With the completion of the 2016 VBA Season, ASEANSports is proud to present a compiled list of the top ten players from the five teams that took part in Vietnam’s first professional basketball league.

A pool of 75 listed players competed through a stretch of league competition that extended from August to November, displaying versatility, determination, and skills for an audience that grew gradually as the season progressed.

Although this compilation does hold some subjectivity in attempting to determine the top 10 players, statistics from vba.vn were also taken into very strong consideration as a means of gauging which players ultimately made the cut.

In recognizing these players, popularity and fan reception were not taken into account. Moreover, the criteria used were based on an individuals’ performances throughout the season, which also included the playoffs.

Though a player may have more games played in relation to another, we felt that this aspect could affect his output both positively and negatively, thus the inclusion of playoff performances were taken into consideration.

On top of the statistical benchmarking, the impact of a player and his importance to his team’s success were also ultimately used in conjuring the results.

We will include a legend for the acronyms used in the list just in case you are completely out of the loop or perhaps have briefly forgotten what they mean to avoid any confusion or mix-ups.

   Stats Legend

PPG – Points Per Game (The average amount of points a player scored each game throughout the season)

FGM – Field Goals Made (The total amount of times a player made a shot)

FGA – Field Goal Attempts (The total amount of times a player took a shot)

FG% – Field Goal % (The total percentage that a player was able to make a shot given the amount of times that player took a shot)

FTM – Free Throws Made (The total amount of times a player made a free throw)

FTA – Free Throw Attempts (The total amount of times a player shot a free throw)

FT% – Free Throw % (The total percentage that a player was able to make a free throw given the amount of times that player took a free throw)

2PTM – Two-Point Field Goals Made (The total amount of times a player made a shot within the arc, counting for two points)

2PTA – Two-Point Field Goal Attempts (The total amount of times a player took a shot within the arc, counting for two points)

2PT% – Two-Point Field Goal % (The total percentage that a player was able to make a shot within the arc given the amount of times that player took a shot within the arc, counting for two points)

3PTM – Three-Point Field Goals Made (The total amount of times a player made a shot outside the arc, counting for three points)

3PTA – Three-Point Field Goal Attempts (The total amount of times a player took a shot outside the arc, counting for three points)

3PT% – Three-Point Field Goal % (The total percentage that a player was able to make a shot outside the arc given the amount of times that player took a shot outside the arc, counting for three points)

RPG – Rebounds Per Game (The average amount of rebounds a player grabbed each game throughout the season)

APG – Assists Per Game (The average amount of assists a player gave out each game throughout the season)

SPG – Steals Per Game (The average amount of steals a player received each game throughout the season)

BPG – Blocks Per Game (The average amount of blocks a player received each game throughout the season)

TO – Turnovers Per Game (The average amount of turnovers a player gave away each game throughout the season)

MPG – Minutes Per Game (The average amount of minutes a player played each game throughout the season)

Coming to a conclusion of the top ten players was no easy task as there were plenty of deserving players which had to be omitted.

However, we felt that some light still needed to be shed on them so we’d first like to present two players that just nearly missed the cut.

 

 


Honorable Mention: Horace Nguyen

PHOTO CREDIT: DANANG DRAGONS

#0 Guard, Danang Dragons


   2016 Season Stats

12.5 PPG (36.0 FG%, 38.0 3PT%), 2.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, 2.9 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

27.08.16 vs Can Tho Catfish

22 points (8-10 FGM-FGA, 80.0 FG%), 2-2 FTM-FTA (100.0 FT%), 4-4 3PTM-3PTA (100.0 3PT%), 2 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 turnover, 33 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#8 Assists (APG)

#1 Three-Point Field Goals Made (3PTM)

#3 (Tied) Three-Point Field Goal % (3PT%)

#5 Free Throw % (FT%)

#6 Minutes Per Game (MPG)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

21 games played

   Beyond the Numbers

As the starting point guard for the Da Nang Dragons, Horace acted as the main ball handler who was expected to bring the ball up the court and initiate his team’s half-court offense. He wasn’t expected to carry too much of the scoring load as he was surrounded by some of the top scorers in the league which is evident by his placing in the top 10 of the assists per game category.

When you watch him play, you could tell that his handles were very polished, perhaps to the extent that they could have been the best in the league. He always seemed to have a cool and collected demeanor about his game and would never get too rattled, or at least from how he presented himself during the course of a game.

Although Horace doesn’t have too many eye-popping stats, the one that does stand out above the rest is his first overall ranking in total three-point field goals made accompanied by his third overall placing in the three-point field goal percentage category. He definitely has a knack for hitting some big time shots from beyond the arc especially when his team is most in need, whether it be to beat a 24 second shot clock violation or to end a scoring drought.

He really came into his own since the start of the season all the way over to the Dragons’ run at the championship as he became more comfortable running the offense. Based off his sixth overall ranking in minutes per game, his coach really entrusted him in having the ball in his hands during pressure situations. Proving himself to be the floor general that the Dragons needed, Horace could have been included in the 10 players list which just goes to show the quality of performances of the players ahead of him.

 

 


Honorable Mention: Hoang Nguyen Phu

PHOTO CREDIT: HANOI BUFFALOES

#10 Guard, Hanoi Buffaloes


   2016 Season Stats

13.1 PPG (38.0 FG%, 23.0 3PT%), 1.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 2.6 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

03.11.16 vs Ho Chi Minh City Wings 

28 points (10-20 FGM-FGA, 50.0 FG%), 8-11 FTM-FTA (73.0 FT%), 0-2 3PTM-3PTA (0.0 3PT%), 1 rebound, 1 assist, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, 22 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#10 Scoring (PPG)

#7 Steals (SPG)

#4 Free Throws Made (FTM)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

19 games played

   Beyond the Numbers

Hoang’s name stands up amongst some of the most popular and recognizable in the entire league. When watching the VBA stream, regardless if it is a Buffaloes game, you can often find his name being spammed within the chat box which is a testament to the game that he possesses. Perhaps better known as “Hoang Ca” or one half of the “flash brothers,” he was the only non-starter and native Vietnamese player to be included on the list, though just as an honorable mention.

