Shane Larkin authored one of the greatest runs by a player in Turkish Airlines EuroLeague history over the past month, which made the three-point ace a slam dunk choice as the competition's MVP for January. Larkin was MVP of the round for a record four consecutive games while leading Anadolu Efes Istanbul to first place in the standings. With Larkin dominating, Efes won all six of its January games, scored at least 80 points in all of them and reached the 100-point mark twice. What made that run even more impressive is that two of those wins came on the road against the teams directly behind it in the standings, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Larkin averaged 25.7 points, 4.5 assists and a performance index rating of 33.0 in January.
The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 16th 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 January covers the six games that all teams played from Round 17 through Round 22. Larkin, who was also the MVP for November, becomes the second player ever to win EuroLeague MVP of the Month honors twice in the same season. The first was Ante Tomic, who captured the award with Barcelona in February and March of 2014.
Larkin's January started with a three-point shooting barrage at home in a Round 17 fixture against Khimki Moscow Region. He made 4 of 7 from downtown for 20 points as Efes rolled to a 101-82 victory. A week later, with All-EuroLeague backcourt mate Vasilije Micic injured, Larkin took charge in Barcelona to lead his team to an 82-86 win. He played a season-high 37:16 minutes and led all scorers with 26 points. Larkin was perfect in 9 trips to the foul line, including 4 in the last minute to give Efes the lead and put the game on ice. He finished the game with a PIR of 35 to win MVP honors for the round. For Round 19, Efes returned home for a date with AX Armani Exchange Milan and Larkin was his high-scoring self with 23 points in a convincing 88-68 triumph. His PIR of 30 was enough to earn MVP honors for that round, too. Two days later, Larkin took his game up another notch with 29 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists in dismantling LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 101-74. He amassed a PIR of 45, which was second-highest by any player in the league all season. Only his PIR of 53 against FC Bayern Munich in Round 11 was better. Round 21 presented a mouth-watering showdown with Real Madrid in the Spanish capital and Larkin was the star of the show once again. He tormented Real with 32 points on excellent shooting, including 5 of 6 on three-pointers, en route to a PIR of 36 and a 75-80 victory. To put January to bed, he knocked down 5 more three-pointers en route to 24 points in a 78-85 road win at Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade. The next-highest Efes scorer in the game had 13 points.
Larkin didn't just put up a lot of points (25.7 ppg.) in January, he did so with exceptional shooting percentages. He was 21 for 33 (63.6%) on two-pointers and 27 for 47 (57.4%) on threes. Larkin missed his first free throw of the month and then made 31 in a row (96.9%)! He also produced 4.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game and blocked his first shot of the season in the game against Milan. In what has already been an extraordinary season, Larkin bettered his numbers in every major statistical category in January while extending his team's lead atop the standings to a season-high three wins. He will be duly honored by Euroleague Basketball and his adoring fans in Istanbul when Larkin receives his MVP of the Month award at an upcoming home game.