We wrapped up the first part of the TBL 2015 (unofficial) awards sometime last week and while it took quite sometime to wrap up the finale, it is finally here.
Before we dig into our unofficial awards, let’s take a look at the official awards from TBL.
After the TBL Finals ended (Congratulations to the Mono Vampires, by the way), they announced their official Top 5 for each position.
Point Guard: Kannut Samerjai, Mono Vampires
Shooting Guard: Chitchai Ananti, Mono-Thewphaingarm
Small Forward: Pairach Sekteera, Mono Vampires
Power Forward: Nopporn Saengthong, Mono-Thewphaingarm
Center: Steve Thomas, Hitech Assumption-Thonburi
This is in a way an equivalent of an All-TBL first team, so you’ll be able to read later on to compare my selections with the official selections. My initial impression is that these are solid selections and you can make a solid case for each one of these selections, but I might have a gone a different way with a couple of picks.
However, that is for later to discuss. Let’s check out with out first (unofficial) award: Fresh Five!
Our Thailand Basketball League is not built like the NBA or even that of the PBA for that matter. We have a do not have consistant quantity of new players entering the league in batches. Therefore it would be quite unreasonable to classify players as rookies. Instead of handing out Rookie of the Year awards, I’ve decided to go the FIBA Europe route. FIBA Euro has a Young Men’s Player of the Year award, where they acknowledge the brilliance of a player under the age of 22 in each year of European Nationality.
For the TBL 2015’s (unofficial) Fresh Five award, I’ll be acknowledging 5 players who are under 22 whose performance deserves to be highlighted.
Tones & Definition’s TBL 2015 Fresh Five:
Phusit Opamuratawong, Dunkin’ Raptors/Thai General Equipment
Patipan Klahan, Thai General Equipment
Chanathip Jukrawan, Thai General Equipment
Anaswee Klaewnarong, Thai General Equipment
Richard Latham, PEA
Phusit and Patipan automatically make the list because I put them on the All-TBL Second Team list already. You can read about their case for making the Fresh Five list in Part One. Patipan is 21 years old and because we’ve seen him around in the scene for so long already, we might not look at him as a youngster that much, but 21 is certainly not old yet. Hitech should be pleased that they have a budding star on their hands if they can keep his head on straight and focused. Phusit, on the other hand, is a ripe 18 years old and fresh to the Thai Basketball scene. He will continue his studies in the United States, but if by any chance he returns to Thailand afterwards and decides to pursue a career in Basketball here, he will most likely be a valuable player for any team.
Chanathip Jukrawan and Anaswee Klaewnarong are both team mates of Patipan on the youngster loaded Thai General Equipment. Anaswee is in the same class as Patipan (20 years old) while Chanathip is still a high school senior (18 years old). Both aren’t very good offensively at this point (Anaswee had a serious down year with 24 eFG% while Chanathip had a below average 31 eFG%) but offensive polish is something that can be, well, polished. In Anaswee’s case, it might be a bit more urgent to develop his offensive game, but Chanathip is 18 and he has reportedly been playing competitive basketball for no more than 3 years. The sky is the limit for the 1.99 M giant. What they have going for them is rebounding. Both are towering 2 meter giants. Add that up with their strong physique and solid fundamentals of boxing out and you have two very good rebounders in your backcourt. Anaswee leads locals in TRB% (20.3%) for players who played in more than 5 games while Chanathip grabbed a solid 13.9%. Anaswee’s 7.7 rebounds per game and Chanathip’s 5.0 rebounds per game is 9th and 15th overall, respectively. Aside from rebounds, both can also deal a fair amount of shot blocking as they are ranked 6th and 7th among locals in blocks. Their offense might still be a work in progress, but with these two young guys, you can be quite hopeful for the future of your backcourt.
Another wild card prospect here is Richard Latham of PEA. You might be wondering where the potential is in a player who averaged 0.5 points in 5.5 minutes of play in 4 game during the regular season. Okay, so Richard averaged 9.8 points and 7.9 rebounds in TBL 2014. That was last year with the Khon Kaen Raptors. This is PEA, if he can’t be logging minutes for PEA, what is so interesting about him?
Richard may not have done much in the regular season, but that was mostly because he might not have had a chance to show what he could have done. He played a total of 22 minutes for PEA in the entire regular season. I can barely get myself out of bed in 22 minutes. Why did you expect him to do in bits and pieces of 4 games?
