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NBL 2014/15: Awards there for the taking
The NBL season has finally come to an end after many ups and downs, big wins, amazing individual performances and controversy.
This all marks the time when the NBL awards are announced, usually done at an event hosting many of the leagues players, officials and fans. This year awards were announced via social media and at the individual clubs awards nights.
Most Valuable Player
Winner: Brian Conklin (Townsville Crocodiles) View image | gettyimages.com The race for the biggest award was wide open after Josh Childress went down injured and it was announced he would miss the rest of the season.
It is unusual for a player to win the award when their team does not make the finals but the NBL's voting system makes this possible. At the conclusion of each NBL game, both coaches award votes to the best players from that game. Each coach has a total of 10 votes to allocate, with no more than five to be awarded to one player by each coach. These votes are tallied up at the conclusion of the season to find a winner.
Conklin has dominated all year and led his team in each an every game, he works hard and wants nothing but the best for himself and his team. Conklin is the type of player that fights all game, no matter the score. He enjoys banging bodies in the post as well as fighting for massive rebounds.
Big Game: In round two against the Sydney Kings, Conklin had a massive game warning the rest of the competition what he was capable of. His stat line was 30 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and 60 FG% which got his team over the line for a five point win.
Season Averages: 18.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.4 SPG and 50.7 FG%.
Most Improved Player
Blanchfield really stepped up this season and showed what he could do after teasing us with potential for several years. He grew as a player this year and was able to go on after a good start and take control of a game. Even with defenders locking down on him, Blanchfield still managed to get open and put up good numbers.
Big Game: Round 16 saw a huge game from Blanchfield and a great win by his team the Townsville Crocodiles. Playing against Melbourne United, Blanchfield made sure United fans would not forget him with stats of 27 points, 13 rebounds, one assist, two steals while shooting 50% from the field. His game also included five long-range three-pointers. Townsville won the game by 12 points.
Season Averages: 14.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.4 SPG and 44.8 FG%.
Defensive Player Of The Year
Winner: Damian Martin (Perth Wildcats) View image | gettyimages.com Is anyone surprised? Martin has previously won four defensive player of the year awards, making this his fifth. Incredibly, this his is fifth in a row.
After winning this award Martin will go down as one of the best defenders in NBL history. Never before has a player won the award in five consecutive years. Martin is a huge reason for Perth's ongoing success, his work on the defensive end being just as important as any of their scorers.
Martin is a defensive juggernaut and his stats back this up, this season he led the league in steals with 2.7 a game.
The NBL is a point guard dominated league, the quality of point guards in the competition is very high and Martin gets the assignment on these players each week. He regularly matches up on the likes of Cedric Jackson, Scottie Wilbekin and Jamar Wilson.
Big Game: Martin made his claim for the defensive award very early in the season. In round three against the Sydney Kings, Martin had an unthinkable nine steals. To go along with his incredible nine steals, Martin added nine rebounds and eight assists. Only adding two points to his teams score, but his work on the defensive end helped Perth run away with a 21 point win.
Season Averages: 6.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.1 APG, 2.7 SPG and 36.8 FG%.
Rookie Of The Year
Winner: Angus Brandt (Sydney Kings) View image | gettyimages.com With limited amount of eligible rookies this season, early on NBL fans could see that the starting centre for the Kings was the clear frontrunner for this award. In his first year in a professional league after attending Oregon State University for five seasons.
The Sydney Kings had a young roster this season, with Brandt being one of them. When healthy, Brandt would start at the centre position, an impressive feat for his first season in a professional team.
Brandt did not have the ideal season however, he went down with what seemed to be a relatively serious knee injury in round 13 that ruled him out for seven games. He was able to come back before the season's end and continue to have an impact and worry opposition teams down low.
Big Game: In only 18 minutes of game time, Brandt showed how damaging he can be with 15 points and six rebounds against the Wollongong Hawks in their round five clash. Brandt shot 75% from the field that night, helping his team blow out the Hawks by 29 points.
Season Averages: 7.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.5 SPG and 49.6 FG%.
Sixth Man Of The Year
Winner: Cameron Tragardh (Cairns Taipans) View image | gettyimages.com Cam 'Trigger' Tragardh played a major role in the success of the Cairns Taipans with his impressive impact off the bench. Being able to come on and score double figures and also pull down some big rebounds.
Tragardh moved to Cairns after leaving the Melbourne Tigers after the 2011/12 season. Since the move Tragardh has settled down and has developed his role over the years. He is now a crucial part of the Cairns outfit.
Tragardh has always had the ability to have big nights with his incredible knack to hit jump shots in the post as well as long-range two-pointers when left open. Both these attributes make him a scary match up for opposition teams.
Big Game: Tragardh exploded in round eight win against the Townsville Crocodiles, where he had 22 points and 13 rebounds in only 26 minutes of game time off the bench. He led his team in scoring for the game and aided is his teams quest to dominate the Reptile Rumble, where they won by nine points.
Season Averages: 12.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.2 SPG and 51.2 FG%.
Coach Of The Year
Winner: Aaron Fearne (Cairns Taipans) View image | gettyimages.com Leading the Cairns Taipans to a grand final series is an incredible effort after many wrote them off before the season had started. Coming from out of the playoffs the season before, Fearne had found a way for the team to gel after keeping the same core.
Finishing as the minor premiers with a record of 21-7, the Taipans look to be a force in the next few seasons.
Referee Of The Year
Winner: Michael Aylen
Aylen has now won the award an amazing eight times, including the last six.
All NBL First Team
Winners: Cedric Jackson (New Zealand Breakers), Scottie Wilbekin (Cairns Taipans), Josh Childress (Sydney Kings), Brock Motum (Adelaide 36ers) & Brian Conklin (Townsville Crocodiles)
All NBL Second Team
Winners: Jamar Wilson (Adelaide 36ers), Jordan McRae (Melbourne United), Todd Blanchfield (Townsville Crocodiles), Matt Knight (Perth Wildcats) & Ekene Ibekwe (New Zealand Breakers)