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.
Kicking things off are the Adelaide 36ers, who will be eager to return to the postseason.
2022/23 record – 13 wins, 15 losses
It was a tumultuous season for the 36ers, who dealt with troubles on and off the court, all of which proved to be distracting as the South Australian side missed the finals once again. However, they did come close, only eliminated on the final day of play, and there are still positives for Adelaide coming into this season.
Akech Aliir, Alexander Starling, Fraser Roxburgh, Harvey White, Isaac Humphries, Jacob Rigoni, Jacob Wiley, Jamaal Franklin, Jason Cadee, Keanu Rasmussen, Kyrin Galloway, Mitch McCarron, Nick Marshall, Sunday Dech, Tohi Smith-Milner, Trentyn Flowers, Trey Kell III
Key question – Where will the offence come from?
With the departure of Antonius Cleveland and Robert Franks over the off-season, the 36ers lost a fair bit of their offensive production. Last year’s go-to scorer looked to be Craig Randall II, then Franks, then Cleveland as the team searched for its winning ways. With all three gone, the team is yearning for a consistent option on the offensive end, with those fears realised after a blowout loss to the Breakers in the Blitz on the weekend.
In that match, Humphries top scored with 22 points, and while he may be a handy contributor, the big man was not recruited to be the number-one option on the offensive end. Fellow recruit Cadee came off the bench to pour in 11 points, but looked slightly off when shooting the ball. Could the answer be Franklin? He brings NBA experience and although he couldn’t hit double-digits against the Breakers, he looked dangerous and may be the answer to the team’s problems.
One to watch – Trentyn Flowers
Since the introduction of the NBL Next Stars programs, some of the best NBA prospects in the world are joining Australian teams for a season, and Flowers is the next of that bunch. The guard is touted to be a lottery pick in next year’s draft, and will be suiting up for the 36ers during the 2023/24 fixture. At six-foot-nine, he is an exciting player in the backcourt, generating plenty of buzz ahead of his debut in the NBL.
There are still question marks around his game, especially after struggling with a full-court press at times. However, Flowers’ potential exceeds these concerns, and if the young gun can tap into some of that, he may just thrive at NBL level. He will also benefit from spending time in the backcourt next to McCarron, next to whom he started in the Blitz over the weekend.
The goal for the 36ers is to make the postseason at the very least, but they may suffer from the off-season changes that saw some established talent depart the team. However, if Adelaide can find a consistent go-to option in offensive sets, a climb may be on the cards.