The playoffs came by and Coach Krit let him loose. In the first playoff game alone, Richard got 25 minutes. He followed that up with 26 minutes. In the third place game, he played 12 minutes before getting a DNP in the final game. During that 3 game playoff stretch, Richard averaged 8.3 points and 7.0 rebounds. The only local to average those numbers in the Finals is Nopporn Sangthong who (**SPOILER ALERT**) is named to our All-TBL First Team. Watch Richard play a full game and you might not be wowed by his offensive prowess, but he is an active rebounder and quick to move on defense, if only for the sake of effort. The most intriguing fact is that Richard had only recently turned 20 years old. The future should be bright for Richard, if he can get the right amount of exposure and mentoring.
Sneakers are a huge part of the Basketball society, so we’re going to have an awards for the Best Sneakers worn in TBL 2015 as well. This award will be judged based on the rarity of the shoe, it’s appearance, uniqueness among players, and personal impression.
Tones & Definition’s TBL 2015 Best Sneakers of the Year:
Tanakan Sriboonreung, Nike Kobe 8 “Prelude”
We had a lot of sneaker heat this year, but none other were hotter than these babies that “Mam” Tanakan Sriboonreung popped out.
Tawatchai Suktab, Under Armour ClutchFit Drive 2
Chanachon Klahan, Under Armour Spine Bionic
We’ve made it all the way here and now we’re almost at the end. After a grueling 30 regular season games and 9 playoffs games, we have reached the point at the end of the road. Here are five players who, in my opinion, have shined the brightest throughout the entire season and deserves some of the spotlight, albeit unofficially.
Tones & Definition’s TBL 2015 All-TBL First Team
Darongphan Apiromwilaichai, Mono Vampires
Chitchai Anati, Mono-Thewphaingarm
Moses Morgan, PEA
Danai Kongkum, Hitech Assumption-Thonburi
Nopporn Sangthong, Mono-Thewphaingarm
Finally, that’s off my chest.
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.
I have to explain before hand why a handful of Mono Vampires were left off the list. Natakarn Meungboon, Kannut Samerjai, Pairach Sekteera, Sorot Soonthornsiri, and Chanachon Klahan all had really good season in their own ways. Trust me, I tried fitting one of those guys in. But once I convinced myself putting one of them in, it turned out that the other Mono Vampires had the same case for making the list as well. For the other players (both on the Second and First Team), I found that I was able to put them on the list without having have conflict about not putting another player in. Of course, the Mono Vampires did win the championship this year, so I don’t think they would mind being left off of this unofficial awards presentation anyway. LOL.
Unlike the Second Team, I don’t think there are any real surprises in this list. Each player has been pretty visible throughout the entire year and while I had spent sometime flipping back and forth among some guys, I am happy with the 5 people I named above.
I wasn’t going with the traditional 5 position selection, because that kind of pigeonholes things too much. Global Basketball is headed to a positionless game anyways, so I keep it to a simple 3 perimeter 2 inside player format.
Two of the players on my list matched with TBL’s official selection, Chitchai Ananti and Nopporn Sangthong, the Mono-Thewphaingarm Duo. I’ll make my case for them first.
For a team that lacked major offensive firepower, Chitchai was one of their best scorers throughout the season. He scored 14.0 points throughout the season and during the Semi-Finals series against Hitech, he went on a ramapage an average 18.0 points including a 29 point outburst in Game One, which is the highest Single Game Scoring Total in TBL 2015. Chitchai scored a lot of points off of turnovers in which he had a huge part in initiating. He averaged a league leading 3.1 steals per game with a 6.9% Steal Ratio. His long limbs came in handy in pouncing passing lanes and reaching for unaware dribblers. He wasn’t a great three-point shooter (20.6%) but he was more of a streaky shooter from long range. Chitchai is a long and rangy player who runs and leaps like a gazelle, which makes him very dangerous in the open court. Free throw shooting was what proved to be a strength of which Chitchai used to stay effective, shooting 76.7% from 3.0 free throw attempts per game. He added 4.6 rebounds per game as well, just to round it up.
A lot of people seemed surprised about his emergence to this level of stardom, but the thing is that Chitchai has been doing pretty much the same things since last year. In TBL 2014, Chitchai quietly averaged 10.25 points on a team that missed out on the playoffs. With injuries to Panurat Chatsiriyingyong and a better supporting cast of Madgoats exiles, Chitchai was able to shine even brighter.
