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Opinion

NBL 2019-20 player ratings: Illawarra Hawks

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2nd April, 2020
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After a 28-match 2019-20 NBL season, these are my player rankings for the last-placed Illawarra Hawks.

LaMelo Ball: 6.5/10
The eventual NBL rookie of The year winner had many highlights and lowlights during this season. The loss of Aaron Brooks meant that at 18 years of age he was the starting point guard and leader for this team in his first real season as a professional athlete. Ball did record back-to-back triple-doubles while playing only 12 games, which is a great achievement, and recorded some pretty impressive numbers.

However, Ball did have a very high usage rate, which bumped up a lot of these stats. Sadly the Illawarra Hawks were terrible with him leading the team, and he didn’t even play half of the season before pulling the pin. Ball also shot poorly from the three-point line, with an inefficient 24.4 per cent conversion rate. I’m not sure if this portfolio is enough to secure the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

LaMelo Ball

(Cassy Athena/Getty Images)

Todd Blanchfield: 5.5/10
It was undeniable that the effort from Todd Blanchfield was always there, but I’m not sure whether his best is good enough for a starting role. He had a plus-minus differential of -10.1, which meant it was most likely the Illawarra Hawks were always starting on the back foot. I understand the little help he did have, and he did manage to average 13 points a game and have some big games, like a 35-point game against the Adelaide 36ers.

I see Blanchfield more as an impact player off the bench, like a Jason Cadee, and it would relieve some of the pressure he seems to get every year. Hopefully he can get some help for next season.

Todd Blanchfield of the Hawks.

(AAP Image/Hamish Blair)

Sunday Dech: 7/10
Dech was the only really shining light in a somewhat dark campaign for the Illawarra Hawks. An exceptional defensive player with the ability to score when called upon, Dech seemed committed and determined to perform well for his team, which he showcased as the year progressed. He just kept getting better. Dech had a huge 26-point game against the Sydney Kings, which should give him the confidence that he can perform great consistently.

Andrew Ogilvy: 4.5/10
Yet another downhill year for AJ Ogilvy and another season during which all his statistics and production on the court dropped. This seems to be a trend, and it’s the story of his career. Averaging only eight points and six rebounds a game in a solid 20 minutes isn’t good enough. Even though he is contracted, maybe he needs to seek a better environment with a winning culture to get the best out of him. Turning 32 years old later this year, he still has some life in the NBL. I’m just not sure a struggling franchise is best suited for him to thrive.

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Josh Boone: 4/10
Sadly I think Josh Boone’s NBL career has come to the end. This was a disastrous year for Boone, which included a broken nose and a huge drop in his ability to perform at an NBL-level standard. In the later part of the season we did see some vintage Boone performances, but it was too little too late.

He had offers to play for either the Perth Wildcats and South East Melbourne Phoenix, and if he had chosen to play at either of those teams, he could have seen at least another extra year in the NBL. I just don’t see an NBL club giving up an import for him, even though he would be very cheap.

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Tim Coenraad: 5/10
Tim Coenraad had a decent year for a player with low expectations. In a few games he showed he still has some life in this game and can still be a reliable role player. His three-point shooting was still highly efficient, with some games showing that he can be pretty damaging from beyond the arch. At 34 years old he can hold his head high that he got the most out of himself for the team this year.

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David Andersen: 5/10
David Andersen’s experience, leadership and mentorship was a great asset for a young Illawarra Hawks team. Even though there wasn’t a lot of production on the court, there was a lot off the court, helping the likes of LaMelo Ball and the rest of the young brigade. When called upon Andersen still showed his ability to knock down some pretty important shots and also provide screens and be able to space the floor for the team.

Sam Froling: 5/10
Even though his season suffered a lot due to injury, Froling actually showed more promise and drive than his brother did this year. He also showed an elite athletic ability in the glimpses that we saw of him. In just his first year in the NBL the Illawarra Hawks should have every confidence that he will be able to improve with more games under his belt. His season was a pass due to the glimpses of his potential to be a great player in the future.

Darrington Hobson: 3/10
When I think of Darrington Hobson’s season I think, “Why bother?”. Hobson was brought in halfway through the season and didn’t really contribute anything whatsoever to making this team win any games. Not only was his production on the court awful, but he also seemed to not have a great attitude. He just wasn’t up to NBL standard and the speed of the game. I’m not entirely sure what the Illawarra Hawks saw in him previously to think that he would have been any good to begin with. This was a waste of money for an already cash strapped organisation.

Emmett Naar: 5/10
Naar started only the four games after LaMelo Ball left, but in those starts he showed a lot of promise. In saying that, I still don’t agree that he is Illawarra’s first priority to sign in the off-season, because at 25 years old I’m not sure he can get any better than what he is: a good backup point guard in the NBL. Maybe, if given a bigger role, we could see if he really can make it in this league.

Angus Glover: 5/10
This season is a pass for Glover mainly due to the fact he got through the year unscathed considering his battle with knee injuries. He didn’t really have any big games or big moments, but we did see that he has a freakish athletic ability. But he really needs to work on every other facet of the game.

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Daniel Grida: 4/10
This was a disappointing season for Daniel Grida. He suffered second-year blues and plateaued or maybe even dropped in form when the expectation was that he would take his game to another level.

Grida did get better near the end of the season and did have one of the best blocks I’ve seen against Jae’Sean Tate. Shooting was a big issue for him this season also.

He was set to leave the Hawks for a fresh start elsewhere during free agency, but considering he has just recently torn his ACL, I think he will have to rehab for the year with the Hawks or perhaps on his own.