New Zealand Breakers announce Brandon Ashley as Obekpa's replacement
Following big man Chris Obekpa’s release, the New Zealand Breakers announced the signing of 25 year old forward Brandon Ashley on Sunday evening.
Obekpa, who played during the NBL Blitz in Tasmania, saw limited action, and was eventually released. The Breakers officially announced the news on Saturday, confirming the Nigerian import was suffering from a “lingering knee injury”.
The 6’9 Ashley last played for the Sacramento Kings in the recent NBA Summer League, playing four games and averaging six points and four rebounds over 13.1 minutes.
He was selected to the 2016 D-League All-Star Game, during his stint with the Texas Legends. During the 2017/18 season, he averaged 16.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals with the Legends over 45 games played. The forward has also had international experience, having played one season with Germany’s ALBA Berlin in 2015/16, as well as APOEL Nicosia in Cyprus last year.
Prior to his signing with the Breakers, Ashley’s returning player rights to the G League was traded earlier in the week. His rights were acquired by to the Northern Arizona Suns, along with a first round pick in the 2019 NBA G League draft, in exchange for sending Hollis Thompson’s player rights to the G League’s Stockton Kings
The University of Arizona product adds a touch of versatility to the Breakers’ front court options. Officially listed as a power forward, Ashley’s 7’3.5 wingspan makes him a solid defensive rebounding presence, and offers some potential for New Zealand to play super small with Ashley at the five spot.
The forward hasn’t shown himself to be a consistent three-point shooter –Ashley shot 35% during his Texas G League games, and 29% in Europe– but has a versatile offensive game –ranging from transition to mid-range, to the low post– that makes him a reliable scorer.
“I feel like I can play at a high level, have a high motor,” Ashley said in July to The Daily Wildcat. “Knock down shots, guard multiple positions and rebound well. I think I have really developed my outside game and my handle. I’ve definitely matured.”
Ashley will join New Zealand ahead of their NBLxNBA preseason games against the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder in the United States.