NBL Season Preview: Sydney Kings
The Sydney Kings are the next club to go under the microscope as we continue to preview the 2013/14 season, which is now just days away from commencing.
2012/13 Record: 12-16 (4th)
AJ Ogilvy (Brose Baskets, Germany)
Jesse Sanders (Filena BPA, Italy)
Charles Carmouche (LSU, College US)
Brad Hill (Cairns Taipans)
Ben Allen (Townsville Crocodiles)
Cody Ellis (St. Louis, College US)
Kyle Armour (Perth Wildcats)
Shaun Gleeson (QBL)
You Won’t See:
Darnell Lazare (New Zealand Breakers)
Corin Henry (Bulgaria)
Ian Crosswhite (Retired)
Shane Heal (Coach)
Shane Coach (Head Coach)
Damian Cotter (Assistant Coach)
Tim Hudson (Assistant Coach)
Shannon Seebohm (Assistant Coach)
PG - Charles Carmouche
SG - Jesse Sanders
SF - Ben Madgen
PF - Brad Hill
C - AJ Ogilvy
2013/14 Championship Odds: $15.00
After a blistering start in 2012/13, the Sydney Kings fell in a hole in the latter stages of the season, enduring an eight-game losing streak before limping into the finals. Almost everyone wrote off the Kings prior to the season tipping off, yet Shane Heal and his team well and truly proved the punters wrong by the end of the season.
Fast forward twelve months and many will be writing off the Kings this season once again. Somewhat of a cleanout occurred over the off-season at the Kingdom, with just four players returning for the 2013/14 campaign.
The import duo of Darnell Lazare and Corin Henry, who in particular proved to be a much better signing than many first thought, have both moved on, while stalwart Ian Crosswhite has retired.
Henry enjoyed a fruitful campaign, with returns of 13.2ppg, 3.9rpg and 2.9apg helping to form a strong backcourt partnership with league scoring title winner Ben Madgen (17.7ppg).
In the front court, Lazare’s 11.3ppg and 7.2rpg, especially when coupled with Crosswhite’s more-than-serviceable returns of 10.2ppg and 7.6rpg, leave perhaps the biggest hole for the Kings to plug.
Huge off-season signing AJ Ogilvy will go a long way to filling the gap. The 25-year-old Ogilvy, a former Vanderbilt University graduate, comes back home after a stint in Germany which garnered modest returns of just 6.6ppg and 2.8rpg in 2012/13. Ogilvy’s potential far outweighs those numbers, and if he can get going, particularly early, then he may turn out to be one of the most damaging centres in the league by season’s end.
The X-factor for the Kings will be off-season signing Brad Hill. Hill has recently enjoyed stints with Cairns and Adelaide, and has always been followed by the weight of expectation after some solid performances early on in seasons.
Hill averaged just 6.6ppg and 4.3rpg last season and never really got going at all. Going back to season 2011/12, he exploded early on for Adelaide before dropping off alarmingly by season’s end once more.
His 42 point effort in a recent pre-season game against Cairns has shown that potential once more, and if he can build on that and be a consistent performer for the Kings, particularly early while Madgen is coming back from injury, then a push for the playoffs becomes realistic in what is sure to be a tight season.
Heal has used him at the 4 so far this pre-season and it has seemed to work, which has also freed up the likes of Jesse Sanders and Charles Carmouche to play big minutes at the guard positions.
The Kings have potential to do some sort of damage, but there is little to say that will definitely happen. If Ogilvy and Hill show exactly what they are capable of, and they get backup from the likes of Carmouche, Sanders and Madgen, then the Kings will have a team that can challenge some of the more fancied clubs for a playoffs spot. However, given how even this season promises to be and the talent on everyone’s roster, it will be a tough ask.