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2000-2020 NBL All-Star Five: Melbourne United
Fresh off another title, we pick out Melbourne United's 2000-2020 All-Star Five.
The last 20 years have been a rollercoaster ride for Australian basketball, and more specifically, the NBL.
Early in the 2000s, the league was riding high due to the boom period that was the 1990s. However, things went downhill before Larry Kestelman and co. created a foundation, that has resulted in the resurgence we are experiencing at the moment. Through all the ups and downs, the level of basketball and quality of players have been undeniably strong. As a celebration, I’m compiling an All-Star five for every team that has played at least five seasons in the NBL between 2000 and 2020.
That means both the Melbourne Tigers and Melbourne United will be featured, however, the South East Melbourne Phoenix will not appear.
Players will be selected based on their performances with the team, not over their entire career. Success, accomplishments, stats, impact, and longevity will all be taken into account when it comes to who makes their respective team.
So far we’ve covered the Cairns Taipans, Sydney Kings, Adelaide 36ers, Brisbane Bullets, Melbourne Tigers, Illawarra Hawks, Townsville Crocodiles and the Perth Wildcats. Next up is the NBL’s most recent champions, Melbourne United.
PG: Casper Ware
It’ll come as a surprise to no one that Casper Ware lines up as the point guard in this team. The star point guard was named to the All-NBL First Team in all three of his seasons with United, and was also club MVP each of those campaigns.
Ware helped United to the 2017/18 NBL championship and the following year led them to the grand final before being knocked over by Perth. He would eventually move on to Sydney, but Ware made his mark on United and helped establish them as one of the heavyweights of the competition.
SG: Chris Goulding
When you think Melbourne United, you can’t help but think of Chris Goulding. He’s averaged at least 14 points per game in every campaign in a United jersey, always coming up big when his team needs it.
Everybody knows how lethal Goulding is from beyond the arc, but that doesn’t mean they have ever been able to consistently stop him. Like the other greats, ‘Bubbles’ is almost impossible to keep down and he will most likely go down as one of the greatest to ever pull on a uniform for Melbourne United.
SF: Jordan McRae
The small forward was arguably the toughest position to settle on for this team, but Jordan McRae’s exceptional 2014/15 campaign was enough to see him included. McRae averaged 19.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game in his season with United, claiming All-NBL Second Team honours.
He was one of the few shining lights in what was a tough season for the team, but there was no doubting just how exceptional he was. He would depart United after 2014/15 and head back home, eventually making his way into the NBA and winning a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
PF: Josh Boone
There was no doubt that United’s play took a serious upturn when Casper Ware came to town, but he wasn’t the only factor, because his arrival coincided with that of Josh Boone. The import proved a key cog in the Melbourne machine, averaging close to a double-double in all of his three seasons with the Victorian side.
Boone was named to the All-NBL First Team in 2017/18 and was one of the spearheads in their championship run that same year. He would eventually go on to play a season in Illawarra, but his time in the NBL will be remembered most by his effort for United.
C: Daniel Kickert
After a long stint in Europe, Daniel Kickert returned home to play in the NBL with Melbourne. He spent two seasons with United, averaging 13.82 points per game in the first campaign and 15.08 in the second.
A lethal shooter and one of the most efficient scorers the league has seen in recent years, Kickert was named to the All-NBL First Team in 2015/16. Not necessarily the most defensive-minded centre to anchor the middle for this team, but there’s no doubting he knew how to fill it up on the offensive side of the floor.
Just missed the cut…
Just when you think his illustrious career might be over, David Barlow just keeps on going. Don’t think he is just a passenger either, because the Aussie basketball legend continues to impact games in any way he can.
After some time playing in Europe Barlow returned to Australia, signing with Melbourne United for the 2014/15 campaign. In the era we’re focusing on, Barlow’s role changed a number of times, and although injury did have some impact on him, he still played strong basketball. Longevity was certainly in his favour for this team, but the play of others just edged him out.
Tai Wesley spent two seasons with the United, helping them to their championship in 2017/18. He averaged around 10 points per game over his time with the Victorian side, which is impressive considering he was playing alongside the likes of Goulding, Ware, Boone, and for one season, Casey Prather.
A maestro in the low block and always a handy option when you needed a high percentage look, Tai Wesley was stiff to miss out on this team.
16 points per game in a championship season shows the calibre of Casey Prather. When you consider that was alongside some other exceptional players in Goulding, Boone, and Ware, it was clear he made great use of all his opportunities.
Sadly his return to Melbourne in 2019/2020 has heavily hampered by injury, however, there was no doubt a championship in his first season with the team was enough to endear himself to the United faithful. McRae just edged him out for the three-spot, as his individual season was slightly better.
If we were counting the 2020/21 season, Mitch McCarron might have been a touch closer to being named in the All-Star Five. In saying that, his two seasons with United prior to the most recent NBL season were still impressive.
Playing over 30 minutes per game in both campaigns, McCarron’s basketball IQ, defensive prowess, and ability to score a bucket right when his team needed it proved to be crucial for United. One of the NBL’s most underrated players, Mitch McCarron just missed the cut for this team, but it was always going to be difficult behind the backcourt of Casper Ware and David Barlow.