IN light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South Conference has been cancelled this year. As such, while Draft Central intended to do a preview on all teams leading up to the delayed start, it will instead be a team summary from last season and what they might look to improve on for 2021. Today’s edition looks at Waverley Falcons’ mens side, the team that defeated some of the best in the competition, but inconsistency saw them miss out on finals.
2019 in Review:
What went right:
- Won six of the first nine games
- Two-point accuracy (53.1 per cent, ranked fifth overall)
- Disciplined (15.9 person fouls ranked equal second least overall)
- Defeated minor premiers, Ballarat Miners and eventual premiers, Nunawading Spectres during the season
- On the road record
There were plenty of positives to be derived from Waverley Falcons’ season, with a positive start to the year, winning six of the first nine games to emerge as a contender. They finished the year with a 10-10 record, and most impressively a 6-3 record on the road, where they defeated the minor premiers Ballarat Miners and eventual premiers, Nunawading Spectres among others. On the court, the Falcons were one of the most disciplined outfits, ranking equal second in personal fouls committed whilst also sinking baskets from within the arc well, at 53.1 per cent accuracy. After toppling both the Miners and Knox Raiders in the penultimate round, it looked as though the Falcons might be headed to the post-season series but were derailed during their trip to Tasmania in the final round. They proved that they can mix it with the best and are a real threat to be reckoned with when on song.
What went wrong:
- Three-point accuracy (30.1 per cent, ranked 17th overall)
- Offensive rebounds (10.0 per came, ranked 15th overall)
- Dropped last two games in Tasmania, missing finals
Statistically the Falcons stacked up across the competition and realistically only struggled in terms of three-point accuracy and offensive rebounds where they finished bottom four in those categories. The real dagger to the heart came in the final round with back-to-back losses in Tasmania where they went down to non-finalists, Hobart Chargers 95-98 and North West Thunder 95-103. This cost the Falcons a spot in the finals series, as did disappointing losses earlier in the season to the likes to the Thunder, Albury Wodonga Bandits, Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence, Sandringham Sabres and Diamond Valley Eagles – all of whom missed finals.
The clear star of the show when it came to his work off the boards, the American import was sensational getting out in each of the 20 games and averaging 29.3 minutes per match. Statistically he averaged 22.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 blocks, leading his side in points, rebounds and blocks for the season, and did all he could to help off the offensive boards. He was one who would have gone close to the All-Star Five, and arguably could have been in the Second Team had there been one announced.
The other half of Waverley’s damaging point-scoring duo, Travis averaged 20.2 points per game and had an extra three minutes on court compared to McWhorter. He did not put up as many shots, but was more deadly from long range, sinking 44 triples at 36.4 per cent efficiency. He also used his strength to get to the line and put down 93 free-throws at 75.6 per cent accuracy. It is also worth noting the 190cm guard is still in his mid 20s, so has plenty of basketball left for the future. Also led the team in assists (5.5 per game) and steals (2.3 per game).
The elder statesman of the group, Lewis started the season as a 31-year-old versatile role player who could play well up either end of the court. He was the only other player to reach double figures in points for the season, averaging 15.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.6 steals. He was reliable from the mid-range with 59.7 per cent accuracy, while sinking the free-throws when he got to the line at 76.4 per cent efficiency. A dual player who could collect the rebound and then set up the transition offence, Lewis settled the team down well.
He might have only averaged 5.8 minutes per game from nine matches on court, but Frederickson did well to fit in with such an experienced lineup. The then 18-year-old averaged 1.7 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game which is the equivalent of 11.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.2 rebounds per 40 minutes which is quite impressive. Despite standing at just 185cm, Federickson showed he has the smarts to position himself well for the rebounds when on court and supported the Falcons well when coming on.
Christmas list for 2021:
Another playmaker. While consistency is an obvious need for the Falcons, having an additional playmaker would be handy for the side, with the next three players after the three standouts all fairly even in their approaches. They offer different aspects, but having another playmaker who can set up the transition with Travis and Lewis, and eventually step into that role would help the Falcons take that next step.
The Waverley Falcons had a solid season even if it did not end with a title. They had a number of standout players and matched up well against finalists and when on the road as evidenced by their win-loss record. They would love to have that road trip to Tasmania again, but they will likely be better for it when the season tips off in 2021, with plenty of talent on the roster and no doubt some changes to keep it fresh as well.