Al Harrington would have been the biggest name to ever grace an NBL court merely two years ago, but now he is relegated to a four-week injury replacement for Sydney Kings sparkling coup, Josh Childress.
Such is the rise of the NBL that you can now replace an NBA player with an NBA player and nobody bats an eyelid any more.
In fact, you can now replace an NBL star in Ekene Ibekwe with an Ex-NBA star in Hakim Warrick, relegate Warrick to the bench for most of the game, and still win as proven by Melbourne United.
You can even recruit an NBA draftee in Marcus Thornton, have him struggle to contribute anything meaningful, and be outplayed by unheralded Aussies.
Make no mistake about it, the NBL is tough-as-nails this season.
While the NBL and NBA are still -geographically and, in every other way – oceans apart, the talent gap is certainly closing when you bare the above statements in mind.
Cast yourself back merely 2 years, and you might remember the hullabaloo made over the now, easy to forget, Johnny Flynn.
He entered the league heralded as the ‘biggest NBA name to ever grace the NBL’ and , international commentators had themselves a hearty giggle.
Granted, Johnny Flynn was the 6th pick of the 2009 NBA draft, and had a solid rookie season, but he never really ‘got it going’ in the NBA after injury.
When Johnny arrived, we heard the diatribe about how honoured we should be that an NBA player should spend 6 months of his life in our humble little bush league.
Fast-forward to 2015, and it is expected that NBA players should be in the NBL.
NBL teams without some form of NBA presence often receive scorn from fans for poor recruitment.
It is a common conception held by fans these days that if you aren’t in an NBA GM’s mind, you shouldn’t be in an NBL one’s.
Since Johnny Flynn’s NBA stint the NBL has welcomed:
- James Ennis
- Sam Young
- Scottie Wilbekin
- Josh Childress
- Marcus Thornton
- Rotnei Clark
- Al Harrington
I am sorry, but, Johnny who?
Al Harrington would have been a surprise a few years ago, now it is a surprise when you don’t get an Al Harrington.
Check out his highlights here: