What is a season of basketball without the glitz and glamour of handing out awards?
I know that the players are not in the game for the individual awards and that the ultimate goal is ending the season with a win (and a championship), but it just doesn’t feel right as someone who has followed a large part of the season to not give out props to where it is deserved.
So let’s give a round of applause for this year’s Thailand Basketball League unofficial award celebration hosted by Tones & Definition!
Let’s start things off with something that should always be the first priority when it comes to basketball. Defense!
Even though the game is decided by who has the most points, if you don’t allow them to score any points, you CANNOT lose. That is why defense is so important. Let’s see who did well in this area.
Defensive Player of the Year Candidates (Locals):
Chitchai Ananti, Mono-Thewphaingarm
Phumin Singhasem, Mono-Thewphaingarm
It is really just a two way race between these two if you ask me. On one hand, you have a wiry forward whose arms seem like they go forever in addition to quick cat like reflexs (Chitchai). On the other, you have a bulldog-ish guard who grinds with you, stays low, and annoys the hell out of you (Phumin).
Coincidently, Chitchai and Phumin are first and second in the TBL in steals per game among locals with 3.1 and 2.3 respectively. They were the spearhead to the turnover creating havoc of a team that was Mono-Thewphaingarm (League best 20.3 forced TOs per game). Among players who played at least 10 minutes per game, they were again first and second in Steal Ratio, Phumin at 7.3% and Chitchai at 6.9%.
Tones & Definition’s TBL 2015 Local Defensive Player of the Year:
Phumin Singhasem, Mono-Thewphaingarm
I know Chitchai has the better amount of steals per game, but we can’t always go by stats (no matter how much I try to force that idea on to everyone reading this). The thing about the Mono-Thewphaingarm defense is that they use Chitchai as a lurker. He’s the guy who pounces on sloppy passes and loose dribbles with his long arms and agility.
But the guy who causes those sloppy passes and balls is the guy up front. He’s the guy who pressures the ball handler at the front of the gates. That guy is Phumin Singhasem. Watching Phumin defend gets you uncomfortable. He leaves very little space in between himself and his assignment. He moves quickly on picks. It also does help that he can focus himself completely on defense, while he can revert to other players (namely Chitchai himself) on the offensive end.
The Import Defensive Player of the Year is quite a tough one to tackle. For those who have followed this blog consistently, you will know how much respect I have for Steve Thomas’ defense, even though it might now show in the numbers. But sometimes, the numbers are just too damn impressive to look over.
Such is the case here for our recipient of this year’s Import Defensive Player of the Year.
Tones & Definition’s TBL 2015 Import Defensive Player of the Year:
Anthony McClain, Mono Vampires
It’s hard to argue with the anchor of the best defense in the league. Mono Vampires averages the least amount of points allowed (61.5 ppg) and allows the lowest opponent field goal percentage (32.3%). McClain himself blocks 2.8 average shots per game, which is more than the amount of blocked shots 3 teams average. He blocks shot at a 9.3% rate, which is pretty crazy considering that it means you are going to get your shot blocked once every 10 attempts, not including the shots that he alters. On top of that, he’s only fouling 1.1 times per game, so he’s not going to be easy to take out.
McClain is huge and solid as a rock as he has been for Mono Vampires since he joined the team as their first import since last year. I imagine teams running into McClain in the paint like running into Snorlax on that bridge in Pokemon. All teams shot more 3 points shots than their normal average when they played the Mono Vampires because it’s just so goddamn hard to get a shot inside.
Tones & Definition’s TBL 2015 Best Hair of the Year:
Chanachon Klahan, Mono Vampire
In hair here, we do not only mean head on top of the head, but also as in Facial Hair as well.
If only this was the BTSL, I could have given the award to “Reuben” Wuttipong Dasom for his ever changing hair. However, Reuben barely got to set foot in a game this season (2 playoff games) and that was it.
I had to keep the imports out of consideration because I’d never be able to make up my mind between Jordan Collin’s beard, TJ Cumming’s and Anthony McClain’s dreads, or Steve Thomas’ goatee.
But Chanachon’s mustache fairly deserves a spot here. Thai local players like to keep it safe and suave, but Chanachon here goes retro on us with his mustache. He’s been sporting it for so long that it’s actually become a part of his identity. And he pulls it off well.
There is a lot more potential left here to play with his mustache and I only hope that he can fulfill it.
PS. CURLY MUSTACHE.
Venue of the year:
I got the chance to go to all the TBL venues this year save for the one at Assumption College Thonburi, so I think I can give this award with a fair opinion.
I like the LED Building for it’s air-conditioning and the feel of newness of the venue, but it felt a little bit too new. It still felt like the place was under construction all the time. The place was also very hard to access, but at least it had air conditioning, right?
The Prachaniwes Stadium featured a huge screen to watch the live feed of the game directly on the spot (which was very convenient for fans in close call situations) and that was cool, but I hate venues that have the spectators a level higher than the court. It does save a lot of space in construction, but one of the intriguing points of basketball is being able to be close to the action, unlike that of soccer. Placing yourself a level higher negates that mystique. Plus, no air-conditioning sucks.
