NBL MVP Race: December

Less games due to the Christmas break in December didn’t do anything to slow down some of our biggest MVP contenders.

*Ranking (Last Month’s Rank)

1. (1) James Ennis

Ennis remains the top ‘Cat in the race for the NBL MVP after yet another strong month for both player and team. In three games for December the American swingman managed 22.7ppg at a very efficient 57% from the field, and while his other numbers were down slightly on his season averages it had no bearing on his performances. His athleticism is unmatched by any other player in the league and his scoring power is second to just one. Ennis continues to fill the stat sheet with season numbers hovering on 22.3ppg and 6.7rpg, and despite taking a big volume of shots each game his shooting percentage remains at a very healthy 50%, making him extremely tough to beat for this season’s award.

2. (2) Chris Goulding

The Tigers played five times in December – the most of any team – and despite a slower start to the month Goulding again showed why he is the toughest cover in the league with a huge performance against Wollongong to hand his side victory. While the star guard’s shooting percentage was just 40% for the month, he still dropped 20ppg and proved his worth by helping the Tigers to a 4-1 record and lifting them to 3rd on the ladder. He remains the league’s best scorer with 24.5ppg and is still shooting the ball at 46% despite some poor form over the past four weeks, while his ability to knock down off-balance shots and heat up at any moment makes him one of the most dangerous players in the league and the best challenger to Ennis for the MVP throne.

3. (6) Daniel Johnson

Johnson was one of the form players of the competition in December in Adelaide’s four games, and despite the Sixers dropping a couple of games he has made a run up the rankings thanks to his own performances. He shot at a typically high 49% from the field en route to 17.8ppg for the month, while also pulling down 6.4rpg. While teammate Gary Ervin struggled for form, Johnson took it upon himself to pick up the slack and his season numbers of 17.9ppg and 6.8rpg, while also shooting at 53% from the floor makes him one of the premier big men in the league. If the Sixers continue to win, Johnson will be right in the mix for the NBL’s highest individual honours by season’s end.

4. (4) AJ Ogilvy

Ogilvy’s numbers have suffered since the arrival of new import Sam Young, however he remains the best centre in the competition and the only player to average a double-double (13.7ppg and 10.8rpg) over the course of the season. The Kings still sit inside the top four despite a 1-3 record for the month, and despite putting up just 37 shots in four games and scoring at just 8ppg, he continues to rebound the ball at an alarming rate and his 12.8rpg in December also came with 3.3bpg. The Kings will turn their form around at some point and no doubt Ogilvy will be at the centre of it.

5. (9) Rotnei Clarke

Clarke enjoyed a super month in December, averaging 24ppg on 50% from the field and an outrageous 53% from beyond the arc. The Hawks are playing better basketball and the league’s third highest scorer has a lot to do with an increase in their form. His inconsistencies are slowly disappearing and he is becoming a genuine superstar of the competition as the season goes deeper. His season average of 21.3ppg is exceptional given his team sits at the foot of the table, and if the Hawks can start delivering on their promising form and turning it into W’s then Clarke will continue his burst up the rankings.

6. (5) Shawn Redhage

Redhage had a much quieter month in December, putting up just 22 shot attempts in his 3 games for 7.6ppg. However, it was his all-round game, as well as Perth again winning games, which has seen him hover around the middle of the rankings for another month. His 4.7rpg and 3.3apg were as good as any other power forward in the league, and his season averages of 14.9ppg, 5.5rpg and 2.9apg are more than serviceable. Couple that with the countless big shots he makes, as well as his 43% shooting from beyond the arc – good for 5th best in the league overall – and 87% at the line and there is little doubt over Redhage’s credentials. Constant foul trouble is the only thing holding him back from climbing even further at this point, with Redhage averaging just 22 minutes per contest for the month as a result.

7. (3) Gary Ervin

Ervin looked to be carrying an injury throughout December which impacted on his output, and those rumours came to fruition after surgery in the break which saw him miss the Sixers’ last game of 2013. His numbers suffered, with the superstar averaging just 12ppg and 2.3apg, with 2.7 turnovers and just 38% shooting from the field. His season numbers are still healthy, and if he returns to full fitness he will no doubt rise back up the rankings and build on his 17.4ppg and 4.7apg – which sit fifth and second in the league overall right now.

8. (7) Alex Loughton

Loughton had an up and down month in December, with two big performances resulting in Cairns wins against the two top sides. His poor performances were at the complete opposite end of the scale however, and his monthly average of 12.8ppg sees him drop a spot in the rankings despite his side going through the month with a 3-1 record. His monthly shooting clip was 42%, which is down on his 50% on the season. However, his season numbers of 13.9ppg and 4.4rpg are still solid and if the Snakes can continue climbing the ladder there will be little doubt that Loughton will be at the centre of it all, which may see him climb the rankings at the same time.

9. (-) Sam Young

Young started off slowly when he came to the NBL but after playing all four games in December, and five overall, he has found his feet and shown glimpses of how dominant he can be. He averaged 23ppg and 6.8rpg in December despite Sydney’s 1-3 record, and his shooting was at a very solid 49% for the month. The Kings are struggling at the moment but if Young continues his hot form and lives up to his undoubtable talent then they will turn it around and he will rise in the rankings.

10. (-) Mika Vukona

Vukona enters the top ten for the first time this season on the back of some more impeccable form, as well as a change in fortunes for the previously struggling Breakers. New Zealand is suddenly on the brink of the top four, and Vukona’s 12ppg and 7.3rpg in December were a big reason. The star forward’s shooting was at 56% for the month and he chimed in with just over 2 dimes per game as well. His season numbers of 11.5ppg, 8.2rpg – good for second-best in the league – and 3apg while shooting at 57% from the field are worthy of a top ten berth.

*Dropped out: Damian Martin, Josh Pace

On the fringe:

Keep an eye on these guys in the next month: Ben Madgen, Gary Wilkinson, Mark Worthington, Josh Pace, Tom Abercrombie