Here’s how the squad from the South East Melbourne Phoenix rate this season.
John Roberson 8/10
The international basketball journeyman ended up being a great acquisition for the new NBL franchise. His lethal three-point shooting was on display all season and was the catalyst too many of the Phoenix’s wins. He averaged 20 points a game and a three point percentage of over 43 per cent.
He also made the most three point shots in the NBL and had a plus minus differential of 12.7+. He did seem to turn the ball over at times and the Phoenix did only win nine games out of a possible 28. Nevertheless it was a great personal season for John Roberson and I expect him to return to the NBL next season.
Mitch Creek 8.5/10
The NBA stint last year really helped Mitch Creek have a successful year personally in his first season back in the NBL. He averaged 20 points a game and for the start of the season was the heavy favourite to win the MVP award. All statistics improved dramatically in his first stint back in the NBL.
He also integrated a new hard working culture into the newest NBL franchise and seemed to be a great leader on the court. I have been heavily critical of Creek and have made him accountable for his attitude but it does seem he has turned it around and I can only commend him for that.
Tai Wesley – 5.5/10
Missed a fair chunk of the season due to injury and never seemed to get back into NBL shape. Therefore it was a pretty average and forgettable year for Tai Wesley. He seemed to have no bounce in his legs and lost a lot of athletically ability after a very serious hamstring injury.
This affected his stats as they dropped from his previous season. This then dropped his confidence which also affected his ability to score as confidence is a big component in shooting well.
With a full pre-season behind him I hope he can recapture his strong game that he has been known for.
Ben Madgen – 6/10
Known for his efficient shooting Ben Madgen had a pretty poor year by his standard. We were told time and time again that his good shooting will come but it really never did and never to the same heights as his last stint in the NBL. He did give his all and had a great attitude on game day.
Madgen did put up some above average numbers but only really because he had the opportunity to with his high minutes per game. In this point in his career I believe he would be better suited as a role player off the bench and not a player that starts 28 games a season and plays nearly 30 minutes a game. He just isn’t cut out to perform at a high level that warrants a starting position anymore.
Kendall Stephens 4/10 – With fairly high expectations due to his performances in the preseason this season was sadly a fail for Kendall Stephens. Stephens did end up showing some rare glimpses that he has a great shooting ability but with an injury interrupted season we couldn’t really see him get any continuity into his game.
I think that the fact he was born in Australia will see him get another opportunity in this league and I hope he takes it by both hands and proves us all wrong.
Dane Pineau 6.5/10
Credit where credit is due. Pineau exceeded everyone’s expectations which were at the time, extremely low. Last season he couldn’t even manage to average a point whereas this season he averaged over eight points a game. Head coach Simon Mitchell chose to start him over fellow centre, Keith Benson and I’m not sure that was the right decision.
Even though Pineau showed a great rebounding ability he was unable to shut his direct opponent down and came up small against the best centres in the league. I think him starting centre was a big reason why Phoenix finished with nine wins for the season.
Kyle Adnam 5/10
Probably put up the best season in his career. Adnam showed his signature grit and determination and played a decent role as a backup point guard to John Roberson.
That being said, I think Adnam playing more minutes showed the lack of depth the Phoenix had in that position. Quite good defensively, Adnam has shown that he can be a great in a role coming off the bench. You can always rely on him to give you his all which I think is a great attribute to have in the NBL or in life in general.
Jaye Crockett 5/10
Coming into the team late as an injury replacement, Crockett played a great role in his short stint at the Phoenix. An unknown name at first, no one expected for him to be as good as he really was. He ended up being very athletic and used his length to his advantage.
When his time at the Phoenix came to an end he was rumoured to be linked to other NBL clubs which showed that by the end of his time in the NBL people thought very highly of him. Crockett showed he had the right attitude and I hope we see him in the NBL again one day. We didn’t see enough of him to rate him any higher.
Keith Benson – 3/10
This was a disastrous season for Keith Benson. He was expected to be sent on the next flight home before the season even started and he never really got the right opportunity to even have the chance to perform well. Some games showed that he could play at a high level but it wasn’t good enough for Simon Mitchell.
In one game against Melbourne United he shut down Shawn Long and played a big role in that game which I thought showed a lot of promise. Most of the time though he did look slow, sluggish and he couldn’t really get into the rhythm of the high paced and high intensity game.
Sadly he lost his starting spot to head coach’s love child, Dane Pineau and he was eventually sent home. I do feel sorry for him because like I said he was never really given the opportunity to show what type of player he was.
Devondrick Walker 4/10
After Keith Benson’s departure South East Melbourne Phoenix did the unthinkable and brought in yet another wing. Devondrick Walker was a poor man’s Jaye Crockett. He played the same role with the same amount of game time but with less numbers.
I still don’t understand why he was brought in opposed to another centre. This really put the final nail in the coffin to the Phoenix’s season and I would be surprised if we saw him again next year.
Adam Gibson 5/10
Had more games than expected due to his age and injury history. Only missed out on six games and still played on average a solid 20 minutes per game. Was often second or third fiddle behind John Roberson and Kyle Adnam. Didn’t put up big numbers but did play his role well and continued his trend of being extremely efficient from the three point line.
He finished with the highest three point percentage in his NBL career which was a very high conversion rate of over 45 per cent. He did start to slow down but with his lethal shooting I’m sure he could get another year out of himself if he chose to.