Cooks, Creek, Cotton for NBL MVP award

Xavier Cooks, Mitch Creek and Bryce Cotton have been announced as the three nominees for the NBL’s Most Valuable Player award.

The winners of the MVP trophy and other league awards will be announced on February 7 ahead of the playoffs.

Cooks is in the best form of his career as a forward for the Sydney Kings, who are at the top of the ladder and have been the most consistent team this season.

On Sunday, he became the first player this season to hit a triple-double and the first king since 2008.

A three-time recipient of the award, Guard Cotton was instrumental in helping the Perth Wildcats return to the play-offs under new coach John Rillie.

No player is averaging more points per game this season than Cotton (23.9).

Second only to Cotton in points per game (23.2), Forward Creek have been the rock in south-east Melbourne in another season of qualifying for the play-offs.

Creek was Phoenix’s first-ever signing in 2018 and has become synonymous with the club.

Cairns Taipans big man Keanu Pinder was seen as a chance for an MVP nomination but has only played twice since Christmas due to injuries. He was shortlisted for Most Improved Player, an award he won last year.

Cairns Taipans coach Adam Forde and New Zealand Breakers’ Mody Maor were nominated for Coach of the Year after leading their side back into the playoffs after two seasons bottomed.

Kings mentor Chase Buford is also nominated due to his team’s strong title defense.

Sam Fröling, Luke Travers and Sam Waardenburg have been nominated for the new Next Generation Award, given to players under the age of 25. The award replaces the league’s Rookie of the Year award.

In addition to the award categories, each player in the league is eligible for selection for the All-NBL First Team and All-NBL Second Team, with MVP nominees eligible for inclusion in the former.

The nominees for each category were selected by a panel of former players, journalists and broadcasters, including Andrew Gaze, John Casey, Casey Frank and Jo Healy.

The coaches and captains of each of the 10 teams then voted on a preferred winner, but were unable to select nominees from their own team.

Most Valuable Player in the NBL

Xavier Cooks (Sydney Kings)

Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats)

Mitch Creek (Phoenix in South East Melbourne)

Lindsay Gaze Coach of the Year

Chase Buford (Sydney Kings)

Adam Forde (Cairns Taipans)

Mody Maor (New Zealand Breakers)

Most Improved Player

Sean Macdonald (Tasmania Jack Jumpers)

Keanu Pinder (Cairns Taipans)

William McDowell-White (New Zealand Breakers)

Best sixth man

Barry Brown Jr. (New Zealand Breakers)

Rashard Kelly (Tasmania Jack Jumpers)

Tyler Johnson (Brisbane Bullets)

Damian Martin Trophy for Best Defender

Anthony Cleveland (Adelaide 36ers)

Shea Ili (Melbourne United)

Dererk Pardon (New Zealand Breakers)

Next Generation Award

Sam Froling (Illawarra Hawks)

Luke Travers (Perth Wildcats)

Sam Waardenburg (Cairns Taipans)