Ever since he first stepped foot on a Turkish Airlines EuroLeague court, Bryant Dunston has been an inside force to be reckoned with. Not among the tallest, but certainly among the strongest and most athletic players in the competition, Dunston has made a huge difference in the paint for two teams, first Olympiacos Piraeus and now Anadolu Efes Istanbul. His mark on the EuroLeague is growing larger with every game he plays.
Dunston wasted little time in earning respect from players and coaches alike. In each of his first two seasons with Olympiacos, in 2013-14 and 2014-15, those head coaches voted him as the EuroLeague Best Defender, one of just three players to win the award multiple times. Dunston capped his second season with Olympiacos by helping the team reach the 2015 championship game. He joined Efes the following summer.
In four seasons since, he has become a fundamental part of Efes, one of the team's most consistent performers, and a true ironman. Since moving to Istanbul, Dunston has missed only one EuroLeague game – a Round 29 clash earlier this season. With his 123 appearances in the Efes uniform, he is among five players with most EuroLeague games played for the club this century.
All the while, this good-natured force has quietly etched his name into the EuroLeague record-books, too. Dunston now ranks second on the all-time list of blocked shots with 229 for his career. He is at the top of his game now, too, having averaged 1.8 rejections over five playoff games against FC Barcelona Lassa, more than any other player in that phase. His 9 total blocks in the series were the most in the playoffs since 2011.
Dunston has been a menace at the offensive end of the floor, as well. Until April, he had been the only player in competition history to pull down 100 offensive rebounds in a season. He remains the only EuroLeague player this century with at least 160 games played to average at least 2.1 offensive rebounds. He enters the Final Four just 18 offensive rebounds shy of becoming just the eighth player to reach 400 for his career.
In his second Final Four, and first with Efes, Dunston has a chance in Vitoria-Gasteiz to cement an everlasting legacy. The 33-year old big man will be leading Efes from the middle in an effort to accomplish what no one on the team has done before -- conquer the EuroLeague crown.