NBL: There's one name in Melbourne you're missing twice
|Steve Chalmers||Nov 21, 2016|
Being a starting centre in a league consisting of only eight teams, it's not everyday you can continually go through each week under the radar of the opposition and the general public.
However, when you're in a team full of genuine superstars over the past two seasons, it becomes quite clear as to why Majok Majok has been classed as the underrated workhorse that he has become.
Brought into the Melbourne United landscape in 2015, Majok was initially seen to be a part of United's bench rotation; to bring the energy and hustle required to provide a spark while the starters were resting.
That mantra changed quickly after the club were so impressed with what he showed in pre-season after moving from his first professional contract with Helios in Slovenia, that Majok started in 27 of Melbourne's 30 games last season.
Starting in Melbourne is no mean feat, Majok was placed in front of NBA veteran Hakim Warrick; who ultimately went on to win the league's best sixth man award. Majok led the league in rebounding at various times of last season, continuing to show the faith that head coach Dean Demopoulos had.
In fact, across the course of last season, Demopoulos even went as far as saying that Majok had a career in basketball at "any level he wants."
In 2016/17, Majok compliments four-time Olympian David Andersen, one of Australia's most accomplished basketballers of this time. He is the continual focus on offence in the early stages of games, with United pounding the ball down low, allowing Majok to do his work around the rim.
"Having a guy like Dave (Andersen), who has played everywhere - in the NBA and Europe - he's been showing me the ropes, just showing me all the little things that I need to do to get better," Majok, who spoke very highly of his veteran teammate.
How does Majok use his skill set so well, one that just moulds right into what Melbourne United require? His off-season work may be some part of the reason for his continual improvement; one which included an NBL All-Australian selection to participate in exhibition games against the Chinese National Team.
"I feel like I'm more athletic than most of the guys I play against." Majok told media recently.
"Getting to play with different guys (in the All-Australian team) and getting feedback from different people (was great),
"It was the off-season so most of the time people were just at home relaxing and I got off to an early start."
Averaging a tick over 20 minutes a game, Majok is super efficient on what has been a disappointing Melbourne outfit thus far; albeit possibly due to the injuries sustained by key members Chris Goulding and Todd Blanchfield.
While it may seem minimal, Majok is averaging 6.6ppg and 6.1rpg, but is doing it on limited possessions.
What's more impressive is the 133 Offensive Rating Majok brings, which is the best in the league right now.
"(Devin Williams) and Majok push each other like crazy (at practice). I expect both of those guys to do well and grow along with this group." - Demopoulos praised his young big men post game against Cairns last weekend.
It's clear to see how Majok goes around underrated, with the centre being surrounded by two Boomers, two star guard imports and the hype around Melbourne's bright lights and 'flashy' basketball team.
However, in support of that flash, a team requires hustle, energy and grit; three things which Majok Majok provides on a nightly basis.
He may not be a household name, but he's one part of the glue that joins the Melbourne United squad from superstars to a potential championship super team.
It's time people start to recognise it.
As the Herald Sun's Nick Smart wrote late last year: "He is the NBL’s surprise packet"
Now it's no surprise.