BY DAVID JOYCE
Looking Back (Round 17 Review)
Studs and Duds
Perth Wildcats captain Shawn Redhage repaid the faith of his devoted NBL Dream Team coaches by rebounding from a less-than-sweet round 16 with a league-leading score this week.
Despite delivering just 10 DT points the previous week, Redhage was the competition’s most-selected skipper ahead of Perth’s pair of round-17 games against fellow top-four teams New Zealand and Wollongong.
The 203cm forward responded with an enormous 80-point weekend, edging out fellow double-gamer Oscar Forman, who finished with 78 points from Wollongong’s games against Adelaide and Perth.
While Forman was the only Hawk to fully exploit Wollongong’s double chance, Redhage had fellow Wildcats Damian Martin and Matt Knight join him at the summit of this week’s top scorers.
Knight was at his consistent best, chalking up 38 points in the away loss to New Zealand before adding a further 30 in the home triumph against Wollongong, while Martin, in contrast, harvested a huge chunk of his 70-point total from a truly dominant third quarter against the Hawks in which he recorded six points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Matching Knight’s 68-point haul – but only needing one outing to do so – was Dream Team doyen Cedric Jackson, who tightened his grip on this season’s MVP award with 22 points, eight assists, five rebounds and five steals in Friday night’s meeting between last year’s grand finalists.
Last year’s MVP winner also featured in the match, of course, but Kevin Lisch was nowhere near as prolific as his New Zealand rival, with the Illinois native registering just 14 fantasy points in round 17 to headline the Dream Team dud list.
Not for the first time this season, Sydney duo Ben Madgen and Darnell Lazare were also tagged as Dream Team under-performers this week after the pair managed just 14 points between them in the Kings’ loss to the revitalised Townsville Crocs.
Looking Forward (Round 18 Preview)
Pick Me, Pick Me!
A glance at the round 18 fixtures – which feature two games apiece for Adelaide and Melbourne – could lead Dream Team coaches to load up on 36ers and Tigers this week, but delve deeper into the schedule and it’s clear that Chris Anstey’s crew provide a better long-term investment.
This weekend’s matches against Perth and Melbourne represent Adelaide’s last two-game round of the season, in contrast to the Tigers who close out their campaign with back-to-back doubles in rounds 23 and 24.
Mix in the fact that Marty Clarke’s men are on the road for five of their final six games and you can see why I’m against weighing your side down with too many more Adelaide players this week.
Instead, ensure you’ve got at least one but preferably both Tiger imports – crossover king Jonny Flynn and sweet-shooting forward Seth Scott – installed in your team ahead of Melbourne’s games against Wollongong and Adelaide.
While it’s unwise to waste a trade bringing in Adelaide big Daniel Johnson only to cut him loose again ahead of the 36ers’ horror home stretch, it’s worth giving him one last shot at captaining your team in round 18 if he’s currently in your line-up.
Johnson has averaged almost 40 DT points per game over the past month and this week faces two sides that he has, statistically, performed well against this season in Perth, his home-town team, and Melbourne, his former club.
The Tigers are the other team to double-up next week, making trips to Wollongong and Adelaide that will give Seth Scott the chance to replicate his tasty two-game total from round 16.
He’ll rival Johnson as a captaincy candidate, then, although teammate Johnny Flynn must also be in the mix after a massive first half the last time he took on Adelaide.
History showed he fizzled out in the second half and finished the round with 54 Dream Team points, but a more consistent showing this time around is likely to lead to a league-best score.