The NBL has started with a BANG. We are embarking on the last day of Round 1 with some key match ups ahead. Melbourne United take on the New Zealand Breakers at Melbourne Arena. The Breakers will be looking to ruin United's Premiership Flag presentation, which many would have thought to be a tough ask on the back of their performance against Brisbane earlier this week. But with key loses to each home team this round, who knows what could happen.
The other matchup the Hawks travel to the other side of the country to play Perth. The Hawks went from from strength to strength through the NBL Blitz. Then came out and took the reigning champions to a record equalling 4OT's. Only to go down by the slenderest of margins, one point. The Hawks are shaping up to surprise everyones predictions, but today's task of traveling to RAC Arena to take on the Bryce Cotton lead Wildcats will be a tough ask.
Let's take a look at some of the players who's stock has risen and those that have dropped...
Welcome Melo Trimble...
Have we seen a more exciting start to an NBL campaign than what Melo served up last night? Let's just take a peek at his stat sheet...
61% from the field
14/16 from the free throw line
Plus he guided the unheralded Cairns Taipans to what I am going to call an upset, over what seemed to be a rampaging Bullets outfit that took the Breakers to school a couple of nights earlier.
With more performances like this Melo will begin to enter the conversations surrounding Randle, Ware and Cotton. He completely took over the game and performances like these will be needed if Cairns are going to a threat throughout the NBL19 season.
As NBL19 had set upon us, there is an array of powerful big men suiting up this season. Andrew Bogut comes home, former MVP Brian Conklin is back and Andrew Ogilvy is fit again. The crop of big men seems to be at a peak for the season ahead.
Daniel Johnson has been a main stay appearing in 3 NBL team of the year's since 2014. He is still a largely underrated force. After completing round 1, Johnson is showing that he is arguably the 36ers most needed player. I also believe he is putting his hand up as an MVP candidate which has been dominated by guards over the past couple of seasons.
After back to back games posting over 20 points and 10 rebounds he is setting himself to be the premier big for NBL19.
The Sydney Kings
Andrew Bogut and his Sydney Kings homecoming was shattered in front of 10,761 fans. Nathan Sobey and Daniel Johnson lead the 36ers to their 14th win in 15 attempts against the Kings.
To their credit the Kings did hang around, but there were key plays that came up short. Offensively players who you expect to make a difference couldn't find the hole and defensively the bigger and stronger bodies of the 36ers finished strongly late.
The shining light for the Kings was rookie Brian Bowen. In an exhilarating 17 minutes off the bench he managed 13 points on 2-2 shooting from deep. He was able to help bring the 36ers lead down to 81-75 after helping himself to a strong 3 point play with 6:23 on the clock. Unfortunately for the Kings it wasn't to be as Jacob Wiley took over the last quarter in a dominate display.
The Melbourne United bench
Many United fans have been excited with the re-signing of Casper Ware and Josh Boone. Having seen YouTube clips of their new star small forward, DJ Kennedy wowing the world with his slick skill set and then managed to sign Boomer Mitch McCarron. But the NBL is a long season and United played in a LONG game in round 1.
We saw that their six frontline players are arguably the most talented that you will come across in the NBL this season. Their bench on the other hand has some serious flaws that could be exposed. I mean David Anderson came in late and helped force a 4th OT by making his trademark shots away from the basket. He is 38 years old.
In a game where there were 4 OT's and at at times had Josh Boone and DJ Kennedy playing on one leg, Daniel Trist played 2:39 and had largely no impact. Tohi Smith-Milner played 7:42 and whilst he may bring toughness to the inside on defence, he did not help the team in any offensive sets.
I can understand that it is Round 1 and we are only at the beginning of a 32 game season. But this is a concern that may continue to pop up for United as the season progresses and injuries appear.
With two big games left in round 1, the keen NBL fans will be watching to see if a home team can actually post a win.
Check out my predictions below:
Melbourne United v New Zealand - United by 8
Perth Wildcats v Illawarra Hawks - Perth by 14
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