NBL: Conklin's woes not all doom and gloom for Crocs
|Steve Chalmers||Nov 2, 2015|
In a season which was written off by many pundits before it even started, the Townsville Crocodiles were always going to rely heavily on their league MVP Brian Conklin.
If the Crocs were to win any games throughout the 2015/16 NBL season, Conklin was going to have to play a significant role for long periods of time.
Now, at the conclusion of round 4, Brian Conklin averages just 12.75ppg, yet Townsville have willed themselves to two wins out of eight. Make it a known fact: Townsville have to rely on Brian Conklin.
Yes, Conklin isn't having a stellar early part of this season - call it a MVP hangover if you will. The stats back up the fact that the league MVP hasn't found anywhere near the form he exhibited in earning the award last season.
The Townsville big man relies on his shooting and, in turn, his percentages to get it done from the field. Thanks to Crunchtimeshots.com, below you can find the obvious difference as to where King Conk hasn't been firing in the early parts of the season.
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From watching Conklin closely and with the ability to look back at the statistics, Conklin is as much the Brahma Bull as The Rock is when he finds himself right under the ring. Despite shooting at a better clip from the restricted area in comparison to last season, Conklin is still far behind some of his rivals, such as Julian Khazzouh (81%) and AJ Ogilvy (82%). However, the difference in shot selection must be taken into account - Ogilvy and Khazzouh are more likely to have uncontested dunks rather than Conklin's aggressive contested lay-ins.
The most concerning part of his game this season, is that of his mid-range jump shot. Conklin's elbow jump shot, or that just above the elbow, proved deadly time and time again last season. Townsville's head coach Shawn Dennis loved seeing this sweet stroke and went to it on many occasions.
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However, there is a striking comparison to Conklin's mid-range numbers. That elbow jumper? Gone for all money so far. Defences are now daring Conklin to shoot from those spots, as his confidence continues to drop. The hot-spot has gone, with a more hestitive player instead preferring to drive or dish.
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Conklin's woes aren't all doom and gloom for the Crocs. His quiet opening eight games has provided many opportunities for what is a young and somewhat inexperienced team. Townsville fans would much rather have an out of form Conklin at this point in the season, which has allowed for improvement, responsibility and leadership for guys like Clint Steindl, Jordair Jett and Nick Kay.
Shawn Dennis understood that this season was to develop his team - he brought in younger guys that had the potential to blossom for that very reason.
Maturing a guy like Clint Steindl will go a long way in future years if the club can keep their hands on him. Despite being known as a streaky shooter, Dennis took the plunge on him, and Steindl is starting to repay the faith (41% from deep after four rounds). Stepping up when required, he is showing some leadership out on the court - re-grouping his team while knocking down some big shots and finding a groove in the offence. View image | gettyimages.com Signing a guy like Jordair Jett was, in many views, a leap of faith. Jett was predicted to be the first import punted throughout the league; however, he has shown that he is more than capable of providing something to Townsville in more ways than one. With the monkey off the back and Adelaide's Kenyon McNeail gone through injury, Jett is finding his feet in the NBL - 12.5ppg, 3.5rpg and 2.38apg.
No other player may be benefitting more from Conklin's current form than back-up Nick Kay. The big man out of Metro State has found a niche coming off the bench (for the most part) for the Crocs and his improvement has been fast tracked in the NBL.
Kay's development has shown that you can have both he and Conklin on the floor at the same time as, despite a small sample size (5-5FG), Kay can spread the floor and knock down mid-range jumpers.
Dennis did this in Townsville's latest outing, rewarding Kay with a starting spot against the Kings.
It's only a matter of time before Brian Conklin re-finds his feet and returns to the league MVP conversation. With the development and leadership traits becoming a factor in Shawn Dennis' coaching reign, you can only imagine how Townsville will line-up with all players fit and firing.
You thought the Crocs were a danger team now? Just wait and see.