10/15/14

Are The Breakers THAT legit?

The Breakers surprised not only the world but the entire universe when they went to Perth and embarrassed the Wildcats in their own building in Round 1. Veteran NBL fans thought the Breakers needed far more fixing than just Ced Jax returning. The team looked fresh and at it's defensive best Friday, showing an excellent balance of shooting, energy and size. The "size" bit had me pretty concerned as a Sixers fan, especially watching that game straight after seeing the Sixers get pounded on the boards by Cairns.

I needed to know if I should be seriously reevaluating this New Zealand team so I went to one of their most knowledgeable fans, stats guru Andrew Price (you can follow him on Twitter at @andrewbprice)

1/ Did you see that dominating performance against Perth coming?

To be honest, I almost put a stack of my allocated NBL betting money on Perth because I was pretty convinced it was a lock the 'Cats would take it. I think you would have been either crazy or naive to think they would do that well in Perth, especially with Tom out and Pledger playing through injury. Fortunately the betting had closed before I got to it, so I didn't end up betting against the Breakers as they scored a momentous victory.


2/ Does Ced Jax look just like the 12/13 version?

This is hard - I actually couldn't believe how good he was in round one, particularly down the stretch. This may be because after last season, that standard wasn't as high, and I had forgotten just how good Jackson is, or because he actually has taken another step up. He steadied the team in the 4th quarter, something that was sorely missing last season and made a couple of huge plays to keep the lead. He looked dialled in too, super focused on what his team mates were doing and what was going on around him. He's the real deal.


3/ Thoughts on what Ibekwe and Wesley so far?

Hard to say really. Ibekwe looked athletic fast quick, but I worry about his build, especially playing the 5 spot while Pledger recovers. He's very slight and could easily get pushed around by the bigs in the NBL. In saying that, Matt Knight didn't seem to affect him during round one. One thing's for sure, he's going to be a highlight machine. One thing you wouldn't have seen during round one was Ibekwe shoot a free throw - it's a bizarre looking shot, so keep an eye out for it in coming rounds.

Wesley was less impressive and frankly looked a bit out of shape (not that I can talk about people's shape...). He didn't really do anything wrong, and I wasn't expect miracles, but I think he'll hit his straps later in the season as he gets in shape and settles with the team a bit more.


4/ The Breakers look to have a very well balanced team this year- agree?

I think this season Vickerman has recruited to suit his coaching style, rather than try to suit his coaching style to a pre-formed team. They've recruited well and are constantly developing players like Te Rangi and Bailey who can step up when needed. They have a legitimate 9 man rotation once Tommy gets back and any team that can bring R. Carter, R. Te Rangi, T.Wesley and A.Pledger off the bench is going to be strong. They have a good mix of outside shooting (Abercrombie, Carter, Webster, Te Rangi and possible Jackson if R1 was anything to go by) and inside strength and will no doubt give defences around the league serious headaches.


5/ Who wins Thursday's matchup and why?

Sorry, but I have to go with NZ here. I loved what I saw from J.Wilson for Adelaide, A.Gibson is as good as ever and M.Creek seems to be continuing his rise, but I think NZ still have the advantage at every spot. That coupled with the first home game of the season and at Vector Arena they'll be tough to bet against. Can't wait to see how it plays out.

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