LV
Last year

NBL: Season Previews

Preview your team's season here

Melbourne United.

What I like about this United team:

- Experience- Delly, Ili, Clark, CG43, Newley, JLA- so many NBA titles, NBL titles, World Cups, Olympics, years of professional experience in this group. Professionals who will contribute to United's culture. 

- Potential- Travers and Hukporti look like possible future NBA players. They have the tools. We've seen guys like JLA, White develop under Vickerman. Either could have a break out year, especially Travers after his summer league form. 

- Balance- This team has a bit of everything, and all the ingredients for success: Talent, experience, shooting, depth, 3 go-to scoring options, defense inside and outside, an alpha MVP level star, a quality coach, a sensible mix of high-usage and low-usage players, shoot-first and pass-first players.


Risks:

The flipside to experience is age. Clark, Delly, Goulding, Newley are at the age where declining performance wouldn't be unexpected given by season's end they'll be 33, 33, 35, and 39.

JLA's absence means there's a bit of extra pressure early. You really want home court advantage in the NBL playoffs, with big crowds in Perth and Sydney influencing the refs which United has learnt the hard way. 

The preseason has been suboptimal with CG43, Ili and Cameron at the World Cup and Rob Loe only arriving a day or two ago. Other teams will have had more preseason time with more players. 


X-Factor:

Ian Clark. I don't think we've saw the best of him last season. He's currently doing his first NBL preseason and entering a situation where he's a perfect fit. It'll be interesting seeing how United lines up but I'd expect him coming off the bench and being the main scoring option of the 2nd unit. 


Main men:

JLA and Travers. JLA because he's the best player and we know he's capable of MVP level play. Travers because he brings a unique skill set within this group. He'll be the glue holding everything together and I expect will be playing the most minutes in the team. 


Prediction:

Top two.

You need a bit of luck to win a title, as United learnt in 22/23- the first season in the Vickerman era where United didn't make Game 3 of a Semi-Final or better. Injuries to Hukporti, Ili and Peatling made contending for a title very challenging. It's also a league where several other teams are shaping up very strongly. Sometimes you can play a round of golf and hit a 8 under but someone else hits 9 under and you lose. Other days you could hit 6 under and win. That's the nature of sport. But this United group does have all the ingredients necessary and should be contending for the title at year end, especially if Travers can have the break-out season many Aussie basketball fans would love to see.

Topic #51393 | Report this topic


LV  
Last year

Correction- Loe arrived late last week, Friday or Saturday but I wrote this a few days ago

Reply #925631 | Report this post


hoopie  
Last year

Good analysis

Reply #925635 | Report this post


Knowall  
Last year

Having been a fan of Vickerman when he started coaching Waikato Titans (was assistant Breakers coach at the time) in the off season.Used this to help Tom Abercrombie and Alex Pledger become genuine NBL players.
The amount of players who have developed within his programs, is one of the reasons, he currently has the longest tenure as head coach.
The team he has this year would be close to Dean's ideal mixture. Barring injuries I got them as my favorite for a title win. Buuut I been known to be wrong in the past.
Defensively they are going to scare the crap out of teams.

Reply #925638 | Report this post


LV  
Last year

It's been the last two seasons which have impressed me most.

21/22- limited roster, only two real scorers in JLA and Cg43 (Agada could only score on fast breaks, he struggled to create anything in half court sets). JLA was 6th man the previous year and obviously had potential, but no-one knew whether he could consistently be THE guy. United started the season 5th favourite with a top 4 system- ie: Expected to miss the playoffs. Ended up being one of the best defensive teams in NBL history and won the minor premiership. Only a CG43 injury on game day of Game 3 - robbing them of one of the two good scorers- denied them the opportunity to host the GF. Sydney looked the best team by the end of that season (after adding Clark late), but if Jaylen Adams had been injured against United instead of injured vs JJ's, United probably would've beaten Sydney and won a 3rd title under Vickerman

22/23- White and Delly get NBA deals late in the off-season, forcing late and quick import decisions. In fact they signed Tucker as a "spare parts" type guy without even knowing whether Delly would be there. JLA leaves for China. Hukporti does his achilles at the Blitz (forcing Caroline to play 5 which he clearly wasn't suited for). Ili kept getting concussed. It was all a total schmozzle.

