The Roar
The Roar


NBL 2018-19 season preview

Andrew Bogut is back in Australia as a member of the Kings. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
9th October, 2018

Andrew Bogut is on board, with the NBL potentially possessing the most talent it ever has entering a new season. The 2018-19 campaign is set to get underway this Thursday night and it promises plenty – and should deliver even more.

The NBL has never been better placed in terms the Australian sporting landscape to make an impact. The quality of players that will be on court, the promotion behind the league and the state of basketball in this country are all at best-ever levels.

That interest is spurred on by the continued surge of Australian players in the NBA, with Mitch Creek, Ryan Broekhoff and Jonah Bolden joining the likes of Ben Simmons, Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Aron Baynes and Joe Ingles.

But they are all following on the footsteps of the NBA No.1 draft pick and championship-winning centre, Bogut.

He is still good enough to be playing a role in the States but has decided instead to give the last part of his playing career to the NBL – at the Sydney Kings.

Andrew Bogut signs with Sydney Kings

Andrew Bogut is a member of the Kings. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

That gives the NBL greater credibility and is sure to attract crowds around the country and on television – both for Channel 9 and Fox Sports. It also makes the Kings a genuine championship threat for the first time since returning to the league almost a decade ago.

With Bogut joined by former NBL MVP winners Jerome Randle and Kevin Lisch, along with regular Boomers representatives Daniel Kickert and Brad Newley, and Andrew Gaze has the talent at his disposal for the ultimate success.


There’s good depth too, with David Wear, Kyle Adnam, Tom Wilson, Deng Deng and even Dane Pineau, Deng Acouth and Brian Bowen capable of contributing.

But there’s plenty of genuine challengers and none more so than a team with a real chip on their shoulder, the Adelaide 36ers.

After losing in the semi-finals as top seeds two years ago, and losing the grand final in five games last season, the Sixers will want to make a stand – even having lost Mitch Creek.

Nathan Sobey will take more ownership as point guard, while Daniel Johnson is new captain and will look to step up as a leader, with Ramone Moore, Anthony Drmic and Majok Deng needing to help fill the void of Creek.

But that hunger of being so close the past two seasons and knowing you only get so many chances with any core group has the ability to take the 36ers a long way.

The New Zealand Breakers look a genuine threat once more too, particularly with Corey Webster likely to return to the NBL as the league’s leading-scorer, and Shawn Long and Tai Wesley up front.

Corey Webster playing for New Zealand.

(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)


It’s a new-look Breakers under coach Kevin Braswell and the new ownership structure. That has seen Mika Vukona and Alex Pledger move on but Webster and Wesley are back while Patrick Richard and Long are exciting imports.

The Illawarra Hawks might be getting little love, but Rob Beveridge has signed two former league MVPs in Cedric Jackson and Brian Conklin. Jackson will be supported in the back-court by former Townsville Crocs MVP Jordair Jett, and Conklin helped by AJ Ogilvy and Dave Andersen.

Having a good blend of experience with Kevin White and Tim Coenraad and young talent Emmett Naar, Daniel Grida and Marshall Nelson, along with the addition of Boomer Todd Blanchfield, and it’s a line-up not to be slept on.

It might seem ridiculous to not have Melbourne United and Perth Wildcats, the past two championship winners, in the top four but it’s a remarkably tight league.

Taking Tai Wesley and Casey Prather out of Melbourne for DJ Kennedy and Mitch McCarron is a downgrade, and if it means they win one or two fewer games, it could be enough to miss the playoffs.

Melbourne remain a definite shot at defending their title, with the returns of Casper Ware and Josh Boone significant, while any team with McCarron, Chris Goulding and the emerging Craig Moller will always be tough.

But Kennedy needs to prove he is at least close to providing what Prather, and his replacement Carrick Felix did last season, while losing Wesley and David Andersen will hurt the front court, even though Alex Pledger is showing some career-best form through the pre-season.


The Wildcats then also look a lesser team than 12 months ago. Terrico White was signed to replace Jean-Pierre Tokoto because he was supposedly a better outside shooter, and that remains to be seen. Outside of that, the Cats have a similar squad to the one that lost in the semis.