The most recognizable aspect of his game is the speed at which he plays at. Hoang has a tendency to put his defenders on a pair of roller-skates, shifting, sliding, and twisting all over the hardwood as they try to stay in front of him. With a wide array of moves and different gears that allow him to change his pace, Hoang is a very hard player to predict. Don’t believe me? Well, just ask the players that were given the assignment of guarding him throughout the season. His crossovers really do garner the attention of spectators and players alike.

Never will Hoang be the tallest or strongest player on the court, but with his body control and balance, he is able to finish at the rim with some of the best in the league. A prime example of just how well he accomplishes this feat would be in the second meeting between the Heat and the Buffaloes on August 27 in Saigon. On a breakaway attempt in front of the outstretched arms of the Heat’s David Arnold, Hoang hung in the air with his back to the basket, absorbed the contact, and finished a no look layup for an and-one. There is a reason for him finishing number four overall in free throws made and in the top 10 in scoring during the season after all, despite his limited minutes.

Hoang also brings it on the defensive side as well, playing one of the top positions in the Buffaloes’ stingy zone defensive scheme. He ranks seventh overall in steals and has a genuine feel for getting in the passing lanes of the opposing team. Unfortunately for him, his lack of playing time diminishes the total impact that he can have on a game, and for that, he just nearly misses the top 10.

 

 


10. Stefan Nguyen

PHOTO CREDIT: DANANG DRAGONS

#1 Forward, Danang Dragons


   2016 Season Stats

13.7 PPG (39.0 FG%, 20.0 3PT%), 4.6 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 3.4 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

21.09.16 vs Can Tho Catfish

25 points (9-22 FGM-FGA, 41.0 FG%), 6-11 FTM-FTA (55.0 FT%), 1-1 3PTM-3PTA (100.0 3PT%), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1 turnover, 34 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#7 Scoring (PPG)

#5 Assists (APG)

#8 Field Goals Made (FGM)

#6 (Tied) Two-Point Field Goals Made (2PTM)

#3 Free Throws Made (FTM)

#9 Minutes Per Game (MPG)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

20 games played

   Beyond the Numbers

The number 10 ranked player on our top 10 players list is none other than Stefan Nguyen of the Da Nang Dragons. Having played previously for the Saigon Heat in the ABL, Stefan was a player that had some high expectations coming into the 2016 VBA season and was a favorite among fans. As a forward that can handle and shoot the ball, he would sometimes be in charge of bringing the ball up the court, taking pressure off of the guards for the Dragons.

Stefan seemed to feel most at home when the ball was in his hands, allowing him to control the pace of the game to his liking. With a wide range as far as shot selection goes, he was able to create shots for himself, either through some nifty dribbling that cleared space for him to take a jumper, or putting the ball on the floor and taking it into the paint. Although his game didn’t excel too much in any one aspect, Stefan had the quickness and strength to challenge bigger players closer to the rim, and also the size and reach to shoot over smaller defenders.

Because he liked having possession of the ball, Stefan was able to take over games for prolonged stretches throughout a game, and when he caught fire, he looked like he was unstoppable on the floor. Take his second half against the Wings in Ho Chi Minh City on August 24. Down by a very large margin in a game that was presumably out of reach, Stefan took control of the ball and the game, scoring at will and leading his team to a furious comeback that ultimately fell short. Due to his mentality and capabilities of putting himself in the “zone” offensively, Stefan was able to break the top 10 in scoring, assists, field goals made, two-point field goals made, and free throws made during the season.

If you watch him play, you will notice that he is a very emotional player. That can push him into another level, however, it can sometimes hinder him as well. At times, his emotions got the better of him, causing him to become a black hole, where the ball didn’t touch anyone else’s hands and disrupting the flow of the offense. As a result of the burden that he puts on his own shoulders, he can be turnover prone, which leads to easy opportunities to the opposition.

Overall, Stefan is able to influence a game and carries himself very highly. The experience that he was able to bring to his squad proved to be important on their journey through the 2016 playoffs. A player that wasn’t afraid to seize the moment, Stefan provided a needed spark for the 2016 VBA champions.

 

 


9. Jimmy Kien

PHOTO CREDIT: DANANG DRAGONS

#5 Guard, Danang Dragons


   2016 Season Stats

13.6 PPG (43.0 FG%, 27.0 3PT%), 5.6 RPG, 2.2 APG, 2.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG, 2.9 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

08.10.16 vs Can Tho Catfish

23 points (11-21 FGM-FGA, 52.0 FG%), 1-4 FTM-FTA (25.0 FT%), 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 6 turnovers, 39 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#8 Scoring (PPG)

#9 Rebounding (RPG)

#2 Steals (SPG)

#5 Field Goals Made (FGM)

#4 Two-Point Field Goals Made (2PTM)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

21 games played

2 double-doubles

   Beyond the Numbers

Coming in at the ninth spot in our 2016 VBA top 10 players list is a player from the 2016 champion Dragons, Jimmy Kien. Perhaps one of the lesser known players from this list, Jimmy quietly put together a great campaign, adding much needed physicality and tenacity from the guard position. A great scoring counterpart to the more passive Horace Nguyen, Jimmy also provided support from all facets of the game. He appeared and made his presence known in all 21 of the Dragons’ games during the season, which included the playoffs.

