Races are fun.
Race to MVP
This is a pretty straightforward feature. I’ll track who I personally feel are candidates for the MVP awards this season and place where I feel they are standing if they were to be ranked right now. There are three awards (World Import/Heritage Import/Local), so there will be three races. I’ll have 3 players for the imports and 5 players for the locals. Let’s do this.
RACE to MVP: World Import
#1: Marcus Elliott, Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions
25.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 5.4 APG, 49.6 FG%, 40.0 3p%, 87.7 FT%
No one has averaged 20/5/5 in the ABL (although Xavier Alexander was close last year with 18.2/9.9/5.4). Elliott has been averaging 25.8/6.6/5.4 so far, leading the league in points and assists. All this while shooting an elusive 50/40/90 clip.
Elliott is an unfair matchup as he’s stronger than almost any 1-3 in the league (with Alexander being the perfect matchup) and quicker than any 4 a team would like to put on him.
I don’t see this award going to anyone else at the rate that the Long Lions are performing with Elliott casually churning out these numbers on a regular basis.
#2: Justin Howard, Singapore Slingers
23.1 points, 18.3 rebounds, 2.2 APG, 2.2 BPG
#3: Xavier Alexander, Singapore Slingers
18.8 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 4.1 APG, 42.9 3P% (!!!), 2.6 SPG, 8.1 FTA
I mulled at this for quite a while between who should come in at second, but I later decided that it doesn’t really matter.
The Slingers are enjoying two of the best seasons from World Imports that a team could have at the same time. Howard has been durable and efficient and stays away from foul trouble. Alexander has done everything and hits the occasional open three while locking down on defense as well.
I’m giving a slight edge to Howard for now, since he’s been playing a mind-boggling 40.4 minutes per game. However, if Marcus Elliott were to miraculously drop out of the MVP Race, I wouldn’t blink at giving Howard and Alexander a Co-MVP.
RACE TO MVP: Heritage Import
#1: Tyler Lamb, Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions
18.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 4.0 APG, 3.3 SPG, 0.9 TO, 37.1 3P%
Somewhere out there, someone is already calling me out for being biased. But hey! Let’s grind out the facts.
Lamb is his team’s secondary scoring option who can also be a legit playmaker. At times, he flashed potential of being able to take over games with his scoring. More than that, he’s a perfect second line of defense in the frustrating Long Lions full court pressure where he picks off desperate passes at a crazy rate.
It’s been refreshing to see him in a system where his role is clear-cut so he has a better idea of what to do with his skills instead of roaming all over the place.
#2 Joshua Munzon, Saigon Heat
18.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 4.4 SPG, 31.6 3P%, 2 Dunks Per Game (estimate guess)
Lamb is ahead of the race for now, but Munzon is quietly closing in. He’s looked more comfortable on offense and more confident as well. His offense is still pretty limited to fastbreaks and pull-up three-point shots, which makes it even more intriguing once he figures out how to create off the dribble.
On defense, Munzon is a master at picking off passes with his catlike quickness but sometimes still struggles in a faceoff due to his wispy frame. He’s still a perfect weapon to counter the shooters from getting he ball easily though.
#2 Lawrence Domingo, Alab Pilipinas
10.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG
Domingo might not posses a handful of snazzy numbers like Munzon and Lamb, but he brings enough to the table for Alab.
Alab doesn’t need much more help on the perimeter with Parks Jr. already, so it’s perfect that they can throw Domingo to tussle in the paint. Domingo can hold off big world imports as well to a level, giving Alab versatility on that side of the court.
RACE TO MVP: LOCAL Player
#1: Bobby Ray Parks Jr., Alab Pilipinas
31.5 MPG, 24.1 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 4.0 APG, 59.2 FG%, 64.5 3P%, 87.5 FT%
I honestly think that anyone who has read this far doesn’t need me to explain why Parks Jr. is Ranked No.1.
#2: Wong Wei Long, Singapore Slingers
32.4 MPG, 11.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 31.1 3P%
Leon Kwek has been scoring more (13.8 PPG) and with wayyyyy better efficiency (48.0 FG% to 29.1 FG%), but I just had to give the nod to Wei Long. The thing with Wei Long is that he’s never been a highly efficient scorer with a career 31.8 FG%. What makes him so special is that he makes shots when it counts.
Kwek is shooting 48.0%, but if the clock is running down and I need two points, I’m giving the ball to Wei Long.
And Wei Long has shown that he does perform well in close game situations.
It also helps that Wei Long has been such a foul magnet. Wei Long’s always had a tendency to get to the line, but his 4.0 free throw attempts this year marks as the 3rd highest by a local behind Attaporn Lertmalaiporn (!!!) from Season One and Bobby Ray Parks Jr. (…of course).
#3: Fong Shing Yee, Hong Kong Eastern Long Lions
23.5 MPG, 9.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 51.7 FG%
Here’s the thing with Shing Yee: his return from an injury has given the Long Lions another dimension to their offense, where he’s been a solid knockdown stretch-4 shooter. He also gives them versatility on defense as well, as he’s big enough to slow down 4s and quick enough to contain a 3.
However, the Long Lions have been 2-2 since he has come back as well.
It’s unfair to put the blame squarely on Shing Yee as those two loses were against the Singapore Slingers, but it does make you think if putting him into the rotation has affected the shooting touch of Chan Siu Wing and Li Kee.
Still, Shing Yee makes life easier for Patrick Sullivan down low and has been a nice pick & pop option for Marcus Elliott and Tyler Lamb. We’ll see if the past two loses with Shing Yee are outliers or not.
#4: Leon Kwek, Singapore Slingers
32.6 MPG, 13.8 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 48.0 FG%, 81.3 FT%
We knew this was eventually coming right? Kwek has been flashing potential ever since last year where he started almost half of the season averaging double digits. He eventually got lost in the rotation once Wu Qingde came back, but Kwek has come back with an even stronger start this season.
While Kwek’s offense is still limited to set shots, catch-and-shoot situations, and fast breaks for most of the time, he’s been effective at converting those chances.
He seems like he has the physical tools to develop into a player that can create some offense off the dribble, but this is more than enough for the Slingers for now.
#5: Wesley Hsu, Kaohsiung Truth
30.0 MPG, 13.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.0 3PM, 52.2 3P%
Wesley Hsu is a hard player to gauge.
He’s a lights out shooter (as we’ve seen against Alab Pilipinas and the KL Dragons) when he’s in his groove.
When he’s in his groove, you have this “he’s never going to miss” kind of feeling.
And because of his record-breaking (for a solid 48 hours) three-point shooting night, he lands firmly at 5th in this MVP race.
The problem is that when his shots aren’t falling, it’s hard to put him on the court as he does give up quite a lot on the other side of the court.
What do you think?
Who are your candidates for the MVP in each category so far this season?