23/04/2024

The Breakers finished eighth in NBL21. Photo: New Zealand Breakers

The New Zealand Breakers were up against it in 2021, and their record was reflective of a side away from home. The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the season that was for the Breakers.

With an incredible NBL21 regular season concluding, The Inner Sanctum has taken a look at the year that was for clubs that didn’t make the four-team finals series, with a season review of the New Zealand Breakers next up.

Snapshot:

The Breakers produced some high quality play with all things considered in NBL21. A Covid-world meant they would base themselves in Australia for the season – in Melbourne, then Hobart, then back to Melbourne for the NBL Cup, and then finally Launceston for the home stretch of the season.

The loss of Scotty Hopson was a tough pill to swallow in the pre-season, but the additions of NBL all-star Lamar Patterson – which was short-lived – and Tai Webster were huge additions and had the side in another premiership window.

The NBL21 season didn’t eventuate as they had planned, but the emergence of Finn Delaney as a superstar of the competition was a massive plus for the Breakers.

They ended the season 12-24 and return home to New Zealand licking their wounds after a brutal season.

What worked:

Three stars led to the team to tough wins consistently, which saved the Breakers from ending the season with the worst record in the league. Finn Delaney reached new heights, Tai Webster was unbelievable and Tom Abercrombie produced another vintage season.

Abercrombie was a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year – his impact on both ends was astronomical and his shooting was much-needed for a side that struggled to stretch the floor when he was on the bench.

What didn’t work:

Too much was left to too few offensively. Tai Webster was scintillating in patches for the Breakers, and Finn Delaney became the superstar we knew he could.

Apart from that, there were issues that couldn’t be fixed throughout the whole season. Colton Iverson was brilliant on the glass, but the Breakers relied on him to clear the board with Delaney the only other one in the top 25 for rebounds on the season.

The Breakers consistently gave up second chance points to opposition sides, and failed to contain some big men with Isaac Humphries, John Mooney and Jock Landale all enjoying big games against them.

With less shots in most contests, there was pressure on shot makers to perform at their best to remain competitive, and too often it ended in blow out losses.

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Club’s MVP:

The Breakers had two standouts at different stages of their careers. Finn Delaney took the next step in his rise to stardom. Still just 25 years of age, his star continues to rise.

In his 36 games, the wing played large minutes and was the catalyst on both sides of the ball. He averaged 16.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest. His length and athleticism was on full display for all to see and he put it all together to become a lethal scorer in the half court and transition.

His court vision is also improving steadily; he becomes a different beast if he is able control the half-court set with ball in hand.

Looking ahead:

The Breakers will be prepared to lose Finn Delaney to an overseas league, and they will be desperate for reinforcements if that occurs.

The big coup is Next Star Frenchman Ousmane Dieng. He has committed to the Breakers for NBL22 which is a huge signing.

Dieng offers great length for a guard with a terrific handle from Europe. He needs to work on his shot but there is potential for him to have an RJ Hampton-sized impact on the franchise.

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