The Perth Wildcats have ended 2015 in a strong position to contend for a seventh NBL title and an incredible 30th straight playoff appearance. At the time of writing the ‘Cats are sitting pretty atop the leaderboard with a 13-7 record, and with 6 of their 8 remaining games to be played at home in ‘the Jungle’, they’re favourites to secure home-court advantage throughout the post-season.
But before we start looking too far ahead, let’s use this opportunity to check up on how each Wildcats player has fared so far this season. We’ll start with Perth’s biggest signing of the season – literally – ‘the Beast from Bamaga’.
Games – 19 MPG – 21 FG% – 57 PPG – 11.2 RPG – 4.4 T.O – 2.4
Jawai has showed glimpses of the dominant player we expected to see, although sporadically. 11 points a game at 57% from the field are solid numbers considering the limited minutes Big Nate is playing. He needs to eradicate the turnovers, which at 2.4 per game in only 21 minutes is too high – but overall, his passing out of the post has been a big plus. The hope all along has been for Jawai to play his way into shape, hopefully, in the new year, we’ll see a fitter and more dominant Nate Jawai.
Games – 20 MPG – 26.5 FG% – 49 PPG – 12.4 RPG – 8.8
Knight’s been a warrior all season long and is in contention for All-NBL team honours. Of all the great numbers he’s putting up this season, the 20 games played might be the most impressive. Knight’s dealing with a dodgy shoulder but has battled away to play every game so far this season.
Games – 16 MPG – 25 FG% – 45 3p% – 40 PPG – 16 RPG – 4.3 SPG – 1.4
Prather has battled his own injury concern (knee) all season long and yet he’s arguably been the most influential player on the team. Check this out, with Prather in the starting line-up Perth has a superb 11-3 record, without him they’re just 1-3.
His perimeter defense is elite, and if he continues to improve his shooting, the NBA is a very realistic option. Enjoy him while you can!
Games – 20 MPG – 33 FG% – 38 3P% – 34 PPG – 16.1 APG – 4.2
When Jermaine “Dolla” Beal is firing, like in this clip, the Wildcats are unstoppable.
The problem for Beal has been finding consistency. He’ll go berserk from 3pt range one game, and then go cold from behind the arc in the next two. His playmaking, though, has been a pleasant surprise – averaging over four assists per game – especially with point guard Damian Martin missing a large chunk of the season.
Beal’s better suited to an up-tempo offense – similar to what Rob Beveridge runs – over the slower one Trevor Gleeson employs, but he’s still a crucial piece of this Wildcats offense. And when he’s on, there’s no one better to watch.
Games – 11 MPG – 22 FG% – 43 3P% – 29 PPG – 4.5 APG – 2.5 SPG – 1.5
Still working his way into game shape, after a pesky calf injury and a very stray elbow, however, his defensive prowess and intensity has been there every game – watching Martin harass the opposition’s ball handler is still one of the best things you’ll see on a basketball court.
Martin now has eight more regular season games to get as close to peak fitness/basketball shape as possible before the playoffs. This campaign couldn’t have started much worse for the Wildcats captain, but that’ll all be forgotten with a successful finish.
Games – 20 MPG – 21 FG% – 46 3P% – 44 PPG – 5.1 APG – 1.4
The Kiwi filled in admirably while Damian Martin was out. While his numbers don’t jump off the page, Kenny’s efficient 3pt shooting has been invaluable to this Wildcats team. Like everyone’s been saying all season, it’s crazy to think it’s taken him this long to crack the NBL.
Games – 20 MPG – 19 FG% – 38 3P% – 36 PPG – 8.8 RPG – 4.1
Wagstaff is having another solid season coming off the bench. Although he’s better suited playing as a stretch-four, with the addition of Nate Jawai this season, Wagstaff’s been forced to play a large amount of minutes on the wing. Shooting three’s at 36% makes that task manageable. He’s versatile, hits three’s, rebounds and plays D – a great guy to have on the second unit.
Games – 20 MPG – 13 FG% – 51 PPG – 6 RPG – 5 BPG – 1.1
Tommy Jervis might be the most underrated player in the league – not to Wildcats fans of course. His per-minute numbers rival the top centers in the league – 2nd to Majok in rebounding, 2nd to Pledger in Block shots – but with Jawai and Knight in the team, finding minutes has been hard. Super defender and efficient on offense – what a luxury to have as your backup center.
Games – 20 MPG – 18 FG% – 38 3P% – 39 PPG – 6.8 RPG – 3.6
At 34 years of age, he’s nowhere near the player he once was, but his 3pt shooting is still a valuable commodity coming off the bench. Redhage will go down as one of the greats of this proud club, if this were to be his final season, raising a seventh championship banner to the rafters would be a fitting farewell.
Games – 20 MPG – 13 FG% – 41 3P% – 32 PPG – 3 RPG – 3
Hire’s numbers are slightly down from previous seasons, mainly due to fewer minutes and playing out of position, but a lot of Hire’s impact on the game can’t be measured. He hustles his tail off, grabs offensive rebounds and plays solid defense. When you have a guy like Hire as your 9th or 10th player on the roster, that’s a ridiculously deep team.