The following is a team-by-team season preview with futures betting tips for the 2018/19 NBL season.
1st (Predicted finish) – Sydney Kings
What to expect this season: A greatly improved and refreshed team that under the guidance of Andrew Gaze, should be competing for the honor of being the Champions. Their starting Guards will be Jerome Randle (19.8 ppg and 5.3apg last season) and Kevin Lisch (16.5 and 3.7 when fully healthy in 2016), both also are former MVP’s of the NBL. Then in the Fowards they’ll have Brad Newley, a man who is a current Boomer along with Daniel Kickert (42% from three last campaign along with 14ppg). However their starting C is one of the major reasons they’ll be fighting with the likes of United and the 36ers this coming campaign, former NBA NO.1 overall pick Andrew Bogut. The former NBA champ will bring his ferocious inside presence to the Kings along with his nice inside scoring game. In his last fully healthy campaign with Golden State among his averages were 7rpg and 1.6bpg. He’ll be absolutely feasting in the NBL. Sydney were greatly disappointing last campaign finishing seventh in the eight team competition. However their side with the addition of Bogut and Kickert, plus a healthy and firing Lisch as well as the addition of exciting youngsters such as Brian Bowen should see them fighting at the top this coming season.
Key signing: He’s not a new signing but after only playing eleven matches last season former NBL Finals MVP and 2xMVP Kevin Lisch may as well count as one. We all know how Andrew Bogut will improve the Kings defence tenfold. However when Lisch is fit and firing his only ever improving back court combination with fellow Guard Jerome Randle will really be something to behold. While he was also a major factor in Sydney ending their miserable campaign on a four game winning streak. He shot 39.0% from three when he was working his way back form injury, when he’s 100% he will give the opposition defences headaches all day just as he’s done in the past. Lisch is an absolutely vital part to a Kings Championship push this season.
2nd (Predicted finish) – Melbourne United
What to expect this season: They won it all last season and this campaign the aim will be no different for Melbourne. They’ll be among the top placed teams come finals time. They beat Adelaide 3-2 in the finals showing why they’re Australian Basketballs greatest. And one of their greatest assets in the form of their attack, you can expect them to keep rolling on this season. Casper Ware got 16.1ppg last season, while his partner in crime and Finals MVP Chris Goulding averaged 14.1 along with a Steph Curry-esque 43% from three. Josh Boone, the former Brooklyn man was another part of United’s high octane offense as he averaged 13ppg on an outstanding 63% shooting. And now adding to what Melbourne already has in place, new acquisitions such as Mitch McCarron (11.2ppg last season), will further add to United’s offensive fire power. And Sydney born Daniel Trist is another new player who will contribute strongly for Melbourne of the bench. Among his career highlights being 17.3ppg in 2014-15. And their attack last season was third best in the NBL. That’s their focal point and if they are going to go back to back this campaign, it’ll be the highlight of their season once again.
Key signing: Mitch McCarron. The former Gold Medal Winner, Taipan and Slovenian League Champion now sees himself as a vital piece in Melbourne’s puzzle. Coming of the pine he’ll be the major backup to both Casper Ware and Chris Goulding, pretty big shoes to fill. However if his recent stats are anything to go by 44.0% two-point shooting, 6.8rpg and 1.3spg last campaign then he’ll be pretty damn decent. For Cairns last season he was one of their best and kept them within a lot of matches. He plays hard and is on the Boomers for a reason. His scoring ability and especially so his ability to take the ball of the opposition will greatly supplement Melbourne this season as they look to make a real run at becoming back to back Champions.
3rd (Predicted finish) – Adelaide 36ers
What to expect this season: They won the NBL Blitz, a sign that the 36ers are definitely a contender this season. That while last campaign they pushed Melbourne all the way to five games in the finals. Joey Wright’s men aren’t messing around and should be hovering around the top this season. Among Adelaide’s victories from Ballarat was a strong 18 point victory over the Wildcats. To put some icing on the win they outscored Perth in all four quarters of play. While they also beat Melbourne and Sydney in their other two Blitz matches. So following of off last campaign, the 36ers will most definitely be giant killers this season. They rise to the occasion against the big teams and have the adequate players to back it up. And it’s safe to say they’ll look a fair bit different on the court as well with former Brooklyn player Jack Wiley and ex-NBL Best Sixth Man Adris Deleon among the 36ers fresh faces. Deleon when he last played in the League averaged 16.8ppg along with 3.2apg and 1.3spg being some of his stats. How he handles playing a major Guard role for the 36ers will play a massive part in defining their season. However if his past is anything to go by, then they should be pretty sweet. And Nathan Sobey again like last season should also play a crucial role in Adelaide’s campaign. His averages of 12.9ppg, 3.7rpg, 3apg and 0.8spg meant that whenever he was on the court, he offered the 36ers pretty much everything.
