This isn’t going to be pretty.
In a couple of days, the ASEAN Basketball League will be resuming action again after a break for Christmas and New Years holidays. While we’re all filling our faces with holiday meals and filling our bodies with some off time, let’s take a look at the team’s performances after 29 ABL games.
It’s been a rough debut for the Mono Vampires.
They started the season with 8 straight road games and it took them 6 straight losses before they ended a game with more points than the opposing side. Let’s take a look at how their season went.
Offense : C-
The Mono Vampires rely their offense on two things, three point shooting and Anthony McClain. Let’s talk about Anthony McClain first.
McClain, right now, is the most efficient scorer in the ABL at a blistering 57.9 FG%. Most of it is a product of collecting a league leading 17.3% of possible offensive rebounds, but you also have those moments where the perimeter players are able to feed him the ball for the easy basket. However, you still feel that McClain is not at his full potential.
McClain’s usage rate is only 22.5%. Only Steve Thomas, Will Creekmore, Quincy Okolie, Paul Butorac, and Nakia Miller are being used less by their teams among World Imports. That should be a bit alarming for a player who is should be (judging by the rate he finishes) the team’s first offensive option.
Part of it is because McClain himself doesn’t really pose a threat on the post. While it is certainly not easy to stop him, McClain isn’t completely scary when he receives the ball in the post as opposed to him getting the ball on the offensive rebound.
Another part could possibly be that getting the ball to McClain has never been a major part of the gameplan.
Whatever the case, McClain’s offense is what is keeping the Mono Vampires offense afloat. With McClain in the calculation, the Vampires are shooting 39.0%. Take McClain out and you see that the rest of the Vampires have only been shooting 34.8%. That 4.2% drop is the highest of any other player in the ABL right now.
Tha Vampires are also taking the most amount of three point shots in the ABL if we go by percentage. The 24.6 attempts per game (2nd behind Pilipinas MX3 Kings) are considered 34.6% of the total amount of shots they take. Roughly speaking, for every 3 field goal attempts the Vampires take, 1 of them is a three point shot.
It’s not a bad strategy, especially in a world where the analytic studies have proven the three point shot to be as valuable as it is (see Warriors, Golden State), but you have to be able to balance it out as well.
Grading the Mono Vampires at a solid “B-” on defense seems a bit weird from a team that is allowing a blistering 41.9% from the field. They are also allowing the second most shot attempts per game (31.1) as well, so that is certainly not a great combination.
But it must be noted that during the Mono Vampires first give games (against all five teams), they were only allowing opponents to score at 37.7% which would have been somewhere around the top two. Anthony McClain and Quincy Okolie have been blocking away anything in sight. McClain is 3rd in Block percentage (6.3%) while Okolie is second (6.4%) and the Vampires have led the league with an astounding 13.5 BLK%.
I don’t know what happened after those first five games. Maybe the opposing teams got more familiar to the Mono Vampires. Maybe it was the losing streak that got to them. Maybe it was the lack of home games. Maybe it was because Quincy Okolie went down with an injury. Whatever the case, the Mono Vampires allowed opponents to score 45.7% from the field, as well as a horrific 32.2% from the three-point line.
To put that into comparison, Laskar Dreya (who went through last year’s ABL with only 1 win) allowed 44.9 FG% and 30.8% from the three point line. For any ABL team, that is the borderline that you do not want to cross.
However, I still decided that the Mono Vampires showed that they could be among the elite in defense. They did it for a full five game. And that’s why they get a “B-” here.
I just have to state this before moving on. I like Quincy Okolie. I’ve talked to the guy. He’s humble, determined, and willing to learn. And crazy athletic.
Unluckily for him, the role he signed to play for the Mono Vampires wasn’t really suited for that. While Okolie was a dominant force on defense (see above), he looked lost on offense on a team that desperately needed a secondary scorer. Aside from Steve Thomas (who has his role set and scorers on every side around him), Okolie is the only World Import who has finished a game in single digits more than twice. To me, Okolie is a five-star role player and he should thrive in other leagues in Europe where the will not need to depend on his scoring prowess. Sadly, I feel like he might need be suited for the World Import role in the ABL.
I also like Paul Butorac. He’s another humble, hardworking, smart player.
But he just came into the wrong situation. The Vampires needed a savior. They needed someone to help with the scoring load when McClain drifted off. While Butorac made their offense more fluid, he wasn’t exactly the most efficient scorer. To be blunt about it, he was the worst (among World Imports) at 29.4 eFG%. And ever since Okolie was put on the injured list, Butorac has certainly not helped bring up the level of defense for the Mono Vampires either.
I love Froilan Baguion. (Do you notice a trend here?) He’s one of the friendliest players in the ABL and remembers a face in the crowd.
With 3 local point guards on the roster already…the signing and return of Froilan Baguion was a bit of a mystery. He spent his first two games on the bench in the first half before being subbed in and only was he started in their final game of 2015. It’s interesting because Baguion has clearly shown that he can get the ball to McClain down low in a position where he can easily finish. He’s averaging 10.2 assists per 40 minutes with 33.4 AST%. His performance has been as good as expected, but I’m still wondering if he was the medicine that the Vampires needed when they picked him up after 8 games into the season.
This rating is buoyed with the Mono Vampires using Anthony McClain who was their first ever import in club history. He has done well for the them being a dominant force on both offense and defense, which is not something every World Import can say. Now it might be time for team management to find another player to help McClain down low.
I almost graded this a “C+”, but then I remembered that they haven’t used their second ASEAN/Heritage import slot yet. And that slightly disappoints me.
I might be biased as a Thai, but I feel like the Mono Vampires have one of the best locals talents in the league. Ratdech Kruatiwa is a deadly three point shooter if you can consistently create situations where he doesn’t have to dribble too much. And even then, he’s still proved himself to be a deadly shooter nonetheless, good for 29.4% from downtown. Darongphan Apiromwilaichai had a couple of solid outings (notably and 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists against the KL Dragons) and is averaging a solid 8.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. His production has dropped in the later games, but he is still a very good slasher nonetheless.
That’s not even mentioning Nattakarn Meungboon and Kannut Samerjai, who are having very good seasons.
The issue maybe that the players might be playing a bit of a bigger role than they are suited for at this moment. Give them a couple of years like the Slingers gave Wong Wei Long and Desmond Oh, and things could get scary.
There’s a lot to look forward to for the Mono Vampires and the potential is hidden in all sorts of places in the numbers…but the most important numbers for now (the Wins/Losses) aren’t looking so good. Having only managed 2 wins (and against Pilipinas MX3 Kings) just doesn’t look so sexy right now.
Good news is that it can only go up from here…right?