The Longley-Marks Medal. The highest honour any Australian and New Zealand basketball player can earn. Forget the NBA Most Valuable Player award, that is for over-hyped and over-paid show ponies. Forget NBA championships, unless a team comprised of only ANZACS lift the Larry O’Brien trophy it doesn’t really stand for anything. No, the greatest achievement any player to make the association from Australia and its little brother New Zealand can gain is the Longley-Marks Medal.
Simply put, the Longley-Marks medal is awarded to the best Aussie or Kiwi player each year. Each month the performances of all Oceanic players are considered and the best performers are ranked and votes are allocated according to our complex voting system which will be introduced later. The players eligible for the award are Australians Andrew Bogut, Patrick Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, New Zealand born but Australian bred Aron Baynes and New Zealander Steven Adams. Presumably next year the players eligible will go to six with the inclusion of exciting prospect Dante Exum and hopefully young gunh Ben Simmons shortly after.
So who hands out the votes each month? Well unlike many of the other fine awards that NZhoops hands out this is not a panel process. This is not a democracy. This is a dictatorship and an unruly one at that. I am judge, jury and executioner and I make the final call. I am like Big Brother. No, better yet I am like Simon Cowell. No, wait, better than that I am David Stern. Yes, I am the stylin’, profiln’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ son of a gun David Stern! Whooooo!
With this development in the judging process some may ask “Who made this hobbit who only writes about Steven Adams from his Steven Adams bat cave in charge?” This is a fair question and it demands a fair answer. Well basically it was my idea so I am in charge. If you are battling this concept I implore you recall your childhood when your mother was demanding you come inside from shooting on the backyard hoop which always did have that slight bow in it. You thought your mother was looking out for you, not wanting to see her favourite child injured because it was pitch black and you couldn’t see the ring anymore. But in reality she was sick of the look the neighbour gave her the next morning because it was her child that was the one annoying the entire street with the consistent sound of a Spalding connecting with concrete. You would ask your mother why you had to come inside and without hesitation your mother would return fire with “Because I’m you mother and I said so”. In this instance I am your mother. I am David Stern and your mother.
The next question you may be asking is “Why is this prestigious medal only being introduced halfway through the season?” This is another great question and once again it requires a great answer. As I said in the first line of my first article for NZhoops, this is a place of honesty so the honest answer is: I just thought of it.
The fourth question you may be asking is “How will the votes be handed out?” and “What constitutes a player earning higher votes over another”. Well make no doubt about it, I am biased and can be easily bought. I will try my very best to call it fair but for example; Andrew Bogut could put up a stat line of 28 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and five assists against the Rockets of H-Town but Steven Adams could swat a Rajon Rando layup attempt into the fifth row of the TD Garden and earn maximum votes (No points for you Rajon!). Another example could be if you make Boogie Cousins look bad you will lose votes. Nobody puts Boogie in a corner.
Finally, I know you are excited to jump into the votes tally but before we do I think it is essential for the status of this medal that we touch on the history that is the Longley-Marks Medal. As the vast majority of you would be aware Luc Longley and Sean Marks were the first players to represent Australia and New Zealand in an NBA game respectively.
Although for the creditability of this honour to remain intact it’s imperative we hit on two facts in Australian basketball history that are often overlooked. Longley was not the first Australian to be drafted. That honour went to Carl Rodwell, the 217th and penultimate selection in the 1969 NBA draft to the Atlanta Hawks. People might recall the number one selection in that draft; ‘The Captain’ Kareem Abdul Jabbar but it was Rodwell by way of country New South Wales and UC Riverside who would officially be the first Australian drafted. This feat is still unrecognised in many Australian basketball circles. Rodwell would never suit up in an NBA game. Interestingly five years later another Australian would be selected by the Atlanta Hawks during the 1974 draft. Ed Palubinskas would go with the 61st pick from Louisiana State University as Bill Walton went number one in the same draft. Palubinskas would also not play an NBA game but to his credit was a very successful Olympic player, averaging 21.1 and 31.3 Points per game in the 1972 Munich games and 1976 Montreal games respectively. Those totals would also make him the second leading scorer in ’72 and the leading scorer in ’76 (That was one deep internet rabbit hole I just fell down, there’s a few hours gone).
