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Meet Will Magnay: The Brisbane Bullets’ emerging sky walker
Will Magnay is shaping up to be one of the big movers and shakers of the 2019/20 NBL season.
The 21 year old is coming off the back of a tremendous championship season with the Brisbane Capitals in the QBL, and after some show-stopping performances at the Blitz, there are early whispers that the ultra-athletic Bullet could be a top contender for Most Improved Player.
For a long time now, Magnay has been on the periphery of the Brisbane machine. This goes back to his signing with the Bullets as a development player during the 2017/18 season, where an ill-timed bout of glandular fever hampered his rookie season.
During his second season, Magnay again struggled to get significant playing time. With Cam Bairstow, Matt Hodgson and Mika Vukona forming the nucleus of Brisbane’s front court, there wasn’t much room left for the former Tulsa Golden Hurricane to spread his wings.
This season, Magnay has a once in a lifetime opening. With Bairstow gone, and an older and recovering Vukona likely to have a lesser playing role, the stage is set for him to step into the limelight. The Bullets clearly have faith in Magnay and are confident in his trajectory, having not signed a tall American import to fill the role of Bairstow.
The potential the Bullets see in Magnay was on full display at the Tasmanian Blitz. Against the NBL1 All-Stars, he was flat out dominant. Scoring 17 points and grabbing 6 rebounds and swatting 2 shots, the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence alumnae looked at home on an NBL court.
Two days later, he followed it up with a solid showing against the Adelaide 36ers, accumulating 5 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block in 12 minutes of court time.
While his Blitz boxscores are definitely impressive, it was Magnay’s athletic prowess that stood out the most.
Physically, Magnay looked the best he has in his entire career at the Blitz. Broad and strong, he has the physique of a powerful athlete, equipped with a light enough frame which allows him to be frighteningly mobile, a coveted asset in a 208 centimetre big man.
During the Blitz, we saw how Magnay’s speed and agility allowed him to sprint and break out on the fast breaks. He was so quick, he often worked himself ahead of the ball to receive leading passes and lobs. He even showed an ability to carry the ball up the court and finish strong by himself.
With Nathan Sobey as the Bullets' new point guard, the legions of shooter filling out the ranks, combined with Magnay's athleticism, the Bullets' transition offence has the possibility to be the most potent in the NBL.
Magnay’s ability to quickly elevate and finish above the rim was the most spectacular and eye-catching component from his time at the Blitz. The kid has some serious bounce in his step and can get off the ground in a moment’s notice. We saw this not just in his spectacular aerial assaults, but also on the glass where he was able to quickly leap multiple times to secure the rebound.
Worryingly for those guarding the basket, Magnay showed a penchant for posterising those in his path. When the seas parted and he got a clear path to the rim, no one was safe. Just ask Kevin White, Dain Swatella and Lewis Thomas, among others.
There were also some brief glimpses of his defensive versatility. On the few occasions when he was switched onto smaller and more nimble assignments, Magnay was able to keep his body between his opponent and the basket without relying entirely on his reach, a habit that can often get bigs in foul trouble when they desperately reach.
Brisbane's future is looking bright. Magnay is still rough around the edges with his defensive awareness, if Magnay can live up to the potential we saw at the Blitz, the Bullets might have an emerging star on their hands.