NBL Pre-Season Import Report
The NBL Blitz provides fans with their first real look at their teams new players, including the all important import positions.
Imports across the league want to show the NBL universe what they are made of and why their team used one of their crucial import roster spots on them.
This year, the Blitz was held in Townsville with each team playing three games across the tournament.
So, how did your team's import perform? How will the fit into the lineup?
Blitz Summary: McNeail only played the first two games of the weekend, scoring well in both games. He had 19 points against Sydney and 16 against Melbourne, along with three assists in each game. He did shoot under 50% on both outings but would not be too worried about that. McNeail had his three-point shot locked in shooting 7/13 in the two games.
Blitz Rating: 7.5/10
Verdict: McNeail was impressive and did more than expected, he looks a good fit for the 36ers. Opposition teams will need to watch his three-point shot. With Joey Wright at the helm and a good import, who knows how far they can go.
Ebi did not play in the tournament due to a calf injury. Time will tell how he fits into the 36ers lineup and if he can find some form.
Blitz Summary: Starks played all three games over the tournament and performed exceptionally in two. With 15 points in the first game and 20 in the third, Starks showed he can put the points on the board. He shot well in both those games and added four assists against the Breakers. Turnovers were a slight problem having turned the ball over 11 times in the three games. Starks was named joint MVP of the Blitz.
Blitz Rating: 8/10
Verdict: Starks showed signs of being a solid import, but it will take a lot more to live up to the expectations of Wilbekin from last season. If Starks can put up some good numbers consistently, Cairns will be competing for a championship once again.
Blitz Summary: Craig is a returning import, so we have an idea of what the Taipans will get from him. Craig went quietly about his business in the Blitz after a stellar NZ NBL season. His best game of the Blitz came in the Reptile Rumble against the Crocodiles, where he had 15 points and seven rebounds. Coming off the bench, Craig provides a spark and showed he is an all round player. He rebounded the ball well all weekend.
Blitz Rating: 7/10
Verdict: Craig showed the NBL world last season that his impact coming off the bench is very important to the Taipans championship aspirations. He should improve on last seasons output with a year in the league under his belt.
Lisch did not play in the tournament due to a calf injury. Earlier in the pre season, Lisch has put up some big numbers for the Hawks and looks likely to have a big season under Rob Beveridge.
The Hawks only have one import on their roster this season.
Blitz Summary: Holt had the most impressive Blitz out of all the leagues imports, taking home the joint Blitz MVP as well as leading United to the Loggins-Bruton Trophy. With scoring outputs of 27, 13 and 22, Holt showed the NBL what he was made of. Holt showed he could score in a number of ways too, getting his points from both inside and out. He shot the ball well and filled the stats sheet with assists and rebounds.
Blitz Rating: 9/10
Verdict: Holt is the pick of the new imports so far, with an outstanding pre season. Opposition teams will be putting a lot of work in to try and find how to stop the point guard. His speed and agility has been on show with some NBL fans calling him the one man press breaker. So far he looks like he has fitted in well with his United team mates in the push for a finals appearance.
Blitz Summary: Warrick only joined the team just before the Blitz, making the tournament a tough one for him. He played limited minutes and sometimes looked lost when United ran sets, due to lack of training. However, Warrick gave the fans what they wanted, some monstrous dunks were thrown down by the NBA veteran. In his small minutes Warrick put up scores of six and 11 points as well as rebounding well.
Blitz Rating: 6/10* (*had not been with the team for long)
Verdict: If the play of former NBA team-mate of Warrick's, Josh Childress is anything to go by then Warrick will be a star in the NBL. We have not seen much of him in the pre season but with his experience at the top-level, it can be predicted that United have a top class import on their hands. Melbourne fans will have to hope he fits into their already settled lineup. One thing is for sure though, he will provide us with highlights.
New Zealand Breakers
Blitz Summary: Jackson only played one full game during the Blitz and performed as all NBL supporters would have expected. Finishing with 20 points and five assists, Jackson led his team to a narrow victory over Townsville. Jackson sat out the second game while in the third he played limited minutes scoring eight points in 15 minutes. Jackson shot the three ball well across the two games he played with numbers of 6/9 over the two games.
