NBL | Stats Central – Round 2

THE National Basketball League (NBL) action resumed over the weekend, with the second round of play delivering just as much excitement as the first.

Across eight games, there were plenty of excellent performance at both a team and individual level in what was a high-scoring and entertaining batch of matches. Some of the biggest names in the competition were at their brilliant bests, impacting their respective games in one way or another.

Continuing our weekly series, Rookie Me Central will be taking a look at the leaders in each of the key statistical categories, with some players firming as elite contributors in a number of areas.

In Round 2, it was some of the NBL’s more experienced campaigners that made a mark, while one Next Star is continuing his strong work inside the paint on both ends of the court.

Points per game

  • Nathan Sobey (Brisbane Bullets) – 24.3
  • Parker Jackson-Cartwright (New Zealand Breakers) – 22.5
  • Milton Doyle (Tasmania JackJumpers) – 21.3
  • Jordan Usher (Perth Wildcats) – 21
  • Patrick Miller (Cairns Taipans) – 19.7

A magnificent pair of performances from Nathan Sobey saw the veteran guard storm up the scoring ranks to lead all-comers after two rounds. The Brisbane Bullets gun led his side to a shock upset across the Tasman with 24 points at Spark Arena before backing it up with an even more impressive 31 points against the Taipans a couple of days later. He has enjoyed a strong start to the season and emphasised that with two standout showings.

After leading the way in Round 1, Jackson-Cartwright is still among the leaders after the second week of play. He has slotted into New Zealand’s lineup tremendously, leading the way on the offensive end and producing quite a strong level of efficiency in the process. He shot 60 per cent against Brisbane, and although his side could not quite get over the line, was heavily involved in the Breakers’ success.

Milton Doyle was one of the stories of the round as he led the Tasmania JackJumpers to an upset win over Melbourne United at John Cain Arena. He scored 12 points in the last six minutes of the game to lead Tassie to a remarkable comeback win on the road, including the match-winning three-pointer with 20 seconds left on the clock. He finished the game with 25 and appears to have got going offensively to start the season.

Jordan Usher may not have delivered the explosive scoring heights of Round 1, but still ranks among the best in the league, while Patrick Miller is proving a handy addition for Cairns.

Rebounds per game

  • Ariel Hukporti (Melbourne United) – 10.3
  • Sam Froling (Illawarra Hawks) – 9.5
  • Mitch Creek (SEM Phoenix) – 8.5
  • Luke Travers (Melbourne United) – 8.3
  • Sam Waardenberg (Cairns Taipans) – 8

Having been given more opportunity due to the injury to star big man Jo Lual Acuil, Ariel Hukporti has been in ripping form to start the year. In terms of impact on the glass, there has been no one better than the Next Star, who uses his reach to tower over his direct opponent and get first hands on the ball. Hukporti has certainly boosted his draft stock in the process and has firmed as one of the better big men in the competition.

Although flying under the radar, Sam Froling has been going about his business for the Illawarra Hawks to kick things off for the 2023/24 season. One of Australia’s most consistent frontcourt performers, Froling was instrumental in Illawarra’s upset win over the Phoenix, and also put up 17 points while also leading the way on the boards.

Mitch Creek, Luke Travers and Sam Waardenberg have all been playing above their height and crashing the glass over the first 14 days of play.

Assists per game

  • Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats) – 7
  • Parker Jackson-Cartwright (New Zealand Breakers) – 6.5
  • Denzel Valentine (Sydney Kings)/Patrick Miller (Cairns Taipans) – 6.3
  • Shannon Scott (Brisbane Bullets) – 5.7
  • Justin Robinson (Illawarra Hawks) – 5.5

Although it has not been his best start to the season on the scoring front, Bryce Cotton has ensured Perth has kept up with the contenders, albeit with his passing. The three-time MVP has been looking to distribute the ball due to receiving some tough defensive attention, and the likes of Usher have been reaping the rewards of this.

Jackson-Cartwright was again damaging as a playmaker in the loss to the Bullets. He had another five assists as he looked to spark New Zealand’s offence by drawing in the defence and creating good looks for his teammates. Although the Breakers fell short, their point guard was as active as ever at creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.

Valentine was not as present on the passing side of things as he was in Round 1, but was not asked to do as much as Jalen Adams took control of the offence. Miller and Scott have been performing well for their new sides, while Robinson had a breakout performance of his own.

Steals per game

  • Jaylin Galloway (Sydney Kings) – 3.7
  • Parker Jackson-Cartwright (NZ Breakers) – 3.5
  • Shannon Scott (Brisbane Bullets) – 3.3
  • Will Cummings (SEM Phoenix) – 2.8
  • Keanu Pinder (Perth Wildcats) – 2.7

In the midst of a seriously impressive breakout campaign, Jaylin Galloway tops the list in terms of defensive disruptors. With DJ Hogg out of the lineup due to injury, Galloway has been posting career-high numbers in a few categories, but none have caught the eye more than his ability to poke the ball out of the opposition’s grasp. He posted five steals for the second time in three games, using his reach and smarts to rip the ball away from his opponent.

Jackson-Cartwright appears in his third category, showing how impactful he can be. The import guard is as energetic as anyone on the defensive end, pressing hard at the ball-handler and making the opposition pay for any loose carries.

Scott has been a welcome addition to Brisbane’s lineup and a big reason why the team is sitting nicely with two wins and one loss, while Cummings and Keanu Pinder round out the list.

Blocks per game

  • Ariel Hukporti (Melbourne United) – 3
  • Tyrell Harrison (Brisbane Bullets) – 2
  • Kyrin Galloway (Adelaide 36ers) – 1.8
  • Jordan Hunter (Sydney Kings) – 1.7
  • Six players – 1.3

Hukporti is again front and centre, with the rising big man making his presence felt on the defensive end as well. The German centre has been protecting the rim in tremendous fashion, proving the premier shot blocker with his excellent timing and intimidating reach. Much of United’s success this year has been due to his physicality in the paint, and it will be a positive sign for NBA scouts.

Harrison was given more minutes after the ejection of Aron Baynes and made sure the opposition was not given any easy baskets under the hoop. Kyrin followed in the footsteps of his brother on the defensive end, while Hunter had a standout performance and translated it onto the defensive end.

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