Let’s face it, the 2014/15 season was not a good one for the young Kings team. From a lacklustre point guard to multiple injury troubles the Kings had to face it all. Because of this many questioned the recruiting ability of the Kings organisation. However a stellar off season (so far) has put many of those doubts aside.
Cody Ellis (Illawarra), Kevin White (Illawarra), Kendrick Perry (FA), Josh Duinker (FA), Daniel Joyce (FA), Ben Madgen (Belgium)
Julian Khazzouh (Lebanon), Josh Childress (Re-Signed, Import), Jeromie Hill (College), Steven Markovic (Townsville Crocs), Marcus Thornton (College/NBA Draft, Import), Rhys Carter (New Zealand Breakers), Dion Prewster (NZNBL).
Some of the biggest issues that Kings faced last season was the lack of an inside presence and rebounding in general. However, early on in this year’s off season the Kings added a large fix to those problems in signing Australian big man Julian Khazzouh. Khazzouh last played in Lebanon however also played for the Sydney Kings in 2010/11 and 2011/12. During his time with the Kings he led the league in rebounds at 10 per game in both seasons. Not only did Khazzouh lead the league in rebounds during his tenure with the Kings but he also led the league in Blocks in the 2010/11 season and finished in the top 5 for blocks in the 2011/12 season. As you can see Julian Khazzouh is exactly what the Sydney Kings needed last year.
The next big signing was Australian point guard Steven Markovic who last played for the Townsville Crocodiles in the 2014/15 season. Over Markovic’s 12 season career he has established himself as one of the best Aussie play makers in the NBL. Last season one of the biggest problems that the Sydney Kings faced, was not having an on court leader. Which is why signing Steven Markovic is all the more better. Last season Markovic finished 4th in the league in assists, and led the Crocodiles on the court, becoming known as one of the best PG’s in the game. While also being able to pass the ball well Steven Markovic is a great shooter and will provide spacing for the Kings this season.
Steve Markovic hits 5/5 threes in 5mins against Adelaide
The next signing came in Australian forward Jeromie Hill, who had recently played for UTSA in college (a division one team in the NCAA). In his senior year Hill averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds per game. Hill should provide spacing for the Kings with his impressive 3 point shooting ability, while also being able to crash the boards. Spacing and rebounding are all things that the Sydney Kings lacked in last year and all things that Hill brings.
Potentially the biggest (re-) signing this off season comes in talented NBL super star Josh Childress. Despite a shortened season due to injury, Josh Childress managed to average 21.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 4.2 assists per game. Josh Childress also led the league in points, rebounds, blocks and finished in the top 5 for assists per game. If those stats aren’t enough to gauge Josh’s excellence how’s this. Josh Childress finished in the top 3 for MVP voting despite playing just 18 games and also earned himself an All-NBL-First-Team mention. That’s all to be said about him, last season he was simply exquisite and dominated the league, so re-signing him could be an even bigger accomplishment for the Sydney Kings then signing him in the first place.
Josh Childress Highlights from 2014/15
The Sydney Kings made news in the NBL, signing NBA draftee and guard Marcus Thornton. Thornton was selected with the 45 overall pick in this year’s draft and typically plays shooting guard. Thornton played in William & Mary college last season and averaged 20 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He’s also the all-time leading scorer at William & Mary college. While some may see another Kendrick Perry in Marcus Thornton, the biggest difference between him and Perry is Thornton’s height, (6’3). Height was something that Perry lacked and one of the biggest reasons why Perry struggled so much last season. Also Thornton has a decent Mid-Range jump shot and ok three point shot which he really likes to shoot. Plus he was drafted by the Boston Celtics and Celtics don’t mess around, just ask Danny Ainge.
Marcus Thornton Boston Celtics Summer League Highlights
The next player that the Kings signed was Australian Journeyman and Guard, Rhys Carter. Last season Rhys Carter played for the NZ Breakers and helped them win a championship. Throughout the season he averaged 6.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game and played behind Cedric Jackson. Carter will play behind Thornton and will bring a good three point shot, good passing and most importantly hard defence, something he’s known for. Carter is a big upgrade to last year’s Daniel Joyce and one of the biggest upsides about him, is that he’s able to play both Point Guard and Shooting Guard, creating a nice rotation between Markovic, Cadee, Thornton and himself. Carter is a great pickup, especially because he was signed so late in in the off season, he’ll bring a veteran savvy mindset while also being someone who has experience in winning championships.
Rhys Carter 19 point explosion against Townsville (2014)
The final signing that the Kings have had is New Zealand Forward Dion Prewster. Prewster last played for the Wellington Saints in the NZNBL where he averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. While he will be playing extremely limited minutes behind super star Josh Childress, he will still bring a great ability to attack the basket while playing tough and physical and defence. Unless injuries occur all that’s really needed of Prewster is to play with energy while playing hard defence, and scoring when he needs to on the other side of the court.
Overall the Kings have had a wonderful off season, from signing an NBA draftee to re-signing the Kings most important player since…. ever, they have done almost everything right (accept for not signing Cody Ellis). On paper the Kings look to have their strongest roster since re-entering the league in 2010 and unless they face injuries the Kings are definitely in title contention. But the Kings can’t get too ahead of themselves, they have a long road ahead and with the league looking stronger than ever, it’s not going to be easy!