Attributes combined: Building the perfect NBL player

WHILE the National Basketball League (NBL) has plenty of excellent players that have reached superstar status, what does the perfect NBL player look like if you picked the best of each key attribute?

There will be no NBL games this week due to the planned FIBA break, although the scheduled FIBA matches were subsequently cancelled. The start to the 2023/24 season has seen some of the best and brightest dominating in one or multiple facets of the game. With the Most Valuable Player (MVP) race wide open, there is no doubting that the competition has as much talent as ever.

However, no player is perfect at every part of the game, but Rookie Me Central will today ponder that hypothetical. In this article, a player will be nominated for each key area of the game, to help build the best possible player. There are some familiar names making appearances, but some big names also miss. For example, Bryce Cotton is one of the all-time NBL greats and still the most feared player in the league, but what makes him so is his overall offensive game, not just one area of his arsenal, which is a compliment in itself.

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The Perfect NBL Player

Inside scoring – Jo Lual Acuil (Melbourne United)

Since making his return to the NBL following a stint overseas and subsequent injury, there is no doubt Lual Acuil has been the best big man in the competition. His ability to score inside the paint is unmatched, and has given opposition sides a lot of grief over the first eight rounds of the season. Whether it is dunks, lay-ups, post hooks or even floaters from in close, Lual Acuil has an extremely deep arsenal when it comes to scoring close to the basket.

Honourable mention: Sam Froling (Illawarra Hawks)

Photo: Bradley Kanaris

Outside scoring – Chris Goulding (Melbourne United)

The selection of Goulding here was one of the easiest choices of the article, given his world-class shooting ability. There is no one more damaging from behind the arc than the United veteran, who has shown that age is just a number at 35 years of age. Goulding can knock down the three ball better than anyone, regardless of how tightly he is guarded, or how deep his shots are. He leads the NBL in three-pointers made this season, and is ultra dangerous in catch and shoot scenarios.

Honourable mention: Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats)

Photo: AAP

Clutch performance – Tyler Harvey (Illawarra Hawks)

While it is not a measurable statistic, a players ability to perform down the stretch is a massive part of their success in the NBL. While a number of players could have been nominated for this category, Harvey has been as clutch as they come for a struggling Illawarra side. He has a number of game-winners next to his name from the past 12 months alone, and has been the guy for the Hawks when they needed a late bucket.

Honourable mention: Milton Doyle (Tasmania JackJumpers)

Photo: Getty Jmages

Rebounding – Alan Williams (SEM Phoenix)

Another easy selection, ‘The Big Sauce’ has controlled the skies since joining the NBL last season, and pulls down double-digits in the rebounding column on a nightly basis. So far in the 2023/24 season he is averaging a league-high 10.1 rebounds per game, and forces the opposition to spend time on limiting his influence on the glass, otherwise he makes them pay.

Honourable mention: Jo Lual Acuil (Melbourne United)

Photo: Dean Lewins/AAP

Passing: Jaylen Adams (Sydney Kings)

You just knew the former NBL MVP was going to pop up on this list somewhere. Although there are players averaging more assists than Adams, their usage rate is also much higher. The Kings point guard is averaging five assists a game, while sharing ball-handling duties with a number of star teammates. He is expert at setting up his teammates, and has elevated some of his fellow Kings offensively as a result of his passing.

Honourable mention: Parker Jackson-Cartwright (New Zealand Breakers)

Jaylen Adams in action for the Sydney Kings.
Photo: AAP

Interior defence: Jo Lual Acuil (Melbourne United)

Lual Acuil’s second appearance on this list demonstrates how good his game is in the frontcourt. A master at protecting the paint, the United big man times his leaps to perfection, using his extended reach to thwart as many interior attacks as possible. He is averaging 1.9 blocks per game, the most of any player who has played as many matches as him, and his mere presence in the paint often makes opposition players reconsider attacking the rim.

Honourable mention: DJ Hogg (Sydney Kings)

Perimeter defence – Shea Ili (Melbourne United)

Despite some inconsistency in his court time over recent seasons, Ili is still the best defensive menace when on the court. Melbourne’s biggest strength this season has been its defence, and it is Ili who often takes the best guard (if not him then Matthew Dellavedova). He rarely fails his assignments and has made life extremely difficult for some of the best players in the competition with his ability to stay in front of his player and deny as many possessions as possible.

Honourable mention: Alex Toohey (Sydney Kings)

Physical profile – Alexandre Sarr (Perth Wildcats)

The highly touted NBL Next Star is projected by many to go at the top of the NBA draft for many reasons, with his combination of size and speed a massive factor. Standing a massive seven-foot-one, Sarr has the height to protect the paint and attack the rim down the other end. However, he is also extremely explosive with quick bursts of speed and can go downhill as good as anyone in transition.

Honourable mention: Rocco Zikarsky (Brisbane Bullets)

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