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Pre-Season Blitz Recap - NBL Dream Team

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The Blitz turned out to be a fantastic event – all teams got to have a great hit-out before the season starts on Wednesday next week. It proved a chance for the teams to play a lot of their bench set ups and gave an insight into what depth teams can call on if the going gets tough.  

As I said in the preview article it’s very important to watch the roles of young rookies as well as checking out the new imports.

These are 3 things Dream Team related that we learnt about each club on the weekend.

Adelaide 36ers:

Daniel Johnson is still a stud – His price of $127,600 is too good to be true. Before his brief return from Europe last year Johnson has averaged 42.2, 44.3 and 48.2 over the last 3 seasons. Nothing that was shown at the Blitz suggests he won’t return to a similar level this season.

Nathan Sobey and Brendan Teys are cheap for a reason - Both players really struggled to have an impact over the weekend and may have crossed themselves off my starting list.

Mitch Creek hasn’t got any ill effects from his elbow surgery - The explosive forward was back to his best scoring 44, 34 and 18 over his three games. Creek’s first 18 games last year had him averaging over 30. At the price $115,800 he’s got to be up there on your short list.

 

Cairns Taipans:

Markel Starks is not Scottie Wilbekin – Starks turned the ball over more than anyone over the weekend. There are certainly better starting guard options, so take a wait and see approach with him.

Court time will be shared at the Taipans – Cairns is a nine deep roster and coach Aaron Fearne is happy to use them all. They are especially deep in the front court which means it’s likely that Wortho, Weigh, Tragardh, Craig, Loughton and Burston are all going to be spending half the game on the bench.

Torrey Craig will be the one I choose when Cairns have a stretch of doubles – Craig took a while to get settled into Cairns last year, but produced an average of 31 over his last 12 games.  He averaged 32 in the Blitz over his three matches and looks ready to become a premium forward.

Illawara Hawks:

AJ Ogilvy is worth every cent of his $184,200 price tag - He is too big and too strong for most defensive centres. He starts the year with two straight doubles; he looks an excellent starting pick as well as captain in Round 1.

Kevin Lisch remains a mystery – The ex-NBL MVP has had trouble with a niggling calf injury and sat out the Blitz. Before that he had played three pre-season games at an average of 50. If he’s picked for Round 1 he must be on your short list.

Kirk Penney is not a starting pick – Kirk looks a little underdone as he’s battled a hamstring injury through the pre-season. His only Blitz game returned a negative score ensuring he’s one you just couldn’t recommend starting with.

New Zealand Breakers:

Everard Bartlett is a decent replacement for Corey Webster – Bartlett dominated the Blitz averaging 31 DT points per game. Don’t expect these numbers during the regular season but at his price he must be on your short list for rookie guards. He will also be removed from the roster if Webster is not picked up by an NBA team.

Charles Jackson is an enigma – I was ready to write him off after his first pre-season games. He looked lost in the Breakers system and was really struggling on the offensive end. But then he produced one of the games of the Blitz with his 16 boards and 19 points in a demolition of Cairns.  This 60 DT game means he must remain on your radar – he would be a very ballsy pick.

Tai Wesley has another level – He looked fitter than last season in the game and a half he played. His footwork is far too fancy for most on the block and at a price of $98,600 and two doubles first up there are a lot of reasons to select him.

 

Melbourne United:

Stephen Holt is a lock – He’s player that you don’t have to think to hard about. Going into the Blitz he had produced scores of 30, 48 and 50. His Blitz was the best of any player totalling up 128 points at an average of 42.7 a game. Great choice for captain Round 1.

Majok Majok entered beast mode – His production of 21 rebounds and 19 points against Sydney was the highlight of the tournament. The total of 84 points was the highest individual score and at a price of $60,500 he must be on your shortlist given Melbourne’s struggles inside last year.

Igor Hadziomerovic will be inconsistent – 'Iggy' had an excellent first game but struggled to make an impact in his second. Given he’s behind Goulding and Holt it’s possible he won’t be seeing large amounts of court time. His price is very enticing but don’t expect consistency in his limited minutes.

 

Perth Wildcats:

Matt Knight is still the main man – despite recruiting Nathan Jawai, Matt Knight is still going to be the big guy who sees the most court time for the Wildcats. Knight averaged 30 DT points per game and looks set for another big season. Look to trade him in Round 3.

Prather just does enough – Prather is not going to set the world on fire ala James Ennis but he will be a very enticing trade target for Round 3. Give him two weeks and if he looks to be over the ankle strain, bring him straight in for Perth’s stretch of doubles.

Tom Jervis is the PPM King – Tommy took out the mantle of the player who makes the biggest impact given limited court time.  Tom scored 2.29 points for every minute he spent on the court. You couldn’t select him though as he’s behind Jawai and Knight in the rotations.

 

Sydney Kings:

Khazzouh wasn’t at his best – The Blitz didn’t really show Julian at his best. This is fantasic given he still averaged 30 DT points per game. There’s no need to be shy when selecting Khazzouh, over his 53-game NBL career he’s topped 40 on 47 occasions.

Marcus Thornton isn’t gun shy – he’s certainly raw and will take time but Thornton has what it takes to be a decent scorer in DT. That said I didn’t see enough over the weekend to suggest he will be a fantastic starting pick, so my advice would be sit and wait on him.

Jason Cadee is fools gold – Despite averaging a Blitz high 45 DT points per game you should still think carefully before selecting Cadee. He’s always shown with opportunity that he can score, but in a team with Khazzouh, Childress and Thornton those opportunities won’t come up every week. Proceed with caution.

 

Townsville Crocs:

Nick Kay is good enough – Straight out of college generally means that as a big guy you’ll struggle to make an impact (think Angus Brandt last season). But Kay has the competitiveness and ability to make an impact at the Crocs this season.  Over his three Blitz games he averaged 26.7 DT points. His court time won’t be super high, but he’s the best of the $43,500 rookies in my opinion.

Jury out on Jordair – Ideally we would like to lock Jett into one of our starting guard positions but he hasn’t really shown enough over the pre-season. He competed in only one of the Blitz games after picking up an injury in the last pre-season game with the Taipans.

Clint Steindl still relies on his shooting percentage – you just can’t rely on Steindl to be a consistent producer. His -18 in his last Blitz game was enough to turn me off for the whole season. Avoid if you can.

 

Top 5 Value Selections:

1. Everard Bartlett

2. Majok Majok

3. Nick Kay

4. Nathan Sobey

5. Ruben Te Rangi

 

Top 5 Picks:

1. Josh Childress

2. Stephen Holt

3. AJ Ogilvy

4. Julian Khazzouh

5. Todd Blanchfield

Register for NBL Dream Team here!

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