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.
#17 MIKE KARENA
The first person on our list that features in the top 15 for both points and rebounds is Nelson Giants’ center, Karena. The big man defies the usual role of a five to some regard because of his ability to shoot from long range. Now he is obviously much more adept at getting close to the basket or dropping inside jumpers, but he is not afraid to make the jump shot when necessary and can release well without having to force his way to the rim.
Karena finished the season for the league’s bottom team as a shining light, ranking equal 10th in points (17.5) and equal 15th in rebounds (5.6). His two-point percentage was strong at 54.2 per cent, but his clear deficiency is still from the charity stripe, sinking just 55.9 per cent of his points, which is why the jump shot has become so crucial for him. He is able to get a fair chunk of offensive rebounds, with 1.7 per game a healthy number, showing a capability to work hard on both ends.
The former Canterbury Rams big man had a delayed start to the season, missing the first two games before returning for the final game of week on against Manawatu Jets. He picked up 17 points, six rebounds and shot at 50 per cent from the field, also draining a triple on the night. His next two games he continued his huge start to the season, averaging 26.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and shooting at 71.4 per cent from the field. He only made two more triples for the rest of the season – in the last two games – but his accuracy was crucial throughout the season.
Not quite hitting the 30-point milestone, Karena went berserk against Otago Nuggets in the final round. With the Nuggets resting some of their top stars in the second half, Karena had a big night out with 26 points, three rebounds, three assists and hitting 75 per cent of his field goals from just 17 minutes of action.
The big question mark for Karena is whether or not he remains at the Giants or heads back to Canterbury Rams where they would have loved to have had him in the 2020 season. Either way, the big man certainly provided some great consistency in his 12 games, not dipping below 10 points once.