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After reaching halfway through the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season, it's time to have a look at who performed the best.

For the festive weekend, BasketNews presents EuroLeague mid-season awards, consisting of six different categories: the biggest surprisebiggest disappointment, the best quote, the best mid-season signing, All EuroLeague mid-season team, and the MVP.

In this article, BasketNews experts Orazio Cauchi, Uygar Karaca, Giorgos Kyriakidis, Donatas Urbonas, and Miguel Lois Vidal chose their All EuroLeague team the mid-season.

Uygar:

PG: Shane Larkin, Anadolu Efes: What I like about Shane Larkin this season is his humbleness.

He struggled at the beginning of the season when sent to the court from the bench but slowly, he earned more minutes and possessions towards the end of the mid-season. He steps us only when desperately needed and delivers game-saving performances.

Micic could look like the hero of this team but without Larkin, Efes could have extra 2-3 losses. 

SG: Tyler Dorsey, Olympiacos Piraeus: What Dorsey is going to bring to the table for Olympiacos was a curious question because not every player could adapt to Bartzokas' strict framework.

He likes to use the ball and he needs rhythm. But I guess, despite all his offensive prowess, the game-changer was his work rate in defense so he earned those extra possessions and minutes from Bartzokas. As an extra-curricular scorer, Dorsey found answers for Olympiacos when they are stuck. 

SF: Nikola Kalinic, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade: A floor leader. That's what Crvena Zvezda exactly needed. He defends multiple positions, he uses that post-up playmaking skills from the elbow, shooting threes more than ever.

Kalinic is the heart and soul of this team. He will be the one to seal their fate about how far they can go.

PF: John Brown, UNICS Kazan: I know it is hard to nominate someone else other than Mirotic here but John Brown is having a phenomenal season so far.

Personally, I am not surprised at all. Anyone who followed last season's EuroCup closely should know Brown's switching and short-rolling capabilities along with rebounding and overall toughness.

Good job UNICS keeping him but if it goes like this, he will be earning a big contract soon with a bigger team.  

C: Tibor Pleiss, Anadolu Efes: Efes' unlikely hero so far for the season. Extended his range of long two-pointers behind the three-point line so that added another dimension. Helps with the ball movement, despite being labeled as a "slow" player. Pleiss is the new Sertac for Efes. 

Coach: Sarunas Jasikevicius, FC Barcelona: Designed a more stable offensive flow, kept the defensive integrity of last season. But most of all elevated the team's overall level of resilience, this team is not easily broken against adversities. They fight back.

Credit ZUMAPRESS.com-SCANPIX

Giorgos: Apart from Nikola Mirotic, I would choose players who have shown some consistency throughout the first half of the season. In this vein, I believe that Jan Vesely, Sasha Vezenkov, Lorenzo Brown, and Shavon Shields have been their teams' best representatives so far.

Vesely was huge (pun intended) in Fenerbahce's two wins in Russia, over CSKA and Zenit, posting 49 points combined.

Vezenkov is up for the Most Improved Player Award and has been leading Olympiacos, along with Dorsey. He's not a one-dimensional scorer or shooter anymore and that speaks volumes for the work he's put in.

Brown is the ideal floor general that UNICS Kazan coach Velimir Perasovic would wish for, excluding his poor three-point percentage.

Shields in Armani Milan's backbone, a forward who has made great strides since his years in Vitoria.

Credit imago images/Lackovic - Scanpix

Orazio: For my midseason team I decided to go with a very big lineup but I think it's worth it.

Lorenzo Brown is having a 'comeback' season after struggling with Fenerbahce last year, Hezonja is showing some great consistency with UNICS, when it comes to Clyburn, Mirotic, and Vesely I believe there's not much to explain, they're the best of the best in their roles.

Also, the pick for the head coach was an easy one, Jasikevicius is doing a tremendous job with Barcelona, not only from an X's and O's perspective but also from the mental side. 

PG - Lorenzo Brown, UNICS Kazan

SG - Mario Hezonja, UNICS Kazan

SF - Will Clyburn, CSKA Moscow

PF - Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona

C - Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul

Coach: Sarunas Jasikevicius, FC Barcelona

Donatas: My All-Midseason team was mainly based on the club's performance and player's impact. I also didn't use the traditional positions, but split players into the frontcourt and backcourt instead. 

Frontcourt: 

Guerschon Yabusele, Real Madrid

Walter Tavares was the most efficient Real Madrid player by PIR, but Yabusele was the game-changer for Los Blancos. He stepped up with Anthony Randolph and Tristan Thompkins sidelined due to injuries by becoming the top scorer of his new team. He has the best by +/- in Real, and I think Yabusele adds a different dynamics to the Pablo Laso game.

John Brown, UNICS Kazan

He's neither the best scorer nor the most efficient player on his team by PER. But honestly, I think he's the most important reason for this surprising UNICS midseason record.

The way he defends (add deflections into the stat-sheet, and it would be a whole different conversation number-wise), the way he gives lineup flexibility for Perasovic, the way he sets the tone for his teammates with his effort and dedication...

Both Hezonja and Lorenzo Brown 100% deserve to be on this team, but John was that glue guy who made all of his teammates better.

Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona

The best EuroLeague player at the moment hands down. He won many games for Barca with his confidence and clutchness and took them to a perfect midseason record.

https://youtu.be/MMx573tx9_k

Backcourt:

Tyler Dorsey, Olympiacos Piraeus

Put any Olympiacos backcourt player on this All-EuroLeague midseason team, and I will be okay with that.

I'm not surprised by Olympiacos' record at all because I knew this perfectly built backcourt with Dorsey, Sloukas, and Walkup would take them to places.

Or should I put the person responsible for bringing Walkup and Dorsey to Olympiacos on this midseason team?

Jordan Loyd, Zenit St, Petersburg

You must credit Zenit for joining the top group of midseason teams without a point guard. And a lot of this happened thanks to Jordan Loyd. Loyd was always one of the best scorers in the tournament, but Xavi Pascual made him even more efficient.

Considering that he had to take some point guard duties due to Shabazz Napier's injury, he faced enormous defensive pressure. Still, he managed to guide Zenit to a surprising midseason record.

Coach: Sarunas Jasikevicius, FC Barcelona

Please show me the head coach who would win 15 games playing one-third of the season without backcourt stars. Also, consider that this Barcelona team was guided by a 21-year-old point guard and another backup floor general, who many people mistakenly wrote off. 

Miguel: Oh, man, this is difficult! My choices are Elie Okobo, Lorenzo Brown, Sasha Vezenkov, Nikola Mirotic, and Walter Tavares.

The French guard was insane in the first weeks of the season. High shooting percentages, smart on clutch plays, and efficient on both sides of the floor. It's not a coincidence that ASVEL decreased its level when Okobo started to slack off a bit.

L. Brown is back after an irregular season at Istanbul where he never fit with De Colo. He is the smartest player in Kazan. Vezenkov is finally a real star. He allows Olympiacos to open the court. Efficient from the corner, a good rebounder, and more solid on defense. He is still growing.

Mirotic is my MVP, no additional words are needed. And Tavares is a monster. He will succeed in Space Jam too. He changes all opponents' offensive plays. We have never seen a center like this in Europe. For sure I needed to rule out great players like Micic, Yabusele, Hezonja, Kalinic or Loyd. 

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2022-01-10
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