The NBL Blitz is now underway on the Gold Coast, Australia, and there are plenty of reasons that NBA fans and executives should be excited. All 10 NBL teams compete in a short tournament in preparation for the regular season that begins later in September.
The NBL Blitz is a short preseason tournament where teams compete for the Loggins-Bruton Cup. There are also some interesting rules, with a point system for the final standings.
Teams will receive three points for winning a game, one point for winning the scoring in a quarter, and half a point for a drawn scoring quarter.
OKC Thunder fans should keep tabs on the NBL Blitz event littered with NBA Draft prospects.
NBA scouts for various teams have flown in for the week-long event, including ESPN’s draft analyst Jonathan Givony. Scouts have been granted full access to the event, including permission to be present at team practices.
The NBL has become one of the most intriguing leagues in the world in recent years, especially for developing NBA talent, and the Thunder are no stranger to this.
The Thunder have selected multiple NBL products in previous drafts, including Josh Giddey, Ousmane Dieng, and Terrance Ferguson.
The NBL Next Stars program, which aims to prepare prospects for the NBA draft, offers multiple talents for the next two drafts, and the NBA sphere has been taking notes.
The draft class of 2024 features potential lottery picks Bobi Klintman of the Cairns Taipans and Alexandre Sarr of the Perth Wildcats. Sarr is the brother of current Thunder player Olivier Sarr. Both are versatile forwards and posted impressive NBL Blitz debuts.
Klintman’s Taipans and Sarr’s Wildcats went head-to-head on Sunday, with the Wildcats coming away with a 102-95 victory. Sarr, who some scouts say could go inside the top 10 of next June’s draft, posted 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two blocks in 28 minutes. Klintman recorded 14 points, five rebounds, three steals, and two assists.
The Thunder should keep an eye on these prospects as the draft stock rises and falls throughout the season. As the NBL Blitz is a preseason tournament, there is still plenty of time for the momentum of these players to drop or surge by June.
The versatility and size could be really valuable for the Thunder as Klintman and Sarr continue to navigate playing against professionals in a highly competitive league.
A.J. Johnson has become one of the most fascinating prospects in the NBL, but there is a need for clarity on where he is as a player. Johnson is the highest-ranked American player since LaMelo Ball to sign with an NBL team. Some analysts have him as a lottery pick; some believe his second-round talent, and some think he won’t enter the upcoming draft.
Johnson initially committed to Texas but de-committed and signed with the Illawarra Hawks, the same team as Ball.
If Johnson underperforms this season in the NBL, the Thunder could give him a look later in the draft and take a chance on a once-highly-regarded prospect. His playmaking and explosiveness at 6’6 have reeled recruiters in throughout his time in high school. Johnson is someone that the scouts and fans have circled in as one to watch at the Blitz.
Trentyn Flowers of the Adelaide 36ers has also received NBA buzz and is currently regarded as a second-round selection. Flowers decommitted from Louisville to play in the NBL. Scouts have praised his dynamic athleticism and offensive finishing ability.
Some other underrated names that the Thunder should definitely keep in mind are Rocco Zikarsky and Taran Armstrong. Zikarsky, who is just 17 years old and stands at a monstrous 7’3, has created NBA hype through impressive performances so far in the NBL preseason. Although he won’t be eligible for the draft until 2025, Zikarsky is a name the Thunder should keep in the back of their minds going forward.
Taran Armstrong is a skilled guard who may be overlooked. He has received lots of praise from Josh Giddey via social media, and his passing ability has really impressed scouts. Despite his jump shot still needing work as he has struggled with consistency from the perimeter, his feel for the game and passing vision is undeniable.
The Thunder have shown in recent history that they have faith in the prospects the NBL develops and expect this year to be no different. Depending on where the Thunder are picking next June, the NBL could once again offer some of the best talent available.