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HomeSportsNBL Awards 2022-23: Xavier Cooks wins MVP, Keanu Pinder back-to-back most improved

NBL Awards 2022-23: Xavier Cooks wins MVP, Keanu Pinder back-to-back most improved

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Ahead of the finals, the NBL’s best players, coaches and executives were acknowledged at the 2022-23 awards on Tuesday night.

Xavier Cooks picked up the coveted Most Valuable Player award, whilst Keanu Pinder made history as the first-ever back-to-back recipient of the Most Improved Player award.

Elsewhere, Pinder’s Cairns Taipans were recognised for their strong season, featuring in five separate awards.

MVP – Xavier Cooks (Sydney Kings)

Cooks successfully built on his Finals MVP award from last season, claiming the 2022-23 Andrew Gaze Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.

His well-rounded and consistent performances helped the Sydney Kings to a 19-9 regular season record and the top spot on the NBL ladder.

This season he has so far averaged 16.2 points, 4.2 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game.

The 27-year received 120 votes, putting him ahead of Perth Wildcats import Bryce Cotton (96 votes) and South East Melbourne Phoenix veteran Mitch Creek (80 votes).

Most Improved Player – Keanu Pinder (Cairns Taipans)

Pinder made history by becoming the first player in NBL history to win the Most Improved Player award in back-to-back seasons.

He edged Breakers player Will McDowell-White by two votes to pick up the gong after taking another stunning leap this campaign.

With averages of 16.9 points and 9.3 points per game, his influence on Cairns’ successful season has been clear to see.

The forward also made the All-NBL Second Team. 

Best Defensive Player – Antonius Cleveland (Adelaide 36ers)

Despite the 36ers finishing the regular season with a losing record, Cleveland was a bright spot.

He averaged an impressive 1.9 steals per game and had a strong defensive presence at the guard position.

The American was also an offensive threat, scoring an average of 15.8 points each match.

Best Sixth Man – Barry Brown Jr (New Zealand Breakers)

The Breakers have enjoyed a strong season thus far, finishing second on the table, partly thanks to the contribution of Brown Jr.

His significant minutes off the bench have been key, averaging just under 20 points per game.

He was a clear pick for the sixth man award, amassing 32 more votes than his nearest fellow nominee, Brisbane’s Tyler Johnson.

Coach of the Year – Adam Forde (Cairns Taipans)

Former Wildcats assistant and Kings head coach Forde guided his side to an 18-10 record, which saw them finish third at the conclusion of the regular season.

It is an impressive turnaround for the Taipans, who finished ninth after a lacklustre 2021-22 campaign.

Breakers coach Mody Maor came second in the voting, followed by Sydney’s Chase Buford.

Next Generation Award – Sam Waardenburg (Cairns Taipans)

Waardenburg edged out Sam Froling by two votes following an impressive debut season.

The 6’10” centre averaged 10.7 points and 5 rebounds per game.

Executive of the Year – Mark Beecroft (Cairns Taipans)

The awards kept rolling in for the Taipans on Tuesday night when their CEO picked up the Execuitive of the Year gong.

They will be looking to claim their first NBL Championship following an impressive regular season.

All-NBL First Team

Xavier Cooks – Sydney Kings (54 votes)
Mitch Creek – South East Melbourne Phoenix (45 votes)
Bryce Cotton – Perth Wildcats (54 votes)
Milton Doyle – Tasmania Jackjumpers (42 votes)
Derrick Walton Jr – Sydney Kings (41 votes)

All-NBL Second Team

Keanu Pinder – Cairns Taipans (33 votes)
Dererk Pardon – New Zealand Breakers (22 votes)
Barry Brown Jr – New Zealand Breakers (37 votes)
DJ Hogg – Cairns Taipans (30 votes)
Chris Goulding – Melbourne United (23 votes)


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