NBL free agency: JackJumpers continue to zig as others zag
The Tasmania JackJumpers are doubling down on their perceived weaknesses, and further refine their unique style of play.
Credit: May Bailey Photography
The fairytale debut of the Tasmania JackJumpers has been well documented by now. They started last season as heavy favourites for the wooden spoon, with their inaugural roster widely panned; they ended it as NBL runners up and the most successful expansion team in league history.
Time flies in sports. As incredible as that finals run was, it’s now ancient history. Attention will quickly turn to next season, with the bar set incredibly high for the second iteration of the JackJumpers. Their roster is already fully completed, with the entire local contingent and import point guard Josh Magette set to return.
Things won’t be exactly the same, though, with the team shuffling the deck in their remaining two overseas slots. One of those changes was made by choice, with the club suggesting early in free agency that Canadian forward MiKyle McIntosh would not return. The other was forced upon them, as they were quickly priced out of the market for All-NBL guard and leading scorer Josh Adams.
Despite making it all the way to the grand final on the back of their strengths, the weaknesses of the JackJumpers were also clear throughout. They were undersized in many matchups, with the six foot seven McIntosh one of the players forced to play bigger to compensate. They also lacked shot creation and scoring across the roster, and Adams’ explosive offensive ability was a major factor in the team’s success in spite of that.
Where most thought they would move to remedy those issues in free agency, they have instead doubled down on the formula that has brought them this far. Rather than upsizing in place of McIntosh, they have brought in Rashard Kelly, another six foot seven forward. In place of Adams they signed Milton Doyle, a guard with NBA experience but with less of a reputation as a scorer than Adams.
On the surface alone, it seems that the JackJumpers will still have the same deficiencies as they did a year ago. Dig a little deeper, and that may not be as clear cut as it appears.
When JackJumpers head coach Scott Roth first alluded to the departure of McIntosh, it was clear that he had one thing in mind for his replacement: size.
“We’ll probably end up changing over MiKyle and trying to get someone just a little bit bigger in that position,” Roth told SEN.
Less than one month later, they announced the signing of Kelly, a forward that stands at the exact same height as McIntosh. It was a surprising pivot from the club, but Kelly was clearly a player that they felt they couldn’t pass up on. He spent last season playing in France’s LNB Pro A, where he helped Dijon to a playoffs berth and a semi-final appearance.
“We fought hard to get him, he was actually a big commodity in Europe and a lot of teams were talking with him,” Roth said.
Even though they didn’t upsize in a literal sense, that doesn’t mean Tasmania has kept the status quo.
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