Adams takes Cotton’s MVP crown in first NBL season

Sydney Kings point guard Jaylen Adams has won the Andrew Gaze Trophy as the NBL’s most valuable player.

The former NBA playmaker led the Kings on a 13-game winning streak and to a place in the semi-finals, polling 105 votes along the way to beat three-time winner Perth’s Bryce Cotton (94 votes) and Melbourne United centre Jo Lual-Acuil jnr (62 votes).

Adams averaged 20. 1 points, 6. 1 assists and 5. 1 rebounds for the Kings and the former Milwaukee guard follows in the footsteps of another Buck-turned-King, Sydney part-owner Andrew Bogut, while playing for the Kings.

Adams said winning the MVP award had been a quiet goal since joining the Kings in August 2021.

This is a very special moment for me, the 25-year-old said. My family watches my games at 3 o’clock in the morning at home [in Hanover, Maryland].

I’m nothing but humbled to even be part of the conversation, let alone winning it.

Adams has formed a close working relationship with coach Chase Buford dating back to their days with Wisconsin Herd in the NBA’s development G-League, where Buford was the coach when Adams was runner-up in the 2020 MVP award.

The duo moved up to the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks, where Buford was an assistant coach and Adams played seven games off the bench before both joined the Kings for the 2021-22 season.

Adams said Buford was probably the biggest reason he made the move to Australia.

It’s a beautiful relationship; I love the dude, he said. We kind of offset each other: I’m super laid-back, he’s super energetic.

When asked how he got the best out of his star point guard, Buford said it was the other way around.

He gets the job done more for me than I do for him, Buford said. He’ll compete [for] every possession – I really respect that about him . . . it’s not about accolades and scoring, it’s really about winning.

Adams said his stellar individual season would not be complete without a successful play-offs campaign, beginning with the semi-final match-up with local rivals the Illawarra Hawks, which starts on Friday.

Full circle would be doing what we need to do in these play-offs and getting out of here as champions, he said.

Buford was beaten to the Lindsay Gaze Trophy for coach of the year by Tasmania JackJumpers coach Scott Roth, who led his expansion side to the finals in their inaugural season. The JackJumpers will play Melbourne United in a best-of-three series starting on Thursday night.

Illawarra’s Antonius Cleveland claimed the Damian Martin Trophy for defensive player of the year, while Melbourne United guard Shea Ili was runner-up and Sydney’s Xavier Cooks finished third.

Cleveland also joined Adams and Cotton in the All-NBL first team along with Lual-Acuil and Perth’s Vic Law, while Sydney’s Xavier Cooks, Tasmania’s Josh Adams, Melbourne United duo Matthew Dellavedova and Chris Goulding, plus South East Melbourne’s Mitch Creek made up the All-NBL second team.

Cairns Taipans’ shooter Bul Kuol won the rookie of the year award and teammate Keanu Pinder won most improved player.

Adelaide 36ers Next Stars centre Kai Sotto showed how many fans he has brought to the NBL with the Philippines’ NBA hopeful winning the Fans’ MVP award.

Dellavedova, White to face Tasmania

Melbourne United have cleared athletic forward Jack White to play in game one against the JackJumpers at John Cain Arena.

White was a late-scratching for United’s final round loss to the JackJumpers in Hobart after his back tightened up but after being cautiously treated this week, United confirmed on Wednesday he would join Matthew Dellavedova (wisdom teeth) and David Barlow (concussion protocols) in returning to the team.

Dellavedova didn’t offer much on his dental issues beyond stating he would be right to play and that he didn’t expect to be hampered at all after having two wisdom teeth removed last Tuesday.

United coach Dean Vickerman said the NBA championship-winning guard was forced to miss the last round due to swelling post-surgery, but he had trained at full speed on Tuesday.

If he didn’t take the surgery, he was going to be dealing with painkillers and all kinds of things, Vickerman said.

I think we made the right decision. You have just got to get it done.

United lost twice to the JackJumpers during the season and have won six of their last seven games to earn fourth spot so Vickerman has challenged his defence to lift and take the visiting shooters out of the game.

We talked about their physicality and their rebounding and we couldn’t match it, Vickerman said.

That’s a starting point for us – can we get into the fight, do a good job in that area and then free up some of our shooters with our screens.

NBL award winners 2021-2022

Andrew Gaze Trophy, Most Valuable Player: Jaylen Adams (Sydney) – 105 votes; Bryce Cotton (Perth) – 94 votes; Jo Lual-Acuil Jr (Melbourne) – 62 votes

Lindsay Gaze Trophy, coach of the year: Scott Roth (Tasmania) – 67 votes; Dean Vickerman (Melbourne) – 47 votes; Chase Buford (Sydney) – 25 votes

All-NBL first team: Jo Lual-Acuil Jr (Melbourne) – 45 votes; Vic Law (Perth) – 32 votes; Jaylen Adams (Sydney) – 48 votes; Bryce Cotton (Perth) – 47 votes; Antonius Cleveland (Illawarra) – 37 votes

All-NBL second team: Xavier Cooks (Sydney) – 23 votes; Mitch Creek (South East Melbourne) – 19 votes; Josh Adams (Tasmania) – 26 votes; Chris Goulding (Melbourne) – 25 votes; Matthew Dellavedova (Melbourne) – 18 votes

Rookie of the year: Bul Kuol (Cairns) – 71 votes; Luke Travers (Perth) – 36 votes; Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand) – 26 votes

Best sixth man: Shea Ili (Melbourne) – 59 votes; Xavier Rathan-Mayes (Illawarra) – 43 votes; Clint Steindl (Tasmania) – 25 votes

Most improved player: Keanu Pinder (Cairns) – 41 votes; Jo Lual-Acuil Jr (Melbourne) – 33 votes; Yanni Wetzell (New Zealand) – 25 votes

Damian Martin Trophy, best defensive player: Antonius Cleveland (Illawarra) – 47 votes; Shea Ili (Melbourne) – 46 votes; Xavier Cooks (Sydney) – 24 votes

Executive of the year: Simon Edwards (New Zealand)

Fans’ MVP: Kai Sotto (Adelaide)

Gametime award: Jack McVeigh (Tasmania)

Referee of the year: Vaughan Mayberry

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