After a rollercoaster NBL campaign that ended with a seven-match losing streak, Adelaide coach Conner Henry heads into the off-season player market with a lengthy shopping list and a point guard to run the show is right at the top.
Having dealt with personnel changes and injuries, the 36ers were still an outside chance at making the finals after an overtime win against the Kings in early May.
But a subsequent loss to Illawarra sent their season into a spiral that culminated in Sunday’s 22-point thumping by minor premiers Melbourne United that consigned Adelaide to seventh spot with a 13-23 record.
Josh Giddey’s development into an NBA-calibre point guard was a key factor in the Sixers’ surge, but his absence was keenly felt after he made the common-sense decision to depart the active roster to prepare for next month’s NBA draft.
“It starts with the point guard,” Henry said of his off-season priorities shortly after the loss to United.
“We’ll see if that’s a high-level Aussie or an American or a European, but we need one – everybody knows that – and we’ll see how the other import spots play out.”
The 36ers’ NBL season petered out. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
A major roster retooling awaits ahead of Henry’s second season in charge, with Daniel Johnson, Sunday Dech and Isaac Humphries (who is the subject of a club option) the only regulars under contract.
American import pair Brandon Paul and Tony Crocker are both out of contract and largely struggled to have a significant impact as Adelaide’s season spiralled out of control, although Crocker saved his best for last with a season-high 27 points against United.
“We’ll look different next year with some solid pieces added and some old guys on here,” Henry said.
“I won’t comment too much on the roster just because we’ve got to do a complete review.
“But not having a Next Star, first-round NBA draft pick in Josh Giddey to develop, we’re going to have to look at two or three guys.
“I’d love to add two or three guys who are high level decision makers that have experience, that have good size and skill levels with basketball minds.”
As for when Adelaide’s season started to go sideways, Henry didn’t have to look too far past the injury to star centre Humphries, who was in the conversation for MVP honours until he went down with a foot issue in March that sidelined him for 11 games.
“Clearly, injuries hurt us,” Henry said.
“It’s not an excuse because every team goes through that but we did suffer some untimely injuries.
“Ice going down was a monumental blow to us because then we had to play smaller.
“There were a lot of challenges throughout this season … it’s unfortunate and disappointing that we struggled so poorly down the stretch.”
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