Jack Purchase can unlock the Melbourne Tigers offense
Jack Purchase made his NBL1 season debut on the weekend with the Melbourne Tigers, a squad that has been the biggest surprise of the middle part of the season.
“The team is unselfish, and they all enjoy playing with each other, so it was easy to come back and join the team,” said Purchase.
The Tigers have the fifth best defensive rating, largely on the back of Dane Pineau’s elite play, but where there is room for improvement however is offensively, with the team posting some inconsistent results on that end of the floor.
This is where Jack’s arrival comes into play with his elite shooting being a welcome addition to a squad that could do with more spacing.
Given the lack of height and proven productive options in the front-court, outside of Pineau, Nic Pozoglou and Jack Bines (who has quietly been very effective in limited minutes), Purchase’s length also eases the pressure on others who have had to play up a position defensively.
At 6’9”, Purchase has a lethal three-point shot, a beautiful follow-through, and a three-point rate that we haven’t seen all too often in Australia for a player of his height.
Here’s the list of players standing 6’6” or taller over the past five NBL seasons who have shot at least 50 three-point attempts and posted a three-point rate of at least 66.7%.
Player Height 3PR 3PA 3P% Team Jack Purchase 6'9" 78.7 200 38.5 Hawaii (2018-19) Oscar Forman 6'9" 80.5 66 37.9 Illawarra (2017-18) Oscar Forman 6'9" 80.1 133 42.9 Illawarra (2016-17) Oscar Forman 6'9" 73.4 149 38.9 Illawarra (2014-15) David Barlow 6'9" 77.7 73 45.2 Melbourne (2017-18) David Barlow 6'9" 71.5 118 45.6 Melbourne (2014-15) Clint Steindl 6'7" 74.1 140 40.7 Perth (2018-19) Clint Steindl 6'7" 82.4 61 26.2 Perth (2017-18) Todd Blanchfield 6'6" 69.3 104 40.4 Melbourne (2016-17) Everard Bartlett 6'6" 74.6 94 40.4 New Zealand (2015-16)
NBL data per spatialjam.com (3PR = percentage of field-goal attempts that are threes)
Purchase was incredibly efficient in his senior year at Hawaii as he also hit 74% of his two-point attempts, clearly not taking any bad shots whilst understanding his strengths and executing his role.
Playing this way is a big tick for his basketball intelligence and bodes well for future chances at the professional level.
He’s shown that he can make good decisions when the ball is in his hands, in terms of shooting it or moving it quickly, and he has displayed a willingness to be a complimentary piece.
Given his role, Purchase only had 13 unassisted field-goal makes for his final college season (per hoop-math) but this is something that he gets a chance to expand on at the NBL1 level where there will be times when his team needs a little extra.
“I’m working on trying to play off the dribble more in NBL1 and create shots for myself and teammates instead of just throwing up threes,” said Purchase.
His debut showed off a couple of these plays.
The first was as the ball-handler in a pick and roll situation where he used a Dane Pineau screen to create and knock down a mid-range jumper over Simon Conn, whilst the second saw him make a high-post catch and attack Jesse Caspersz off the dribble to finish near the rim off the glass.
Purchase’s three-point shooting will always be the essence of his game though with this skill being the one that will keep him on the radar of teams. That shot gives him a clear role and a chance to succeed in any setting.
His NBL1 debut ended with 18 points in 17 minutes featuring four made triples.
For Melbourne, it was a narrow loss that included squandering a small fourth-quarter lead, Dane Pineau fouling out, as well as an unsportsmanlike foul called near the buzzer when the team was trying to intentionally foul and stop the clock.
Given the circumstances with key Spectres personnel missing, and Melbourne riding a six game win-streak, this was a statement win from Nunawading despite their high position on the ladder.
One downside of the missing personnel, particularly Lucas Walker (and Dain Swetalla for the second half) was that it denied us the chance to see Purchase match up against them defensively - two very physical and athletic players.
The defensive end of the floor is where Jack needs to prove himself.
Even with the power-forward position evolving a lot in recent times, it's still a position that has a lot of physically strong players at the NBL level and then at small-forward there is generally a great athlete.
“I’m focusing on getting better on the defensive end,” said Purchase.
“It’s something that I need to improve on, and it’s been a real focus for me since coming back to Australia.”
NBL teams know that he can shoot and play a role that allows teammates to find space on offense, but importantly, they will be evaluating how his physical profile might translate to guarding different types of players at a higher level of play.
Working on his body, as almost all players must do at his age, to add some more strength whilst still maintaining some quickness will be important.
Further opportunities to showcase his game will be there at NBL1 level though with the Tigers looking destined to navigate their remaining schedule with enough success to qualify for the post-season.
“I’ll be available for all the other rounds as soon as I get back from Italy (World University Games),” said Purchase.
“I’m looking forward to getting back and having a crack at making finals with the boys.”
The structure of the finals mean that the Tigers will have a ‘win or go home’ type game, rather than a multiple game series, which gives them a chance to make some noise if the young squad clicks on that particular day or night.
This will be a scenario where having an outside shooter of Purchase’s quality can add an extra layer of variance and a higher ceiling to the Tigers.