Lucien James Longley stood seven foot two and tipped the scale at 265 pounds of Australian basketball pride. Out of the University of New Mexico near JP Wynne High School he was drafted by the Timberwolves at pick seven in the 1991 NBA draft. He would later be traded to the Bulls along with a second round selection for Stacey King. He would hold down the Bulls’ paint during the second coming of ‘His Airness’ and went on to win three Larry O’Brien trophies. After landing in the Arizona desert to play with the Suns and finally playing 25 games in the big apple he would retire in 2001. Longley finished his career with an average of 7.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.5 APG and 1 BPG (Yes I realise these numbers aren’t exactly jumping off the page but you go ahead and speak negatively about one of Australian basketballs royalties, I’m not. I live in constant fear of Australian god of basketball Lindsay Gaze striking me down; you try living with that fear every day! So no, we will marvel in Lucien James Longley and pray to Basketball Jesus Andrew Gaze).
Sean Marks was drafted with the 44th pick in the 1998 draft by the other New York basketball club. With that draft pick he became the first ever New Zealand born player to be drafted to the NBA. He would only spend a day as a member of the other New York Basketball club as the next day he was traded to Drake’s Raptors along with Charles Oakley for Marcus Camby. He would later suit up for the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs (23 games during the 2004-05 championship season), Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers, before ending up on the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats rosters – but he failed to play a game for either organization. Interestingly enough he actually had a 10 day contract with the Seattle Supersonics (Oh there’s that name again. Do. Not. Get. Me. Started. On. Seattle. Not. Having. A. Team) but Marks would not pull on the Seattle green. Marks would end his career having been a part of one –third of the organizations within the association. The Kiwi pioneer finished his 230 game career with a stat line that read; 9.9MPG, 2.7PPG, 2.1RPG and 0.4 BPG.
After 1324 words I feel like we have established just how important this medal is and what it stands for. Don’t for a second think this is some made up medal that just sits on the world wide web, no, no, no, I have been in contact with my local trophy and engraving store. I had the designed picked and it was ready to be engraved minus the winner’s name (This medal isn’t that rigged to have the winners name already engraved). The trophy man on the other end of the telephone line asked “what was the name of the medal?”, “The Longley-Marks Medal” I proudly replied. The voice on the other end of the phone took a second before asking “What does that stand for?” I hung up the telephone. Back to square one.
On to the voting.
As I said earlier I was late on this idea and as such we will go lighting fast through the first two months of the season to catch up to the current day.
Here’s how the voting will work;
Votes are given at the end of each month, as not everyone of our Oceanic players suit up nightly it would be difficult to have the voting tallied every so number of games played, so to keep it simple we will have the votes handed out at the end of each month. How many votes that are given out is a procedure to honour both Marks and Longley and it’s where things get a little technical. (But not as technical as the way win shares are calculated) 40 Votes will be handed out each month, this is to honour the number Marks wore during the final seasons of his NBA career. The maximum amount of votes a player can earn per month is 13, this to honour Lucien Longley and the number he adorn during his Bulls championship years.
Here’s an example of how the voting may go;
Patrick Mills: 13 votes (maximum)
Andrew Bogut: 11 votes
Steven Adams: 8 votes
Matthew Dellavedova: 5 votes
Aron Baynes: 3 votes
Total: 40 votes
Now a player does not have to score votes, if he goes missing, is fined for flopping or plays for the Knicks then he may not score a vote, my hypothetical voting tally above had Aron Baynes score 3 votes due to the fact he plays on the same team as The Big Fundamental Timmy D and that gets automatic votes.
Looking at a snapshot of November we had some exciting moments in Australian and New Zealand basketball. Both Steven Adams and Matthew Dellavedova made their NBA debuts. I have already covered Adams first month in the association here and here. But in short he played consistent minutes in a Thunder squad that went 11-3 in November. His impressive start to his NBA career involved the first double-double by a New Zealand born player since Sean Marks accomplished the feat and the first dub-dub for a Thunder centre since February 2010
The Bogeyman Andrew Bogut would average 9.6 RPG in November including a streak of six double digit rebound games but unfortunately four of those came in Warrior losses (Not that the performance of a player’s team heavily effects the Longley-Marks medal). Bogut would have three double-doubles in November. The former Utah Ute’s best game of the month came in a loss to the Lakers at Staples Center in which he grabbed 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block and 12 points.
