King of the NBL, Cooks claims MVP

TUESDAY night saw the National Basketball League (NBL) Awards night take place, with Sydney Kings superstar Xavier Cooks claiming the league’s highest individual honour – the Andrew Gaze Trophy for the Most Valuable Player.

Cooks was the favourite all season long, having been the best player on the best side in the competition, and although there were others that may have posted more attractive stats, none had as big an impact as the star forward. He averaged 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, proving a constant threat on the defensive end of the court too. Recently, he posted the first NBL triple-double since 2021, and has the skillset to affect a match in a number of ways.

He racked up 120 votes, with fellow nominees Bryce Cotton (96 votes) and Mitch Creek (80 votes) finishing in second and third respectively. Cooks and his Kings will now look ahead to their upcoming finals campaign, and having earned the Finals MVP award last season, the star forward will look to carry his form into the postseason.

Cairns Taipans head coach Adam Forde was rewarded for his team’s drastic turnaround with the Lindsay Gaze Trophy for Coach of the Year. The Taipans finished ninth last season with just five wins next to their name, but have secured a top three finish in 2022/23, despite having a lot of the same pieces.

It was not the only piece of silverware for the Taipans on the night, with the Northernmost team having a very busy night. Keanu Pinder claimed the NBL’s Most Improved Player Award, becoming the first player in history to win the award twice, having been named last year as well. Sam Waardenberg beat out more experienced competition to claim the Next Generation Award, further emphasising the bright future ahead for Cairns.

Speaking of consecutive wins, Adelaide 36ers stopper Antonius Cleveland claimed back-to-back Damian Martin Trophies, having made life difficult for some of the league’s most prominent scorers. He is now the eighth player in NBL history to win the award two years in a row.

In a widely expected result, New Zealand Breakers scoring machine Barry Brown Jr. took home the NBL’s Best Sixth Man Award, after averaging the third most points in the competition, despite coming off the bench.

Check out the full results below.

Andrew Gaze Trophy – Most Valuable Player – Presented by Hungry Jack’s
Xavier Cooks (Sydney) – 120 votes
Bryce Cotton (Perth) – 96 votes
Mitch Creek (South East Melbourne) – 80 votes

Most Improved Player
Keanu Pinder (Cairns) – 48 votes
William McDowell-White (New Zealand) – 46 votes
Sean Macdonald (Tasmania) – 34 votes

Damian Martin Trophy for the Best Defensive Player
Antonius Cleveland (Adelaide) – 37 votes
Dererk Pardon (New Zealand) – 34 votes
Shea Ili (Melbourne) – 26 votes

Best Sixth Man – presented by Marsh
Barry Brown Jr (New Zealand) – 73 votes
Tyler Johnson (Brisbane) – 41 votes
Rashard Kelly (Tasmania) – 26 votes

Lindsay Gaze Trophy – Coach of the Year
Adam Forde (Cairns) – 64 votes
Mody Maor (New Zealand) – 52 votes
Chase Buford (Sydney) – 34 votes

Next Generation Award – presented by Champion
Sam Waardenburg (Cairns) – 47 votes
Sam Froling (Illawarra) – 45 votes
Luke Travers (Perth) – 24 votes

All-NBL First Team
Xavier Cooks (Sydney) – 54 votes
Mitch Creek (South East Melbourne) – 45 votes
Bryce Cotton (Perth) – 54 votes
Milton Doyle (Tasmania) – 42 votes
Derrick Walton Jr (Sydney) – 41 votes

All-NBL Second Team
Keanu Pinder (Cairns) – 33 votes
Dererk Pardon (New Zealand) – 22 votes
Barry Brown Jr (New Zealand) – 37 votes
DJ Hogg (Cairns) – 30 votes
Chris Goulding (Melbourne) – 23 votes

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