The Euroleague Final Four tipoff will happen in 15 days and it also means that another intense and exciting season of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague has wrapped up. Before all you die-hard Euroleague fans sulk in your seats because it will mean you will be missing the action at the Euroleague hard court for a few months until another season opens, this is also the time to look back on the individual players who shone above the rest despite tough competition in the league to showcase their individual skills and talents at the hard court.
There are a few post-season awards to give away and this post will highlight only some of the most recognizable awards given by the Euroleague Basketball. Let us kick off with one award that is based purely on statistics, the Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy, which is awarded to the player with the most impressive scoring performance for this current Euroleague season. And this year's winner is Igor Rakocevic of Efes Pilsen Istanbul. Although his team failed to qualify to the Playoffs and Euroleague Final Four 2011 after they were eliminated in the Top 16 round, Igor Rakocevic' outstanding performance cannot be denied. This trophy is given to players with the most number of points in minimum amount of games, which showcases their efficiency on the court. By the end of the regular season, Rakocevic has outdone Mirza Teletovic of Caja Laboral, Joel Freeland of Unicaja, Juan Carlos Navarro of Regal FC Barcelona, and Kenny Gregory of Union Olimpijia for this award. Also, Rakocevic earned the distinction of the only player to win this award more than once; in fact, this is his third time to win the trophy after he won it twice while still playing for Tau Ceramica.
Another notable post-season award is that of the Best Defender. For the sixth time, Dimitris Diamantidis owns the award, which is determined through votes given by head coaches in the Euroleague. It is an impressive feat for Diamantidis because in 7 seasons in the Euroleague, he has won the award 6 times, including his rookie year! That only goes to show his quality as a defensive player despite being quite an offensive powerhouse himself, thus making him a valuable player for his team! In doing so, he has assured his status as one of Euroleague's best defensive figures of all time, if not THE best!
Finally, Nikola Mirotic of Real Madrid earns the nod for this year's Rising Star award. Last year, it was won by Regal FC Barcelona's Ricky Rubio and this year, Mirotic has won it after making a huge transition from being a teenage reserve to becoming a decisive force that helped lift his team, the Whites, into the Euroleague Final Four 2011. It is also a historic moment for the club as they have broken a 15-year drought since it last reached the Euroleague Final Four. This award is given to any player in the Euroleague below the age of 22 that has shown massive leadership, excellent individual play, and a great overall performance to lift their team's performance. And for these reasons, Nikola Mirotic is deserving for the Rising Star award given to him by the Euroleague officials.