Nuggets’ fate will hinge on how backcourt gels

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
The Otago Nuggets get their NBL campaign under way against the Sharks in Dunedin on Saturday afternoon. Adrian Seconi  looks at three areas the Nuggets will need to get right to be in the hunt for the title.


The experts are lining up to swat away the Nuggets’ title prospects ... again.

There are a couple of main reasons for their concern, the biggest being that the Nuggets are going into the season without a frontline centre.

They have put their faith in local Jack Andrew. He has played second fiddle to Sam Timmins, who has taken care of the post for the past three campaigns. But he has transferred to the Franklin Bulls to spend more time with his Auckland-based partner.

First point to make here is Andrew has filled in more than admirably during Timmins’ absences in the past and has had a solid grounding in Perth as a development player with the Wildcats.

It is going to be a big step up for him. But the Nuggets are going to play a much different style of basketball in Timmins’ absence. They have put together an impressive backcourt and will play to those strengths. And Andrew will get some help from import Kimani Lawrence. The Nuggets are banking on that being a successful strategy.


The Nuggets have two new American imports and that always feels a little like a lucky dip no matter how much game tape you watch.

The faithful would no doubt have felt a lot more comfortable if Todd Withers had returned for another stint. He led the defensive effort and his outside shooting was an added bonus.

The Nuggets have called in Lawrence to help out Andrew and to stretch the floor and create opportunities for the backcourt, while Zaccheus Darko-Kelly is the new three-and-D man. Coach Brent Matehaere is very excited about his outside shooting game.

Outside the camp, there is some scepticism around whether the imports are of the same quality as in previous seasons. They both have solid resumes, so time will tell.


The Nuggets’ fate will hinge on how well their backcourt can gel. Former Tall Black Tai Webster is the key figure here. He is arguably one of the best players in the league and he made a big impact in a brief stint for the Nuggets at the back end of last season. He has pace, confidence and the moves.

Most importantly, Webster has some inbuilt chemistry with Ben Henshall, Dontae Russo-Nance and Andrew, having played with them at the Perth Wildcats this season.

Henshall is already being talked up as a future Australian Boomers star at just 19. Even the Nuggets’ biggest critics are quick to highlight the potential of the guard line.