Key signing: Adris Deleon. The well traveled 34 year old has played for several different clubs in the past and is a veteran with experience. He knows what it takes to win and he knows how to perform at the highest level in the NBL as he is a former Best Sixth Man of the League as well as an All-Team Third Member. He’ll be thrust right into the starting Point Guard role and will have to perform straight away given the relative lack of star power within Adelaide’s side. As well as having the ability to score the ball like a young Derrick Rose, his last season in the NBL also saw him bag 3.8rpg, 3.2apg and 1.3spg. His ability to not only score but keep the oppositions attack at bay will be of a massive, massive benefit to Adelaide this campaign.
4th (Predicted finish) – Perth Wildcats
What to expect this season: Two games is all it took for the Wildcats to be sent packing from the finals last season by Adelaide. However, the Wildcats are one of the most successful sporting teams in Australia and as always should be one of the top sides this season. They still have their big guns in the form of former Utah man and NBL MVP/ Finals MVP Bryce Cotton. Experienced leader Damian Martin is still on the roster. Tom Jervis 10.2ppg last season on 57% shooting is still there as well. 2x Gold Medal winner Nicholas Kay is a new signing from the Hawks. His 11.7 ppg will help them as well. However at the end of the day Bryce Cotton is their star man, their knight in shining armor. He is a simply superb player, while the rest of the side is fairly average. However expect their game plans to predominantly revolve around him and he will be good enough to get them into the finals. Last campaign he averaged 19.4ppg on 45% shooting from three-point range, he was crazy good. And that was to go along with 3.2rpg, 3.1apg and 1.2spg. He will be the focal point of their game, everyone else is just their to support him. A somewhat harsh reality for the 5x NBL Champions, but at least they’ll be in the finals, something half the competition won’t be able to say.
Key signing: Nicholas Kay. The former NBL ROY will call the Wildcats his third NBL home after previous stops with both Townsville and Illawarra. He was also previously the RMAC Tournament MVP. Given Perth has a lot of good shooters but not great ones centered around Bryce Cotton, the NO.2 scoring option on the team is still up for grabs. Kay could take it but would need to drastically improve on his 28% three-point shooting from last season. However from two he shot 57% so he does have some strong inside game. For his NBL career he has averaged 10.7ppg. And with Cotton drawing looks, Kay will no doubt boost his scoring average by a fair bit this season. Expect him to hit 15-17ppg as he tries to assert himself within the Wildcats side.
5th (Predicted finish) – Brisbane Bullets
What to expect this season: A greatly improved side. 43% from three last season is what new face and former King Jason Cadee brings to the side. A fully healthy campaign from former Bull Cameron Bairstow should help contribute to Brisbane’s cause as well. Mika Vukona should prove to be a great sixth or seventh man of Brisbane’s bench after he averaged 6.4ppg and 6.3rpg for New Zealand last campaign. While former Cleveland Cavalier and D-League All-Star Alonzo Gee will be an insane signing for them. During his peak with the Cavs he scored 10.6ppg and called himself a teammate of Kyrie Irving. This current Bullets team has a better feel to it than that of the one that finished eighth last season. Players on that side including the now departed Travis Trice could perhaps have been perceived as being a bit too ‘selfish’. However now they have players that will share the ball and in turn share the load. Expect several players to average double digit points for Brisbane this season and for them to have a San Antonio Spurs like game plan. And with a fully healthy Bairstow starting at Center, their defence should be greatly improved as well.
Key signing: Alonzo Gee. Throughout his NBA career he has called Washington, San Antonio, Cleveland, Denver, Portland and New Orleans home. Now he comes to Brisbane looking to make his mark in Australia. He will do so within the commercial side of things, a player of his caliber will no doubt boost membership and crowd numbers for Brisbane. While he’s only 31 so his on court production should be very strong and he was playing for Denver as recently as last season so he’s obviously still a very, very good player. He can shoot the ball from the two or the three and rebound as well. He’s their biggest signing looking at both sides of the coin both commercially and from his on-court production.
