Uncharted Waters: How will the Wildcats navigate their way back to the NBL summit?
After missing the playoffs for the first time in 35 years, the Wildcats immediately pivoted into front office turbulence. How will the Perth Wildcats right their ship?
Credit: JBC Studios
At this point in the offseason, we’re usually all collectively praising the Wildcats for shrewd roster moves.
This offseason, thus far, has been a different story...
To say that Sports Entertainment Group’s tenure as the club’s owners has gotten off to a rocky start since taking over last year, would be one hell of an understatement. It’s unclear what the front office turnover means in the longer run. What we can say for certain in the short term, is that the most stable organisation in NBL history doesn’t seem particularly stable anymore. We’re clearly in uncharted waters with the Wildcats now.
Amidst all the turmoil and turnover out west, there remains one constant: Bryce Cotton. In a bit of news that seemed to slide under the radar this offseason, Cotton re-signed with the ‘Cats until 2025 — providing some much needed stability to an offseason filled with turbulence. Sure, Cotton staying put in Perth seemed like a foregone conclusion, but this news is far from inconsequential. As I’ve argued previously, Cotton is likely no worse than the third greatest player in NBL history, and the Wildcats just locked him long-term in the meat of his prime after he put up yet another MVP-worthy season.
Even though he missed the playoffs, Cotton’s 2021-22 campaign shouldn’t be forgotten soon. Despite its disappointing end, it was yet another masterpiece of a season. Cotton led the league in scoring on typically solid efficiency, finished third in box plus-minus, and posted by far and away the best on/off numbers in the league. As I've detailed before, those numbers don’t even capture the full Cotton experience, either. Despite the lack of fanfare over his excellent season, had the Wildcats made the playoffs, I would have endorsed Cotton as MVP of the league once again, even over Jaylen Adams. I don’t say that lightly, either — Adams was superb and was a deserving winner. It’s just that Bryce Cotton is and was that good…
… and yet, the Wildcats still missed the playoffs.
There are a ton of potential explanations.
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