Alexey Shved moved into 1st place on the VTB United League’s all-time scoring list in a win over Kalev last week, passing his partner on the Russian national team, Vitaly Fridzon. Shved’s achievement is a great excuse to look back at the biggest scorers the League has produced over 10 seasons.
11. Jerry Johnson
Teams: Lieutovs Rytas (2010-2011), Astana (2011-2016)
Teams out of the VTB League’s Big 5 are rarely able to retain star players for more than a season or two. Johnson was an exception to the rule. The exciting guard played five full seasons for Astana, establishing himself as the face of the team. He even received Kazakh citizenship during his time in Astana and competed for the national team.
Best Season (2014-2015)
Stats: 15.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 15.8 efficiency rating
Jerry’s best season was during the 2014-15 campaign. Astana assembled a talented roster (Mahalbasic, Calathes, Caner-Medley, Paunic, J’Covan Brown). But even when he was surrounded by so many stars, Johnson remained the leader on the team. During that season, he scored the most points (15.8 per game) and gave out the most assists (8.0 per game) of his career. Johnson finished with seven double-doubles on the season.
His most impressive individual performance also came during the 2014-15 campaign, in a home game vs. Kalev. Johnson caught fire against the Estonians, knocking down an incredible 13 of 16 shots. He ultimately led the home team to victory, snapping a losing streak, while finishing with 30 points and nine assists.
Teams: Lietuvos Rytas (2011-2012), Khimki (2014-2016)
Rice only needed three seasons to crack the League’s top 10, playing less than 100 games in the VTB League. But it was enough to make a huge impression on fans throughout the competition. An explosive guard, capable of burying any defense, Rice was the focal point on offense for both Lietuvos Rytas and Khimki.
Best Season (2015-2016)
Stats: 16.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.2 steals, 17.6 efficiency rating
Rice made his biggest impact in the 2015-16 season, highlighted, in particular, by one playoff series. During the season, Rice had to share the ball with Alexey Shved and his stats sometimes struggled as a result. But he broke out in a big way during the quarterfinal series vs. Loko. Rice scored 31, 35, and 19 points, respectively, in three games to key a three-game sweep against a major rival.
Rice’s biggest game in the League, however, came a season earlier against CSKA. The two teams put on an offensive display in their February 2015 meeting, finishing with more than 200 combined points. Rice was overshadowed by Davis and Koponen most of the game. But he ended up with the decisive shot and all the glory. With the score tied, 104-104, Rice shook his defender and knocked down the game-winning triple over Markoishvili with a second remaining on the clock.
9. Andrey Vorontsevich
Team: CSKA (2009-2019)
Andrey has won a League-record eight championships, the only player to do so. He’s always been a key contributor for the Army Men, but never stood out for his scoring. Vorontsevich has never averaged 10 points in a season, but provides consistent production season after season.
Best Season (2014-2015)
Stats: 9.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.9 steals, 13.8 efficiency rating
The 2014-15 season was the best of the Russian forward’s career. The Army Men once again won the championship. Vorontsevich, meanwhile, not only averaged a career-high 9.1 points per game, but was also named Defensive Player of the Year, Playoffs MVP and Top Russian Player.
During the 2014-15 season, Nizhny Novgorod played in the EuroLeague and put together a nice roster. Facing the Volga upstarts in the playoff semifinals, CSKA expected a challenge and got one. Though the Army Men would sweep the series, Nizhny was competitive in each game. The star of the decisive Game 3 was Vorontsevich. He scored 14 points in the first quarter, setting the tone for CSKA. He finished with a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds.
8. Aliaksandr Kudrautsau
Team: Minsk 2006 (2010-2012), Tsmoki-Minsk (2012-2013, 2014-2019)
The Belarusian veteran has been one of the stars in Minsk for many years. He’s in more of a supporting role now (Vitali Liutych is his likely successor), but several years ago he was the unquestioned leader. Indeed, Kudrautsau could more than hold his own with Tsmoki’s foreign stars. He may not be finished moving up the scoring list, either, as both Monia and Teodosic are within reach this season.
