NBL1 Men’s Season Preview

The inaugural NBL1 season tips off this weekend in what is the start of an exciting development for basketball at the second-tier level in Australia. I take a look at what you should expect from each team – full rosters can be found here.

ALBURY-WODONGA BANDITS

PROJECTED STARTERS
Ken-Jah Bosley | Deba George | Cirkook Riak | Mitchell Newton | Torren Jones

The Bandits are coming off a season where their 9-11 win-loss record flattered them as they finished in the bottom quarter of SEABL teams for efficiency on both ends of the floor.

Any Deba George led squad needs to make a name for itself on the offensive end with the flashy shot-making guard still in line for a big role this year.

The rest of the main rotation leans more towards the offensive end as well so they should be able to put big points on the board when their starting group is together.

They will need to quickly establish roles and excel at scoring as it looks unlikely that their defense can be above average.

BASKETBALL AUSTRALIA CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE

PROJECTED STARTERS
Tamuri Wigness | Isaiah Lee | Alex Ducas | Hunter Goodrick | Kyle Bowen

It’s difficult to nail down who will start at center with the above group so that’s something worth monitoring. Last season a strength of the COE was their rebounding and a couple of inexperienced guys will need to make a name for themselves in the front-court if they are to continue that.

The kids can be tough to get a read on with their squad having different ranges of experience and a time share being managed amongst them throughout the season.

There’s a talented core returning from point-guard through to power-forward but making the playoffs in 2019 might prove more difficult than 2018.

BALLARAT MINERS

PROJECTED STARTERS
Marqueze Coleman | Sam Short | Kuany Kuany | Jerry Evans | Deng Acuoth

The Miners look set to be one of the stingiest defensive teams again with Josh Fox, who helped anchor that end in 2018, set to come off the bench for the majority of games in 2019.

The athleticism, switch-ability, and the genuine length available at the coaching groups disposal should see them disrupt opponents at all positions and expose some teams.

There are a couple of line-ups that they will use at times that will be a little clunky with shooting but the offensive rebounding bump should be there to help curb that issue and keep the scoring at an above average level. This team should contend.

BENDIGO BRAVES

PROJECTED STARTERS
Deonte Burton | Jake Lloyd | Chris Hogan | Ray Turner | Matt Andronicos 

*Updated after the second import signing.

Deonte Burton will give Bendigo the high-level shot-creating guard that they were clearly lacking prior to today’s report. Burton is a great athlete at point-guard and he will be a prolific scorer and nightmare to contain.

Ray Turner will now have a lot more space, a legitimate pick and roll partner, and the potential for some easy buckets with another player drawing a lot of attention.

The Braves have a handful of role players that can hit the three and if they can be consistent, and Chris Hogan can log some power-forward minutes with success, then the offense is suddenly looking OK to match their solid defense of last season.

DANDENONG RANGERS

PROJECTED STARTERS
Lucas Barker | Matt Kenyon | Dexter Kernich-Drew | Sam Froling | Tim Lang

The Rangers roster is littered with young talent, right through to deep in their bench, and they should be a lock to find their way to the playoffs with success on both ends of the floor.

Their style of play will put a lot of pressure on their opposition and that will start with Lucas Barker who is a tenacious point guard and the engine behind the team.

Matt Kenyon will certainly be worth writing about during the season but Sam Froling is the name that really catches the eye. Froling has already proven himself at SEABL level with his high-level of ball skill, passing instincts, mobility and shooting potential as a big making him one of the best prospects in the league.

DIAMOND VALLEY EAGLES

PROJECTED STARTERS
Matt Reynolds | Joel Spear | Logan Hovey | Darcy Harding | Ben Allen

The Eagles were OK in their first season up from Big V but the offense didn’t have enough juice or quality guard-play for them to get into playoff contention.

2019 looks to have a similar vibe about it with the roster seemingly a guard short even if Joel Spear can increase his efficiency to an average mark.

