Walton back as Phoenix rise to NBL rebuilding challenge

Nyk Carnsew |

Former Sydney Kings player Derrick Walton Jr is returning to the NBL with the Melbourne Phoenix.
Former Sydney Kings player Derrick Walton Jr is returning to the NBL with the Melbourne Phoenix.

Former NBA player and NBL Championship Series MVP Derrick Walton Jr has joined South East Melbourne Phoenix as part of the rebuilding side’s free agency spending spree.

In his only previous NBL campaign in the 2022/23 season, the American point guard earned All-NBL First Team honours and guided the Sydney Kings to the second of their back-to-back titles.

His arrival at South East sets up a mouth-watering one-two back-court punch after sharpshooting Olympic bronze medallist Nathan Sobey also signed with last season’s wooden spooners.

Walton’s one-year deal represents “another puzzle piece” in the Phoenix’s rebuild, general manager Simon Mitchell said.

“His scoring power and his game sense make him one of the most damaging point guards we’ve seen in recent history,” he said.

Derrick Walton Jr receives the MVP award from Andrew Gaze
Derrick Walton Jr receives the MVP award from Andrew Gaze after the 2023 NBL decider. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Walton started with the Miami Heat in the US-based NBA in 2017, and has since played for the Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit Pistons, as well as the Zhejiang Lions in the Chinese Basketball Association and Alba Berlin in the German Federal Basketball League.

In the NBL, he is one of only five players to have scored 45 points in a single game during the 40-minute era, doing so in a 113-112 double-overtime loss to the Phoenix in late 2022.

The Brisbane Bullets have also acquired an ace of their own in Tasmanian-born World Cup player Kye Savage, who has signed on for a three-year deal. 

AAP