As more of an off-ball guard, Jimmy was not in charge of being the main facilitator or ball handler. Instead, he provided the Dragons with an additional scoring spark as he was one of three players from the champions to rank in the top 10 in scoring during the season, coming in at eighth overall, right behind Stefan Nguyen by a miniscule .08 points per game. Though capable of scoring from beyond the three-point arc, he made his mark as an aggressive attacker who was not afraid of contact closer to the basket, as he ranked fifth in field goals made, and more indicatively, fourth overall in two-point field goals made.

Jimmy is no slouch on the defensive side neither, as he possessed great instinct in being near or around the ball at all times. Ranking second overall in steals, Jimmy displayed great hands, and when he wasn’t taking over the possession from his opponents, he was the source of unforced turnovers whether it be from an employed full-court press or from settling into a half-court defensive position.

His physical defensive play wasn’t limited to just shadowing opposing guards, Kien was also often disrupting the offensive flow where bigger players would go to work as he was quick to help in double-teaming and recovering against players who might have thought they had an open shot. Just to show that he brought physical play from the backcourt position, Jimmy was the only guard to make it into the top 10 in rebounding over the course of the season, ranking in at ninth overall.

Though his name isn’t as prominent as some of his teammates’ amongst fans outside of Da Nang, Jimmy’s impact on a game and his worth to his team should not go unnoticed. He doesn’t rank in the top 10 in average minutes played per game, however, when he was in the game, he contributed by doing a lot of things in helping his team win that may not have been as flashy or eye-catching.

 

 


8. Justin Young

PHOTO CREDIT: SAIGON HEAT

#12 Forward, Ho Chi Minh City Wings


   2016 Season Stats

10.4 PPG (39.0 FG%), 10.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.9 SPG, 1.3 BPG, 1.8 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

24.08.16 vs Da Nang Dragons

18 points (7-20 FGM-FGA, 35.0 FG%), 4-6 FTM-FTA (67.0 FT%), 18 rebounds, 5 steals, 1 block, 1 turnover, 30 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#5 Rebounding (RPG)

#4 Steals (SPG)

#4 Blocks (BPG)

#7 (Tied) Two-Point Field Goals Made (2PTM)

#8 Minutes Per Game (MPG)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

21 games played

6 double-doubles

   Beyond the Numbers

The selection for the eighth spot in our 2016 VBA top 10 players list belongs to the Ho Chi Minh City Wings’ starting forward, Justin Young. Coming into the 2016 season, Justin garnered high expectations as the only player of Vietnamese descent born overseas for the Wings. He is a player whose popularity sky-rocketed as the season went on not only for his play on the court, but also for how he carried himself off the court, and in his interaction with fans. Throughout the season (his first playing professionally), Justin displayed that he could be counted on to contribute for his team in a plethora of different ways; in categories that were recorded, and in those that were not.

Offensively, Justin didn’t have the best touch in putting the ball through the basket and didn’t wow his audience with too many spectacular moves, but he made up for that in the energy that he brought to the court. Out of all the players on the list, Justin might have had the hardest shot selection, often having to shoot a tough fade-away jumper with a hand in his face to bail out his teammates, yet, he also gave his team plenty of second chances, using his athleticism in bringing down offensive rebounds, which he ranked fifth overall during the season.

Never truly looking to score first, Justin jelled well with his front-court running mate, Jaywuan Hill, often finding his fellow big for easy baskets around the rim as opposing defenses still had to respect his potential to score, given his leaping ability and length, which allowed him to finish close to the basket and in drawing fouls. Even though Justin typically looked to get his teammates involved on the more glorious side of the ball, he still did enough to be tied for seventh overall in two-point field goals made.

As with Justin’s aforementioned athleticism and length, this allowed him to truly shine on the defensive side of the ball. He had the ability to guard players that were bigger and stronger than him along with players that were smaller and quicker. When he wasn’t blocking shots, a category which he came in at fourth overall, Young was proficient in altering an opposing player’s release, or causing that player to pass the ball abruptly, leading to turnovers.

Also playing to his strengths, Young constantly had his hands ready and his feet set in ideal defensive positions, either deflecting passes or stealing the ball himself where he came in at fourth overall. When a shot was in the air, Justin always seemed to be in the right spot, using his body to box a man out, and retrieving possession for his team. He averaged 7.7 defensive rebounds and 10.5 total rebounds a game, ranking sixth and fifth in those two categories respectively.

Justin showed his worth to his team, placing himself at eighth overall in minutes per game. His stat-sheet filling skillset was essential in propelling the Wings to a tie for the best record during the regular season, and in a playoff run that ultimately fell short in the finals. When looking at Justin’s game logs, his offensive numbers aren’t staggering, but in averaging a double-double over the 2016 season, he showed enough consistency to make it onto the eighth spot on our top 10 players list.

 

 


7. Trevor Berkeley

PHOTO CREDIT: HANOI BUFFALOES

#3 Forward, Hanoi Buffaloes


   2016 Season Stats

13.6 PPG (41.0 FG%, 27.0 3PT%), 9.7 RPG, 3.1 APG, 2.0 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 2.8 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

01.10.16 vs Saigon Heat

23 points (9-17 FGM-FGA, 53.0 FG%), 3-6 FTM-FTA (50.0 FT%), 2-8 3PTM-3PTA (25.0 3PT%), 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 40 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#9 Scoring (PPG)

#6 Rebounding (RPG)

#9 Assists (APG)

#3 Steals (SPG)

#5 Blocks (BPG)

#9 Field Goals Made (FGM)

#8 Two-Point Field Goals Made (2PTM)

#7 Three-Point Field Goals Made (3PTM)

#7 Free Throws Made (FTM)

#1 Minutes Per Game (MPG)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

19 games played

9 double-doubles

   Beyond the Numbers

The Hanoi Buffaloes’ Trevor Berkeley takes the seventh spot in our 2016 VBA top 10 players list. As the anchor for the most undersized team, but also, the most disciplined team in the league, Trevor acted as the last line of defense, standing in the middle of the Buffaloes’ defensive zone that they adore. Seldom do you see a team’s quintessential starting center (though he was listed as a forward) handle and bring the ball up court, however, Trevor was tasked in doing just that for the semi-finalists from Hanoi.

