NBL: Three early contenders for Most Improved Player
As the NBL season nears its halfway point, we take a look at three players that have taken huge strides and could contend for Most Improved honours.
Credit: Clusterpix Sports Photography
1. Jaylin Galloway, Sydney Kings
He’s missed almost half of Sydney’s season to date and only just returned from a five-game injury absence, but it would be flat out disrespectful to leave Jaylin Galloway out of the Most Improved conversation. The 20-year-old had played his way into the outright lead for the award before a shoulder injury sidelined him, and he looks set to slide back into a big role for the fast-improving Kings after getting back on the court in round nine.
This kind of performance has been a long time coming for Galloway, who has stayed patient over the last three seasons as a young player on a title contender. After joining the Kings as a development player ahead of NBL21, he opted to stay with the club long-term and featured in their back-to-back championships over the last two seasons. While he only played sporadically in the first of those titles, he worked his way into the regular rotation last season, playing 13 minutes per game and finding his niche as a defensive disruptor.
Still just 20 years old coming into the new campaign, a breakout year was widely predicted for Galloway. After all, he dominated the NBL Blitz ahead of the season, and before that joined the Minnesota Timberwolves at the NBA Summer League in Vegas. A retooled roster in Sydney offered him opportunity, with a switch in imports and local stars DJ Vasiljevic and Xavier Cooks departing.
All of those signs pointed to a strong season for Galloway, but he still had to come out and produce. He did exactly that through the opening rounds of the season, sliding into Sydney’s starting lineup and showing off a refined skill set on both ends of the floor. Averaging 10.9 points, three rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game, all career-high marks, he was key in keeping the Kings afloat early through injuries and unfamiliarity before a shoulder injury sidelined him.
Already building a reputation as an elite perimeter defender last season, Galloway has become a legitimate two-way threat with an expanding offensive arsenal.