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ANALYSIS

Studs and Duds: Round 12

At the conclusion of each round, NBL Media’s Liam Santamaria lets us know who made the grade and who deserves a little shade.

 

STUDS

Sydney Kings

The Kings are our headliners again this week as they notched up their fourth straight win.

It was an enthralling encounter between Sydney and Perth – easily the best game of the season so far – and the Kings showed why they are genuine championship contenders with the hard-fought win.

This is squad that’s loaded with offensive weaponry and the addition of versatile scorer Ian Clark has taken their arsenal to yet another level.

The challenge, of course, is to bring all that talent together. Don’t forget: for the first six weeks of NBL22 the Kings were having all kinds of trouble offensively. They were clunky early in shot clocks and their half court execution – especially in fourth quarters – left plenty to be desired.

Well… that is turning around. With Jaylen Adams fully healthy, assimilated and running the show, Sydney’s offence is starting to find its feet. Yeah they had trouble ticking it over against Brisbane but this is a team that has scored 84 or more points in six of their past eight games and put a season-high 98 on the board on Saturday night.

“There’s a confidence growing in this group that we know we can come out and compete with anybody in the league,” Kings coach Chase Buford said.

“We’re figuring out a way to get it done down the stretch which obviously had been a problem for us earlier in the season. We’ve got our guys back (from injury) and we’re growing in those moments.”

Of course, the key to all that is…

 

Jaylen Adams (Sydney Kings)

This guy just continues to impress.

Backing up his game-winning efforts down the stretch against the Bullets, Adams was outstanding on Saturday, posting 31 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists and 2 steals.

It was just the third time in the last decade a player has had at least 30 points and 10 dimes and the first time a Kings player reached those marks since the late, great Chris Williams did it back in January 2003.

The thing is: this is just Adams doing what he does. It’s why multiple NBL teams were after him during the off-season and why he’s both the best point guard in the league and a genuine MVP contender.

What makes Adams particularly special is his incredible play-making out of pick-and-roll.  He can just hurt you in so many ways and his ability to read the defence in those moments – both on and off the ball – is truly elite.

 

Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats)

Speaking of elite, don’t go sleeping on BC when having those MVP conversations!

Cotton is still the league’s leading scorer – averaging a career-high (!) 24.3 points per game – is ranked inside the top ten for assists and is averaging a career-high 1.8 steals per game.

Keep in mind: Bryce is doing all of that while navigating defensive schemes that are geared specifically around slowing him down. Schemes built by coaches and assistant coaches who, for the most part, have been scouting him for years!

It really is unbelievable how consistently excellent Cotton is. Year after year, game after game, he just continues to deliver.

“Our guys made him work for his 33,” Kings coach Chase Buford said over the weekend.

“I know it’s crazy to say, but I thought we did a pretty good job making it tough for him.

“Any time you get to watch Bryce Cotton it’s a treat because he’s just a terrific player… three-time MVP, don’t need to say much more about him.”

 

Tasmania JackJumpers

I’ll tell you who does need more said about them, though: the JackJumpers! I mean… WOW! That was a phenomenal shooting display.

Rolling into Wollongong without Will Magnay, the Ants stuck it up all the non-believers – including this scribe – as they took a flamethrower to the Hawks, their fans and the entire WIN Entertainment Centre.

It was unbelievable, history-making stuff.

The JackJumpers, who entered round 12 ranked second last in three-point field goal percentage, went a remarkable 22-of-42 from long range – equalling the record for the most triples hit in a 40-minute game.

“Everything we did tonight they just penalised us with the three-ball,” a shell-shocked Brian Goorjian said.

“It felt like we were playing the Phoenix Suns out there. It was very, very hard to deal with.”

In fact, it wasn’t Devin Booker and Cam Johnson making it rain, it was Josh Adams (8/11) and Sam McDaniel (4/4), with some solid help from Josh Magette, Clint Steindl, Jack McVeigh and MiKyle McIntosh who combined for 10 made threes.

“Josh Adams is a power guy, he gets his feet to the paint, is an athlete, plays over the top, explosive and all of a sudden (he’s hitting) contested threes everywhere, same with McDaniel,” Goorjian added.

“You know McVeigh, Magette and Steindl are deadly from three but those two [Adams and McDaniel] stretched us out to a ridiculous situation.”

In the end, the Jackies just found a way to win. They got key stops in big moments and every time the Hawks challenged them down the stretch, they hit tough shots to keep them at bay.

This is a team that’s bigger than the sum of its parts – something that all coaches in team sports aim to create – and that’s a massive credit to Scott Roth, his coaching staff and that entire Tassie roster.

