We take a look at who has been hot in the BBL during the month of January.
It was the best month of the season for scoring power, with an astonishing 11 players smashing their way through the landmark of 20 points per game or more. In another coup for the ever-rising flame of Cheshire Phoenix, Reggie Middleton and Dominique Coleman both found themselves in the top three, with the former averaging a monstrous 29.3 points per game and Coleman 24.7 each time he stepped onto the hardwood. With Howard Crawford (Essex Leopards) firing 31 points but only in a solitary BBL Trophy game, it effectively means that Middleton is the chart-topper. There were also huge months for team-mates Will Creekmore (Worcester Wolves) and Alex Owumi (Worcester Wolves), who both got into the top five. The other club duo to feature were Charles Smith (Esh Group Eagles Newcastle) and Darius Defoe (Esh Group Eagles Newcastle), with the pair firing their club to a near-perfect month – with the one disappointment a big one in the shape of their agonising BBL Cup Final loss. The other players to average more than 20 points each appearance were Brent Benson (Birmingham Knights), Rod Brown (London Lions), Victor Moses (Cheshire Phoenix) and David Aliu (Manchester Giants).
Two players hit the exceptional high of post 70% shooting efforts during January, with Andreas Schreiber (Worcester Wolves) 10 of 13 in the period for 76.9% and Sterling Davis (Glasgow Rocks) trying to lead by example to get his struggling team back into a play-off spot with 70.8%. The same could also be said for Croatian forward Fran Urli (Glasgow Rocks) who led the rest of the pack back on 65.4%, whilst BBL newcomers Rob Marsden (Manchester Giants) and RJ Evans (Durham Wildcats) both did enough to squeeze into our top five.
Deadly from downtown
There were some exceptional perimeter shooting displays from a number of players during January, with five managing to average more than 40% from long-range. James Jones (Manchester Giants) just gets better with age and in addition to his incredible assists average this season, he showed he still has a devastating three-point shot. The guard made 15 of his 31 attempts in the period to take top spot and was followed by Joel Henry (Surrey United) who found his range to average over 45%. Veteran Charles Smith (Esh Group Eagles Newcastle) has been knocking down three-pointers for 15 years and he is showing no signs of slowing down from downtown. Meanwhile Jay Couisnard (Leicester Riders) and Reggie Middleton (Cheshire Phoenix) also dropped 40% or more from the arc.
On the line
There is a brand new top three in our chart from recent months, with the trio all missing just one free-throw during January. Playmaker Rod Brown (London Lions) topped the podium by making 21 of his 22 attempts for a 95.5% return, Great Britain forward Gareth Murray (Glasgow Rocks) converted 12 of his 13 attempts and Olu Babalola (One Health Sharks Sheffield) missed one of twelve. The only other player to surpass 90% was Charles Smith (Esh Group Eagles Newcastle) with 21 of 23 successful free-throws.
On the glass
As with the case during December, five players managed to harvest a double-digit return in rebounding with three very much the regular stat star rebounding podium challengers. Whilst Howard Crawford (Essex Leopards) pulled down an eye-catching 18 rebounds, that was just in one game which is why he tops the list. Behind him however, Ceslovas Kucinskas (Surrey United) takes what is by default, pole-position with an excellent 13.4 boards per game. Victor Moses (Cheshire Phoenix) showed why he was Molten BBL Player of the Month with an average of 13.2 each time he hit the court and his colleague at Northgate, Donatas Visockis (Cheshire Phoenix) underlined the power in the paint of the north-west club with an identical number on the glass. Completing the rebounding honours list is Charles Smith (Esh Group Eagles Newcastle) who continues popping up in several categories, to underline just what a fabulous month he had.
Dishing it up
Zaire Taylor (Worcester Wolves) continues to dominate our assists chart having powered his way to the summit during December when he was named Molten BBL Player of the Month. He barely missed a beat during January either, once again showcasing his sublime passing skills to rack up a stunning 24 assists in three outings. Reggie Middleton (Cheshire Phoenix) and Rod Brown (London Lions) weren’t too far behind with a similarly brilliant 7.3 assists per game each, whilst the underrated passing vision of Fab Flournoy (Esh Group Eagles Newcastle) rose to the fore as he averaged 5.6 during the period, with 28 to his name. James Jones (Manchester Giants) and Matt Pressey (Plymouth University Raiders) were the other two players who passed the landmark of five assists per game.
Zaire Taylor (Worcester Wolves) is a powerhouse guard at both ends of the court and yet again highlighted his quick hands with four steals per game which was way out in front of the rest of the pack – led by regular rival Paul Gause (Esh Group Eagles Newcastle) and BJ Holmes (One Health Sharks Sheffield) who were tied up with 2.7 per game in joint-second place.
There is a new swat king in the house this month after Kramer Knutson (London Lions) rode into our chart and all the way to the number one position with 12 blocks in the month, a number which averaged out at a superb four per game. He was followed by Mike Allison (Durham Wildcats) with 2.8 and he might be a sure-fire bet to top the February chart after an unbelievable blocking performance last weekend against Riders. The pair were way ahead of the rest of the field, with Drew Sullivan (Leicester Riders), David Watts (Manchester Giants), Will Creekmore (Worcester Wolves) and Scott Martin (Esh Group Eagles Newcastle) all finishing with a creditable two blocks per game.