Five Contenders For Young Player Of The Year

The VTB United League hands out several individual honors each season and VTB-League.com is here to run down the top contenders, starting with the Young Player of the Year.

It's becoming more and more common to rely on younger talent. Quite often, the strategy pays big dividends for teams down the road.

VTB-League.com singles out five players born in 1993 or younger (listed in alphabetical order) that are in contention for the Young Player of the Year.

Janis Berzins, VEF forward

Age: 22
Stats: 27 games (21 minutes), 10.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and a 10.9 efficiency rating.

The young Latvian forward showed promise last season and he's taken it to the next level in 2015-16, establishing himself as one of VEF's key contributors. Berzins is excellent in transition, knows how to establish position under the basket and can shoot the 3-pointer. His perimeter shooting has been a huge weapon in recent weeks, with Berzins averaging more than 3-pointers per game over the last seven contests. He represents the future and the present of this Latvian club.

Denis Zakharov, Enisey guard

Age: 22
Stats: 21 games (23 minutes), 11.0 points, 1.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and an 8.5 efficiency rating.

Zakharov has been one of the biggest revelations of the regular season. Enisey head coach Oleg Okulov put his trust in the young Russian guard and he's been paid back in full. Zakharov is a regular starter at Enisey and plays a lot of minutes.

He's known for his offense: dangerous driving to the basket and on the perimeter. Zakharov is also terrific in transition and very talented in the 1-on-1 game. Perhaps his best attribute, however, is his killer instinct. Already this season, he's knocked down several game-winning shots.

Artem Klimenko, Avtodor center

Age: 22
Stats: March 23 (17 minutes per game), 4.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists and an efficiency rating of 8.9.

Artem Klimenko has suffered from the same curse as many young centers: inconsistency. He mixes and matches strong performances with games in which he struggles to have an impact. As the season draws to an end, Klimenko has begun to believe in himself, earning the trust of his teammates. More and more often, they get him the ball under the basket and he's scored efficiently. Klimenko is also improved on defense, where he can use his size to great advantage.

Chasson Randle, Nymburk guard

Age: 23
Stats: 27 games (21 minutes), 11.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and an 8.6 efficiency rating.

The young American has fit in quickly with Nymburk's playbook. Despite an unreliable shot and lack of playmaking qualities, he's managed to crack Nymburk's rotation. Head coach Ronen Ginzburg has brought out the best in him: speed, aggression and competitive fire. He's been particularly impressive vs. elite competition. His best appearances came against CSKA and Avtodor, when he scored 25 and 28, respectively. Two years ago, Randle was considered to be one of the top guards in the NCAA and he's starting to live up to expectations.

Vladislav Staratelev, Vita guard

Age: 19
18 games (27 minutes), 8.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.7 assists and a 3.2 efficiency rating.

He's averaging 27 minutes or more each game. The Georgian club is an excellent stepping stone for Staratelev's career growth. He's received invaluable experience, with playing time and space to take and make mistakes. At times, he even serves as point guard. Vladislav has room to improve, but his progress as a player is tough not to see. The guard is a regular starter and has scored more than 10 points in eight games this season.