The JackJumpers play D, they share the ball and, right now, they’re absolutely brimming with confidence.

 

Melbourne United

The defending champs flexed some more muscle this week as they backed up their victory over Perth with back-to-back wins.

It started with an up-and-down performance in the Throwdown, powered by Jo Lual-Acuil, and ended with a dominant display against the Breakers.

JLA was fantastic against the Phoenix, scoring 30 points on just 13 shots and grabbing 9 boards. The big fella was a little quieter in the win over New Zealand, who threw extra bodies at him down in the block, but his teammates picked up the slack as United cruised to victory.

Melbourne scored 108 points in the 35-point win over the Breakers – the highest score by any team this season – and chalked up 32 assists along the way, which is the most in franchise history and the most by any team since February 2019.

They’re rolling again.

 

Cam Gliddon (South East Melbourne Phoenix)

It has been a tumultuous NBL22 for Gliddon so far as recovery from hip surgery and numerous COVID disruptions have kept him from playing regular minutes.

That all changed on Saturday, however, when the sharpshooter caught fire in his team’s win over Brisbane.

Gliddon went 6-of-6 from long range and 7-of-7 overall for his game-high 20 points – flashing the potential impact he could have for SEM down the stretch.

“Our team really needs his shooting,” Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said.

“We’ve been really poor shooting the ball for most of this season and he’s a big piece of what we are… it was great to see him pull the trigger early and then look to start hunting shots.”

 

Lamar Patterson (Brisbane Bullets)

The Bullets went down in their only game this week but Patterson did his very best to haul them over the line.

Continuing his run of recent good form, the Brisbane import put up 27 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in the loss.

Unfortunately, however, it was a sombre ‘LP’ who spoke with the media postgame as he digested a sixth defeat from his team’s past seven games.

“It really don’t mean anything because we’re losing,” Patterson said.

“Yeah the ball’s going in a little bit for me but… I’d rather have a decent game and win than have a great game and lose. It’s just (about) trying to get those wins.”

 

DUDS

Cairns Taipans

Oh boy, things are really starting to go pear-shaped for the Snakes.

Back-to-back defeats this week makes it four losses in a row for Adam Forde’s squad who have grabbed just one win from their past eight games.

Their issue? They just can’t it going offensively.

The Taipans defend, you’ve got to give them credit for that, but they possess the least efficient offense in the league, due to a lack of play-making, shot-making and a tendency to throw the ball all over the gym.

This week the Snakes shot just 3-of-27 from long range against the Hawks – scoring just 17 points in the entire second half – and then went to Adelaide and coughed it up a massive 22 times.

That latest effort prompted a players only meeting in the locker room, while head coach Adam Forde spoke to the media elsewhere.

“We’re in a very awkward spot, at the moment, offensively,” Forde said.

“It’s really frustrating. It’s frustrating for me and it’s frustrating for the playing group… it’s a real awkward position to be in and we’ve only got ourselves to blame.”

The trickiest part of all those problems is that Scott Machado just doesn’t look right. He’s such an important part of who they’re trying to be and, while he’s back on court, he’s clearly not fully recovered from that heel injury.

 

New Zealand Breakers

As John Denver once sang, ‘some days are diamonds, some days are stones.’

While that could almost be the theme song for the Breakers over the past month, let’s just say nobody’s making an engagement ring out of yesterday’s effort at John Cain Arena.

“It was obviously not a good day for us on a lot of fronts,” head coach Dan Shamir said.

“But I think we’re better than that. We showed up today and got punched hard but I think we’re better than that.”

You know what? I’ll go one step further… I know you’re better than that. Hopefully some more diamond days ahead for our friends from across the ditch.

 

Michael Frazier (Perth Wildcats)

Finally, let’s close out the duds with a quick mention of Frazier and his recent run of limited production for the Wildcats.

Frazier found his groove a couple of weeks ago, when he posted 14 and 9 against South East Melbourne, but his two efforts since have ben sub-par as the ‘Cats have dropped a couple in a row.

Over those past two games, both single-digit losses, Frazier has put up a combined 7 points and 7 boards and the Wildcats have been outscored by 40 points during his minutes on the floor.

This week, head coach Scott Morrison flipped things up and brought Frazier off the bench, explaining he wanted to go a little bigger off the tip but also wanted to “give Mike a new look” in order to “get him energised and get him going a little bit.”

It’s been much-discussed how Perth’s roster seems to be lacking an elite big but, for right now, they’re sticking with what they’ve got. Who knows, maybe Frazier can get his groove back against this week the team he gave some buckets a couple of weeks ago.

 

The views on this page are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBL, its Clubs or partners.

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