Five takeaways from the first round of NBL action
After waiting five months for our beloved league to return, the NBL served us up with six intriguing round one games.
Credit: JBC Studios
At long last, the NBL is back in our lives. It may have been an incredibly short offseason by NBL standards, but it still felt like a lifetime to me. I can’t speak for the entire NBL fandom, but having the league back in my life over the weekend sure was welcome relief amid a trying year.
More than just providing entertainment to basketball tragics, the NBL’s opening round also gave us a lot to dig through, answered some burning questions, and posed a lot more. Here are five of the biggest things that I learnt from the opening weekend of NBL action.
Tasmania already have an identity…
The JJs! What a debut from everyone’s new second favourite team!
Following months of staring at their depth chart and speculation, the JackJumpers played pretty similarly to how I expected them to come out.
After signing no fully contracted traditional centre, their hyper-aggressive defensive schemes, attempts to get out in transition at any opportunity, and fast pace of play were expected. Their game against the Bullets had the second-fastest pace of the round (trailing only Sydney-Melbourne). According to jordanmcnbl.com, they got out in transition with the second-highest frequency among all teams in round one.
What I didn’t quite expect, was how obscenely hard they’d play. Scott Roth got his team playing with unrivalled intensity against the Bullets. Admittedly, game one for a new franchise is always going to carry extra emotion. However, I still think what we saw on Friday is the type of energy we should expect out of the JackJumpers going forward. With their roster of hard workers and scrappers, it wouldn’t shock me if the passion we saw on Friday was the passion they’ll display for the entire season.
With that intensity, they were everywhere on defence. Their ball pressure was outstanding, and they scrambled well the whole game, generally just making life hell for Brisbane's offence. This play, which doubles as probably my favourite sequence of the round, is emblematic of the type of game Tasmania played.
To my eye, the Tassie player who exemplified that style of play the best might have been Fabijan Krslovic. The big man played with a legitimately psychotic amount of energy playing small ball backup five. As he’s a non-threat offensively, he always looked out of place playing as a four in Cairns — it’s possible he’s found his niche in Tasmania.
The downside for this JackJumpers team is that they basically couldn’t score in the halfcourt against Brisbane. They relied solely on Josh Adams and Magette to create off the dribble when bogged down in the halfcourt.
With his passing and pull up shooting, Magette was excellent, but he needs someone alongside him who can take the brunt of the shot making burden.
Adams attempted to fill that role but was incredibly inefficient in doing so. He registered 11 pick and roll ball-handler possessions on Friday and leads the NBL in that stat, even accounting for those who have already played two games. Despite his high usage, though, he generated a putrid 0.37 points per possession on those plays, per jordanmcnbl.com.
That’s just one game, so we’ll see how that plays out over the course of the season, but I still don’t think Adams is suited to that type of role in the halfcourt.
Looking ahead, Tassie need to figure out other ways to generate offence in the halfcourt. MiKyle McIntosh staying out of foul trouble would help. Finding ways to target Will Magnay on the roll a little more would too.
… but Brisbane probably let them off the hook
As impressive as the JackJumpers were in game one, I think it’s a game the Bullets will look back on and kick themselves for later in the season.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Pick and Roll to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.