Point guard Vasilije Micic, a driving force in Anadolu Efes Istanbul's staying power among the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague elite, has been chosen the MVP of the 2020-21 season following voting by fans, media and – for the first time – head coaches and team captains. Micic, 27, ranked fourth in scoring among all EuroLeague players, with 16.3 points per game, and ninth in assists, at 4.8 on average, leading Efes in both categories. As the only EuroLeague player to make 70 or more three-point shots and 100 or more two-pointers and free throws, Micic was singular in his status as a triple-threat this season. He was central to Efes turning around an 8-9 start to win 14 of its last 17 regular season games and surviving a five-game playoffs battle with Real Madrid to return to the Final Four. Micic was revealed as this season's MVP in a surprise presentation on Wednesday in Cologne, Germany, where Efes opens the Final Four in a semifinal against CSKA Moscow, a rematch of their 2019 title game, on Friday.
Micic becomes the 15th different player to be voted MVP since the current end-of-season awards format was introduced in 2005. He is the first to be chosen with votes cast by both the head coaches and the team captains, two of the three voting collectives who chose him among the other candidates from the All-EuroLeague First Team. Micic had been voted previously to the 2018-19 All-EuroLeague Second Team in polling of media and fans only.
Major performances all season long marked Micic's march to the MVP award. He came into the season having played 124 career EuroLeague games but was able to reach or tie career highs in no fewer than eight statistical categories in his 38 appearances this season. His personal records of 37 points and a 44 performance index rating – the second- and third-highest totals of the entire season, respectively – came in a 74-106 road blowout victory in Round 26 over archrivals Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul to end that team's 10-game winning streak. Earlier, he scored 33 points in a 77-80 Round 8 road win at Panathinaikos OPAP Athens, making him one of just three players to reach that total or higher twice this season. He tied his personal high of 13 assists in helping Efes win 72-93 at ALBA Berlin in Round 3. He had 5 steals for the first time in his career in yet another double-digit road win, 80-102 against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne in Round 18. His 6 three-pointers and 11 free throws made against Fenerbahce, 8 rebounds in a losing Round 15 home effort against AX Armani Exchange Milan, and 8 two-pointers in a Round 21 loss at Zenit St Petersburg were also Micic's personal bests in his seven-season EuroLeague career.
Micic won or shared three weekly MVP honors during the season, all during the playoffs race between Round 24 and Round 31. He was the only EuroLeague player to record a performance index rating of 30 or higher five times, the last of which was a 34 in the playoffs, which he finished with the most total points (86) and third-highest scoring average (17.2). In the end, no player put the ball through the hoop this season more than Micic, who made 138 two-pointers and 70 three-pointers (the eighth-highest totals of the season) while leading all EuroLeague players with 132 free throws made. His total of 618 points going into the Final Four is the second-most scored in a single season, behind only Alexey Shved's record of 740 in 2017-18. Micic is just the fourth EuroLeague player all-time to score at least 100 two-pointers, 70 threes and 100 free throws in a single season, after Shved, Sergio Llull in 2016-17, and Mike James in each of the previous two seasons. He is the first player ever to have made more than 132 two-pointers while making at least 70 triples and 100 free throws.
A top skier in his native Serbia as a youth, Micic chose basketball as his true calling and came to wider attention when he moved to FC Bayern Munich as a 20-year-old and made his EuroLeague debut there in the 2014-15 season. Injuries limited Micic to just 10 EuroLeague games with Bayern before he returned home to play the second half of the next season and made an impact off the bench in helping Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade reach the playoffs for the only time this century. The next season, he moved to Lithuania and played a similar role as Zalgiris Kaunas returned to the Final Four after 19 years. At Efes, starting in the summer of 2018, Micic took on a leading role in another team's long-awaited return to the Final Four. Micic would average 17.5 points at the season-ending showcase in Vitoria-Gazteiz, Spain, although Efes fell short against CSKA in the team's first-ever championship game. For his efforts, Micic earned a spot on that season's All-EuroLeague Second Team. In the last, pandemic-shortened season, Micic kept up his non-stop improvement by averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 assists, ranking among the EuroLeague's top eight players in both categories, all of which set the stage for his current, spectacular season, now rewarded with the season MVP trophy by the fans, media, coaches and players.