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Sydney Kings sign Justin Simon for NBL23

18 Jul
4 mins read

One of the NBL’s best defenders is back and this time he’s a Sydney King. 

The NBL21 Defensive Player of the Year and former Illawarra Hawks star Justin Simon will bring his talents to the Sydney Kings in NBL23. 

The 26-year-old, 196 cm wing is the Kings second import signing, joining import point guard Derrick Walton Jr on the Kings roster. It leaves just the final import spot open. 

Speaking from his home in California, Simon said he was excited to return to Australia and join the Kings as we defend our NBL22 Championship. 

“I feel amazing,” he said. 

“I can’t really describe it. I’m pumped and hyped.  It’s an unreal feeling and I can’t wait to get there.  

“The Kings are an unbelievable organisation. I love that brand of basketball they are playing, it’s obvious coach (Chase Buford) knows what he’s doing and I know I can fit into that system. It’s something I wanted to be a part of.” 

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Simon was a defensive force in his debut NBL season with the Hawks, winning the 2020-21 Damian Martin Award as the NBL’s Best Defensive Player, and regularly putting the clamps on the league’s best guards such as Bryce Cotton and our own Casper Ware. 

Last season he signed with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany’s top-level Bundesliga and while again winning the league’s defensive player of the year award, demonstrated his offensive abilities in Europe’s Champions League. 

He took the club to third place in the Champions League and scored 27 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals against Hapoel Holon, becoming the first player in league history to score more than 25 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals. He also set a new record for points in a Champion’s League final four game.  
“The year I had in NBL21 as far as winning defensive player of the year was great and then going into the German league and winning it again … I wanted to show I could be ‘that guy’ every night,” he said. 

“But offensively in Germany was able to showcase that side of my game and show I could contribute at that end a lot more than I did last time around.  

“I think I’m growing as a professional and that’s something more that attracted me to Sydney, the people they have on the coaching staff and the skill development they can give me.” 

Having played in Freeway Series games for the Hawks, Simon fully understands the rivalry between the Kings and Hawks and the frosty reception he is likely to receive from the fans in Wollongong. 

“You can feel that energy between the fans and both clubs, but that’s an environment I want to be in and I’m excited to experience that first game between the two clubs,” he said. 

Coach Chase Buford said Justin was “the perfect fit” for a Kings team in pursuit of back-to-back championships. 

"He is someone that can guard multiple positions and can really disrupt any ball handler. The combination of X (Xavier Cooks) and Justin is as intimidating of defensive pairing as there is in the league, and one that will propel us to be an elite unit on that end once again this season,” Buford said.  

“On the other end he is also a great compliment for our group. His ability to get out in the open floor and put pressure on the rim will be a great match for Kings basketball.”  

Kings CEO Chris Pongrass said Kings fans should be rightfully excited by the signing. 

“We’ve already seen what Justin is capable of doing defensively in this league. He prides himself on locking up the best player on the opposing team night in and night out. He is exactly the piece we were after,” Pongrass said. 

“We believe we can take Justin’s game to the next level and showing what he can really do in the NBL on both sides of the ball. Kings fans will love his energy, passion and desire to win.” 

Simon joins Walton Jr, Xavier Cooks, Shaun Bruce, Dejan Vasiljevic, Angus Glover, Biwali Bayles, Jaylin Galloway, Jordan Hunter, Kouat Noi and Jackson Makoi on the Kings’ list for upcoming season.    

The NBL23 schedule is expected to be released soon. 

Justin Simon is on board for NBL23. Are you? Click here to become a Full Season or 7-Game member

 

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