2019 NZNBL season recap: Wellington Saints take out title

AN undefeated season from the Wellington Saints saw the side take out the 2019 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) title. Draft Central throws back to last season with the new 2020 season upon us to see how each of the teams performed and whether they are competing this year.

1st Wellington Saints (18-0)

The minor premiers had a perfect season to-date storming to the title off the back of an 18-0 regular season, and then winning both their finals. The Saints defeated Southland Sharks by six points in the semis, and 10 points in the final, to take home the coveted title. Their side featured names such as Nick Kay, Shea Ili, Jordan Ngatai and Thomas Abercrombie, of whom all are legitimate stars at Australian National Basketball Level (ANBL). Unfortunately like three other sides in the top four, the Saints will not be competing in 2020, leaving the title up for grabs.

2nd Hawke’s Bay Hawks (14-4)

The Hawks chose not to compete in 2020 after finishing second overall and making the final. They were still four wins behind the Saints, but comfortably inside the top four with a win extra on top of the third place Canterbury Rams who they defeated in the semi-finals to reach the decider. The Hawks had talented players like Jarrod Kenny (competition-high 6.8 assists) Brandon Bowman, Ethan Rusbatch and E.J. Singler which helped them have such success in the season.

3rd Canterbury Rams (13-5)

The third placed Rams were a win off a home semi-final and went down narrowly to the Hawks in semis. They had produced some consistent basketball all season and avoided the fourth placed spot to go up against the minor premiers. Among the Rams’ top players were Emmett Naar and Cameron Gliddon, though Canterbury had a real even team balance across the board.

4th Southland Sharks (12-6)

The Sharks will not be competing in the 2020 season, but will remember the 2019 one fondly. They reached the finals, and while they ultimately fell short against the top of the table Saints, had a number of impressive players throughout the season. Jarrad Weeks, Todd Blanchfield and Hyrum Harris were among those on the books for Southland in 2019.

5th Southern Huskies (9-9)

Making the trek from Tasmania was a tricky obstacle for the Huskies who missed out on finals with a 50-50 win-loss ratio. They have since rebranded and based themselves in Auckland which should help, and one of the newest sides there will be keen to get off to a good start. Jalen Billups and Marcel Jones were among the top performers for the Huskies last season.

6th Nelson Giants (7-11)

The Giants were the next best in mid-table duo, with a four-win gap to the bottom three, but still two wins adrift of fifth. During the season they had a couple of standout players such as Jordair Jett and Rhys Vague who held up their end of the bargain for the Giants who will eye off more success in 2020.

7th Super City Rangers (3-15)

Statistically the Rangers absolutely dominated, but could not quite get it to click. Tim Quarterman averaged the most points (28.1) and steals (3.3) per game, while Venky Jois had the most rebounds (11.5) and Nnanna Egwu had the most blocks (1.9). It did very little in the overall scheme of things however as the Rangers won just three games, and they are the other side (outside the top four from 2019) not competing in the 2020 competition.

8th Taranaki Mountainairs (3-15)

Finishing below the Ranges with an equal win-loss record, the Mountainairs did not have too many standout players, but rather contributors. Kevin Foster, Chris Early and Derone Raukawa all made Team of the Weeks at different points during the season, but once each for a total of three nominations. Returning in 2020 under the new format, the Airs will be keen to take full advantage of the draft.

9th Manawatu Jets (2-16)

The wooden spooners from 2019 was the Manawatu Jets who won just the two games from 18 appearances. Daishon Knight and Wally Ellenson were the two standouts throughout the season, but ultimately the Jets were not able to be competitive enough for long enough. With a new format in place this season, they could be anything with the right drafting.

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