The Breakers have won the last three NBL championships including in the last two grand final series' against the Wildcats with both clubs heading into the 2013/14 looking strong once again as the NBL is under new administration and is no longer being run by Basketball Australia.
How that pans out likely will have some teething problems, but under new chief executive Fraser Neill the NBL remains confident of bringing the stagnating game in Australia back up to a level where it can compete for top billing among the summer sports in the country.
While interest in the NBL and basketball has been strong in Perth and New Zealand with their team doing well, and community organisations Townsville, Cairns and Wollongong have managed to find their niche, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney remain the areas the league needs to break through in.
That won't happen in Brisbane this season but the Bullets are expected to re-enter the NBL in 2014/15 while the league needs both the Kings and Tigers to be strong, and to be pulling in strong crowds and generating the interest levels that the rest of the competition can feed off.
For now, though, here is how the teams are shaping up just ahead of Round 1 of 2013/14 NBL season:
Last season's finish: 8-20, Wooden spoon
Predicted 2013/14 finish: Second
Season opener: Friday October 11 v Perth Wildcats at Perth Arena
Coach: Joey Wright
Roster: BJ Anthony, Jason Cadee, Mitch Creek, Gary Ervin, Jarrid Frye, Adam Gibson, Daniel Johnson, Anthony Petrie, Luke Schenscher, Brendan Teys
Arrivals: BJ Anthony (NZNBL), Gary Ervin (Townsville Crocodiles), Jarrid Frye (Iceland), Brendan Teys (Townsville Crocodiles)
Departures: Scott Christopherson, Nathan Crosswell, Tom Daly, Pero Vasiljevic, Stephen Weigh
Snapshot: Started last season off encouragingly winning five of their first eight matches, including becoming the only team in the regular season to win at the Perth Arena against the Wildcats, but an eight-game losing run spelt the end of that.
In the end, the once proud and mighty 36ers finished with a second straight wooden spoon finish and a fourth successive year out of finals action.
The coaches Marty Clarke and Mark Radford fell on their swords as a result but the key players in the squad remained to play under former Brisbane Bullets championship-winning head coach Joey Wright.
Australian point guard Adam Gibson and fellow guard Jason Cadee remain as does emerging big man Daniel Johnson, powerhouse Anthony Petrie and seven-footer Luke Schenscher who needs to find a way to deliver more than he has in recent years since returning to Adelaide.
Then there is the arrival of former league MVP Gary Ervin to run the ship in the back court. With Ervin, Gibson and Cadee in the back court the 36ers have no shortage of ball handlers but not necessarily great shooters, so finding the open man going inside will be critical.
Ervin last season in Townsville with Luke Nevill showed he is capable of working well with a big man and now he will have the chance to create a similar partnership with one of three men inside – Johnson, Schenscher and Petrie.
Jarrid Frye is the other import and will add some athleticism and is a marked improvement on Scott Christopherson who last season proved to be one of the poorest imports to come to the NBL.
Without question it is an Adelaide squad that on paper should be a finals bound team. It's now just a matter or not if Wright can get them to click can get the Sixers back where they belong as a power club in the NBL.
Last season's finish: 11-17, Sixth
Predicted 2013/14 finish: Fourth
Season opener: Saturday October 12 v Townsville Crocodiles at Townsville Entertainment Centre
Coach: Aaron Fearne
Roster: Shaun Bruce, Matt Burston, Cameron Gliddon, Alex Loughton, Demetri McCarney, Clint Steindl, Cameron Tragardh, Stephen Weigh, Jamar Wilson, Mitchell Young
Arrivals: Demetri McCarney (NBA D-League), Matt Burston (Melbourne Tigers), Stephen Weigh (Adelaide 36ers), Mitchell Young (St Mary's College)
Departures: Shane Edwards, Aaron Grabau, Brad Hill, Dusty Rychart, Kerry Williams
Snapshot: The Taipans underperformed last season finishing sixth and recording just 11 victories and now will be heading into the 2013/14 campaign with a new look, but with the potential to have the very best frontcourt in all of the NBL.
For the first time ever in the club's history, Aaron Grabau will not be part of the Cairns roster with the inaugural player retiring following the 2012/13 season with fellow veteran Dusty Rychart moving on as did popular point guard Kerry Williams, swingman Brad Hill and underwhelming import Shane Edwards.
That opened up the opportunity for coach Aaron Fearne to do somewhat of a rebuild of his playing squad, particularly with the guards and the result could be a Taipans team that is right back in contention for a finals position come March next year.
Versatile bigs Cameron Tragardh and Alex Loughton are back again for the Taipans and will be joined by young big man Mitchell Young fresh off his time at St Mary's College and also veteran seven-footer Matt Burston who has been a fine servant, when fit, wherever he has played in the league.
