By: Sam Meyerkopf / @euro_adventures 

The pack for the MVP Race is thicker than the line at a Justin Bieber concert.  We could load this thing 15 to 20 people deep with legitimate MVP candidates, but alas; only five may emerge.

They came but did not conquer: Bo McCalebb, Juan Carlos Navarro, Dimitris Diamantidis

You’ve qualified for the race. Congrats: Nicolas Batum, Erazem Lorbek, Jordan Farmar

1. Andrei KirilenkoSF, CSKA Moscow
Points: 13.0   Rebounds: 9.0 Assists: 3.8
Last Race: 1

Kirilenko had just an atrocious outing this week with just nine points, ten rebounds, two assists, three steals, and CSKA actually needed an overtime to beat Panathinaikos in Athens.  Wait, no—that’s actually an amazing game for any player other than the one they call AK47.  Nobody’s in quite the same hemisphere as Kirilenko when it comes to offense and defensive production.  It was nice to see him finally tested last week, but from here on out I will never think CSKA’s out of a game with Andrei around.

2. Nicolas BatumDo Everything Forward, SLUC Nancy
Points: 20.5   Rebounds: 7.3 Assists: 6.5
Last Race: Out of the Race

If I wasn’t such a biased bastard towards teams’ records, Nic might have that number one spot.  But SLUC Nancy is only 2-2, so poor little Nicolas finds himself ranked at two.  Batum, with a little bit of help from his teammates, took down formerly undefeated Caja Laboral this week.  I didn’t predict that, you didn’t predict that, and Nicolas’ favorite aunt didn’t even predict that. He’s an absolute monster right now and might want to start getting comfortable near the top of this list.  Sorry for not putting you in the Race the first time around, Nicolas. You made me look like a fool.

3. Erazem Lorbek, PF/C, Regal FC Barcelona
Points: 13.0   Rebounds: 9.0 Assists: 3.8
Last Race:
Out of the Race

I can’t put a whole team on this list, so I had to pick a player.  Marcelinho Huertas, Juan Carlos Navarro, Chuck Eidson; the list goes on and on with MVP candidates for Barcelona.  Lorbek stands slightly above them all because of how unflappably efficient his game has been.  He’s shooting 87.5% from three and 75% overall.  The dude can’t miss.  This week at home versus Montepaschi Siena I expected a close match, but Barcelona didn’t even bring their A game and won by 17.  Lorbek had 17 points and barely broke a sweat.  The passing and unselfishness on this team lends itself to incredible offense, but not necessarily a great MVP candidate, so we’ll see if any Barcelona players gets a little more ball hoggy throughout the season and rises to the crest of the MVP Race.

4. Mirza TeletovicPF, Caja Laboral
Points: 22.3 Rebounds: 6.8 Assists: 1.0
Last Race: 2

Had Caja Laboral not been upstaged by Nicolas Batum and SLUC Nancy this week, he’d see his name a little bit higher on this list.  As it stands, Teletovic did everything he could to get Caja the W (23 points and 13 rebounds), but he didn’t have the team support behind him. Teletovic continues to amaze me with the complete and active game he’s played all season long, and if he continues on this torrid offensive pace, I’ll have no choice but to keep him around for a while.

5. Jordan FarmarPG, Maccabi Electra
Points: 15.5 Rebounds: 4.0 Assists: 4.8
Last Race: Out of the Race

Is that Maccabi Electra and Jordan Farmar sneaking back into the best team and MVP conversation?  Quietly over the past two weeks, Maccabi has dismantled maybe their two biggest challengers in Group C (Real Madrid and Efes Pilsen) and looked dangerously good in the process.  If you were judging the MVP Race on those two games alone, Farmar would be picking up a trophy.  He’s been that good.  Snatching the ball at ease from unsuspecting point guards and cruising to the rim one dribble faster than you, he’s looked too quick recently.  If this whole lockout thing keeps up and I was about to suit up against Maccabi, I’d be scared.