Steals and blocks, dunks and three-pointers, it seems that whenever Nikita Kurbanov is involved in a play, good things happen for CSKA Moscow. The fact that he is involved in many plays for his team is among the reasons that CSKA is the reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion. Kurbanov has made 49 consecutive starts for CSKA and since 2015, when he returned to the club after three years with three other Russian clubs, Kurbanov missed only two games. In fact, his 162 games in that time lead the league and he ranks among the top 25 for the period in both steals (101) and blocked shots (54).
What makes Kurbanov such a valuable piece for Coach Dimitris Itoudis is that he blends high levels of skill and talent with a blue-collar work ethic on and off the court. His never-say-die level of hustle results in countless momentum-changing plays for the champs at both ends of the floor. Chase-down blocks, steals that turn into dunks, rim-rattling slams, buzzer-beating threes and baskets-plus-fouls are all examples of game-changing plays one can expect from Kurbanov on the regular. One major change to his game has been dead-eye three-point shooting; after making 34.6% of his attempts from downtown in his first nine EuroLeague seasons, he has knocked down 52 of 110 triples over the past two seasons (47.3)! Moreover, his combination of speed, strength and size allows Kurbanov to guard almost any player on the court, too, and he has been powering CSKA through his aggressive playing style for years.
A product of the CSKA youth system, Kurbanov was a role player on the squad that ended CSKA's 35-year EuroLeague championship drought in 2006. He left the team midway through the 2007-08 campaign and spent half a season with UNICS Kazan and a full one with Spartak St Petersburg. Kurbanov was back with his boyhood club in 2009 and stayed for three seasons before he went searching for a bigger role and moved back to Spartak for one season, UNICS for another and Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar for a third. Since his return to CSKA in 2015, he has been a mainstay and a force as it captured EuroLeague championships in 2016 and 2019.