Perth still have MVP Bryce Cotton, so they are always dangerous, but with White’s output a great unknown, they will be reliant on the defence of Damian Martin and then the front court of Angus Brandt (when healthy), Tom Jervis, Jesse Wagstaff and Nick Kay to come up big.

Damian Martin of the Perth Wildcats

(AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

The Cairns Taipans and Brisbane Bullets have their work cut out, but it wouldn’t surprise to see either strike enough momentum to threaten the playoffs.

Andrej Lemanis has to find a way to improve the Bullets in his third season in charge after two wooden spoons upon their return to the league under the Boomers coach.

He will hope Jason Cadee and Cam Gliddon fire in the back court, and Cam Bairstow can get back to near his NBA-level form.

Import Alonzo Gee needs to fire too, but really a fully fit and firing Cadee, Gliddon and Bairstow should be enough to make them dangerous.


The Snakes are the great unknowns under new coach Mike Kelly and they could live or die by the performances of imports Melo Trimble, DJ Newbill and Devon Hall.

Kelly has assembled a good core of locals with a point to prove, from Alex Loughton to Rob Loe, Mitch Young, Jarrod Kenny, Dexter Kernich-Drew and Lucas Walker. But they will need their imports to fire and Nate Jawai to be a factor.

All in all, it’s an NBL season any Australian sporting fan should be excited about and it tips off in style on Thursday night with the Breakers hosting the Bullets and then the league’s oldest rivalry reigning as the 36ers host the Wildcats.

Adelaide 36ers
Last season’s finish: 18-10, Losing grand finalist
Predicted 2018-19 finish: First
Season opener: Thursday October 11 v Perth Wildcats at Titanium Security Arena

Coach: Joey Wright
Roster: Nathan Sobey, Adris DeLeon, Adam Doyle, Brendan Teys, Ramone Moore, Anthony Drmic, Jack McVeigh, Jacob Wiley, Majok Deng, Harry Froling, Daniel Johnson

Arrivals: Jacob Wiley, Jack McVeigh, Harry Froling, Adris DeLeon
Departures: Matt Hodgson, Josh Childress, Shannon Shorter, Mitch Creek

Brisbane Bullets
Last season’s finish: 9-19, Last
Predicted 2018-19 finish: Eighth
Season opener: Thursday October 11 v New Zealand Breakers at Spark Arena


Coach: Andrej Lemanis
Roster: Jason Cadee, Adam Gibson, Makato Hiejima, Cam Gliddon, Stephen Holt, Alonzo Gee, Reuben TeRangi, Mika Vukona, Cam Bairstow, Will Magnay, Ty Harrison, Matt Hodgson

Arrivals: Jason Cadee, Cam Gliddon, Mika Vukona, Matt Hodgson, Makato Hiejima, Cam Bairstow, Alonzo Gee
Departures: Travis Trice, Perrin Buford, Mitch Young, Shaun Bruce, Tom Jervis, Daniel Kickert, Anthony Petrie

Cairns Taipans
Last season’s finish: 11-17, Sixth
Predicted 2018-19 finish: Seventh
Season opener: Saturday October 13 v Brisbane Bullets at Brisbane Convention Exhibition Centre

Coach: Mike Kelly
Roster: Jarrod Kenny, Melo Trimble, DJ Newbill, Dexter Kernich-Drew, Devon Hall, Kuany Kuany, Lucas Walker, Alex Loughton, Rob Loe, Mitch Young, Nate Jawai

Arrivals: Melo Trimble, DJ Newbill, Devon Hall, Rob Loe, Jarrod Kenny, Dexter Kernich-Drew, Lucas Walker, Mitch Young
Departures: Cam Gliddon, Damon Heuir, Mitch McCarron, Scoochie Smith, Stephen Weigh, Nnanna Egwu, Jerry Evans, Jarrad Weeks

Illawarra Hawks
Last season’s finish: 12-16, Fifth
Predicted 2018-19 finish: Third
Season opener: Friday October 12 v Melbourne United at WIN Entertainment Centre

Coach: Rob Beveridge
Roster: Cedric Jackson, Emmett Naar, Marshall Nelson, Jordair Jett, Kevin White, Daniel Grida, Tim Coenraad, Todd Blanchfield, Brian Conklin, David Andersen, AJ Ogilvy


