Walter Tavares is the 2022-23 EuroLeague Best Defender 
Walter Tavares of Real Madrid has been chosen as the 2022-23 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Best Defender for the third time in his career.

Tavares has achieved this honor after a vote conducted among EuroLeague head coaches. He set a new record for most blocked shots in a EuroLeague season – 84 and counting. Tavares's intimidation factor has forced opponents to change shots all season long, and that is one of the main reasons why Real has the best two-point defense in the competition. Opponents hit just hit 49.7% of their two-point shots against Los Blancos; no other EuroLeague team is under 50% in this statistical category. The 31-year-old's wingspan, size, timing and great overall activity convinced the head coaches that Tavares deserved to win the award for the third time after previously securing the honor in 2019 and 2021.

The Best Defender Trophy is one of several end-of-season awards that recognizes the elite play of the best players in the EuroLeague. The first of this season's honorees was Sasha Vezenkov of Olympiacos Piraeus as the winner of this season's Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy. Subsequently, Yam Madar of Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade was announced as the EuroLeague Rising Star, another award chosen exclusively by the head coaches. The identity of the All-EuroLeague teams will be revealed shortly, as will the EuroLeague MVP and Coach of the Year awards. The Executive of the Year award will be announced in the summer.

Thomas Walkup of Olympiacos followed Tavares in the voting for the Best Defender Trophy. John Brown of AS Monaco was third in the head coaches' voting, Mathias Lessort of Partizan came fourth and Alpha Diallo of Monaco finished fifth. Among others receiving votes were Kyle Hines of EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, Shaquielle McKissic of Olympiacos, Tomas Satoransky of FC Barcelona, Alessandro Pajola of Virtus Segafredo Bologna, Kostas Papanikolaou of Olympiacos, Josh Nebo of Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv and Nick Calathes of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul.

Tavares has averaged 10.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 2.2 blocks in 38 EuroLeague games this season. He had a career-high 6 blocks in Round 13 against FC Bayern Munich, and he blocked 4 shots five more times: against Panathinaikos Athens, Anadolu Efes Istanbul, Zalgiris Kaunas, Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade and ALBA Berlin. Thanks to Tavares's defensive efforts, Real is the runaway leader in defensive rebounds at 26.5 per night.

Tavares picked up basketball late in his childhood, but he showed enough talent and potential that Gran Canaria brought him to its academy when he was just 17. After spending the 2011-12 season and the beginning of the next season on loan with La Palma, the Spanish side's affiliate team, Tavares made his Spanish League debut with Gran Canaria in January 2013. Tavares earned All-EuroCup First Team honors in the 2014-15 season after helping Gran Canaria reach the finals. He later spent two seasons in the NBA and the G League before joining Real in November 2017. Tavares helped Real win the EuroLeague in their first season together. With Los Blancos, Tavares has also won three Spanish League titles and a Copa del Rey crown. He was chosen to the All-EuroLeague First Team in each of the last two seasons, while he earned 2018-19 All-EuroLeague Second Team honors, too. Tavares has also been chosen as the EuroLeague MVP of the Month three times in his career.

Tavares becomes the third player to be chosen as the EuroLeague Best Defender three times. The first was Dimitris Diamantidis of Panathinaikos Athens (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011), who won the award six times. Kyle Hines also received the award three times: with CSKA Moscow in 2015 and 2018, and with Milan last season. Bryant Dunston of Efes received the award in consecutive seasons with Olympiacos in 2014 and 2015. In addition to the aforementioned winners, CSKA players Victor Khryapa and Andrei Kirilenko secured the award in 2010 and 2012, respectively, Stephane Lasme was the 2013 winner with Panathinaikos and Adam Hanga, then of Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, took home the trophy in 2017.


Euroleague Basketball (EB) is a global leader in the sports and entertainment business, devoted to running the top European competitions of professional basketball clubs under a unique and innovative organizational model. Owned and administered by some of the most successful and historic clubs in the world, EB manages the continent’s two premier men’s basketball competitions, the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and the 7DAYS EuroCup, as well as the sport’s premier under-18 showcase, the EB Adidas Next Generation Tournament.


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