2021 NZNBL team review: Canterbury Rams

IN the wake of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) coming to a close over the weekend, Draft Central will run through each of the 10 competing sides to look at the key stats and players of the 2021 season. The series continues with Canterbury Rams.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 5th
Wins: 9
Losses: 9

KEY STATS:

Points: 86.1 (5th)
Rebounds: 37.9 (2nd)
Assists: 16.8 (eq. 5th)
Steals: 8.4 (2nd)
Blocks: 1.6 (9th)
Field Goal %: 44.8 (8th)

KEY PLAYERS:

Deshon Taylor

Producing an all-round impressive performance for the Rams, Taylor was consistent across the board, playing in all 18 games and having an impact. One of only four players to run out in every game, and one of only two to start every game, Taylor finished the season with a team-high 8.3 rebounds, and finished second in points (18.1), assists (4.6) and steals (1.7), able to use the ball effectively in transition. Taylor also was deadly from long-range, nailing 40 three-pointers at 40.8 per cent efficiency, whilst going at 49.4 per cent from the field overall. When at the line, Taylor was reasonably reliable two, with a 73.5 per cent efficiency.

Looking at his best performances, it was hard to go past his sole double-double performance of 33 points, 10 rebounds – four offensive – six assists and two steals, one of four 30-plus point performances in 2021. Three of those four came in a 16-day streak, putting up 31, 35 and 33-point efforts, to average 29.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals. He did not dip into single-digits once, and only had five games below 20 points, four of which came in his first five games, showing how consistent he was from late May until the finish line.

EJ Singler

Showing all of his ANBL experience, Singler was a star for the Bulls, sharing the top two spots in all the key statistical areas with Taylor. Finishing second on the team for rebounds (4.8), he led the way with points (22.9), assists (4.8) and steals (2.5), providing serious impact across the court at both ends. Putting up a third of his three-point attempts, Singler shot at around 45.3 per cent from the field, making 40 of 121 three-point attempts. From the foul line he was almost a monty, nailing 100 of 113 at 88.5 per cent accuracy. Along with Taylor, Singler was the only other starter in every one of the 18 games.

Singler did not quite have the consistency of Taylor, with a slow start to the season off limited minutes, but then a ridiculous game of 41 points mid-season. In the end, he had six games of 20-plus points, with the 41-point effort against Taranaki Mountainairs, accompanied by nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals. He had some massive games off the boards though, picking up six double-doubles with points and rebounds, of which the highest combination was his 26 points and 13 rebounds, and his closest to a triple-double being 17 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four steals coming against Franklin Bulls on May 22.

OTHERS:

Quintin Bailey contributed across all 18 games on his way to 8.7 points and 3.6 rebounds, with Alex Talma (7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds) the other player to run out in every match. Jack Salt only managed half a season due to injury, but the dominant big man managed the 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds in nine matches, while Max Darling put up 12.0 points and 5.4 rebounds in seven. Sam Smith (6.9 points, 3.6 rebounds) was the other player to hold up well throughout season 2021.

SUMMARY:

The Canterbury Rams were never an easy team to play against, and whilst they missed out on the NZNBL finals, they won nine games at a 50 per cent winning ratio. One cannot help but think had Salt (injury) and Darling (ANBL commitments) been available the whole season, that finals may well have been a reality for the Rams.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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