BY DAVID JOYCE
Looking Back (Round 19 Review)
Studs and Duds
Enigmatic Wollongong guard Adris Deleon proved the difference between a remarkable NBL Dream Team score and a very ordinary one last week, with the former streetball star soaring to a dizzying new height while most other fantasy favourites crashed to earth-shattering lows.
The Hawks were one of four teams to suit up twice in round 19, but Deleon and his Wollongong teammate Oscar Forman were the only two to really exploit the double chance.
Despite squaring off against the streaking New Zealand and Townsville squads – teams who had won a combined 19 of their past 21 games – the Dominican dynamo set a season-high Dream Team score of 116 points, with Forman collecting an even 100.
In stark contrast, New Zealand and Townsville point guards Cedric Jackson and Gary Ervin – the top two fantasy scorers this season – could muster only 10 and 16 points respectively, and Ervin competed in two games.
They weren’t alone in Dream Team dud-land, though, with other popular picks like Seth Scott (10), Luke Nevill (28 from two games) and Kevin Lisch (22 from two games) all misfiring in round 19.
In fact, an “ultimate” Dream Team comprised of the best-averaging players in each position – an all-amazing team that would feature heavy-hitters like Matt Knight, Jonny Flynn and Ben Madgen alongside the aforementioned Jackson, Ervin and Scott – would’ve scored a measly 267 points last week. And that’s including five double-game players with Jackson as captain.
Knight pulled his weight with 66 of those points, and it would’ve been more had the oft-injured big man not sustained an ankle injury during the third quarter of Perth’s victory against Melbourne on Sunday.
Looking Forward (Round 20 Preview)
Pick Me, Pick Me!
The injury to Knight is cruelly-timed for Dream Team coaches, with Perth facing the last of their two-game rounds this weekend.
After Knight, the second-highest scoring Wildcat last round was late-season recruit Rhys Carter, who pocketed 58 points from the games against Townsville and Melbourne.
He hadn’t set the fantasy world on fire before last week but, at less than $100,000, could be worth a cheeky punt if you’re bursting with trades at this late stage of the season.
The other big trade decision this week is whether to dump your New Zealand Breakers, who still have a double-game week remaining in round 22 but who, this weekend, have been scheduled for a bye.
An impotent round 19 might make the decision to off-load star guard Cedric Jackson a little easier, but it’s not a move to be made lightly – even after his 10-point disappointment, he still leads his closest fantasy rival by more than 250 points.
Your Dream Team captain should be sporting the red and black of the Perth Wildcats this weekend, given Rob Beveridge’s side is the only one playing twice in round 19.
Any injury uncertainty around Knight – and the dismal DT form of Kevin Lisch – should see coaches flooding to back Shawn Redhage, despite a couple of lean weeks for the usually prolific forward.
If you’re not keen on captaining a Wildcat, Melbourne guard Jonny Flynn looms as possible alternative with the Tigers shaping up against Perth again this weekend.
A determined Flynn dropped 52 Dream Team points on Perth in Melbourne last week, but will have to try to repeat the feat on the road this weekend, with the fourth and final head-to-head between these two teams being hosted by the Wildcats on Thursday.