It’s getting down to the pointy end of the season with round thirteen passing us by with only seven more rounds to go. On the one hand, it seems like this season has gone on forever, but on the other there wouldn’t be many people who would want it to finish, it’s been that good.
Speaking of good, how about that United team? At the end of round eleven, the team was last on the ladder. Now, fifteen days later they’ve climbed all the way to second place, all the while annihilating the league-leading Sixers.
To get into the spirit of a New Year, each team has been given a New Year’s Resolution to make sure they get all they can out of 2017. Hopefully.
Question of the Week
With the gap between fourth and fifth finally growing, are we now seeing the dividing line between Finals Bound and Mad Monday?
Points per game: 89.8 (1); points against per game: 92.1 (8); net: -2.3 (8)
It was always going to happen. No team that plays so well and wins so many games can keep that production up indefinitely. Use any descriptive word you can think of: demolished, smashed, annihilated, that’s what happened in the Sixers’ 104-73 defeat to Melbourne.
But it was only one game. Nathan Sobey won’t shoot 1/8 every game. The team won’t turn the ball over 21 times (they average only 13.9 turnovers a game). It was just a bump in the road, and they can’t drop their heads and go into a spiral because the team lost one game. Adelaide is still on top of the ladder, and it’s their lead to lose.
New Year’s Resolution – I will not drop my head. And try and get Terrance Ferguson a big game. If Ferguson can get his shot going, then this team has yet another option in an already loaded offensive team.
Points per game: 88.5 (2); points against per game: 87.2 (7); net: +1.3 (3)
It was very tempting to put the United up into second place after slotting in the last position last round. Tempting, but it would have undermined all that Illawarra has done this season. Even with the Hawks falling asleep at three-quarter time against the Wildcats.
In a blast from the past, Oscar Forman drained six three-pointers on his way to twenty points in nineteen minutes to go with his six threes and 24 points in 24 minutes the week before. There’s life in those legs yet.
New Year’s Resolution – I will continue to run my bench. Rotnei Clarke has hogged the spotlight, but the Hawks’ bench is the best in the business. The second unit leads all other second units in points (by a whopping ten points), rebounds, assists, and steals.
Points per game: 85.5 (3); points against per game: 81.7 (2); net: +3.8 (1)
Even in limited minutes and not knowing the game plan of the team in his first game against Cairns, it was obvious that Josh Boone is a talented player. Not only is he a fantastic fit next to Casper Ware and Chris Goulding, but he will also hopefully be a great mentor for young big men Majok Majok and Devin Williams.
Is Casper Ware the most clutch player in the league? With multiple game winning shots already under his belt, it seems that United has their go-to guy when points dry up, unlike the end of last season.
New Year’s Resolution – I will make sure everyone is healthy before the playoffs. This team has the talent to match it with anyone in the league; they just need everyone able to take the court.
Points per game: 83.8 (5); points against per game: 82.3 (3); net: +1.5 (2)
What is happening to the Kings? Yes, they won the game, and Jason Cadee had a great game with 22 points. But they needed another ‘get out of jail free’ card in the last quarter against a decidedly average New Zealand team that had starting point guard David Stockton play a total of one minute and fifty-five minutes.
The crazy statistic of the round was Kevin Lisch going an unthinkable 1/14 from the field with Aleks Maric fouling out in a shade over nine minutes might be the close second place.
New Year’s Resolution – I need to follow Stella’s lead and get my groove back. Where are the Kings that blew teams out and was the far and away the best team in the league and knew it? They’ve lost that swagger and confidence, and if Sydney wants to win it all, they first need to believe they can.
Points per game: 83.2 (6); points against per game: 84.3 (5); net: -1.1 (5)
This team just keeps on chugging along, neither gaining popularity nor ridicule for their play. Which is why this game was surprising. If Adelaide or Melbourne shot 58% from the field, 53% from three and won by 17 points, it would be all over the news. Brisbane, not so much.
It’s great to see Beal and Gibson play well together finally, and the team only turned the ball over eleven times (they average a league-worst 16.2 turnovers a game). The Bullets have Perth next round at home and will need to keep winning to stay in touch with the top four.
New Year’s Resolution – I will learn how to pass the ball. The Bullets are dead last in turnovers as well as assists which are the worst of both worlds. It’s unfortunate because when they don’t turn the ball over, they are top three in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and free throw percentage.
Points per game: 80.8 (8); points against per game: 81.7 (1); net: -0.9 (4)
The addition of Bryce Cotton is a huge addition and puts Sydney’s signing of Garret Jackson to shame. No offense to Jackson, but comparing an SEABL player to an ex-NBA player just isn’t fair. He may not have the most experience in the NBA, but just the fact that he has played is enough. And his D-League numbers were impressive as well.
With Casper Ware and Jerome Randle tearing up the league, scoring point guards are in high demand. It just goes to show how talented this league is when half the teams have backcourts of Ware/Goulding, Randle/Sobey, Lisch/Newley and now Prather/Cotton.
New Year’s Resolution – I will integrate Cotton into the team ASAP. With only seven rounds to go in the season and the Wildcats son the outside looking in, they need him to be at 100% from the start.
Points per game: 84.7 (4); points against per game: 86.1 (6); net: -1.4 (6)
It seems at this stage in the season; the Breakers need a miracle if they want to make the playoffs. With David Stockton joining Thomas Abercrombie and Corey Webster on the sidelines, guys like Finn Delany and Shea Ili have to shoulder loads much too heavy for them. Delany with 11 points and seven rebounds is a good start, though.
Journeyman Paul Carter slips into the team and even though his international resume doesn’t scream superstar at least he brings experience and stability to a team needs some help from anywhere.
New Year’s Resolution – I will fight to the end. It could be seen as an easy way out to give up on the season and let the young guys get a run, but this team has missed the playoffs only once in the last six years and will want to get there again.
Points per game: 80.9 (7); points against per game: 82.4 (4); net: -1.5 (7)
Back to the bottom for the Snakes. They just can’t catch a break with their last-minute loss to Melbourne and then giving up against Brisbane. It used to be that even though Cairns didn’t score much, they didn’t give up many points either. That’s not the case now, as they have dropped to fourth in points against per game but they are still not scoring enough.
They also have the second-worst percentage in the league (behind the paradoxical league-leading Sixers), so it’s not looking good up north. On the plus side, the last time this column spouted doom and gloom for the Taipans; they turned their season around in spite. Hopefully, it works again.
New Year’s Resolution – I will give the ball to Travis Trice. He’s their heart and soul, and if the Taipans want to make the miraculous turnaround to make the playoffs, he needs to be leading from the front.