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MEN’S MVP DEBATE: THE FAVOURITES
Monday, June 11, 2018

2018 MEN’S MVP CANDIDATES

Past the halfway point of the season, take a look at the frontrunners for the 2018 SEABL Most Valuable Player award and a couple of roughies that are also in the hunt.

LEADING CANDIDATES

Ray Turner- Bendigo Braves

Following stints in the NBA G-League, Hungary, Japan as well as in the QBL where he helped the Rockhampton Rockets win back-to-back Championships in 2014-15, Turner has been outstanding for the Braves so far in 2018. He sits fifth in the league for points (22.5), fourth for rebounds (11.5), first for total offensive rebounds (49), fifth for total blocks (17) and fourth for free-throws made in the league.

He has recorded six double-doubles already through 11 games and claimed the Round 4 Player of the Week after dominating Mt. Gambier with a 25-point, 25-rebound performance which he followed up with 21 points, 16 boards and four steals against Albury/Wodonga the next day. Helping Bendigo advance through the opening month of the season undefeated, Turner also earned the April Player of the Month award but a slight dip in his offensive production over the past few weeks has coincided with Bendigo suffering some defeats and falling down the ladder.

Tom Wilson- Melbourne Tigers

An explosive campaign so far from Wilson has the Tigers well in contention for their first playoff appearance since returning to the league but he will need to sustain those efforts if Melbourne are to play a part in the post-season. If he can do it though, the point guard will be on track for the MVP award as he currently leads the league for scoring (26.2 points per game).

A deadly three-point shooter, Wilson sits second for three’s made with 41 but he is arguably even more dangerous on the drive with his ability to get to the charity stripe placing him second overall for free-throws made (65). Leading his club to a seven-game winning streak after they lost their opening three contests, Wilson was named Player of the Week in consecutive rounds after he torched Bendigo with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in Round 6 before backing up with an average of 35 points, nine boards and five assists the next weekend against the CoE and Frankston. Those performances also led Wilson to earn the May Player of the Month award as he also improved his resume ahead of a 2018/19 season in the NBL with the Sydney Kings.

Craig Moller- Hobart Chargers

Moller came on to the national radar after impressing during his time with Ballarat but his move to Hobart has seen him take his game to another level with career-high’s in points (22.2 per game), rebounds (12.7), three-point percentage (38.7%) and free-throw percentage (80.4%). He is pacing the competition with more boards than any other player and also leads everyone for free-throws made with teams quickly finding out they cannot keep him quiet by fouling him.

The forward has a 20-20 game already this year and seven double-doubles overall while a league-best 43-point performance against his old team that also came with 15 rebounds earned him the Player of the Week award for Round 8. His form has helped the Chargers find their groove and they have won four of their past five games leading into the mid-season break to now be placed fourth on the ladder.

Peter Hooley- Ballarat Miners

Hooley is perhaps the perfect representation of Ballarat so far this season with both the player and club going about their business quietly and without fuss while also starring and racking up the wins. Coming off an NBL Championship, Hooley has maintained his scoring output with 20.1 points per contest (tenth in the league), shooting 43% from the field and 35% from distance.

However, the most impressive part of his game so far has been his passing as he is placed fifth overall with an average of 5.5 assists. Hooley has been a major part of Ballarat owning the most effective offence in the competition but he also leads the club for steals with a total of 17 in ten games. Reaching the playoffs just three times in the past 11 years, 2018 could be Ballarat’s most realistic chance at a Championship since they won in 2001.

Lucas Barker- Dandenong Rangers

A Dandenong stalwart for a number of years and their on-court leader through last year’s playoff series that saw the Rangers reach the Grand Final, Barker is having his most efficient season in 2018. In addition to averaging 13.6 points, the point guard is recording career-high’s in rebounds (6.2) and assists (6.8) while also pacing the competition with a total of ten more assists than any other player.

Barker’s perimeter defence has also been taken to another level, sitting equal-first in the league with 23 steals and his ability to control the tempo for the Rangers should lead them to another finals run as they currently sit fifth with an 8-4 record.

SMOKIES

Tre Nichols- Hobart Chargers

Nichols may have votes taken off him by team mate Moller (and vice versa) but the point guard has been dynamic for Hobart in his debut season with his pace and shooting a major key to their success so far. He sits second for points per game with 25.9 (hitting 49% from the field and 37% from beyond the arc), fifth for assists with 5.4 and fifth for total steals with 22. Nailing at least one triple in every game, Nichols can also get to the free-throw line at will, exemplified by his 16-17 effort from the charity stripe against Sandringham when he collected 40 points, seven assists and three steals.

Alex Mudronja- Centre of Excellence

For the first time since they were known as the AIS, the CoE are eligible for the playoffs and they have made the most of that opportunity so far with a 7-5 record to sit seventh on the ladder. Mundronja has played in the equal-most amount of games for the team and has been their most consistent player, averaging 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists. His season-high of 28 points came against Bendigo and was accompanied by five boards and six dimes to earn him the Round 5 Player of the Week nomination. National commitments have been a disruption for the whole team though and with Mudronja graduating from the CoE a few weeks ago, it will be interesting to see how many games he plays in the second half of the season.

Mason Bragg- N/W Tasmania Thunder

N/W Tasmania are struggling for consistency in 2018 but have done enough by the midway point to be placed in the top eight while winning three of their last five games. Bragg is the barometer of the side and after a quiet couple of opening games, is back to his best in recent weeks which has bumped his numbers up to 18.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists while also sitting equal-first in the league for steals despite having played less games than any of the other three players who also have 23 steals.

Simon Conn- Nunawading Spectres

Last year’s MVP is not quite performing at his 2017 level but Conn is still pacing the third-placed Spectres with 18.7 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting a healthy split of 49% from the field, 46% from the three-point line and 85% from the free-throw line. A couple of dunks has also shown that he is healthy and feeling comfortable while in Round 7, he averaged 32.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in wins over Hobart and Geelong with the Spectres once again one of the teams to beat this year.

Rhys Vague- Dandenong Rangers

Arriving late to Dandenong after completing an NBL season with the Wildcats, Vague has now played 11 games in 2018 for 16.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. In the absence of Anthony Drmic recently, he has stepped up to own the glass for the Rangers and he has four double-doubles out of his past seven games but Drmic, as well as Barker, are likely to take away MVP votes from the rising star in the end.