NBL Talking Points: Kings hero goes down in folklore as ‘incredible’ 18yo makes statement before NBA Draft

The NBL championship has now been decided with the Sydney Kings going back-to-back in front of another record crowd on Wednesday night with Angus Glover earning hero status while the focus turns to NBL Free Agency including rising New Zealand Breakers star Will McDowell-White.

The record attendances continued to be set at Qudos Bank Arena on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the NBL Championship Series with 18,124 turning out to see the Kings overpower the Breakers in the last five minutes to score the 77-69 victory.

With five minutes remaining in the game, the Breakers were seven points up and had all the momentum. However, the Kings would go on a 14-0 run from there started off in inspirational fashion by Angus Glover to end up securing the championship.

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It means Sydney is back-to-back NBL champions after a series where the most ever people attended a Championship Series with 67,475 turning out across the five games in both Sydney and Auckland.

There’s plenty to dissect including that heroic performance from Glover along with Derrick Walton Jr winning the Larry Sengstock Medal as Championship Series MVP while the stocks continued to rise of McDowell-White, Rayan Rupert heads to the NBA and Free Agency talk is heating up.


As if coming back from three knee reconstructions wasn’t already enough, but Angus Glover could barely stand when he returned to the floor with the NBL championship on the line midway through the fourth quarter in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

When Glover became an NBL champion with the Kings last season having made the move from his hometown club, the Illawarra Hawks, it was a terrific story with him playing a pivotal role having overcome three ACL reconstructions.

He will now go down in folklore for what he did to help the Kings to back-to-back NBL championships and that was significant even before what he did on Wednesday night.

Across the first four games of the series, Glover had averaged 10.8 points while shooting 8/13 from three-point territory before early in Game 5, his series appeared over when he took a heavy knock that did some damage to his ribs.

Angus Glover drinks from a shoe. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

He’s probably not too worried about now whether they end up being bruised or something more significant, but he was in pain the rest of the night and even sitting on the bench attempting to breathe was a challenge for him.

It would have been more than acceptable for him to tell his coach that he couldn’t go back out there. Instead, Glover put his hand up to Chase Buford that he wanted back in with the Kings staring down the barrel of a seven-point deficit with five minutes remaining.

What Glover did from there will go down forever in the annals of NBL history. He couldn’t even stand up straight and was hunched over out on the court, and it didn’t appear he’d be able to contribute.

Instead, he turned match winner. After Glover was forced to take a desperation double clutch three-pointer in the corner that hit the side of the backboard. He grabbed the offensive rebound and somehow, rose up to throw down the two-handed dunk.

Next possession and he dropped his 10th three-pointer of the series and those five points were the start of Sydney scoring 14 straight that ended up seeing them secure the NBL23 championship.

It was a remarkable performance from Glover when he had no right to be even out on the court given the physical condition he was in.

Angus Glover has been rewarded for his determination. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

He is now a two-time NBL champion which is a terrific reward for everything he’s been through.

“He’s super tough,” coach Buford said.

“Glove has been great for us all year and I told him that he has probably been the biggest victim of our depth this year because we’ve had a like for like replacement at every position.

“Last year just through injuries he found his way to get 20 minutes a night covering all the spots but this year playing as DJ’s backup, it didn’t always materialise as much as it probably should have for him.

“He’s earned more minutes than he’s gotten this year but you could see this series was one where maybe he could give us a little bit in different ways. I found a lot of trust in him going into the game and he paid it back in tenfold.”


New Zealand Breakers point guard Will McDowell-White is going to have a lot to weigh up when deciding his future after the best season of his professional career, but his coach Mody Maor is desperate to keep him where he is.

Should the Breakers have closed the deal on winning the NBL championship on Wednesday night in Sydney, McDowell-White would have had a strong claim at winning the Championship Series MVP with his power forward teammate Jarrell Brantley his strongest competitor.

That is a highlight of just how far McDowell-White has come over the past three years since he joined the Breakers on his return to the NBL after stints in Germany and the NBA’s G-League after originally being a development player for the Kings.

Will McDowell-White is going to have a lot to weigh up when deciding his future. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Throughout the five games of the Championship Series, McDowell-White averaged 13.6 points, 5.0 assists and 6.4 rebounds while shooting at 52 per cent from the field.

That is up on his season numbers of 10.8 points, 5.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds with McDowell-White reaching the potential that many always saw him as a rising teenager coming through the ranks in Brisbane.