Blitz Rating: 7.5/10
Verdict: Everyone knows what Jackson will bring to the table, there are no doubts that he will once again be in MVP contention. He will need to take a step up for the team while Corey Webster is in the USA with the New Orleans Pelicans if the Breakers are to go back-to-back.
Blitz Summary: The second of the 'C. Jackson's' looked to very much struggle in the first two games of the tournament. He came off the bench and couldn't muster up much on the scoreboard; in the second game he was fouled off within 9 minutes. After these two games, Jackson has a total of eight points and seven rebounds. Everything changed in the third and final game, Jackson started and has an incredible game. He finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds on 8-13 shooting, looking like a completely different player. After that third performance, Breakers fans would be excited.
Blitz Rating: 6.5/10
Verdict: Jackson showed what he is capable of in the last game of the tournament but the question is now, can he do it consistently? If he can, he will be an integral part of the Breakers run at yet another championship. He must be wary of his fouls, the Breakers can not afford to lose him early in the game.
Blitz Summary: Prather only played in one of Perth's game in the Blitz (only played three minutes in their second game). His performance in that game was impressive, he led all scorers with 20 points and added seven rebounds as well. Looked athletic with one high-flying jam and his rebounding ability. Prather shot 8-18 on the night, which is a reasonable shooting display.
Blitz Rating: 7.5/10
Verdict: Prather looks like another Perth import jackpot, he will be hard to stop for opposition teams with his athleticism and length. As long as he buys into the system set out by Trevor Gleeson, Perth could be on their way to a 30th straight finals series.
Casey Prather ?? pic.twitter.com/ASvVlzoEeA
— Perth Wildcats (@PerthWildcats) September 24, 2015
Blitz Summary: Back for another season, Beal was on light duties during the Blitz with nothing to prove. Beal's Blitz stats did not set the world on fire nor turn any heads but he knows what it takes to be at the top in the NBL and will be firing come round one.
Blitz Rating: 4/10
Verdict: His rating may seem low but Beal will be ready for the season proper when it is time, we know how good of a shooter Beal is and how he can change a game by himself. He is part of the puzzle Perth have used for the past few years to continue their incredible finals run. Do not fear Perth fans, Beal will be back.
Blitz Summary: Thornton showed off his slick moves and why he is an NBA draftee during the Blitz with two big games. In the first game of the Blitz Thornton had 24 points and five assists in a performance that had Kings fans talking. While in the third game he finished with 18 points. The only criticism on Thornton would be the amount of shots he was taking, over the tournament he shot 19-47.
Blitz Rating: 7/10
Verdict: It will be interesting to see if Thornton's shooting numbers change once Childress is back in the lineup, it is expected they will. He showed he has the ability to score and create his own shot which could be useful late in a shot clock. Thornton needs to find his place among other stars Childress and Julian Khazzouh.
Childress did not play in the Blitz because of injury. The NBL has seen what Josh Childress can do and it has opposition teams scared.
Brian Conklin View image | gettyimages.com Blitz Summary: Conklin played two games during the Blitz, with one great performance. Against the Taipans, Conklin finished with a big 18 points and eight rebounds in a losing side. Last season's MVP showed once again why he won the award, stuffing the stats sheet while carrying his team. In Conklin's other performance, he struggled to find the bottom of the net, shooting 2-8 and finishing with just seven points.
Blitz Rating: 7/10
Verdict: Conklin will once again lead the Crocs and be their main threat to opposition teams, he will get a lot of touches which will result in a lot of scoring opportunities. The MVP of last season is up to it and will once again be high in the contention of MVP.
Blitz Summary: Jett only played the one game and it was not his best, he had eight points in the one outing and turned the ball over six times. Jett also shot only 37% in the game, with numbers of 3-8. The Crocs got beaten pretty easily and would want more out of their import who played 24 minutes.
Blitz Rating: 3/10
Verdict: It is hard to say how Jett will go throughout the NBL season from this one game. They need someone to stand up next to Conklin and Shawn Dennis would be hoping that man would be Jett. He now has a lot to prove early in the season.