Wildcat Cotton named NBL MVP
PERTH Wildcats point guard Bryce Cotton has been crowned NBL most valuable player, outpolling Illawarra Hawks counterpart and favourite Demetrius Conger by 23 votes.
Sydney Kings star Jerome Randle, who claimed the Andrew Gaze Trophy last season while at Adelaide 36ers, surged into outright third despite only playing 19 of a possible 28 games.
Melbourne United import Casper Ware and Wildcats excitement machine Jean-Pierre Tokoto rounded out the top five.
United coach Dean Vickerman capped an outstanding season at the helm by winning the Lindsay Gaze Trophy for 2017-18 coach of the year.
"I've loved the game, I grew up just wanting to be in the NBL and got to play a couple of games as a player," Vickerman said.
"Fortunate to be able to be a part of some successful teams.
"This club is amazing, the opportunities we've had this year to play in the NBA and play against China, play with open roofs, this club is innovative and looking forward to taking it to the next level."
Cotton, 25, who won last year's NBL Finals MVP, polled 117 of a possible 280 votes.
After every game, coaches award 10 votes each to the best performers from the other team, with five points the maximum any player can receive.
Conger went into the NBL's big night favoured to win the major award after an ultra-consistent season, where he averaged 19.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists.
But game-breaker Cotton, who averaged 19.4 points and 3.1 assists, proved too strong in the second half of the season as the defending NBL champion Wildcats roared back into contention.
Randle led the league in points (19.7) and assists (5.3) but was never considered a winning chance after only joining the Kings mid-season.
United imports Ware and Josh Boone made the All-NBL First Team, with Tai Wesley in the Second Team.
Boone and Wesley were rewarded for their consistency, finishing ninth and 15th respectively in MVP voting.
NBL chief executive Jeremy Loeliger congratulated Cotton.
"Bryce has been an outstanding performer since he joined Perth and is a thoroughly deserving winner of this year's MVP," Loeliger said.
"I want to congratulate all of our award winners who have once again demonstrated that the NBL is a world class league that continues to go from strength to strength.
"We recorded our highest ever regular season attendance this year and I'm sure we're going to see more big crowds for what promises to be an exhilarating finals series starting this weekend."
United enjoyed a 12 per cent spike in attendances this season with average crowds jumping from 7402 to 8293.
NBL 2017/18 AWARDS
MVP - Bryce Cotton (Perth)
Coach of the year - Dean Vickerman (Melbourne)
Rookie of the Year - Isaac Humphries (Sydney)
Best Sixth Man - Ramone Moore (Adelaide)
Best Defensive Player - Damian Martin (Perth)
Most Improved Player - Shea Ili (New Zealand)
Fans MVP - Mitch Creek (Adelaide)
Referee of the Year - Michael Aylen
ALL-NBL FIRST TEAM
Casper Ware (Melbourne)
Bryce Cotton (Perth)
Demetrius Conger (Illawarra)
Daniel Johnson (Adelaide)
Josh Boone (Melbourne)
ALL-NBL SECOND TEAM
Edgar Sosa (New Zealand)
Jerome Randle (Sydney)
JP Tokoto (Perth)
Mitch Creek (Adelaide)
Tai Wesley (Melbourne)
TOP 15 - MVP VOTING
1. Bryce Cotton 117 2. Demetrius Conger 94 3. Jerome Randle 79 4. Casper Ware 77 5. JP Tokoto 74 6. Edgar Sosa 70 7. Mitch McCarron 66 8. Rotnei Clarke 65 9. Josh Boone 65 10. Perrin Buford 59 11. Travis Trice 58 12. Perry Ellis 58 13. Cam Gliddon 56 14. Mitch Creek 55 15. Tai Wesley 55