If you were to name a powerhouse team in the KBL in recent years, Seoul SK would be the first to come to mind. After winning the title the previous season, they made it all the way to the championship game last season despite losing key players like Choi Jun-yong and Ahn Young-joon. Despite expectations that they would be outclassed, the team battled regular season champions KGC in a close seven-game series.
Going into next season, SK is one of the favorites to win the title. The team will be led by the one-two punch of Kim Sun-hyung (34‧187cm) and Jamil Warney (29‧199cm), who led the team to the championship game last season, as well as other existing members such as Heo Il-young (38‧195cm) and Choi Buk-kyung (33‧200cm), while SK’s leading player in his prime, Ahn Young-joon (28‧194.1cm), will return from military service. That’s not all. Rival team Anyang KGC’s signature star Oh Se-geun (36‧199.8cm) is also back.
Jeonju KCC, which added Choi Jun-yong (29‧200.2cm) during the off-season, as well as Song Kyo-chang (27‧201.3cm), who is returning from military service, and LG, which added Yang Hong-seok (26‧195cm) to its roster, as well as Heo Hoon (28‧180cm) and Moon Sung-gon (30‧195. 6cm), and Suwon KT, who will be a force to be reckoned with, will compete for the title, but many believe that SK has the edge in terms of positional balance, experience, and organization.
If you’re a longtime SK fan, you may find the team’s current form to be ‘overwhelming’. This is because, until the team won its first championship under Seo Jang-hoon, it seemed like a rising star was on the rise, but then the team went through a long dark period and suffered a lot of heartache. Of course, no team is always good. The aging of key players, injuries, departures, and transfers are inevitable, and it’s not uncommon for a team to go from dominating the league to being an underdog. If the period lasts long enough, it is often referred to as a dark period.
However, SK’s dark period was a little different from other teams’ dark periods. Despite constantly investing and bringing in good players, the team aimed to leap to the top or challenge for the championship every season, but the results did not follow suit. The team was criticized as a “grain of sand” team with a high name value but no results. To make matters worse, one after another, leaders who had performed well in other teams failed at SK. As a result, they were lumped in with the parent team of professional baseball, which was in a similar position, and became the target of ridicule. It was a very difficult time for SK fans.
There are many factors that have changed SK’s fortunes, but above all, the rookies were selected and developed well. Success in the rookie draft is crucial for a team to establish itself as a consistent powerhouse. As long as there is a salary cap system, there is a limit to the number of players that can be brought in from outside, and even if they are brought in, it is another matter whether they are worth the money 안전놀이터.
SK has also experienced many situations like, “He was good in his previous team, but why is he not good in our team?” Despite this, the team has consistently secured the top picks in the rookie draft, which has served as a cornerstone for SK to build a solid powerhouse. In fact, SK has received more top picks than any other team in the league.
Starting with the selection of Hyun Joo-yeop in the inaugural draft, the team has had three first-round picks so far. They are Hyun Joo-yup, Kim Tae-sul, and Jang Jae-seok (via KT). They also had three third-round picks (Hwang Sung-in, Lim Hyo-sung, Han Sang-woong). Of course, the first and third picks aren’t bad, but they don’t stand out much compared to other teams.
SK has a lucky ranking. It’s number two. Starting with Im Jae-hyun, the team has produced Noh Kyung-seok, Kim Min-soo, Kim Sun-hyung, Choi Buk-kyung, and Choi Jun-yong to form the backbone of the powerhouse SK. Kim is arguably the greatest franchise star in SK’s history, while Choi and Choi Jun-yong were also key players in the unified championship. Like Kim, Choi is likely to retire as a one-club man. The phrase “SK = No. 2” doesn’t sound like an exaggeration. With the exception of Noh Kyung-seok, all of them have played and are still playing as good as a No. 1.
Even with Choi Jun-yong’s departure to KCC, the center of SK’s power is still anchored by the second-tier players. Kim Sun-hyung and Choi Buk-kyung are healthy, and veteran Heo Il-young, who came over from another team, is also a 2009 No. 2 (then Daegu Orions). The 2017 No. 4 pick, Ahn Young-joon, returns from military service and is supported by Oh Se-geun, who was drafted first overall before Kim Sun-hyung. While the No. 2 pick might seem like a bit of a disappointment to fans of other teams, it could mean something else to SK fans.