The rise of the Adelaide 36ers, real or not?
Four words define the Adelaide 36ers. ‘Get it and go’.
From the first game of the season to now, the Adelaide 36ers have pushed the ball up-court faster than any other team in the league. They ram the ball down your throat with every possession. It is an exciting brand of basketball, that brings high scores, dunks, alley oops, and quick-thinking flair every time they step onto the court. These attributes make them one of the highlights of the competition and they are in top form with the finals lurking just around the corner. This ‘get it and go’ style of basketball means that Adelaide is the highest scoring team in the NBL, at 94 points per game, and it is hard to stop.
So, what is Adelaide’s secret? I believe it’s a combination of rebounding, ball movement, and attitude.
Let us begin with defense. Adelaide is one of the most athletic teams in the NBL. With a starting line up of Shorter (6ft4in), Sobey (6ft2in), Creek (6ft4in), Childress (6ft6in), and Johnson (6ft10in) they don’t look particularly tall, but they have athleticism that’s off the scale. Coming off the bench is Ramone Moore (6ft5in), Deng (6ft10in), Hodgson (6ft10in) and Drmic (6ft5in), who are all gifted with long arms and athleticism that every baller dreams of having. This means that defensively, Adelaide are versatile and can switch into any position at any stage of the game. They are capable of flying through the air and blocking shots without the opposition seeing it coming. Due to the athletic nature of the 36rs and their full-court pressure, (with Sobey and Shorter up on the ball, with Creek and Childress hovering for a slow pass), they are ready to fly at their opposition from any direction and steal the ball. The pace and intensity is in your face from the moment the ball is inbounded.
To add flair to this already athletic bunch, their rebounding and assists come as second nature and have most likely been allocated appropriate time in their training drills each week. The 36ers are the leading Rebounding team in the NBL, with four players who can rebound and run in the starting line up. They also have four players coming off the bench with just as much grunt as the starters, there is no let-up. They are in your face at all times. The 36ers love to run, as young teams do. Having supreme athletes like Sobey, Creek, and Childress on the team, and with Daniel Johnson trailing the play, the defenders are often helpless and are not given a chance to even get into their defensive mindset before Adelaide have already put more points on the board. Their ‘get it and go’ attitude contributes to their success and also gives them more assists per game than any other team. They run as a team, not an individual looking for that hero moment. With Adelaide as a collective having 18 assists per game and 4.2 of those from Point Guard Shannon Shorter, it is clear that the formula is working. They share the ball and want to be heroes as a team, not as individuals.
With experienced Coach, Joey Wright at the helm, the Adelaide 36ers have guts and attitude. They’re practices are tough and uncompromising. Last season, a fight broke out between teammates Drmic and future NBA guard Terrance Ferguson! So competitive are these scrimmages – scuffles are a regular occurrence – which shows that the 36rs are ready to play tough at any moment. Joey pushes them hard and doesn’t take kindly to mistakes and lack of effort. After a particularly average game in Perth, Coach Joey Wright gave the team a blasting at Perth airport after their disgraceful effort on the court, which managed to get his team back on track to the powerful Adelaide we are currently watching. This team doesn’t back down, even if they are behind by 30 points. They are in your face, making you earn everything and pay heavily for minute mistakes. They have no fear of anybody. With Mitch Creek leading the way with his hardness and intensity, it is a great attitude and gives a confidence that no other team seems to portray. Watching street ball in the USA, you would most likely see the same spirit and hunger. Confidence is an amazing thing.
This season has seen the rise and fall of many contending teams. New Zealand, Perth, Melbourne, and Adelaide have managed to push their case forward as the best team in the league. Now that these top four are cemented, fans will be watching with a keen eye on where each team will finish. This season will remain tight and hard to predict, with all four finals contenders being dominant at home. It will be a fight till the end and home court advantage is a must for success. Adelaide are for real this season. Unlike like last season, they come as the hunter, not the hunted. Their ‘get it and go’ style of play leads to high scoring, exciting basketball. They are young, well coached and are hungry for success. When on their home court, Titanium Arena, they are unstoppable. This form and hunger have come at just the right time. A home court finals series to coincide with their passionate, loud fans, will make them a force to be reckoned with.