Melbourne loaded with talent across board

As the ANBL begins tonight, Jeff Cheshire looks at how the Australian teams are shaping up.


Adelaide 36ers

Coach: Joey Wright.

Key players: Daniel Johnson, Jerome Randle.

The rundown: A solid line-up although not full of stars as the team was a few years ago. It needs another big year out of Johnson, while late-signing import Randle adds quality to the guards.

Prediction: Eighth.


Brisbane Bullets

Coach: Andrej Lemanis.

Key players: Cam Gliddon, Nathan Sobey.

The rundown: A strong group of locals led by Gliddon and Sobey, although the team lacks top-end imports. Reuben Te Rangi, Mika Vukona and Tyrell Harrison form a Kiwi trio.

Prediction: Fourth.


Cairns Taipans

Coach: Mike Kelly.

Key players: Scott Machado.

The rundown: By far and away the weakest team on paper. Point guard Machado brings quality and experience and young forward Kouat Noi is a potential wildcard.

Prediction: Ninth.


Illawarra Hawks

Coach: Matt Flinn.

Key players: Aaron Brooks, Josh Boone.

The rundown: Will be watched globally due to the signing of teenage sensation LaMelo Ball as part of the NBA Next Stars programme. Brooks is a point guard fresh off a 10-year NBA career who went at 19.6 points and 5.3 assists per game at his peak. Josh Boone and Andrew Ogilvy provide strength inside.

Prediction: Fifth


Melbourne United

Coach: Dan Vickerman.

Key players: Chris Goulding, Casey Prather.

The rundown: A loaded team with talent across the board. Goulding leads a group of quality Australians, while the import trio is top class and includes former Breaker Shawn Long. Alex Pledger, Shea Ili and Tohi Smith-Milner give the side a Kiwi trio, while Paul Henare is the assistant coach.

Prediction: Champion


Perth Wildcats

Coach: Trevor Gleeson.

Key players: Nick Kay, Bryce Cotton.

The rundown: Kay is coming off an impressive World Cup and is tough inside, while Cotton is among the league's top guards. Gritty and tough, the defending champion has a playoff streak stretching back 33 years and should continue that this year.

Prediction: Third.


South East Melbourne Phoenix

Coach: Simon Mitchell.

Key players: Mitch Creek, Tai Wesley.

The rundown: Depth might hurt the Phoenix in its first year, although Creek and Wesley is as high-level a duo as you will find. New Zealander Judd Flavell is the assistant coach.

Prediction: Seventh.


Sydney Kings

Coach: Andrew Gaze.

Key players: Andrew Bogut, Casper Ware.

The rundown: Another loaded team boasting talent and depth throughout. Bogut, Ware and Kevin Lisch are the biggest names, although NBA Next Star signing Brazilian Didi Louzada looks a possible gem.

Prediction: Runner-up.

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