1)
Rubit has been playing his best basketball in January, leading Bayern to a pair of home wins and a heroic comeback at Anadolu Efes Istanbul. Having started the month with 23 points and a career-high PIR of 34 to beat Panathinaikos Athens, Rubit never slowed down. Now in his fifth EuroLeague season – and second with Bayern – Rubit is the fourth-highest EuroLeague scorer in January with 17.8 points per game and third in PIR (21.0). He has made 66.7% of his two-pointers (24 of 36) and 80% of his threes (4 of 5).
Walter Tavares, Real Madrid (3-1)
Going into his team's El Clásico rivalry with FC Barcelona to open Round 21 on Thursday, Tavares has been Real Madrid's defensive anchor all month. Los Blancos held its three January victims to an average of 67.0 points per game as Tavares averaged 7.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and a remarkable 4.3 blocks per game. Needless ot say, he leads all EuroLeague players in January with 3.5 blocks and is second with 7.5 rebounds while ranking third with an average PIR of 19.3.
Edgaras Ulanovas, Zalgiris Kaunas (4-0)
Team captain Ulanovas has been at the epicenter of success for the only unbeaten team until now in January. He scored in double-digits in all four Zalgiris victories this month and had as many as 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals along the way. His 8 points in a late 13-0 comeback run to beat Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade in Round 21 preserved Zalgiris's perfect record so far in January. His 14.8 PIR ranks fourth on this list of candidates and his 12.8 points per game third.
Sasha Vezenkov, Olympiacos Piraeus (3-1)
Although he may have cooled off his torrid numbers from the 2022 portion of the season, Vezenkov remained essential to the Reds doing enough to share first place going into January's final games. He has led Olympiacos with averages of 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 14.0 PIR. Vezenkov came on particularly strong at the end of the month, with game highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds in a close win at Virtus Segafredo Bologna and then 15 points and 14 PIR in a successful first-place showdown with Real Madrid.