2022/23 NBL team wrap: Sydney Kings
THE final team in our NBL team wrap series is here, and what better side to finish on than the 2022/23 champions.
It was as dominant a season from the Sydney Kings as anyone could have expected. Backing up a championship season was going to a tough task, with the other nine teams looking to figure them out.
However, it was no issue for the Kings, who held top spot for almost the whole season, and although they faced some stiff competition in the postseason, were the best side in the league once again and claimed back to back titles.
The Kings started their championship defence in style, winning their first three games and not missing a beat despite the departure of key figures of Jaylen Adams, Jarell Martin and Ian Clark, all of whom played key roles in the previous title. The likes of Derrick Walton Jr and Justin Simon also slotted in seamlessly, and the Kings stormed to the top of the table by season’s end.
Sydney was tested by a gutsy and improved Taipans side in the semi-finals, but its resolve showed in the deciding match, advancing to the Championship series for the second straight season.
The Kings were matched up against the Breakers, who were touted as the biggest threat to their title ambitions. Despite the series going to five games, the Kings got the job done in dramatic fashion, producing a remarkable comeback in the fourth quarter to lift the trophy once again.
2022/23 record – 19 wins, nine losses
The Kings have fully established themselves as one of the best teams of the modern era, with masterful coach Chase Buford leading a talented roster to the promised land once again.
MVP – Xavier Cooks
The easiest selection of the entire team wrap series, Cooks added to his silverware collection with the Most Valuable Player for the 2022/23 NBL season, having won the Finals MVP last year. It was a career-best season for the star big man, who was the best player on the competition’s best team.
Cooks was touted to claim the league’s highest individual award all season, hurting the opposition on both ends of the court, while delivering some memorable highlights in the process. He finished the season with numbers of 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game on 57.3 per cent shooting from the field. While he will not return to the Kings next season having signed a two-year deal in the NBA with the Washington Wizards, Kings’ impact was immense during another title winning campaign.
Surprise packet – Tim Soares
The big man stepped into the starting lineup after the team lost Martin in the offseason, and worked his way into form as the season rolled on. Slotting in next to Cooks, Soares played his role to perfection, pulling down boards and protecting the paint, while also proving a reliable finisher on the offensive end. On a few occasions, he was able to reap the rewards of his hard work, reaching 20+ points and helping the Kings to victory. Soares posted numbers of 9.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
One to watch next season – Jaylin Galloway
Galloway has firmed himself as an emerging talent of the competition, and that was further displayed in the three-year deal he recently signed with the Kings. He joined the team as a development player a few years ago, but has worked his way towards a full contract thanks to some clear improvement. In the 2022/23 season, he averaged 5.1 points per game in 14.7 minutes of court time across 31 matches. The team has plenty of faith in his ability to continue to develop his game and grow into a bigger role within the roster.