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30 of the best

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

30 of the best

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PREMIER LEAGUE ball is now in the early stages of a five-month sabbatical, the NBA and the union have foregone playing games in favour of squabbling over the right way to share $4 billion (seriously?), and school league is . . . well, school league.
So in the absence of anything resembling decent games to watch, what does a shameless basketball hermit like myself do?  
Why, rank players of course!
What else?
Like cotton sweaters and earth tones, it seems to be the latest fall trend, considering there were four separate NBA player ratings done by Zach Lowe, ESPN’s, CBS Sports and SLAM magazine in the space of two months.
And here I am bringing my own local version – a top 30 of Barbados’ top flight that ranks players based primarily on their impact on the just concluded season, but also includes my anticipation of their production in 2012.
Like the Lowe model, there was no objective criteria for these ratings other than to say that genuine two-way players were valued higher than high-volume, one-dimensional scorers.
But while the list is of my own subjective creation, I also employed a team of two head coaches and two players to independently provide some sort of framework and guidelines to these choices. So these picks do represent a consensus of sorts across the league.
However, there were some unanimous selections I just had to disagree with, namely Andrew Alleyne, although I am already aware of the debate his non-selection will generate (as if this whole list won’t).
Let’s clear this one up quickly though, because this is no knock on who I believe to be the country’s greatest player of all time. But I couldn’t in good faith justify picking a 42-year-old man that looked like he wanted no part of Station Hill’s debacle while “breezing” out on the wing averaging 6.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in what will probably be his last Premier League season.So without further adieu here’s the 30 starting with . . .No.30 Sean Parris, centre, Act II Popcorn Clapham Bulls. 2011 stats: 10.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1apg, 1.4 bpg
At one point the young Clapham big boy was easily in the mix for most improved player following an encouraging start that saw Parris averaging somewhere between 12 and 15 points over the first four or five games. Then came the knockouts.“The Goggled One” got on the wrong end of the dunk of the year – a one-handed tomahawk facial from American Lloyd Griffith – and things were just never the same. There was just no confidence in any of Parris’ moves after that, and that was in the event he even caught the entry pass.
He since rebounded to show flashes of aggressiveness in Clapham’s playoff run, including one monster flush over three Warriors in the first round, only to be setback further by Barry Rock’s dumb-founded decision to run the ageing Sydney Rowe for long stretches in the finals.
I expect Parris to bounce back next season but he has to work an actual go-to move and defence while improving on his fitness to stay on the floor for longer periods.
No.29 Godfrey Leacock, shooting guard, Nicholls Baking Company Cougars 2011 stats: 14.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.3 spgRemember my qualms over high-volume scorers? Well imagine how I feel about one doing it for a bad team. It would be remiss of me to leave “GT” off the list altogether, but he can’t go any higher than this considering his maddening insistence on taking the worst shots imaginable.
Don’t get me wrong, the gung-ho swingman knows how to put the ball in the basket (which still remains the aim of the game last I checked), evidenced by his surreal run in the knockouts where he had 39, 40 and 41-point games in successive contests.But he has the unfathomable tendency to turn down wide-open jumpers that come off of perfect weak side rotations (a jump-shooter’s dream) in favour of hoisting heavily-contested treys some five feet behind the arc off the dribble.
He’s not much of a rebounder either, preferring instead to leak out for easy transition baskets, although he is a very underrated man-to-man defender.
I expect Leacock to become a more complete scorer though, once of course he realises that the league’s elite find ways to get to the free throw line and make their surrounding players better with their all-round play.
No. 28 Mark Bridgeman, small forward, Co-operators General Tridents 2011 stats: 10.1 ppg, 10 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.7 spg,
On talent alone this position should be too low for a multi-faceted forward with his length, athleticism and ability. Only problem is that the production almost never matches the gifts when it comes to the schoolboys’ second banana.Maybe I should be a bit more lenient with Bridgeman considering he seemed to struggle coping with a serious back injury and still averaged a double-double – a feat only five other players managed this season.
And over the last two seasons he’s flashed a much-improved three-point stroke while proving that he can rebound at an elite level despite playing predominantly on the perimeter.
Still, outside of his newfound rebounding prowess, Bridgeman isn’t great at any one facet of the game and just wasn’t an aggressive enough scorer for a schoolboys team that surely could have done with one. But then again that pales in comparison to what he did, or didn’t do, at the other end of the floor, where Bridgeman attempted to star in the Bajan version of the hit series LOST.No.27 Corey McDonald, small forward, First Works Warriors 2011 stats: 11 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.7 spg
There was a time “Big Head” could drop 25 and ten at will. That time isn’t now. Actually it hasn’t been for the last two seasons. Get used to these stat lines on a regular basis Dayrells Road fans because I believe it’s only going to get worse for the one-time MVP turned role player.All these years of crying wolf have finally come back to haunt McDonald, whose knee and Achilles injuries have robbed him of a one-time explosive first step and elite jumping ability. It’s not that the Warriors veteran can’t prove to be an effective scorer – he’s still a very dangerous/streaky jump shooter and a great post-player against smaller defenders. However, he can’t be a number one option for a title-contending team, not when opposing players can play right up on without fear of getting blown by, or when defences don’t have to factor in him finishing anywhere near the ring.At least he’s still a good individual defender, though some of that might be a bit overrated and based more on history than anything else.
No.26 George Farrell, shooting guard, Colombian Emeralds International Senators 2011 stats: 15.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.1 spgHere’s another one of those good scorers on bad teams dilemmas again. To be honest though, I’m not overly concerned with whether Farrell could be a reliable contributor for a play-off-bound team, I just have to see that he can equal or improve on this output before moving him any higher.
The signs are there to prove that this spike is more genuine than fluke – a more consistent jumper, better shot selection and a rise in assist totals. He won’t ever be mistaken for a playmaker though, and there is this frustrating tendency of Farrell running himself in trouble by driving behind the backboard before hoping that his superior athleticism will bail him out.
His greatest flaw still stands as a stark refusal to pay any attention to the business end of the floor, which is a development for the young swingman considering the maturity issues that he was once plagued with.

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