NBL Player Movement – Evaluating the locals who changed teams in the off-season

Player movement was scarce last off-season, but this time around it has been prevalent which brings about plenty of discussion. Here we take a look at the situation with every local player who changed NBL teams. Note that contract dollars are not considered in the discussion.

Point Guard

Mitch Norton

Young defensive point guard who joins a powerhouse organization in Perth to learn from the best in Damian Martin. Norton is a better scorer but Martin has the extra size, and is still a better defender, so the veteran will likely start next to Bryce Cotton. Martin’s age and injury history means that this move for Norton will still net him a strong allotment of minutes off the bench, or filling in as the starter.

Jason Cadee

Sydney committed to Jerome Randle and Kevin Lisch which meant that Cadee was not a priority and unlikely to get anywhere near the thirty minutes a game that he had been logging. The move to Brisbane has him playing under the national team coach in a back-court which is deep, but also one that doesn’t have an out and out number one option. Cadee isn’t good enough to start every night for a title contender but he’s a player who can contribute throughout the season as both a starter and reserve for a decent team. 

Jarrad Weeks 

The Breakers want to play a more exciting style under their new coach and ownership and Weeks fits that mold as the energetic backup point guard. Weeks has been playing in New Zealand in the off-season and this move goes against their recent all-Kiwi strategy. He has carved out a tremendous career with his speed, athleticism and shooting and as he’s capable of keeping the intensity up as the reserve behind Shea Ili.

Jarrod Kenny

Perth’s high standards meant that they had to upgrade the roster after the season they had and one of these moves involved getting Mitch Norton in at backup point guard. Kenny proved he belonged at NBL level during his Perth stint with not just his defense but also improved consistency with his outside shot to round out his game. Cairns are going to rely heavily on their imports for shot-creation so that leaves Kenny in a familiar role off the bench. Given his age, and the limited roster spots in the league, he has done well to land another contract.

Kyle Adnam

Lost his spot in Melbourne’s rotation to the bigger and more capable defender in Peter Hooley last season. The move to Sydney keeps his career ticking along where he will be hoping that there’s like-for-like minutes available as the backup behind Jerome Randle. Adnam is more flair with his passing than scoring compared to Randle but he is still fearless going to the rim and happy to take some contact. Realistically, the meaningful backup point guard minutes are going to end up going to Kevin Lisch or Tom Wilson.

Shooting Guard and Small Forward

Mitch McCarron

One of the elite local players last season was almost lost to Europe but it’s hard to disagree with his choice to contribute to a title run in Melbourne. Chris Goulding plays the same natural position of shooting guard but McCarron’s physicality and skill-set allows him to play meaningful minutes at point guard and small forward as well.

Cam Gliddon

Cairns had a major shakeup in the off-season with the departure of long-term coach Aaron Fearne and this included Gliddon. He should be at the top of the pecking order in Brisbane’s guard rotation with his ability to defend, shoot, and be a secondary creator allowing him to fit alongside anyone. A potential move to Perth would have likely netted him more wins but this is still a positive play as he links up with the Boomers coach who he has experience playing under.

Todd Blanchfield

One of the most disappointing players in the NBL last season. Blanchfield played out of position, shot the ball below expectations and was caught up in the mess that was the Kings. He should be entering the prime years of his career and this play from Illawarra to nab him should give them a lot of value where he can thrive under Rob Beveridge’s coaching style. The Hawks roster features some non-shooters and awkward fits on offense which means Blanchfield will need to knock down triples at a good rate.

Dexter Kernich-Drew

After rarely playing in Perth, Kernich-Drew needs to make the most of this second chance given the fact that he is a little older than you might expect. He has the three-point shooting and physical profile to be a savy signing and looks to be the first wing off the bench. The imports in Cairns will do the heavy lifting in terms of shot-creation so it’s up to Dexter to hit the outside shot and play hard defensively.

Power Forward

Tai Wesley

Enjoyed a career year in his early thirties in Melbourne with his development as an all-round player being one of the main catalysts for his team claiming the title. New Zealand gives him a chance to re-unite with Kevin Braswell, who he already has a relationship with, and provide them with an upgrade on the production of Mika Vukona. Wesley is one of the best local power forwards in the league but can also play some center minutes.