Thungkru Stadium had a nice scent of basketball with the pictures and banners of Hitech’s past accomplishments draped all over the court. And it is air-conditioned! But commuting to the stadium was a nightmare as it is pretty far from the usual BTS or MRT services. Not good for a professional sports team to have their home court hard to access.
Tones & Definition’s TBL 2015 Venue of the Year:
Thewphaingarm High School Gymnasium
Ok, ok. I know it seems kind of weird for a high school gym to be the best gym in Thailand Basketball. It doesn’t even have air conditioning! But hear me out. Thewphaingarm has one of the most storied teams in all of Thailand Basketball from the youth to the professional ranks, so you get a nice mystical aura being in the presence of the place where many legends were groomed and grown. It just gives a really nice basketball spectating feeling.
Most Valuable Import of the Year Candidates:
Anthony McClain, Mono Vampires
Steve Thomas, Hitech Assumption-Thonburi
Jordan Collins, PEA
Evan Brock, Thai General Equipment
TJ Cummings, Mono-Thewphaingarm
Cadarian Raines, Mono Vampires
It’s a pretty short list, so I put everyone who played for more than half of the season on the shortlist (Sorry Mike Fey, Chris Charles, Daron Lamar Johnson, and Remy Boswell).
This was a very close three way race between Anthony McClain, Steve Thomas, and Jordan Collins. All three of whom averaged a double-double this season, though that is not why they are on top of the list.
McClain garnered our Import Defensive POY earlier and for that defense alone, he would have still been on the top of the list. But on top of that defense, McClain also doubles as one of the best offensive weapons in the League. His 59 eFG% is the second highest in the league (for all qualifiers) and is a result of being so goddamn big no one can stop you getting so close to the basket. His league leading 27.6 TRB% is the finishing touch of his dominant play.
Steve Thomas is still the All-Around Steve Thomas that we know. He’s second among imports in scoring efficiency (47 eFG%) with above average FG shooting (46.9%) and FT shooting (55.2%). He’s still a monster on the boards (league-leading 12.6 rpg with a 23.1 TRB%) but specializes more in defensive rebounding (league-leading 33.4 DRB%). Steve is getting old and it’s getting harder to fight for those offensive boards with the more springy athletic kids. He’s a versatile defensive player as well, being one of two (Hello, Cadarian Raines) players in the entire TBL to average at least 1 steal and 1 block per game. His greatest and most underrated quality is playmaking and it is still evident. Steve has the league’s 9th highest AST/TO ratio (2.11), a healthy 10.5% assist ratio, and the league’s 3rd best Turnover Ratio (7.5%). He’s missing a huge amount of assists from not having a definite scoring target like Chris Charles playing alongside him in the TBL, but he still does well of handling the ball and dishing it out when necessary.
Jordan Collins leads the league in minutes per game (38.1), points per game (21.9), and he is second in rebounds per game (11.6). By adapting the NBA stat leader requirement (NBA: 82 3P made, 125 FT made; TBL: 10 3P made, 15 FT made), Jordan Collins leads the league in both three point shooting percentage (30.8%, 16 made threes) and free throw shooting percentage (86.0%, missing only 7 of 50 attempts!). He’s not a defensive powerhouse like the aforementioned Steve Thomas and Anthony McClain, but when you are carry the team on offensive like this maybe you should have some other players to pick up the slack on defense as well.
This was not an easy decision to make, but it must be done.
Tones & Definition’s TBL 2015 Most Valuable Import of the Year:
Jordan Collins, PEA
Before you start firing up the comment section in disagreement (which I totally think you should do if you disagree with me about something), read this through. Yes, Jordan Collins played for a PEA team that lost 5 games, which is 3 more games that the amount of games Steve Thomas and Anthony McClain lost combined. Yes, Jordan Collins isn’t much of a threat on defense, up to the point that he is sometimes a liability.
Yes, Jordan Collins avoids dunks like he’s allergic to them.
Yes, Jordan Collins looks as emotionless as Tim Duncan.
But Jordan Collins carried PEA this season. PEA had lost out leading scorer Todsapit Langsui to a knee injury before the season began and while they got a nice offensive overhaul of loaned talents, it took quite a while for them to get into rhythm. Collins was one of the most consistent pieces they had going on this team and it led them to a playoff berth. You could make a case for McClain and Thomas for their remarkable seasons, but you have to hand it to Jordan Collins for shaping PEA to be as competitive as they have been.
Tone’s & Definition All-TBL 2015 Second Team (alphabetical order):
Attaporn lertmalaiporn, Hitech Assumption-Thonburi
Bandit Lakhan, Hitech Assumption-Thonburi
Patipan Klahan, Thai General Enquipment
Phusit Opamuratawong, Thai General Equipment/Dunkin’ Raptors
Ratdech Kruatiwa, Mono Vampires
The All-TBL list was really hard to pan out because it meant for me to select 10 players to highlight from 106 total players in the TBL. I ran an initial screening and ended up with about 20 players and it took quite a while to cut away each player before eventually ending up with 10. So here is your Second Team to start things off.
