A Breakdown of Xavier Moon’s Finals MVP Performance

The Edmonton Stingers, and Canadian Elite Basketball League’s (CEBL), 3rd season is just around the corner! As we look forward to more hoops on the hardwood this summer, let’s take a quick look at last summer.

As we all know, the Edmonton Stingers were crowned the CEBL 2020 Summer Series Champions! The Fraser Valley Bandits kept it very close until about halfway through the final quarter. Xavier Moon had quite the performance and earned himself the Finals MVP. Let’s break down where everything went right.

Moon’s first basket of the game came on a very simple, yet very effective move. Daniels comes up to set a pick on his man. Moon jab steps as if to use it and his defender Cadougan bites on it. Moon quickly gets to the hoop with an athletic finish around a flat-footed help defender.

The league is well aware of how fast Moon is (as the AI cameras really highlighted as well) and defenders have to respect that. Not only that, but the Stingers have solid 3 point shooters that you must respect, which tempers help defenders.

His next basket came on a second-chance opportunity. Diawara sets a screen at the top for Moon, and both defenders follow Xavier. He wisely passes to the wide open Mambi for an open look at a 3. Travis Daniels seals his man under the hoop as Moon passes it. In this game, Daniels seemed to be hungrier than everyone else for this win. (We’ll miss you TD! All the best in Saskatoon!) On my second watch through I really noticed him being extremely active, fighting everyone for every board. He gets this one among a couple Bandits, and kicks it out to Moon. Moon pump fakes the 3, takes a couple methodical dribbles and puts in a close ranged jumper.

Xavier’s jump shot was insane this whole game. Here he gets a switch on a soft screen by Diawara. It becomes just an iso as Kyle Johnson becomes the defender. Moon takes a handful of quick dribbles before elevating for a gorgeous jump shot. He didn’t need any separation, he was just able to freeze Johnson to get the look he wanted. Johnson doesn’t get much height on his challenge. If you watched any of the Stingers games this past summer, then you heard Joe Raso say about 14,628 times that Moon’s midrange jumper is higher percentage than a contested layup.

Entering the 2nd quarter, we get another Moon bucket. There’s one drive and kick from Moon to Kareem South, then South returns the favour with his own drive and kick. Moon is then able to drop a floater as he crosses the key. Fraser Valley’s defense was pretty solid most of the game, assists were hard to come by for Moon. However, they weren’t able to contain his scoring.

There were a handful of defensive series where Moon would get switched onto a larger player, most of the time onto Capers. The Bandits attempted to exploit these mismatches, but Moon turned them into empty possessions more often than not. Here he holds his ground near the hoop which allows Daniels to challenge the shot attempt (and grab the rebound). It turns into a slow break where nobody really picks up Moon, so he skips on by everyone for the layup. (1st rule of running a fast break, keep going until someone stops you.)

This next play nearly made me fall out of my seat. Daniels goes to set a screen for Moon, but Marek Klassen gets through. Moon uses a burst of speed then a very quick stop and pull-up. I absolutely love whenever he does this, those midrange daggers are stunning.

Here is Moon’s first 3-point attempt of the game (and first make). He does a sweep from the corner and gets the hand-off from Peter-McNeilly on the wing as he comes up to the top. This causes a quick switch as Manigat is forced to quickly change direction and cover Moon. It’s also compounded by another Daniels screen, and Capers just hedges until Manigat can recover. This gives Moon enough room to pull the trigger. Manigat actually gets some height on the challenge, but it still falls through.

I love Moon’s instincts on defense. He gets screened by Capers on this play, but Daniels faces up Manigat. Moon decides to take away the low pass to Capers as he starts rolling to the hoop, which is exactly where the pass ended up going. Once Moon gets the steal, Daniels bursts towards the other basket for Moon’s 1st assist. Edmonton built a 4 point lead as the half came to an end, 39-35.

A minute into the 2nd half and this occurs.

My wife gasped, and we dashed to cover our children’s eyes. But it was too late. The trauma will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
It was another example of Moon using rapid change of speed to neutralize his defender and get an open look. He was too nice to drain the shot, but Daniels wasn’t. Daniels is a bad, bad man.

On this play, the Stingers defense force a bad turnover. Kamba gets the steal and gets it to Moon for a 3 on 2. Daniels and Moon are picked up by defenders, but not Baker, who cuts through the key to get Moon his 2nd assist. (2ND rule of running a fast break, when a defender commits to you, give it to the open man.)

This is another solid defensive play by Moon. There’s some confusion on the defensive end among the Stingers, but Moon baits the pass attempt to Ashaolu under the hoop. Moon covers some ground when he jumps, and snags the pass. The Stingers end up getting a quick look at a wide open 3 (that misses, but it was still a solid play.)

The Bandits went to a lot of zone and small ball defenses in the 2nd half, as they tried to kick start their offense. The Stingers found a lot of success against the zone by feeding Brody Clarke at the top of the key, where he made a few jump shots and quick solid passes for assists. On this possession however, the offense is stifled. Moon ends up getting the ball for a 4th time on the play before driving and pulling up for a tough jumper over Ashaolu that falls.

Here is where the Stingers start to pull away. Klassen refuses to allow Moon to get the ball to start the offense. The ball is chucked up court to Daniels. Moon cuts one more time just to get the ball, to no avail. Finally, with one quick jab step and burst towards the basket, Daniels gets it to Moon for an epic 3.

With just over a minute away from the Elam Ending, Moon quickly gets around Manigat for another pretty close range pullup over Ashaolu. With Peter-McNeilly, Kamba, Daniels and Clarke on the floor, there’s just too many shooters to respect making it very difficult for any help defenders to chip in. When Ashaolu helps, Capers takes the angle on his man (Daniels) while still staying within reach of Clarke, in case Moon had been forced to kick it out.

The Stingers have started to really pad the lead as Elam Ending approaches. We get to less than 4 minutes in the quarter, and Baker gets the ball right back to Moon for a deep 3. The bench explodes, Kamba is hyped and Baker nonchalantly jogs backwards to the defensive end.

The Elam Ending was merely a formality for the title. Baker hit some shots, and Moon made quite a few free throws. The nail in the coffin came on a desperation steal attempt by Johnson, which sent Moon to the line for the final time. He buried both shots, earned his 3rd Elam winner of the summer, the Finals MVP and the Edmonton Stingers the CEBL Championship.

Xavier Moon finished with 31 points on 11-14 shooting (3-5 from 3, 6-6 from the line), 5 rebounds (1 offensive), 2 assists, 2 turnovers and 3 steals. His shooting percentages are mind boggling, and his upper body control is consistent for every shot. His footwork is incredible, and I encourage every young guard I know to practice that quick pull up that Moon uses so effectively.

I’m very glad the CEBL and Edmonton have embraced this young man, and Moon himself has returned the favour. The hype for another Stingers season is building and I for one cannot wait for tip-off on June 26th!

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