THE PENULTIMATE Round of the NBL has wrapped, and before we head into the final week of play before the play-in, there were plenty of exciting performances to recognise over the past seven days.
Round 17 saw some big scores from the league’s big guns, as the stars of the competition took over in what was a crucial round in shaping the standings. As a result, there were some big statlines from the biggest names, who dominated headlines as a result.
As revealed on the Got Next Podcast, which chats all things NBL and WNBL, Rookie Me Central names a Team of the Week, and the 17th round of the fixture had plenty of stars making an appearance.
Point Guard – Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats)
The man who does it time and time again saved his best performance for (near) last, delivering a vintage offensive performance against the Hawks. The Wildcats needed to win to stay in the hunt for a top-four spot, and it was the three-time MVP stood up, although who else would you expect? He had a whopping 40 points on 11/21 shooting from the field, but what was most impressive was his work on the perimeter. He made seven of his 11 attempts from behind the arc, torching the Illawarra perimeter defence as the Wildcats broke away late in the game.
Shooting Guard – Dejan Vasiljevic (Sydney Kings)
Vasiljevic just loves playing in MyState Bank Arena. Coming into the game against the JackJumpers on the weekend, there was plenty of attention on how the fiery guard would be received by the Tasmanian crowd, given he hit the dagger in last year’s grand final series. Vasiljevic did it again nearly a year later, producing 24 points and proving that the Jackies are his favourite team to play against. Should the sides face off again in the postseason, expect this man to be at his scoring best again.
Small Forward – Antonius Cleveland (Adelaide 36ers)
The reigning NBL Best Defensive Player produced yet another eye-catching performance to keep Adelaide as a mathematical possibility to make the finals. As the 36ers claimed an impressive upset over the Taipans, Cleveland was at the forefront, impacting the contest on both ends with excellent perimeter defence and terrific transition offence. He finished the match with 27 points and seven rebounds in his best performance of the season.
Power Forward – Mitch Creek (SEM Phoenix)
Creek has seemingly appeared in all of our Team of the Week’s for the season, but he keeps making it impossible to keep him out. Over two games, he passed the 20-point mark thanks to his stellar ability to find the bottom of the net. He played a vital role in the Phoenix’s crucial win over the Taipans with 21 points, before taking it to the next level with 29 points and nine rebounds in a high-scoring loss to the Kings a few days later. There are not many better scorers in the league and he is showing no signs of slowing down.
Center – Xavier Cooks (Sydney Kings)
The leading candidate for MVP fired again on the weekend as the Kings clinched top spot in the standings heading into the final round. Against the Phoenix, Cooks produced the first triple-double since Joshua Giddey in 2021. He had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, to not only seal a postseason appearance for Sydney, but also potentially the Andrew Gaze Trophy in the process.
Point Guard – Derrick Walton Jr (Sydney Kings)
Walton Jr. has played a crucial role in getting the Kings to top spot, and emphasised that on the weekend with 22 points, four rebounds and five assists against the Phoenix.
Shooting Guard – Jason Cadee (Brisbane Bullets)
The veteran guard delivered a season-best performance on the weekend with 27 points and six rebounds against the Taipans, shooting 6/12 from behind the arc.
Small Forward – Jarell Brantley (New Zealand Breakers)
Our tall frontcourt kicks off with Brantley, who produced points totals of 18 and 22 over the weekend to help the Breakers to a potential top-two spot come season’s end.
Power Forward – DJ Hogg (Cairns Taipans)
In a disappointing weekend for the Taipans, Hogg was the one that stood above his teammates with 24 points and five rebounds against the Phoenix, followed by 23 points and six assists in the win over the Bullets.
Center – TaShawn Thomas (Perth Wildcats)
Thomas has worked his way into the season nicely, and a statline of 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals against the JackJumpers was a perfect example of his progression.