WNBL Team Watch: Adelaide Lightning
THE Adelaide Lightning will be looking to improve on an underwhelming WNBL20 campaign, as they ramp up preparations for the upcoming 2021 season. The Lightning finished with five wins and five losses at the conclusion of the regular season, and found themselves four wins outside qualifying for the finals.
The 2020 season was always in danger of being difficult for the Lightning, with star player and Phoenix Mercury member Alanna Smith missing the season due to injury. The side was competitive in more than a few games, but unfortunately – and often due to forces out of their control – they could not push their win tally higher to join the cemented ‘contenders’ of the league.
This is a well-coached squad – with Chris Lucas at the helm – with plenty of talent on their list, and they should improve on their record in the upcoming season. They looked on track to appear in the postseason in the first few rounds last year, but a quarantine period in Queensland interrupted their strong form, and they were unable to recapture their early season spark in the matches that followed. They will also be looking to deliver stronger performances against the top-tier teams of the competition, given their lack of success in this area in WNBL20, with losses as big as 40 points coming at the hands of the sides further up the ladder.
They will look to regain Smith for the 2021-22 season, with the Tasmanian set to play a major role for the Lightning moving forward. The forward was taken with the eighth pick in the first round and while her minutes have fluctuated for the side, she recently was able to participate in the Tokyo Olympics as an Opal under coach Sandy Brondello. Her post game took a big step in this time and she will be looking to put this growth to the test when the WNBL season returns in the coming months.
Smith should pair well with Adelaide captain Steph Talbot, who was magnificent last year, taking home the league’s highest honour in the Suzy Batkovic Medal. Talbot finished the season ranking third for league averages in three major statistical categories (points per game, rebounds per game and steals per game). It has been heralded as one of the most dominant individual seasons in WNBL history, and if Talbot can produce something similar for WNBL21, the league will be put on notice.
The side also made some crucial re-signings, including retaining the services of Chelsea Brook and Ella Batish, and if their list can maintain some degree of health and continuity, they should prove a threat to the rest of the competition.
Picture credit: Adelaide Lightning via Facebook