THE 2023/24 National Basketball League (NBL) is right around the corner, with the fixture set to kick off on Thursday, September 28.
The season is shaping up like no other, with an unprecedented amount of young and international talent complimenting the homegrown players set to suit up in the nation’s premier basketball competition.
The landscape of the league looks as even as ever, with the title up for grabs after a period of dominance from the Sydney Kings. As shown with the New Zealand Breakers and Cairns Taipans last time around, any side could climb the rankings, and the player movements have ensured there is no clear favourite.
With that in mind, Rookie Me Central will be taking a look at each side and how they are shaping up ahead of the season’s commencement, with some intriguing outfits around the NBL.
Next up are the Brisbane Bullets, who went through a number of changes last season and will be eager to cement themselves as a contender this season.
2022/23 record – eight wins, 20 losses
It was a season to forget for the Bullets, who made a head coaching change on multiple occasions, and simply could not recover from a lack of consistency. Despite entering the season as one of the favourite sides, Brisbane fell to second-last in the standings and will be desperate to improve this year in a different looking side.
Key question – How will the team’s new identity fare?
One of the biggest criticisms of Brisbane last year was a lack of identity, which can be chalked down to the constant change in leadership. However, Justin Schueller has been given control of the team this time around, with the team appearing extremely confident in the first-time coach, who has already produced a strong change in culture off the court.
As a team, the Bullets appear eager to operate as a high-intensity defensive side, constantly blitzing the opposition and playing with plenty of excitement. Although the team does not have the most top-end talent in the NBL, an ability to play at frantic pace equalises the playing field a bit, and it will be interesting to see how it performs against quality sides.
One to watch – Rocco Zikarsky
Zikarsky is quickly becoming one of the brightest names in Australian basketball, and is set for a blockbuster first season in the NBL. At 17 years of age, the big man is only just beginning to tap into his potential. However, despite being so young, Zikarsky stands a whopping seven-foot-four and is one of the most exciting Australian prospects moving forward.
The Bullets have already shown considerable faith in the 17-year-old, giving Zikarsky solid minutes in their first Blitz outing. During his time on the court, the big man delivered 11 points and a block, and fits the team’s identity perfect with his ability to move well up and down the court and impact the game on both ends.
The Bullets will be one of the more intriguing teams heading into the 2023/24 NBL season, looking to shake things up a bit after a disappointing campaign last time around. With an exciting style of play and some solid depth, Brisbane may surprise everyone with a climb up the standings.