Now that McDowell-White’s contract is up at the Breakers after his terrific growth the last three seasons, rival NBL clubs will be hunting his services while an NBA stint isn’t out of the question and clubs in Europe and Japan will also be sniffing him out.

That means that the 24-year-old has a big decision to make on his future, but after Wednesday night’s Game 5 loss, Breakers coach Mody Maor reflected on his three-year journey with McDowell-White and is desperate for it to continue.

“It’s been like a father watching his kid. It’s not about this series for me and Will, it goes three years back where he couldn’t make a shot that wasn’t a layup,” Maor said.

“We spent a whole Covid off-season shooting five, six hours a day and both of us got tendonitis in the shoulder, me from being old and fat and rebounding, and him from shooting a lot.

“That was kind of our first step and then it was adding his ability to finish in between with the floater. That was year two and then this season, it was about taking a step forward as an individual taking responsibility for the team.

“We saw him take another step forward and now step four is consistency. I’m really looking forward to us taking this step forward together as well where he impacts the game all the time, and every game.

“This is a normal progression for a young player and the next step is doing it every game. I’m very excited to take that next step together.”

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He might have replaced last season’s MVP at the Sydney Kings this season, but Derrick Walton Jr never doubted he was up to that task and the fact he’s now the Championship Series MVP suggests he has reason to let down his humble nature for now.

While the Kings did have to wrap up last season’s championship without Jaylen Adams in the final two games of the Grand Final Series against the Tasmania JackJumpers, up to that point he proved himself the standout player in the league and was the MVP.

That left a significant hole for the Kings to fill for NBL23 when he didn’t return. His direct replacement Walton Jr had to come up big as the point guard if Sydney were going to have a crack at back-to-back championships.

He had a hot start to the season showing what he was capable of and in between, there were times that he was happy to take a backseat and just play his role as distributor and set up his talented and deep team.

Derrick Walton Jr. celebrates winning during game five. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Still, Walton had a good enough season to be named to the All-First NBL Team before he went down injured late in Game 1 of the Championship Series against the New Zealand Breakers, and then was limited to less than five minutes in Game 2.

However, over the last three games Walton came up huge averaging 17.0 points, 6.3 assists and 4.0 rebounds a game. In Game 5 when it mattered most, he delivered 21 points, six assists and three rebounds.

That ended up seeing him play a pivotal role in Sydney winning the championship and he ended up winning the Larry Sengstock Medal as the Championship Series MVP.

While his teammate Justin Simon has a strong case to make that he could be slightly unlucky to not have the award given how consistent he was over the five games including being harshly done by to not be Best Defensive Player, you can’t deny Walton’s impact on Sydney’s championship triumph.

Andrew Gaze presents Derrick Walton Jr. as the NBL Championship Series MVP. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Replacing Adams would have been a significant challenge for most this season at the Kings, but Walton has always had confidence in his ability and never doubted what he was capable of.

“I try to take the humble route but I think I can now be a little bit arrogant. I feel like I’ve always been one of the best, if not, the best player,” Walton Jr said.

“That’s just the type of confidence that I carry and I don’t think I need to be more boastful about it, I just need to carry it and do what the team needs. Whenever the moment is there, I don’t have a problem putting my shoes on, tying them up and taking it. I don’t really shy away from it at all.”


Rayan Rupert might not have had the impact on the Championship Series he was hoping with the New Zealand Breakers, but his coach has labelled him the best Next Star in NBL history in terms of the impact he’s had on his team winning.

When you consider that the list of previous Next Stars even at the Breakers includes RJ Hampton and Ousmane Dieng, and more broadly across the league includes LaMelo Ball and Josh Giddey, and that’s a significant statement but one you also can’t argue with.

Rayan Rupert of the Breakers warms up. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Through no fault of theirs Hampton and Dieng at the Breakers along with Ball at the Illawarra Hawks and Giddey at the Adelaide 36ers didn’t come close in their NBL stints before entering the NBA of competing for a championship.

The 18-year-old Frenchman arrived at the Breakers for this season thought of as a borderline first round NBA draft pick later this year, but as his NBL performances continued, he is now expected to knock on the door of being a top 10 selection.

With a 7’3 wingspan combined with his quick hands on defence, ability to shoot the ball, create off the dribble and finish at the rim, and to play as a guard despite standing 6’7, Rupert has only continued to improve throughout NBL23.

