A new season means new opportunities, new players, new coaches, and in the case of the NBL, a new franchise!
The BetDeluxe NBL team plucked the strengths and weaknesses of each team heading into the 2021/22 NBL season.
Some predictions may surprise you, some may not.
A new season equals a new coach for the Sydney Kings.
Chase Buford will be tasked with taking the three-time NBA Champion back to the top of summit after he was signed as head coach of the Kings following a stint in Wisconsin with the Wisconsin Herd.
It might very well be the breath of fresh air the Kings are in need with Buford being one of the youngest coaches to ever grace the NBL at only 33 years of age.
The Kings fell agonisingly short of a playoffs spot last season and Buford will be looking to go a few spots better with the incomings to the rosters this year.
Despite losing Casper Ware, the Kings have managed to secure the services of Jaylen Adams from the Milwaukee Bucks and he looks sure to be an able replacement for Ware.
What should work well for the Kings is the relationship Adams has with Buford that dates back to their days at Wisconsin Herd.
Add in the signing of former Boston Celtics guard R J Hunter and the Kings might just very well have two marquee players who can take them to the playoffs this season.
Predicted finish: Third
The powerhouse franchise of the NBL competition having won 10 championships and looking every chance to find its 11th this season.
Perth Wildcats’ coach Scott Morrison has promised he will do everything in his power to summon a 36th-straight season in the playoffs for the franchise.
With the marquee signing of Vic Law to compliment star veteran and reigning NBL MVP Bryce Cotton, it is actually a surprise not to see the Wildcats as the early favourites to win the NBL Championship.
They’re going to miss guard Mitch Norton for the first month with a knee injury, but Perth has enough depth to deal with the issue.
The Wildcats were unlucky not to win it all last season after Cotton missed the finals with injury.
This could be the year it returns to the top of the NBL.
Predicted finish: Winners
Brian Goorjian will lead the Illawarra Hawks after a successful Olympic campaign with the Boomers.
He and his backroom staff did a fantastic in retaining Tyler Harvey and Justinian Jessup for another season as well as obtaining the services of all-rounder Duop Reath who arrives after being under the watchful eye of Goorjian in Tokyo.
Jessup can be a real spark for the Hawks and a barometer-type players when he gets going and has put his team on the map from a championship winning perspective.
Will be intriguing to see if the Hawks can take it to the next level this season after finishing third last season.
The only issue might be the lack of big signings compared to their main championship rivals coming into the new season.
Predicted finish: Fourth
south east melbourne phoenix
South East Melbourne Phoenix will be out to stake its claim as the best in Victoria this season.
Having been put in the shadow of its bigger and stronger cross-town rival Melbourne United, there will be a fair pride to be restored for the Phoenix.
Holding on to Ryan Broekhoff is a green tick after the former Dallas Maverick penned a two-year-deal to remain at the Phoenix.
Starter Kyle Adnan expressed his side’s desire to play entertaining basketball full of fast breaks and dunks this season.
The Phoenix will definitely put on a show throughout season 2021/22, but the problem for them will be maintaining winning form against the big teams.
With the signings made by the Kings, think they will replaced the Phoenix inside the top four.
Predicted finish: Fifth
The reigning NBL Champion will attempt to go back-to-back championship wins for the first time in history.
Franchise linchpin Chris Goulding will play yet another integral role in the outcome of the season for United, however his early influence will have to wait.
Goulding suffered a slight hamstring injury during the pre-season, will miss the first game and potentially more as he recovers.
But United will not let that deter them as they gear up for a season-opener against Sydney.
Tenacious point-guard Matthew Dellavedova has looked right at home during the pre-season as has Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. who has been the highest point-scorer of the pre-season.
The reliance on CG43’s three-point feats are going to have to be put on hold and it might be up to ‘Delly’ and Lual Acuil Jr to steady the ship early in the season.
Expecting a strong showing from United again.
Predicted finish: Second
new zealand breakers
It was a tough season for New Zealand Breakers in 2020/21.
The Breakers had to deal with all sorts of COVID restrictions, hubs and travel issues.
Remaining in Australian hub for the majority of the season really hurt their chance of making of playoffs, especially with very little home-court advantage to speak of.
A big improvement could on the cards, but it is unlikely to come immediately.
COVID has plagued their pre-season already and captain Tom Abercrombie will be out for six weeks with what has been described as a ‘side strain.’
How the squad is rotated and kept fresh will be solely on coach Dan Shamir.
There should be a climb up the ladder if they be able to mitigate the damage.
Predicted finish: Sixth
Long odds for the Adelaide 36ers to win the NBL Championship and it looks justified.
Losing Josh Giddey is going to be a massive blow for the 36ers who will need to find a sufficient replacement to create chances on offence.
If the pre-season is anything to go by, the 36ers are in for enormous campaign having gone undefeated and winning the NBL Blitz with a leg in the air.
But the regular season provides a different test.
Would prefer to see their form when the real action begins in order to confirm if they have truly come on from their seventh place 13-23 season tally.
Predicted finish: Eighth
It seems as though the teams who miss the finals last year are stealing the show during the pre-season.
The Brisbane Bullets finished their lead-up to the 2021/22 campaign with a 3-1 record, but will still be tagged with underdog status.
New coach James Duncan has made a plethora of roster changes leading into this new season, so we can almost put a line through what happened in 2020/21, which saw the Bullets finish sixth and a game outside of playoffs.
There is something to like about the attitude Duncan is instilling amongst his men.
American recruit Robert Franks is adamant the goal for the Bullets is playoffs and a championship.
They might very well be the value play at a long price, but, much like the 36ers, want to see they can back up their talk before outlaying hard-earned on them.
Predicted finish: Seventh
Cairns Taipans will have their sights firmly on forging ahead after a disastrous 2020/21 campaign.
After finishing dead last with only eight wins from their 36 outings, the Taipans made the swift move to hire new coach Adam Forde on a two-year deal.
It is going to take a monumental effort to get the Taipans back up the table again given how much of a gap there was between them and the competition last season.
But Forde has put in the building blocks throughout the pre-season to have his side set up much more compact and resolute on defence than it was in 2020/21.
It will be a long year, but one where we will continue to see the development of the squad.
Predicted finish: Ninth
tassie jack jumpers
The newest franchise to the NBL.
Tassie Jack Jumpers have look right at home in the NBL during the pre-season.
It has been much anticipated wait for Tasmania to finally gets it chance at having a crack at the NBL Championship even though it will probably not be on the cards this season.
With MyState Bank Arena already nearly a sell out for game one, the roars of the Tasmanian faithful will be just as important as a win.
Two-time NBL champion Clint Steindl was unanimously voted in as the inaugural captain and will provide great leadership to the Jack Jumpers.
Hopefully the NBL can enjoy the ride and we can see some competitive basketball as we saw in the NBL pre-season Blitz competition, which saw them defeat the Taipans in their last pre-season game.
Predicted finish: Last