Of the dozen players who have an Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy on their mantles, only three are currently in the EuroLeague. The last two men to receive the award will square off on Friday when Alexey Shved and Khimki Moscow Region host Mike James and CSKA Moscow in the latest edition of the Leningradka Derby.
James leads the league in scoring again this season with 19.2 points per game, though Shved is not far behind with 16.8 points per game, which is fourth-best in the competition. Shved missed the first four games of the season, but since his return only Scottie Wilbekin of Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv has netted more points than Shved's 134. In that span, James has 2 fewer points, but has also played one game less.
Shved ranks higher than James in average performance index rating this season; his 18.8 is third in the EuroLeague and James's 18.4 is fourth. The biggest reason for that is Shved's league-best 9.4 assists per game, which is almost double James and his 4.7 per game.
Their respective dominance in recent seasons is unparalleled. Since the start of the 2017-18 campaign, Shved and James are first and second, respectively, in both points scored and scoring average, despite each missing half a season! That 2017-18 season was Shved's Ford Trophy-winning campaign when he averaged 21.8 points and set a EuroLeague record with 740 points scored. James only joined Panathinaikos Athens midway through that season.
James was the 2018-19 winner with AX Armani Exchange Milan when he tallied 595 points, which is third-most in one season in EuroLeague history, and an average of 19.8 per game. Shved averaged 23.3 points per game in 2018-19, but did not qualify for the leader board that season because injuries limited him to just 14 games.
This game will mark the eighth time these two teams have squared off in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. While Shved has worn a Khimki uniform in all of those, James has competed against Shved with Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, Panathinaikos, Milan and CSKA. Shved has always shined when facing James, however, James's success has varied from team to team.
Khimki and Baskonia split games in the 2015-16 Top 16 and Khimki bested James's Panathinaikos side in their only meeting two years later. Shved averaged 21 points, 5 assists and a PIR of 21.3 in those games, compared to 8.3 points, 3.7 assists and a PIR of 10.3 for James. Over the past two seasons, James's Milan and CSKA sides are a combined 4-0 vs Khimki with James posting 22.5 points, 4.3 assists and a PIR of 20 per game. Shved was just as impressive with a pair of double-doubles and averages of 23.5 points, 7.3 assists and a PIR of 20.3 in those losses.
Both men are on pace to make history. Another Ford Trophy for James would make him the third player (after Igor Rakocevic and Keith Langford) to win the award multiple times and the first to receive it twice in a row. Shved, however, could become the first Ford Trophy winner to ever lead the league in assists. Either way, a high-scoring showdown appears to be in the cards this week.