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AFL Players' Top 50: The Bont's five best finals moments

Staff reporters  March 15, 2017 7:04 AM

AFL 2016 Toyota AFL Grand Final - Sydney v Western Bulldogs

Marcus Bontempelli gives Dogs coach Luke Beveridge the Gatorade treatment after last year's fairytale premiership

MARCUS Bontempelli collects accolades almost as easily as disposals.

Last year alone he became a premiership player, Sutton medallist in the Western Bulldogs' drought-breaking season and took home his first All Australian jumper to mount in his trophy room.

He also finished top-10 in the Brownlow Medal and, as stand-in captain, became the youngest skipper of a winning side in VFL/AFL history following the Dogs' round 11 triumph over West Coast.

Many fans and commentators wondered where he ranked amongst the best young players the competition has ever seen.

Now 'The Bont' has been recognised by his peers among the top five footballers in the competition. He rises an incredible 44 places in the fourth annual AFL Players' Top 50.

• Check out the rest of the AFL Players' Top 50 as they are revealed

And the 21-year-old superstar is still only just getting started.

At his best, Bontempelli wins his own ball at the coalface, glides through heavy traffic as if others are standing still and releases teammates from stoppages.

But he is equally damaging wheeling onto his lethal left boot and driving the Dogs forward, or drifting into attack and using his lanky 192cm frame to outmark opponents.

WATCH: Marcus Bontempelli's five best finals moments

According to Champion Data's 2017 Prospectus, Bontempelli is already the definition of a complete midfielder.

But he still has so much scope for improvement entering his fourth season.

Scarily, kicking goals was the only category that he was rated 'elite' for an onballer last season, after averaging one major per match.

His disposal (24.4), contested possession (11), clearance (4.2), tackle (4.7) and score assist (1.2) numbers were all above average and rising.

Just how much better could 'The Bont' become in 2017 after another pre-season? We can't wait to find out.

- Travis King

6. Scott Pendlebury

Collingwood
Midfielder

Last year's ranking: 4
Official AFL Player Rating: 4
Debut: 2006
Games: 236
AFL Fantasy value: $641,000

Pendlebury cemented his standing as one of the greatest Collingwood players of all time by winning his fifth best and fairest award in 2016. He equalled the mark set by Magpie great Len Thompson, the pair bettered only by Nathan Buckley who won six. It was also Pendlebury's fourth consecutive Copeland Trophy. A meticulous preparer, the Magpies skipper continues to perform at a high level and averaged 28.6 disposals per game in 2016. No matter the role he plays, whether it's in the middle or at half-back, Pendlebury's vision and anticipation make him one of the classiest players in the AFL.

5. Marcus Bontempelli

Western Bulldogs
Midfielder

Last year's ranking: 49
Official AFL Player Rating: 5
Debut: 2014

Games: 63
AFL Fantasy value: $482,000

Bontempelli leaps 44 spots to No.5 in the AFL Players' Top 50. Picture: AFL Photos

4. Joel Selwood

Geelong
Midfielder

Last year's ranking: 8
Official AFL Player Rating: 12
Debut: 2007
Games: 228
AFL Fantasy value: $619,000

When Patrick Dangerfield arrived at the Cattery at the start of last season, there were inevitably going to be questions about how Joel Selwood's role as the Cats' No.1 midfielder would be affected. Those queries were answered emphatically as the star duo quickly developed a strong connection, thus leading to the 'Dangerwood' moniker. But Selwood is a star in his own right and after a limited pre-season, due to a foot injury, averaged 28.3 touches per game in 2016. Selwood remains one of the AFL's toughest players and often lifts in big moments to inspire his team. With the AFL's crackdown on high-contact free kicks, it will be interesting to see how the Cats captain – who received 16 more free kicks than any other player in 2016 – adapts his game.

Who else made the cut in the AFL Players' Top 50?

50-41: Tough-as-nail Demon's time arrives

40-36: Magpie Treloar soars in the spotlight

35-31: What rising Blue Patrick Cripps still needs to improve

• 30-26: Baby Bomber Zach Merrett's next challenge

25-21: Who is the Giants' most valuable player?

20-16: The day Max Gawn became invincible

15-13: Tom Lynch versus the greats

12-10: How Sloane stepped up after Dangerfield

9-7: Why the Swans made Kennedy sole captain

Who's next?

• Check out the rest of the AFL Players' Top 50 as they are revealed

The players pick the teams set to plummet

• Breakout stars: The players name the seven most likely to explode

Who topped the count in 2016?