Nick Kay

Replacing Matt Knight is a difficult task but this signing for Perth nets them someone with a similar styled game. Kay is tough, more athletic than you might first think and he can play both big man positions in this league. Given that they have gone with only two imports, they need him to produce close to an All-NBL level.

Lucas Walker

Comes to Cairns on the back of a tremendous season, particularly considering the context to his initial signing in Perth. Like with Kenny, Perth needed to upgrade given their title aspirations, which meant that Walker wasn’t a priority and his best move was to come to the Taipans and be the number one power forward option. He’s approaching his mid-thirties in age but will still be tasked will a big defensive role on this team.

Mika Vukona

The new ownership and lack of playoff success last season drove a shake-up in New Zealand. Vukona is a bench option on most nights now and he will be tasked with helping create a culture in Brisbane. He gets to play under Coach Lemanis again where there should be some regular rotation minutes where he can impose his physicality and relentless energy on the game in short spurts. He has a different skill-set to Anthony Petrie but he does have some similar traits and serves as a nice replacement.

Center

Daniel Kickert

Now getting up there in terms of age, this signals a bit of a transition in Kickert’s career as he joins a contender where he doesn’t have to be the best big and can still play a little bit of power forward. He won’t have to take a bad shot on this squad so he can continue to post some gaudy shooting stats. This move should bring more playoff success for him but it also likely means that he won’t be on the floor for all playoff match-ups given the other options on the squad and his limitations defensively.

Rob Loe 

Underrated rotation player who has been better and tougher on defense than I thought he might originally be at this level. His outside shooting is a bit inconsistent but he’s a threat that is respected which, along with his defense, gives him a chance to play in a few different line-ups at center. His signing in Cairns is a good one for both parties with Nathan Jawai’s injury troubles in the past meaning that there will be significant minutes to fill.

Matt Hodgson

Requested out of Adelaide after the 36ers found success playing smaller lineups last season with him on the bench. Individually, last season was a disaster but this gives him a platform to re-build his value by logging good minutes as the starter under the national team coach. Tom Jervis had a much better season in Brisbane than Hodgson but Lemanis has chosen the younger player with more upside which you have to applaud.

Tom Jervis

Another underrated player. He’s not going to be a regular starter on a title contending team but he’s well suited to be a quality reserve who can use his five fouls in limited minutes. Brisbane did well with him on the floor which speaks to his defensive capabilities and his improved hands around the rim on offense. This is a strong play from both sides here to bring Jervis home.

Majok Majok

He will serve as the replacement for Alex Pledger. Majok is younger, smaller and more mobile so fits against more line-ups. He’ll rebound the ball well but isn’t a reliable free-throw shooter to play down the stretch of games. A decent addition after a poor season in Melbourne and there’s some familiarity for the Breakers after he spent the off-season, like Weeks, playing in the New Zealand domestic league.

Alex Pledger

Another 30+ year old who will be happy to have found a new club in a league with limited roster spots. The move is a direct swap for Majok Majok but they do differ a bit. Pledger can’t play in as many match-ups as the more mobile Majok but he does have extra size and is a more capable free throw and mid-range shooter. Tohi Smith-Milner is improving quickly and is a threat to take away some of the backup minutes just like he did last season as a development player.

David Andersen

Only an option for backup minutes at this stage of his career but he still has enough game where he can come on and score in spurts. This Hawks team needs some shooting,and whilst he can’t play the power forward spot anymore due to mobility on defense, he will serve as a nice change up to provide some spacing when he is on the floor. Fingers crossed for health.

Mitch Young

Brisbane understandably moved on and went with Will Magnay as a young big with more upside. Young is now 28 and you know what you are getting with him – he will play hard and compete but the extra athleticism of this level has exposed his short-comings for the most part. The Taipans are a great landing spot for him but in terms of Cairns’ perspective, he probably fits into the NBL picture as a short term injury replacement rather than a fully contracted player.

Jordan Mc

Written by

NBL contributor. Find me on Twitter @jordanmcnbl

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