Conger snubbed at NBL MVP awards

EDGED OUT: Hawks star Demitrius Conger. Picture: Sylvia Liber.
EDGED OUT: Hawks star Demitrius Conger. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

CALL it daylight robbery - at least that's what Illawarra Hawks fans will label Demitrius Conger's MVP snub at the NBL's end-of-season awards on Tuesday night.

Hawks MVP Conger was the slight betting favourite heading into the awards but lost out to Perth guard Bryce Cotton, who polled 117 of the NBL coaches' votes to Conger's 94.

Cotton was the favourite when betting opened prior to season tip-off and his selection was hardly a surprise, but there will be no shortage of fans and analysts baffled by the 23-vote disparity, particularly as there was barely anything splitting them in overall numbers.

A stats comparison shows Conger was led the league in scoring (with Jerome Randle) with 19.7 points per game at 51 per cent from the field to Cotton's 19.4 points at 44 per cent.

Conger also managed 5.6 rebounds compared to Cotton's 3.2, though the Wildcats star shot a better clip from three-point range, 45 per cent to Conger's 40. 

Cotton was also fractionally better in the assists column with three per game to Conger's 2.7 while they both averaged 1.1 steals. Cold hard numbers aside, post-awards debate will likely centre on the intangibles.

Having almost single-handedly destroyed Illawarra’s chances at a long-awaited second championship in last year’s grand final series, edging Conger for the MVP gong will see Cotton twist the knife a little further for the Hawks faithful.

Randle (79) polled the third most MVP votes, despite playing just 19 games, putting him ahead of Casper Ware (77), though still lost out to the latter for All-NBL First Team honours.

Perth forward JP Tokoto (74) rounded out the top five, four votes ahead of Breakers guard Edgar Sosa (70).

Conger was named First Team small forward with Cotton named with Ware in the back-court. Melbourne’s Josh Boone was named at centre with and Adelaide big man Daniel Johnson rounding out the all-star five.

Randle, Tokoto and Sosa earned Second Team honours with Adelaide's Mitch Creek and Melbourne's Tai Wesley. 

In the other awards, Perth skipper Damian Martin was named best defensive player for the sixth time, while Dean Vickerman (Melbourne United) was named Coach of the Year. 

TOP GONG: Perth guard Bryce Cotton edged out Demitrius Conger for NBL MVP honours. Picture: AAP

TOP GONG: Perth guard Bryce Cotton edged out Demitrius Conger for NBL MVP honours. Picture: AAP

Ramone Moore (Adelaide) was best sixth man, Shea Ili (New Zealand) most improved, Isaac Humphries (Sydney), Rookie of the Year, while Adelaide skipper Mitch Creek was the Fans' MVP.

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