6th (Predicted finish) – New Zealand Breakers
What to expect this season: Defence, defence and more defence. Last season the Breakers just scraped into the fourth and final playoffs spot ahead of the Hawks. And it was because of their play on the less glamorous end of the floor. And you can expect a similar game plan to be rolled out this campaign as well. They were able to make a name for themselves with several shot blocking players as well as having those that could steal the ball of the opposition. This season they’ll feature the likes of Tom Abercombie (1.4bpg), Shea Ili (just under a steal per game), Tai Wesley (just under a steal and a block per game) and Corey Webster (a player who goes hard at the opposition attack) among others. Players on the Breakers roster such as Tai Wesley and a few of their College imports as well as Abercrombie can score, but they probably don’t have enough scoring player so if New Zealand will be achieving anything this season, it’ll be through their hard work and commitment on the less glamorous end of the floor. They might not be able to outscore the opposition teams, but they sure as hell this season should be able to out defend most of them.
Key signing: The 2x NBL Champion is bringing the whole bag over to New Zealand after a fairly successful stint in Melbourne from 2016-18. Not to mention among his past career highlights have been absolutely destroying the NZNBL achieving a high number of accolades in his time during New Zealand’s professional League. For United last season he averaged 12.9ppg on 39% shooting from three, while he also pulled in 5.5rpg. Depending on how things pan out, he could very well possibly assert himself as NZ’s NO.1 offensive option, another massive claim in his already illustrious career. While depending on how things play out, he could be the player that decdies whether the Breakers sneak into the finals or not.
7th (Predicted finish) – Illawarra Hawks
What to expect this season: No Demetrius Conger could mean massive problems for the Hawks. His off-season departure is anything but what Illawarra would have wanted. He almost single handedly dragged them into the playoffs as he was far and away their best player of the past campaign. Among other statistics he was their leading scorer while he was a very handy rebounder as well. The Hawks will very much struggle so to replace him and should see a slide down the ladder due to both the massive improvements of last years bottom feeders the Kings and the Bullets. However in a small positive for the fan-base they have brought in some players that should at least see the club remain competitive, even if they don’t win many games this season. David Andersen, the ex-Rocket, Raptor and Hornet could be a gem from three-point land if he can take and convert more threes (9-23 for 39% last season). While former Crocodile and NBL MVP Brian Conklin is another new fresh face for the Hawks. His last season in the NBL saw him average 13.5 ppg and the one before that, 18.9ppg. He’ll bring some much needed fire power to the Illawarra side. So while this franchise will indeed struggle to replace their departed star power, at the very least they’ll remain competitive throughout the year.
Key signing: Brian Conklin without a doubt. During his time in the NBL he’s made an All-First Team as well as an All-Second Team, while he’s also a former FIBA Europe Cup Champion and he has a very impressive CV. With Conger and his 19.7 ppg gone, somebody will have to at least try and replicate that if the Hawks want to do better then last season. And that is where the man of the hour in Conklin comes in. His NBL career average is 16.6ppg and he’s shown time and time again why he’s a star Basketball player. While his ability to pull in boards will definitely help as well. Regardless of how the Hawks go this season, expect him to hit super-star like form for them.
8th (Predicted finish) – Cairns Taipans
What to expect this season: Not a whole heap unfortunately. Melbourne are still Melbourne while Perth are still Perth. The Kings and Bullets added both Andrew Bogut and Alonzo Gee respectively. And the 36ers are the team that are the current NBL Blitz Champions, while the Breakers are far too good to be among the League’s bottom placed teams. And the Hawks added strong, veteran minded players in the form of guys such as Conklin, Andersen and Blanchfield. That unfortunately leaves Cairns at the bottom of the pack, a side that finished a respectable sixth last season. Even solid acquisitions such as DJ Newbill (13.4ppg), Lucas Walker (5.9rpg) and Romelo Trimble (16.8ppg) won’t be enough to help them make the finals given the strength of this campaigns NBL competition. However despite what should be a pretty sucky season from the Taipans, expect new Point Guard and former Breaker Newbill to hit at least 17ppg along with improved assist per game numbers. And Trimble could also become the NBL’s next Terrence Ferguson.
Key signing: DJ Newbill. He’s good but not good enough and despite what should be improved stats from his last season, it still won’t be enough to help Cairns make the Top Four. That’s not a shot at Newbill, rather the lack of star power surrounding him. He has good, but not good enough players supporting him such as Nate Jawai, Walker and Robert Loe (7.2ppg last season on 47% shooting). DJ will show up and do a solid job for his new side, but his less then superb team mates could make him out to be a worse player then he actually is.
Pick Melbourne to claim the Minor Premiership at $2.85 (BetEasy)
However pick the Kings to claim the real thing at $3.50 (BetEasy)