Blocking a shot is arguably the most exciting non-scoring play in basketball. Blocked shots not only stop the opposing player from scoring, but they instantly get the crowd involved, too. When a team is down, blocks can become catalysts for a much-needed momentum switch or a game-changing rally. And if you ask the player who swatted more shots than any other last decade, getting better at shot-blocking is not just a matter of size, but a combination of hard work, natural talent and basketball smarts.
Bryant Dunston of Anadolu Efes Istanbul has been Mr. Consistency when it comes to protecting the paint. In five of his six full seasons in the EuroLeague, including his first two with Olympiacos Piraeus, he blocked at least 32 shots. If not for an injury that forced him to miss the last nine games of 2019, Dunston was on track to become the competition's all-time leader in rejections. Still, he finished as the leader for last decade with 242 total blocks.
Since making his debut in the EuroLeague in November 2018, Real Madrid's Walter Tavares has been swatting shots at a quicker pace than almost any players before him. Just a little more than two full years in the competition was enough for Tavares to deliver 128 blocks. Due to his shot-blocking prowess, he received the moniker "Sargent Swat" and finished with an average of 1.6 blocks over his 79 games played, the best per-game rate of any player last decade.
The best shot-blocking performance of the last decade came on February 11, 2016, when Fenerbahce Istanbul center Ekpe Udoh rejected 7 shots in an 80-59 win over visiting Unicaja Malaga. Udoh spent less than 28 minutes on court and barely played in the fourth quarter of that contest. Six of his blocks came in the first three quarters, leading Fenerbahce to a huge win. Udoh's 7 blocks also tied for the third-highest mark in the EuroLeague since the turn of the century.
Udoh spent only two campaigns in the EuroLeague, but led the league in blocked shots both times at the end of the season. Not only is Udoh the only player during the last decade to average more than 2.0 blocks per game, but he did so twice. In his debut 2015-16 campaign, Udoh posed a decade-best 2.26 blocks average over 27 games with 61 total rejections, a record at the time. A year later, he improved his total mark with 68 blocks, which still stands as the EuroLeague's single-season record. He reached that mark in 31 games for a 2.19 rate per game, falling just shy of breaking his record for average blocks, too.