From Liam Santamaria at nbl.com.au:
Can you believe it?
After the longest off-season in NBL history we’re now only two weeks from opening night. NBL21 is just around the corner!
So, as we approach the start of the season, let’s take stock of where each club currently sits in terms of their roster.
Of course, most teams are locked, loaded and ready to go. Some, however, still have a final piece to add to their puzzle.
As a bit of a snapshot, I’ve listed each squad’s returning players, their new guys and dropped in an old-fashioned depth chart to show who’s who in the zoo.
* denotes restricted player (import)
(NS) denotes ‘Next Stars’ player
(DP) denotes development player
(SRP) denotes special restricted player
Head Coach: Conner Henry
Assistant Coach: Jamie Pearlman
Returning: Daniel Johnson, Jack McVeigh, Brendan Teys, Daniel Dillon, Alex Mudronja
New: Donald Sloan*,Tony Crocker*, Isaac Humphries, Josh Giddey (NS), Sunday Dech, Keanu Pinder
Need: A DP or two.
PG: Sloan* | Dillon | Mudronja
SG: Dech | Teys
SF: Giddey (NS) | McVeigh
PF: Johnson | Crocker*
C: Humphries | Pinder
The Latest Word: The 36ers will soon have their entire squad together as Donald Sloan gets out of quarantine today and Tony Crocker will follow suit later this week.
In terms of their depth chart, I’ve listed Giddey at the three as he’ll spend a lot of time guarding small forwards while Sloan and Dech will primarily defend ones and twos. That being said, Giddey and Sloan will operate as the team’s primary play-makers and watching the Next Star create out of on-balls should be super fun all year.
Further up the roster, I’m expecting both Crocker and McVeigh to play minutes at the three and also as small-ball fours at various times.
Lastly, a number of talented youngsters – particularly Nick Marshall, Michael Harris and Owen Hulland – are all still in the mix as possible DPs. Hulland, a 7-footer out of the University of Hawaii, impressed last month when he put 15 points on the Bullets.
Head Coach: Andrej Lemanis
Assistant Coaches: CJ Bruton, Greg Vanderjagt
Returning: Nathan Sobey, Jason Cadee, Matt Hodgson, Tyrell Harrison, Callum Dalton (DP)
New: Orlando Johnson*, Vic Law*, Anthony Drmic, Harry Froling, Tanner Krebs, Tamuri Wigness
Need: Career-best seasons from Sobey, Drmic and Froling and big-time production from their imports.
PG: Sobey | Wigness
SG: Drmic | Cadee
SF: Johnson* | Krebs
PF: Law* | Froling | Dalton (DP) | Blake Jones (DP)
C: Hodgson | Harrison
The Latest Word: Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis is in ongoing talks to potentially become the new head coach of the Latvian National Team.
Baltic news outlet Delfi Plus was the first to report the talks, which began earlier this year and were sparked by Latvia’s interest in developing their national development programs. The General Secretary of the Latvian Basketball Union, Kaspars Cyprus, confirmed the report last week, telling sportacentrs.com that he has indeed spoken with Lemanis, who is of Latvian descent, and that talks are set to continue early in the New Year.
The Latvian team is currently led by Roberts Štelmahers, a home-grown coach who is locked in to steer the squad through next month’s FIBA window. At its strongest, the country boasts a number of high-level players including Dallas Mavericks star Kristaps Porzingis, Washington Wizards forward D?vis Bert?ns and Brooklyn Nets wing Rodions Kurucs.
The question is: if Lemanis steps into that job at some stage this year, what would that mean for his role with the Bullets? I’m told the former Boomers coach is fully committed to coaching Brisbane throughout the NBL21 season. What could potentially develop beyond that point? Well, that remains to be seen.
Head Coach: Mike Kelly
Assistant Coaches: Jamie O’Loughlin, Brad Hill
Returning: Scott Machado*, Cam Oliver*, Majok Deng, Kouat Noi, Mirko Djeric, Nathan Jawai, Jarrod Kenny, Fabijan Krslovic, George Blagojevic
New: Mojave King (NS), Jordan Ngatai, Jordan Hunt (DP)
Need: To make the ‘Snag Pit’ a fortress.
