Perth Wildcats' Bryce Cotton wins NBL MVP

Perth Wildcats guard Bryce Cotton has been crowned the NBL's MVP.
Perth Wildcats guard Bryce Cotton has been crowned the NBL's MVP.

Perth guard Bryce Cotton's strong finish to the NBL regular season has seen him crowned the league's MVP ahead of Illawarra's Demitrius Conger.

Cotton stormed onto the scene midway through last season after time with NBA outfits Utah, Phoenix and Memphis and stints in China and Turkey, sealing the Wildcats' title with an emphatic 45-point game in the third grand final to claim finals MVP honours.

Despite a relatively slow start to his return season, Cotton finished the home and away campaign with 19.3 points per game and 117 MVP votes to win the Andrew Gaze Trophy ahead of Conger (94) and Sydney Kings guard Jerome Randle (79).

Conger averaged 19.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists a game this season but his Hawks, unlike the Wildcats, will not be part of the post-season action when semi-finals commence this Saturday.

"Bryce has been an outstanding performer since he joined Perth and is a thoroughly deserving winner of this year's MVP," NBL chief executive Jeremy Loeliger said.

Coaches are given 10 points to allocate across either team after each game to determine the MVP, with five being the most amount of points one player can be given.

Nine of the top 15 in MVP voting were back court players, with Cairns' Mitch McCarron (seventh, 66 points), the highest-placed domestic player on the list.

Cotton and Melbourne guard Casper Ware (fourth, 77 points) were named in the All-NBL First Team alongside Conger, Daniel Johnson (Adelaide) and Josh Boone (Melbourne).

New Zealand Breakers playmaker Edgar Sosa, Randle, Mitch Creek (Adelaide), Tai Wesley (Melbourne) and Cotton's back-court partner JP Tokoto were named in the All-NBL Second Team.

Melbourne United's Dean Vickerman was awarded the Lindsay Gaze Trophy for the coach of the year after leading his team to the minor premiership.

Breaker Shea Ili was judged the NBL's most improved player in a tight field, Sydney's Isaac Humphries won rookie of the year, Adelaide's Ramone Moore was crowned best sixth man and Perth's Damian Martin won his sixth defensive player of the year award.

Michael Aylen was awarded referee of the year while Wollongong great Glen Saville, Adelaide icon Brett Maher and 665-game NBL journeyman Tony Ronaldson were inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame.

Australian Associated Press