Berkeley displayed silky smooth play with the ball in his hands throughout the 2016 season, gliding across the court with his long strides and pace. Though he played as a forward/center for the Buffaloes, his game was more representative of a shooting guard. With his speed, quickness, and vision, Berkeley would often be able to find open space, beat his man off the dribble with a quick first step, and attack the basket. This style of play by Trevor during the season allowed him to come in at eighth in two-point field goals made and seventh in free throws made.

When he wasn’t penetrating to the basket, Trevor benefited from the offensive system that was utilized by the Buffaloes, leading to good looks for him from beyond the three-point line. Before the addition of Ryan Arnold to the team from Hanoi, where he became the main point guard, Trevor was the offensive do everything guy, having to grab the rebound, push the ball up the court, and get his team set into their half-court offense. With some ball-handling responsibilities being relieved, Trevor was able to show his shooting touch, amounting for seventh place overall in three-point field goals made while still dishing out enough assists to rank ninth.

Defensively, an undersized Berkeley carried big responsibilities having to stop larger players in a league dominated by big men. What he lacked in size was made up for by his top tier athleticism to contest shots at the rim where he came in at fifth in the league in blocked shots. Trevor’s long arms not only helped in challenging shots, but also played a large role in generating turnovers for his team. Playing in a defensive scheme that relied on teamwork and occupying the right positioning and spacing on the floor, Berkeley’s intuition carried him to a third overall placing in the season steals category.

As the only member of the Buffaloes to make it onto the top 10 players list, Trevor Berkeley carried plenty of responsibilities. The system that the Buffaloes employed didn’t hinder Berkeley, though, it did limit his overall stats during the 2016 season as they (the Buffaloes) relied on ball movement, spacing, and finding the open man. The importance of his role and the impact he had on his team isn’t shown completely through his statistical output, falling just short of averaging a double-double, but watch a Buffaloes game and you will be able to see just why Berkeley beat out every other player in minutes played per game.

 

 


6. David Arnold

PHOTO CREDIT: SAIGON HEAT

#33 Guard, Saigon Heat


   2016 Season Stats

17.2 PPG (42.0 FG%, 38.0 3PT%), 3.0 RPG, 5.9 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 3.2 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

10.09.16 vs Da Nang Dragons

34 points (13-18 FGM-FGA, 72.0 FG%), 1-4 FTM-FTA (25.0 FT%), 7-7 3PTM-3PTA (100.0 3PT%), 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 40 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#6 Scoring (PPG)

#1 Assists (APG)

#10 Field Goals Made (FGM)

#2 Three-Point Field Goals Made (3PTM)

#3 (Tied) Three-Point Field Goal % (3PT%)

#8 Free Throws Made (FTM)

#8 Free Throw % (FT%)

#7 Minutes Per Game (MPG)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

15 games played (2 games with 30+ points)

1 double-double

   Beyond the Numbers

In what may come as a shocking surprise to many, the player that occupies the sixth spot in our 2016 VBA top 10 players list is David Arnold of the Saigon Heat. After missing the first two games of the season, where the Heat went 1-1, David was inserted back into the lineup on August 13, in the first inner-city rivalry matchup versus the Ho Chi Minh City Wings. He started off the beginning minutes of his season a bit rusty, but it didn’t take long for Arnold to make his impact as the captain of the team that finished in first place during the regular season.

In that same game, the Heat trailed their rivals big during the first half as David was working his way back into game speed. All it took was one half, as the second half saw him looking like his normal self, leading the Heat to a come from behind win and marking his return. Known for his offensive game, Arnold can go on stretches where he simply cannot miss from either side of the three-point arc. When watching him play, you could see that he has a certain rhythm to his game that no other player in the league possesses. It’s laid back, yet confident; shifty, yet poised.

Give him space, and he’ll drill a three. If a defender decides to try their luck again, he’ll drill another three. David did this consistently enough during the season that he ranked second overall in three-point field goals made while also being very accurate, tying for third overall in three-point field goal percentage.

Once a defender began to respect his ability to pull up, that was when Arnold would reveal another facet to his offensive game, using a good change of direction, blowing pass, and penetrating to the basket. David showed that he was just as capable finishing at the rim as he was from three, displaying good hang time and body control in absorbing contact, finishing strong, and in many cases, drawing a foul for a potential three-point play. He came in at eighth overall in free throws made and free throw percentage and with his dual-threat scoring capability, he ended the season as the sixth leading scorer in the league.

In possessing a strong offensive scoring game, it opened up passing lanes and produced open shots for his teammates whom Arnold was not afraid to pass to. Showing off his good vision in finding an open teammate, David also had an affinity for pleasing the crowd with some fancy and unforeseen passes. The confidence he had in running the Heat offense and the chemistry he had with his teammates propelled David to the number one spot for assists in the league.

On the defensive side of the ball, Arnold wasn’t quite as impressive as he was with the ball in his hands. He was aided by two great defenders in the athletic Darrell Miller and the solid tank, Hung Nguyen Van. Knowing that the defense had a strong base of rim protectors and rebounders, Arnold could focus more of his energy in doing what he does best on the other end.

As David goes, so too do the Heat more times than not. When Arnold did not play particularly well, the Heat usually ended up on the losing end. The Heat really relied on his leadership, symbolizing his worth to the team. David Arnold is a one of the most popular players in the league, if not, the most popular player in the league. He is arguably the best player in the league also, but remember, this list is mainly based off of 2016 performance and because of that, he only comes in at sixth.

