Anadolu Efes Istanbul will be defending its crown later this month at the 2022 Final Four in Belgrade, Serbia, thanks in great part to a superstar guard who stepped up when the reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champions needed him most. Shane Larkin's performances late in the regular season and throughout the playoffs helped Efes reach the pinnacle event of the season and have made him Euroleague Basketball's choice as MVP for April.
MVP for April: Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Efes is headed to its third consecutive Final Four after ousting AX Armani Exchange Milan 3-1 in their best-of-five playoff series to finish April with a 5-2 record overall. Larkin was in the middle of it all, posting a league-high performance index rating of 23.4 for the month with the metronomic consistency that has made him a star. Apart from the sheer numbers, Larkin delivered several clutch performances in the season's most important moments.
The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 17th season. Although statistics are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team's performance during the month in question. This is Larkin's third such honor after previously earning MVP recognition in November of 2019 and January of 2020.
Efes opened a busy April with a playoff-clinching 87-77 home win over ALBA Berlin in which Larkin had the main role. He scored a season-high 28 points on 6-for-11 three-point shooting to go with 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals for a PIR of 35 that was worth the MVP honor the Round 33 honor. Larkin followed that with 20 points, 4 assists and a 26 PIR in Efes's 81-76 victory over FC Bayern Munich in a rescheduled Round 19 game. Two days later, in the team's regular-season finale, he had 16 points and 6 assists for a PIR of 27 in a road loss against Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. In the playoffs opener against Milan, Larkin stepped up with 16 points, 5 assists and 2 steals for a 15 PIR in a crucial 48-64 road win, then had 19 points and a performance index rating of 19 in a Game 2 defeat. Efes closed out the series with two home wins in which Larkin played 37 minutes each. In Game 3, he scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, including 8 points in the last 4 minutes, to lift Efes to a crucial 77-65 victory. He shot 4-for-7 on three-pointers with 5 assists and 4 rebounds for a PIR of 24 that night. In Game 4's series-clinching 75-70 victory, he combined 8 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals for a PIR of 17 as Efes became the only Final Four qualifier to have begun the playoffs without home-court advantage.
Larkin finished the playoffs ranked second in average PIR, with 18.8. He was also third in assists (4.8) and steals (1.3) during the playoffs, while ranking eighth scoring at 14.8 points and third with 2.5 triples per game. Larkin enters the Final Four with the EuroLeague's second-highest PIR average overall (18.9). With his steady performances, he helped guide Efes through a difficult season before raising his level during April to make sure that Efes could defend its continental title on European basketball's biggest stage.