2022/23 NBL season preview – New Zealand Breakers
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 first cab off the rank is the New Zealand Breakers, who endured a tumultuous campaign in 2021/22, and will be hoping for smoother sailing this time around.
New Zealand Breakers
2021/22 record – 5-23
The Breakers got served the worst hand in season 2021/22, spending their campaign overseas on Australian shores in hotels. Even their home games were on away courts, making life extremely difficult.
They had quite a young list, boasting a few NBA draft prospects, with the side putting an emphasis on player development. However, they still managed to chalk up a handful of wins and will be working towards improving that when the season kicks off in October.
The roster lost the likes of Hugo Besson and Ousmane Dieng, both of whom headed to the NBA after impressive campaigns with the Breakers. However, the front office added some eye-catching talents in the offseason, with their focus on youth still prevalant. They added another Next Star in Rayan Rupert, who showed his potential with an exciting performance in the NBL Blitz on the weekend. He has the capability to shoot from range, but also put the ball on the floor and attack the hoop, and will be looking to increase his chances of an NBA Draft selection.
The Breakers had to deal with the loss of big man Yannick Wetzell, who was far and away their best player in 2021/22. It left a gaping gap in their roster, but they have recruited well to cover the Wetzell-sized hole.
Head coach Mody Moar flagged US import Dererk Pardon as the team’s number one target in the offseason, and the Breakers were able to acquire his services. The 28-year-old big man brings a lot to the table, including plenty of experience, having played four years of college basketball.
Pardon’s biggest strength is his defence, with the ability to switch and guard the one through five. Given how prominent the pick and roll is in the NBL, it should prove invaluable for the Breakers. He is also able to hit the scoreboard, often taking the highest percentage shot with ball in hand.
Moar expressed his excitement to see what the big man can do in a Breakers uniform.
“His special physical gifts, coupled with a sharp basketball mind and a real competitive fire, excite me about our defensive potential,” he said.
“He plays every possession with the toughness and intensity you only find in the best Kiwi athletes.
“I have every confidence Dererk is exactly the type of player who will become a fan favourite with all our Breakers fans.”
Guard William McDowell-White is fresh off a career-best season with New Zealand, and should be a valuable member of the starting lineup this season.
Unfortunately, captain Thomas Abercrombie was ruled out for the remainder of the preseason after sustaining an eye injury, so he now faces a race against the clock for Round 1.
With a new look roster for season 2022/23, the Breakers could make a bit of a leap in the standings if a few of their players can take the next step in their weekly output.
Tom Abercrombie, Jarrell Brantley, Barry Brown Jr, Dan Fotu, Cam Gliddon, Izayah Le’afa, Rob Loe, Will McDowell-White, Dererk Pardon, Rayan Rupert (Next Star), Sam Timmins, Tom Vodanovich