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

Free throws this season

Points made: 10,3
Accuracy: 72,3%
Place in standings: 18
Record max: 24
Record min: 1
Most made FTs: Mario Hezonja

For the festive weekend, BasketNews presents EuroLeague mid-season awards, consisting of six different categories: the biggest surprise, biggest 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 had a look at the biggest surprise of the mid-season.

Orazio: So far I'd say UNICS Kazan. For a newcomer in the competition, they're doing a really good job. They have one of the best defenses in the EuroLeague, they're big and physical, and they can really slow down the rhythm of the other teams.

Moreover, offensively, they can rely on the talent of players like Lorenzo Brown, Mario Hezonja, Isaiah Canaan, and O.J. Mayo, all able to have great offensive nights for their team. Velimir Perasovic is doing an excellent job creating the right balance between all these guys.

Uygar: Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade for sure. Not many people expected much from Zvezda with the predominantly domestic resources and a reasonable budget. But they showed us how a good organization could bring a humble team with a lot of desire to win.

They check all the boxes to fulfill the EuroLeague tradition. These types of surprise packages cannot win much for themselves but indeed increase the overall quality of the competition.

They are defensive specialists, but Dejan Radonjic makes timely and well-advised tweaks for the offensive setup to compensate for the lack of firepower; the latter part should not be overlooked.

Playoffs? Maybe the 8th place. Bad news for the regular season champions. 

Giorgos: If we're referring to overachievers, that's UNICS Kazan. They got off on the wrong foot, losing four out of their five contests. To add insult to injury, they also suffered a 41-80 hammering at the hands of Fenerbahce.

But, as Andrea Trinchieri would put it, shit happens. Without any further additions to their roster, UNICS found the way to build a winning pedigree, collect some road wins that boosted their morale, and now they are a serious playoff candidate.

With a few notable exceptions (Hezonja, L. Brown, Tonye Jekiri, Andrey Vorontsevich), Perasovic is guiding an ensemble with little EuroLeague experience.

It's exactly because of those hard-nosed players playing their roles to perfection (like Isaiah Canaan does with his shooting or John Brown with his defense). UNICS have overcome some mishaps as Mayo struggles or Janis Timma being a non-factor and reached the first half of the table.

Let's see what else they have in store.

Donatas: UNICS Kazan, easily. I was dead wrong about them before the season. Although they started 1-4, including the devastating 41-80 loss to Fenerbahce, UNICS became one of my favorite teams to watch.

I don't remember any other American-driven EuroLeague team that enjoyed defensive plays that much. J. Brown, L. Brown, Hezonja, Canaan, Mayo, big lineups, fastbreaks... I hope they'll stay consistent, although it won't be easy.

Miguel: So far, I would say Velimir Perasovic's work. I was skeptical this summer after each signing. It was like good cards to play a video game, but he had to manage them. And he has built a solid team. A big amount of talent is ready to play hard and compete. UNICS are the most exciting team in the competition. 

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