But United won a few early games with XRM playing out of his skin, Tucker eventually came good, Lee was a great pickup, Ili came back and United were 11-2 in Ili's 13 games. Had a strong final round win over Adelaide (without Ili who yet again was unavailable) but missed playoffs on % after Perth smashed Sydney later that day (who rested Derrick Walton Jr). All very unlucky. Again despite not being favoured by the bookies, United were clearly a top 4 level team (when they actually had their team on court- even without Hukporti).

I actually think United's 2022 and 2023 seasons were, in some ways, equally impressive as their championship seasons in 2018 and 2021 considering the rosters they had and the obstacles they faced.

Reply #925640 | Report this post


LV  
Last year

What I mean is Vickerman as a coach has proven himself in fresh ways over the past two seasons by facing and overcoming obstacles he didn't have to previously.

When you've got the best roster (or a very strong roster) and you make a GF or win a title that's still a good achievement. But when you have a limited roster and guys are developing under you and you achieve impressive results with those limitations, that's a different achievement but equally impressive.

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Knowall  
Last year

That's why I bought up the Titans stint he won the league in NZ by his ability to coach. Not the favorites but with his continued work with two young and up and comings, overachieved. He has the ability to bring the best out of players.
Why I mentioned this is Deans dream team, you have mentioned some of the adjustments in the last few years he has had to make. The Breakers championship team that he coached in his last season had similar qualities as to the one that United have assembled this year.

Reply #925643 | Report this post


Scout  
Last year

Good post and analysis LV will add a Jackjumpers response when i have time.

Agree with your point:

'When you've got the best roster (or a very strong roster) and you make a GF or win a title that's still a good achievement.'

Reply #925655 | Report this post


JMS  
Last year

Very good overview.

I must admit I wasn't a big fan of Travers during his time with the Wildcats, never felt he was a "point forward" and thought his shooting was sub-par. Watching the pre-season game vs SEM he looks a totally different player. Playing to his strengths (rim running, aggressive defence and hitting the boards) he’s a real talent. It shows what Vickerman can do with this type of talent.

The addition of Krebs, Bowen and Cameron are great additions also, all fitting a defined role with significant upside.

I thought Clark was a “budget” signing from his previous form in the NBL, certainly got that wrong, looks a great fit for this team. Was initially surprised they didn’t bring back Tucker who ended up being very good last season, but now I see why. Clark adds that consistent scoring option from all areas.

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Scout  
Last year

What I Like:

Depth - In the first two seasons the Jackjumpers recruited for character and for players with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove...McVeigh, Krslovic, Stiendl, Bairstow. Supplemented by some solid imports with a couple with x factor ie Josh Adams and now Milton Doyle. It has worked.
Jackjumpers have never had height and always played small ball with Power Forward Krslovic often playing the 5 with Magnay out injured. Now have the luxury of having Marcus Lee coming in as an import along with Majok Majok, Magnay all playing centre . This will obviously mean different lineups can now been thrown at teams instead of always playing small ball.
Still an emphasis on players coming in being able to play defence:
Anthony Drmic, Junior Madut, Majok Deng, Lachlan Barker all play D but can also score therefore multiple options.


There is scope for continued improvement from McVeigh, Stiendl (getting a good run at it without injuries), MacDonald, Brown, Barker, Madut and Deng. Know what will get from Krslovic and Drmic smart hard basketball.

Love the retention of Milton Doyle along with upgrades with the import spots with Marcus Lee and Jordon Crawford replacing Rashard Kelly and Josh Magette…..add more scoring punch. Crawford should open up the floor with his quickness, needs defending which will open it up for others and Lee gives the JJs something they have never had a presence on the boards.
This team should be fun to watch, will play hard (the JJ way) but now have options.


