Matchup to Watch – Derrick Walton Jr. vs. Xavier Rathan-Mayes

ROUND 2 of the National Basketball League (NBL) kicks off on the weekend, and two of the strongest performers from last weekend are set to lock horns in a blockbuster clash.

Derrick Walton Jr.‘s Sydney Kings will take on Xavier Rathan-MayesMelbourne United in a massive Sunday afternoon game, and those two stars are set to dominate headlines in what should be a terrific display of shotmaking.

Both players had blistering starts to the season, occupying the top two spots in points scored for Round 1. While that is no guarantee to continue, there is no doubt that the pair will see plenty of the ball, as each team’s offence pushes through the duo.


Derrick Walton Jr. – 32 points, four rebounds, eight assists
Xavier Rathan-Mayes – 33 points, five rebounds, nine assists

While statistically Rathan-Mayes had a better game, the impact of the duo was devastatingly similar. Both won the game for their respective sides with the ability to create a basket off the dribble, a skill that should come to the forefront.

Rathan-Mayes was at his best when he was able to use a screen to push the ball back into the middle of the court, and nail a three from dead centre of the perimeter. It was a shot that he went to on a number of occasions, finding the bottom of the net in the biggest moments of the game.

While he did not score the ball inside the paint too frequently, it gave the opportunity to dish back out to the likes of Chris Goulding and Rayjon Tucker, who can score the ball themselves. Against the Kings, he should receive more attention at the perimeter, his mid-range jump shot is still a dangerous weapon, pushing with his right to get to the top of the key. It could be a way to get past the perimeter defence, while his passing is always going to hurt the opposition.

Photo: James Ross/AAP

Walton Jr. came into the competition more known for his playmaking than his scoring, but it was the latter that ended up causing the most damage against the Hawks last weekend. Coach Chase Buford flagged post-game that it was unlikely that he would reach these scoring heights every week, but the guard showed he has the capability to score inside and outside, while consistently beating his man off the dribble with explosiveness through the legs.

His shooting may not be as damaging, but his quick bursts inside will always be a weapon, and he should go to that against Melbourne. If matched up on the dangerous Rathan-Mayes, Walton Jr. showed he is a capable defender, with the ball handler rarely able to burst past. He is giving up a bit of height at the perimeter defensively, but should be able to conjure a few steals in the process.

It is hard to predict who will be more successful at recreating their Round 1 heroics, but both players have shown the ability to create a bucket off the dribble, so it should be a high-scoring battle.

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