RACE TO THE 2017/18 MVP
Photo courtesy of Geoff Tripp Photography.
With a maximum of six games remaining in the regular season for most teams, take a look at the likely candidates (in no particular order) for the 2017/18 WNBL Most Valuable Player award.
Suzy Batkovic- JCU Townsville Fire
The five-time league MVP is having another standout season as the Fire’s on-court leader. Averaging 20.4 points per game (the third consecutive year she has averaged 20+ points), Batkovic is also the only player recording a double-double per game with 10.4 rebounds as well.
Her work at the other end of the floor is helping Townsville to the second best defence overall and second best defence inside the key across the league while her 1.8 steals per contest is good enough for seventh overall. She has been named to the Team of the Week five times (second best) and was the Round 4 Player of the Week.
The Fire have had their lapses and have struggled for consistency at times in 2017/18 but Batkovic has remained a rock for them under the rim and should consistently poll well from the referees throughout the season.
Liz Cambage- Deakin Melbourne Boomers
Most people’s pick for the MVP at the start of the season, Cambage has not hurt her chances as she is the league’s leading scorer with 23.3 points per contest. That is over two points more per game than any other player while she is also recording 9.8 boards (including a 23-rebound performance in Round 3) and 2.1 assists which is a career-high.
Her 44-point effort against Adelaide in Round 6 remains the highest individual score this season and earned her one of four Player of the Week awards while Cambage has also been named to the Team of the Week six times. Her game-winner against the Lightning last round was another example of Cambage shining in the spotlight which will further help her MVP cause.
Asia Taylor- Brydens Sydney Uni Flames
Just as dominant for the Flames this year as she was last season when she helped them to a Championship while finishing in the top ten for MVP voting, Taylor has averaged 20.4 points (fourth) and eight rebounds (eighth).
Missing last round with an eye injury could hamper her cause as such a condensed season does not leave much room for error but four double-doubles and four scores of 25+ are sure to have her in the conversation again. While continuing to add a three-point shot to her repertoire, Taylor is also shooting 81% from the free-throw line to prove her pure shooting stroke.
Courtney Williams- Perth Lynx
The Lynx were floundering at the beginning of this season with a 1-4 record but the form of Williams has been the catalyst for their improved play which has seen them move to the top of the ladder on the back of 11 consecutive wins.
Averaging 21.2 points (second in the league) and 2.1 steals (third) per game, Williams has been a human highlight reel at both ends of the floor with her athleticism allowing her to get into the lane at will and block her fair share of shots while her mid-range game is just as strong. Not really a perimeter threat, oppositions have still struggled to contain her and in combination with Sami Whitcomb, they have become the most dangerous duo in the competition. Williams may not have racked up too many votes through the opening few weeks of the season but since then, she earned the Round 7 Player of the Week award as well as five straight Team of the Week nominations.
Abby Bishop- MAC Adelaide Lightning
The Lightning are fighting for a playoff position in the final three weeks of the regular season and their 2015 MVP is sure to play a major role as to whether they return to the finals for the first time since 2013.
With Natalie Novosel suffering an ACL injury, Bishop will now be required more so at the offensive end but if Adelaide get her back to where she was at the start of the season, they should be right. Averaging 20.2 points per game across her first five contests, that number has dipped slightly but she still sits in the top ten overall for points (14.6), rebounds (9.6) and blocks (1.1) per game. Recording double-digits for boards eight times as well, Bishop’s work on the glass is where she can make a statement in the final few rounds.
On the Perimeter
Sami Whitcomb- Perth Lynx
A slow start from Whitcomb this season but alongside Williams, she has now hit her best form at the perfect time. Knocking down 12 three-pointers in Round 10 to earn the Player of the Week award, oppositions will be tearing their hair right trying to defend the quickest release in the league.
Kayla Pedersen (Jayco Dandenong Rangers)
A quiet achiever, Pedersen has been very solid for Dandenong in 2017/18. Without Sara Blicavs to help her in the front court for a few weeks now, Pedersen is averaging 12.7 points, 9.3 rebounds (sixth overall) and over a steal per game.
Jenna O’Hea (Deakin Melbourne Boomers)
O’Hea has missed four games for the season so far which could hurt her chances for the MVP but her influence on the team cannot be denied as Melbourne own a 9-3 record with her and a 2-3 record without her.
Belinda Snell (Brydens Sydney Uni Flames)
Notching her 300th game this weekend, Snell has lost none of her touch and is averaging 12.6 points (second for the Flames), 4.9 rebounds (third) and 4.4 assists (first) per game while maintaining her career shooting numbers of 42% from the field and 38% from the three-point line. A Player of the Week award in Round 8 and three Team of the Week nominations should have her well in the conversation come the end of the year.