The combination of Burston, Young, Tragardh and Loughton will give the Taipans a strong inside presence and the Cairns back court looks strong also led by returning point guard Jamar Wilson and new import Demetri McCarney.
The Taipans have also secured the services of versatile swingman Stephen Weigh after some good runs with both the Perth Wildcats and Adelaide 36ers and he will combine well with Cameron Gliddon and Clint Steindl at the two and three spots.
Overall, with two strong import guards, some solid three men and a good front court, it is a Cairns team that has the ability to rack up plenty of wins if everything goes to plan.
Last season's finish: 12-16, Fifth
Predicted 2013/14 finish: Seventh
Season opener: Sunday October 13 v Sydney Kings at Sydney Entertainment Centre
Coach: Chris Anstey
Roster: Adam Ballinger, Chris Goulding, Tommy Greer, Auryn MacMillan, Scott Morrison, Owen Odigie, Nate Tomlinson, Ayinde Ubaka, Lucas Walker, Mark Worthington
Arrivals: Auryn MacMillan (Wollongong Hawks), Scott Morrison (Germany), Ayinde Ubaka, Mark Worthington (Serbia)
Departures: Matt Burston, Jonny Flynn, Bennie Lewis, Liam Rush, Seth Scott
Snapshot: Things were looking so good for the Melbourne Tigers' chances of a strong season just a couple of weeks ago, but then suddenly the injury bug hit.
First to fall was star guard Chris Goulding who looks like missing the first month of the season and then exciting import Stephen Dennis ruptured his Achilles meaning his NBL tenure was over before it began.
Veteran captain Tommy Greer also tore his pectoral muscle and will be out for three months, but the Tigers under Chris Anstey reacted swiftly to losing Dennis by welcoming back Ayinde Ubaka as the point guard.
Back in 2011/12, Ubaka was having a solid season as the Melbourne point guard before being unceremoniously dumped mid-season by then owner Seamus McPeake when he spoke up for himself.
He ended up finishing out that season with the Wollongong Hawks and now returns to the NBL for a third season – his first leading Cairns to a grand final and then his eventful second campaign at two clubs.
Ubaka is an experienced hand and will do a solid job running the point but unquestionably the star of the team is returning Olympian Mark Worthington.
He was sorely missed by the NBL while overseas but is now back to try and lead Melbourne to a first finals campaign since losing the 2008/09 grand final series to the South Dragons, whom Worthington was playing for.
Certainly until Goulding returns anyway, the Tigers' success is going to be determined largely by the efforts of Ubaka and Worthington.
Ubaka will be helped in the back court by Owen Odigie and Nate Tomlinson while the front court will see the Tigers well equipped with Scott Morrison, Adam Ballinger and Lucas Walker.
It's going to be a big ask for the Tigers to cover their injury concerns and remain in contention for a finals berth, but with Worthington, Ubaka and Goulding in the mix, they can't be ruled out.
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Last season's finish: 24-4, Champions
Predicted 2013/14 finish: First
Season opener: Thursday October 10 v Wollongong Hawks at Vector Arena
Coach: Dean Vickerman
Roster: Tom Abercrombie, CJ Bruton, Daryl Corletto, Kerron Johnson, Darnell Lazare, Alex Pledger, Rueben Te Rangi, Jeremiah Trueman, Mika Vukona, Corey Webster
Arrivals: Kerron Johnson (Belmont University), Darnell Lazare (Sydney Kings), Jeremiah Trueman (Perth Wildcats)
Departures: Dillon Boucher, Leon Henry, Will Hudson, Cedric Jackson
Snapshot: The New Zealand Breakers have now won the last three NBL championships and despite losing their coach and the league's MVP, it will be a brave soul to bet against them making it four on the trot.
The Breakers have single-handedly lifted the profile of basketball in New Zealand to the point where a second NBL franchise in coming years is not out of the question, and that the almost 10,000 seat Vector Arena gets filled just about any time it is used in favour of the smaller North Shore Events Centre.
The Breakers have lost their three-time championship-winning coach Andrej Lemanis since beating the Perth Wildcats in last year's grand final series in two matches with the league's MVP Cedric Jackson also moving on.
However, Dean Vickerman has been by Lemanis' side through all the success the Breakers have had so is a natural successor as head coach while Kerron Johnson arrives with a big job to do to fill the shoes at point guard of Jackson.
New Zealand still possesses multiple championship-winning stars Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie, Daryl Corletto, CJ Bruton and Alex Pledger, though, and Corey Webster is an emerging star in the league.
The Breakers have actually upgraded their big men stocks on last season's championship-winning squad as well with the return from Perth of Jeremiah Trueman and the signing of Sydney Kings' import Darnell Lazare.
