2022/23 NBL season preview – Melbourne United
THE 2022/23 National Basketball League season is less than two weeks 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 and final side on the list are Melbourne United, who bowed out in disappointing fashion last time around, but were among the top teams again, which has become a recurring theme in recent years.
2021/22 record – 20-8
United delivered yet another stellar regular season performance in 2021/22, producing the most amount of wins in the competition and finishing the fixture at the top of the table.
With strong performances from Matthew Dellavedova, Jo Lual Acuil and Jack White, United were proving extremely tough to topple, and headed into the postseason as favourites. However, upon encountering a JackJumpers side with plenty of momentum behind them, United could not get the job done in the first week of finals, and were knocked out in the first week of finals in extremely disappointing fashion.
Over the course of the offseason, Dellavedova, Lual Acuil and White all departed, and it is a bit of a different look coming into their season opener. Lual Acuil was always likely to leave, but Dellevedova and White were set to go around again before a pair of NBA offers flipped United’s prospects completely.
Head coach Dean Vickerman said the club was thrilled to acquire the former NBA talent’s services.
“He’s such an unbelievable athlete who has the ability to bring everything we were looking for to the table,” he said.
“He plays with a lot of energy, a lot of excitement, at 6’3 he plays a lot bigger than he is. We know he will bring in great versatility as a defender, being able to guard 1-through-4.
“We’ve played an above the rim style in the past with our guards, but this is a next-level athlete who will be able to fill some of the gaps we lost with Jack White.
“I think fans are going to be really excited by the power and athleticism he’ll bring to John Cain Arena.”
The club also added talented big man Isaac Humphries, who will fill Lual Acuil’s shoes, a role that was set to go to Next Star Ariel Hukporti, before going down with a season-ending achillies injury. Former Hawk Xavier Rathan-Mayes also joined the side after an impressive season with Illawarra.
Given the cards they have been dealt, it will be a task for Melbourne to back up last season’s performance, but if any side can do it, it is them, and they have the runs on the board from previous campaigns.
Chris Goulding, Shea Ili, Brad Newley, David Okwera, Mason Peatling, Ariel Hukporti, Zac Triplett, Makuach Maluach, Joshua Duach, Isaac Humphries, Rayjon Tucker, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Jordan Caroline, Malith Machar, Callum Dalton, David Barlow, Lachlan Barker