The results are in and after the tally of the votes cast by the media, fans and Turkish Airlines EuroLeague team captains and head coaches, the All-EuroLeague First Team for the 2021-22 season is here!
The quintet represents the competition’s biggest stars, including four who are previous All-EuroLeague selections. Nikola Mirotic of FC Barcelona and Walter Tavares of Real Madrid return after first-team selections last season while Anadolu Efes Istanbul’s Shane Larkin was a second-team choice for 2020-21. Mike James of AS Monaco was on the 2018-19 All-EuroLeague Second Team. Only Sasha Vezenkov of Olympiacos Piraeus is a first-time selection this season. Congratulations to all of them.
Mike James, AS Monaco
Mike James was the leader and go-to guy for an AS Monaco squad that defied the expectations to reach the playoffs and then take traditional power Olympiacos Piraeus the distance in their five-game series. James did it all for his team; he ranked third in the league in both points (16.4) and assists (5.8) and was 10th in steals (1.2). He and Shane Larkin were the only players to rank in the top 10 in all three categories. Thanks to those impressive numbers, James was fifth in average performance index rating (18.1), too. He was on the floor whenever Monaco needed him, ranking second in minutes played (31:11 per game). James was the MVP of Round 15 after leading Monaco to a road win at Zalgiris Kaunas with 20 points and a career-high 14 assists for a PIR of 31. James was the Euroleague MVP of the Month for March and then raised his game again for the highest PIR average of the playoffs, 20.8. He tied for the most assists (5.8) and was second in scoring (17.6) in the playoffs, in which one took (34) or made (31) more free throws than James, who converted 91.2% of those attempts. For James, the 2018-19 Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy winner, this is his second All-EuroLeague honor.
Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Shane Larkin posted the league’s second-best average PIR (18.9) in leading Anadolu Efes Istanbul to its third consecutive Final Four. Larkin was everywhere for Efes, ranking fourth overall in assists (5.3), sixth in scoring (14.6) and seventh in steals (1.3). He was one of just two players in the top 10 in all three categories. Larkin was third in fouls drawn (5.9) and fourth in free-throw shooting percentage (91.4%), too. In the playoffs, he ranked second in PIR (18.8) and eighth in scoring (14.8) while averaging 4.8 assists and 6.3 fouls drawn. His stellar performances late in the regular season earned Larkin MVP of the Month honors for April after he helped Efes become the only team without home-court advantage to win its playoff series. Larkin shared a league-best three MVP of the Round awards. In Rounds 16, he went for 26 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists for a PIR of 37 in a road win at Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv. Then he posted 20 points and drew 9 fouls for a PIR of 26 against FC Bayern Munich in Round 19. And finally, he tallied 28 points, 8 assists and 4 steals for a PIR of 36 in Round 33 against ALBA Berlin. This marks Larkin’s second consecutive season on the All-EuroLeague Team and his first as a member of the first team.
Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona forward Nikola Mirotic has been voted to the All-EuroLeague team for the fourth time in his career. Mirotic led the competition in average performance index rating (19.4) in helping Barca finish the regular season atop the standings with a 21-7 record. He ranked second in scoring with 16.6 points per game on almost unprecedented shooting efficiency. In fact, Mirotic is just the second player in EuroLeague history to post 65-45-85 shooting percentages; he made 65.6% of his shots inside the arc, 45.5% from downtown and 87.5% free throws. Mirotic was chosen as the MVP of the Month in both October and December, which gave him a record seven such trophies. He was MVP of the Round three times, too, tied for the most by any player this season. Mirotic claimed the first of those honors in Round 9 with 25 points on near-perfect shooting plus 8 rebounds for a PIR of 37 in just 18 minutes against Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. Then he erupted for 31 points, 10 rebounds and a EuroLeague season-high and personal-best PIR of 39 in Round 14 against Real Madrid. Finally, he tallied 25 points and a PIR of 31 in Game 3 of the playoffs against FC Bayern Munich. This marks Mirotic’s second straight season as a member of the All-EuroLeague First Team.
Walter Tavares, Real Madrid
Walter Tavares heads to his third Final Four after another standout season with Real Madrid. “Sergeant Swat” has been a major factor at both ends of the floor for Los Blancos this season, ranking third in the league with a career-best PIR of 18.5 per game. Tavares was second in both blocks (1.7) and rebounds (7.6) and seventh in two-point shooting accuracy (69.5%). He averaged 10.9 points and posted a personal-best 74.2% free throw shooting, too. No player pulled down more offensive rebounds than his 3.0 per game. Tavares started the season with a bang, posting 13 points on perfect field goals, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks against defending champion Anadolu Efes on opening night. It was the first of his seven double-doubles, which were second-most in the league. Tavares was chosen as the MVP for November after recording 11.2 points on 81.8% two-point shooting, 7.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 18.0 PIR as Real went 5-0 that month. He led Real to a 20-3 start which allowed the club to stay in the driver’s seat for the rest of the regular season. Once in the playoffs, Tavares helped Real advance to the Final Four with a sweep of Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv. This is his third selection to the All-EuroLeague Team and his second in a row on the first team.
Sasha Vezenkov, Olympiacos Piraeus
Sasha Vezenkov’s finest season as a professional helped propel Olympiacos Piraeus back to the Final Four after five years. He led the Reds in both points (13.7) and rebounds (5.8), ranking ninth overall in the latter. Only one EuroLeague player who attempted more shots posted a higher field goal percentage (53.8%) than Vezenkov, who set career-highs in both scoring and two-point accuracy (66.7%). All those numbers led to him ranking sixth in the league in average PIR (17.8). Vezenkov started every game for Olympiacos and was one of just six EuroLeague players to average more than 30 minutes per game. He seemed to get stronger as the season progressed, and over the final 12 regular-season games was a model of consistency. He never scored fewer than 13 points or had a PIR lower than 16 in that stretch. Vezenkov was the MVP of the Round twice: first, in Round 13, he posted 17 points, 7 boards and a career-best 5 steals for a PIR of 36 in a road win at UNICS Kazan; then, in Round 32, he recorded 18 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season in a road win at LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. Vezenkov was also the MVP of the Month for February. He makes his debut on the All-EuroLeague Team.