2022/23 NBL Team Wrap – Illawarra Hawks
SEASON 2022/23 of the NBL was not exactly ideal for the Illawarra Hawks, although the standings do not exactly reflect how strong the team performed at times.
The Hawks finished 10th in the standings, with just a trio of wins next to their name, having struggled to put together four quarters across most of their outings.
However, that win total does not accurately portray how close Illawarra was to some of the best sides of the competition at times. It pushed the ladder-leading Sydney Kings on a number of occasions and should’ve got reward for effort on at least one of those close encounters, but winning experience was not on the Hawks’ side.
Although it was a tumultuous season for Jacob Jackomas and his players in the coach’s rookie season, it seemed things were close to coming together at times, although an improved record will be necessary next year.
2022/23 season – three wins, 25 losses (10th)
The Hawks had some strong showings across the season that provided levels of hope, but could only conjure three wins from 28 games.
MVP – Tyler Harvey
A genuine toss up between Harvey and Sam Froling for the team’s MVP award, but Harvey gets the nod based on his ability to stand up in clutch moments. Having been the star of the show for the past couple of years, Harvey’s scoring ability was again immense in getting the Hawks to a winning position, and although they did not always get over the line, the high-scoring guard was still a telling presence. The 29-year-old averaged 18.9 points per game, the fourth most in the league of any player who played more than seven games. A memorable moment came when Harvey drilled the shot of the season when he hit a pull-up three from halfcourt to break Illawarra’s losing streak with a remarkable game-winner.
Surprise Packet – Lachlan Dent
Although he cooled off in the back half of the season, Dent was a serious contender for the NBL’s most improved player after a terrific start to the fixture. In Round 1, he had a 19-point performance against the Kings in just 14 minutes of play. Although the Hawks lost by nine, the guard’s shooting performance was a serious highlight, nailing all seven of his attempts from the field. He announced himself as a pesky defender too, and his improvement saw a massive boost in minutes at times.
One to Watch Next Season – William Hickey
After making the move from United last season as a development player, Hickey had a breakout season of sorts with 24 appearances in the 2022/23 fixture. The 23-year-old made the most of increased opportunity, securing a spot in the starting lineup at times next to Harvey and bringing plenty to the court. His flair and ability to play downhill gave the Hawks a massive boost on the offensive end. He consistently hit double-digits in the points column in the last month of Illawarra’s campaign, and will play a big role next season.
The Hawks will need to build some consistent support around the likes of Harvey and Froling, and some hefty offseason recruitment will be at the heart of solving this. After losing the likes of Xavier Rathan-Mayes last year with no replacement, Illawarra will be looking to avoid that pitfall once again.