With the round one of the 2016/17 season underway, we’ve decided to make things easier for the NBL tragic with little time on their hands.
Each week we’ll be reviewing the league’s top players with our Aussie Hoopla – Baller Of The Week report.
5. Mitch Creek (Adelaide 36ers)
24 points, one rebound and one assist Vs. Illawarra
The Adelaide 36ers stumbled out of the blocks opening round, and the Illawarra Hawks made light work of them, delivering a 34 point thrashing to the South Australians.
Despite the drubbing, Mitch Creek had quite the game in his debut as team captain. Creek posted career numbers in a valiant effort piling up 24 points (80% shooting). Even more impressive is the fact he did that in just 13 minutes of court time which is the only reason why he isn’t higher up on this list. Some poor decisions led Creek to be in foul trouble the entire game and restricted his production considerably.
Creek also played quite capably in the 36ers huge upset win over Melbourne United. His offensive production wasn’t quite on par with his previous game (5 points) but his ability to remain on the court for 31 minutes gave the 36ers the leadership, defence and playmaking they needed to come away with a different result.
4. Marvelle Harris (Illawarra Hawks)
21 points, three rebounds and seven assists Vs. Adelaide
Marvelle was marvellous – excuse the pun – in his debut with Illawarra (I’m sure that’s something that will find it’s way into every Harris article).
Harris played a crucial role in the Hawks record-breaking win over the 36ers, coming out red-hot to finish the game with 21 points on 45% shooting, seven assists, three rebounds and three steals.
Rob Beveridge promoted his new recruits ability to fill up the stat sheet in multiple categories and in his first NBL game Harris didn’t disappoint.
“I was looking for an import who can flat out score, and I believe we have found this player, however Marvelle is a player who can also carry the ball, pass, rebound and is also a very good defender” said Beveridge on signing Harris.
The Hawks looked incredibly strong as they sprinted out of the gate in round one with Marvelle being a big part that success. It seems to be already clear that the Illawarra Hawks have picked up a real ‘Marvelle’ in Harris (we promise no more puns in this article).
3. Torrey Craig (Brisbane Bullets)
16 points, seven rebounds and two steals Vs. Perth
The Brisbane Bullets returned to NBL competition the same way they played it from 1979-2008, with great success.
The team’s back to back victories over reigning champion Perth Wildcats (72-65) and the loaded Sydney Kings (77-73) has put them immediately in title contention.
In both wins, the Bullets players provided a well coached and balanced attack, Torrey Craig really shone in the two Bullets victories.
Craig delivered 16 points (including two nasty dunks), and two crucial steals towards the end of the game drove the Bullets to an incredible come from behind win against the Wildcats.
Craig then upset 8,000 Sydney fans who showed up for the Kings first game in the new Qudos Bank Arena. Craig provided 9 points (40% shooting), one block and was a monster on the boards. Craig finished with a career-high 17 rebounds, two rebounds short of what the entire Kings unit collected for the entire game.
2. Jerome “Handle” Randle (Adelaide 36ers)
30 points, three rebounds and five assists Vs. Melbourne
Coming into the season, Joey Wright publicly questioned Jerome’s form, saying he needed to find the spark that drove him last season – or else.
In Randle’s first game he certainly hadn’t come prepared for the improvements each NBL team has achieved this season. At the end of the team’s lacklustre performance against Illawarra, Randle finished with a measly 13 points, three assists and four turnovers and was outclassed by Hawk’s star Marvelle Harris.
Randle dusted himself off and completely turned it around to deliver the shock 87-79 win against the heavily-favored Melbourne United. Randle scored the highest amount of points in round one (30 points) on a highly effective 56% shooting.
Perhaps following Mitch Creek’s lead from the night before, he too fouled out in the final quarter, but the Adelaide victory had already been decided by then.
1. Jaron Johnson (Perth Wildcats)
26 points, five rebounds and two assists Vs. Cairns
Jaron Johnson had a tough initiation to the much improved NBL, finished with only 6 points (33% shooting) in the Wildcats loss to Brisbane.
In his second game, the cobwebs were gone, and Johnson showed the league what he is capable of doing on a nightly basis. Johnson had 26 points compiled from a spectacular scoring display. Johnson missed only one of his eleven shots and scored some incredible last minute baskets to ensure a Wildcats’ overtime win over Cairns.
None were bigger than the game-tying shot he nailed with mere seconds remaining in the 4th quarter.
Kevin Lisch – 20 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists vs. Brisbane
Rotnei Clarke – 23 points, 1 rebounds and 6 assists vs. Adelaide
Cedric Jackson – 14 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists vs. New Zealand
Well, that about rounds up our list of the best players from the first round of the NBL. Agree? Disagree? Let us know on our Facebook page or our Twitter @AussieHoopla