Patty Mills suited up 16 times for the defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs during November, averaging 16.3 MPG in that time. The Boomers point guard shot over 40% both from the field and beyond the arc for an average of 7.2 PPG. He would also add over one assist, rebound and steal per game. The Canberra (Australia’s capital city for those New Zealanders playing at home) native had three standout games for November including a 10 point, four steal, three rebound, two assist performance in a 24-point Spurs win at Philadelphia. The other two games of note for Pattycake’s month came in back to back games over the Cavs and PELICAAAAANNNNNSSS!! Mills went for 15 points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal against Cleveland before backing it up against the ‘Cans with a 12 point, two assist, one rebound and one steal outing.
Aron Baynes would play nine games in November, only managing double digit minutes three times with one of them being over 20 minutes in a 30 point blowout against Cleveland. That game was his best for the month, including five rebounds, two assists and six points.
Lastly, Matthew Dellavedova made his NBA debut in Cleveland’s third game for the season against Lance “The Eighth Grader” Stephenson’s Indiana Pacers. He would get only just over a minute in action coming in the final moments after he checked in for the ever improving Tristan Thompson at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (For the record “The Eighth Grader” dropped 22 points in central division clash, BORN READY!!!). With that minute of play Delly would become the twelfth Australian to play in the Association. Delly has been anything but an un-drafted free agent bench warmer since his arrival in Cleveland. During November he played six games with double digit minutes and of those six, four would be over 25 minutes. The kid from country Victoria (Maryborough to be exact, really nice Football oval there, great surface) averaged 13.7 MPG whilst shooting 45.2% from the field. The Cavs rookie also provided 1.5 RPG, 0.9 AST, 0.6 STL and 3.5 PPG in November. All this whilst keeping his turnover numbers to 0.5 per game, great from a backup point/off-ball two guard. Delly’s best performance for the month (ESPN agreed with the Longley-Marks medal voting panel that Delly was the stand out performer) came in a massive 30 point loss to the San Antonio Spurs (The same game Aron Baynes played over 20 minutes with Patty Mills also offering fantastic production). In that game Dellavedova played close to 34 minutes whilst grabbing two rebounds, two assists, four steals and dropping 14 points. Delly went six of eight from the field making it a mini-breakout performance in only his eighth game in the Association. Impressive for a hungry rookie.
If you are after a detailed review of Delly’s rookie campaign I strongly encourage you to read Sam Garriock’s piece on the 23 year old Australian here.
November Stat Lines
13 games, 17.9 MPG, 46.8% FG, 5.2 RPG, 0.8 AST, 0.8 TO, 0.4 STL, 1.2 BPG, 4.8 PPG
9 games, 8.8 MPG, 25% FG, 2.4 RPG, 0.7 AST, 0.7 TO, 0 STL, 0 BPG, 1.7 PPG
14 games, 29.1MPG, 54% FG, 9.6 RPG, 2.1 AST, 2.1 TO, 0.7 STL, 1.8 BPG, 7.4 PPG
11 games, 13.7 MPG, 45.2% FG, 37.5%, 1.5 RPG, 0.9 AST, 0.5 TO, 0.6 STL, 3.5 PPG
16 games, 16.3 MPG, 44.7%FG, 40.9% 3FG, 1.3RPG, 1.5 AST, 0.7 TO, 1.2 STL, 7.2 PPG
With the first month on the NBA season under the belt, let’s look at how the voting panel saw the November performances.
Steven Adams: 11 votes
Andrew Bogut: 9 Votes
Patrick Mills: 8 Votes
Matthew Dellavedova: 7 Votes
Aron Baynes: 5 Votes
Now it’s at this point after the first votes have been printed on the internet that we give the NZhoops readers their voice. If you disagree with the ‘expert’ panels voting, think something was missed or just want your voice heard you can use the twitter hash tag #longleymarksmedal and include your opinion. All tweets will be read and although in the opening portion of this piece I spent 284 words explaining why I am THE man and my decision is final I must have softened over the following 2000 words as I feel this has to become the people’s medal and as such opinions will be considered when handing out the monthly votes.
After each months tally is printed on the World Wide Web there will be an explanation to how the votes fell the way they did. For November it was difficult to split Adams and Bogut for top vote getter. Adams was making his debut, managing to double-double in only his fifth game (And it being against DEEEEETROIT BASKETBALLLLL!) but Bogut did have six straight double digit rebound games along with three dub-dub’s. Here’s where Adams found the extra two votes; His name appears as the second name on nba.com/stats, making my job that much easier, he activated the beaver via twitter and had this;
NEVER GETS OLD.
