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Never underestimate the value of a consistent shooter.

That’s certainly the mind-set of Ryukyu Golden Kings coach Dai Oketani, who relies on sharpshooter Shigeyuki Kinjo to bury open 3-pointers and long-range shots with an opponent’s hand in his face.

The proof is in the numbers: The Golden Kings are 16-4, the top record in the bj-league, and won five of six December games, a month in which Kinjo nailed 14 of 28 3-pointers.

Kinjo enters the New Year as the top 3-point shooter in the bj-league (45.7 percent, or 48-for-105). It’s a reminder that he thrives in his role as Ryukyu’s designated perimeter marksman. In addition, he’s averaging 14.6 points per game.

Kinjo is The Japan Times’ Offensive Player of the Month for December.

Dynamic forwards Michael Parker of the Rizing Fukuoka and Gordon James of the Takamatsu Five Arrows are The Japan Times’ December Defensive Players of the Month.

Parker, one of the league’s top all-around players, is the No. 1 scorer entering January with a 25.6 points per game average. His impact is much greater, however, for John Neumann’s team.

Parker is third in the league in blocked shots (2.2 per game), third in rebounds (13.4) and fifth in steals (2.1). Indeed, it’s a rare feat for a player to be in the top five in all three categories, but it illustrates Parker’s superb athleticism.

What’s more, Parker has played 780 minutes, tied with Ryukyu’s Jeff Newton for the league lead. Even so, his energy level has not wavered.

James, the winner of the league’s rebounding title the past two seasons and currently No. 2 at 14.5 rpg, has matured as an all-around defender, as evidenced by his 16 blocked shots in December, a month in which he recorded eight double-doubles and an eye-raising 27-point, 22-rebound, six-block effort on Dec. 21.

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