Pre-season I had this argument with people - On paper we should be close to the bottom.
I had them 3rd or 4th place because finally we have a decent mix of offensive DJ, IH, Giddey (playmaking rather than shot making) and defensive horses (IH and Dech).
Yes I know Teys, Mud, Hulland and Dillon are sub-standard but every team not named United has those.
Having two "elite" players on a team is meaningless if every other team does too - Adelaide might have a good front court but the reality is the only two teams with equal or less star power than Adelaide are Hawks and Cairns.
Having 2 elite players 'should' be good enough to get you in the top half of the ladder, but our import selection was a let down I concede that.
At the beginning of the season everyone including the bookies had Perth missing the playoffs as they had one Elite player and a bunch of serviceable players, just as no one was to know how sub-standard our imports would be, no one knew how good Mooney was going to be and how Blanchfield would be a bit more consistent. So at season's start I would have had Adelaide in front of Perth, Hawks, Brisbane and Cairns.
That's not above average. Yes they have played better than expected but compare with other back courts - look at Perth with Cotton, look at Sydney with Ware, Cairns with Machado etc.
Yet we have done better than NZ (Websters) and Cairns (Machado ad Djeric), they get a lot of props for little success.
Again I concede we are bottom 3 so I am not beating my chest.
Adelaide also have a lot of very average/below average players on the bench - they have zero depth!
Virtually every team has a big drop off after the 7th Man, except United. Perth are second, after Steindl and Wagstaff it drops off to Jervis, Wani Boluk, Shervil and Travers.
Sydney before injuries had Bruce, Moller, then drops off to Kicks, and DP level players.
Look at the rosters on paper - tell me who is worse than Adelaide?
On paper not knowing what we know right now I would have had Adelaide in front of Perth (loss of White, Kay, Martin), Hawks (virtually new untested together), Brisbane (no notable improvement over previous year, Froling and Drmic did not move the needle) and Cairns (big drop in talent after the starting 5).
NBL is stacked, having DJ/IH/Giddy doesn't get it done.
We will never know but I wonder how we would have went without the IH injury and got BP earlier.
We probably wouldn't suffered the Perth, SEM and NZB second half fadeouts. So we could have been 13 wins just off that.