Perhaps most impressively was the work he continued to put in while missing eight games with broken arm. He came back in better physical shape and having continued to develop his game, and proved a valuable contributor to New Zealand reaching the championship series.

Even though Rupert wasn’t able to impact the Championship Series, his coach Mody Maor knows how important he was in the Breakers being there. He has no doubt he’s going to have an immediate impact in the NBA once he gets drafted in the coming months.

“He’s an incredible talent and competitor. He had a really tough series and didn’t find his footing so much, but we’re not in the Grand Finals without Rayan,” Maor said.

“I’ve been around a few Next Stars and I’ve been in the league basically since the Next Star program started, and there’s never been a Next Star who has impacted winning as much as Rayan. It doesn’t even come close.

“This kid was a focal point for a lot of the things that we did and the thing that a lot of people kind of miss because he came back well, he missed that rookie jump. All of the Next Stars that we’ve had, somewhere in the middle of the season they made a real leap like Giddey, LaMelo etc.

“They’re great players in their own right but Rayan missed that and was out for eight. But he kept working, improved his left hand, improved physically and it’s been a privilege coaching him. Whoever drafts him is going to be so happy.”

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While the focus has been on the Sydney Kings and the New Zealand Breakers in the Championship Series, the other eight NBL clubs have been focused on the future and it remains up in the air where Perth Wildcats trio Luke Travers, Todd Blanchfield and Mitch Norton will be in NBL24.

It’s been an unusual past two seasons for the Wildcats without being in the mix for the NBL championship and you can guarantee the league’s most successful club with 10 titles will be doing all they can to put themselves back in the hunt for NBL24.

Triple MVP Bryce Cotton along with Tai and Corey Webster are already guaranteed to be part of that under coach John Rillie, but where the future lies for Blanchfield, Norton and Travers remains up in the air.

Norton and Blanchfield fell out of the rotation for Rillie the longer this past NBL season went and that appears unlikely to charge with the roles that Cotton and the Webster brothers are going to continue to play.

Luke Travers’ future in the NBL is up in the air. (Photo by Kelly Barnes/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Both remain under contract to the Wildcats, but negotiations are on-going between both players, their management and the club to determine if it might indeed be in the best interests of everyone for them to part ways.

Blanchfield is a 373-game NBL veteran who showed what he’s still capable of by scoring 51 points in the two games straight after the season for the Australian Boomers.

He has plenty left to give as a shooter and scorer, but it doesn’t look like he would earn many extra minutes in Perth if that’s where he stays.

However, with two years left on his deal it’s going to take some manoeuvring and flexibility from both parties if he’s to end up playing somewhere that he can have a significant role whether in the NBL or overseas.

Norton is an even more curious case. He was again vice-captain this past season and as a 314-game, two-time championship winning point guard, he did still at times show what he was capable of for the Wildcats.

There were, though, other times where he would scarcely find any court time at all and that could very well not change should he remain with the ‘Cats. At 29 years of age, he might want to find a home to play big minutes if the Wildcats would be willing to let him out of his deal.

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Then the case of 21-year-old NBA draftee Travers is even more fascinating. His problem isn’t whether or not there will be a role at the Wildcats for him should he remain next season because there’s no doubt he’s a wanted player.

His decision, though, needs to factor in what is in the best interests of his development and what will give him the best chance to end up getting called up into the NBA by the Cleveland Cavaliers who hold his rights.

For Travers to become an NBA player, he needs to prove he is a player who can be his team’s primary playmaker, he needs to run a team’s offence and needs to show he can create and shoot off the dribble.

He has already proven what he can do as an athlete. He can jump, dunk, rebound and block shots. His three-point shooting has also significantly improved, but the growth he needs to make likely won’t happen at Perth, or in the NBL.

His best chance at becoming the NBA player he wants to be appears to be to go to the G-League and Wildcats legend Damian Martin agrees.

“While I think other players should explore European and Asian options, I think he (Travers) should be going to the G-League because the style of play is better suited to him,” Martin said on SEN.

“There’s more spacing, he can get off the dribble as a 6’8 point guard and that will appeal to a lot of NBA clubs if he can go out there and average about 20 points and eight assists, and just show the athleticism that we’ve seen snippets of this year.

“He just doesn’t have the ball in his hands enough because, rightfully so, Bryce and the Webster boys do. I don’t think he will be back but I know the Wildcats will do whatever it takes obviously.”

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