Best Season (2012-2013)
Stats: 14.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steals, 11.8 efficiency rating
Minsk misfired on several free agent signings during the summer of 2012 as several foreign players failed to produce at the level expected. In response, Kudrautsau tried to pick up the slack. He took on the leadership role and did everything he could to keep Tsmoki competitive, even playing as point guard on occasion despite his more natural fit as a scorer. Nonetheless, Kudrautsau was able to average a career-high 14.9 points per game during the season.
He had his best game in the VTB United League during the same season. Tsmoki-Minsk and Neptunas had a wild back-and-forth shootout in Klaipeda with the Lithuanians ultimately winning in overtime. Kudrautsau finished with 37 points, shooting 12-23 from the field and 10-10 at the line.
7. Sergey Monia
Team: Khimki (2010-2019)
Khimki has not won as many titles in the VTB League as the fans would like. But those circumstances have not prevented Monia from bringing home a lot of silverware. The forward won a title in 2011 and finished second in 2015, 2017 and 2018. The Yellow and Blue captain has not seen as many minutes in recent seasons and is unlikely to move higher in the rankings. But his experience and deadly 3-pointers could still come in handy for Moscow Region.
Best Season (2013-2014)
Stats: 12.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 14.4 efficiency rating
Khimki had his worst season in the VTB League in 2013-14, getting swept by Nizhny Novgorod in the quarterfinals. But for Monia, the campaign was a career highlight. The forward averaged 28.4 minutes per game and took 9.3 shots on average. Not surprisingly, he set career highs in points (12.1) and efficiency rating (14.4).
Monia’s minutes may have dropped, but he enjoyed an incredible performance in the VTB League last season on the road vs. Zenit. The veteran finished with 17 points (5-8 from beyond the arc), eight rebounds and seven assists for a career-high 28 efficiency rating.
6. Milos Teodosic
Team: CSKA (2011-2017)
For six seasons, the Serbian playmaker was one of the League’s biggest stars. Perhaps the only thing matching his talent was his unpredictability and inconsistency. Teodosic took the Khimki rivalry personally, saving his best for the showdowns with the Yellow and Blue. While averaging 11.7 points over his career, Teodosic scored 16.2 points on average vs. Khimki. Even more impressive, in four consecutive seasons (2013-17), Teodosic’s highest-scoring game of the season came against Khimki.
Best Season (2015-2016)
Stats: 13.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 0.7 steals, 14.9 efficiency rating
The 2015-16 campaign was likely Teodosic’s best. The playmaker set career highs for minutes (23.1 per game), points scored (13.4) and efficiency rating (14.9). He saved his best for last. After putting up big numbers vs. Khimki (20.3 points and 6.7 assists) in the playoff semifinals, Teodosic continued his hot play in the finals vs. UNICS, clinching a VTB League Playoffs MVP.
Teodosic was the first player featured on the VTB League’s Star Performance. Naturally, it came against Khimki. The Serb played a big part in CSKA’s blowout win to begin the 2014-15 season.
5. Semyon Antonov
Teams: Nizhny Novgorod (2011-2016), CSKA (2016-2019)
Antonov is the highest-ranked big man on this list. During his time with CSKA, we’ve become accustomed to seeing him as a role player. But it wasn’t always like that. Antonov was one of the biggest contributors on Nizhny Novgorod’s roster and got plenty of touches.
Best Season (2013-14)
Stats: 12.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.6 steals, 14.2 efficiency rating
The 2013-14 season was a triumphant one for Nizhny Novgorod. The Volga club began the playoffs as underdogs, but went on to beat Astana, Khimki and Lietuvos Rytas. Antonov was a key player on Zoran Lukic’s squad.
Surprisingly, Antonov set his personal scoring record in only his fourth game in the League. Way back in October 2011, the forward dropped 24 points on Zalgiris (8-15 from the field, 4-8 from beyond the arc) to go with six rebounds and five assists.
