Excitement is mounting in Australian basketball circles, with the start of the 2023/24 National Basketball League (NBL) season scheduled for the end of September.
Reigning champions Sydney Kings will be eager to defend the NBL title, but several other teams have a genuine chance of scuppering their hopes.
Read on as we look at some of the latest developments in the NBL, starting with some eye-catching news from Melbourne.
Melbourne Clash Close to a Sell-Out
The NBL season opener between Melbourne United and South East Melbourne Phoenix on September is close to being a sell-out.
Less than 1,000 tickets remain for the game, which kicks off what promises to be a thrilling first weekend in Australia’s top basketball league.
United are on a recovery mission this season after surprisingly failing to qualify for the NBL play-offs last time around.
Despite a strong end to their regular season fixtures, United posted a 15-13 record to finish seventh in the standings.
Online bookmakers have tipped Dean Vickerman’s side to bounce back this term, installing them as 9/2 second favourites to win the title.
The top new betting sites rate Sydney Kings as 13/5 favourites to claim their third successive title, and they are expected to make a winning start against Illawarra Kings.
Perth Wildcats are next in the outright market at odds of 11/2 and they could mount a strong challenge as they bid to win their 11th NBL Championship.
NBL 2023/24 Championship – Betting Odds
The latest outright odds for the NBL 2023/24 championship are as follows:
- Sydney Kings – 13/5
- Melbourne United – 9/2
- Perth Wildcats – 11/2
- South East Melbourne Phoenix – 9/1
- New Zealand Breakers – 10/1
- Illawarra Hawks – 10/1
- Cairns Taipans – 12/1
- Tasmania JackJumpers – 12/1
- Adelaide 36ers – 14/1
- Brisbane Bullets – 14/1
Adams Eager to Win Another NBL Title
Jaylen Adams played a key role in the Kings’ title success in 2021/22, averaging 20.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and six assists on his way to winning the MVP award.
However, a hamstring injury forced him to miss two of the Kings’ three games in the Championship Series, which was an unsatisfactory end to his stellar campaign.
Despite missing out on those final two matches, Adams’ efforts were enough to secure subsequent moves to the ABA League and the Chinese Basketball Association.
The American star has now returned to the Kings to lead their bid to become the first team to complete a three-peat since the Breakers in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
CEO Chris Pongrass says Adams has returned to Sydney with the sole aim of being the player who secures a third successive title for the club.
“He (Adams) won it, but he wants to be the one to win it himself,” Pongrass said on the Kings’ official YouTube channel. “I think he has some unfinished business after not being able to play in that Grand Final Series.”
“We wanted JA back from the second he landed two seasons ago. When the opportunity presented himself we jumped straight in.
“We wanted to make sure this was the only destination – if he was ever coming back to the league, this is where he was going to play.
“He is a proven commodity and fan-favourite in this league. We built a level of trust with him that he can come in and be a leader on this team, command the game.
“What he can bring on the court is he impacts winning at the highest level.”
Sarr Aiming to use NBL as a Springboard to the NBA
The biggest threat to the Kings’ hopes of justifying their status as ante-post favourites to the win the NBL title may well be the Wildcats.
The Perth-based side have prepared for the new season in Las Vegas, playing a couple of challenge games against the NBA G League Ignite team.
More than 150 scouts used the warm-up games as an opportunity to check out some of the top NBA draft picks for next summer.
The trip to the United States also offered some of the Wildcats players the chance to demonstrate they could compete on a level footing with the next wave of NBA talent.
French youngster Alexandre Sarr grabbed the opportunity with both hands, producing a power-packed display that brought admiring glances from several scouts.
In addition to finishing the game with 17 points, seven rebounds and six blocks, Sarr showed the type of athleticism NBA teams clamour for in the modern era.
His efforts may have been enough to secure a future move to the NBA, although he will need to continue in the same vein for the Wildcats this season.
If he transfers the same level of form into the NBL during the early part of the campaign, the Wildcats’ odds of 11/2 to win the title could look extremely good value.