No disrespect to Will Hudson, but the Breakers will get plenty more out of Lazare and Trueman than they got out of him.
The success or not of the Breakers might largely depend on how well Johnson can fill the shoes of Jackson, but with so many flat out winners and improved big men stocks, the Breakers are going to be mighty tough to stop.
Last season's finish: 22-6, Runner-up
Predicted 2013/14 finish: Third
Season opener: Friday October 11 v Adelaide 36ers at Perth Arena
Coach: Trevor Gleeson
Roster: Jermaine Beal, Erik Burdon, James Ennis, Greg Hire, Tom Jervis, Matt Knight, Damian Martin, Shawn Redhage, Drake U'u, Jesse Wagstaff
Arrivals: Jermaine Beal, Erik Burdon, James Ennis, Tom Jervis, Drake U'u
Departures: Everard Bartlett, Kevin Lisch, Brad Robbins, Cam Tovey, Jeremiah Trueman
Snapshot: The Rob Beveridge, Kevin Lisch era of the Perth Wildcats is over with a new coach heading up a team with two exciting and athletic imports looking to help the club make up for losing to the New Zealand Breakers in the finals the last three straight years.
Beveridge arrived as coach of the Wildcats for the 2009/10 season with Lisch his star import guard straight out of Saint Louis University and while there was more to it than just those two, they helped lead Perth to the championship in that season.
The Wildcats continued to run neck and neck with the Breakers the last three seasons but lost to New Zealand in the semi finals of 2010/11 and then the grand finals of 2011/12 and 2012/13.
That left some feeling at Wildcats HQ that a shakeup was in order and despite some strange mind games played publicly, Beveridge was never going to be offered a new contract as coach and nor did he want one, and the coach and club parted company.
The bond with Beveridge and his star player Lisch was so strong that it was unlikely the former league MVP and grand final MVP would want to stay in Perth without Beveridge, and as a result he headed overseas bringing an end an outstanding four years as a player with the Wildcats.
Brad Robbins and Cam Tovey are now also retired while Jeremiah Trueman returned to New Zealand and Everard Bartlett was unceremoniously cut despite still being contracted for this season.
Former Townsville and Melbourne coach Trevor Gleeson was signed to replace Beveridge and then a new-look playing roster was put together.
James Ennis will be one of the most athletic talents to ever play in the NBL and has definite NBA credentials in his future, but the swingman at this stage is still a work in progress.
There will be flashy dunks and moments of brilliance, but don't expect him to hit many open shots and expect to see plenty of turnovers.
Jermaine Beal is the second import and will also be a strong presence for the Wildcats while the club had to reshuffle and sign up Drake U'u to replace the injured Mathiang Muo.
Captain and point guard Damian Martin has recovered from a ruptured Achilles to lead the team, though, and the untried big men Tom Jervis and Jarrad Prue will need to stand up early on with the help of the experienced Shawn Redhage and Jesse Wagstaff with Matt Knight once again on the sidelines for at least the first month of the campaign.
Under Gleeson and with the likes of Ennis, U'u and Beal in the line-up, it's going to be a vastly different Wildcats team in 2013/14 and one they hope will go one step further than the last two years of losing in the grand final.
Last season's finish: 12-16, Fourth
Predicted 2013/14 finish: Sixth
Season opener: Sunday October 13 v Melbourne Tigers at Sydney Entertainment Centre
Coach: Shane Heal
Roster: Ben Allen, Kyle Armour, Charles Carmouche, Cody Ellis, Tom Garlepp, Shaun Gleeson, James Harvey, Brad Hill, Ben Madgen, AJ Ogilvy, Jesse Sanders, Kevin White
Arrivals: Ben Allen (Townsville Crocodiles), Kyle Armour (Perth Wildcats), Charles Carmouche (Louisiana State College), Cody Ellis (St Louis University), Shaun Gleeson (QBL), Brad Hill (Cairns Taipans), AJ Ogilvy (Germany), Jesse Sanders (Italy)
Departures: Aaron Bruce, Ian Crosswhite, Graeme Dann, Corin Henry, Daniel Joyce, Darnell Lazare, Luke Martin
Snapshot: The Sydney Kings returned to finals action in 2012/13 despite a record much less than 50 per cent but Shane Heal's men will have to improve further this time around to get back there again.
The Kings only won two of their last 12 games in the regular season in 2012/13 but having won nine of their opening 14 was enough for them to sneak into fourth position before falling to eventual champions the New Zealand Breakers in the semi finals.
It was a good showing from the Kings in Heal's first full season in charge as coach and now they will be looking to build on that again.
A scare went through Sydney's camp when star guard Ben Madgen went down injured in camp with the Australian Boomers, but the MVP candidate is now up and ready to go for the start of the new season.
