As the top scorer in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague during a month in which his team seriously boosted its chances of making the playoffs for the first time ever, Alexey Shved of Khimki Moscow Region has been chosen by Euroleague Basketball as the MVP for February.
Shved, who is on pace to shatter a few EuroLeague records this season, was a leading man again as Khimki fought off three fellow aspirants to the playoffs to record a perfect 3-0 record in February. He not only led Khimki in scoring for all three games, but was first or second in assists for each, too, all despite facing teams with defensive game plans built to stop him. Shved's fantastic February was in line with his brilliant season so far. He averaged a league-high 20.7 points and 4.0 assists while drawing 20 fouls, the second most during the month. He also he shot 61.5% on two-pointers and 90% on free throws. Shved is the first Khimki player ever to be awarded the MVP of the Month honor. He is the third Russian-born player to win the distinction and the first since Andrei Kirilenko of CSKA Moscow was the October MVP in 2011. Most significantly, with Shved showing the way, Khimki rose up in February to tie three teams that were ranked higher when the month began, significantly solidifying its playoffs prospects heading into the last full month of the regular season.
The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 14th season. Although statistics and performance index ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team's performance. The award for February spanned the three regular season games that all teams played between Rounds 21 and 23.
Khimki opened February with a hard-fought 68-66 home win over Unicaja Malaga in Round 21. Shved carried the Khimki attack for much of the game and finished with 22 points and 4 assists. He either scored or assisted on 7 of Khimki's last 11 points, including setting up James Anderson for a game-tying score before Anthony Gill's last-second put-back won it. In Round 22, Khimki fell behind early on the road against Zalgiris Kaunas before Shved scored 11 points in a 1-20 second-quarter surge that turned the game around. He finished it in style, too, with a pair of free throws and an assist in a 1-10 closing run for a 74-84 victory that gave Khimki a tie-break advantage over Zalgiris going forward. Shved amassed 20 points on 4-for-9 three-point shooting plus 4 assists in the win. For his team's February finale, Shved outdueled Nick Calathes of Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens in a matchup of elite guards en route to a 78-61 victory. Shved starred with 20 points and 4 assists for the winners. That result raised Khimki's record to 14-9, the same as three other teams currently vying for fourth place, which comes with home-court advantage in the playoffs.
Shved's February production left his season-long average at 21.9 points, which is now the ninth best in EuroLeague history and the highest for a player with more than 20 games in a season. With 73 three-pointers made this season, he already ranks fifth all-time and needs just 6 more to blow past the single-season record of 78 set by Ali Muhammed of Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul last season. Shved also ranks first this season in fouls drawn (6.1 per game), third in average performance index rating (19.8), seventh in steals (1.3 spg.) and 12th in assists (4.4 apg.). To cap off a brilliant February, Shved became just the seventh player to reach 500 points in a single season with a basket late in Khimki's Round 23 win. He is on pace to break Keith Langford's single-season scoring record, set a year ago, of 609 points. Khimki fans can celebrate with their star when Shved receives the MVP for February trophy at an upcoming home game.