What the Eagles do have though is a big front-court. Liam Thomas and his shot-blocking will likely come off the bench behind Allen with Harding and Hovey taking the bulk of the small-forward minutes.

ELTHAM WILDCATS

PROJECTED STARTERS
Adam Doyle | Justin Aver | Ben Waldren | Grandy Glaze | Josh Sykes

Eltham make the jump up from Big V this year with a roster that should be competitive but might have some first year struggles like Diamond Valley did with their move to the SEABL.

Geremy McKay is an interesting piece off the bench but he is also a non-shooter, much like the guys in the starting front-court, so it will be interesting to see how the line-ups shake out and what impact that has.

Ben Waldren is a Big V favourite having dominated Youth League as a physical power-forward with a funky mid-range jumper, to then improving his ball-handling and hitting 40% of his threes as a genuine wing at State Championship level.

FRANKSTON BLUES

PROJECTED STARTERS
Damon Bozeman | Lachlan Barker | Igor Hadziomerovic | Najeal Young | Majok Majok

Frankston have clearly made a concerted effort to make the playoffs and prove that they’re no pushover with an entirely new starting group added.

Dan Trist will miss the first third of the season and it will be worth monitoring closer to the time of his return where they sit in the playoff race and if Majok stays on.

Damon Bozeman has put up some of the biggest state-league numbers seen in recent seasons and he gets to again put forward his case for an NBL opportunity.

Another strong shooting season from Alastair MacDonald and Barker should help the offense stay above average.

GEELONG SUPERCATS

PROJECTED STARTERS
Anthony Williams | Michael Rebula | Demarcus Gatlin | Lewis Thomas | Ma’alo Hicks

The Lewis Thomas signing is a strong one given that he is one of the better bigs that hasn’t made it to the NBL level. Thomas was in great shape in Mount Gambier last season and showed out on both ends of the floor. His impact alongside Gatlin will ensure that Geelong have one of the best defensive ratings in the league.

Nathan Herbert’s retirement leaves a significant hole in the Supercats line-up though. Without his elite shooting it’s difficult to envision the offense reaching anything above an average level.

The new back-court will play a crucial part in whether they compete for a top four spot or make up the numbers in the playoffs.

HOBART HUSKIES

PROJECTED STARTERS
Jack Stanwix | Jalen Adams | Mathiang Muo | Cameron Brown | Zac White

The rise of the Southern Huskies and the demise of the Hobart Chargers means that the 2018 SEABL champions are only ‘kind of’ back for 2019.

This Hobart roster has much more of a development feel to it with some notable holes needing to be filled quickly with proven personnel for them to even think about being competitive all season.

Mathiang Muo has mentioned that he will likely suit up for the first few games before his New Zealand commitments and he will be given all the shots he can handle if that eventuates.

KILSYTH COBRAS

PROJECTED STARTERS
Peter Hooley | Isaac Turner | Owen Odigie | Tohi Smith-Milner | Chris Patton

Once again, the Cobras will feature arguably the most talented roster in the league. They have superb depth and now have some high-pressure experience together after losing to Nunawading in last season’s SEABL playoffs.

Kilsyth will be able to play big or small effectively on both ends of the floor in order to match or counter their opponents, and they have a fantastic mix of inside and outside scoring options with elite shooting off the bench.

Title favourites.

KNOX RAIDERS

PROJECTED STARTERS
Mike Rose | Damon Heuir | Adam Thoseby | Cadarian Raines | James Hunter

Knox are perhaps a modern power-forward away from contending with the truly elite teams in the league. The front-court pairing of Raines and Hunter are not known for their shooting and passing so space will be less than perfect on offense even with three strong shooters around them.

Damon Heuir will be one of those shooters and he should consider himself unlucky not to have logged NBL minutes this past season. His ball-handling needs to be tightened up just a touch against high-level pressure defense but his combination of athleticism, defense and shooting isn’t something that you see all too often as a combination in a player that is stuck at this level.

