After guiding London Lions to a British Basketball League Championship and Cup double, former NBA forward Sam Dekker has been awarded the Molten BBL Player of the Year award for 2022/23, topping a vote of head coaches from the 10 League teams.
The 6’9”, 29-year-old native of Wisconsin, joined London in the summer following stints in Turkey, Russia, and the NBA, where he was drafted as the 18th overall pick for Houston Rockets, before spending time with the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors.
Dekker, a pillar of the Lions’ team, made an instantaneous impact at the Copper Box Arena, delivering huge, clutch performances, including a game-high 22 points and nine rebounds as he scooped MVP honours during the BBL Cup Final victory over the defending champions Leicester Riders, in front of a sell-out crowd at Utilita Arena, Birmingham.
Whilst leading the Lions to their first Championship title since 2018/19, he also finished the season as the league’s sixth-leading scorer, averaging 17.1 points per game and being the most prolific interior shooter with 67.1% efficiency. In addition, Dekker also contributed with 5.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per outing.
Recently named in the Molten BBL Team of the Year, the captain was further honoured as one of the finest and most consistent performers following the Lions’ historic European campaign, with a selection in the All-EuroCup second team. During the season, he ranked second among all EuroCup scorers with 18.2 points, as well as posting with 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and a team-high 1.2 steals.
“I haven’t won an MVP since high school, so this feels pretty good,” said Dekker, who has also signed a three-year contract extension with Lions.
“I think we had deserving players for this award, and I see how hard these guys work.
“This is the first of my professional career, and I’m really happy to be making an impact here and to be doing it in this country.
“Whenever you can be given an accolade for what you do in your profession, it’s an honour and a great feeling.
“I have a room in my office back home which has all my medals and trophies, and this will be a centrepiece. It’s one that means a lot, this league means a lot to me, and I’m honoured, and I appreciated all the people who voted, and I’m blown away by that.
“I see British basketball and being a part of the growth as a cool opportunity, I think it just needed a spark and our team has done that this year.”
In a rematch of last year’s hotly contested final, the rivalry will continue on Sunday afternoon when the London Lions and Leicester Riders square in the prestigious British Basketball League Play-off Finals.
With bragging rights on the line, and no love lost between the two sides, the Lions will be seeking to complete a season treble in front of a capacity crowd at The O2, London.
Fans can tune in live from 1pm on Sunday, May 14 on Sky Sports and the Sky Sports YouTube channel for what is set to be an afternoon of exhilarating action and entertainment.