Excellence is the new norm for Brad Newley
Brad Newley is experiencing the LeBron effect.
After years of brilliance, LeBron James is now held to a standard that is reserved for the greats. The four-time MVP is averaging 23.5 points, 9.5 assists and 8.2 rebounds this season, a stat line that would be sensational by most standards. For James, though, this is just another day at the office.
While Newley certainly isn’t at James’ level, the swingman is going through a similar metamorphosis with the Sydney Kings. Despite the Kings’ talent-rich roster, it’s the 31-year-old Adelaide native that is stealing the show. Newley is averaging a team-high 18.7 points, which also ranks fourth in the entire league, along with 5.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Efficiency is now a staple of the 2007 NBA draft pick's season; he's been shooting 52.9 percent from the field.
Sydney coach, Andrew Gaze, was the first to admit Newley having taken his game to another level.
“It’s hard for Brad because it’s the norm now,” Gaze said, after Newley put up 29 points, nine rebounds and five assists in Sydney’s round eight loss to Melbourne United.
“It’s the norm for what he is doing this season. His shooting has been exceptional, the way he can get to the basket is very tough to guard, his work on the glass and the way he sees the floor is great. He plays with a great IQ and on the defensive end, with his athleticism, he is working his arse off.
In his first season back in the NBL, after a hiatus of nearly ten years, Newley seemingly hasn’t had the need to get readjusted. A past winner of the NBL’s various accolades (Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year and All-Star Game in 2005), Newley is now firmly in discussions for the Most Valuable Player award, having led the Kings’ epic turnaround this season.
It's far from the end of the season, but Sydney has already eclipsed last season's total game wins, and is sitting pretty on top of the ladder. Newley has been a big factor behind their success.
The advanced stats are fond of the ex-Boomer. Newley possesses a player efficiency rating of 22.6, tied for second in the competition. The forward also ranks amongst the NBL’s top-10 in efficiency differential, offensive rating, true shooting percentage and effective field goal percentage, via Real GM.
While he can hit the three-point shot, Newley prefers to take his offensive game inside.
Newley is connecting on 73.9 percent of his attempts inside the restricted area entering Round 8, via crunchtimeshots.com. Furthermore, the 6'6" product is shooting 62.9 percent on shots taken in the paint, but outside the restricted area, another red-hot rate.
Newley’s craftiness at getting into the lane and finishing amongst the trees has been a reason Sydney rank first in offensive rating. The Kings swingman's blend of strength, speed and agility has seen him hit layups against bigger opponents, such as this one against Majok Majok.
Not only does Newley convert the basket despite being fouled, but also, his ability to pick up a head of steam from the top of the three-point line is impressive. Gaze mentioned Newley’s athleticism in the press conference, and it’s seen here, as he is almost impossible to stop once he gets downhill momentum.
Another area where Newley excels is finishing through contact. In the below play, the Kings' swingman is running full speed and has a major collision with Chris Goulding, but still has the wherewithal and body control to score.
“It’s a bit surreal,” Newley told foxsports.com.au when he signed with Sydney.
“I always admired the players at the Kings; the older players: Shane Heal, Jason Smith, Matt Nielsen, Damian Keogh, and Tim Morrissey. All of the classic players, I always looked up to.”
Now, even if it is still in the early stages of his Kings tenure, Newley is making a strong case to join those names. Gaze understands how well his number eight has been this season, and is searching for similar performances as the campaign progresses.
“Like I said, that’s the norm and if he can keep dishing 10-15 more games of that level up, we will accept that, no problems,” Gaze said, while grinning and leaning towards Newley.
Despite the playful tone in Gaze’s voice, there is a sense of truth underlying it. Newley has set his own expectations, lofty ones that he will now be anticipated to reach every game, even without fanfare.
After all, it’s the LeBron effect.