 

 


5. Tam Dinh

PHOTO CREDIT: DANANG DRAGONS

#23 Forward, Can Tho Catfish


   2016 Season Stats

19.5 PPG (50.0 FG%, 34.0 3PT%), 5.8 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 3.4 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

17.09.16 vs Saigon Heat

41 points (17-31 FGM-FGA, 55.0 FG%), 5-7 FTM-FTA (71.0 FT%), 2-10 3PTM-3PTA (20.0 3PT%) 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 37 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#4 Scoring (PPG)

#8 Rebounding (RPG)

#10 Assists (APG)

#6 Steals (SPG)

#9 Blocks (BPG)

#4 Field Goals Made (FGM)

#5 (Tied) Two-Point Field Goals Made (2PTM)

#7 Two-Point Field Goal % (2PT%)

#3 (Tied) Three-Point Field Goals Made (3PTM)

#6 Three-Point Field Goal % (3PT%)

#5 Free Throws Made (FTM)

#3 Minutes Per Game (MPG)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

17 games played (2 games with 30+ points, 1 game with 40+ points)

2 double-doubles

   Beyond the Numbers

Entering our 2016 VBA top 10 players list at the fifth position is Tam Dinh of the Can Tho Catfish. As a listed forward, Tam established himself as a major scoring threat early on, going all the way back to the Catfish’s preseason matchups. Along with his scoring prowess, Dinh was also often tasked with guarding some of the top players in the league which included the opposition’s forwards and guards alike. Throughout the course of the season, he garnered the respect of fans and players across the nation with his exemplary play. On any given night, Tam had the potential to go off for a big game, tuning spectators in to witness what he was capable of on a basketball court.

With a gifted offensive game, the Catfish’s starting forward was one of the best in creating his own shots in the league during 2016. Tam had sneakingly good athleticism which allowed him to finish close to the basket and with an open lane, he’d please the crowd with a surprising, yet somewhat anticipated flush. With his well-rounded offensive game, Dinh was able to put the ball through the basket from anywhere on the floor. Although his finishes inside the paint were dazzling, Tam really lustered with his jump shooting ability.

Ranking in at fourth overall in scoring during the 2016 season, Dinh put up scoring numbers that couldn’t be overlooked. Utilizing his jump shooting talent and his above average jumping ability, he was able to rise over defenders from behind the three-point arc as he tied for third overall in three-point field goals made, and sixth overall in three-point field goal percentage. When forced off the three-point line, Tam would take a dribble or two inside, showing off his mid-range game. Possessing a shooter’s touch and to go along with his accolades made from three-point territory, Tam also finished fifth overall in two-point field goals made and seventh in two-point field goal percentage.

It could be that he had an affinity for games versus the Saigon Heat, a matchup that was often marketed as a duel between him and the Heat’s David Arnold, but Dinh put up ridiculous scoring numbers against the team from Saigon. In a September 3rd matchup against the Heat in Can Tho, Dinh went off for 38 points, a scoring mark that, at the time, was the single highest output in the league during the season. To put things into perspective, being able to score 20 or more points in a game at any level of basketball, whether it be in a pick-up basketball game amongst friends or an NBA game, is impressive. To follow that up, in a return to CIS against the Heat in Saigon on September 17th, Tam surpassed his league-best scoring game with a monstrous 41 point performance, the only 40+ point game during the 2016 VBA regular season.

When you watch Tam Dinh play from afar in the stands or from watching on stream, you just don’t realize how long he actually is until you stand next to him on even ground. Taking advantage of that length allowed Dinh to also be a good defender. He exhibited that he was able to defend the basket where he ranked ninth overall in blocks, and when a shot was put up and ultimately missed by his opponents, Tam showed he could haul in boards where he came in at eighth. To go along with his defense closer to the rim, Dinh finished sixth overall in steals, some of which would lead to an easy opportunity for him or a teammate on the other end of the floor.

Coming to play professional basketball in Vietnam was an opportunity for Tam Dinh that he simply couldn’t pass up. You could really tell that he embraced the experience as the season progressed from his eye-widening-surprised looks at the reception he was receiving from fans at the beginning of the season, to the more I-have-done-this-before-and-know-what-to-expect-now demeanor he presented towards the latter stages. Always humble in the way he interacts and in his presentation of himself towards others, it’s no wonder why Tam became such a fan favorite and recognizable figure in the VBA.

 

 


4. Tavarion Nix

PHOTO CREDIT: SAIGON HEAT

#17 Center, Can Tho Catfish


   2016 Season Stats

17.6 PPG (47.0 FG%), 15.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.8 BPG, 4.0 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

21.09.16 vs Da Nang Dragons

30 points (13-19 FGM-FGA, 68.0 FG%), 3-7 FTM-FTA (43.0 FT%), 21 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 blocks, 7 turnovers, 38 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#5 Scoring (PPG)

#1 Rebounding (RPG)

#4 Assists (APG)

#3 Blocks (BPG)

#6 Field Goals Made (FGM)

#7 (Tied) Two-Point Field Goals Made (2PTM)

#6 Free Throws Made (FTM)

#2 Minutes Per Game (MPG)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

16 games played (2 games with 30+ points, 6 games with 20+ rebounds)

8 double-doubles (2 games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds)

   Beyond the Numbers

The fourth ranked player in our 2016 VBA top 10 players list goes to Tavarion Nix, the second member of the Can Tho Catfish to make the cut, just slightly edging his teammate, Tam DInh. In a league dominated by big men, Nix fit the makeup well, offering a nice mix of offense and defense for the team from Can Tho clad in green and yellow. A player that was charged with providing grit, Nix seemingly flew under the radar during his 2016 campaign, being overshadowed by his fifth place finishing running-mate. Though his popularity and scoring potential weren’t nearly as close to Dinh’s, we felt that Nix’s upside in his defensive game more than made up for his shortcomings on offense when compared to that of his teammate’s, warranting his spot here at fourth.

