New Zealand

NBL 21: Scott Hopson struggling with Melbourne United, new import

He’s meant to be one of the centrepieces of Melbourne’s NBL title assault, but Scotty Hopson has had a sputtering start to his United career.

What on earth is up with Scotty Hopson?

The rolled gold superstar who virtually carried the New Zealand Breakers last season looks a shell of the player who was named in the All-NBL Second Team in 2020.

After pouring in 19.1 points per game across the ditch last season, Hopson was wooed by United.

But, in his first three games with Melbourne, the 31-year-old has been held to single digits – culminating with a doughnut against South East Melbourne.

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His frustration was visible a number of times in the game as he went 0-8 from the field and it didn’t go unnoticed by NBL legend Andrew Gaze.

“You can get a sense that it’s on his mind now, he understands he hasn’t been playing well … his head’s not quite in the right space at the moment,” Gaze said on the broadcast.

“That ring looks like a thimble to Scotty Hopson right now.”

United is 3-0 to start the season and, while coach Dean Vickerman acknowledged his import’s struggles, he put a positive spin on it.

“We see that as a massive upside of our season start so far – we have been able to put three wins together and we haven’t got the expected production out of Scotty so far,” Vickerman said.

“He showed some body language to say ‘I’ve got to build my confidence as this thing goes through’ and he’s been good as a teammate, even though he’s not playing the way he wants to right now.”

To be fair to Hopson, United has an arsenal of weaponry at its disposal, from stalwart and walking microwave Chris Goulding, to twin towers Jock Landale and Jack White and even the vastly improved Jo Lual-Acuil — there are far more mouths to feed in this United side than there were in NZ.

Vickerman did, however, hint the Kentucky native hadn’t completely brought into United’s plan — yet.

“We know it’s going to happen, we know that once we get the complete buy in about his role and what we need to do – that’s an all-round game,” Vickerman said.

“Even though he didn’t score the basketball tonight, he’s an elite passer and he comes up with four assists tonight and we reward those things. He had a massive block down the other end, we’ll highlight things that were really positive tonight.

“We know that the eight attempts he had tonight, the 14 attempts he had last game, that’s going to turn into him making five or six-eight field goals for us soon.

“He’s working hard in practice, he’s doing all the things that are going to help him turn the corner very quickly.

“We want to see him get some of the cheap ones and we’ll try to continue to run some of the plays that will put him in the perfect spots for him to be able to score.”

His next chance will come against the Bullets in Brisbane on Thursday night.

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