Best of the Decade: Player Achievements

Dec 31, 2019 by Print
Best of the Decade: Player Achievements

The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague has seen no shortage of outstanding individual performances during the decade coming to a close. Some players left their imprint over time, there were those with incredible seasons to remember, while others showcased single-game performances that will be talked about for years to come. Take a look back at some of the greatest individual achievements from January 1, 2010, through December 31, 2019.

The decade of Hines

Kyle Hines spent the 2010s stamping his name permanently upon EuroLeague history. An undersized, 1.98-meter center, he debuted with Brose Bamberg in 2010, averaging 12.9 points, his high-water mark as a scorer. He moved to Olympiacos Piraeus and promptly won the only back-to-back titles of the century, in 2011 and 2012. He then joined CSKA Moscow to take two more trophies, in 2016 and 2019, while stretching his personal Final Four streak to a record-tying eight years. Chosen twice by head coaches as the EuroLeague's Best Defender, Hines now ranks second all-time in offensive rebounds (542) and third in blocks (222). Before him, just 14 players in 60 years had lifted four continental trophies, just two of them in the Final Four era, and only one multiple times with different teams, like Hines. Put simply, in the 2010s, Kyle Hines joined the pantheon of the greatest winners ever in European club basketball.

De Colo's 2016 awards sweep

No player's offensive production ever matched his team's EuroLeague success like Nando De Colo's did for CSKA Moscow in the 2015-16 season. In his second of five seasons with CSKA, De Colo put up 18.9 points per game to win the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy award by a healthy margin. Next, the fans and media overwhelmingly voted him as the season's MVP. De Colo proceeded to help CSKA win the EuroLeague title at the Final Four in Berlin by scoring a semifinals-record 30 points, then collecting 22 points, 7 assists and 3 steals in a championship game win over Fenerbahce, earning the Final Four MVP honor in the process. That night, De Colo went home as the only player ever to win all three awards.

Doncic's teenage tour de force

Luka Doncic's 2017-18 season was arguably the greatest by a teenager in basketball history. His trophy harvest started when EuroLeague coaches chose him unanimously as the Rising Star Trophy winner. Then, three months after turning 19, fans and media voted Doncic as the youngest EuroLeague MVP ever. Doncic averaged a league-high PIR of 21.7 and fourth-ranked 16.0 points to lead injury-depleted Real Madrid to the Final Four in Belgrade. There, Doncic shined at the season's pinnacle event by becoming the youngest Final Four MVP ever while leading Real to its unprecedented 10th continental crown. With his All-EuroLeague First Team selection added to the mix, Doncic joined a short list of three players, including Nando De Colo two seasons earlier and Dimitris Diamantidis in 2011, who have captured four major trophies in a single EuroLeague season.

4,000-point men

Among all the terrific scorers in EuroLeague history, none have racked up more points than legends Juan Carlos Navarro and Vassilis Spanoulis. They alone have surpassed the 4,000-point milestone, and both have done so this decade. "La Bomba" Navarro was the first to reach that uncharted territory, scoring his 4,000th on April 6, 2017, with a fade-away jumper on the road against Fenerbahce Istanbul. He finished his career a season later, and still stands as the all-time scoring leader with 4,152 points. Spanoulis hit his 4,000th point in Round 1 of the current season with a fourth-quarter three-pointer on the road at LDLC ASVEL Villerubanne. "Kill Bill" Spanoulis ends the decade with 4,143 points, needing just 10 to overtake Navarro as the EuroLeague's all-time scoring king, which could happen in his first game of the new decade on Thursday.

Shved's stellar streak

At the end of the 2010s, Khimki Moscow Region star Alexey Shved has scored 10 or more points in 64 straight games, the longest such streak in EuroLeague history. From the 2017-18 season opener until now, Shved has reached double figures in every game, averaging an impressive 21.9 points during that span. Over 34 games in that first season of the streak, Shved set a single-season records with 740 points and 107 three-pointers made -- still 131 points and 16 three-pointers more than any player before or after. Interestingly, Shved didn't have a 20-point game until Round 4 that season, but proceeded to score at least that much in 20 of his next 23 games. His 21.8 points per game at season's end was exceeded this decade only by Shved's 23.3-point average in 14 appearances last season. Shved did not scored fewer than 15 points ever last season, but he missed more games than he played due to injuries, stripping him of possibilities for more records.

Mr. Triple-Double

On April 4, 2019, Nick Calathes etched his name forever upon European basketball history. That night, after several near-misses, Calathes became the second player ever to register a triple-double in a EuroLeague game, more than 13 years after the great Nikola Vujcic recorded the second of his two, the only other triple-doubles this century. Calathes did not just crunch numbers, however. His performance led Panathinaikos to a playoff-clinching victory in which the triple-double was completed in the fourth quarter. The Panathinaikos point guard finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 18 assists, which remain the second-highest total ever dished in a EuroLeague game. They helped Calathes up his own EuroLeague single-season records, both set the previous year, to 286 total assists and 8.7 on average. Just 29 players have dished 500 in their EuroLeague careers. Calathes had 535 over the last two seasons alone. Now wonder his veteran head coach, Rick Pitino, calls Calathes the best passer he has ever seen anywhere in the world.

Larkin's record-shattering night

On Friday, November 29, 2019, fans at the Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul witnessed a piece of EuroLeague history that may not be repeated for a very, very long time. That night, Anadolu Efes guard Shane Larkin exploded for a EuroLeague-record 49 points and tied another all-time high by knocking down 10 three-point shots. In a 29-point win over FC Bayern Munich, Larkin needed just 31 minutes to shatter the previous mark of 41, shared by five players. Larkin who also dished 5 assists for a performance index rating of 53, which ranks fifth all-time. The accomplishment came with drama, too, as Efes coach Ergin Ataman sat Larkin midway through the fourth quarter, when he had only 38 points. After a brief rest, though, he came back to hit 3 more three-pointers and 11 more points, re-writing history books. "Tonight was one of those nights where you make your first couple of shots and the rim looks like the ocean," Larkin said.