NBL Team Watch: Melbourne United
WITH the National Basketball League (NBL) season edging closer by the day, we take a look at each team’s prospects heading into their upcoming NBL21 campaign. With an offseason full of eye-catching signings and roster improvements, teams will be looking for strong signs as the season approaches. Next up is the reigning champions Melbourne United.
It was just about the ideal season for Melbourne United, who were far and away the best performing side of both the regular season and the finals. Coach Dean Vickerman led his side to their first title since the 2017-18 season, disrupting the reign of the Perth Wildcats, who had claimed every title since. It was one of the most dominant seasons in the club’s history, with United’s final regular season record finishing at 28 wins and eight losses. It was a year where everything seemed to gel for Melbourne, with the team suffering minimal interruptions throughout the season. There were no major injuries to key players, an advantage they claimed over most of their opponents throughout their campaign. Thankfully, the team was able to maintain its focus throughout multiple Victorian lockdowns, to enter the NBL playoffs full of confidence. They faced off against cross-town rivals South East Melbourne Phoenix in the semi-finals, where they delivered a powerful performance to win the series 2-0, and advance to the finals. This victory set up a blockbuster finals match-up against the Wildcats, with the two most recent champions facing off. United were once again the better side, as they claimed the series 3-0 to spend the offseason celebrating as NBL champions.
Following their victorious season, the team unfortunately lost guard Mitch McCarron who departed the team for the Adelaide 36ers. McCarron averaged 10.2 points, five rebounds and 5.1 assists, so the void he has left will be tough to fill. Thankfully, they were manage to find a handy player to join the team.
With the loss of McCarron, United signed the biggest free agent of the offseason, bringing in Australian basketball hero Matthew Dellavedova to be the team’s point guard for the upcoming season. Dellavedova has a world class resume, winning an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, becoming a cult hero around the world with his unmatched hustle and desire to win. The 31-year-old joins the team following an eight year career in America, looking to bring his talents back to his home state of Victoria. Dellavedova recently suited up for the Boomers, bringing home a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
Other offseason additions include Nigerian Olympian Caleb Aganda, NBA hopeful Ariel Hukporti and NZNBL MVP Dion Prewster. The team was also able to re-sign crucial cogs of their championship team David Barlow and Shea Ili.
Following their strongest season in their 37-year history, Melbourne United look primed to go again in NBL22, with their impressive form combining with some of the best signings of the offseason.
Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images