I wrote during the midseason about a scenario where Chitchai was traded to Hitech. In retrospect, we could be looking at a very different outcome if that trade went down (not that Mono-Thewphaingram would ever do that trade though in these circumstances). I look forward for Chitchai to moving forward even more in the basketball ranks and maybe even getting some recognition for a National Team nod.
Speaking of Madgoats exiles…
In all fairness, everyone who has followed Thailand Basketball regularly for more than a year (unlike me) would have probably known that this was going to happen. They would have known that Nopporn Sangthong was just playing in limited minutes on the Nakhonpathom Madgoats and that if he got his playing time, he would explode.
Stuck behind the inside rotation of Michael Fey, Danai Kongkum, and Chaiwat Kaedum, I figured that he was just an average 2nd string forward headed into TBL 2015. Boy, was I wrong.
Nopporn would burst from average 6.9 points and 3.2 rebounds to 11.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. Both stats would be ranked 5th among locals in the TBL. He also gets a fair share of steals (1.25 per game, 3.0 STL%) as well, as the style of Mono-Thewphaingarm’s style of play would suggest. He gets a lot of free throws (4.88 per game, 4th in the league), but he’s not the most effective scorer (41 eFG%). The main thing about Nopporn is that his effect on the team transcends the numbers. Nopporn is one of the more seasoned players on the team and while he isn’t as vocal as Darunphong Apiromwilaichai, he is a nice “uncle” figure for a team that is clattered with young players. Not only that, he has a sense of protecting his own. If he sees that an opponent does something he doesn’t like to a team mate, he will find a way to deal the damage in return. He might have to tone down his temper a bit, now that he is in a larger role for the team, but it makes him a good team mate to play with.
Speaking of Madgoats exiles…
Darongphan Apiromwilaichai is one of the few players in the Thailand Basketball scene who has been so consistently good that it’s getting scary. He might not be enjoying the same efficient scoring season as he was with the Madgoats, but a down year for him is still a notch above the average player.
TBL 2014: 55.3 FG%, 14.3 3P%, 59.4 2P%, 81.1 FT%, 62 TS%, 10.45 PPG
TBL 2015: 40.8 FG%, 23.5 3P%, 45.7 2P%, 75.6 FT%, 52 TS%, 10.78 PPG
His efficiency took a 10% drop and he still finished in the top 5 for True Shooting Percentage this year. The drop in his 2P% can be viewed as the fact that the Mono Vampires have Anothony McClain in the paint instead of Mike Fey. Fey was a great floor spacer with his shooting range and left a lot of room for Darongphan to drive and score. With McClain inside, Darongphan found more defenders inside the paint. His three point attempts also tripled from 0.64 to 1.89 this year, which displays how dedicated the Vampires are at getting their three point shots.
Even through all of these changes, Darongphan is still one of the deadliest finisher driving to the basket. Darongphan is a wonder to watch. He makes it seem so effortless to get to the basket and makes it look so easy to finish. He seems to rarely have any excessive movements. Even some players in the TBL themselves wonder how he makes it look so easy.
If Darongphan doesn’t finish at the hoop, he draws a good amount of fouls. His 4.6 free throw attempts per game is among the top of league and it becomes very valuable for someone who makes free throws at his rate.
He adds in 3.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game to complete his game, but make no mistake, his efficient scoring is what gets him on this list.
(Darongphan could turn down his fouling a bit. His 3.22 fouls per game is the second most in the entire league.)
Speaking of efficient scoring…
It is still pretty baffling how Moses Morgan missed out on the official list. No offense to Pairach Sekteera (who had a wonderful season of his own) but Moses Morgan was certainly one of the top tier players in the TBL this year.
Per game stats:
16.9 points (3rd Overall, 1st among Locals)
8.2 rebounds (6th Overall, 1st among Locals)
0.9 blocks (5th Overall, tied 1st among Locals)
5.89 free throw attempts (3rd Overall, 1st among Locals)
Those are pretty impressive numbers, don’t you think? The way I see it, Moses had two things going against him that kept him off the official list:
- “He isn’t Thai”
I understand the logic behind this. The Thai basketball scene is not used to having half-Thai players who were groomed from a foreign country. In a lot of the fan’s minds, they still do not consider Moses as a “Local” yet. The process of getting familiar with this sort of thing will take time. However, the award committee might have graded Moses on an “Import” scale, thus why he didn’t make the cut. It must be reminded though that he played as a “Local” and therefore, should be evaluated as one.
