NBL23: Off-Season Guides

Scott Roth's off-season decision will be a key to Tasmania's success in NBL23. (Photo: Tasmania JackJumpers)

As we enter this period of agent freedom, NBL teams will be looking to add to their prior season’s successes or misfortunes to create a winning roster for NBL23. Here I take a look at each NBL team and see what they need for a victorious season ahead.

Keep up to date with NBL Free Agency and all the signings that take place with the NBL News Free Agency Tracker. Right here on Sporting Round!

First up:

Adelaide 36ers

Finished: 7th (10-18)

Current Roster: Mitch McCarron, Sunday Dech, Hyrum Harris, Daniel Johnson, Kai Sotto, Nick Marshall (DP)

What is Needed? – Import Production

This has been Adelaide’s downfall for two years in a row. Their imports have not been up to the league’s standard.

Dusty Hannahs came in with this hype around his three point shooting ability. People were saying that he was “the best shooter outside the NBA.” And was he? Clearly not, he shot 29% from the three over the season. While he did finish second in Adelaide’s scoring, it was only 13.5 points per game. That is not enough for your ‘A-Tier’ import.

Todd Withers didn’t even resemble an import quality player. Averaging 8.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists at the small forward isn’t good enough for an import. He didn’t fill his role and his minutes were given to Hyrum Harris at the end of the season who played a much better role under CJ than he ever did.

Now that JVG is gone and CJ Bruton has the reigns for the entire season, hopefully Adelaide can build a competitive roster for NBL23.

Brisbane Bullets

Finished: 8th (10-18)

Current Roster: Nathan Sobey, Jason Cadee, Tyrell Harrison, Tom Digbeu (NS)

What is Needed? – Import [or Import Level] Point Guard

Nathan Sobey is not a point guard. He is a scorer, not a guy that runs the team. I think Stevie Wonder can see that he isn’t a point guard. Place him at the two-guard and get a high quality import, or import quality, point guard to run the team.

Who would I get to fill this spot? – Will McDowell-White. He is perfect for this team.

Brisbane boy, playmaking point guard that can score if needed. He also makes up with the lack of height with Sobey at the two being 6’5. But i would also get a third import as a back-up PG. Deshon Taylor is right there, just take him!

Also they lack a defensive edge. Spend one of those import spots on a defensive minded guard/wing. For example; an Antonius Cleveland type. They need to create a team that isn’t just focused on offence but on all aspects of the game.

Cairns Taipans

Finished: 9th (9-19)

Current Roster: Mirko Djeric, Bul Kuol, Majok Deng, Keanu Pinder

What is Needed? – Small-Ball Centric Line-ups

The Cairns Taipans this year are “card counters at the blackjack table, and they’re gonna turn the odds on the casino.” With the emergence of Keanu Pinder and the former successes of Cam Oliver at the five, Adam Forde’s men need to have a small ball identity going forward.

They need to be entertaining to keep the small market crowd, while also having a game-style that will keep them competitive. We saw it with Tassie this year, why not at Cairns?

Nate Jawai is an impact player and you can keep him around for 10 dominating minutes at the five, but if they can get a Cam Oliver like centre that can have the same presence that he did, Cairns will be fun to watch in NBL23.

Illawarra Hawks

Finished: 4th [2nd in Regular Season] (19-9)

Current Roster: Tyler Harvey (I), Alex Mudronja, Dan Grida, Sam Froling, Akoldah Gak

What is Needed? – Bench Production, Depth and Utilisation

Jacob Jackomas is coming into an incredibly tough situation. Nobody will ever be able to fill Brian Goorjian’s shoes, but what he can do is stabilise them.

What is one thing that the Hawks did last year that cost them in the end? Their seven man rotations. Emmett Naar, Isaac White and Akoldah Gak rarely saw court time when they all could have added something to that team. Rob Beveridge said “Emmett Naar is the best Pick and Roll player i’ve ever coached,” so why didn’t they use him?

This is just a simple fix. Get good quality locals on the bench that can score, or play valuable minutes when they are on the court. Bring back Harry Froling, White and Naar (if they want to stay around) and actually play them.

Melbourne United

Finished: 3rd [1st in Regular Season] (20-8)

Current Roster: Matthew Dellavedova, Shea Ili, Chris Goulding, Brad Newley, Jack White, David Okwera, Mason Peatling, Ariel Hukporti (NS), Zac Tripplet (DP)

What is Needed? – Scoring off the bench

Imports! Use every spot you can United!

Melbourne United only signed one import last season in the form of Caleb Agada. Looking back, that spot should have been taken up by a scoring wing, not by a defensive guard.

