Hungry Jack's NBL
Justin Simon Joins Kings
NBL21 Defensive Player of the Year and former Illawarra Hawks star Justin Simon will take his talents to the Sydney Kings in NBL23.
The 26-year-old, 196-centimetre wing is the Kings' second import signing, joining import point guard Derrick Walton Jr on the roster.
Speaking from his home in California, Simon said he was excited to return to Australia and join the Kings as we defend our NBL22 Championship.
“I feel amazing,” Simon told the club's website.
“I can’t really describe it. I’m pumped and hyped. It’s an unreal feeling and I can’t wait to get there.
“The Kings are an unbelievable organisation. I love that brand of basketball they are playing, it’s obvious coach (Chase Buford) knows what he’s doing and I know I can fit into that system. It’s something I wanted to be a part of.”
Simon was a defensive force in his debut NBL season with the Hawks, winning the 2020-21 Damian Martin Award as the NBL’s Best Defensive Player, and regularly putting the clamps on the league’s best guards, such as Bryce Cotton and Casper Ware.
Last season he signed with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany’s top-level Bundesliga and while again winning the league’s defensive player of the year award, demonstrated his offensive abilities in Europe’s Champions League.
He took the club to third place in the Champions League and scored 27 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals against Hapoel Holon.
“The year I had in NBL21 as far as winning defensive player of the year was great and then going into the German league and winning it again … I wanted to show I could be ‘that guy’ every night,” Simon said.
“But offensively in Germany was able to showcase that side of my game and show I could contribute at that end a lot more than I did last time around.”
Sydney coach Chase Buford said Justin was “the perfect fit” for a Kings team in pursuit of back-to-back championships.
"He is someone that can guard multiple positions and can really disrupt any ball handler. The combination of 'X' (Xavier Cooks) and Justin is as intimidating of defensive pairing as there is in the league, and one that will propel us to be an elite unit on that end once again this season,” Buford said.
“On the other end he is also a great complement for our group. His ability to get out in the open floor and put pressure on the rim will be a great match for Kings basketball.”