NBL Matchup to Watch – Dererk Pardon vs. Aaron Baynes

THE EIGHTH round of the 2022/23 NBL season is underway, with some big matchups on the cards over the course of the weekend.

While there are many clashes to watch from a team perspective, there is arguably an individual matchup that is set to be the most entertaining part of the round. Two of the league’s star big men will lock horns when Dererk Pardon and the New Zealand Breakers host Aron Baynes and the Brisbane Bullets on Sunday afternoon.

The pair are currently in the midst of their first season in the NBL, and recent weeks have suggested much of their team’s success is affected by their respective performances, so this should be an important factor in Sunday’s game.

Dererk Pardon – 12.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 65 per cent FG
Aron Baynes – 11.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 0.6 blocks, 43.5 per cent FG

Both of these players have worked their way into the season after taking a while to understand the pace and flow of the competition.

Pardon has played a huge role in the Breakers sudden surge up the standings and into championship contention, with his work rate inside the paint second to none in the competition. With other scoring options on his team, the import has been able to finish inside when required and make the paint his own without the ball. He is coming off a pair of career-best games in the NBL, with a couple of 19-point, 10-rebound showings in Round 7 as he led his side to a 2-0 weekend. He also chimed in with four steals and three blocks over those two games too, showcasing his importance as a defensive anchor for the side. He will need to be at his ruthless best against Baynes, and willing to work out to the perimeter to defend, as the Brisbane big man loves a pick and pop.

Baynes came into the NBL with a lot of expectation on his shoulders, and while he has not been able to live up to the ridiculous hype, he is putting in some impressive performances given the severity of his most recent injury. He has been crucial in getting the Bullets to their three wins after a disappointing start. Working extremely hard on the boards, the former NBA and Boomers tall has played a vital role in Brisbane’s turnaround, and will need to continue to do so if they are to keep pushing for finals. Against Pardon, Baynes will likely be looking to stretch his direct opponent and get involved around the perimeter. He is one of the competition’s best three-point threats as a big man. Last week, he hit two triples early in the match, but was not fed the ball around the arc after that, so the team will likely be looking to take advantage of his sharpshooting.

Pardon and Baynes are two rebounding, impactful players at the five, and Sunday’s result will likely be heavily influenced by this particular individual battles.

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