This point is probably what turned heads away from Moses. Moses sported a 34 eFG% which is one of the lowest scoring efficiency among players who took a significant amount if shots. He shot 31.8% from the field, 16.7% from three-point range, and 56.6% from the free throw line. This meant he had to have attempted a lot of shots. A lot like 19.9 field goals attempted per game (2nd Overall) and 5.3 three point shots attempted (5th Overall). I understand that the inefficiency is not that good of a look, but I still stand by my theory that Moses was thrown into a system that didn’t suit his game entirely. Even if he didn’t score efficiently, he still put up monster numbers nonetheless.
Moses is far from perfect and that’s what makes him even more intriguing. Even as an unfinished project, he’s still pretty dominant.
Speaking of Dominant…
It’s not a complete season if we don’t hand out an award that acknowledges the single Most Valuable year long performance. In any league of any typical sporting event, the Most Valuable Player award is the default award that has to be given out. At Tones & Definition, there is no exception. Here is your last member of the All-TBL First team and
Tones & Definition’s TBL 2015 Most Valuable Player
Before the whole playoff meltdown, Hitech was the team to beat in the TBL. It all looks distant at this point, but Hitech were undefeated up to the last game of the season. A large part of that success was because of Danai Kongkum. Hitech was depleted of a lot of firepower since the start of the season, but their front court took a huge hit in particular. Sukdave Ghogar, their main 4 guy, and Wuttipong Dasom, their alternative 4 guy, started off on the injured list. Warawut Wuttikornpan produced quality minutes, but he still wasn’t a full time option for the spot. A blessing fell from the sky for Hitech as the Nakhonpathom Madgoats disbanded for this TBL season in the form of Danai Kongkum. Danai was one of the Madgoats exiles (along with Chalermdech Limsuwan, Watcharapong Tongsri, and Suchon Maithampitak) that weren’t affiliated with the Thewphaingarm pipeline and therefore were sent separate ways. Danai couldn’t have landed in a position that needed him more than at Hitech.
Danai was the leading scorer (13.1 points per game) on a team that spread their scoring evenly among themselves (only team with 3 locals scoring more than 10 points per game). He shot at a scorching hot 49.1% from the field which is even more impressive when you see that he took 11.6 shot attempts per game.
He very active on the boards as well, despite of his respectively slim figure. He grabbed 5.8 rebounds, which was second on the team after import Steve Thomas. His presence on the boards was felt especially on the offensive end where he grabbed 2.7 offensive rebounds per game which is 3rd highest among locals.
Danai also displayed quick hands in the post as he posted 1.7 steals per game, which is 5th in the TBL.
He might have dropped off in the tail end of the season and a part of the playoffs, but his impact had been felt throughout the season already.
Aside from his impressive numbers, I have to emphasize again that Danai had only played with Hitech starting in this season. It is impressive how he adapted from his role with the Madgoats into his role with Hitech and doing it admirably.
For me, Danai gets the nod for overcoming the difficulties of moving to a new team, into a new role, and actually kicking ass at it.
That ends it for the awards for the Thailand Basketball League 2015. It’s been a fun season full of ups and downs and memorable moments for all the teams. I am sure each and everyone of you who has followed the TBL has had their moments as well.
And now for the final award: Fans of the Year award!
This award will be given to the fans who have shown dedication and have poured their hearts out throughout the entire 2 months and change. These are the guys (and girls) who have screamed their lungs out weekend after weekend on the courtsides or glued themselves to their monitors from wherever they were watching. Without further adieu:
Tones & Definition’s TBL 2015 Fans of the Year award
Yes. It’s each and everyone of you. You, me, the people who don’t read this blog but watch the game nonetheless. Each and everyone of us deserves a round of applause. Without us, there wouldn’t be any of this. Without us, the players wouldn’t have anyone to celebrate their shots with. Without us, there wouldn’t be anyone to help raise up teams when they feel down.
We must remember that we aren’t just one small guy in the basketball scene. We are one of the main forces that moves this entire industry. Take pride in that. Show your love for Thailand basketball. Spread the word. Show how much Thailand loves basketball.
And we will grow together.
Tones & Definition (and it’s main and only writer, Sajjatam Kulsomboon) signs off from the Thailand Basketball League. Until next time.