This week Adelaide rebounded from a pair of losses with a pair of wins, prevailing in both games of the league’s only back-to-back for the season. There was plenty for 36ers fans to enjoy, but all anyone is talking about is Jerome Randle, and rightly so.
Randle made his debut at home against Cairns on Thursday, and hit his first handful of shots, including a four-point play. He finished with 24 points on 4-6 from deep. It felt like he couldn’t miss. When Randle rose from the bench, the crowd rose with him. I had to be hosed down after the game.
More than just a shooter, Randle showed off his quicks as the Taipans looked like traffic cones, decked out in fluorescent orange and positioned along the court as if laid out for a routine Randle dribbling drill.
— #TheLockerRoom (@DT_LockerRoom) October 22, 2015
The speedy guard has the ability to find guys all over the court – particularly under the basket when he bends defences out of shape with his lightning quick drives – and possesses the testicular fortitude to make big shots from just about anywhere with a hand in his face.
Not since Willie Farley’s final season eight years ago have I driven to the arena thinking I might witness something truly special from one of Adelaide’s imports.
That’s about to change.
Fuelled by Randle’s electric play, Adelaide pulled off a 2-0 week, and while Thursday’s victory over Cairns was promising, the win in Sydney was particularly uplifting for Sixers fans.
It was Adelaide’s second game in two nights, they were on the road, Josh Childress was coming back, and Randle was understandably running on fumes.
Yet the Sixers had an answer for everything Sydney threw at them. Every time the Kings went on a run, Adam Gibson, Daniel Johnson and Ebi Ere answered with momentum snapping threes.
Gibson submitted 14 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds, while Lucas Walker sprung into life with 17 points, 6 rebounds and one sizeable tip jam after a low key start to the season.
Topping off Adelaide’s week was the naming of its first long-term naming rights sponsor in over ten years, the Wilson Group adding some welcome financial backing to the club.
Townsville lost to Melbourne by 31 on Wednesday, and just about everyone was expecting a similar outcome in Perth. Everyone except for the stubborn men in the Crocs’ locker room.
After trailing by 17 in the first quarter, Townsville looked certain to disappear into the Jungle’s wilderness, and yet pulled off one of the truly great NBL comebacks.
— NBL (@NBL) October 23, 2015
With respect to the Crocs, Townsville heading into Perth Arena to face the Wildcats conjures up images of an unsuspecting Roman heading into the Colosseum to face a furious lion.
But as Crocs guard Corey Maynard said post-game, “A lion looked us in the eye and we looked right back.”
It was Townsville’s first win in Perth since part time showman/full time shit stirrer Corey ‘Homicide’ Williams tore his shirt off and ran a lap of honour around Challenge Stadium after a 2009 elimination final victory.
Corey Webster & Everard Bartlett
Corey Webster is back on home soil after his stint with the New Orleans Pelicans. Webster will be better for the experience – yes, that’s as cliché as it is true – and made a nice return for the Breakers at home on Wednesday.
The star Kiwi swished his first attempt and finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. We’ll put the 5 turnovers down to jetlag.
It’s a shame Webster didn’t get more of a run with New Orleans, considering the Pellies are one injury away from starting their 58-year-old athletic trainer in the back court.
While Webster almost burst through the league’s ceiling and into the NBA, his temporary replacement Everard Bartlett could’ve slipped through the cracks.
Bartlett appeared in the loser column last week following the news that Webster was coming home, news which suggested Bartlett would drop off another NBL roster.
Instead, the Breakers cut unlucky local boy Duane Bailey and awarded Bartlett a full time contract.
After scoring 12 points per outing and shooting the three ball at a blistering 53.3%, he’s certainly earned it.
There isn’t a lot to say here, another than Melbourne are clearly the championship favourites and are about as loaded as your average hedge fund manager.
United handled both North Queensland teams at home without too much trouble, and are the last undefeated team standing after jumping to 5-0.
Daniel Kickert starred against Townsville with 22 points on 9-12 shooting including 4-5 from beyond the arc, while Chris Goulding was his usual explosive self against Cairns with 26 points.
Sydney went down to NZ across the ditch on Wednesday, but Friday was when things really went pear shaped.
Josh Childress was finally back. The Kings were playing at home against an Adelaide team that was on its second night of a back-to-back, tipped by few to make the playoffs, with an exhausted import who’d barely trained with the team. You’d think a win was around the corner, and you’d be mistaken.
If ever there was a must win – and a highly winnable must win at that – this was it. Yet Sydney still couldn’t get the job done, resulting in Kings fans calling for heads to roll just three weeks into the season.
Sydney’s perimeter defence was poor and occasionally non-existent. Their shot selection was questionable at best, and they played with an alarming lack of urgency when the chips were down.
The Kings have played four of their first five games at home and are yet to face league heavyweights Perth and Melbourne. They’ve had the easiest start to a season anyone could reasonably ask for, and yet sit at 1-4.
Josh Childress & Marcus Thornton
It only get’s worse for the purple and gold, with both imports going through struggles of one kind or another.
Josh Childress just can’t catch a break, his only break occurring somewhere in his right hand on Friday night.
— Tom Decent (@tomdecent) October 23, 2015
Having missed the end of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, and the start of this campaign with a foot injury, the star King hurt himself again during his first game back.
The loss of Childress is also a big hit for the league. He’s the NBL’s biggest star, and if the NBA has taught us anything, it’s that basketball is a star driven game. Childress has MVP written all over him, but hasn’t been able to stay on the court.
When Chill loses, we all lose.
While we’re discussing Sydney, just run an eye over these figures.
3/11, 2/11, 7/19, 6/15, 3/13.
Those are Marcus Thornton’s shooting numbers this season. I’m sorry you had to see that.
For those of you who aren’t seasoned mathematicians, that’s 21/69 for the season!
The former William & Mary star hasn’t had a single good shooting night since joining the league.
Thornton has also chipped in with 12 rebounds and 7 assists…for the season. That’s 2.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
In other words, all he does is score, and does so at a 30% clip.
Cairns went 0-2 this week and are sitting at 2-3 overall, despite having one of the three most talented teams in the league, at least in this writer’s humble opinion.
Hardly a disaster.
The Taipans need far more from big name signings Mark Worthington and Markel Starks.
Worthington is shooting just 32% from the field – including 1/16 from long range – and hasn’t exactly been a seamless addition to Cairns’ offence.
Meanwhile, Starks has looked far from anything special, averaging 7.4 points and 2.8 assists while shooting 2/17 from deep.
If Wortho is building a house with his long range bricks, Starks is already working on the extension.
Fans in the far north naturally tend to fantasise about a Scottie Wilbekin return, and their dreams might just become a reality according to veteran NBL scribe Boti Nagy.
Nagy believes that alleged NBA team, the Philadelphia 76ers, will let Wilbekin go in the coming days, and that he might return to Cairns.