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Frontcourt dynamos Warren, James earn monthly awards

by Ed Odeven

Steady Reggie Warren has been a consistent scorer for the Takamatsu Five Arrows since joining the team last season.

News photoReggie Warren
FIVE ARROWS PHOTO

He helped the team make an improbable run to the bj-league championship game last spring, which it lost to the Osaka Evessa. Now he’s helping his team remain in the hunt for a top spot in the Western Conference.

Through eight games, the second-place Five Arrows have posted a 6-2 record, during which Warren has led the team in scoring six times.

Averaging 21.3 points per game, the power forward is third in the league in scoring. He’s scored 20-plus points in six of those games and has taken at least 14 shots in each game, which means teammates have shown confidence in him to be a go-to scorer.

Warren is The Japan Times’ Offensive Player of the Month for November.

He has made 64.1 percent of his shots from inside the 3-point arc, but is adept at stepping outside for a 3-pointer when the opportunity is there.

Above all, Warren is a tough, muscular force in close proximity to the hoop.

Case in point: He leads the league in dunks (14). That’s a reminder that he’s always a threat to leave his feet, stuff the ball through the net and embarrass his defender.

Oita HeatDevils power forward Andy Ellis, who is No. 1 in the league in scoring (25.4 ppg), also received strong consideration for the award. He is a skilled outside shooter with a strong array of inside moves as well.

DEFENSIVE WINNER: Gordon James, The Japan Times’ Defensive Player of the Year last season, has elevated his game this fall.

He is an impenetrable presence in the paint. If there’s a rebound to get, expect James to be the man who grabs it.

He leads the bj-league with 17.3 rebounds per game. This includes four games of 20-plus boards already.

James is The Japan Times’ Defensive Player of the Month for November.

The athletic power forward is tied with Toyama Grouses guard Robby Joyner for second in steals (1.9 per game). He’s had at least one steal in each of Saitama’s eight games and picked up two or more in six contests.

The word “relentless” best describes James’ approach to playing defense. His quickness and jumping ability make him a super productive player.

Exhibit A: James has blocked 17 shots, swatting two or more in six games, including five against the Tokyo Apache last Saturday.

James has collected 89 defensive rebounds to date, taking away dozens of second-and third-chance opportunities from the opposition. And he hasn’t fouled out, which underscores the point that he’s a smart player, one who understands the fine line between aggressive play and foolish aggression.

Jeff Newton, Osaka’s outstanding All-Star center, also was in the running for the award. He is No. 2 in the league in rebounds (12.5) and third in blocks (2.5). Furthermore, his quick hands and feet have enabled him to make 13 steals.

Game after game, Newton, a winner of two championship rings during his illustrious tenure at Osaka, shows the same defensive traits that all coaches want from their big man: take up space in the lane and help teammates force opponents to take rushed shots or hurry a pass.