Time for a season preview of the NBL, based on the fact that the season starts next week with a traditional rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney being reignited. For the purpose of this review, I will be looking at the team lists of each team and basing my decisions on the list and potential of that list.
The Tigers have decided to go tall this season, very, very tall. Bringing in Wade Helliwell and Luke Nevill to sure up the centre position, where the seemed to struggle a little last season. However, this roster is completely revamped, Daryl Corletto and Tommy Greer are the only remaining players from last season. So based on form, it will be difficult to see where the Tigers are basically starting from scratch. The additions of Nevill and Helliwell are bonuses and both should be alternating in and out of the starting five. Cam Tragardh is the definite starter at the 4 if the Tigers wish to play a little smaller, with DC and Eric Devendorf at the 1 and 2 spots. However, my starting five would be Nevill, Helliwell, Tragardh, Corletto, Devendorf. This means that at the start of the game they should immediately have an impact inside and on the boards. Corletto provides the outside threat, along with Tragardh providing inside/outside offense. On the defensive end DC and Devendorf will be hounding the opposition guards, while the three talls will beast the opposition front court. Matt Burston should be sixth man off the bench, replacing on of Helliwell/Nevill whichever is having the lesser impact. Based on the above a top four spot beckons for the Tigers.
The starting five for the Kings looks fairly straight forward looking at their list. Khazzouh and Grizzard are locks at the 5 and 3 respectively, Luke Martin and Graeme Dann should make up the guard positions, Martin at the point, while Ben Knight (if fit) will take up the starting 4 spot. Taj McCullough will take Knights place if he isn’t fit and should be sixth man off the bench if he doesn’t start. Damien Ryan and Blagoj Janev don’t have the same impact they used to so are relegated to role players. Its going to be a tough re-introduction to the NBL for the Kings, behind Khazzouh, Martin and Grizzard there isn’t a lot of depth. Not this year for the Kings.
Another team that if I was picking the starting five would be very straight forward. At the 1 and 2 spots Darren Ng and Brad Hill, Adam Ballinger and Jacob Holmes sharing the 3 and 4 and Daniel Johnson brings it to the 5. There isn’t alot of depth to the 36ers at the centre position so expect a fair bit of small ball from them. With Holmes possibly moving to the 5 and Herbert sliding into the 3 spot or Carter moving into the lineup. Sixth man is a toss up between Herbert and Carter depending on the style of play needed. Carter is better defensively and can shoot the three, Herbert is probably better all-round offensively. They should have resigned Schenscher, but that shouldn’t affect them too much. Expect the 36ers to be there abouts when it comes to playoff time.
When it comes to depth, this team has plenty of it and at every position. There are many options for the starting five, but mine would be – Schenscher/Hinder/Crawford/Blalock/Crosswell. This team, while not as tall as the Tigers can match it with them, based on Schenscher, Hinder and Allan. Blalock is going to be an absolute gun for the Crocs and should be manned tightly by the oppositon. Expect Crawford to be all over the oppositions most prolific scorer be it a 1,2 or 3 spot player. Add in Croc favourites Robertson and Cedar coming off the bench to beef up the offense and Brad Williamson to join the team to beef up the physicality.Opposition teams need to keep Schenscher out of the key, do that and you may restrict the Crocs to a reasonable score. Crocs will definitely play a part come playoff time.
Another team where a starting five just doesn’t leap out at you, it doesn’t help that the list is somewhat incomplete. Anyway – Crosswhite/Rychart/Loughton are locks, so it is simply the guard combination where things are unpredictable. If it were up to me Phil Jones and Ayinde Ubaka will be the 1 and 2 guards respectively. The scoring will come from Ubaka and Loughton from inside or outside, Jones from the outside and Rychart from the key. Don’t expect too much offense to be run through Crosswhite but keep a body near him at all times when he is in the key. This team is also fairly small, the rebounding numbers from this team will be down so that is where most opposition teams should be able to get on top of them and score the win. Low position on the ladder for the Taipans this season.
Gold Coast Blaze:
Another small team but a starting five does stand out – Pero/Worthington/Hoare/Harvey/Gibson. That starting five provides a few things, Gibson and Hoare on defense, Pero planting himself in the key and all out scoring and offensive ability. Worthington, Harvey and Gibson can all flat out score, so expect a very up tempo style from the Blaze this season so they can work off the fast breaks and transition three through Gibson or Harvey. Goulding will provide offense and energy off the bench, but apart from that expect bench minutes to be somewhat sporadic. Aside from Pero coming off and resting the majority of the game, Petrie can also expect a fair amount of playing time. Based on the expected scoring and up tempo game from the Blaze they are another team to look out for come playoffs. The main aim for opposition coaches is to nullify Worthington and Harvey, take those two out of the game and that takes anywhere between 40-60points off the Blaze score.
I’m not the best person to comment on the Wildcats because to be honest I don’t know all that much about them. However I do know that they are reigning champs, they have Shawn Redhage and Damien Martin and Matt Knight. Redhage is just a gun player and he will be focal point number one for both the Wildcats and whoever they are playing for the night. Martin is the defensive specialist and will shut out the opponents 1 or 2 guard and Matt Knight was just named the MVP for the preseason tournament so the guy can play as well. The Wildcats also just happened to win the preseason tournament so expect them to be thereabout, regardless of what their list says.
New Zealand Breakers:
When it comes to the Breakers only three names need to be said – Penney, Bruton and Vukona. Bruton and Penney are the competitions best 1/2 combination and also the most potent. Vukona is making a name for himself as a physical presence inside that can do a fair bit of everything. Dillon Boucher, Paul Henare and Corey Webster will all provide backup to those aforementioned three players. Each trip offensively will be brought down by Bruton, then some swinging around the perimetre will happen trying to get Bruton and/or Penney free to jack up the three ball. Then to change it up a little, after the initial swinging of the ball, the ball will be flicked into Vukona to beast the inside lane for a monster dunk or soft layup. Opposition coaches need to keep Vukona out of the lane and nullify one of Bruton or Penney, then they may stand a chance of winning. Breakers well up there come playoffs.