As the first round of the 2023-2024 men’s professional basketball season comes to a close, Busan KCC’s performance is a topic of conversation. That’s because of their disappointing early pace. Prior to the start of the season, KCC was considered the No. 1 favorite to win the title after signing free agent (FA) Choi Jun-yong to build the best team in the country. They were even called a “super team.
However, the team recently lost three straight games and dropped to eighth place, disappointing fans who expected a super team. It’s not hard to find reasons for KCC’s early slump. “We are not a super team yet,” said KCC head coach Jeon Chang-jin, who has been saying this for years. It’s said that ‘a string of beads must be stitched together’, and while the current KCC team is ‘super’ in terms of name value, it’s not organized. Three of the top five players, Lee Ho-hyun, Choi Jun-yong, and Alize Johnson, are ‘new faces’, and Choi Jun-yong made his first appearance in six games on the 12th against Goyang Sono due to injury. It is still too early to expect a quick transition organization.
If the organization is incomplete, the team needs to find a breakthrough through individual talent, and the lack of form of Heo Woong and Lee Seung-hyun, their two trusted aces, is an important reason for the slump. Heo has been heavily scrutinized, and his goal-assist ratio is the lowest it’s been in three or four seasons. The pressure on Hwoong can only be relieved by the offense of either Lee Seung-hyun or Alize Johnson, but they are also struggling. Lee is averaging 7.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists through six games, virtually his lowest numbers since his rookie year. He still hasn’t recovered from being left out of the Asian Games squad. Johnson, who burst onto the scene by winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in the KBL Cup, looks flashy on offense, but turnovers are his fatal weakness. His 3.0 average is second only to Kofi Coburn (3.8-Seoul Samsung) among all players. He’s overconfident in his individual skills in the U.S. and is often caught off guard by Korean pressing defense, which leads to turnovers.
Moreover, KCC’s defense, especially on the perimeter, is hopeless. In their previous back-to-back losses against Changwon LG Electronics and Sono, KCC allowed 16 and 19 three-pointers, respectively. The record shows it. The team’s three-point percentage is 44%, the highest among the 10 teams. Because of this, KCC has an average offense of 91.83 points per game, the second-worst in the league behind once-last-place Sono (92.22 average). Laguna is also a shadow of its former self, with aging and complacency contributing to its poor defense.
As you can see, KCC’s shortcomings are numerous. However, there is no need to wallow in disappointment. Given the capabilities of KCC as a team, there is an element of hope that could turn things around. For starters, the return of Choi Jun-yong is welcome. He only made his season debut against Sono on December 12 due to injury, but his 22 points, four rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots in 22:52 was enough to give the team hope. Choi’s unique personality is also expected to be a positive factor in the team’s slumping mood. Choi has begun to boost the morale of his teammates with his quips, such as “I’m back, they’re all dead now”.
Add to that Song Gyo-chang. He’ll join the team as soon as he’s discharged from the military on May 15. He won’t be playing right away to rehabilitate his injury, but it’s a psychological boost to have the final piece of the ‘super team’ puzzle in place. In particular, Song’s defensive prowess could be an immediate prescription for the defensively-challenged KCC.
Finally returning home to the hot city of Busan is also a hopeful factor. KCC has been on the road for six games since the season opener due to the Sajik Gymnasium rental schedule. They will return to Busan on the 17th, the eighth game of the season. KCC, which celebrated its first victory in its first opening game since moving to the new location with an explosion of support from a record-setting full house, will now be able to rely on the cheers of its long-lost home fans. It will be interesting to see if KCC, which has been described as “still a winning team 토토사이트,” will be able to end their struggles and begin their happiness.