On the scoring side of the ball, Nix doesn’t display too much of an offensive game. He doesn’t have a post-up game that is too overwhelming against his defenders, nor does he have a polished and smooth face-up game. Nix, however, does provide a presence down low, drawing the attention of the opposition’s last line of defense, opening up opportunities for his teammates to score. Understanding his role and capabilities allowed Nix to be a good facilitator, and with the respect given to him for his length and jumping ability, the Catfish’s starting forward/center was able to find the open man enough times throughout the season to come in at fourth overall in assists.

That’s not to say that Tavarion wasn’t able to put the ball in the basket because after all, he was able to finish fifth overall in scoring, sixth in field goals made, and tied for seventh in two-point field goals made. Grinding and battling against the biggest players in the league was where Nix was of most help for his team offensively. He wasn’t a go to scorer and wasn’t the first option, but he was the source of offensive rebounding, where he finished fourth, using that to his advantage and finishing those missed attempts with put-backs and drawn fouls. A player that was able to gain good deep positioning, Nix also helped his scoring cause by putting in the work before the ball got to him, setting himself up for easier finishes at the rim.

The biggest asset that Tavarion Nix was able to provide for his team was at the defensive end. Once again, knowing his role and playing within his skillset, the Catfish depended on Nix in being their last line of defense and the main source of their rebounding, a role in which the big man didn’t disappoint in during his 2016 campaign. Adding to his rebounding following his own team’s misses, Nix paced the entire league in both defensive rebounding and total rebounding, accounting for a huge portion of his team’s total rebounding numbers.

Grabbing boards might have been his biggest defensive asset for the Catfish, but really being the sole rim protector also payed dividends. If he wasn’t blocking a shot, a category where he finished third in, Nix altered shots and made life difficult for not only the smaller players that dared to bring the ball into the paint, but also for the other forwards and centers in the league that liked to operate deep. His worth and work ethic may not be as clear to casual fans, but it was evident to his team and coach through his second overall finish in minutes per game average.

It may be surprising to see Tavarion Nix placed at the fourth spot in our 2016 VBA top 10 players list, especially given that when one thinks or hears “Can Tho Catfish,” Tam Dinh is the first player that comes to mind. Sure he may not be able to score as efficiently as his teammate, and he can have a tendency to turn the ball over as a player that isn’t ball dominant, but if we were to compare the two side by side based off of miscellaneous stats, it may make Nix’s worth more appealing and apparent. Dinh and Nix both had two 30 point or more scoring outings (one of those games was a 41 point game for Tam Dinh), but Tam only had two double-doubles to Tavarion’s eight. Of those eight double-doubles, two of them were games where Nix had 20 or more points to go along with 20 or more rebounds. Let’s also not forget that he also hauled in 20 or more rebounds in six games. Take that into account and you might understand why we had to place Nix in front of Dinh, for those who are still thinking we’re crazy for doing so.

 

 


3. Jaywuan Hill

PHOTO CREDIT: HO CHI MINH CITY WINGS

#20 Center, Ho Chi Minh City Wings


   2016 Season Stats

22.9 PPG (52.0 FG%), 12.5 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 2.2 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

12.11.16 vs Da Nang Dragons

41 points (15-20 FGM-FGA, 75.0 FG%), 11-13 FTM-FTA (85.0 FT%), 15 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 0 turnovers, 40 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#3 Scoring (PPG)

#4 Rebounding (RPG)

#6 Blocks (BPG)

#2 Field Goals Made (FGM)

#6 (Tied) Field Goal % (FG%)

#2 Two-Point Field Goals Made (2PTM)

#1 (Tied) Free Throws Made (FTM)

#5 Minutes Per Game (MPG)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

21 games played (5 games with 30+ points, 1 game with 40+ points)

14 double-doubles

   Beyond the Numbers

In leading the Ho Chi Minh City Wings to the finals and ultimately, as the runner-up during the 2016 season, Jaywuan Hill ranks third on our 2016 VBA top 10 players list. Hill is a player that always had the size and athleticism to succeed in the league from the beginning of the season as the starting center for the Wings, but as the season progressed towards its latter stages, he also took up a larger leadership role and put the team on his shoulders. Jaywuan had previously played basketball professionally in El Salvador, so with that experience, he was able to instill a strong work ethic upon his team, especially in building a strong bond between himself and the other Wings’ star, Justin Young. With a motor that never stopped running on the court, Hill also had a way to hype up the crowd as he wasn’t afraid to make his passion for the game known.

When the season first began, the Wings looked like a team that had a strong feel for running an offense that was put in place by coach Mika Turunen. They would typically start the first half of games strong, taking a lead into the half-time break, only to have that lead be chipped away, when the game mattered most, sometimes leading to losses. The shot selection was balanced, and the passing was fluid, but the Wings would get into stretches where their shots stopped falling, and their passing got erratic, leading to costly unforced turnovers. This is when Hill would take over the reigns to the offense, enact his leadership, and let them know that they could count on him through his increased aggression.

Jaywuan isn’t much of a back to the basket center; he relies more on the deep positioning he battles for, following up missed attempts, and dribble penetration from his teammates to open up easier shots for him around the basket. Possibly the most athletic player in the league, Hill benefited from the presence of teammates Justin Young and Minh Trieu Han. With Minh’s ability to space the floor with his shooting, defenders couldn’t cheat on Hill allowing him to follow up shots more comfortably, and with Young’s dribble penetration in drawing extra defenders, Hill could be fed deep in the post, having only one defender to rise up against and beat, often leading to fouls. As a beneficiary, Jaywuan finished the season as the league’s second leading offensive rebounder and two-point field goal maker. He would also tie for first place in free-throws made and tied for sixth in field-goal percentage.