The Kings likely could have tested the Breakers even further in the finals last year had diminutive import point guard Corin Henry not been injured, but it wasn’t to be and he has now been replaced by imports Jesse Sanders and Charles Carmouche who are both guards.
Retired centre Ian Crosswhite is a big loss for the Kings but they have done well to sign highly-rated Australian big man AJ Ogilvy and he will get some help from Ben Allen who failed to live up to his potential with Townsville.
The Kings' fate could well rest on how good imports Carmouche and Sanders end up being, but either way with Madgen fit and ready, and Ogilvy inside they have enough there to be more than competitive again in 2013/14.
Last season's finish: 10-18, Seventh
Predicted 2013/14 finish: Fifth
Season opener: Saturday October 12 v Cairns Taipans at Townsville Entertainment Centre
Coach: Shawn Dennis
Roster: Brian Conklin, Todd Blanchfield, Peter Crawford, Mirko Djeric, Russell Hinder, Jacob Holmes, Scott Kenny, Steve Markovic, Mitch Norton, Josh Pace, Greg Vanderjagt
Arrivals: Brian Conklin (NZNBL), Mirko Djeric (Wollongong Hawks), Scott Kenny, Steve Markovic (Serbia), Josh Pace (NZNBL), Greg Vanderjagt
Departures: Ben Allen, Chris Cedar, Michael Cedar, Gary Ervin, Luke Nevill, Brendan Teys
Snapshot: The Crocodiles looked to be heading into extinction as the latest NBL team to fold over the off-season, but the community of Townsville got behind the club and they have survived and now have a new coach and an intriguing playing roster to work with.
The Crocs started the 2012/13 season disastrously losing their first 10 games, but they built some momentum in the second half of the campaign to at least be in the finals mix before missing out on a spot in the end.
Without question, last year's team was very much run by point guard Gary Ervin, who has now joined Adelaide, with a big focus on getting it inside to 7'1 centre Luke Nevill who also is not at the club this season.
Then with the Cedar brothers, Chris and Michael, also moving on it is a vastly new look Townsville team under new coach Shawn Dennis, who is a previous head coach of the Newcastle Falcons before building his coaching reputation in New Zealand and most recently working under Rob Beveridge at the Perth Wildcats.
Dennis' familiarity with New Zealand has seen the Crocs add Brian Conkin and Josh Pace while the signing of Steve Markovic could be one of the signings of the NBL season with the Australian guard returning after successful stints in Europe.
With Olympian Peter Crawford, veterans Russell Hinder and Jacob Holmes, and emerging swingman Todd Blanchfield, the Crocs have plenty of talent and experience as well and there's no reason they can't contend for a finals berth.
Last season's finish: 13-15, Third
Predicted 2013/14 finish: Eighth
Season opener: Thursday October 10 v New Zealand Breakers at Vector Arena
Coach: Gordie McLeod
Roster: Rotnei Clarke, Tim Coenraad, Dom Cooks, Larry Davidson, Tyson Demos, Oscar Forman, Dave Gruber, Shane Harris-Tunks, Luke Jamieson, Rhys Martin
Arrivals: Rotnei Clarke (Oklahoma), Dom Cooks, Shane Harris-Tunks (Colorado University), Luke Jamieson
Departures: Adris Deleon, Mirko Djeric, Malcolm Grant, Daniel Jackson, Auryn MacMillan, Glen Saville
Snapshot: The Hawks continued to defy the odds as the league's great underdogs by finishing the 2012/13 season in third position before losing in the semi finals to the Perth Wildcats.
It is going to be tough to get back there again, though, with Wollongong already having some import drama with Durrell Summers released before the start of the season after he realised he wasn't going to be making the money in the NBL he thought he would when signing his deal with his agent.
That means that Wollongong head into the season with just the one import, Rotnei Clarke, and the combo guard will have a big job to do teaming up with Rhys Martin as the pair try to both run the team at the point, and provide some outside shooting.
Replacing NBL legend Glen Saville in the three spot won't be easy either but Tim Coenraad has been groomed for that role for several seasons now while exciting guards Adris Deleon and Malcom Grant have also moved on from Wollongong since the end of last season.
While Clarke is the only import at this point, the Hawks are looking to sign another to replace the departed Summers but for now Wollongong will be relying on local talent.
Illawarra products Dom Cooks, the son of assistant coach Eric, and Luke Jamieson are on board for the 2013/14 season as is towering big man Shane Harris-Tunks on return from college in the United States.
Wollongong will be heavily reliant on their starting five of Martin, Clarke, Tim Coenraad, Oscar Forman and Larry Davidson to get the job done, particularly early in the season, and that group is capable of certainly making sure the always underdog Hawks are competitive once again.