NBL Plus/Minus – Round 11

Melbourne United forward Tai Wesley drives against Josh Childress of the Adelaide 36ers.
Photo: NBL

Lay-up artistry, a hunger for dunks and the two big cities winning basketball games. It’s all good this week!


Nathan Sobey: nastiest of nasty dunkers (Plus)

Dunks are at an all time high around the NBL with the glut of explosive small forwards and big men hungry to tear down a rim.

In the guard department, no one is as vicious on the attack than Nathan Sobey. He’s literally half the size of Lebron James, but exerts the same two-handed willpower on defenceless rims.

The aggression he brings, along with his ability to get up, is a menace on the court.

Out on the break, Sobey looks like he genuinely wants to rip away the hoop.

Sometimes he switches it up and let’s us know he can rock the rim and everything around it with a quick-touch two-handed flush – a lightning strike.

I also have to give a big shout out to Sobey for redeeming what was an otherwise underwhelming Disney round.


Tai Wesley, put the ball on the floor (Plus)

Not that many rounds ago, Tai Welsey found himself riding the bench as Melbourne continued its rollercoaster season. Dean Vickerman’s rotations were as consistent as United’s ability to string wins together – Wesley’s fit within line-ups has the great experiment in a season of tinkering.

It’s no secret that Wesley likes to get his touches in the halfcourt, but it might be time to bring attention to the fact that he’s not quite the ball-dominant black hole he’s made out to be.

Wesley is known for his footwork and finishing inside, but his ability to make the interior pass to Josh Boone – and to a lesser extent Majok Majok – shouldn’t be overlooked. Bigs putting in work around the block are a major asset in the NBL – those that make smart, quick passes that much more.

Let’s see some more of this – United can use Wesley’s interior finishing and passes to open three-point shooters like we saw in the first half against the 36ers in Round 11. In the month of December, Wesley is averaging 14 points, 6 rebounds and just under 5 assists per game (only MVP-to-date JP Tokoto is putting up better numbers across those three categories).

With Casey Prather out for the next few months, give the man from the 671 his dues. He doesn’t need the aurora-sized green light that Chris Goulding has been given, but with Casper Ware not shooting well this season it might be time to give Wesley the ball and let him make things happen.


Kings on the Run (Plus)

 Much like a year ago with Nathan Sobey and the Adelaide 36ers, Jerome Randle has unleashed a backcourt partner in Jason Cadee and an entire team’s offensive identity.

It starts with Randle going downhill every chance he gets – defenses are off guard and a semblance of transition offense is finally emerging for the Kings (see: the final two minutes of the first quarter against Brisbane this round when the Kings decided they didn’t want to lose 97-4).

Did you see that opening play?! That was seven-foot Isaac Humphries leading the break and rewarding Randle for the steal followed by two straight minutes of the guard hitting turbo and leaving Brisbane road-kill behind.

With Randle in town, Jason Cadee is looking to attack more than ever. The two guards really feed off of each other’s energy and this gets things humming on the offensive end. Starting two-guard, Todd Blanchfield, has found himself with more space and a shot at reviving his three-point percentage on the year.

The aforementioned Humphries, along with Brad Newley, find themselves with more space to operate and are only limited by their own ability to maintain control of where their legs take them. Always the freelance artist – Newley can run the break well, particularly in recent chances with Perry Ellis.

It remains to be seen whether Ellis’s offensive contributions will return to early season form alongside Randle, or whether Jeremy Tyler – who prefers a different version of transition offense ­– will continue to feast on mid-range jumpers and cherries.

The Kings were built for an up-tempo season and they might just have a breakneck second half ahead for us.


Rotnei Clarke can finish (Plus)

We know he can shoot, but what Rotnei Clarke has done at the basket this season has been just as much fun to watch – if not downright Dwyane Wade impressive.

Watch as he blows by JP Tokoto, then hurls himself past Damian Martin for an acrobatic up-and-under reverse in Illawarra’s previous outing against Perth.

When you blitz the entire league from deep, the basket not only looks bigger, but the swagger to take your man off the dribble and serve yourself the biggest scoop is entirely in your hands.

It doesn’t get any better than this outburst against Adelaide:

Clarke is an undersized scoring machine and has been his whole life. His use of a quick first step and brilliant angles off the glass are pure disrespect to opponents and a jump-start to a team in need of a boost.

 

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