The Sydney Kings have made huge strides in covering up their weaknesses that have been seen in their games over the start of the season, making a number of roster changes earlier today.
The first move they made was releasing low-performing import Travis Leslie in a move they say is so they can “get stronger up front”, which indeed is one of the weaknesses of the Kings thus far. Leslie averaged 12.2ppg, 5rpg and 2.7apg for the Kings in his eight games for the team, six of those eight as a member of the starting lineup.
They then went out and signed former NBA player Jeremy Tyler for the rest of the season. Tyler has been playing in China over the past couple of seasons where he averaged 20.8ppg, 9.6rpg and 1.3bpg over the 2016/2017 season.
He was originally drafted by the then Charlotte Bobcats with the 39th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft and appeared in 104 NBA games for the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks.
Standing at 6’10” and with a wingspan of 7’5″, Tyler brings much needed size to the previously undersized Kings lineup. With Perry Ellis playing the role of an undersized centre and Isaac Humphries developing slowly off the bench the Kings have been woeful in rebounding, protecting the rim and interior defense, the signing of Tyler should alleviate a lot of the problems. His signing also means that Ellis can move back to the power forward position, where he is better suited, Brad Newley can move back to the small forward position and Todd Blanchfield can move back to the shooting guard position – these latter two players can switch between these two positions, both better suited there than at the power forward position where they have been playing.
The second signing for the Kings today was the signature of reigning NBL MVP Jerome Randle and he will be with the Kings for the remainder of the season. With Kevin Lisch out the Kings needed someone who can be the X-factor, who can be the go-to scorer and who can run an offense. Turkish club Bahcesehir is where Randle has been plying his trade recently and his time with that club has recently come to an end.
Last season, with the Adelaide 36ers, Randle led the league in scoring and was third in assists on his way to the MVP honours, as well as All-NBL First Team honours.
His signing means that defenses will need to collapse on him, often with double teams on the sidelines, leaving a slashing Newley, an open sharpshooter in Blanchfield or a drop pass to Tyler or Ellis down low – basically meaning that the Kings floor spacing and offensive options have just increased tenfold to what they have been thus far this season.
The signing of Randle means that the short-term contract of Jeremy Kendle is now voided and after this weekend he will no longer be with the team.
People have been calling for Andrew Gaze’s head and questioning his ability as a coach. On SEN 1116 a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the makeup of the team was causing the most problems, not the play calling from Gaze. With these recent additions to the Kings lineup they have filled the gaps that the roster, up until today, has had so we will now see just how good Gaze can be as a coach if the pieces on the court make more sense.