Patrick Mills was productive in his role as one of the backup guards in San Antonio. As mentioned earlier he offered some scoring off the Spurs bench but any player who can go two from seven from three point land on Gregg Popovich’s squad and still get close to twenty minutes of court time the next night gets votes from me. That and the passion I can hear in his voice is something I can really identify with;
And how could this photo not manage a vote or two;
Rounding out the votes for November was Aron Baynes, production wise his month wasn’t as polished as our other medal candidates but as I said, he earns an automatic three votes for being Timmy Duncan’s teammate and another two votes for his Halloween costume (Yes, I realise Halloween is in October but how can you not bend the rules to accommodate this. Baynes as Bane= vote worthy).
As most are well aware Steven Adams cooled off just slightly leading up to Christmas, to read a comprehensive review of the young Kiwi’s second month in the NBA take a look at my piece here. With Kendrick Perkins realising that he still played professional basketball and he himself seeing an increase in minutes resulted in Adams having a slight decrease in his court time, 2.8 minutes down on November. He failed to grab more than seven rebounds in any game and didn’t manage to break double digits in the points category either. However, he was the best performer among medal candidates during the Thunder’s 13 point victory in San Antonio before Christmas. Adams grabbed six boards, two blocks and five points in the win which will certainly impress the voting panel.
Melbourne-born Andrew Bogut enjoyed increasing his average rebound per game numbers into double digits (11.5) along with also increasing both his shooting percentage and points per game in December. The Bogeyman managed three double doubles during the festive season (the same as November), all three dub-dub’s came during a streak of nine straight games with double digit rebounds. He managed his double doubles against H-Town and both Los Angeles basketball clubs. Bogut relished in the week leading to the Christmas Day game against the Clippers. The week begun with 18 boards, two steals, two assists, three blocks and eight points in another important game for medal contenders with the Warriors playing host to the Spurs. Two nights later Bogut would record 20 rebounds and 12 points against the Lakers at home before playing host to the Clippers on the NBA’s Christmas Day showcase. The Bogeyman trapped 14 rebounds and ten points in the Warriors win over the Clips. During that game Blake Griffin would get ejected after his second technical, that coming after a tussle between the two former number one overall draft picks. The voting panel likes to see a battle for position and the medal candidates keep their cool whilst the opponent is ejected, it usually ends up in a vote or two (Just ask Steven Adams, he knows how the panel likes their basketball played).
Banger Baynes adorned the Spurs silver and black nine times during December, increasing his entire stat line whilst his minutes stayed close to his November average. Banger’s second game for the month came in an away game at Toronto and it was his best game for the December. He played over 20 minutes, shooting seven from nine, grabbing six rebounds and finishing with 14 points. Now Banger must know how to impress the voting panel because it’s one thing to have a great performance, it’s another to have a great performance in Drake’s hometown Toronto. The voting panel puts great emphasis on playing well in the city led by Rob Ford and Baynes did just that. He backed it up in the following game at Utah, snatching eight rebounds and nine points in the blowout win over the ‘Sorry for Jabari’ Jazz. After the game in Utah, Banger saw eight minutes of court time during the pivotal medal matchup against the Warriors. The New Zealand born Baynes seized three rebounds and provided two points in his time on court, the low numbers relegating him to the third best performer out of the medal candidates. Finishing off the month on New Years Eve Banger hosted the better New York basketball club. The Spurs would feast on the Nets, running out 21 point victors. Baynes pitched in with six points in the win, that is not how you earn points Aron.
Former St Mary’s Gael Dellavedova took to the hardwood 12 times for the Cavs during December. Delly improved his efficiency to be end the month shooting at a 50% clip from both within and beyond the arc. The country boy would also improve his assist average by one and increased his points per game to a touch under five per outing. His best games for the month came in a three game stretch over the Christmas period were the rookie scored 10, 10 and nine points. Those outings came against divisional foes the Bulls and DEEEEETRIOT BASKETBALL whilst facing off against Danny Ferry’s Atlanta Hawks in the final game of the stretch. Of those, the loss at home to DEEETROIT BASKETBALL was his strongest showing having shot four from six, grabbing two rebounds, six assists, one steal and as earlier mentioned recording 10 points. In a key game for medal votes Delly failed to show the judges much, only recording eight minutes of action against Bogey and the Warriors before New Years Eve. Dellavedova finished the game with one rebound, one foul and one turnover leaving Bogut little to do to take the votes from the medal matchup.
