10 contenders for Most Valuable Player

VTB-League.com presents the latest installment in our series breaking down the regular season's individual awards. We've already looked at the race for Young Player of the Year, 6th Man of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Up next: the VTB United League's Most Valuable Player.

In order to win championships, you need balanced offense, execution on defense and a deep roster. But if you want to be the best, you need also star players than can take over a game and make the team better. 

VTB-League.com highlights the top ten contenders (listed in alphabetical order) for the regular season MVP.

Derrick Brown, Lokomotiv-Kuban forward

Stats: 25 games (27.6 minutes), 14.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 steals and an efficiency rating of 16.4.

Derrick Brown quickly established himself as a leader at Lokomotiv upon joining the team in 2012. He was an MVP contender in 2013-14 and he's put together another fine season in 2014-15. Brown is effective on both ends of the court and among the contenders for Defensive Player of the Year. The American big man dominates thanks to his superb athleticism, technique and confidence. In addition to his defensive prowess, Brown plays a key role in Lokomotiv's up-tempo offense.

It's hard to imagine Krasnodar without Brown. Lokomotiv had to play without him in the Eurocup quarterfinals and suffered a disappointing exit at the hands of UNICS Kazan. The team now has its sights set on a VTB United League championship, led by Derrick Brown, Lokomotiv's top scorer and most effective player during the regular season.

Andrey Vorontsevich, CSKA forward

Stats: 28 games (22.4 minutes), 8.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals and an efficiency rating of 13.3.

He's the only Russian on the list. Vorontsevich has transitioned from a role player to one of CSKA's most important contributors this season. New head coach Dimitris Itoudis has played a big role in Vorontsevich's development, while Viktor Khryapa's injuries have given the young Russian forward extra minutes. Give him credit: he's taken full advantage of his opportunities.

Vorontsevich is a tough, versatile forward who can play defense at small forward, power forward and center. He's also very efficient with limited touches on offense. He doesn't get tired, sacrifices for the team and brings a bolt of energy every time he steps on the court. Vorontsevich has been huge for a revitalized CSKA squad in 2014-15.

Nando de Colo, CSKA guard

Stats: 23 games (23.5 minutes), 14.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals and an efficiency rating of 16.0.

CSKA's first ever French player can run the offense, hold his own at shooting guard and defend both positions. Thanks to CSKA's style of play, de Colo gets to show off his full arsenal during each game and has quickly taken on an important role for the reigning champs, despite missing the first few weeks of the season with a broken hand. Nobody in the league or in Europe knows how to stop him from getting into the paint, while his clutch shooting and irrational confidence make him the perfect late-game closer.

De Colo's stint in the NBA, where he played for the legendary Gregg Popovich, were not wasted. Despite failing to reach his full potential with the Spurs, de Colo returned to Europe determined to prove he's one of the continent's best guards.

Jerry Johnson, Astana guard

Stats: 23 games (35.0 minutes), 15.9 points, 1.9 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 0.9 steals and an efficiency rating of 16.5.

Jerry Johnson joined Astana in 2011. Players and coaches have come and gone, but Johnson continues to run the offense, leading Astana to several postseason berths and Kazakh league championships. Johnson led the league in assists in 2013-14 and ranks second behind D.J. Cooper this season. He's also Astana's leading scorer.

Randy Culpepper, Krasny Oktyabr guard

Stats: 22 games (32.5 minutes), 20.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 steals and an efficiency rating of 15.6.

Krasny Oktyabr shooting guard Randy Culpepper may be the league's most explosive force on offense. Thanks to his incredible athleticism and aggressive approach, he's capable of terrorizing any defense in the league. The league's leading scorer plays a huge role for the Steelmen while crashing the highlight reel almost every week. Culpepper is a fan favorite in Volgograd and Krasny Oktyabr's most dangerous weapon.

Scott Machado, Kalev guard

Stats: 29 games (33.5 minutes), 15.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.4 steals and an efficiency rating of 15.3.

After winning eight games total in its first five seasons in the league, Kalev has posted a 13-16 record and needs just one more win or a VEF and Astana loss to qualify for the playoffs. Over the first half of the season, the Estonians were led by the trio of Scott Machado, Rolands Freimanis and Frank Elegar. Freimanis joined UNICS in January, while Elegar signed with Milan in February. How did Kalev and Machado respond? By going 4-0 in March before securing a huge road win in Riga in early April. Machado was named the March MVP and also became just the 5th player in league history to record a triple-double. Machado has been terrific all season leading his team and putting up MVP caliber numbers.

Tyrese Rice, Khimki guard

Stats: 27 games (27.2 minutes), 15.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.4 steals and an efficiency rating of 16.0.

Tyrese Rice joined Khimki as the reigning Euroleague champion and Final Four MVP. He hasn't disappointed in Moscow Region, implementing coach Kurtinaitis's game plan. Rice does an impressive job of balancing his own offense with getting his teammates involved. He also plays solid defense.

Rice is huge in tight games. He lives for the spotlight and has already drained several game winners this season, including a clutch 3-pointer vs. CSKA. At the same time, you get the feeling Khimki and Rice haven't quite reached their full potential. We'll see what they can do come playoff time.

Taylor Rochestie, Nizhny Novgorod guard

Stats: 23 games (30.4 minutes), 16.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 0.7 steals and an efficiency rating of 17.5.

Rochestie's penchant for hitting big shots was a big part of Nizhny's success last season, though many doubted his ability to continue producing at such a high level. But Rochestie and Nizhny Novgorod proved the skeptics wrong in 2014-15. Rochestie has been a terrific fit at the club and helped his team advance to the Euroleague Top 16 in its debut appearance. The American guard jokes that he doesn't look like a basketball player, but his gutsy play, confidence and sharp shooting make him one of the most dangerous players in the league. Rochestie is the most valuable player on Nizhny Novgorod's roster and he's determined to lead the team on another playoff run this spring.

Courtney Fortson, Avtodor guard

Stats: 28 games (36.6 minutes), 19.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 1.5 steals and an efficiency rating of 19.3.

Alongside Kalev, Avtodor has been the league's biggest surprise. Team leader Courtney Fortson has also been a revelation. He's a huge part of Avtodor's success and hasn't missed a single game while averaging a league-high 37 minutes per contest. Fortson plays every possession like it's his last, pushing the tempo, drawing contact in the lane, lighting up the perimeter, stretching the defense and finding open teammates. The league's top offense is completely dependent on Fortson, who's in the top three in the league for points scored, assists and efficiency rating.

Walter Hodge, Zenit guard

Stats: 25 games (32.2 minutes), 17.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.8 steals and an efficiency rating of 17.0.

Zenit has been hampered by injuries all season, missing key players in almost every game. But that hasn't stopped the St. Petersburg club from securing the league's 4th best record, just a half game out of 3rd. Walter Hodge has been a big reason for the team's success. The Puerto Rican knows how to run an offense and isn't afraid to take over down the stretch. He's dangerous driving to the basket and finding opportunities for his teammates to score. Hodge leads Zenit in points and assists and ranks in the league's top five in both categories.