2022/23 NBL Team Wrap – Melbourne United
WITH A significant roster change over the offseason, Melbourne United struggled to match the towering heights of their last regular season campaign, missing the finals in heartbreaking fashion.
Coming into the 2022/23 season, United were the NBL’s reigning minor champions, but lost the likes of Jo Lual Acuil, Jack White and Matthew Dellavedova to overseas opportunities. Melbourne did some crafty recruiting, but it took a significant portion of the season before these moves could truly pay off.
After a slow start to the fixture, United got going around the mid-way mark of the season, finally getting their offence going and putting some wins on the board. Heading into the blockbuster final round of play, Melbourne gave itself the best possible chance to make an appearance in the newly-formed play-in, but were knocked out as the Perth Wildcats snuck in to the top six by 0.04 per cent.
Regardless of the final result, United’s winning DNA was still present in the back half of the season, overcoming the absence of some big players and getting some runs on the board. Dean Vickerman remains one of the best coaches in the country, and his fingerprints were all over the team’s wins.
2022/23 season – 15 wins, 13 losses
Given United had a winning record, the side would consider itself unlucky to miss the top-six. However, a slow start is the catalyst for the early wrap up to the season, with Melbourne only able to put it together in the back end of the fixture.
MVP – Rayjon Tucker
While All-NBL Second Team recipient Chris Goulding may consider himself stiff not to get the nod here, Tucker’s form was the perfect reflection of the team as a whole. The import guard struggled to get going to start the fixture, and many wondered if he could live up to the expectations he faced when entering the NBL. However, he flipped the switch in the back half of the season and began to play to his strengths. Tucker began driving and attacking the rim with ferocity and used his physical features to his advantage. He was one of the most impactful offensive players in the closing stages of the season, hitting big totals on a frequent basis.
Surprise Packet – Marcus Lee
United was struggling with Jordan Caroline running on the court at times, needing a more prominent rebounding presence. Instead, they recruited Lee, an energetic big who was brought in to fill a hole in the frontcourt that was bringing Melbourne. He made an immediate impact, with the team flowing better on both ends of the court as he brought plenty to all facets of the game. Averaging 8.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, he was a much needed injection to a stagnant outfit.
One to watch next season – David Okwera
The emerging big man posted some big performances at the start of the season, earning him votes in the Rookie Me Central Rookie of the Year count on the Got Next Podcast. Using his big frame to physically impose himself and score the ball inside, Okwera showed outstanding promise, particularly at the start of the season when United was searching for a spark. He should develop further over the offseason, and increased minutes next year should follow suit.