It seems like decades have passed since New Zealand Breakers’ raised their third-straight NBL championship last autumn.
But after a long, cold and uncertain winter, the NBL is back! With that in mind, I’ve listed four players I’m excited to see this season.
Some are old, some new but all four should give basketball fans all the motivation they need to head to matches or tune in on television.
James Ennis – Perth Wildcats
The Miami Heat second round draft pick looks the type of athlete we haven’t seen in the NBL since Leon Trimmingham or a young Lanard Copeland. He has long arms, can leap high from one step or with a run up and should offer some memorable dunks and blocks. I have to admit I haven’t seen enough of Ennis’ play to be certain he will be able to score at a high clip in the notoriously defensive NBL but I’m sure it will be fun watching him try.
Mitch Creek, Adelaide 36ers
After a stellar junior career with the AIS and Australian junior sides, Creek promised much when he joined the 36ers. But with the team struggling and former coach Marty Clarke battling for find a consistent role for Creek, we still haven’t seen the best of the high-flying guard. Creek looked to be ready to breakout midway through last season before tearing his Achilles and ending his season. By all reports, including some self made videos on his social media pages, Creek is back in shape and dunking with great abandon so maybe this could be the year for him. If Creek can find a way to assert himself on offence and throw down some breath-taking dunks, the Sixers will rocket up the standings and plenty more supporters will happily come along and cheer for Joey Wright’s chargers.
Corey Webster – New Zealand Breakers
Those who watch the Breakers closely have preached that Corey Webster could become an elite scorer at NBL level. Maybe those predictions will come to fruition this season. After several years of playing minor bench roles for the Breakers, and collecting several rings in the process, Webster will be called upon to produce this season with the Breakers no longer boasting offensive talents like Kirk Penney or Cedric Jackson. If Webster’s international form is anything to go on, he is ready for a breakout NBL season. During the Tall Blacks 2-0 series loss to the Boomers earlier in August, Webster was NZ’s leading scorer and more than held his own against NBA and European stars like Patty Mills and Joe Ingles. With sweet shooting and the rare ability to make space for his own shot, Webster may step into the elite this season.
Chris Goulding – Melbourne Tigers.
I think the whole league is looking forward to seeing Chris Goulding on court this season. After an MVP season for the Tigers last season, Goulding went to work in the offseason first making his Boomers debut with good results then matching up with NBA star Kyrie Irving during an early morning training session, a decision which ended up with him winning an offer to tryout with Cleveland during the NBA summer league. Goulding has come back from his adventures in Las Vegas looking sharper than ever and he had 30 points during the Tigers’ preseason win over US college side St Mary’s at Kilsyth in August. Goulding’s scoring and athleticism will be a key for the Tigers this season.
Which players have you excited for this season? Let us know by leaving a comment!