As opposing defenses learned more about his playstyle and enacted different, more effective ways to try and stop this aspect of his game, Hill later showed a face-up game that he was comfortable with as well. With defenses sagging and bodying him up, Jaywuan would flash to the high-post, catch a pass, and then face-up against his defender. From this position, he would take jump shots that grew confidently the more times he would shoot. Hill really had a knack for hitting these shots especially when his team needed him the most, thus, relieving pressure off his teammates’ reluctance to shoot and score. Showing his shooting touch further away from the basket would then enable him to move towards the basket for a finish. With two contrasting features to his offensive game, Hill finished the season as the league’s third overall scorer.

Anchoring his team’s defense, Jaywuan Hill was a trusted rim protector. With his uncanny timing and leaping ability, he was able to block anyone’s shot, a statistic which he ranked in at sixth. Even more so, Hill was charged with being the Wings’ main rebounder, and despite the added rebounding efforts contributed by Justin Young, Hill carried the main load, ranking one spot ahead of his teammate at fourth in average total rebounds.

Having played in 21 games with the inclusion of the Wings’ playoff run, Jaywuan proved to be a valuable asset in the Wings’ arsenal, finishing ffith in average minutes played per game. Of those 21 games, he amounted for five games where he scored 30 or more points and 14 double-doubles. One of these games happened to be a 41 point performance (the only other 40+ point game during the entire season, and the only in the playoffs) in game two of the 2016 finals. Though the team ended up losing that game, it goes to show the leadership and assertiveness Hill put on display during the later moments of the season, putting a heavier load on his shoulders. Because of the performances he was able to pull, we have no problem ranking Hill as the third top player in our 2016 list.

 

 


2. Darrell Miller

PHOTO CREDIT: SAIGON HEAT

#23 Forward, Saigon Heat


   2016 Season Stats

23.7 PPG (52.0 FG%), 12.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.8 SPG, 2.1 BPG, 3.8 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

17.09.16 vs Can Tho Catfish

39 points (14-26 FGM-FGA, 54.0 FG%), 11-15 FTM-FTA (73.0 FT%), 18 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 7 turnovers, 39 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#2 Scoring (PPG)

#3 Rebounding (RPG)

#7 Assists (APG)

#5 Steals (SPG)

#1 Blocks (BPG)

#3 Field Goals Made (FGM)

#6 (Tied) Field Goal % (FG%)

#3 Two-Point Field Goals Made (2PTM)

#5 (Tied) Two-Point Field Goal % (2PT%)

#1 (Tied) Free Throws Made (FTM)

#10 Minutes Per Game (MPG)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

18 games played (5 games with 30+ points, 1 game with 20+ rebounds)

14 double-doubles (1 game with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds)

   Beyond the Numbers

The second to last inclusion on our 2016 VBA top 10 players list goes to Darrell Miller of the Saigon Heat, coming in at second. With the start of the 2016 VBA season, there was speculation as to why the Heat’s regular starting forward for the ABL, Lenny Daniel, would not be playing in the VBA. As a dominant force, Lenny was sure to be playing a large part for the Heat, however, Darrell Miller, the Heat’s appointed starting forward during the VBA season came in and fit right into the mold, inducing his own dominance over the competition. An athletic and high energy player, little was known to fans prior to the start about Miller, but as the season moved forward, Miller showed why the Heat felt comfortable in having him fill the shoes of Daniel in leading them to the best record during the 2016 VBA season.

The offensive playstyle that Miller brought into the league and for the Heat is in some ways, similar to what Trevor Berkeley was able to contribute for the Buffaloes. Miller, on the other hand, had a greater influence over his team’s success as the Heat relied on him more, with the team from Hanoi and Saigon possessing different styles of play and virtues. Where the Buffaloes relied more on overall team cohesion, it was quite obvious that the Heat were feeding their star players David Arnold and Darrell Miller early, and often. Arnold had a more poised and controlled tempo in which he played at, but it ended up working well with Miller’s fast-paced, sometimes erratic, play.

Darrell was a forward that was able to rebound and without having to pass to a guard to push the ball up like many bigger players do, zipped up the court himself, ball in hand, going coast to coast which led to finishes on the other side of the court. In the open-court, he was tough to defend due to his long strides, length, and pace in dribbling the ball. He really only had one speed when playing, and that was to go full speed, at all times. Though he was also capable of shooting the ball with decent range, Miller set himself apart with his slashing ability and propensity for attacking the basket which set him up for higher percentage shots and potential fouls. In doing so, Miller was able to tie for first overall in free throws made, third in two-point field goals made, sixth in free throw percentage, and third in field goals made.

You would think that playing next to a guy like David Arnold, Miller’s output would be diminished, especially with the likes of Arnold’s offensive abilities. Well, Miller managed to outpace his teammate’s scoring, finishing as the second top scorer during the 2016 season. Given that the two were the Heat’s 1-2 offensive punch, both players performed best with the ball in their hands, and with that amount of ball dominance, Darrell also joined his teammate in the top 10 for assists where he finished seventh.

The main reason why we ranked Darrell Miller so much further than his teammate in our list boils down to the greater amount of impact that he makes on the defensive end. Arnold is merely a pedestrian when stacked up against Miller here. As mentioned in our write up for David Arnold, he played, knowing that he had a huge amount of defensive assurance behind him in Miller. It also helped Miller that he wasn’t tasked in defending the opposing team’s centers, allowing him to provide weak-side help for his teammates, en route to a first place finish in blocks for the season.

There was no secret as to the length of Miller, which surely helped with his proficiency in swatting away shot attempts. Remember how I mentioned that he only played at one speed, and that that speed was fast? Couple that with his length and it’s no wonder why Miller was also able to finish the season fifth in steals. Now let’s take all of those things into consideration, add in Darrell’s bounce, and we have a formula which equates to a rebounding machine as well, placing third overall in that category.

