A look at the history of the NBL, which started in 1979, shows that the differential between first and last in the current season is the closest ever on record.
The Perth Wildcats are currently on top of the ladder with a 13-8 record, which equates to a winning percentage of 61.9. Currently in last place are the Melbourne Tigers with a 7-12 record and a 36.8 winning percentage. That means the difference between first and last in terms of winning percentage is just 25.1%.
Prior to this season, the closest race between first and last in the NBL was back in the 2004/05 season. In that year, the Sydney Kings finished top with a win-loss record of 21-11 (65.6%) while the New Zealand Breakers won the wooden spoon with a 9-23 record (28.1%) for a differential of 37.5% between first and last.
The league is also on track for the minor premiers to have the lowest winning percentage in history, and the wooden spooners to have the highest winning percentage ever.
The previous lowest winning percentage for a team that has taken the minor premiership at season’s end was the Sydney Kings of that same 2004/05 season (65.6%), whilst the current record for the highest winning percentage of any team to come last at the end of the regular season is 30.8% by the Canberra Cannons who went 8-18 in the 1998/99 season.
Basketball Australia Chief Executive Officer Larry Sengstock said that fans were being treated to a season to remember.
“This current NBL season is truly an historic one, with a race for the title which is unprecedented in its unpredictability and closeness,” said Sengstock. “Five of our eight teams have led the league ladder at the end of a round of play and we are seeing more upsets than ever before. This season is a tipster’s nightmare but a fan’s dream.
“The closeness of the competition is a vindication of the decision to move ahead with an NBL competition in 2009/10. It’s also a fantastic reward for those many thousands of fans that continue to support basketball in Australia.”
Sengstock added that the standard of play on court this season continued to validate the general consensus amongst the international sporting community that the NBL was one of the world’s top-five basketball leagues.
“The level of skill being showcased in every game this season is absolutely phenomenal,” Sengstock continued. “Anyone who saw Tom Abercrombie’s massive alley-oop dunk on the Fox Sports coverage last week will be left in no doubt that the NBL has some of the finest athletes in the world. That dunk is already being touted as perhaps the greatest alley-oop ever in NBL history, and certainly comparable with the efforts of past NBL greats. It was the perfect example of the world-class athleticism of our players and shows why the NBL continues to be rated by international experts as one of the top-five competitions on the planet. That’s not bad in a truly global sport which boasts over 450 million participants worldwide.”
The NBL competition continues this week with Round 16 of the regular season starting on Wednesday night when the ‘Skytrans’ Cairns Taipans visit the ‘Hood Sweeney’ Adelaide 36ers at the Brett Maher Court (The Dome) at 7:30pm local time. The match will be seen live and exclusive on Fox Sports 3 from 8:00PM AEDT. The NBL regular season concludes on 14 February with the 2010 NBL Finals scheduled to commence on February 19.
For more information on the NBL visit the official website at www.nbl.com.au.
By Marc Howard