DISCLAIMER NOTE: I enjoyed doing this and I love sharing my opinions on the basketball scene here. But once again, these are my own personal opinions. I am not a certified basketball expert in any terms. I am just someone who loves basketball. So if in anyway you disagree with my opinions, do feel free to share your own opinions as well because all I want is to start an ongoing conversation about the basketball community in their respective regions.
Let’s start this off with one of the bigger names in the list, Ratdech Kruatiwa. He was a big name transfer in the offseason, going from Nakhonpathom Madgoats to Mono Vampires. His role was pretty simple: Make it rain. And for what it’s worth, he’s done well doing that and he’s been pretty much consistent in his performance from last year. This year, he’s been averaging 8.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. He’s still lethal from the free throw line (81.3%) as well as being one of the top 3 three point shooters in the league (27.9%, 17 made threes). He still sometimes on and off, but you can count on him to throw big punches in big moments of the game with his cold blooded threes. He might not be as flashy in the Vampires system as he was in the Madgoats system, but he is still very effective. The Vampires value their spacing a lot for their slashers and Biggie (Anthony McClain) to work. Ratdech and his well known three-point shooting does exactly that. That lands him a spot in the All-TBL second team.
Another big name on this list is Attaporn Lertmalaiporn. Following Attaporn throughout the last year has been a feel-good story. It started from rehabbing his knees and slowly finding his place in the TBL2014. Then he opened the ABL with a superb game and ended the season with a big shot to claim the title. Since then, he’s been a steady contributor for Hitech, which is something that has been hard to find lately. Attaporn scored 11.3 points per game and also added 4.9 rebounds. One aspect that has been very valuable for Hitech is Attaporn’s ability to draw fouls. He was second among locals in free throws attempted (5.4 per game) and made a very good ratio of them (74.1%). He might be on the wrong side of 30 and is obviously not the highflyer that he once was, but he still draws plenty of attention when he drives to the hoop.
Unlike the two members of the All-TBL second team aforementioned, Bandit Lakhan is a much more younger talent. He’s second in assists per game (3.00) in the TBL among locals and his Assist Rate (19.2%) and Assist/TO ratio (1.93) are among the top of the league. Bandit is a not a high volume scorer and he still is inconsistent at finishing around the rim, but he does hit free throws (87.5%) and three-pointers (39.1%) at a nice clip even at a relatively small sample. Hitech did have quite a collection of guards on their team (Mana Jantuma, Sopon Pinitpatcharalert, Kannawat Lertlaokul, Supachai Sangthong), but with Bandit being the only one under 27, he is probably their most valuable at this point.
Another youngster to make this list is Thai General Equipment’s local ace, Patipan Klahan. Patipan has been the face of Hitech’s sister team since last year. While he could have added a nice sprinkle of perimeter offense to the Hitech Assumption-Thonburi team this season, team management saw it fit that he would develop his game in a team-leading role for the teenager-laden Thai General Equipment. Klahan used up 24.1% of his teams possessions which is the same range as that of Attaporn Lertmalaiporn and Nopporn Sangthong, and he used them well. He scored 12.22 points per game on 45 eFG% by using his versatile game. Patipan is tall and long, so he can score inside, but he also has a nice stroke from outside (as evident from his 35% three-point shooting) and he can hit his free throws (65% free throw shooting). He wasn’t the main focus on the defense, but he did well as a help defender and got his blocks. His 0.89 blocks per game is the highest among locals (2.8 BLK% is also among the top). For now, he is still an unfinished project but he is only 21. He will be a nice piece going ahead for the Hitech Club and being a part of Tone’s & Definition’s ALL-TBL 2015 Second Team is just the start of it. Hope to see more of him in the ABL.
To round out the Second Team, I threw in a little wildcard here with “Ken” Phusit Opamuratawong.
Don’t freak out yet, and hear me out.
I do realize that Ken played for two teams that combined for 0 wins against the playoff teams. I do realize that he wasn’t even much of a stud during his stint with Thai General Equipment (but that 25% Assist Rate and 5.7% Steal rate is still pretty good). I know that he didn’t win a single game with the Dunkin’ Raptors. But take a look at his stat line with the Raptors:
16.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.6 steals, 30.8% 3P Shooting, 44 eFG%, and 25.2% Assist Rate.
Only 16 players in the entire league scored more that 84 points throughout the entire season (imports included) and 84 points is how much Phusit scored in 5 games with the Raptors.
Only 1 other player averaged at least 3 rebounds and 3 assists throughout the entire season (Darunphong Apiromwilaichai of Mono-Thew). Phusit did it in his 5 games as a Raptor.
It wasn’t all pretty, as Ken averaged a league high 4.6 turnovers and I understand that if you give another player access to 30.7% of the teams possessions (a la Ken’s Usage Rate), he might average somewhere around this region. But still, this kid is only about 18-19 years old, and this sort of performance deserves some sort of recognition.
That wraps it up for this part of the Tones & Definition TBL 2015 unofficial Awards Ceremony.
Stay tuned for the second (and conclusive) part with some more awards to be handed out!