Miller’s season usage rate as far as minutes per game goes isn’t as high as Arnold’s, with him placing at 10th overall to Arnold’s seventh, but that in no ways is completely indicative as to their worth for the Heat. Miller had more games where he scored 30 or more points (five) and more double-doubles (14 games) than Arnold did. Arnold may be the captain of the team, but let’s also take into consideration the amount of energy Miller also had to exhaust on the defensive side in correlation with the plausibility of fouls compared to Arnold, and it’s further justification as to why we believe Miller had a greater impact. If you still don’t believe us, watch the final quarter of the Heat’s season, a semi-finals game two matchup versus the Dragons. The game was close, with the Heat holding on to a slight advantage, but once Miller committed his fifth and final foul, the Heat truly unraveled without his presence, allowing the Dragons to take firm control of the lead and the game in the final game of the season for Saigon.

 

 


1. Rudolphe Joly

PHOTO CREDIT: DANANG DRAGONS

#25 Center, Danang Dragons


   2016 Season Stats

24.2 PPG (61.0 FG%), 15.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 1.9 BPG, 4.9 TO

   2016 Peak Performance

14.09.16 vs Can Tho Catfish

36 points (14-21 FGM-FGA, 67.0 FG%), 8-16 FTM-FTA (50.0 FT%), 18 rebounds, 1 steal, 4 blocks, 5 turnovers, 36 minutes

   2016 Season Rankings

#1 Scoring (PPG)

#2 Rebounding (RPG)

#2 Blocks (BPG)

#1 Field Goals Made (FGM)

#3 Field Goal % (FG%)

#1 Two-Point Field Goals Made (2PTM)

#4 Two-Point Field Goal % (2PT%)

#2 Free Throws Made (FTM)

#4 Minutes Per Game (MPG)

   2016 Miscellaneous Stats

20 games played (5 games with 30+ points, 4 games with 20+ rebounds)

17 double-doubles (4 games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds)

   Beyond the Numbers

You know that one guy on the basketball court that nobody wants to guard because he’s so big and overpowering? Well, that one guy during the 2016 VBA season was Rudolphe Joly of the Da Nang Dragons, and also our number one ranked player in our 2016 VBA top 10 players list. If we could choose one word to describe Joly’s 2016 season, we’d probably have to go with “dominant.” Rudolphe was the top big man in a league ruled by big men, so naturally, he’d be our number one selection. There came a point during the 2016 VBA season where a monstrous double-double performance from the starting center for the champions was to be expected on a nightly basis; I simply stopped questioning if he had a double-double, but rather, it simply became a question of how many points and how many rebounds? Even with the staggering numbers, it just doesn’t seem to do justice for the dominance that was put on display by the 2016 MVP.

When I mention Joly’s name to fans and followers of the VBA, a word I often hear being associated with him is “hate.” Why do so many people “hate” him? Well ask yourself this. Why do people hate Lebron James or Kobe Bryant? It’s because they’re so good and so dominant that we want them to fail. When they don’t fail, we hate them for it. I could be going out on a limb, but I think Rudolphe would rejoice in hearing this; it’s a testament to his game. Don’t fault him for being bigger and stronger than his competition either. Rudolphe was more than aware of his strengths, and used them to his advantage he did.

Rudolphe was more of a traditional, back to the basket big. He wasn’t the fastest, nor was he the most athletic, however, he had moves that would get defenders to bite, and counters against what the defense would show him, trying to hinder his production. In attempts to try and slow Joly down, double-teams and even triple-teams were sent his way, yet, he was still able to carve up defenses within the paint. As the season progressed, and especially going into the playoffs, the biggest influence to the Dragons success was with their reliable big man who finished in first during the season in scoring.

When watching the Dragons play, it was apparent what their offensive strategy was. Going through Joly was the obvious choice, and even when he wasn’t scoring the basket, the ball had to touch his hands at least once with every possession. In their half-court offense, the ball would constantly be thrown into the post and if the defense was ready for it, Joly would throw the ball back out to the perimeter, only to have it given right back for a re-post.

Trying to put a body on him was a nightmare for the opposing team; one man wasn’t enough to try and hold him down; you could only hope that he would miss and more often than not, he wouldn’t as he ranked fourth in two-point field goal percentage, third in overall field goal percentage, and first in both field goals made and two-point field goals made. When he would miss, Rudolphe could follow it back up with an offensive rebound, a category which he also ranked first in, and finish what he started with either a put-back, a foul, or both. Rudolphe wasn’t exactly a great free throw shooter, but he went to the charity stripe enough times for him to finish second in free throws made.

The dominant center for the champions was also a stalwart defender. Having his presence in the painted area and as the last line of defense was a notion offenses had to account for. Seldom were there easy buckets in the middle because of Joly’s shot altering and shot blocking ability. Rudolphe did rank second in blocks during the 2016 season. Aside from his shot blocking potential, Rudolphe’s mass also deterred players from coming inside, as they knew some kind of physical contact was going to follow in challenging the center, amounting for plenty of perimeter misses. Joly also provided the Dragons with sure hands in grabbing boards as he ranked second in defensive rebounding and total rebounds.

Through 20 games played during the 2016 VBA season which included an eventual run in hoisting the champion trophy, Rudolphe Joly was a model of consistency. He had the most double-doubles of any player with 17; four of those double-doubles going for at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. He also had five games in which he scored 30 or more points. Time and time again, Joly was able to push defenders into foul trouble which led to even easier finishes. When additional bodies would fail to slow him down, a strategy used was to test his conditioning and stamina in trying to tire him out, but Joly was still able to beat that as he ranked fourth in minutes played per game. With the performances that Joly was able to produce while being the offensive catalyst and defensive anchor, along with the impact he had on the league and his team, Rudolphe Joly is our top ranked player in our 2016 VBA top 10 players list.