Preview the NLL Rookie Report for Week 5 on IL Indoor as Mike Mackley tracks the progress of some of the National Lacrosse League’s brightest young stars each and every week on Inside Lacrosse.
“With every team taking to the floor at least once this past weekend, that meant it was a busy week for National Lacrosse League rookies as seventeen freshmen saw action,” Mackley writes. “There were a few firsts for rookies this past week. Defenders Tyson Bell (Calgary) and Adam Bomberry(Rochester) potted their first NLL goals, while the Georgia Swarm’s Reid Acton made his NLL debut. When you mix in the jaw-dropping performances from a trio of Georgia Swarm first round picks Lyle Thompson, Jesse King and Randy Staats, Week 5 of action was certainly an appealing one for those who follow the league’s rookies.”
1. Lyle Thompson (RF) – Georgia Swarm
2 GP – 3 G – 10 A – 13 PTS – 0 PIM – 7 SOG – 10 LB – 4 TO – 1 CTO – 2 for 4 FO
Relatively quiet through his first three National Lacrosse League games, the 2015 first overall pick broke out in a big way this past weekend. Thompson put up 10 points in Georgia’s 20-17 win over the Toronto Rock and followed that up with a three point performance against one of the league’s top defences in Rochester. The 13-point weekend vaulted him into second in rookie scoring behind teammate Staats. Thompson was excellent in both of the Swarm’s wins. Extremely shifty and elusive in possession, Thompson’s quick feet allow him to create space for himself. With an ability to beat the opposition from the outside or to the net, Thompson often demands double teams to force the ball from his stick. What makes Thompson most dangerous is his floor vision. When the double team comes, Thompson finds an open man and creates offensively. His versatility is what makes him so lethal.
2. Randy Staats (RF) – Georgia Swarm
2 GP – 5 G – 6 A – 11 PTS – 4 PIM – 18 SOG – 9 LB – 1 TO – 0 CTO
Staats looked human in the Swarm’s 11-6 Loss to New England during Week 3. That down week must have been the calm before the storm, though, as Staats broke out yet again this past week. Putting up a quiet three goals in Georgia’s win over the Rock on Friday night, Staats put the team’s offence on his back Saturday night in Rochester. Picking up 2 goals and 5 assists along with 8 loose balls in the win over Rochester, Staats was the unquestioned leader of the offence. He continues to display inhuman stat lines an eye-opening performances week in and week out. Simply put, you can’t give Staats time and space or he will burn you. If you back off and respect his speed and strength to the net, he burns you with a pinpoint accurate outside shot. If you get up tight on his hands, he beats you to the net with quickness. And if you decide to double team him, he quickly finds an open teammate.
4. Tyson Bell (D) – Calgary Roughnecks
1 GP – 1 G – 2 A – 3 PTS – 4 PIM – 1 SOG – 3 LB – 3 TO – 1 CTO
Bell continued to show what has made him so effective throughout the first four games of his NLL career. Excellent in transition, Bell continues to show strong defensive instincts along with solid one on one defence and impressive overall floor awareness. Bell’s biggest impact has been in transition for the Roughnecks, as his high end foot speed and deceptively strong ball skills have shone brightest. This week Bell finally found the back of the net, picking up his first career NLL goal, while also adding two assists. It was just a matter of time until the St. Catharines, Ontario native found the score sheet as he’s been a threat night in and night out transitioning the ball into the offensive zone. An intelligent defender, Bell shows intriguing upside moving forward and should be a mainstay on the Roughnecks back end for years to come.
5. Wesley Berg (RF) – Calgary Roughnecks
1 GP – 1 G – 3 A – 4 PTS – 2 PIM – 4 SOG – 4 LB – 2 TO – 0 CTO
Somewhat surprisingly, Berg’s name doesn’t often come up in the same breath as the likes of Staats, King and Thompson. Berg has arguably been the NLL’s most consistent rookie through the first five weeks, averaging 3.25 points per game. While his touches are often limited as Dane Dobbie, Jeff Shattler and Curtis Dickson demand their touches (for good reason) Berg has made his touches count. Displaying excellent athleticism and high end foot speed, along with a potent outside shot and a nose for the net, you can’t help but wonder what type of stat line Berg would be putting up if he took the place of a Staats or Thompson on the right side of the Georgia offence.
6. Jordan Gilles (D) – Colorado Mammoth
1 GP – 2 G – 0 A – 2 PTS – 0 PIM – 4 SOG – 5 LB – 0 TO – 2 CTO
Friday night brought yet another solid performance for Gilles as the speedy and tenacious two-way threat produced an intriguing stat line. Picking up two goals, five loose balls and two created turnovers, Gilles was all over the score sheet as he continues to make an impact on a nightly basis. If Berg is the model of consistency offensively, it would be hard to argue that Gilles is not the model of consistency defensively. Gilles has routinely improved his defensive game, effectively limiting some of the game’s top offensive threats on a regular basis, while still managing to transition up floor with speed and become a threat in the offensive zone. Gilles’ Lacrosse IQ is extremely high—he shows excellent floor awareness and strong anticipation skills while boasting an appealing skill set that includes deceptively strong hands and an abundance of athleticism.
10. Mitch de Snoo (D) – Buffalo Bandits
1 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 PTS – 0 PIM – 1 SOG – 3 LB – 0 TO – 2 CTO
After being scratched in the Bandits opening game, de Snoo has become a mainstay in their lineup. While de Snoo displays reliable defensive zone play, he is at his best in transition with excellent foot speed, deceptively good ball skills and sound decision making. As a player who pushes the pace and makes himself a threat in the offensive zone, de Snoo has significantly improved his defensive zone play as the season has gone on, forcing two turnovers this past weekend while remaining strong on loose balls, scooping three in the Bandits loss to New England.