2016/17 NBL Season in Review: Adelaide 36ers
At the conclusion of the 2016/17 NBL season, The Pick and Roll takes an in-depth look at each NBL franchise to see where they went right and wrong, plus what they should be investing into in the future.
What went right?
Well, nearly everything. From the get-go the Sixers were tipped to be the bottom feeders of the competition. No depth, extremely young team with little traction in terms of championship credentials. They had Jerome Randle, who showed off his talents for a subsection of the 2015/16 NBL season and this was the glimmer of hope Adelaide fans had when speaking about wins that were 'supposed' to be few and far between. Embed from Getty Images
Alas, the Sixers undersold and over-delivered, turning into one of the most exciting and enthralling teams of the competition. Joey Wright believed in what he had in front of him, and the players felt the same way.
In the end, the Sixers have found a franchise player that brings people through the doors and creates a community environment. Thanks to this season, Adelaide will have put themselves on the world basketball map once Terrance Ferguson is drafted into the NBA. Nathan Sobey has his footprint on the league for as long as he wishes after a breakout season.
This Adelaide team was legit.
Could it have been anyone else?
The league's most valuable player and really, it wasn't even close. Randle shook, shimmied and danced around multiple defenders on a nightly basis en route to collecting the prestigious Andrew Gaze trophy.
He averaged 21.3 points per game across the season, good enough for third in the competition, as well as 5.3 assists per contest, again third in the league.
However, it wasn't just his on court antics which made him such a viable commodity in Australia. He found a voice, an off-court presence; something that Australian basketball hasn't had for a long time. The Jerome 'Handle' Randle basketball fans preached over the last year may only just be getting started.
It will go down as a missed opportunity; top of the table and games clear of their closest rivals. Bundling out in the 'first round' of the NBL playoffs. Embed from Getty Images
However it wasn't their biggest disappointment. Yes, they may had already locked up the minor premiership but many pundits will put their early post-season exit solely on the way the Sixers decided to finish the season.
A four game skid saw players being rested, pulled from close games at tight stages, different and unique line-ups being played out just so the coaching staff could see what they could muster up.
As the old saying goes: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" - Did they tamper with good fortune?
Which one do you pick out?
It may not even have been on the court. The Sixers best moment took place when all of their counterparts (well, minus the ill Anthony Drmic) were in suit and tie for the NBL Awards Night.
No it wasn't the fact that Jerome Randle was named the league most valuable player. Or the fact that Joey Wright was named Coach of the Year. Or the fact Nathan Sobey was named the league's most improved player. Or the fact Drmic was named the league's Rookie of the Year (wow that's a lot of awards).
It was the fact EVERY time an individual won an award, the team would go up as a collective group and receive the specified award.
The Sixers were a TEAM, in every way. Their cohesion off the court allowed it to blossom on the court, and boy was it a thing of beauty.
Well it was going to come eventually in this article wasn't it?
Semi Final, Game 3.
For the first time probably all season, the young guns were the favourites in a crunch time game.
The past fortnight had been ridiculed in the media as a rough and tumble type affair, the entire series in fact. Was it the ploy the Hawks implied knowing that Adelaide were vulnerable to it. Possibly.
Whatever the case, the Sixers were dismantled on their own home floor in the deciding game with the winner advancing to the big dance.
With the Sixers 18 points down at the final change, the writing was on the wall and their season came to an abrupt halt.
More of the same please.
Re-sign, re-sign, re-sign.
With Anthony Drmic, Brendan Teys, Daniel Johnson, Mitch Creek, Majok Deng, Matt Hodgson and Nathan Sobey all contracted to return in 2017/18, all eyes are on the Sixers to re-sign star import Jerome Randle.
The length of stay in Australia for an import is usually unkind, however the likes of Torrey Craig and Jermaine Beal (although released through year three) have been able to stick around for a three year term.
Randle would be entering that territory if he decides to give the NBL another crack next season.
It may have ended on a sour note, however there's no doubting how good the Sixers were this past season. Full credit must go to the organisation.