Finally, Patty Mills enjoyed a solid December, increasing his minutes, rebounds, assists and points even if it was a only a fractional increase. Mills played the 15 games to finish off his 2013, averaging 17.4 MPG and 8.4 PPG. Pattycakes had some great games during the festive season, having six double digit scoring games including a 20 point outing in a crucial game for medal candidates. Mills had scored big against Bogey and the Warriors (Bogey also had a great game in a showcase for Australian basketball as it was the first time three Australians played in the same game with Mills, Baynes and Bogut) to go along with his five rebounds, two assists and three steals. Patty played the most amount of minutes for the Spurs in the two point victory as Popovich sat Duncan, Manu and Parker. This performance is sure to impress the voting panel. As with Banger Baynes, Mills also had a productive outing against the Nets on New Years Eve with 12 points and three assists. This performance is sure to not impress the voting panel.
December Stat Line
17 games, 14.1 MPG, 47.2% FG, 4.0 RPG, 0.8 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.8 BPG, 3.5 PPG.
9 games, 8.5 MPG, 55.9% FG, 3.0 RPG, 0.3 AST, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 4.3 PPG.
16 games, 26.9 MPG, 67.5% FG, 11.5 RPG, 0.9 AST, 0.7 STL, 1.6 BPG, 8.2 PPG.
12 games, 15.8 MPG, 50% FG, 50% 3FG, 1.3 RPG, 1.9 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.3 BLK, 4.9 PPG.
15 games, 17.4 MPG, 43.5% FG, 36.4% 3FG, 1.5 RPG, 1.6 AST, 0.7 STL, 0.2 BLK, 8.4 PPG.
Andrew Bogut – 10 votes
Patrick Mills – 9 votes
Matthew Dellavedova – 7 votes
Steven Adams -7 votes
Aron Baynes -7 votes
The voting for December was extremely difficult with Bogut averaging double digit rebounds along with getting Blake Griffin tossed from the game (anytime a player does something positive against Blake the voting panel will reward it very highly as Blake is likely to take one of BOOOOOGIE Cousins’ available All-Star spots). Mills marginally increasing his production but performing big in a critical medal game also caused headaches for the voting panel. Dellavedova made a splash but unlike Mills failed to show up to the showdown during a pivotal Longley-Marks medal game. Adams cooled off but still showed signs for a 20 year old rookie and Banger Baynes played well in Toronto.
But ultimately the panel couldn’t go past Bogut’s rebounding performance for the month and the Griffin ejection. Mills earned himself high votes for his solid December but for also playing such a pivotal role for the NBA during the festive season. Mills was a “Giving Ambassador” during the holiday period and felt like just about everyday he was assisting a different charity. We love that sort of stuff on the panel.
Where panel struggled to split the votes was at the lower end of the candidates, Delly was rewarded for a his improvement along with some great outings but was hurt by his limited action against Bogey and the Warriors. Adams witnessed a drop in his votes from November to December and this reflected his decreased performance for the month.
But stiffest overall was Aron Baynes. Although he didn’t put up numbers to make the panel sit up and take notice, he did tweet about how good the Walking Dead was and he also posted a photo of this;
Banger Baynes was at the YEEEEEEEZUS concert and all I can say is he must know how to ‘woooo’ the voting panel because although he isn’t playing extensive minutes and putting up big numbers he is still doing all the right things to earn votes. Playing with Timmy D along with loving the Walking Dead and Yeezus, you just walked into seven votes Banger.
After two months in the race to the Longley-Marks Medal the leaderboard is as followed;
Andrew Bogut: 19 Votes
Steven Adams: 18 votes
Patrick Mills: 17 Votes
Matthew Dellavedova: 14 Votes
Aron Baynes: 12 Votes
We still have 4 voting periods to go; January, February, March and half of April. The race for the inaugural Longley-Marks medal is well and truly on.
Remember to have your say at #longleymarksmedal or tweet @toddjonessc to blow up my timeline, but warn me if you are going to drop opinion bombs so I can put on my helmet and get down to the bomb shelter.