David Andersen (Melbourne United): Competing in the NBL for the first time since 1999, Andersen was providing a strong presence in the paint for United with 10.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. His mid-range game is still rock-solid, shooting around 50%, but a knee injury following a collision with an opponent in early December hampered his momentum and will see him miss six weeks which places his return later this month. United currently sit second on the ladder with the playoffs beginning on February 16.
Cameron Bairstow (Brisbane Bullets): The injury curse has also struck Bairstow with the Brisbane big man to miss the remainder of the 2016/17 campaign. Damaging his ACL, it is expected the forward will miss 12 months but the Bullets must keep focus as they aim to make a move into the top four in their first season back in the competition, currently sitting fifth. The 26-year old averaged 11.6 points and six boards in 13 games.
Aron Baynes (Detroit Pistons): Continuing with the theme, Baynes hurt his ankle on an awkward landing last Monday and missed Detroit’s next game. However, he is a day-to-day prospect and has stated he is now just making sure his presence would not hurt the team before he makes a return. The Pistons (16-21) are currently 11th in the East Conference but are only three games outside eighth as they aim to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time 2008-09. Baynes is shooting 47% for four points a game with four boards (one offensive) as well.
Andrew Bogut (Dallas Mavericks): Rumours are circulating that Bogut’s time with the Mavericks is limited following his move to step aside from the starting line-up for the returning Dirk Nowitzki as well as Dallas’ overall record of 11-24. It’s a tough proposition for Bogut who has come from the highly successful Warriors but his 9.7 rebounds per game average is the highest since 2013-14 while the Mavs do own the third-best defence in the paint.
Ryan Broekhoff (Lokomotiv Kuban): Broekhoff’s Russian side has just entered the second stage of the EuroCup following the New Year break and recorded a victory over Gran Canaria. Their form in the VTB United League is even stronger, winning eight straight heading into the break and Broekhoff hit double-figures in points in those last two games. He is shooting an incredible 49% from distance and has proven his ability to hit from anywhere on more than a few occasions this season.
Matthew Dellavedova (Milwaukee Bucks): The Bucks are one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA and Delly is controlling the tempo as the team’s starting point guard. A hamstring strain has seen him miss the past few games but Dellavedova is averaging a career-high 5.6 assists per game which places him in the top 25 for the league while his 7.8 points with a three-pointer per game is also his best over a four-year NBA stint. Receiving his Championship ring from last season in his first game back at Cleveland, his old side showed how much love and respect they have for Delly as they swamped him during the presentation.
Adam Gibson (Brisbane Bullets): It’s back to where it all began for Gibson in 2016/17 with the point guard returning to his first ever NBL club after more than 350 games in the league. While not as explosive as some of the other point guards this season, he still sits in the top ten for assists (3.7) and is shooting 52% from inside the arc for 9.1 points per game. With over a steal per game as well, he is still performing at both ends of the floor and will be keen to recreate his 2007 Championship with Brisbane a decade later.
Cameron Gliddon (Cairns Taipans): Averaging double-figures in points for the fourth straight season, the Taipans captain sits third for the club with 10.9 points per game at 53% shooting. He responded to being dropped from the starting line-up for a game in December with 18 points, six rebounds and nine assists and has scored in double-figures in both games since then as well to continue what has been a consistent season overall.
Chris Goulding (Melbourne United): Out with a rolled ankle for a couple of weeks in November, United looked to be floundering outside the top four but the return of Goulding has coincided with their rise back up the ladder. They have won six of their past nine games and the shooting guard has scored over 15 points in seven of those to take his season average to 17.4 points with 3.5 makes beyond the arc per game (first in the league) at 44%. He is also collecting a career-high 2.9 assists per contest, making him even more of a threat at the offensive end.
Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz): Just as they did two seasons ago with Delly, the NBA world is beginning to learn the name Joe Ingles with the Utah Jazz swingman leading the entire competition in three-point percentage. Shooting 48%, he is averaging a career best 6.6 points per game as well as 2.5 rebounds and almost a steal per contest. The Jazz sit fifth in the Western Conference currently which would be their best finish in six years if they can maintain that pace.
Nathan Jawai (Cairns Taipans): A dominant presence under the rim, Jawai is scoring on an efficient 52% of his shots for 4.4 points per game and only one of his makes all season have come outside of the paint. It is at the other end of the floor where the Taipans must improve though if they are to make up their three-game margin out of the playoffs as they currently own the worst defensive rating in the league.
Daniel Kickert (Melbourne United): Kickert is on the verge of history as Melbourne enter the final phase of the regular season with a second straight shot at the 50-40-90 club after he fell just four free throws short last season. No player has ever reached the feat in the NBL but with nine games remaining, the forward is hitting 55% from two-point range, 47% from three-point range and 95% from the free-throw line on 38-40 shooting. He must keep those percentages up while making another 15 field goals and 12 three-pointers to officially qualify.
Kevin Lisch (Sydney Kings): After scoring a game-high 20 points in his debut for the Kings earlier this season, Lisch has played all but one match while sitting in the top ten in the league for assists with 3.5 to go with 17.8 points. He tallied 30 points in November as Sydney recorded a big win over Melbourne and looks very comfortable in his first year after gaining Australian citizenship.
Aleks Maric (Sydney Kings): Maric is one player who is benefiting from the play-making ability of Lisch, scoring 3.5 points per contest with 38 of his 42 makes coming in the key. His defence is his greatest attribute though and he could be in line for the Defensive Player of the Year award as prior to the Christmas break, the centre sat in the top ten for blocks while also owning the best Defensive Rating amongst all players.
Damian Martin (Perth Wildcats): That Defensive Player of the Year award may well be named after Martin at the conclusion of his career but the accolade will most likely be out of his reach this season having played just six games. The tough guard continues to return to the court no matter his injury and sits second in the competition for steals with 1.8 per game while the Wildcats have also proven their defensive capabilities without him, sitting second in opponent three-point percentage.
Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs): In the conversation for Sixth Man of the Year this season, Mills has been outstanding in his back-up role as point guard for the Spurs as well as in his efficiency. San Antonio continue to win, owning a 28-7 record, and Mills has career high’s in points per game (10.5), assists (3.5), three-point percentage (43.5%) and free-throw percentage (93.2%) while he is just short of joining the 50-40-90 club at the moment with a 48% conversion rate from the field.
Brock Motum (Zalgiris Kaunas): One of the most proficient offensive players in Lithuania, Motum has helped his club to a 15-game winning streak to sit on top of the ladder although their fortunes have not extended to the Euroleague where they sit at 6-9. He is shooting over 60% in both competitions for 11.7 points per game and has been a real threat from three-point range, hitting 30-68 (45%) overall. BC Zalgiris are chasing an incredible seventh Championship this year.
Brad Newley (Sydney Kings): The third member of the Kings from this squad, Newley has returned to the NBL for the first time since playing for Townsville in 2007. He sits just behind Lisch with 17.6 points per game to be fifth in the competition while his 47.5% conversion rate from the field is the second best of any player in the top ten. His three-point shooting is still impressive at 34% but he may fall just short of the 50-40-90 club despite hitting 56% from two-point range and 95% from the charity stripe.