bwin MVP for November: Nenad Krstic, CSKA Moscow

Nov 28, 2011 by Print
bwin MVP for November: Nenad Krstic, CSKA Moscow
For the first time in its eight-year history, the Euroleague Basketball's award for the best player each month will go to the same team twice in a row as Nenad Krstic of CSKA Moscow has been chosen bwin MVP for November. CSKA is one of just two Turkish Airlines Euroleague teams undefeated through six games, and Krstic has had everything to do with preserving that perfection in November. The 28-year-old center, playing his first season for CSKA, got more and more efficient as the month progressed. CSKA followed a pair of road victories, over KK Zagreb and Panathinaikos Athens, with a pair of home wins against Unicaja and Zalgiris Kaunas. Krstic had a key role in all four games, but was biggest when it counted most. In the middle of the month, he posted his first double-double of the season against previously undefeated Panathinaikos. To end it, he had his career-high performance index rating against Zalgiris days after CSKA faced the sudden loss of its leader and the bwin October MVP, forward Andrei Kirilenko, to a broken nose and concussion. In the precise game when teammates could have been brought down by uncertainty, Krstic stepped up to make CSKA the first team to qualify for the Top 16. His extraordinarily solid, month-long effort was more than enough for Krstic to be chosen the bwin MVP for November.

The bwin MVP of the Month honor is now in its eighth season. Although statistics and performance index 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. The award for November was decided based on the four regular season games that all teams played between November 1 and November 24. The five games being played on Wednesday, November 30 will be included in considerations for the December award. Euroleague Basketball partner bwin is the sponsor of the MVP of the Month award. Just as the best Euroleague player each month combines performance and leadership for success, so does bwin's sponsorship communicate its conviction to be the best betting brand in European basketball.

CSKA opened November, the same month that it fell out of Top 16 contention a year ago, with its widest margin of victory in almost eight years, winning 89-47 on the road against KK Zagreb, which subsequently won its next two home games. On that night, however, Krstic scored 11 of his game-high 15 points before halftime, when CSKA was up 20 points. He also had 5 rebounds and 2 of the 9 blocks that tied CSKA's team high in the Euroleague this century. Next, CSKA stayed on the road for a showdown of undefeated teams, visiting defending champs Panathinaikos. This time, Krstic was his team's second-best scorer with 13 points, but did even more damage on the boards, with a floor-high 11 rebounds, including 6 on the offensive glass. His free throws tied and sent the game to overtime, where he scored the first basket, sending CSKA on its way to a memorable road win before 16,000 Panathinaikos fans. Back home in Moscow for November's third game, Krstic was nothing but solid with 12 points, 7 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in 26 minutes without a turnover. The next week, with the absence of Kirilenko the big story, Krstic outdid himself against Zalgiris. He put the team on his back by making 7 of 8 two-point shots and 7 of 9 free throws for 21 points. He added 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Again, Krstic had no turnovers, and in fact finished November with just 2 in almost 100 minutes of play. He also boasted November averages of 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block while shooting 61% on two-pointers and 72% at the free throw line. What's more, his production was totally dependable, until CSKA needed more from him – and then he came through against Zalgiris with the highest performance index rating, 33, of his Euroleague career.

By the time November was over, Krstic ranked fourth among all Euroleague players during the regular season in average index rating (21.7 per game), 13th in scoring (15.2 ppg.), 10th in rebounds (6.7 rpg.) and second in offensive rebounds (4 orpg.) On a per-minute basis, he ranks behind only Kirilenko in performance index rating, a remarkable coincidence of two ultra-efficient big men on the same team. And CSKA fans will get to celebrate their good fortune when Nenad Krstic receives his bwin MVP award for November at an upcoming home game.