In his first NBL season, Jaylen Adams has won the league’s most coveted individual honour, but that doesn’t come as a surprise to his coach.
Sydney Kings coach Chase Buford said he brought Jaylen Adams to the NBL expecting he would win MVP in his first season.
On Wednesday evening, the NBL announced that Buford’s expectation had become a reality: Adams (105 votes) beat Perth Wildcats superstar Bryce Cotton (94) and Melbourne United big man Jo Lual-Acuil (62) to claim the league’s most coveted individual honour.
It capped off what was a remarkable campaign for the American King, who is now ready to guide Sydney through the play-offs.
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After shaking off a troublesome ankle injury, Adams quickly proved himself as the Kings’ on-court mastermind in NBL22.
He finished the regular season as the league’s leader in assists and became an overnight fan favourite for his ability to save the day under pressure.
But Adams’ heroics haven’t come as a surprise to his coach.
Buford also coached Adams at the Wisconsin Herd, where he came within an inch of winning the G League’s MVP award in the 2019-20 season.
“When he came down here we didn’t talk about it much, but I told him that’s what I expected of him, to come down here and be the MVP because that’s what I thought he was capable of,” Buford said.
“He’s certainly delivered on that.”
Adams said it was a “tremendous honour” to have been named MVP.
“It’s something I came out here with as a quiet goal,” he said.
“I’m thankful for my coach, the front office and the ownership for bringing me here, the fans for their love all season and my teammates.
“It’s a special accomplishment (to be named MVP) and I couldn’t be happier about it, but now I’m ready to get to these finals.”
Adams confirmed he had shaken off the illness that kept him out of the Kings’ last two games of the regular season.
He is set to line up in the Kings’ first game of the play-offs on Friday, to be played against Illawarra Hawks.
“I’m feeling good,” he said.
“I’m working back into that game flow, that game rhythm, all week in practice.
“I know how important this game is, I’m going to be prepared for it.”
Buford said the Kings were raring to be unleashed on their most bitter rivals.
“It’s an opportunity for our team to come out and show what we’ve worked so hard for all year, show what we’re capable of doing,” Buford said.
“To do it against a great opponent like Illawarra, we’re really fired up.”