Two teams remain and now we wait.
The FIBA break has put a little halt on postseason momentum, but it might ultimately be a positive, with the Sydney Kings and New Zealand Breakers each advancing to the championship series with their fair share of bumps and brusises.
Kane Pitman, Olgun Uluc and Peter Hooley are back for this week's 3x3, with the team looking at an offseason priority for Brisbane, star player re-singings and the league's best import trio.
Brisbane have made a move in the front office. What should now be the first target for the NBL24 roster?
Kane Pitman: A two-way player on the wing/forward spot.
The plan clearly evolved across the offseason for Brisbane last year, but they found themselves far too top heavy with four centers on the roster. While Pete and Olgs will continue to follow each other's (reasonable) thoughts in this column, I think the Bullets should look at the importance of Antonius Cleveland, Justin Simon, DJ Hogg, Jarell Brantley, Mitch Creek, Xavier Cooks and the endless list of stars that provide rival teams versatility and firepower across multiple positions. If the priority is point guard, they may need to find a diamond in the rough here.
Olgun Uluc: A starting point guard.
It's something we've been calling for for years, and all hell would break loose if we don't see it going into next season. The best way to maximise Nathan Sobey's skillset - and Aron Baynes', for that matter - is to put an elite distributor next to them. They need sustainable local talent coming off the bench, sure, but the most effective way to help the team's two key Australians succeed, and to help the potential teething of their first-year head coach, Justin Schueller, is to prioritise the one-spot.
Peter Hooley: Find an elite true PG
New head coach Justin Schueller spoke recently about how with Baynes and Sobey contracted, they need an elite point guard who can slot in perfectly alongside those two superstars. Sobey is more than capable of running the point when needed, yet we see his game really flourish off the ball when he can be that dynamic wing offensive threat we know he is. The perfect type of point guard would be Will McDowell-White, but if they can't find a local, maybe that's an import slot they need to utilise.
Which team compiled the best three imports in NBL23?
Kane Pitman: Both the Breakers and Kings are elite, so let me swerve and make the case for Sydney.
While the Breakers have made a meteoric rise, the Kings have simply gone from elite to elite which can be harder to appreciate. From a data perspective, the Sydney trio of Justin Simon, Derrick Walton Jr. and Tim Soares were Sydney's most used three-man lineup. Across 991 possessions with the trio on the floor, the Kings outscored the opposition by 10.3 points per 100 possessions (via spatialjam adjusted net rating). The Breakers were +6.2 per 100 across 546 possessions for what it's worth. Walton is a first team All-NBL guard, Simon is a top percentile defender and Soares is the no-fuss paint protector and floor spacer.
Olgun Uluc: It has to be New Zealand.
Not only were all three elite players in the NBL this season, but they played their respective roles perfectly, en route to a Grand Final series. Dererk Pardon and Jarrell Brantley are defensive monsters, and the latter is a really solid wing option on the other end of the floor. Meanwhile, the point guard they bring off the bench, Barry Brown Jr., is one of the most prolific scorers in the league; we saw that in Game 3 of the semis, where he just put the Breakers on his back. Cairns and Sydney also nailed their imports, but New Zealand's were just more consistent across the board.
Peter Hooley: There were a few contenders as teams started to hit their stride late in the season, but when it comes down to import trio's who have made the biggest impact in NBL23, it's New Zealand comfortably.
Barry Brown Jr is as electric as they come and even though he comes off the bench, he is a superstar who can fill it up from everywhere. Jarrell Brantley has been beast down low on both sides of the ball and Dererk Pardon is a master at controlling the paint. Those three combined have provided the perfect foundation for this New Zealand team to build success this season.
Which import re-signing is more important: Milton Doyle in Tasmania or DJ Hogg in Cairns?
Kane Pitman: DJ Hogg.
Cairns can't keep them all and Hogg will almost certainly have more lucrative opportunities in the NBL and abroad, but if you're asking me who should be priority one out of all the Taipans free agents....I think it's Hogg. The import star is lethal in all areas on offence, finishing 61% of his attempts at the rim and 35% on high volume from long range. He's also durable, finishing the season as one of only two players to see the floor for more than 2000 possessions, only trailing Bryce Cotton (of course!). From a purely selfish viewing experience perspective, the league will be better for his presence in NBL24.
Olgun Uluc: Milton Doyle.
There was a fear when the JackJumpers weren't able to re-sign Josh Adams, that maybe they wouldn't be able to find a replacement as effective. Well, they did that, and some, with Doyle, who led them to the semi-finals and walked away with All-NBL First Team honours. For a team that can be offensively stagnant at times, Doyle was their reliable scorer who could carry them to wins, and his game only got better as the season progressed. Yes, Hogg was unbelievably important for the Taipans, but there were other top-tier guys to supplement what he brought. Doyle was one of one for the JackJumpers, who nailed the recruitment of him, and should work extremely hard not to let him go.
Peter Hooley: Milton Doyle.
Tasmania lost their star offensive weapon last season in Josh Adams and everyone was wondering where their offensive spark would come from in NBL23. After a slow first couple of weeks, Milton Doyle was all that and more. The JackJumpers style of play will always be more of a grind and executing on the offensive end, but they still need a game breaker to take over games - and that's Doyle. Just the way he carries himself seems to fit perfectly into their culture as well. With the ability to now chase some different local talent to fill up the roster, the Doyle signature is an absolute must.