NBLC Newcomers Week 3: Despite Down Week, Bland Remains Top Rookie

NBLC Newcomers Week 3: Despite Down Week, Bland Remains Top Rookie

Joel Kindred, Xavier Moon make first appearances

By José Colorado

It was a week of rude awakenings for some of the league's hottest newcomers.

Plunging further into the trenches of the NBLC season, a number of formerly outstanding performers saw their production tank in week three.

Previous league-leading scorer, Jaylen Bland, was the most notable name but he remained tough and was still able to produce a respectable level of output despite some off-shooting nights.

Other newcomer standouts, A.J. Gaines (London Lightning), Isaiah Tates (Moncton Magic) and Todd Brown Jr. (St. John's Edge), weren't as fortunate as all three were nearly shut out.

It is a long season so expect these studs to reflect, react and recalibrate moving forward.

1. Jaylen Bland (Sudbury Five, 4-1)

Hometown: Reseda, Calif.
Previous professional experience:  Luxemburg, Mexico, U.S. (NBA G-League)
Season stats: 24.6 points per game (44.7 per cent field goal, 41.2 per cent three-pointers, 91.7 per cent free throws), 5.6 rebounds

Bland tumbled back to earth this past week and perhaps unsurprisingly that coincided with the Sudbury Five's first loss of the year.

After beginning the season red-hot, the Californian shot eight-for-30 (26.7 per cent) from the field, including six-for-21 from three-point range in a pair of matches against the Windsor Express – although he was able to notch his first double-double of the season with 20 points (five-of-17 field goal) and 12 rebounds in his second game.

Despite the off shooting week, Bland remains in second place for league scoring behind Five teammate, Braylon Rayson (24.8 points per game). Further, because of his blistering start to the year the scorer's shooting percentages are still very formidable at 45-41-92 (field goal, three-point, free throws), respectively.

Yet Bland must focus on regaining that touch – he has now shot below 45 per cent in three of his last four games.

2. Xavier Moon (London Lightning, 3-2)

Hometown: Goodwater, Ala.
Previous professional experience:  France
Season stats: 17.6 points per game (51.4 per cent field goal), 4.6 rebounds, four assists

It was a full moon this past week - Xavier Moon that is - as the guard engulfed his opponents in a pair of big scoring nights for the London Lightning.

In a split between the Saint John Riptide (109 – 95 win) and the Island Storm (123 – 111 loss), the American went for consecutive career-highs in points with 25 and 27, respectively.

For his efforts, Moon now sits in ninth for league scoring and nineteenth in field goal percentage.

With Moon making his first appearance on this list and teammate A.J. Gaines making the cut last week, it could be only a matter of time before we see Lightning strike twice.

3. Sampson Carter (Island Storm, 2-1)

Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.
Previous professional experience:  Portugal, Dominican Republic, U.S. (NBA), Mexico, Philippines
Season stats: 22.3 points per game (37.7 per cent field goal), 7.3 rebounds, three assists

Following a putrid shooting start to the season, Sampson Carter redeemed himself in a big way this past week in the Island's 123 -111 home win against the two-time defending champions, Lightning.

The forward went for 26 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks in its team lone match of the week but perhaps most importantly, shot 10-for-21 (47.6 per cent)from the floor.

Turnovers , however, remained a problem for Carter as he committed three in the win and continues to lead the league in that category at 4.7 per game.

It is clear the talent is there for the 28-year-old as he now ranks fourth in scoring and is tied for twelfth in rebounding – all while shooting a subpar percentage (37.7) and demonstrating a sloppy floor game (i.e. turnovers).

If he can fix those two issues and the Island continues to win, the former NBAer could very well be in the mix for league MVP by season's end.

4. Joel Kindred (Halifax Hurricanes, 4-2)

Hometown: Raleigh, N.C.
Previous professional experience:  U.S. (UBA), Spain, Cyprus
Season stats: 15.5 points (43.7 per cent field goal, 61.1 per cent three-pointers, 90.9 per cent free throws), 4.3 rebounds

Similar to the rhythm of his streaking Halifax Hurricanes team, Joel Kindred has steadily improved as the season has gone along. He makes his first appearance on the newcomers list.

In a pair of 'Canes wins this past week, Kindred went for 16 and 20 points while shooting 11-for-19 from the floor.

The key however comes in Kindred's long-distance shooting. He is currently second in the league in that department at a sizzling 61.1 per cent from three-point range.

The other factor that makes the sniper's game stand out is his minute-production ratio as he is only averages 25.5 minutes per game.

In his latest game, Kindred dropped 20 points in 21 minutes.

It doesn't get much better than that.

5. Isaiah Tate (Moncton Magic, 7-0)

Hometown: Upper Marlboro, Md.
Previous professional experience:  Britain
Season stats: 15.3 points per game (50 per cent field goal, 53.1 per cent three-pointers, 89.7 per cent free throws), 2.9 rebounds

Five points, zero-for-nine shooting and three rebounds.

That was the collective stat line of Tate following the Moncton Magic's latest pair of games – a couple of wins.

So why does he remain?

Well, the six-foot-four guard has built up some cache in the weeks prior as evidenced by Tate still remaining fifth in the league in three-point percentage and eighteenth in points.

The fact that Tate could go so flagrantly absent this week is stunning considering the Magic guard has been a model of consistency for his first-place team thus far.

He hit double-digits in all of his previous matches including three 20-plus efforts while shooting above 50 per cent in every one of those games.

Should Tate do a 180 for another week he'll have to be replaced.

But for now he stays.

Warming up the plane:
Keith Wright Jr. (St. John's Edge, 1-5)

Season stats:  10.7 points per game (54.7 per cent), 7.5 rebounds, two blocks