CSKA Moscow had already won four straight games going into Round 10 and put behind itself a slow start to the season. Since then Nikola Milutunov has taken off - and the Russian powerhouse has now extended its winning streak to 11 games.
Milutinov collected 17 points and 14 rebounds in CSKA’s hard fought 78-87 victory at LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. The 17 points were 1 point off his season’s best mark, while 14 rebounds are tops for the Serbian center, who also produced a season-best 30 index rating.
Milutinov has clearly gotten more comfortable with his role on his new team after joining CSKA from Olympiacos Piraeus in the off-season. The 2.13-meter Milutinov, who turns 26 years old next week, has collected four straight double-doubles with his other double-double coming in Round 10 against FC Bayern Munich with 18 points and 12 rebounds. He has amassed a PIR of 20 or better in all five of those games.
Milutinov leads the EuroLeague in rebounds (8.0 rpg) and offensive rebounds (3.6 orpg), is eighth in index rating (16.6) and third in two-point shooting percentage (73.0%).
The way he’s playing, it should be no surprise that CSKA Moscow has not lost a game this season in which Milutinov has played at least 14 minutes. The new addition missed the first three games of 2020-21 and then combined for only 17 minutes in Rounds 4 and 5 - as the team reeled with a 2-3 record in the early going.
Milutinov finally scored in double figures in Round 10 against Bayern, and the stats show just how much stronger CSKA is with him playing well. In the four wins between Rounds 6 and 9, CSKA won by an average of 6.8 points. In the last seven games, the club has an average winning margin of 14.1, including a 15.8 winning margin in the five games with Milutinov collecting double-doubles.
One thing that should worry the rest of the league even more is that Milutinov will eventually start becoming more involved in the team’s passing game as well. In his last two of five seasons with Olympiacos, he averaged 1.5 and 1.2 assists, respectively. This season, the big man has only dished out 10 assists in 13 games - though he showed what he could do with 4 assists against Khimki Moscow Region. Milutinov hasn’t registered an assist since then in the last three games - but it will undoubtedly come.
And then an already scary CSKA Moscow team will probably be that much scarier.