Last year when the NBL was graced with the phenomena that is known only as Josh Childress. Although he may have played just a handful of games due to injury (like many other Kings players) any court stepped he on, he left a mark.
The only reason last season’s MVP award doesn’t currently sit on “J-Chillin’s” mantle piece is league’s voting system, which benefits players who play more games than others combined with said injury.
It was still enough to earn him an All NBL First-Team award, which is more likely to be on his mantelpiece than at the bottom of the Yarra River, due to injuries not stopping him from leading the league in points and rebounds.
Is that small data sample from last season the best we will ever see from Josh Childress however? With another year and another injury to add to his curriculum vitae it’s a fair question.
Childress is already on record (a statement he made prior to joining the Sydney Kings in 2014) saying that has had a number of preexisting leg/ankle injuries, one of the core reasons many professional athletes are stopped in their tracks.
Alternatively in the small number of recent Kings game being broadcast it’s possible that Childress looks slightly (very slightly) quicker this season. Is this because injuries are behind him or the lack of competitiveness and/or opponent talent in some of these pre-season games?
Have we seen the best of Josh Childress? Some points to consider would be.
1. No Injuries Plus Conditioning
J-Chill arrived in Sydney with a prior injury. His NBL season ended with a shoulder injury suffered during the league’s heritage round.
This season he appears to have been able to get through a full preseason rehabilitated and unharmed.
When Childress joined the Kings in September he hadn’t played a professional game since late 2013. He’d also contemplated retirement. How “basketball ready” had Childress kept himself during those 10 months sitting at home?
Did Childress enter the NBL last season carrying injuries, out of shape after 10 months holiday or both?
Or was the level we saw him playing at last season in shape and as much as he has left?
2. Second year blues… in a good way!
Josh Childress will be entering his second season playing in the NBL and with that comes experience.
A better understanding of the leagues refereeing is a huge advantage with our league being very different to play in the the NBA or even Greece.
James Ennis and numerous imports last season cited clear issues with being able to transition to the NBL’s style of refereeing. Even though I’m sure that elbow to Jesse Wagstaff’s throat probably wouldn’t be tolerated in the NBA or Greece either it’s clear he was effected by the leagues refereeing style in the plays prior to that incident.
Also coming with his second season in the league is an overall gained knowledge of NBL players and teams.
This season he’ll know where, when and how to attack certain players and teams. Teams like the Cairns Taipans and New Zealand Breakers have tried to keep a core group together for the sole purpose of starting the year with a winning record. Josh’s experience will potentially nullify some of those advantages and hopefully give the Kings early year victories against teams which have tinkered little with their roster.
Like the sub-heading says, “Second Year Blues” is something that many players fall victim to. It’s simple, in their second year, other teams adapt to these players, and these players struggle to make much of an impact.
For me, I was worried a bit about this happening to Josh Childress, however so for in the preseason he has shown no signs of slowing down, and his productivity has stayed the same.
3. A Better Supporting Cast
If we’re being brutally honest here, last year’s Kings team was… lacking is perhaps a nice way of putting it. There were times when the Kings unit on the floor should have had no business keeping the scoreline close without Childress on the floor. Perhaps the Kings reliance on his ability to carry the team led to his eventual shoulder injury.
However this off season the Sydney Kings have had an impressive offseason drive to add complementary talent around Childress like Julian Khazzouh, Marcus Thornton and Steven Markovic.
With this newly found depth, hopefully less pressure will be on Josh’s shoulders, and as this has happened many times, less pressure means more of a free flowing game for that player.
Both offensively and defensively the Kings have been able to provide an upgrade at each position, especially on offense. Could this see him lead the lead in assists by passing to a cutting Thornton, getting it inside to Khazzouh or even hitting Markovic or Rhys Carter in the corner for three?
Either way, the Kings have put together a squad that should really space the floor well so it will be interesting to see.
Josh Childress may be a year older and be coming back from another injury, but he’s had the time to rehab. What’s more he’s returning to a much deeper, bigger, more talented roster. He seems comfortable in the preseason and less team to carry means less injuries are likely.
All signs point to a better, healthier Josh Childress set to take the Kings to new heights..