NBL team wrap: New Zealand Breakers
NOT MANY people externally would have predicted the meteoric rise of the New Zealand Breakers in the 2022/23 NBL season.
After finishing at the bottom of the table in their previous campaign, the Breakers turned things around in a big way. Storming up the standings and completely turning the tables around, the Breakers came within a single game of one of the most remarkable championships in league history.
Under the play of head coach Mody Maor, New Zealand looked a completely different side. The Breakers delivered extremely exciting play, on the back of some extremely strong recruiting over the offseason. Bringing in a trio of talented imports seemed to be a winning formula, and New Zealand emerged as a dark horse for the title. As the season rolled on, that status was soon turned into genuine contention for the championship.
After sneaking into second spot thanks to an overtime triumph over the Bullets in the final round, the Breakers downed the JackJumpers in the semis and looked the best chance to take down the Kings in the Championship series. Although Sydney ended up winning it all, the Breakers forced five games and showed the hallmarks of a championship winning side.
New Zealand Breakers
2022 record – 18 wins, 10 losses
In one of the most remarkable turnarounds in recent NBL history, the Breakers almost won it all in dramatic fashion.
MVP – Barry Brown Jr.
Despite a changing role as the season progressed, Brown Jr. remained the man for the Breakers. The team’s go-to scorer and matchwinner on a number of occasions, the guard was invaluable for Maor over the span of the fixture. Adapting to a sixth man role after missing some time with injury, the import was the definition of a ‘microwave scorer’ (someone who can heat up and really get their offence going). He finished the season with averages of 19.5 points (fourth in the league), 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists and the NBL’s Best Sixth Man award.
Surprise Packet – Dererk Pardon
The team’s other two inclusions may have got the attention upon signing with the team, but big man Pardon made his impact felt from his very first match. One of the best two-way players of the season, Pardon gave every outing his all, and made the paint his own in almost every match he played. An absolute anchor of New Zealand’s defence, the import big man finished top three in the NBL’s Best Defensive Player award, and proved to be the thorn for a number of opposition sides when it came to interior offence.
One to watch next season – Rayan Rupert
While it seems likely Rupert will not be in the NBL next season, his development as a Breaker will see many fans follow his journey. The NBA looms likely for the rising youngster, who was a crucial cog in New Zealand’s rapid rise into the Championship series. Rotating between a starting and bench spot, Rupert offered a lot, and certainly boosted his draft prospects with a promising campaign. Having likely boosted himself into NBA lottery contention, NBL fans will be keeping a close eye on the next chapter in his journey.