Dhane Smith Buffalo Bandits NLL MVP
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Predicting the NLL MVP – By the Numbers

We’re now chugging through the second half of the 2016 season and it’s time to start speculating on this season’s NLL MVP. The last time we saw the Most Valuable Player award go to anyone other than the overall points leader was back in 2011 when Jeff Shattler took the honors while Ryan Benesch led the league in goals and points. From face-off men, to goalies and back to the defensemen in front of them, there’s consistently been some incredible performances throughout this season, but with a points leader that’s averaging over 8 per game, it’s hard to make the case that any other player is bringing more value to his team.

You want the numbers? We got the numbers! We’re taking a look at the top 10 points leaders in the NLL by crunching their current totals to give a projected estimate for how they should finish the regular season. We also did the same thing for each athlete after Week 6 to compare their progress.

Numbers after Week 10

Rank Player Games Goals Assists Points Current Projection Projection at Wk. 6 Change
1 Smith, Dhane 10 38 46 84 152 150 +2%
2 Crawford, Callum 10 18 47 65 117 110 +6%
3 Evans, Shawn 8 24 34 58 130 126 +3%
4 Schuss, Logan 9 17 38 55 110 111 -1%
5 Jones, Adam 9 34 19 53 100 98 +2%
Hellyer, Rob 8 20 33 53 120 108 +10%
7 Dickson, Curtis 10 29 23 52 94 82 +13%
Grant, John 9 17 29 46 92 97 -6%
9 Duch, Rhys 9 20 29 49 98 82 +14%
Jamieson, Cody 8 17 32 49 110 126 -13%

That means Dhane Smith is somehow still getting better each and every week and is on course to break some records. It was just last season when reigning NLL MVP Shawn Evans set the points in a season record at 130. Smith is on course to eclipse the record in his 16th game and set the record somewhere around 152 points, which should be led by 86 assists, again breaking Shawn Evans’ record of 83 set last season. He’s also on track for points per game and assists per game records too.

By the way it looks, no one is on course to even catch the big man, but anything can happen! Smith’s Bandits are tied for 1st in the Eastern Conference with the New England Black Wolves. The playoff picture is in focus for Buffalo, but regardless of what happens with the team, if Smith sticks to his game plan and continues to progress, he should be an easy shoo-in for the 2016 NLL MVP.

After back-to-back “sock trick” performances, Adam Jones is quickly leapfrogging his way back through the points race. Jones’ points per game average dropped after he missed just one game earlier this season, but he’s done more than anyone could have imagined, scoring 16 goals in his last 3 games back.

2015 Numbers (For Comparison)

Rank Player Games Goals Assists Points
1 Evans, Shawn 18 47 83 130
2 Matthews, Mark 18 53 62 115
3 Benesch, Ryan 18 55 58 113
4 Smith, Dhane 18 39 68 107
5 Duch, Rhys 18 41 62 103
6 Sanderson, Josh 18 19 83 102
7 Steenhuis, Mark 17 36 59 95
8 Jones, Adam 16 51 42 93
Dickson, Curtis 18 48 45 93
10 Church, Robert 17 37 55 92
Jamieson, Cody 18 36 56 92

To look a little closer, Saskatchewan’s Mark Matthews is on course to end up on the final list once again. If he stays on track, his current 44 points through 8 games could translate into 99 by the season’s end. Mark Steenhuis, who was #7 overall last season, is only projected to finish with 65 total in 2016 and his Buffalo teammate, former #3 on the list, Ryan Benesch, missed a game this year but should still hit 87 points if things go as planned.

The last big scorer was Josh Sanderson, but due to injury, he’s only competed in the last 3 games with Toronto. Nailing down 19 points in the games he has played could lead him to finish right around 50 points. Not too shabby for watching from the bleachers in the first major chunk of the season!

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So what do you think, folks? Is this big Dhane Smith’s NLL MVP award to win or are there other factors I’m overlooking while speculating? Let us know who you think is making the biggest impact in the 2016 NLL season in the comments below!