5 things we learned from the NBL All-Australian tour
Image Credit: NBL
The 2016 Sino-Australian Men's International Basketball Challenge, or in shorter terms, the NBL All-Australian team tour of China has recently been completed as the NBL All-Australian team secured a 2-1 series victory after success in games two and three.
The series was a pleasant off-season reminder of what Australia's national league has to offer, with many Australian basketball fans focusing on the NBA side of things and usually forgetting about our local competition until later in the year.
Thankfully, all three games were live on Fox Sports, which coincided with the games being televised to a significantly larger audience over in China.
What can we take away from the three-game series though? Well, here are five things we learned:
1. Our refs aren't that bad after all
It was a scathing criticism in season 2015/16, but after witnessing the three Chinese referees in each game - it turns out our refs really aren't that bad.
The jokes came in abundance though:
Alas, the boys did the job and came out of it alive!
2. Lucas Walker just hasn't taken that next step
We were shown glimpses of it in game two when 'Waxy' stepped up to the plate with 12 points, however it just hasn't all come together for the swingman.
There were questions asked when he departed Melbourne two years ago whether he would ever be a dominant NBL player - having always looked like he had the potential. Those questions remained after a subpar season in Adelaide last year.
You have to remember, the now free agent was playing for the Boomers in a touring team of China just two years ago. He was a fringe Boomer after that series and was really making some in roads for his career.
Unfortunately, that jump just hasn't happened yet. Will it eventuate?
3. Clint Steindl will be a very nice addition to an NBL team
Another free agent, this time it's a swingman in a comfortable position in Steindl. A solid role player, Steindl could potentially be the difference between a finals team and a championship winning team.
Imagine Steindl coming off the pine (ala Torrey Craig style last season) and putting up numbers; slashing his way through second units on offence, en route to the league's sixth man of the year award.
Image Credit: NBL
It could happen for the 27 year old, having plenty of weapons in his repertoire. He showed his ability in Cairns before taking his talents to Townsville when he averaged 12.7ppg. Slide him into a second unit in a competitive team and Steindl won't have a reason to look offshore.
4. We're done with the defensive slogs
Last season saw the opening of the game, literally. On the floor, offence stepped up and the pace of the game was so much more enthralling.
We saw high scoring contests which reflected the brilliant individual performances which wowed the crowd.
We're done with defensive slogs which was displayed in China. Scores of 49-57, 72-64 and 76-65 were a significant decrease on what fans witnessed throughout the NBL in season 2015/16.
International basketball is never the same, but it sure is comforting to know that the local game is a much greater product than what it once was. No one wants that defensive junk anymore.
5. China won't be a problem come Rio
Ok, so this one isn't NBL related - but with the majority of the Chinese squad hitting the floor against our NBL guys assumed to be in the mix in Rio, they won't pose too much of a threat.
Sure, they had a couple of important players; players with size that did test the NBL All Australian team. However, match them up with Andrew Bogut and Aron Baynes - China won't get close.
Pair that with their lack of stamina and the Chinese will tire quicker than ice melting in the Sahara.