SYDNEY – There’s no two ways about it, the Sydney Kings made moves to win the whole thing during this off-season! Picking up superstar players left, right and centre and signing some very good role players as well.

They are widely predicted to be right at the pointy end of the ladder come the final round and when casting an eye over their roster it is really no surprise.

Sydney Kings 18/19 Roster:

Deng Acouth (C), Kyle Adnam (G), Andrew Bogut (C), Brian Bowen (F), Deng Deng (F), Daniel Kickert (F/C), Kevin Lisch (G), Brad Newley (G/F), Dane Pineau (F), Jerome Randle (G), David Wear (F), Tom Wilson (G)

Possible Starting Five:

Andrew Bogut, David Wear, Brad Newley, Kevin Lisch, Jerome Randle

Starting with the point guard (one) and shooting guard (two) spots – Jerome Randle and Kevin Lisch respectively – simply put, wow! They key issue for both of them will be staying healthy, Lisch in particular has only played in 38 games since signing with the Kings back in 2016 but each time he has entered the court he has shown the fans something to get excited about.

In 19 games last season, Randle averaged 19.7ppg, 3.2rpg, 5.2apg and 1spg.
In 11 games last season, Lisch averaged 11.1ppg, 3.2rpg, 2.4apg and 1.5spg.

Offensively they can both create their own shot, Randle possibly has the best ball-handling skills in the NBL and Lisch can find the gaps in the defense as well as anyone to find their way to the basket. Their mid-range game and three point shooting is also fantastic, as is their court awareness and vision.

Defensively, Lisch is one of the best guard defenders in the league and Randle is an underrated defender in his own right.

Moving onto the small forward (three) and power forward (four) spots – Brad Newley and David Wear respectively – these two are interchangeable and Newley can even play the two spot as well, opening up countless options for Coach Andrew Gaze with his lineups.

In 27 games last season, Newley averaged 11.8ppg, 5.1rpg, 3.1apg and 0.9spg.

David Wear went undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft but was skirting along the edges of playing the league (two games with Sacramento in 2015 though) before playing in the D-League, now known as the G-League, and last season he played in Japan with Osaka Evessa. He has a twin brother, Travis, who is currently with the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA.

Wear is a similar player to Newley and Daniel Kickert (who will be mentioned later) but he is a better shooter from the perimeter than Newley and a better defender than Kickert.

Newley is a slasher, meaning he is at his best with a full head of steam going down the court, someone hitting him with the pass and then he can just take two steps for a dunk or layup. He’s a solid shooter but shouldn’t be relied upon as a stand-alone knock down option and he’s a pretty good defender as well.

Now, the man in the middle, possibly the biggest signing of the preseason – Andrew Bogut at the centre (five) position.

Bogut doesn’t need his CV splashed all over this article, there are only two things that need to be mentioned – toughness and injuries. The Kings are likely to get both with the injury-plagued big man; there are many players that you can sit back and ask “what if?” when it comes to injuries and Bogut is one of them but you can never question his toughness while on the court. The Kings have appeared to lack the toughness, or hardness, aspect of a game in their team for the past couple of seasons. Randle addressed it during his tenure last season and picked it up but there are really no excuses with Bogut on the team for the upcoming season.

The Depth:

Daniel Kickert, Kyle Adnam and Dane Pineau will be called upon quickly off the bench and Tom Wilson may even get a regular call up but there are a number of unknown quantities after those first three names mentioned.

Kickert is a floor spacer and offensive player, Adnam is quick spark-plug type guard and Pineau is a rebounding body. The overall depth of the team could be tested if multiple players within the starting lineup fall due to injuries, which is a unfortunate likelihood for this team.

The Gameplan:

The starting five is one of the best in the league and Andrew Gaze has a truckload of options when it comes to his lineups – with the starting five mentioned earlier he should look to isolate Bogut inside and space the floor around him. Bogut is one of the best passing big men going around at the moment and by isolating him inside he will be able to size up his opponent and determine whether to finish himself or hit a cutter to the basket off an off-ball screen or hit an open player for the three once a double team comes, which it inevitably will against him.

The other options include having Bogut on the weak side block while Randle or Lisch have the ball with their man one-on-one, Bogut can then set a back screen for someone on the weak side allowing a cut to the basket and if there’s no pass to there they flare out to the top to keep the spacing.

If Randle or Lisch head to the bench Gaze can bring on Kickert to test the opponents height and length, playing Newley at the two and Wear at the three. If Bogut heads to the bench then Gaze can bring on Adnam for quickness and move Wear to the five and Newley to the four.

There’s two things for certain that need to happen each and every trip down the floor for this team to be successful, the court spacing needs to be there and there needs to be a good seal inside to keep and help create that spacing. Unless, of course, there’s a transition or fast break opportunity…

Defensively, the height and size of Randle is the main cause of concern. Opposing guards could look to take him down to the post which would cause a big to come over and help, opening them up for a drop off to the paint for an easy basket. There aren’t too many guards in the NBL who will head to the post from a set piece though, so they would need to be aware of it mainly out of fast-breaks. If it does happen and the help from the big arrives, the other players need to be aware and cut off the offensive rotation to the middle of paint while not allowing a kick out to the perimeter on the strong side. The true test comes when Kickert is brought onto the court, opposing teams will look to utilise his opponent on a large number of possessions because defense isn’t his strong suit. Whoever is playing behind Kickert when his opponent has the ball needs to be ready to step up without fouling otherwise the Kings could be over the limit quickly.