NBL Season Preview: Perth Wildcats
The NBL season for 2013/14 is just days away from tipping off. Today, reigning two-time runners-up and pre-season favourites Perth Wildcats go under the microscope.
2012/13 Record: 22-6 (2nd)
James Ennis (Miami Heat, NBA)
Jermaine Beal (Minas, Brazil)
Drake U’u (Cal Poly, College US)
Mathiang Muo (Charleston Southern, College US)
Tom Jervis (SBL)
Erik Burdon (SEABL)
Trevor Gleeson (Coach)
You Won’t See:
Kevin Lisch (JSF Nanterre, France)
Jeremiah Trueman (New Zealand Breakers)
Everard Bartlett (NZNBL)
Cameron Tovey (Retired)
Brad Robbins (Retired)
Rob Beveridge (Coach)
Trevor Gleeson (Head Coach)
Andy Stewart (Assistant Coach)
PG- Damian Martin
SG- Jermaine Beal
SF- James Ennis
PF- Shawn Redhage
C- Matthew Knight
2013/14 Championship Odds: $3.00
The Perth Wildcats come in to season 2013/14 on the back of two straight runners-up efforts, falling short in the big dance to the New Zealand Breakers each time.
With some movement down in New Zealand over the off-season, and with the jury still out on whether the movement will make them better or worse, Perth have acted swiftly and signalled their intentions to bolster their squad with scoring firepower.
The signing of James Ennis, who may well have secured a spot in the NBA on the Miami Heat’s roster this time next year, may prove to be the most dominant force in the league come playoffs time and will significantly aid the ‘Cats quest for a record sixth club title.
Ennis comes to Australia fresh out of his college stint at Long Beach State, was taken in last year’s NBA draft at pick 50 by Atlanta before being traded to Miami on draft night. He averaged 16.5ppg and 6.7rpg in his time at college, while ranking in the top 10 in the Big West conference in a staggering eight statistics.
Ennis will likely slot in at the 3 for the Wildcats this season, with fellow import signing Jermaine Beal to play predominately at the 2 in what is sure to be one of, if not the most lethal import duos in the league.
Beal comes to Perth after stints in the NBA D-League and Europe, with his most recent stint in Brazil returning 16.7ppg while shooting an impressive 40% from three point range. The Vanderbilt University graduate is a flat-out scorer, which will make Perth extremely difficult to contain at the offensive end this season and more than make up for the loss of former league MVP Kevin Lisch.
Starters Shawn Redhage, Matthew Knight and Damian Martin, as well as backup swingman Jesse Wagstaff, will be returning for season 2013/14 for another tilt at the title, and are all integral pieces of the Wildcats puzzle.
The ever-green Redhage put up 14.6ppg and pulled in 4.5rpg, while big man Knight posted an impressive 13.7ppg to go with 7.2rpg in 2012/13. The early absence of Knight as he recovers from an ankle injury will hurt the Wildcats’ big man stocks, leaving the likes of Redhage, Wagstaff and newly acquired centre Tom Jervis to pick up the slack until he returns.
While head coach Rob Beveridge departs, the incoming Trevor Gleeson is more than capable of getting the group on the same page early and will likely prove a worthy successor as the year goes on.
The Wildcats needed improvement after falling agonisingly short in recent years, and have no doubt achieved that in the signings of Ennis and Beal. Taking out the pre-season Blitz has shown that star big Knight will be covered, and if the Wildcats get off to a fast start they will take some catching late in the season. Home court advantage at a packed out Perth Arena will go a long way to handing Perth that elusive sixth title.