Scott Lucas has given a unique take in regards to who he believes will be the five most important players in the AFL this year.
Instead of listing the top five players of the competition in a straight list, the former Essendon forward has broken up his choices into three categories: Two exciting young players who he believes will break open the AFL this year, two goalkickers that essentially carry the rest of their team and the absolute most impactful player in the competition.
The basis for each of these selections is centred on the player's form in 2016.
Lucas also mentioned which players just missed out on making his top five.
The exciting youngsters
Marcus Bontempelli – Western Bulldogs
Isaac Heeney – Sydney Swans
“Bont is an obvious one.
“Heeney, when he went into the midfield later in the year, I thought he was dynamic and gave us a real sign of things to come this year. Particularly with Tom Mitchell going out of the team, another space opens up in the midfield so I think his impact will be profound for the Swans this year.
“He was out of the team after a period of about six weeks where he wasn’t playing well. He was basically playing that high half-forward role which if you talk to any player in the comp is the worst role you can be given in the team. It’s to clear space for your deep forwards and it’s to push up and the back of a stoppage and cover the spare player there. It’s a really thankless role and he was playing that for a while.
“He came back into the team, they put him into the midfield and we saw what he could do. Some of his work in that preliminary final against Geelong was outstanding for a player we have seldom seen through the midfield. I think if he can play more through the midfield, by the end of the year he will justify this comment.”
The team-carrying goalkickers
Josh Kennedy – West Coast Eagles
Tom Lynch – Gold Coast Suns
“I think these two carry the fortunes of their teams as much as anyone and being a forward myself, I do like my goalkicking.
“Kennedy has the last two Colemans and keeps getting the job done… I think Josh Kennedy has proven to be (the best key forward in the competition).
“I think Tom Lynch’s year, with the team he didn’t have out there, was even more significant. I just think that because of his age and everything – the way that he is projecting upwards – that he can really compete for the mantle of number one key forward.”
The most impactful player
Patrick Dangerfield - Geelong
“Without doubt for me. Based on last year, I think if he had got injured, Geelong could have easily missed the eight.”
The big names that just missed out
Cyril Rioli - Hawthorn
“Cyril is the obvious other one because his impact per possession is easily the most in the comp, it’s just that we can’t fit them all on. He is going to be so critical to Hawthorn this year without question.”
Alex Rance - Richmond
“Rance is without a doubt the best defender. He is a super player.”
Lance Franklin – Sydney Swans
“I did look at the supply he got, and Sydney’s midfield is all A-graders. On the SCG, the centre half-forward is taken out of it. In a sense you become even more of a focal point in terms of ball coming your way so you get plenty of opportunities.”
Max Gawn – Melbourne
“His year was huge, wasn’t it? If he can do it again, he will have deserved a place in the top five… Max Gawn, on what he delivered last year, was one of the top five most impactful players. I’d like to see him do it again.”