A Bolds selection
With a nod to All Star Weekend, Daniel Routledge picks his top five players of the BBL season so far.
Last Updated: 21/02/12 3:33pm
I'm going to try and buck the trend of every basketball blog out there right now and not get sucked into all the 'Linsanity'... even though Jeremy Lin's tale is a great story.
From Landry Fields' couch to getting the NBA to change their rules for the 'Rising Stars' All Star Game in only three weeks is an amazing rise to fame and just goes to show how fine the margins can be in a sporting career.
Surely a story that could only be played out in the wild world of Madison Square Garden? A place so crazy that Sacramento's Isaiah Thomas was last week booed by the faithful for no other reason than his name was a letter away from their former coach and Detroit Pistons' Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas.
But given it's All Star Weekend across the pond, I figured I'd list out my top five from the BBL over the first half of the season.
In the BBL there is always plenty of choice at the point guard position and this season is no different, but it's hard to look past the guy who is four points clear of everyone else in the scoring charts isn't it - especially when he had over 70 points in two games at the weekend? So my pick for the one spot is Milton Keynes' Demarius Bolds. He's also amongst the league leaders in free throw shooting, steals, rebounds and assists and has that fire in his belly that fans love to watch. In the spirit of 'Linsanity', I can also look past the fact he's second in the league in turnovers.
This is one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in this line-up. You've got a guy like Tommy Freeman who is more than capable of putting a huge number on the board and shoots over 40 per cent from the three-point line. Or Bradd Wierzbicki, who when it comes to scoring-per-minute is second only to Bolds. Nate Reinking? The list goes on.
But I'm going to give the nod to Joe Chapman. His phenomenal scoring form post-Christmas is probably what has given him the edge for me, plus his strength on the low block gives him a post-up game that few guards in the BBL can match.
Of course if I've got Chapman at two, I could easily slot Charles Smith into the three spot. He could quite comfortably play off guard, but as he's listed as a forward, I'm going to consider him at the three. I say consider, because believe it or not, I'm actually going to pick someone else.
Smith can give you fireworks, explosive performances like we saw in the Cup Final, but my three man is a little more understated. I'm going for Ayron Hardy, not the most verbose player in the league, but surely one of the most complete all-round performers.
He's a great defender and is comfortable on guards or forwards - Leicester had him on Bolds for their final stand against the Lions last week - and his numbers are impressive. He's amongst the leaders in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals and he leads the league with a staggering 71 per cent shooting accuracy. I know, 71 per cent; that's not possible is it?
This is an interesting spot as there are several different types of power forwards. In theory you could go for a guy like Lehmon Colbert, but he'd be better at the small forward for me. You could go for a guy like Richie Gordon, but with the Wolves he plays more of a centre role. Or what about someone like Bill Cole, who is deceptively good?
I'm going to hedge my bets and pick a player who is listed as a forward/centre by the BBL. Daniel Northern is one of the most athletic players in the league, who seemingly dunks everything and leads the league in rebounding and is second in blocks.
There aren't actually that many out-and-out centres in the BBL. In truth there never really have been many pure centres who have dominated in the way you might see in other leagues across the continent.
So whilst I could have put Northern in this spot, I just think Paul Williams of Plymouth is better suited to this role so I'm going for him. He's another one who doesn't necessarily steal the headlines, but he's tough at both ends of the floor and tremendously effective.
A real 15 and 10 every night sort of guy, the sort of player every team needs.
The obvious choice would be Fab Flournoy, but can I pick him? I don't know, he's a player/coach and I didn't pick him in my line-up. If not I'd probably take Rob Paternostro, but hey with that much talent I might just do the gig myself. 'Here's the ball fellas, go do what you do!'
Sticking with Fab for a second, the Lin story made me think of a couple of points in his BBL career.
Firstly that 'Fab Five' season where the Bullets were in crisis but he, Tony Simms, Reggie Kirk, Nigel Lloyd and Clive Allen triumphed through the adversity to restore some pride in Birmingham and helped them to an unlikely play-off berth.
And then, for reasons I honestly can't remember, he got demoted to the 'A' team the following season. When most would have packed it in and gone home, he stuck it out and Corey Jackson's misfortune of a season-ending injury gave him a route back to the first team.
It was one of those serendipity moments. He had one title to his name at that point and by refusing to quit when most of his contemporaries would have - surely his most enduring quality - he is now one of the most decorated men in the history of British basketball.
That success, in terms of medals, makes him a player comparable with any and a coach who is probably the only one who could be in the same paragraph as Kevin Cadle. Well, at worst, the next paragraph.
Some might say it was a 'Linsane' career path, only not in the reflected hyperbole of The Garden.