The Australian National Basketball League continues to grow each and every year thanks to the success of some talented Aussies in the NBA, led by reigning Rookie of the Year, Ben Simmons. Today, we look at the upcoming 2018-19 NBL season, providing a preview and best bet for a few of the major markets that we’ve found value in. Good luck to all following.
Melbourne United: The reigning NBL champions come into the 2018-19 season as second favourites behind the Sydney Kings. United are coming off a stellar season where they finished on top of the standings with a 20-8 record, before earning their way through to the Grand Final where they defeated the Adelaide 36ers in the fifth and final game of the series. They’ve made a couple of key changes to the championship winning roster, with Alex Pledger and Mitch McCarron joining and Casey Prather departing.
Sydney Kings: As mentioned above, the Sydney Kings enter the upcoming season as favourites to win the NBL championship, which is quite interesting considering the terrible season they had in 2017-18. They managed to win just 11 of their 28 games and finished second last on the ladder, although it must be said that they were dealt some huge injury blows and were without Jerome Randle for the first portion of their campaign. Their 2018-19 roster looks much stronger than seasons prior with Kevin Lisch back in action, Jerome Randle firing on all cylinders and of course Australian superstar Andrew Bogut signing on.
Perth Wildcats: The Perth Wildcats are by far the most successful team in NBL history and deserve to be considered contenders based solely on that. They’ve battled in six of the last nine Grand Finals series and have been crowned champions in four of them, most recently in 2017. They will once again be led by the star backcourt of Bryce Cotton and Damian Martin and have some decent role players around them. They should be around the mark again this season.
New Zealand Breakers: The New Zealand Breakers had a fairly successful 2017-18 campaign, despite falling short in the playoffs to eventual champions, Melbourne United. The Breakers have put in a fairly impressive pre-season and most recently lost to NBA team the Phoenix Suns by just five points on their home court. They’ve also made a few nice off-season moves, highlighted by Tai Wesley coming over from Melbourne. The Breakers may not be on the top of everyone’s contenders list this season, but we have a feeling this might change a bit in the coming weeks after a hot start.
Melbourne United were clearly the best team in the competition last season and deservedly won the championship. However, we feel that the loss of star wing Casey Prather will really hurt them this season. Not only does he score at the rim with ease, but his defensive versatility and switch ability is second to none. It’ll be interesting to see how the champions far without him this weekend/season.
We can’t go passed the Sydney Kings at this stage. They’ve managed to lure star centre Andrew Bogut from the NBA, who will provide the team with a wealth of knowledge, experience, and of course skill. Then there’s the backcourt of Kevin Lisch and Jerome Randle who form arguably the best tandem in the competition. Simply put, If the Kings have a good run with injuries we can’t see any team being able to seriously challenge them for the chip.
It’s never an easy task picking the regular season MVP (although we did it last season with Bryce Cotton), but we’re quite bullish on Jerome Randle’s chances in 2018-19. He will lead the offence of a Sydney Kings team that should tally enough wins to make him stand out above the pack. Having a defensive gem in Kevin Lisch alongside him in the backcourt also allows him to hide on defence, which will free him up to be even more aggressive on the offence. We like Randle for the scoring title, but have even more confidence in him for the MVP award.
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