Comebacks are rarely so sweet. Following his two long years of involuntary absence from the basketball court, Arvydas Macijauskas of Olympiacos is Euroleague Basketball's choice as the first MVP of the Month for the 2007-08 season. Macijauskas has been nothing short of spectacular in the five of six Olympiacos games he has played in October and November. The 27-year-old shooting guard currently leads all Euroleague players in several statistical categories: performance index rating (30 per game), scoring (23.8 points per game) and two-point shooting accuracy (80%). He also ranks second in steals (2.4 per game) and eighth in free throw accuracy (86.7%). Considering that he missed a game, his accumulated totals are just as impressive: Macijauskas has more index rating points and free throws made than anyone, while only two other players have more points or steals. Most remarkable of all Macijauskas has taken nearly 100 shots of all kinds so far and missed only 21 - despite being the main concern of opposing defenses. In the process, he has helped lift Olympiacos among three teams tied for second place in Group A with 4-2 records. It might surprise no one who watched him become an all-Euroleague selection in 2004-05 that Macijauskas, ranked fourth in scoring average among Euroleague players this decade, should be excelling now, in the prime of his career. But after hardly playing during one NBA season and missing most of last year with a knee injury, he has proven quickly that one of the world's great shooters is back and certainly deserves to be called Euroleague MVP for October and November.
Euroleague Basketball's MVP of the Month honor is in its fourth season. Although statistics and performance ratings 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 previous month or more. The award for November was based on the four regular season games played by all teams during that month and the two in October that started the new season.
As soon as the new season started, Macijauskas started proving himself ready to reclaim his status as one of the Euroleague's best players. Going against his former team, Tau Ceramica, he poured in 21 points and a career-high 7 steals as Olympiacos took revenge against the same opponent that had denied the Reds a trip to the Final Four last spring. In Week 2, Olympiacos got ambushed by giant-killers Union Olimpija on the road in Ljublana, Slovenia despite Macijauskas scoring 15 points while shooting perfectly except for free throws. Next, he made 8 of 8 two-point shots while scoring 24 points in a home win over Virtus VidiVici Bologna. He missed the next game, which Olympiacos lost on the road at CSKA Moscow, due to an injury to his non-shooting left hand. A week later, at home against Prokom Trefl Sopot, he proved he was fine by pouring in 27 points in 25 minutes, including 9 of 9 free throws, while dishing 5 assists. To top it all off, he finished November with his most prolific game yet, 32 points that included 10-for-11 free throw shooting in a home victory over Zalgiris.
It is hard to say who missed whom most in his two-year absence: Macijauskas or his fans. With his great performances in four home victories to start the new season, however, Macijauskas has shown Olympiacos fans that his return was well worth waiting for. What's more, they will get the chance to celebrate with him when his November MVP trophy is presented at an upcoming Olympiacos home game.