2022/23 NBL season preview – Cairns Taipans

THE 2022/23 National Basketball League season is less than two weeks away from getting underway, and it is shaping up as one of the most anticipated seasons in recent memory.

Last year saw the Tassie fairytale, some new stars step to the forefront and Sydney dominance in the big dance. With some big names joining the competition over the past few months, there is a lot to like about how the fixture is looking, as the league continues its rise on the world stage.

With that in mind, Rookie Me Central will be taking a look at how each side is shaping up ahead of the season tip-off, with some new look squads eager to take the next step. The next side on the list are the Cairns Taipans, who will be eager to climb the standings, after falling eight wins short of the postseason last time around.

Cairns Taipans
2021/22 record – 9-19

The Taipans just could not get going in season 2021/22, falling short of double-digit wins and not delivering enough wins to be in the postseason race.

It was the same position they finished the season before, having suffered quite a bit of carnage that threw their player availability into the air. Whether it was COVID, injuries or an ever-changing fixture, the Taipans could not build any sort of momentum.

The Taipans were at their best when they could grind down a team with some stingy defence and relentless rebounding. They averaged only 79 points a game last year, and conceded more than that, so both of these areas are cause for concern leading into the opening round.

Cairns will be eager for more continuity with its lineup in their upcoming campaign, and re-signed a couple of key figures from their infrequent success last year.

Guard Tahjere McCall was the star of the show, in the top five for assists per game and proving to be a handy scorer, averaging the most points per game of any Cairns player. Retaining his services was a no-brainer, and he should be one of the most dynamic point guards in the competition once again.

The side did let go some veterans, as they look to build a more youthful list. The likes of Nathan Jawai and Jordan Ngatai were not brought back, but the team added D.J. Hogg, who played G-League with McCall and should bring some much-needed defence to the court, and can certainly nail the three-pointer.

Head coach Adam Forde said Hogg will bring a lot to the table, and his strengths should boost the Taipans.

“He’s a very smart player, and in conjunction with his length, makes for a great help defender as he averaged a block a game just by being in the right help position. So having multiple rim protectors on the court at one time can allow us to take some more risks defensively.”

Losing Scott Machado stings, but it will free up McCall to completely run the offence, and when he was able to do so last year, it worked extremely well. Reigning NBL Rookie of the Year Bul Kuol and Keanu Pinder will both return, an impressive feat given both were drawing significant interest.

Their depth may be tested, but if the Taipans can avoid the carnage that disrupted their 2021/22 season, then their win total should go up. McCall will need to have a big year, Pinder will be required to step up and Kuol must continue his development, but if all three can happen, a fairytale may be on the cards.


Majok Deng, Mirko Djeric, Bul Kuol, Keanu Pinder, Tahjere McCall, Sam Waardenburg, Jonah Antonio, D.J. Hogg, Lat Mayen, Ben Ayre, Shannon Scott, Josh Davey

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