Should these three NBL teams be looking at early roster tweaks?
Unlike the NBA, the NBL season passes quickly. Speed is of the essence.
Credit: May Bailey Photography
With the NBL Blitz now in the books, and Round 1 also completed, an early assessment of roster dynamics beyond hypothetical strengths and weaknesses from a depth chart can begin.
For some teams, early returns are promising. For others, some glaring weaknesses are rearing their heads early. Within the short timeline of an NBL season, proactively addressing roster flaws can be the difference between making the cut for finals. Here are three teams that could do with a shake up.
While the Tasmania Jackjumpers have headlined offseason discourse surrounding the NBL wooden spoon race, my personal favourite is the Cairns Taipans, and not just because of the group’s 15 point loss to the aforementioned team last Friday.
68 points in their opening clash wasn’t the team’s best offensive outing. For a team that failed to eclipse 90 points in all their preseason warmups however, it could be the start of an ongoing trend of offensive ineptitude. Over the preseason, Cairns shot 42.6% from the field and 32.7% from three. These suboptimal shooting splits were pretty easy to forecast, looking at the roster built over the offseason. It’s not because the individual spacing talent isn’t there, but because the lack of firepower is stretching players beyond their ideal offensive roles.
In the 2019-20 NBL season, Scott Machado was heaped with praise - his healthy balance of scoring and facilitating on a fun, finals destined Taipans roster leading him to accrue NBL First Team honours and a sniff at the MVP award to boot. During that season, Machado averaged 16.6 points, 7.7 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game, shooting 45.6% from the floor and 39.8% from three.
Last season, however, a similar roster would put together, minus the talents of leading scoring DJ Newbill on the wing. Despite an increase in usage rate, Machado would end up scoring less, averaging 15.6 points per game on 41.1% from the field and 36.6% from three.
Whilst Machado has demonstrated his tremendous impact in the right role, being the team’s go to scoring option is not a void his skillset is built to fill, and a similar burden has been placed upon the guard this season, with similar results; Machado going 1-12 from the field, including 1-10 from three, in the team’s opener against Perth.
The Taipans simply need more firepower. Import Tajhere McCall appears to be the team’s second option up to this point - a concerning development given McCall was brought in to be a defensive stopper. While his offensive production has appeared to outweigh his reputation on that end of the court so far, his form over his career suggests it is unlikely to hold up, given his averages of 6.1 points per game (41.1% FG, 23.1% 3PT) for Orléans Loiret Basket last season, and 11.2 points per game across 4 NBA G League seasons (48.3% FG, 26.2% 3PT).
One potential solution?