Sam Young’s signing with the Sydney Kings this week should deliver a strong message that the demerger between the NBL and Basketball Australia has already proven to be the jump start needed to return the league to its former glory.
The potential benefits of investing in a higher quality import to help market the NBL is something which has been debated for a long time.
Ultimately this never eventuated but the notion of spending money on high profile players in order to help boost interest in the NBL has been a passionate topic ever since.
Brian Goorjian made it known he feels NBA players playing in the CBA has made a huge difference in growing the sport across China, a which features players like Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury and Gilbert Arenas.
“I went through stretches of time in the NBL, when the NBL was hot with the Magic and the Titans and I remember our owners wanting to go another step… wanting to attract a Dennis Rodman or an Allen Iverson, I wasn’t as sold on it as I was on using money in other areas back then to grow our products, as opposed to putting it all in to something like that… but now I’ here I really see the value of it”.
Goorjian remarked how in China stadiums are at capacity an hour before tip-off just so fans can see Gilbert Arenas nail 8 from 10 shots from the half-court line during warm-ups.
“In (the chinese league) you realise what they do for the game, to see Marbury here and see what he has done for this league or a Tracey McGrady people come from all over to see these guys” said Goorjian.
The buzz currently being generated by Miami Heat draftee James Ennis this season with the Wildcats means it now makes sense for other teams, like the Kings, to try capitalise of this success by signing other NBA caliber players.
NBL television ratings have shown a clear improvement on the back of the media coverage created by Ennis so far this season. The fact that round one this season saw 66,000 people tune in to watch Perth take on Adelaide in the first Friday night game of the season which was three times the figure from last season’s opener.
With James Ennis dunks appearing regulary now across media outlets and selling out the Perth Entertainment Center it’s clear the money spent on his player contract has more than already paid for itself.
Now considering what success seen by James Ennis in Perth, the NBA player effects in China and also the idea that the NBL originally boomed in early 1990’s behind NBA caliber players like Dwayne McClain, Lanard Copeland and Ricky Grace the questions about whether investing in marquee players is good for the league is no longer up for debate.
Young is a 6-foot-6 guard-forward who who in the NBA was a role player who showed a high defensive intensity is now the NBL’s highest paid player, expected to be one of the primary offensive options under head coach Shane Heal with the burden of selling out the Kingdome every week now resting squarely on his shoulders.
Young was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies as the 6th pick in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft. He had respectable stats with the Grizzlies with 7.4 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 18 minutes per outing. He had a very brief stint with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011 and saw action for 56 games for the Pacers in 2012-2013.
Young will play his first game Sunday, Nov 24, when the Kings face off with the Perth Wildcats