Arrivals: Cedric Jackson, Jordair Jett, Todd Blanchfield, Brian Conklin, Emmett Naar, Daniel Grida, David Andersen
Departures: Oscar Forman, Mitch Norton, Nick Kay, Rhys Martin, Rotnei Clarke, Delvon Johnson, Cody Ellis

Melbourne United
Last season’s finish: 20-8, Champions
Predicted 2018-19 finish: Fifth
Season opener: Friday October 12 v Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre

Coach: Dean Vickerman
Roster: Casper Ware, Peter Hooley, Chris Goulding, David Barlow, Mitch McCarron, DJ Kennedy, Craig Moller, Daniel Trist, Tohi Smith-Milner, Josh Boone, Alex Pledger

Arrivals: Mitch McCarron, Daniel Trist, Alex Pledger, DJ Kennedy
Departures: Kyle Adnam, David Andersen, Majok Majok, Casey Prather, Tai Wesley

New Zealand Breakers
Last season’s finish: 15-13, Losing semi finalist
Predicted 2018-19 finish: Fourth
Season opener: Thursday October 11 v Brisbane Bullets at Spark Arena

Coach: Kevin Braswell
Roster: Shea Ili, Jarrad Weeks, Corey Webster, Armani Moore, Patrick Richard, Jordan Ngatai, Tom Abercrombie, Finn Delany, Tai Wesley, Majok Majok, Shawn Long

Arrivals: Corey Webster, Armani Moore, Tai Wesley, Jarrad Weeks, Patrick Richard, Majok Majok, Shawn Long
Departures: Edgar Sosa, Kirk Penney, Mika Vukona, Rob Loe, DJ Newbill, Alex Pledger, Rakeem Christmas


Perth Wildcats
Last season’s finish: 16-12, Losing semi finalist
Predicted 2018-19 finish: Sixth
Season opener: Thursday October 11 v Adelaide 36ers at Titanium Security Arena

Coach: Trevor Gleeson
Roster: Damian Martin, Mitch Norton, Bryce Cotton, Clint Steindl, Terrico White, Greg Hire, Rhys Vague, Nick Kay, Jesse Wagstaff, Tom Jervis, Angus Brandt

Arrivals: Terrico White, Nick Kay, Mitch Norton, Tom Jervis
Departures: Lucas Walker, Jean-Pierre Tokoto, Jarrod Kenny, Dexter Kernich-Drew, Derek Cooke Jr

Sydney Kings
Last season’s finish: 11-17, Seventh
Predicted 2018-19 finish: Second
Season opener: Saturday October 13 v Adelaide 36ers at Qudos Bank Arena

Coach: Andrew Gaze
Roster: Jerome Randle, Kyle Adnam, Kevin Lisch, Tom Wilson, Brad Newley, Brian Bowen, Dane Pineau, David Wear, Deng Deng, Daniel Kickert, Deng Acouth, Andrew Bogut

Arrivals: David Wear, Andrew Bogut, Kyle Adnam, Tom Wilson, Deng Deng, Daniel Kickert, Brian Bowen, Deng Acouth
Departures: Isaac Humphries, Jason Cadee, Amritpal Singh, Todd Blanchfield, Tom Garlepp, Perry Ellis

Champions: Adelaide 36ers
Runner-up: Sydney Kings
MVP: Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats)
Rookie of the Year: Daniel Grida (Illawarra Hawks)
Most Improved Player: Todd Blanchfield. He has won this award before so it might depend on your criteria. But he’s at least stagnated, if not gone backwards, since leaving the Crocs largely due to being on teams with far too many other options. He’ll become a key figure in what the Hawks do this season and he should thrive as a result.


Surprise packet: Andrew Bogut to lead the league in assists.

Andrew Bogut basketball

Andrew Bogut playing for the Golden State Warriors. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sure he might lead the league in rebounding and blocked shots too, and the big man will have a significant impact especially defensively inside the paint. But he is a brilliant passer of the ball and has great vision whether passing out of the post or from the top of the arc.

Expect Lisch, Randle, Newley and Kickert to benefit.