NBL: Season Previews
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.