The Greater Western Sydney Giants, according to these Power Rankings, are now the best team in the AFL. Yes, the GWS Giants – who have been mediocre to awful to downright diabolical for most of their five-year existence (their wonderful theme song aside) – are now ranked here as the very best team in all of the land. It has been a remarkable improvement this year by the boys from Blacktown, who are currently rated as a seven-goals-a-match better side than they were at the end of 2015.
It is not quite an unprecedented rise. The West Coast Eagles, you may recall, became the best club going around during their fifth home-and-away season as well. Port Adelaide were pretty handy during their fifth season too. But neither of them were ever anywhere near as bad as the Giants once were.
Where has this improvement come from? Basically the kids grew up. Stephen Coniglio, Joshua Kelly, Zachary Williams, Nick Haynes, Toby Greene, Rory Lobb, Nathan Wilson, and yes, Tom Scully have all improved from last season. Heath Shaw, Callan Ward, Ryan Griffen, Dylan Shiel, and Shane Mumford are all still very good. Steve Johnson has been more than handy. They are very young for a top side. Frighteningly that suggests they could get even better. I am glad I had the foresight to enjoy those 100-point thrashings of GWS while they lasted.
Elsewhere, is it possible that new AFL games record holder Brent Harvey has created the most total value of any player ever? At 38, and in his 21st season, he is still performing at a level well above a ‘replacement player’, averaging about 20 disposals a match. Kevin Bartlett averaged only 13 disposals a match in his final season, though he did kick 37 goals. Michael Tuck averaged about 15 disposals a match in his final season, though he averaged closer to 20 the season before. Given that Bartlett was arguably the strongest of the three players at his peak perhaps he still added the most total value overall – or maybe Robert Harvey did?
In any case I hadn’t realised how far above ‘replacement’ level Boomer Harvey was still operating at, and at this rate the Roos would probably do well to let him go around again next season if he wants to.