It’s an excellent time to be an NBL basketball fan. The talent level is as good as it has ever been but the league is still mostly equal. Excluding the first placed Sydney Kings and the last on the table Adelaide 36ers, every another team has a net point rating of only one basket. A net point rating is the difference between how many points a team scores and how many they give up to their opponents.
This is great news for basketball fans because any team could win any game. Unlike other Australian sports like the AFL, where last season Essendon or Brisbane where always the underdog, the NBL has drama and excitement in every match.
Question of the Week
After beating Sydney, Cairns, and Adelaide by a total of 39 points and now sitting second on the ladder, are the Bullets legit?
Record – 8-4
Points per game: 81.8 (5); points against per game: 77.6 (1); net: +4.2 (1)
The league’s best defense had 93 points dropped on them Thursday night so you could bet that the Kings would put the clamps on the Wildcats when they visited Qudos. Perth’s three top scorers (Casey Prather, Jaron Johnson, and Matthew Knight) had 50 points on 53% shooting in the first game. In the second, only 34 points on 39% shooting. There is a reason why the Kings are the title favourites.
Record – 6-4
Points per game: 80.9 (6); points against per game: 79.5 (2); net: +1.4 (4)
There are only three players in the league who average five rebounds and four assists per game. One of them has been sacked (Cedric Jackson), one is injured (Damian Martin), and the other is Casey Prather. In fact, Prather is the only one to average over ten points a game as well. He didn’t have a great second game of the weekend, shooting only 6/17 with six turnovers but his play for the rest of the season has been phenomenal, and this Perth squad would be in trouble if he weren’t on board.
Record – 6-4
Points per game: 82.3 (4); points against per game: 80.3 (4); net: +2.0 (2)
This team has a starting backcourt shooting less than 40% from the field and a shooting guard that is averaging half the number of assists as their centre. Injury has limited their superstar recruit, and they have had to deal with the growing pains of being the new team on the block while also living up to the legends that have played before.
The Bullets are second on the ladder with a three-game winning streak. Most of that has to do with Torrey Craig, who would be a top three MVP candidate if the season ended today, being in the top six in the league in points, rebounds (first) and steals.
Record – 6-5
Points per game: 86.9 (3); points against per game: 86.1 (7); net: +0.8 (5)
It was a Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde for the Breakers this week. On Friday night, they rode a ridiculous 33-16 first quarter against the Hawks to an easy win before getting curb stomped by Rotnei Clarke by 31 points on Sunday.
On the plus side, David Stockton was very impressive in his first two games. His stats were impressive (13.5 points, 6.0 assists) but his composure and confidence running a team that he had just met were exciting for New Zealand. The more comfortable he and team become the better the Breakers will be. It will be a tough decision for which import gets the flick when Ben Woodside comes back from injury.
Record – 5-6
Points per game: 87.3 (2); points against per game: 85.5 (6); net: +1.8 (3)
How good was Rotnei Clarke coming off the bench in Illawarra’s 109-78 dismantling of New Zealand? 22 points and four assists in a dynamic display of offensive greatness, it’s no wonder that he won the league MVP in 2013/14.
In the second Illawarra/New Zealand game, commentator Brad Rosen compared Nick Kay to Matthew Nielsen. More about the way he plays, not the overall talent level but it’s a significant comment to make.
Record – 4-6
Points per game: 78.2 (8); points against per game: 80.0 (3); net: -1.8 (7)
It’s hard to get a read on a team that has played seven road games in their first ten so for Cairns to be only two games out of the playoffs the team should be comfortable with their situation. The Taipans are the most ‘team’ team in the league, with five players scoring nine points or more and an offensive structure that has many, many options.
Their leading scorer is with 12.2 points per game, which could be a problem closer to the playoffs as the team doesn’t have that go-to scoring machine like a Jerome Randle or Chris Goulding. It was painfully obvious when Goulding torched the Taipans for 30 points on Friday.
Record – 4-7
Points per game: 80.5 (7); points against per game: 82.2 (5); net: -1.7 (6)
What a difference Chris Goulding makes to this team. Eight three-pointers for 30 points, he was back to his dominating best. If Melbourne can get Todd Blanchfield back soon and integrate him into the squad, there might be a chance. One game does not a season make, but it’s some hope where there was none after five straight losses.
Casper Ware had a rough night, going 3/14 from the field and shot way too many long threes. Six assists were nice, but he killed too many possessions with bad shot selection.
Record – 3-6
Points per game: 88.7 (1); points against per game: 97.1 (8); net: -8.4 (8)
The Sixers have hit rock bottom… again. After starting with the moxie of an upstart underdog, Adelaide has dropped back to the earth. Or the bottom of the ladder. It’s because of their porous defense. The team might score the most points, but they also give up the most by a fair margin. They are also in the bottom half of teams in opponent field goal percentage, three-point percentage, steals, offensive rebounds and total rebounds.
It might be time to give the youngsters like Majok Deng, Terrance Ferguson, and Anthony Drmic more minutes to give them more time to learn the game. The way this season is going, they’re not leaving this spot anytime soon.