Should he be in the NBL? A look at NZNBL talent
Exploring the best potential NBL talents playing across the ditch this NBL offseason.
As we continue the search for new NBL talent this free agent period, it pays to be diligent, and that means scouring the player pool of those in the New Zealand NBL for potential contributors.
Most existing NBL talent, such as Taane Samuel, Jordan Ngatai, Rob Loe, Sunday Dech, Sam Timmins, Isaac Davidson, Hyrum Harris and more are excluded from this list due to NBL fans existing familiarity - instead, I’ve chosen to highlight a few key potential NBL returnees or prospective debutants.
He may not be a familiar name to all in Australia just yet, but Dontae Russo-Nance is one of our region’s most exciting young talents.
In 2019, Russo-Nance was selected to play for Asia Pacific at the Junior NBA Global Championships, and since then has been tracking as a potential NBA ceiling prospect. Stagnated physical development has left the guard standing undersized for NBA standards - he’s listed between 6’1 and 6’3, depending on your source. In terms of NBA stock, the lack of size —combined with a lack of burst around the floor or athletic pop— impedes his ultimate upside, making him more likely a target for NBL teams going forward, where his touch, ball handling and shot making prowess make for a potentially significant professional piece down the road.
The 2005-born Russo-Nance made his pro debut last season, having only just turned 16 at the time. His youth proved to be no barrier, as he averaged 11.5 points per game as a starter for the Auckland Tuatara. His play would result in him coming second in the league’s Youth Player of the Year award to his college-bound teammate Zach Riley, who has now finished up his freshman season with Fordham University.
Six games into this season, and Russo-Nance has taken a further step up.
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.