IN our newest countdown series wrapping up the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown, we look at our top 20 players that took to the court this year. While it was an incredibly difficult list to create, we have had a mix of pure domination, defensive efforts and eye-catchers to form this list.
#2 DERONE RAUKAWA
When the Taranaki Mountainairs drafted Raukawa prior to the season, coaches believed him to be the best point guard in the draft. By season’s end, there were few who could disagree, after the Airs talent pieced together a remarkable year. He was unlucky not to win the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, and could very easily be number one on our list had it not been for the MVP winner, but he was just as deserving of the feat.
There was little doubt at the conclusion of the season that Raukawa was a big game player. He stepped up when his team needed him, from his opening game double-double to his performance in crunch finals, as well as his work in the Airs’ overtime thriller, Raukawa was always busting a gut out on court doing all he could to drag his team across the line. Combining with Marcel Jones, the pair created a formidable duo, and Raukawa ended the season as the top point-scoring machine as well as number one playmaker with 7.4 assists per game, while Jones completed 2020 as the premier rebounder in the competition.
Raukawa was also the number one free-throw shooter of the top 20 shooters, and also ranked fifth for his long-range bombs with an accurate 38.6 per cent of those players. Still a more than handy 53 per cent accuracy from inside the arc, Raukawa had plenty of time to hone his craft on court as he recorded the second most minutes behind his teammate Jones. In 36.5 minutes per match in the season, Raukawa did not dip below 15 points, and only had sub-20 points on four occasions.
Raukawa’s best games included his first of four double-doubles against Nelson Giants with 28 points and 10 rebounds as well as five rebounds. He continued that effort against Auckland Huskies, Franklin Bulls and the Giants again, with 11 rebounds in each of those encounters to couple with 16, 21 and 15-point efforts. Raukawa arguably saved his best for last though, battling away in the semi-final against the Manawatu Jets. He put up a season-high 32 points as well as five rebounds, five assists and two steals, backing up from his elimination final effort opposed to Franklin Bulls (28 points, eight rebounds eight assists and two steals). If one thing is for sure, it is that Raukawa was a big game player.