By Ollie Nash and Liam Melrose
The Hawks depth has been a key reason for their early season success. Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
The Depth of the Hawks nest
If you watch The Hawks right now whoever is on the floor can play at both ends. The depth is incredible. The starting unit of Tyler Harvey, Justin Simon, Justinian Jessup, A.J Ogilvy and Sam Froling is so well balanced. When Brian Goorjian rests his starters, players such as Isaac White and Deng Deng are coming off the bench and having an impact, propelling what the starters have setup. In most cases when a team takes off its star players you might expect them to fade a little, however The Hawks are looking settled and the depth they have means no matter who is on the court, they are going to swoop. Keep in mind they have been without Deng Adel and Cameron Bairstow for the most part who you’d expect to slot into the starting unit only increasing what is already an incredible amount of depth.
Oliver/Machado putting up numbers, but Cairns can’t defend
If you looked at Cam Oliver’s and Scott Machado’s stats, you would think Cairns would be a top four team. 18.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2 blocks on 53/32/69 shooting splits for Oliver and 16.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 8.8 assists on 40/36/64 splits for Machado. There’s some negatives in there, Oliver’s three-point and free-throw shooting isn’t great and Machado’s field goal and free-throw percentage are below average. However, the stats are decent and they pass the eye test. What’s letting them and the team down is their defence. 93.2 points allowed per game is the second worst in the league. They’re lowest points allowed through six games is 86 against Sydney in round one. Since then, they have allowed 92, 99, 87, 90 and 105 points. Their start has included five games at home, meaning the schedule only gets harder from here for Cairns.
Victor Law's heroics against Cairns helped Brisbane to a 2-0 weekend. Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
I was wrong Brisbane
In the round two six pack I said Brisbane were the most irrelevant team in the NBL and I didn’t see them beating Sydney or Cairns in round three. I was wrong. They grinded out a win on Tuesday against the Kings 90-87 and thanks to Victor Law’s heroics at the buzzer they went on to beat the Taipans 105-103 on Saturday. Both great games to watch and two clutch wins by the Bullets. They somehow managed to re-bunk both my claims from last week. Not only did they win, they won the hard way in must-see basketball. Now back on track with some relevance in the league.
The Jack White Impact
Going into this season four positions of the Melbourne United starting lineup looked a lock, Mitch McCarron at the point guard spot, Chris Goulding the shooting guard, Scotty Hopson at small forward, and Jock Landale at centre. However, there were question marks over who would play that four position, would it be United veteran Dave Barlow or ex-Duke University captain Jack White? United elected to go with White, and its proven to be a great move. He looks right at home at the power forward spot and is providing great balance to a starting unit that has a number of players that can shoot the ball. White has been great on the defensive end, however it was on the offensive end in round three where he played his best game for the season so far with 22 points and six rebounds in just over 22 minutes on the floor. If he can keep up this level of play he is right at home in the Melbourne United starting unit.
Bryce Cotton has started right where he left off last season, beginning 2021 in MVP form. Photo: Getty Images
Bryce is proving me right with MVP start
I don’t want to go the early crow but in my pre-season prediction, I picked Bryce Cotton for MVP. Why? He’s the best player on a team that will be competitive and doesn’t have other stars around him to take shots off him. Valid, it’s only been two games. However, 29.5 points, 6.5 assists and 2.5 steals on 49/36/90 shooting splits is a hell of start. As long as Perth can win enough games and be around the top four mark, Cotton will do his thing and in my eyes, will be the MVP.
Adelaide raising eyebrows
Most pundits wrote the Adelaide 36ers off before the season even began, with many questioning the level of talent on the roster. So far the question marks people had have been answered. After their opening night thrashing at the hands of Melbourne United it looked as though the only scorer the 36ers had was Daniel Johnson. However, following that game Adelaide have won four of their last five games and the unit as a whole is looking much stronger than expected. Isaac Humphries is sending shockwaves around the league with his early season form, while 18-year-old NBA prospect Josh Giddey is living up to the hype. Giddey’s form has even relegated NBA veteran Donald Sloan to the bench, something none of us would’ve expected. If Johnson, Humphries and Giddey keep putting up the numbers they have as well as Sloan providing strong minutes off the bench, there is no reason why Adelaide can’t play finals in 2021.
Cover Photo: Getty Images