THE NATIONAL Basketball League (NBL) is home to a number of talents both domestic and international, with players from all over the world heading down under to play in one of the strongest competitions in the world.
Each year, NBL teams are allowed three imports on their roster as they look to help nurture some of the most enticing talents across the globe. Imports often dominate headlines, given they come into the competition as established players with some playing in the world’s best competitions.
With that in mind, Rookie Me Central will be keeping an eye on how the fresh imports for 2022/23 are faring on a weekly basis, and what they are bringing to their respective teams.
With a debut for the ages, Derrick Walton Jr. brought the house down on Saturday night, leading the Sydney Kings to a triumph over the Hawks in impressive fashion. He showed all the traits of a superstar, bringing his NBA and G-League talents to Australian shores with style, and delivering a match-winning performance with a statline of 32 points and eight assists.
His ability to break apart the defence with his explosiveness off the dribble was a marvel to watch, and he showed the capability to score from both inside and outside the paint. Walton Jr. was also extremely damaging when distributing the ball, finding teammates with his excellent court IQ and getting other Kings players involved.
Defensively, he was no liability, pestering the Hawks guards with his agility and ability to stay in front of the opposition. Overall, it was as good a debut as they come, and he should be one of the competition’s best imports for the upcoming season.
The following day, the New Zealand Breakers hit the court for the first time in season 2022/23, and showcased a pair of impressive additions to their side. Big man Dererk Pardon was massive and almost dragged the Breakers over the line. He was a reliable source of scoring inside, and caused all sorts of problems for United’s interior defence.
While he was faced with some cramp in the final stages of the game, he fought through and still managed to impact the contest. Finishing with 23 points, 12 rebounds and a pair of blocks, Pardon delivered the strongest performance of any big man in the opening round and should be an integral part of New Zealand’s success.
Fellow import Barry Brown Jr. was also damaging on the offensive end, albeit slightly inaccurate. He shot 10/27 from the field, showing no hesitation to fire off a shot from deep. If he can adjust his shot selection slightly, he could be one of the most dynamic scoring guards in the competition.
The final match of the round saw the Cairns Taipans claim a strong win over the JackJumpers on Monday night, and while it was an excellent team performance, import D.J. Hogg caught the eye with an all-around performance. Hogg did a bit of everything in the win, and is firming as one of the better power forwards in the competition. He finished the match with 17 points (7/13 FG), five rebounds, four assists and four blocks in an impressive two-way performance.
Like his teammates, Hogg was able to cash in from behind the arc and hurt Tasmania’s poor perimeter defence. He showed a bit in the preseason, and was able to continue that momentum in his side’s season opener, as Cairns aim to storm up the ladder with an exciting brand of basketball.