PG: Machado* | Kenny
SG: Djeric | King (NS)
SF: Noi | Ngatai | Blagojevic
PF: Deng | Krslovic | Hunt (DP)
C: Oliver* | Jawai
The Latest Word: The Taipans are tracking beautifully for the start of the season, with Scott Machado and Cam Oliver both spending the past month on the practice court.
As part of their preparations, the Snakes will play their traditional New Year’s Eve game against championship favourites Melbourne United. This will be a cracking hit-out between two high-quality sides so, if you’re in town later this week, make sure you’re in the building.
Head Coach: Brian Goorjian
Assistant Coach: Jacob Jackomas
Returning: Sam Froling, Emmett Naar, Daniel Grida, AJ Ogilvy
New: Deng Adel, Cam Bairstow, Tyler Harvey*, Deng Deng, Isaac White, Max Darling, Justinian Jessup (NS), Akoldah Gak (DP)
Need: Cam Bairstow to get – and stay – healthy.
PG: Harvey* | Naar
SG: Simon* | Jessup (NS) | White
SF: Adel | Deng | Grida (inj.)
PF: Bairstow | Darling | Gak (DP)
C: Ogilvy | Froling
The Latest Word: The Hawks relocated to Albury on Boxing Day and, according to head coach Brian Goorjian, are already enjoying themselves in the town that LJ built.
“For a lot of people this would be horrible and difficult but my team is young, new, hungry and excited,” Goorjian told The Age‘s Roy Ward.
“We get to put everyone under the one roof, we can do film work at night, we can eat together and Albury has provided us with an excellent place to lift [weights] and the basketball courts are excellent.”
Head Coach: Dean Vickerman
Assistant Coaches: Justin Schueller, Rhys Carter, Darryl McDonald
Returning: Chris Goulding, Mitch McCarron, David Barlow, Shea Ili, Jo Lual-Acuil, Sam Short (DP)
New: Jock Landale, Scotty Hopson*,Jack White, Yudai Baba, Mason Peatling (DP)
Need: Nothing. They’re good to go.
PG: McCarron | Ili | Short (DP)
SG: Goulding | Baba (SRP)
SF: Hopson* | McDaniel
PF: Barlow | White | Peatling (DP)
C: Landale | Lual-Acuil
The Latest Word: Melbourne have added NBL legend Darryl McDonald to their coaching staff and had star import Scotty Hopson join their group at practice for the first time today.
United also announced last week that they’ll play their first three home games in Bendigo as the Australian Open takes over John Cain Arena throughout next month. Tickets for The Throwdown on January 10 go on sale today.
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Head Coach: Dan Shamir
Assistant Coaches: Mody Maor, Chanel Pompallier, Jacob Mooallem
Returning: Corey Webster, Finn Delany, Tom Abercrombie, Rob Loe, Jarrad Weeks
New: Tai Webster, Lamar Patterson*, Colton Iverson*, Dan Trist, Rasmus Bach, Kyrin Galloway (DP), Taine Murray (DP), Isaac Davidson (DP)
Need: A trans-Tasman travel bubble.
PG: T. Webster | Weeks
SG: Patterson* | C. Webster | Murray (DP)
SF: Abercrombie | Bach | Davidson (DP)
PF: Delany | Trist | Galloway (DP)
C: Iverson* | Loe
The Latest Word: The Breakers, who are currently based in Melbourne, played United in a closed-door scrimmage just before Christmas and will soon have similar hit-outs with both the Phoenix and the Wildcats.
In other news, I’m hearing that high-scoring guard Corey Webster is currently nursing a sore left hand. Hopefully it’s nothing serious and he’ll be right to go for the start of the season.
