Sergio Llull finished the 2016-17 season as the EuroLeague MVP, but did not play another second of EuroLeague action until halfway through this season’s playoffs. A knee injury during the summer while playing for the Spanish national team kept Llull off the court for more than eight months. However, even in his absence, Llull never ceased to be a true leader of this Real Madrid team, with his presence in the locker room, at practices, at games, all while boosting team morale and the fans with social media videos of his recovery progress. Once Llull did return, in Game 3 of the playoffs against Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens, Los Blancos never lost again.
Llull’s contributions to this team obviously go well beyond his averages of 10 points and 4.5 assists. He overcame his struggles by nailing a pair of key three-pointers in his first game back and stepped up at the Final Four by tying for a team-high 16 points in the semifinals against CSKA Moscow. Llull’s off-court leadership was certainly one of the key factors how Real Madrid never fell apart despite all the obstacles thrown its way and there was nothing more appropriate after the championship game win over Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul than Llull joining team captain Felipe Reyes in lifting the EuroLeague trophy.