The Alaska Aces are off to a good start in the 2016 Oppo Commissioner’s Cup with a 3-1 record. They have won 3 straight games with their replacement import, Shane Edwards. Their lone loss came when their original import, Robert Dozier, did not play due to plantar fasciitis. That injury has sidelined Dozier up to this point but his recovery is progressing well and his return is nearing.
Therefore, Alaska coach Alex Compton and team management need to make a decision very soon on which import to use moving forward.
So, who should Alaska choose once Dozier has been cleared to play?
They should stick with Edwards. Why fix what’s not broken?
The Aces are undefeated with Edwards. He has been a good fit with them and team chemistry does not appear to be an issue right now even if he came in late as a replacement. He is a new import who has had limited practice time but that has not prevented Edwards from playing well. Remember, Shane Edwards arrived when Rob Dozier could not play in Alaska’s first game due to his foot injury.
Furthermore, they have a winning margin of about 15 points during those 3 wins and they did not defeat lightweights. They beat the defending champions, Tropang TnT and the runner-up last year RoS Elasto Painters.
Moreover, his numbers are impressive at 30.6 points, 15.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.0 steals. Among current imports, Edwards is fourth in scoring and first in steals. He also has a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 31.4 which places him 3rd among imports while playing only 36.5 minutes which places him 11th among imports. Only Antoine Wright of RoS plays fewer minutes while one local player averages more minutes than Edwards (Stanley Pringle).
Additionally, Edwards seems to be an unselfish player who plays within the system of the team. He does not take a lot of bad shots and he does not rely on isolation plays to score buckets. In fact, Edwards thrives on pick and rolls and he relishes cutting to the rim.
Meanwhile, Dozier played here twice during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. His 2-year career averages are 20.9 points, 15.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.6 blocks. His PER was at 29.9 while playing 39.8 minutes. Going by the stats, Edwards has the advantage in points, rebounds, assists, steals and PER even while playing fewer minutes. On the other hand, Dozier has a higher block rate which can be interpreted as being a better defensive player than Edwards but Edwards clearly has the advantage offensively and he is a more efficient contributor.
With Shane Edwards at the helm, the Aces are tops in points per (110.5 ppg) and second in shooting percentage.
Aside from those, they are also #1 in fast break points and also #1 in turnover points per game. A major reason for leading those categories can be traced to their import. Edwards is athletic and lengthy. He runs the floor well and he can finish in the paint. Others will argue that Dozier could do the same things BUT that was 2 years ago and that was before he had a foot injury. Thus, it would be risky to expect Dozier to provide the same production and efficiency.
One more thing, Edwards has more range and is a slightly better perimeter shooter than Dozier. Edwards makes 1.3 threes per game (31%) while Dozier rarely made and attempted threes (0.3 made on 0.9 attempts).
Now, the advantage that Dozier definitely has over Edwards is experience. He was a former Best Import and he won a championship with Alaska during 2013. Dozier knows how to win and how to be successful in this league. However, times have changed and some of Alaska’s players are gone plus their system has been revamped. If the Aces use Dozier soon in lieu of Edwards, there will be an adjustment period because Dozier will not be in game shape and he won’t have the luxury of being familiar with the plays and the players because he has not practiced in a while. More importantly, a different coach is now patrolling the sidelines (Compton). Dozier last played for Coach Luigi Trillo who is no longer with Alaska.
In conclusion, the Aces should stick with Shane Edwards even if Dozier is deemed healthy to return. They are winning with Edwards and replacing him with Dozier might ruin the cohesion and chemistry of the team. The Aces also have positive momentum in their favor.
But if Alaska starts having a losing streak, then replacing the import makes more sense. Until then, why fix what’s not broken? – By Rolly Mendoza
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