THE National Basketball League (NBL) season for 2022/23 is just weeks away, but even closer than that is the commencement of the Blitz preseason competition, which kicks off on Friday night in Darwin.
The Northern Territory’s capital city will host the entire league for a week of games, which gives all 10 teams the opportunity to warm up and ease into the season opener on October 1st. There are a few storylines coming into the Blitz competition, including players to watch, lineups, and attendance for Darwin.
NBL Blitz – September 16-23
Given the competition is being held in Darwin, it is a sign the competition is considering placing a team around that area. Attendance will be key in this bid, so expect the stands to be packed to see some of Australia’s best basketball talents hit the court for the first time in months.
A lot of eyes will be on the Brisbane Bullets, who stacked their roster over the offseason with the likes of Aron Baynes and Tyler Johnson, catapulting them into contention for their upcoming campaign. It looks a completely different side than the one that hit the court last year, and has arguably the most talented list on paper. Baynes is hopeful of returning this weekend, while Nathan Sobey is tipped to hit the court, albeit in limited minutes.
Also catching the eye will be the Adelaide 36ers, who also pulled off some handy recruiting and grabbed some of last season’s best performers at NBL level in Robert Franks and Antonius Cleveland. The duo will be joining a list that showed glimpses of promise last season and should be among the top sides if they can live up to their potentials.
It still remains to be seen if the Bullets’ new recruits will hit the court for the weekend, but there are still a few fresh faces that will draw plenty of attention.
After a disappointing close to last season, Melbourne United appears to have filled its point guard void following the departure of Matthew Dellavedova, with the exciting addition of Rayjon Tucker, who is shaping up to be one of the recruits of the season. He is an excitement machine, and fans will get the opportunity to see the high-flying guard in action this weekend.
The NBL will also welcome back the 2020/21 Best Defensive Player, with Justin Simon travelling across the highway to join the Sydney Kings. The reigning champs will be thrilled to add one of the competition’s best perimeter defenders of the past few years, making them an even bigger threat of going back to back.
Another side to watch in the Blitz fixture are the Perth Wildcats, who have once again put themselves in contention for the title. After missing the finals in stunning fashion last season, the Wildcats have made both roster and coaching changes, with John Rillie taking the helm for their upcoming campaign.
Adding sharpshooter Brady Manek to a roster that already boasted the likes of Bryce Cotton, Corey Webster and Luke Travers will make the Wildcats one of the most dangerous sides, so it will be intriguing to see how they play at Blitz.
Speaking of Travers, after being selected in the 2022 NBA Draft and agreeing to another year with Perth, there has been plenty of talk surrounding how much more responsibility the young gun will get in the upcoming season. Hopefully, the Wildcats will give a glimpse into how big of a role the 21-year-old will have.
The Hawks will be missing some of their defensive guns from seasons past, with the likes of Cleveland and Simon donning new colours, but they did add former NBA player Justin Robinson. It will be his first time in the NBL, and will be looking to plant himself firmly amongst the best guards in the competition, and that quest starts in the Blitz.
There will also be a few sides missing guns, with the likes of Mitch Creek and Will Magnay missing due to injury concerns. So we likely won’t see every side with their settled lineups heading into the 2022/23 fixture. However, it is still an opportunity to see how the new recruits will fit and how each team will change their style of play from the last time we saw them.
The action kicks off on Friday night, when the 36ers take on the SEM Phoenix, kickstarting eight consecutive days of action.