2023/24 NBL Team Preview – Cairns Taipans

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.

Today, we will be taking a look at the Cairns Taipans, who will be eager to repeat last year’s feats after a remarkable climb towards contention.

Cairns Taipans

2022/23 record – 18 wins, 10 losses

Not many people expected the Taipans to pull of such a rise last season, going from cellar-dwellar to semi-finalist and pushing the eventual champions to three games. Cairns will be looking to maintain its spot around the top of the standings, but may face some tough challenges on this front given the departure of some key players over the off-season.


Akoldah Gak, Alex Mudronja, Bobi Klintman, Bul Kuol, Jonah Antonio, Josh Roberts, Kian Dennis, Lachlan Anderson, Lat Mayen, Patrick Miller, Sam Mennenga, Sam Waardenberg, Tahjere McCall, Taran Armstrong

Key question – How does the team cope with the frontcourt loss?

The Taipans lost their two best players over the off-season, with Keanu Pinder heading to Perth, while DJ Hogg made the move to Sydney. It was a huge blow to Cairns, who relied on both players at one stage or another last season. Although Pinder was injured for the team’s finals run, he was still integral in getting the team into the postseason. On the other hand, Hogg was the driving force for the side in the postseason, putting the team on his back in a strong showing.

With both players departing, the Taipans will be looking to other players to fill the hole. Could McCall return to his best, which saw him up there with the best guards in the competition? Will Waardenberg continue on his upward trajectory and take the next step as a contributor on the team? Could Klintman thrive as a Next Star and take on plenty of offensive responsibility? The answer lies in Adam Forde‘s capable hands.

One to watch – Taran Armstrong

After a stint in the college system, Armstrong returns to Australia where he will be a key initiator of the team’s offence, be it in the starting lineup or off the bench. The guard is one of the most talented passers on our shores, making the difficult appear elementary as he picks holes in the opposition’s defensive sets to put his teammates in scoring positions.

Although he is still working on his own jumpshot, Armstrong can still contribute as a facilitator, which may prove crucial to the team’s success given the amount of offence it lost over the off-season. If Armstrong can work on the scoring side of his own game, it will make him one of the most dangerous backcourt players in the competition.

There is no doubt that the Taipans lost some quality talent over the past few months, but the team showed grit and determination last season, and under Forde, could still be around the mark once again.

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