Risks –
The obvious ones – Magnay getting on the court and having Crawford getting exploited at the defensive end due to his height. Hoping that the defensive smarts of the team can over come this with switches and help D.
If Magnay actually plays the majority of the season brings in a lot of depth.
Crawford has been the top scoring playing in Turkey but has not been on winning teams hopefully his talent is used to improve the team.
X – Factor
Crawford. Will be great to watch.
Along with Junior Madut, Majok Deng the team will be less dour and more attacking.
If Magnay actually plays the majority of the season brings in a lot of depth.


Main Men
Milton Doyle, Jack McVeigh, Jordon Crawford, Marcus Lee, Deng – solid starting 5. Junior Madut my smoky to push for minutes and into this group.


Prediction

Expect Sydney (Toohey, Hogg, Valentine, Adams and Bolden etc damn) and Melbourne United to be the top 2.

Perth, Breakers and the Jackjumpers to fill 3-5. Teams like Cairns and SEM can also threaten, Brisbane will improve, not sure Adelaide will pull it together.

The league is damn tough with a lot of talent – all teams need to improve to compete.

Reply #925715 | Report this post


Dunkman  
Last year

Being short doesn't stop you playing quality D, you might get shot over occasionally but you live with that.
Good write up though.

Reply #925718 | Report this post


Scout  
Last year

Yep agreed Dunkman, Crawford plays hard on the ball just referring to potential of him being posted up and switches creating mis matches.

Should have titled it Jackjumpers review.

Time will tell - looking forward to the season.

Reply #925722 | Report this post


KET  
Last year

This is interesting for Adelaide

"In that case, Jamaal Franklin may end up on the chopping block, because there are already questions out of the 36ers' camp about his ability to compete at the NBL level.“

Are we going to see Adelaide wait and see what happens with Flowers and then make a slow/too little too late decision about Franklin?

Reply #925736 | Report this post


Beantown  
Last year

Where's the quote from KET?

Reply #925737 | Report this post


EssenX  
Last year

I think it's an Olgun article on ESPN.

Many on Hoops questioned whether Franklin could cut it in this league, surprised the 36ers couldn’t see it.

Reply #925740 | Report this post


LV  
Last year

Love your work Scout, JJ's with their strongest roster yet. What can Roth do with it? Exciting times.

Will Perth be signing another import?

Reply #925741 | Report this post


KET  
Last year

Yep sorry here:

https://www.espn.com.au/nbl/story/_/id/38401132/every-team-big-question-going-2023-nbl-blitz

Reply #925742 | Report this post


KET  
Last year

I don't think people can justify underestimating the JJs anymore

Reply #925743 | Report this post


LV  
Last year

Yes Perth will be signing another import apparently

Adding a strong import to Pinder, Sarr, Okwera could become a fearsome frontcourt

Reply #925745 | Report this post


Scout  
Last year

LV most pundits are again not expecting the Jackjumpers to be contenders....

https://nbl.com.au/news/nbl24-way-too-early-predictions?fbclid=IwAR0SiMC8BFY1XIMdYUovXE37R8aLmFXTIIRCskiB7cYhq2RoBmwZZFnOygU

While I agree this is the strongest team on paper Jackjumpers other teams have also improved.

Sydney, Melbourne United and Perth top echelon.

Quite a few after that including the Jackjumpers.

Reply #925759 | Report this post


Zodiac  
Last year

Last month I was the only one on here that picked the JackJumpers to finish in the Top 2.

https://www.hoops.com.au/forum/51307-early-nbl-ladder-predictions/#p922288

Not sure why everyone else doesn't rate them, they've improved their roster significantly from last season when they were a SF team.

Reply #925760 | Report this post


LV  
Last year

United, Sydney, Perth and NZ all look very strong.

I'll be surprised if 2 of those 4 aren't The grand finalists

Having said that, JJs are very well coached and I'm not writing them off.


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Anonymightymouse  
Last year

The JJs are better on paper, but on-paper talent hasn't been their driving force the first two years. Can the more talented players replace the intangibles those who left brought in spades? There's every chance, given the level of buy-in Roth gets, but it still remains to be seen.