MELBOURNE TIGERS

PROJECTED STARTERS
Michael Luxford | Tom Wilson | Nic Pozoglou | Jack Purchase | Dane Pineau

Melbourne have put together a fun and youthful roster which is their best team on paper in recent memory. This squad should be better on both ends of the floor than last year even if that doesn’t equate to more wins.

Tom Wilson and his Most Valuable Player award helped the Tigers overachieve in 2018 with a ton of shot-making on full display but he will have more help and the chance to create more for others here.

Look for them to get up and down the floor.

NORTH-WEST TASMANIA

PROJECTED STARTERS
Lachlan Dent | Tre Armstrong | Jordan Bowling | Nick Banyard | Paul Campbell

The Thunder squad has received a fair shake-up since last season and is now relying on an all-teenage back-court.

The imports will need to provide some pop for the offense to consistently get anywhere near a level that gives them a chance of the playoffs.

Tre Armstrong might have had the most underrated season of anyone in the SEABL last season given his level of play as an 18-year-old. The confidence and efficiency that he displayed as a high-volume three-point sniper was outstanding whether that was off the catch or off the dribble.

NUNAWADING SPECTRES

PROJECTED STARTERS
Shane McDonald | Tom Wright | Andrew Steel | Dain Swetalla | Simon Conn

The Spectres are a proven commodity with Simon Conn in the middle and in recent times they have just tinkered with their roster without changing too much.

This season they have added import Ray Mitchell to the mix which will give them a different look to throw at opponents.

Nunawading will be elite on both offense and defense which means another playoff run where they can try to out-manoeuvre their opposition again.

RINGWOOD HAWKS

PROJECTED STARTERS
Joey Miller | Jacob Gibson | Adrien Sturt | Matt Fennell | Shaun Clarke

Ringwood have been a powerhouse at Big V level with Matt Snow one of the big driving forces behind that. He’s a winner and his high IQ passing and intangibles were still on display last season.

The formula in their title era has been to surround their point-gaurd with shooters and they’ve done that again for 2019. Snow might have a small reduction in his minutes now though, given that he’s in his mid-thirties and the Hawks have stepped up in class.

Mat Fennell is another player who has had a lot of success at Big V level. He’s a physical beast at the power-forward spot and his team will need he and Adrien Sturt to have strong seasons despite also being in their thirties.

This squad might be a fringe-NBL player away from a playoff spot.

SOUTHERN SABRES

PROJECTED STARTERS
Rhys Carter | Stefan Uzelac | Jamie Batish | Sam McDaniel | David Barlow

Sandringham have rebranded and are now under the Southern Sabres name. Together with the name change, the roster also looks largely different.

The guard and forward personnel makes for a good group but they obviously need to source a starter-level center to allow them to compete on the boards and defense. Import announcement imminent?

Sam McDaniel will be the number one option on offense allowing him to build upon a strong showing in the second half of last year’s SEABL season. He has the physical tools to stick in the NBL, especially when you pair that with his knock-down three-point shooting. McDaniel will not hesitate to pull up in transition and should be near the league-leaders in three-point makes.

WAVERLEY FALCONS

Dylan Travis | Michael Harper | Bennie Lewis | Chris Arkell | Deondre McWhorter

The Falcons are another team making the jump up and interestingly they have gone with two imports who both have experience at lower levels in the Big V.

The guard depth appears strong but up front they could do with an extra proven performer. What shape McWhorter is in will determine a lot about this team, especially defensively, as he won’t be able to just use his size to bully guys, he will be challenged on both ends more than he was in Division One.

One of the mainstays of Waverley in recent times is the sweet shooting Chris Arkell who is coming off a sub-par shooting season by his standards. He can be a high-volume three-point bomber from the power-forward spot and if he plays well then that should lead to even more optimism around the team’s offense.

Jordan McCallum

Written by

NBL and NBL1 contributor. Find me on Twitter @jordanmcnbl

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