February 4, 2019 | WNBL news

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER & ALL-STAR FIVE CANDIDATES

With the announcement of the return of the WNBL awards night, hosted by Megan Hustwaite and Cayla George, take a look at the top candidates for the MVP and All-Star Five.

With six-time MVP winner Suzy Batkovic having endured an injury-interrupted campaign, the WNBL looks likely to announce a new MVP winner, with Batkovic having won six of the last seven MVP awards.

The WNBL MVP is decided on a votes basis, with the coaches and referees assessing votes after each regular-season game.

Meanwhile, the All-Star Five is decided by a vote from all coaches and captains from a list of the top 15 players who received MVP votes throughout the season. The voters are unable to choose a player from their own team.

Lindsay Allen (Deakin Melbourne Boomers)

Playing in her first season in the WNBL, Allen proved an x-factor for a Boomers side that finished second on the standings following the regular season.

Averaging 18.2 points and 5.3 assists per game, Allen showcased her lethal shooting ability throughout the season as she proved to be one of the most dynamic scorers in the league, and possibly the best scoring point guard in the WNBL.

Allen was a regular member of the WNBL Team of the Week, as she tied with Nia Coffey and Asia Taylor for the second most appearances in the squad with five nominations. Allen was awarded the WNBL Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks in Round five and Round six as she announced herself to the league as an MVP candidate.

Nia Coffey (Adelaide Lightning)

In a season where the WNBL was graced with so many elite imports, Nia Coffey was one of the most dominant players in the league during the 2018/19 season.

A highly impressive athlete, Coffey troubled opposing defences week in, week out, as she proved incredibly tough to stop when driving to the bucket.

Coffey put up 18.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game on her way to five Team of the Week nods. However, Coffey saved arguably her best performance until the final game of the regular season as the Las Vegas Aces star nearly tallied a triple-double with 20 points, nine rebounds and an astounding seven blocks.

Rebecca Cole (Jayco Rangers)

One of the season’s scoring leaders, Cole enjoyed a career-best WNBL campaign as she took on an increased role with her new team, the Jayco Rangers.

Cole averaged 19.4 points per contest on an efficient 51% clip. The Rangers guard was named to the WNBL Team of the Week on four occasions, while she was named the Player of the Week twice.

Coming into the season Cole was not on the radar of many pundits as an MVP candidate. However, her rapid improvement has seen her rocket into MVP calculations while also earning herself a spot in the latest Opals squad.

Kelsey Griffin (UC Capitals)

One of the season’s stars, ‘KG23’ has been superb in her first season as Capitals skipper.

The Caps finished atop the standings in Griffin’s first season in a Canberra uniform, as the Capitals leader earnt eleven Team of the Week nods in WNBL 19.

Griffin’s eleven entries into the Team of the Week is the most since Sami Whitcomb made the team 13 times in the 2016-17 season, back when the regular season was 19 rounds long.

Leading the league in rebounding with 11.7 per game, Griffin also sits in the top three scorers with just over 19 points per outing.

Griffin’s play during the regular season has many pundits predicting her to be right in the running for the MVP come awards night.

Lauren Nicholson (Adelaide Lightning)

One of the stars of the Adelaide Lightning, Nicholson has continued her stellar year of basketball, and after having won the SEABL MVP in 2018, Nicholson finds herself in the awards conversation once again, as she shapes as a strong candidate for an All-Star Five nod while she also shapes as an MVP smoky.

One of the league’s best defenders, Nicholson will also be in the conversation for the Defensive Player of the Year award as she has showcased her ability to lock-down opposition guards throughout the season.

Nicholson sits second on the Lightning in scoring behind Nia Coffey, as Nicholson has averaged 13.1 points per game while shooting a remarkable 49% from beyond the arc, which is a league-best clip.

Kia Nurse (UC Capitals)

Another sharp-shooter in Kia Nurse shapes as another heavyweight in award voting as the league leader in threes made has had a stunning season with the UC Capitals.

Having connected on a league-high 71 threes, including 13 threes across the Caps’ two Semi-Finals, Nurse is known as one of the hottest shooters in the league.

Nurse was named the WNBL Player of the Week on two occasions throughout the season, including Round Twelve when Nurse averaged 29.5 points across the Capitals two games, hitting 13 threes across the weekend.

Asia Taylor (Perth Lynx)

Perth star Asia Taylor is set to feature at the pointy end of MVP voting, as the league-leading scorer led the Lynx to another finals berth in her first season out west.

Averaging 19.8 points per game, Taylor remains one of the toughest match-ups in the league as she was named to the WNBL Team of the Week on six occasions during the regular season, tied for second-most in the league.

Taylor was especially dominant at home, averaging 22 points per game at the Bendat Basketball Centre as she anchored her MVP candidacy on the Lynx’s home floor, a venue where they hold an 8-3 home record.

Becca Tobin (Bendigo Bank Spirit)

The defensive anchor of the Bendigo Spirit, Becca Tobin was one of the premier bigs in the WNBL during the 2018/19 season.

A likely candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year award, Tobin averaged 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals per game for the Spirit as she played a crucial role in the Spirit starting out the season in a rich vein of form.

Tobin was named to four WNBL Team of the Week’s as she pulled down nine rebounds a game, good enough for fourth in the WNBL.