NBL Positional Analysis Round 4 – Small Forward
ROUND 4 of the National Basketball League (NBL) fixture for 2022/23 saw Small Forwards as the most eye-catching position across the eight games.
To start the season, the competition has seen dominance from guards and bigs, but this time it was the wings that performed to a high level on both ends of the court. Despite plenty of other positions still producing strong outings, some of the best individual showings came from the three, in what is proving to be a balanced start to the season across the league.
Friday night’s action saw a blockbuster clash between the Sydney Kings and the Adelaide 36ers, with the latter emerging victorious to the tune of four points. There were a pair of solid two-way performances in that contest, with one from each team. In his side’s win, Antonius Cleveland got the chocolates on the scoreboard in his battle with Sydney’s Justin Simon, but the jury is still out on the individual battle.
Cleveland finished with 15 points and seven rebounds and nailed some timely buckets in the context of the game. The reigning NBL’s Best Defensive Player took on the task of defending some of Sydney’s best weapons including Derrick Walton Jr., who is on some sort of tear at the moment. On the other side of the coin, Simon was efficient on his way to 12 points and six rebounds, with five of his six field goal attempts finding the bottom of the net. Defensively, he was as switched on as ever, chiming in for three steals and a block as he tried to thwart the offensive sets of an extremely talented Adelaide roster. It was an enthralling battle made up of solid showings at both ends.
The SEM Phoenix managed to sneak past the Brisbane Bullets on the back of an explosive offensive performance from league superstar Mitch Creek. One of the best scorers in the modern era, Creek delivered one of his best outings of the last few years. He finished with a game-high 31 points to go with seven boards and three dimes as he torched the Bullets defence with his gut-running off the ball. Despite Brisbane’s best efforts to contain him, Creek was determined to will the Phoenix over the line, delivering scoring bursts throughout the match, and getting to work inside the paint after combining well with the court vision of Gary Browne.
While he may not have posted as big a scoring total as the man we just discussed, Tasmania JackJumpers wing Matt Kenyon’s performance was just as crucial. Matching up on the most difficult opponent the NBL has to offer in Bryce Cotton, Kenyon not only smothered the three-time MVP, but got involved in Tassie’s scoring wave in the second term. He held Cotton to just one field goal attempt in the first half, which is remarkable given the guard has averaged over 20 points for his entire NBL career. Kenyon produced 14 points of his own, going 4/6 from behind the arc. It was a career night for the JackJumpers’ defensive weapon, who was his side’s best performer on a record night for the team.