2022/23 NBL season preview – Sydney Kings
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 side on the list are the Sydney Kings, who were able to achieve the ultimate goal of winning it all after delivering an exceptional back end to the season and storming home to claim the 2021/22 NBL championship.
2021/22 record – 19-9
The Sydney Kings could not have asked for much more in their campaign last season, winning the chip from third place after downing the JackJumpers in just two games.
It was a rollercoaster start to the year, with the Kings unable to find a style of play that produced wins on a weekly basis. However, it was a remarkable second-half resurgence from Sydney that proved to be the best patch of form from any side all season.
With superstar point guard Jaylen Adams leading the way, the Kings launched into championship contention and made it past the Hawks in the semi’s to advance to the big dance.
Their opponents, the JackJumpers were on quite a run, but Sydney taught them a lesson on the biggest of stages, and looks set to embark on a similar quest again in 2022/23.
While they retained some of their big guns such as Xavier Cooks and Dejan Vasiljevic over the offseason, Adams is a huge out ahead of the upcoming season. He won the 2021/22 season MVP with a dominant campaign, and proved a match-winner on a number of occasions.
With Adams signing overseas, the Kings had a massive point guard void to fill ahead of the season tip-off date, and appear to have done a solid job of that with Derrick Walton Jr. joining the team. Another floor general with NBA experience under his belt, Walton Jr. could have a similar impact to the competition as his predessecor.
The 27-year-old is an efficient scorer, but has proven to be extremely unselfish on the court and uses his court vision to create for and find his teammates in scoring position. He should combine to form a damaging duo in pick and roll situations with the Kings bigs, given he is capable of knocking down shots from across the key, but also dumping the ball off to a cutting teammate.
Kings head coach Chase Buford spoke of the team’s excitement to build around Walton Jr. in the coming season.
“Derrick is an NBA calibre point guard that we are thrilled to add to our group for next season,” Buford said. “He is a terrific scorer and shooter, and he really excels at creating for teammates as a driver and playmaker out of pick and roll actions. He is also a physical and athletic defender capable of frustrating opponents.
“More importantly, his character, attitude, and competitiveness will fit right in line with our returning core from last season and we envision Derrick being a strong leader within our group.”
Another massive signing was the addition of NBL21 Best Defensive Player Justin Simon, who had a terrific season a couple of years ago for the Hawks, and has headed up the highway to join the reigning champions. The wing has the capability to put clamps on the competition’s most damaging guards, which will boost Sydney in a major way.
The Kings will come into the season with one goal in mind; consecutive titles. However, with an improved competition and the pressure of defending the chip, they will need to still bring their best.