4. Nando De Colo
Team: CSKA (2014-2019)
De Colo would be a serious contender for Mr. Consistency, if such an award existed. In four seasons in the VTB League, he’s never challenged for the scoring title, but he’s also finished in the top 10 in scoring in each of the previous three seasons. Expect him to do so again this year.
We’d like to think De Colo’s best season is yet to come. It’s difficult to single out any one campaign so far. The point guard has played a consistently high level for four seasons without any drastic swings in performance. Not surprisingly, his consistency has led him to three VTB United League regular season MVP’s.
De Colo set his personal scoring record last season. The Frenchman was happy to engage in a shootout with a reckless Avtodor squad as the teams finished with a combined 208 points (CSKA 110, Avtodor 98). De Colo finished with 35 points (11-17 from the field, 7-9 from downtown).
3. Keith Langford
Teams: Khimki (2009-2011), UNICS (2014-2017)
Stevan Jelovac of Nizhny broke Keith Langford’s scoring record last season in a game vs. Kalev, pouring in 49 points. But another Langford record appears quite secure. The American sniper scored 851 points during the 2015-16 season, a total which is unlikely to fall anytime soon. He’s also the leader in games with 35+ points, doing so four times (Shved has done it only once).
Best Season (2015-2016)
Stats: 21.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 18.9 efficiency rating
The 2015-16 season was Langford’s best. He was a dominant force on the UNICS roster and throughout the League. Langford dragged his team into the playoff finals in 2016, where Kazan held its own against CSKA. As for Langford, he put up terrific numbers, never once scoring fewer than 10 points during the campaign.
But Langford’s best game came during the following season. Tsmoki-Minsk was the victim in October 2016 as Langford lit up the Belarusian defense for 42 points. That is still the record for most points scored in a game, which ended in regulation.
2. Vitaly Fridzon
Teams: Khimki (2009-2013), CSKA (2013-2018), Lokomotiv-Kuban (2018-2019)
Fridzon is one of the VTB League’s old-timers. Not surprisingly, he’s also one of the most decorated players. Fridzon has won six titles: five with CSKA and one with Khimki. Fridzon has always been known as an outstanding sniper, though he’s never come close to winning a scoring title. At the same time, Fridzon has always found a way to make an impact, no matter how much talent may be on the bench alongside him.
Best Season (2011-2012)
Stats: 13.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 13.4 efficiency rating
Fridzon’s best seasons came at Khimki. The 2011-12 season was Fridzon’s most consistent. He finished with at least 10 points in every regular-season game, before the streak came to an end in the second game of the playoffs vs. Lietuvos Rytas, where he only scored seven.
CSKA’s reign in the VTB League has only been interrupted once. Khimki was the disturber of the peace in 2011. Fridzon was in a supporting role to Loncar and Kelati in the championship game vs. CSKA. His biggest contribution came in the semifinal, when he poured in a career-high 27 points vs. UNICS to lead the Yellow and Blue to the final.
1. Alexey Shved
Teams: CSKA (2009-2012), Khimki (2015-2019)
Shved debuted in the VTB League in the fall of 2009. In four minutes vs. Zalgiris, the future record-setter had a miserable night, missing a shot and turning the ball over. Over the next two years, Shved progressed from end-of-the-bench reserve to CSKA starter. Playing alongside a star-studded roster, Shved was not asked to score much (setting a personal high of 16 points at the time).
Everything changed once he returned from across the ocean. Shved quickly showed he was one of Europe’s most talented scorers, breaking his old record in his second game with Khimki (20 points vs. Bisons). Since then, 20+ point games have become routine.
Best Season (2016-2017)
Stats: 23.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 19.6 efficiency rating
Shved won his first scoring title last season, but the 2016-17 campaign was his best so far. That’s when Shved became the dominant all-around player we know today. The Khimki – Zenit series in the playoff semifinals was the highlight of the postseason as Shved proved he could lead his team to victory in big games.
Shved had plenty of outstanding games during that campaign, including each one of the semifinal games vs. Zenit. But perhaps the most significant performance came in Game 4, when the Yellow and Blue inflicted a decisive psychological blow.