The New Zealand Breakers will spend time on the road again to begin NBL22. (Photo: NZ Breakers)

A finals berth may be still slightly out of reach, however more wins should be on the horizon for the New Zealand Breakers this season.

Last season

Position: Eighth (12 wins, 24 losses)

The Breakers no doubt had the toughest fixture in the league last season. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dan Shamir’s men were forced to play over half their games across the Tasman, and inevitably dropped six out of their first seven matchups to begin their campaign. 

Along with injuries to prominent players including the Webster brothers, the Breakers were not able to gather any momentum or consistency throughout NBL21.

Biggest in

Slightly controversial given the other talent acquired by the Breakers, however Yannick Wetzell’s first season with the South East Melbourne Phoenix allowed fans to study the 25-year-old a little more closely.

His physicality inside the paint was a prominent aspect of his game, and this was displayed especially in the semi-final series against Melbourne United. 

The New Zealand native was able to take control and bully the likes of Jock Landale, Mason Peatling and Scotty Hopson. Wetzell averaged 11 points and six rebounds over the course of the season.

The big man missed the first match of the NBL Blitz with a calf strain, but will make his Breakers debut in Thursday, November 18’s clash against the Sydney Kings.

Biggest out 

Without a doubt the story of the off-season for the Breakers, and a tough one at that.

Electrifying guard Tai Webster had inked a two year deal with the club, but was mutually released from his contract for the upcoming season after choosing to stay unvaccinated.

This would’ve inevitably hindered his ability to travel outside of New Zealand with the team. Webster averaged just over 17 points, four rebounds and four assists in the NBL21 season, and led the Breakers through a tough and treacherous campaign.

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Player to watch

The Breakers were aggressive in their pursuit of international talent, and ex-NBA player Jeremiah Martin was the epitome of who New Zealand were targeting.

Having played for both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets over the last two seasons, Martin is a crafty and speedy left hander who has the ability to slice through defence with ease.

Unpredictability is also of high importance for the 25-year-old, and Martin is prone to changing up his offensive structures to open up the floor. He has been able to match it with the world’s best and in the process amassed a career high 24 points against the Orlando Magic last year.

Martin has similar attributes to those of Illawarra’s Tyler Harvey, and will be an exciting prospect to watch this season. 

Starting five

PG: Jeremiah Martin

SG: Rasmus Bach

SF: Tom Abercrombie

PF: Finn Delaney

C: Yannick Wetzell

Full squad 

Peyton Siva, Jeremiah Martin, Rasmus Bach, Will McDowell-White, Hugo Beeson, Finn Delany, Tom Abercrombie, Ousmane Dieng, Kyrin Galloway, Isaac Davidson, Yannick Wetzell, Rob Loe, Sam Timmins (development), Princepal Singh (development)

Fixture highlights 

Another tough fixture awaits the Breakers this season, and given that the eminent threat of COVID-19 hasn’t being fully eliminated, it places New Zealand in another tough predicament. 

Similarly to last season, the Breakers will play their first twelve games on the road in Australia, before hitting their home floor in February. 

Once back home, they will play 14 out of their last 16 games on their home deck. New Zealand’s opening game against the Taipans is a must win, considering that both sides resided at the bottom of the ladder in NBL21. 

Another important fixture to handle is that of the newly formed Tasmania JackJumpers in Round 4, who have recruited strongly in the off season and will look to push for finals contention in their first season. 

What to expect

A slight improvement is to be expected this season from the Breakers.

They have been busy in the off season acquiring international talent with Frenchmen Ousmane Dieng and Hugo Beeson joining the lineup, while ex-NBA role player Peyton Siva will bolster the guard stocks. 

Retaining Finn Delaney, Rasmus Bach and Tom Abercrombie has also been important as it allows Dan Shamir the luxury of having an experienced core to work around. With Wetzell at the centre position, the Breakers should look to attack the basket and utilise his aggression on the glass. 

The last word

A finals berth may be still slightly out of reach for the Breakers, however more wins should be on the horizon. 

With the additional acquisitions, there is no reason why a positive win/loss record cannot be achieved this year. 

A slightly shortened regular season may help their cause, but they will need to navigate through the tough first half of the fixture to make any impact in the win column. 

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