They have a local stacked starting line-up. Dellavedova, Goulding, White, JLA (if he comes back) and Ili are all starting quality. They do need scorers off the bench though. What won them the championship in 2021, along with the defence, was Scotty Hopson and JLA coming off the bench and being that scoring punch. They didn’t have that last season.

They need two imports minimum to contend next year. Both need to be scorers and one will need to buy in and come off the bench when Goulding is taking a break.

New Zealand Breakers

Finished: 10th (5-23)

Current Roster: Thomas Abercrombie, Dan Fotu, Rob Loe, Sam Timmins

*Hugo Besson (I) and Ousmane Dieng (NS) are contracted but will not return*

What is Needed? – A Kiwi Identity… and Home Games

The Breakers need to be home. After having almost two full seasons on the road away from their families, the Breakers need to show the league what they are truely capable of with a ‘regular’ regular season.

New Head Coach Mody Maor is intent on restoring the New Zealand flavour to the Breakers.

“There is a great Kiwi core out there for us to recruit, and you can expect an exciting team pulling on the Breakers’ jersey next season,” Maor said.

They already signed exciting young Kiwi prospect Dan Fotu, and with Free Agency now opening up, you will see a lot more local signings from our friends across the ditch.

Perth Wildcats

Finished: 5th (16-12)

Current Roster: Mitch Norton, Bryce Cotton (I), Luke Travers, Corey Shervill, Majok Majok, Kyle Zunic (DP), Oliver Hayes-Brown (DP)

What is Needed? – A True Power Forward

This is simple. Nick Kay, Brock Motum, Duop Reath, Mangok Mathiang, John Mooney, the list goes on.

Perth didn’t have a true power forward last year and that came back to bite them after the whole John Brown saga. They had Law (who’s more of a three), Travers (who they played more like a guard), Wagstaff (who is a four in a three’s body) and Purchase (who is like Wagstaff but they didn’t play).

Majok Majok and Matt Hodgson couldn’t drop down to the power forward because they would be exposed there.

If Perth are going to do anything this off-season, they need to sign a true power forward (and a Good One).

PS: Sam Waardenburg is available… just take him…

South-East Melbourne Phoenix

Finished: 6th (15-13)

Current Roster: Kyle Adnam, Izayah Le’Afa, Ryan Broekhoff, Reuben Te Rangi, Mitch Creek, Dane Pineau

What is Needed? – A Second Star next to Creek

The Phoenix have lacked a second star for a couple of years. We thought it would be Broekhoff, but that didn’t turn out. We thought it was Sykes, but then he left. And then we thought it would be Munford, but he couldn’t finish games.

They need an import guard that can close out games and can be a second scoring option next to mismatch king Creek.

Who I would take in this spot – Casper Ware. He was in talks with the Phoenix prior to them signing Munford, so why not pick him up now?

Ware is a proven winner with United and Sydney. A two-way point guard that can control games with his eyes closed. He would be a perfect match for Creek and the Phoenix.

Also, look and see if Sykes can come back… just a thought.

Sydney Kings

Finished: Champions [3rd in Regular Season] (19-9)

Current Roster: Biwali Bayles, Angus Glover, Jaylin Galloway, Jordan Hunter, Makur Maker (NS)

What is Needed? – Retention

Re-Sign EVERYONE! I don’t care how much over the cap you will be, bring them all back!

Cooks, Martin, Adams, Wani, Vasiljevic, Everyone!

You can change the odd player, but those key guys will be needed next year. You can’t just replace a Jaylen Adams or an Xavier Cooks. They are… and I Quote… “DAWGS” and that core that was built this past season will be vital to success in NBL23.

If they lose Cooks or Martin, have a look at Thon Maker…

Tasmania JackJumpers

Finished: Runners-Up [4th in Regular Season] (17-11)

Current Roster: Jarred Weeks, Sam McDaniel, Matt Kenyon, Clint Steindl, Jack McVeigh, Jarred Bairstow, Fabijan Krslovic, Will Magney

What is Needed? – Scott Roth to Stay

The impossible may happen. It is looking likely at this stage that Scott Roth will be leaving the JackJumpers during the off-season. Even though Roth is contracted for next season, it is ‘almost a certainty’ that he will walk away.

Roth’s mental health has been highly publicised during the season with him almost walking out before the season even started. Being away from his family for two years, them building a new house that he has never walked in and being ‘the face of the state’ has put a lot of pressure on him.

But walking away from basketball as a whole isn’t the only option. Roth has been offered a contract in Japan, which is reportedly 3x what he is on currently at the Apple Isle club.

Tasmania need to get out their wallets and pray that Roth will stay. Now let’s hope, for Tassie and the league, that Roth will return.

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