Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Part 2: Season 2007/08

These next group of teams that I break down are locks for the playoffs, but where they finish I'm not quite sure. After both Melbourne and Brisbane I rate Cairns, Perth and Sydney as potentially the next tier of teams.

A lot of punters will have the Cairns Taipans high on their ranking but I just feel this project might take a little time to gel. Already there is talk that Darnell Mee and Martin Cattalini may miss the start of the season. They have the depth to cover this scenario, but once coach Alan Black has everybody back, how will he keep them all happy?

Maybe this is a question better asked to point guard Mee. He has to keep the likes of Larry Abney, Stephen Black and Rashad Tucker happy, and we haven't even entered the bench yet. Rookie Nathan Jawai will be looking for touches and minutes, especially with the hype he is beginning to generate. He will be a beast in the low block in years to come.

There is no doubt this team is capable of winning a lot of games and quite possibly finishing in the top two. With injury concerns already and the time needed to gel as a unit, I see the Taipans getting stronger as the year goes on.

Now the Perth Wildcats played some pretty good ball last year and finished third on the ladder. Their season came to a screeching halt when the playoff format did them wrong. Losing their only playoff game (to Cairns) saw a good season seem to turn to a nightmare.

I'm sure they have regrouped and coach Scott Fisher will have his team ready to go again. They have recruited strongly with the additions of import Rashad Philips, former teammate Aaron Trahair and local Alex Loughton. (Sorry Mike Hommick you are an insurance policy, just ask Justin Brown)

I'm sure Perth will look to exploit their mismatch of Shaun Redage at the three spot while Paul Rogers and Laughton will provide a strong interior presence. Philips will have been brought in to provide firepower from the perimeter as well as some playmaking.

How well this team performs may come down to how well their complimentary players mesh. I'm talking Peter Crawford and Trahair here. Believe me when I say Aaron will end up playing minutes. He is too good to have wallowing on your bench. If these guys can give consistent minutes, Perth fans may be seeing one of those championship teams they become accustomed to seeing in the 90's.

On to my good friends the Sydeny Kings. With no imports signed yet, I'm scratching my head more than coach Brian Goorijan does. Still, this roster has a bunch of good Australian talent and Goorj always has his teams prepared so the playoffs are a lock for these guys.

Glen Saville, Jason Smith, Luke Kendall, Mark Worthington, Russell Hinder, Ian Crosswhite, Cameron Toovey and BJ Carter is a pretty good starting point when compiling a team for the NBL.

The question that needs answering to see exactly where they will finish, what are they doing for imports? If they get two gems, the sky's the limit. If they get duds, with has never happened, they may fall out of the top four.

In my mind this is the team with the biggest question mark as they are an unfinished product right now. They are a playoff team, but where, we will have to wait until those two remaining players get of their respective QANTAS flights.

***With a week to go before the season tips off officially, thought you might want to relive some of the plays from last year's season to get you in the mood.

***Relevant NBL articles:

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