The imports are the issue here, but it's still waaaay too early: they've only been in the country a couple of weeks. If they are no good they are easily replaced. I don't see the big deal.
Plus, the Crocs have never done well in the pre-season, so how is it any barometer of the regular season ahead?
No one is picking the Crocs to win it all, so why would you even troll around alluding to that fact as if you were the first controversial dissenter to call "bullshit" on their title chances?
The fact is, the Crocs have two great young PGs in Cedar and Norton, and couldn't afford to halt their development by bringing back Gill. People seem to gloss over the past so quickly -- as a man who watched nearly every Gill performance from last year, I found him infuriating as often as he was brilliant.
He was an "in the zone" kind of player - in that he only played well when everything was clicking. When he wasn't feeling it and his shot wasn't falling it all came tumbling down. Bringing back Mims and Gill would have been great for continuity, but the fact is, they would both be a year older (33-34) and even if Schenscher stayed, the team still needed to add another inside scorer because Schensher is easily muscled out of position and doesn't play at the rim. They fell short in their contract talks with the guys they were chasing and ended up with Withers. Not the end of the world -- if he continues to stink, you replace him, if he comes good, well then he comes good.
Some other facts you are overlooking:
- Mick Cedar just came off a fantastic QBL season, leading the Mackay Meteors to the state championship as their MVP.
- Cedar and Norton are both a year older, and both have long NBL careers ahead of them.
- Blanchfield is starting to put it all together. If in doubt, get on youtube and watch his highlights from the QBL season just finished. Highlights are just that, but they show a Blanchfield that is starting to put his athleticism to good use with plays at the basket. Dunks, dunks, dunks.
- Hinder has come back, and all signs point to him being better than when he went down. I will count myself among the doubters who said he was done a year ago, because I thought he looked slow and fragile BEFORE the injury, but he has proved me wrong already.
- Ben Allen has miraculously turned from one of the worst players in the league into a double-double machine. Look up his pre-season stats. By the analytical metrics alone, in the pre-season, he is the best center in the league right now. Read that last sentence again. If you told me six months ago that I would ever say that, let alone so soon, I would tell you you were maniacally insane and needed to seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
- Crawford is Crawford. The best (if not, top 3) SG in the league. At 33 he is coming off arguably the best season of his career, and pre-season signs indicate he has another season or two left in him as a starter.
- Holmes is the best pound-for-pound rebounder in the league. He has no offensive game outside of his jumpshot, but rebounders in the NBL are rare as hens' teeth. Enough said. The Crocs leading minute-getter last season for a reason. You can't afford to have a rebounder like him on the bench, on any team.
Do you want to know another fact - the only reason anyone from the southern states is paying attention to Cairns is because they signed Cameron Tragardh, a player they recognise and can talk about. Take him away and you still have a great team that would finish in the top tier of the league -- but take him away and everyone down south would be saying they are a lock for the wooden spoon.
If these two Crocs imports were both what they were touted to be, you are looking at an instant contender. Right now, they both have a lot to prove, but whether they come good, stink and stay, or are replaced entirely, the Crocs will be in the playoff mix as always. How much further than that, though, will be purely as far as the imports take them.
Another thing everyone is overlooking -- this team has the lowest payroll in the league, and by a wiiiide margin. Think about that every time your capped-out club loses to them.