NBL Positional Analysis Round 1 – Point Guards

ROUND 1 of the 2022/23 National Basketball League (NBL) season has come and gone, with some exciting action kicking off what should be an enthralling campaign.

As is the case every year, the competition looks slightly different to start the season. One of the most notable differences after the first week is the dominance of point guards. Players at the one were among the top scorers for the week, showcasing how talented those in the guard position have become.

Kyle Adnam kicked things off in the season opener with a career-high total in the NBL, finishing with 30 points for the SEM Phoenix. He was not hesitant to launch the ball from three, and the opposition defence was happy to give him that look given how damaging he can be as a playmaker.

It would be surprising if he can maintain this sort of output for the remainder of the year, especially if Gary Browne overcomes a knee injury and returns to the starting lineup, but it will instil the Phoenix with confidence knowing they have yet another player to make big plays down the stretch.

Later that night, Adnam was upstaged by one of the league’s newest imports, with Sydney Kings recruit Derrick Walton Jr. producing a match-winning performance. He joined the team to fill the shoes of last season’s MVP Jaylen Adams, and has immediately thrown his name into the race for the very same award.

He showed the capacity to explode and finish at the rim, shoot the rock with confidence, and run the team’s offence with his impressive playmaking and high basketball IQ. Walton Jr. can beat his man off the dribble on almost every position, and should prove a matchup nightmare. He finished with 32 points and nine assists in a magnificent league debut.

As expected, league superstar Bryce Cotton was back to his damaging best for the Perth Wildcats with another strong showing against the Bullets on Sunday. From the opening tip, Cotton was able to get to his shot off the dribble, rise above the opposition defender and somehow find the bottom of the net, despite a hand in his face for many of his field goals.

He finished with 23 points, six dimes and a whopping 12 rebounds, which was a career-high. For a player with such a decorated career, it is still remarkable that Cotton is still breaking through his ceiling in some aspects of his game.

While these scoring efforts were impressive, there were still some impressive passing performances. Walton Jr. was impressive with eight, while Xavier Rathan-Mayes stepped into the point guard role next to recruit Rayjon Tucker, and was the player of the round with 33 points and nine dimes, despite often playing as a shooting guard.

Suddenly, offensive sets often finish with a three-point shot off the dribble, a far cry from the game 10 years ago. Most guards now come into the competition expected to be able to nail a shot from behind the arc, with slightly less emphasis on playmaking.

Last night’s game saw a number of Cairns Taipans bigs make impressive bail out passes to wide open teammates on the perimeter, and it was a key part of their success. With playmaking becoming more of a team-oriented process, point guards will now look to hurt the opposition with their ability to create a shot off the dribble, and it should see a new wave of prospects at this position.

There is no doubt the point guard position is set to become even more damaging in the coming weeks, and a number of these players could be amongst the MVP candidates come season’s end.

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