A host of new signings makes for an interesting start to the NBL season.
A host of new signings makes for an interesting start to the NBL season.

Who will rule the NBL in 2018-19

THE 2018/19 National Basketball League season set to tip off Thursday night, Matt Logue breaks down the prospects of your team.

SYDNEY KINGS

Coach: Andrew Gaze

Last season: 7th

In: Andrew Bogut (NBA), Daniel Kickert (Brisbane), Brian Bowen Jr (US college), David Ware (Japan)

Out: Jason Cadee (Brisbane), Isaac Humphries (Europe), Todd Blanchfield (Illawarra), Tom Garlepp (retired)

Key man: Andrew Bogut. The former NBA champion possesses the passing and defensive game to take Sydney to the Promised Land. For all Bogut's skills, the Kings can't afford to rely on him to have success.

Prospects: One look at Sydney's roster suggests they'll have a strong season. Three Olympians, two former NBL MVPs, an NBA champion and a second unit loaded with enthusiastic and energetic young talent will ensure the Kings are competitive. That said, Andrew Gaze's men must discover their defensive identity to go deep in the season.

Prediction: 3rd

Chris Goulding provides Melbourne with match-winning mojo. Picture: Getty Images
Chris Goulding provides Melbourne with match-winning mojo. Picture: Getty Images

MELBOURNE UNITED

Coach: Dean Vickerman

Last season: Champions

In: Mitch McCarron (Cairns), D.J Kennedy (Turkish League), Alex Pledger (Southland Sharks)

Out: Tai Wesley (New Zealand), Majok Majok (New Zealand), Kyle Adnam (Sydney), David Andersen (Illawarra), Casey Prather (Russia)

Key man: Chris Goulding. If the Boomers sharp shooter and reigning NBL grand final MVP finds his range, United invariably win. Goulding provides Melbourne with a matchwinning mojo while his confidence is infectious.

Prospects: Melbourne has the pieces to defend their championship but it won't be easy as they'll go from the hunters to the hunted. Injuries will play a key role as will the form of import D.J Kennedy, who has a big job ahead of him replacing the departed Casey Prather.

Prediction: 1st

PERTH WILDCATS

Coach: Trevor Gleeson

Last season: 3rd

In: Nick Kay (Illawarra), Mitch Norton (Illawarra), Tom Jervis (Brisbane), Terrico White (Seoul SK), Rhys Vague (Dandenong)

Out: Jarrod Kenny (Cairns), Lucas Walker (Cairns), Dexter Kernich-Drew (Cairns)

Key man: Bryce Cotton. The reigning NBL MVP is a joy to watch with his blistering speed and accurate shot. Cotton picked up where he left off last season with a strong NBL pre-season Blitz in Bendigo and Ballarat. Watch for the Arizona-born point guard to star again this season.

Prospects: After failing to make the NBL playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season, Perth has a point to prove. Kay and Norton are both handy recruits while the return of skipper Damian Martin after an injury-plagued season is crucial.

Prediction: 2nd

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS

Coach: Kevin Braswell

Last season: 4th

In: Majok Majok (Melbourne), Shawn Long (NBA G League), Patrick Richard (Spanish League),

Out: Mika Vukona (Brisbane), Rob Loe (Cairns), Alex Pledger (Melbourne), DJ Newbill (Cairns)

Key man: Guard Corey Webster. The three-time NBL champion is the Breakers' heartbeat and they'll need him to fire to have success this season.

Prospects: The Breakers have the potential to shock a few teams this season. Import centre Shawn Long looks strong while Webster, Abercrombie and Wesley will ensure the New Zealanders are competitive.

Prediction: 6th

Cedric Jackson shapes as a key recruit for the Hawks. Picture: Getty Images
Cedric Jackson shapes as a key recruit for the Hawks. Picture: Getty Images

ILLAWARRA HAWKS

Coach: Rob Beveridge

Last season: 5th

In: David Andersen (Melbourne), Todd Blanchfield (Sydney), Emmett Naar (Saint Mary's), Jordair Jett (Townsville Heat), Cedric Jackson (US), Brian Coklin (France)

Out: Nick Kay (Perth), Mitch Norton (Perth), Oscar Forman (retired)

Key man: Guard Cedric Jackson. The three-time NBL champion and NBL MVP (2013) has the skills to take Illawarra far this season.

Prospects: No one will expect Illawarra to excel but that is exactly how coach Rob Beveridge likes it. Beveridge will have Hawks playing with a chip on their shoulder and I can see them shocking a lot of people.

Prediction: 5th

Devon Hall is expected to star for the Taipans. Picture: Brendan Radke
Devon Hall is expected to star for the Taipans. Picture: Brendan Radke

CAIRNS TAIPANS

Coach: Mike Kelly

Last season: 6th

In: Devon Hall (Virginia College), Melo Trimble (US), D.J Newbill (Polish League), Robert Loe (Cairns), Dexter Kernich-Drew (Melbourne Tigers), Jarrod Kenny (Perth)

Out: Cam Gliddon (Brisbane), Mitch McCarron (Melbourne), Jarrad Weeks (New Zealand), Stephen Weigh (retired)

Key man: Devon Hall. The Virginia Beach-born shooting guard produced outstanding form at the NBL pre-season Blitz in Bendigo and Ballarat. There is a reason Hall was selected as the 53rd overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by Oklahoma City. This guy can play, so he is one to watch this season.

Prospects: Cairns will play hard, entertaining basketball while the return from injury of big man Nate Jawai is important but the Taipans could lack the consistency to make the playoffs.

Prediction: 8th

Adelaide star Nathan Sobey (right) with new recruits Anthony Drmic and Adris Deleon. Picture Sarah Reed
Adelaide star Nathan Sobey (right) with new recruits Anthony Drmic and Adris Deleon. Picture Sarah Reed

ADELAIDE 36ERS

Coach: Joey Wright

Last season: 2nd

In: Jacob Wiley (German League), Adris De Leon (Puerto Rico), Harry Froling (Marquette) and Anthony Drimic (Dandenong).

Out: Matt Hodgson (Brisbane), Mitch Creek (Brooklyn)

Key man: Nathan Sobey. Following Creek's departure to the NBA, this is Sobey's chance to lead Adelaide. The Boomers guard has the ability to take the next step in his career and now he gets an opportunity to prove it.

Prospects: Creek is a big loss for the 36ers but coach Joey Wright will have his side firing and watch them to be in contention for the playoffs.

Prediction: 4th

BRISBANE BULLETS

Coach: Andrej Lemanis

Last season: 8th

In: Jason Cadee (Sydney), Matt Hodgson (Adelaide), Cameron Cliddon (Cairns), Mika Vukona (New Zealand) and Makoto Hiejima (Japan), Alonzo Gee (Puerto Rico)

Out: Daniel Kickert (Sydney), Anthony Petrie (retired), Tom Jervis (Perth), Tom Fullarton (Brisbane Lions, AFL)

Key man: Guard Adam Gibson. Brisbane needs Gibson to stand tall but he can't do it by himself. The Bullets will have to produce a consistent team performance to make the playoffs.

Prospects: Brisbane finished bottom last season but I can't see this happening again. Cadee, Hodgson, Cliddon and Vukona will bring much needed experience.

Prediction: 7th

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