Pedestrian’s NBL Cheat Sheet

The new NBL free-to-air broadcast deal has moved televised games from the all-too-difficult-to-watch time slot of 10.30pm weekends (which weekends? who knows) to the far more convenient post-drinks time slot of 9.30pm Fridays (Ch One) and the pre-homework, post-hangover appointment of 2pm Sundays (Ch 10). Add to that the NBL’s new online streaming service, NBL.TV, and for the first time ever, all games, all season, will be available to the viewing public.

Obviously, with greater visibility comes greater responsibility to look knowledgeable in front of your mates. Pedestrian hereby presents the:

2012/13 National Basketball League Cheat Sheet

Notes on looking like an NBL expert even if you haven’t watched a game since the mid-90s

NOTE #1Andrew Gaze has retired

The ramifications of this note are two-fold.

Firstly, the absence of Mr Gaze on the court (he still commentates) means you need to find a new favourite player. To avoid changing your favourite player each season, we recommend choosing someone good enough to make any team, but not so good as to receive offers to play overseas (The Lithuanian Basketball League is a surprisingly lucrative destination). Possible options: Graeme Dann (Sydney Kings), Tyson Demos (Wollongong Hawks), Aaron Grabau (Cairns Taipans), Brad Robbins (Perth Wildcats).

Secondly, no Andrew Gaze does, unfortunately, mean no Melbourne Tigers, who along with the Sydney Kings are tipped to finish at the backwash end of the 2012/13 ladder. It will be up to former-champions-come-coaches Chris Anstey and Shane Heal to orchestrate upsets for the Tigers and Kings respectively.

Seeing Gaze dunk was like spotting a Unicorn in the wild!

Gaze also had problems speaking in-sync in the early part of his career. And yes, that is a young Bec Hewitt/Cartwright with the dropsies.

NOTE #2 – The rest of the league is pretty even

You could throw a sweaty towel over the remaining six teams; it’s that close.

Sure, Perth Wildcats gave perennial title-holders New Zealand Breakers (that’s right, a whole COUNTRY competes in the NBL) a proper thumping in Round 1, but the Breakers are too good a team to let that happen again. Ever.

Adelaide 36ers
were the big winners when the Gold Coast Blaze went bust, nabbing three of their best, and are, player for player, the most talented team in the league. Cairns Taipans are good, Townsville Crocodiles are good (look out for proven NBL stars Gary Ervin and Larry Abney) and the Wollongong Hawkes have a stable of three point shooters which means they’re only ever a few shots away from a sneaky win.

Pedestrian recommends avoiding situations where you’re likely to be asked for an opinion pertaining to the outcome of any particular match. It’s a toss of the coin. Don’t do it. And don’t feel bad, because…

NOTE #3 – Being knowledgeable isn’t everything

Who cares if the guy next to you knows which North Melbourne Giants player won the 1994 Finals MVP award (Paul Rees – I looked it up). Your genu-ine 1998 Adelaide 36ers championship cap is way boss – and for only $12.75 on eBay, looks smarter than ever.

If you’re still lacking the confidence to call yourself an NBL expert, why not bet a friend or acquaintance how many mistakes long-time basketball commentator Steve Carfino will make during a broadcast. Always bet high. Or turn it into a drinking game where everyone’s a winner.

Keeping all that in mind, we recommend you watch a few games, pick a few long-term prospects, avoid predictions, buy 80s and 90s basketball memorabilia and slowly climb that great mountain to National Basketball League expertise. There’s never been a better time to start.

“Reeeeeeeeeeeejected!” is an appropriate call when watching a decisive defensive play. “No soup for you!” is not.

Check out weekly highlights on NBL.TV

For some more considered odds and appraisals than we have on offer, head to centrebet.

Words by Dan Allan
Picture by Matt King at Getty Images