NBL1 Central regular season review
Grading each teams regular season against their expectations. Obviously the top 5 teams final grade can still change over the next month. Be interested to hear people's thoughts.
Only a slip up with an 0-2 weekend keeps this from an A+. Rigoni has again shown why he’s one of the most respected coaches in the competition taking a young side with no imports to top spot. Their guard rotation of Daly, Spear and Rasmussen have given teams fits all year and would have them as firm finals favourites if Rasmussen didn’t leave. A poor finals could see this grade slip but these guys are still genuine contenders despite sputtering into finals. If they do fall short, their strategy of relying so heavily on players who won’t finish the season will be called into question.
Surprise Packet: Rasmussen. Obviously a highly touted junior I’m not sure anyone thought he was ready to contribute consistently at the level he has all season.
MVP: Tough to split between Daly and Spear who both perform at both ends every week. I’ll take Spear as he’s more threatening on the perimeter but both are essential to their success.
Unbelievably for a Forestville team have flown under the radar and secured a double chance. While not as deep or potent as some recent Eagles teams they still feature plenty of firepower and had the likes of Machar step up when required. Would still fancy themselves coming into finals to beat any team on their night.
Surprise packet: Malith Machar. Filled in Brine’s absence with some huge numbers and has continued to contribute.
MVP: I think Mays and Harris are the easier answers here but Brine has been a consistent performer at both ends for them and allow the others to be effective.
Tossed up between A- for these guys as their back end of the season (bar their last game) had been A+ after a slow start. Turnage looks every bit the league MVP despite being in a different role and Anthony Green has shown his ability after an injury break. Have the experience to get the win this finals series and coach Malat has done a great job, no doubt he will be reappointed.
Surprise packet: their second half of the season. Maybe a cop out but at 3-6 at the midpoint I think most had written them off. Honourable mention to Ray Harding who has stepped up over this period.
MVP: CJ Turnage. Best player in the league. Has been their engine this year. Easiest vote of any team.
North Adelaide Rockets
Always a tough circumstance for the Rockets this year with many moving parts, looked gone early having given up too big a head start to other teams then looked likely to secure a second chance before Dech’s untimely
Injury. Ultimately Nyberg and the Rockets will be judged on their performance over the next month. I think they’re a step behind the top 3 sides but they’ve given themselves a chance.
Surprise packet: Verle Williams. I know he had some credentials interstate but it’s hard to fathom how he can be effective when you see how small he is. Lightning quick and very shifty he’s put together a solid season. Honourable mention to Jimma Dau who seems to have gotten better as the season has gone on.
MVP: Hard to go past Jack McVeigh. Puts up 30 most nights despite facing multiple defenders.
On the borderline of a B+ there’s no doubt their first half of the season was an A having them sitting second. Coach Morrell has done great with the squad he has and while they have been found out towards the end of the season their win over Woodville to secure finals was quality. Coleman a great find and McCalop an All Star 5 candidate.
Surprise packet: Machar Machar. Not only producing on court but providing some of the greatest highlights in the league this season.
MVP: Cameron Coleman. A consistent performer he gets their toughest matchup each week and still gets numbers. Classy import.
Central District Lions
Were in the finals hunt until the final day, despite flying under the radar for the majority of the season. Coach Atkins did well with a shallow roster that missed Humphries at the start and end of the season. Manyang a great performer for them before leaving for college and Maharaj a quality pickup. Coaches and players would surely be looking to run it back next season after our performing expectations this season.
Surprise packet: Magok Manyang. Getting his first real opportunity at senior level Manyang was consistent even shooting the 3 pointer well and providing energy for the Lions.
MVP: Lual Diing. Had some monster games and displayed an inside outside game that makes him a very tough cover at his size, playing the full season gets him the nod over Humphries. Could he be on the NBL radar?
West Adelaide Bearcats
Finished 7th but weren’t realistically much chance of finals towards the end of the season. Inconsistent performances highlighted by some big wins early in the season along with an inexplicable 30 point loss to an undermanned North. Ross didn’t live up to the hype as he picked and chose when to play hard and while Michaels was ok he is better suited to being a role player rather than main contributor. McLean must be feeling the pinch as the championship glow of 2017 continues to fade.
Surprise packet: Akok Machar. Inconsistent but had some huge games and big highlights (sound familiar?). Needs to improve his shooting but showed he’s a capable scorer at this level.
MVP: Earnest Ross... for lack of better options.
Woodville had title hopes this season and weren’t shy telling everyone about it after finding an avenue to bring in an NBA level import (or so they claimed) despite travel restrictions. With a familiar core which had led them to solid finishes in recent years the addition of Jacobs and a watered down competition should have put them firmly in contention. Jackson was as expected, a solid performer and good second import but Whitmore should face an intense review after dropping the ball on this one.
Surprise packet: their 8th placed finish. Most would have had them top 3 at worst pre season. Just a nightmare of a season that was already de-railed well before the Jacobs injury.
MVP: Jacobs was their best player though he fell short of the considerable hype. Stanbridge an honourable mention for a consistent season despite inexplicably coming off the bench.
South Adelaide Panthers
What else could it be? One of the greatest failures in league history considering the talent, spend and hype around this group and while Jamie Petty is there easy scapegoat here plenty of players have to look in the mirror and acknowledge they simply aren’t as good as their reputation. Not sure on Pettys situation for next season but can’t imagine a scenario where they would bring him back as there seemed a disconnect between him and the playing group. He was let down by Hulland’s poor performance in particular along with other factors but every team has a sob story this year, South managed theirs the worst of any team. I don’t think anyone thought they could even miss the 5, let alone finish 9th.
Surprise packet: exactly that, finishing 9th. Not convinced a single player out performed expectation for this team.
MVP: Mudronja? Starling? Tough to say. There are no winners this season for South.
Tough situation for the Mavs, a lack of talent to begin with and none of their recruits panned out for various reasons. Rojo’s sideline antics were probably uncalled for but his coaching chops are unquestioned and kudos to him for finishing the season. A win would have got them a C- but it unfortunately eluded them this season.
Surprise packet: Tom Cromarty who had a big second half of the season after being given free reign.
MVP: Will Wise. A solid import who did what he was capable of (scoring) and didn’t do much of anything else.