The Adelaide 36ers will be raring to go ahead of the 2021/22 NBL season and bullish about their chances of making some noise this season after an underwhelming 2021 campaign.
Adelaide’s squad this season has seen the addition of exciting young talent with Kai Sotto and Mojave King joining, along with exciting imports Dusty Hannahs and Todd Withers who should slide straight into the starting five.
The 36ers also welcome Boomer Mitch McCarron who is fresh off winning a championship last season with Melbourne United as their starting point guard to help cover the loss of Josh Giddey.
Another new face to the 36ers is C.J. Bruton as the new head coach after Conner Henry and the club mutually agreed to part ways after last season. Bruton comes with a wealth of knowledge, having spent the past five seasons as an assistant with the Brisbane Bullets and having himself won six NBL Championships.
The 36ers got off to a great start last season, sitting at four wins and two losses after the first month of NBL action. This success was short lived, with the opening month of January being the 36ers only winning month.
The loss of Isaac Humphries in early March, the team’s best defensive big, when they were sitting at six wins and seven losses was the start of poor results. With Humphries out, Daniel Johnson had to step up in a rim protection role he is not unaccustomed to.
A bright spot was the acquisition of Josh Giddey who proved to be a difference maker for the 36ers, forming a strong partnership with Humphries before his injury, showcasing skills beyond his years.
Winning on the road proved Adelaide’s biggest issue throughout the season, only managing three wins to go along with 15 losses. This compounded with injuries, players having to play out of position or new roles, and Giddey’s departure near the season end resulted in the 36ers going on a seven game losing streak to end the season.
The 36ers biggest signing of the offseason was highly touted prospect, Filipino big man Kai Sotto. Sotto joins the Sixers with much intrigue, as his hope is to prove himself and become drafted in next year’s NBA draft.
The 218-centimetre big man brings an array of talents to the 36ers which are uncommon for someone of his size, with his ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket, and his shooting ability.
Sotto has experience representing his country on the international stage having played in the Philippines FIBA under-17 and under-19 World Cup teams, where he had several impressive performances.
While Sotto will sit behind Humphries in the centre rotation, his ability to finish around the rim, stretch the floor and be a rim protector will be well suited to the 36ers, and should aid Daniel Johnson who can focus on the power forward role.
Sotto’s skill set will not just be an asset to the 36ers, but his huge popularity and marketability in the Philippines will help Adelaide off the court also.
The 36ers always knew Josh Giddey was going to be a one year rental before entering the NBA Draft, however he is still the biggest departure of the off-season regardless.
Giddey hit the ground running in Adelaide, able to run the offence from the onset and make his teammates better with his court vision and basketball IQ. Giddey did not just lead the team in assists but the whole league, averaging 7.4 a game.
Early in the season before Humphries went down injured, the two formed a formidable partnership which was a catalyst for many of their early season wins.
Even without Humphries, Giddey was still able to put up big assist numbers, leading the team in assists in 21 of the 36 regular-season games, even earning Player of the Round honours for Round 9. For his stellar rookie campaign, Giddey was named the 2020/21 NBL Rookie of the Year.
To cover the loss of Giddey, the 36ers have signed Mitch McCarron who should offer more veteran leadership and was able to put up similar numbers last season.
Player to watch
Another player who is hoping to make the most of this season in the hope of getting drafted to the NBA is Mojave King.
King is a 195-centimetre shooting guard with tonnes of raw skill and ability, and is an exciting athlete who should have plenty of highlight-reel moments this season.
His ability to play high pace, exciting basketball should have 36ers fans delighted. He has the ability to get out in transition and perform highlight-reel dunks or finish strong around the basket.
The teenager is also a competent shooter from three on catch and shoot opportunities, but still needs to work on refining his shooting off the dribble from deep.
With King showing flashes last season of this talent while with the Cairns Taipans, expect him to have worked on his game and come out this season more refined and better prepared.
He is currently sitting on multiple NBA Draft boards as a mid 20s to second-round pick.
PG: Mitch McCarron
SG: Dusty Hannahs
SF: Todd Withers
PF: Daniel Johnson
C: Isaac Humphries
More NBL Season Previews
Cameron Bairstow, Daniel Johnson, Dusty Hannahs, Emmanuel Malou, Hyrum Harris, Isaac Gattorna (development), Isaac Humphries, Kai Sotto, Lachlan Olbrich (development), Mitch McCarron, Mojave King, Nick Marshall (development), Sunday Dech, Tad Dufelmeier, Todd Withers
The 36ers will open the season playing their bitter rivals the Perth Wildcats in Perth.
Both teams will be hungry to get off to a good start to the season and showcase what they have been working on in the offseason, which should make for an enjoyable opening game.
The two sides will meet again in rounds four and six, both times in Adelaide, where the 36ers will be desperate to win both in front of their home crowd.
With both teams having strong rosters and in the hunt for playoff success, if the 36ers can win the season series over the Wildcats it should put them in a strong position early for securing a top four spot.
What to expect
The 36ers should be a competitive team this season and able to compete with the top teams in the league with the additions to their roster.
McCarron will play an integral part as the team’s starting point guard, where the hope is he can form a strong partnership with the likes of Humphries, Johnson and Sotto. Expect Humphries and Johnson to be heavily involved offensively, with both having the ability to stretch the floor.
Hannahs should also offer some scoring punch to the side as an elite three-point shooter, which will complement the 36ers bigs.
Adelaide’s team looks solid this season with depth at all positions, and therefore Bruton and his men should be aiming for a playoff spot. The one area where the side could improve is adding more depth at point, as currently they just have McCarron and Tad Dufelmeier.
Besides those two, they lack reliable playmakers, which could prove problematic when matched up against some of the league’s premier sides with high-quality defensive guards.
The last word
The 36ers roster looks very strong this season and should everyone remain healthy, they are good enough to make the playoffs and make some noise. The team has depth throughout and players with an array of talent which complements each other well.
With many other teams improving their rosters this offseason the competition will be fierce; however the talent is there for the 36ers.
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