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Knockdown3  
Last year

I believe a lot of their success will depend on Magnay staying fit.
His presence on both ends compliments the rest of the team and allows for harder shows defensively, and paint points and solid screens on the offensive end.
Add to that Roths ability to mold his personnel into a cohesive unit and the JJ's should be a solid top 4 team IMO

Reply #926026 | Report this post


LV  
Last year

With a few days til tip off, I think I say this every season but NBL looking stronger than ever

Reply #926449 | Report this post


Dunkman  
Last year

United, very deep, well coached.
Breakers, as above
Cats, going to be fun to watch, have more than one match winner now.
JJs, so resilient, well coached, play great D. Could be top two.
Kings, could take time to jell, I believe will play in GF after a slow season start. To many good players, go deep.
Bullets, got some scores and good bigs, will play D under Scheuler
Hawks, looking much better, not sold on coaching or squad balance.
Cairns, will be competitive, cause upsets but possibly to young in experience
Phoenix, nice addition of Moller and Kenyon, to many other individual players that don't play D.
Adelaide, hard to gauge as imports not settled, should be still competitive.

Now I’m the worst tipster going round, so get your money on Sixers.

Reply #926459 | Report this post


LV  
Last year

Interesting that per Olguns season preview both Melbourne teams expected to be starting two Point guards. And NZ, while pjc expected to come off bench, NZ will spend significant time with 2 PG's on court

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LV  
Last year

Looking forward to the big man battles this season

JLA- The best big in the league last time he was here.

Hukporti- Finished 6th in the NBL in blocks per game in 21-22 despite playing 15 minutes a game. Also one of the league leaders in rebounds per minute. Would also be high on the dunks per minute list, if that were recorded. With JLA out has a real opportunity. United claims he has a better vertical than pre-Achilles.

Pinder- Coming off two straight most improved, can he continue last season's form under a new coach? Was in the MVP conversation at one point last year before injuries hit

Sarr- Future NBA All-Star and had a big impact in the pre season. Only 18 but seems ready now. Will he stay the full season if he continues pre-season form and quickly cements himself as a top 5 pick?

Tyler Cook- Won Blitz MVP.

Alan Williams- Elite low post and elite touch around the rim, and elite rebounder. Doesnt offer the rim protection and D that many on this list do, but one of the best inside scorers in the NBL

Marcus Lee- Helped turn United's season around last year and finished the season at All-NBL level after spending the first few games finding his feet, genuine 7 footer and serious length

Bolden- The X-Factor on this list

Humphries- Been around a while but only 25. Moved well at the Blitz- can he build on his season at United after previous injury woes, and become the 15/10 guy Adelaide desperately needs?

Sam Froling- Made Boomers training camp, still only 23, hasn't developed as fast as I expected but time still on his side

Others- Mathiang coming off a good stint in Israel, Mennenga and Roberts a young duo with potential, Jordan Hunter might have a regular starting gig, Olbrich was great at the Blitz

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LV  
Last year

Loe and Pineau- Dependable veterans at their 3rd clubs. Both in ideal situations to maximise their talents.

It's a deep group of 5s. Several who would fancy themselves as MVP's - Williams declared it on Overtime, JLA was very close in 22, Pinder at that level for stretches of 23. Intriguing Aussies who could make Paris if everything goes right and/or others get injured- Froling, Bolden, Humphries. 7 foot future NBA guys who are crazy athletes- Sarr, Hukporti. Etc etc. Exciting times.

Reply #926681 | Report this post


MaxM  
Last year

I agree LV. Great to have such an array of talent at the 5 after a few years of a dip in that position.

Reply #926682 | Report this post


LV  
Last year

There's some big names at guard too with Adams and Delly back, Justin Robinson returning from the ACL, PJC (Ex German MVP), WMW coming off that good GF series, former NBA Champ Ian Clark doing a preseason, plus legends Cotton and CG43 still in their primes.

But yes I'm really looking forward to the 5 man battles myself.

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