Head Coach: Trevor Gleeson
Assistant Coaches: Scott Roth, Jacob Chance, Luke Brennan
Returning: Bryce Cotton*, Mitch Norton, Clint Steindl, Jesse Wagstaff, Majok Majok, Wani Swaka Lo Buluk, Jarred Bairstow, Luke Travers (DP), Taylor Britt (DP)
New: John Mooney*,Todd Blanchfield, Kevin White, Andrew Ferguson (DP), Corey Shervill (DP)
Need: A local centre.
PG: Norton | White | Britt (DP)
SG: Cotton* | Swaka Lo Buluk
SF: Blanchfield | Steindl | Shervill (DP)
PF: Travers (DP) | Wagstaff | Bairstow
C: Mooney* | Ferguson (DP) | Majok (inj.)
The Latest Word: Cotton’s citizenship papers haven’t come through yet so the champs have been scrambling to find a local big to fill out their roster.
In the meantime, I’m listing Mooney at the five and am also including exciting youngster Luke Travers in the starting line-up. Travers started both of Perth’s recent hit-outs against the Hawks and his versatility allows Gleeson to keep both Steindl and Wagstaff as impact veterans off the bench. If it happens it’ll be a pretty great story. I mean, when was the last time a DP started for an NBL team in their season-opener?
As for their final roster spot… don’t be shocked if three-time champ Tom Jervis comes out of retirement to fill that void. The big fella is heading back to WA with his family and recently signed with Rockingham for the upcoming NBL1 season.
SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Head Coach: Simon Mitchell
Assistant Coaches: Judd Flavell, Luke Kendall
Returning: Mitch Creek, Dane Pineau, Kyle Adnam, Adam Gibson, Kendall Stephens
New: Keifer Sykes*, Ben Moore*,Cam Gliddon, Reuben Te Rangi, Yanni Wetzall, Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa (DP), Tristan Forsyth (DP)
Need: The Great Dane’s sore back to come good.
PG: Sykes* | Adnam | Le’afa (DP)
SG: Gliddon | Gibson
SF: Te Rangi | Stephens
PF: Creek | Weztell
C: Moore* | Pineau | Forsyth (DP)
The Latest Word: Both Keifer Sykes and Ben Moore came out of hotel quarantine recently and the pair joined SEM on the practice court last week.
In less positive news, Dane Pineau continues to deal with a back issue that has kept him off the hardwood for a number of weeks. I’m now hearing he may be out for a while and that, as a result, the Phoenix are looking at adding a short-term injury replacement. Veteran free agent David Andersen is an obvious option, given he has recently trained with the team, while the Phoenix will also consider elevating 22-year-old DP Tristan Forsyth.
Head Coach: Adam Forde
Assistant Coaches: James Duncan, Sam Gruggan, Kevin Lisch
Returning: Casper Ware*, Xavier Cooks, Didi Louzada (NS), Brad Newley, Daniel Kickert, Craig Moller, Shaun Bruce, Jordan Hunter
New: Jarell Martin*,Dejan Vasiljevic, Angus Glover
Need: A local power forward and a couple of DPs.
PG: Ware* | Glover
SG: Bruce | Vasiljevic
SF: Louzada (NS) | Newley
PF: Moller | | Cooks (inj.)
C: Martin* | Kickert | Hunter
The Latest Word: The Kings drove down to Albury on Boxing Day as they try to work around Sydney’s COVID outbreak.
Meanwhile, they’re also trying to deal with the impact of Xavier Cooks going down. Cooks (foot) is expected to miss three-four months and while Craig Moller will move into the starting line-up, the Kings are looking at a number of injury-replacement options to serve as his back-up. Former Adelaide forward Obi Kyei has been considered, as has Venky Jois, but I suspect they’ll eventually land on former Breakers big man Tom Vodanovich. The 26-year-old was MVP of the NZNBL earlier this year but was not re-signed by the Breakers after his debut season as a fully-contracted player.
Finally, I suspect we’ll see more of last year’s super-sub, Shaun Bruce, in the starting line-up for the Kings this season. Bruce started alongside Casper Ware in Sydney’s recent pre-season action and the pairing looked quite effective. Both those guys are good defenders and playing them together brings some real pace and play-making to the Kings’ starting unit.