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 Manawatu Jets.
Points: 89.3 (3rd)
Rebounds: 35.5 (8th)
Assists: 12.4 (10th)
Steals: 6.2 (10th)
Blocks: 3.7 (1st)
Field Goal %: 44.7 (9th)
Despite a disappointing season from the Jets, Knight was a consistent player throughout, playing every match and starting in all bar one of them. He led the team for points (23.5), assists (5.2) and steals (1.9), with the latter two being a huge issue for the Jets. They finished dead last in both areas, and after Knight, the next highest assist-maker was Jayden Bezzant (2.6), and only one other player had more than one steal per game. Knight shot at 51.1 per cent from the field, though only hit his three-balls at 28.6 per cent. Overall he was a reliable player across the season and one who consistently performed for the Jets.
The American finished the season like a house on fire, racking up a whopping triple-double of 30 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists and three steals against Canterbury Rams on June 26. He went on to pick up another two double-doubles in the final three games, to really get cooking in the home stretch. He did come close to a triple-double against Franklin Bulls back on June 6, recording 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in just 31 minutes, his lowest time on court all season. That was just one of three times where Knight scored less than 20 points for Jets, in a mirror of consistency.
The other American up the front end took care of the rebounds, finishing second in the category with 86, as well as his 16.4 points and 2.3 blocks, the latter a team-high. It was his ability to deny the opposition time and time again at the basket that kept his team in contention, and as the number one blocking side. He was the only player on the Jets to average more than a block a game, but it was his versatility as a whole from a shooting perspective that was equally impressive. He was able to get in the paint, or get up the jumper, averaging 34.9 per cent from long-range. He did average less than an assist and steal per game however, synonymous with the team’s performance.
His eight points against Wellington Saints in the final game of the year was one of only three times he reached single-digit points, with the other two coming on back-to-back nights in the second round of the season. Showing his resilience, Daniels went from seven points and seven rebounds to 22 points and 12 rebounds against Otago Nuggets a week apart back in May, learning how to play his opponents. His best game came against Southland Sharks on June 11, where he played all 40 minutes and put up 34 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two assists in a complete performance. He recorded at least four blocks in four games, with a block in all bar one match.
Bezzant (15.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists) and Shane Temara (16.4 points,. 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks) were the other two consistent key contributors, with Jake McKinley‘s 6.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 11 matches another healthy contribution.
Manawatu Jets ultimately struggled in season 2021, only picking up the four wins, though did have many tight contests, particularly early in the season. Had the Jets turned some of those losses into wins, it might have put them on a different trajectory. Whilst they were ranked third for points and first for blocks, their ball-handing skills with assists and steals showed they struggled to create scores from turnovers and playmaking efforts which is an improvement for the future.
Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL