The next chapter: Jason Cadee on his latest NBL journey with the Bullets

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 27: Jason Cadee of the Bullets looks on during the round three NBL match between the Illawarra Hawks and the Brisbane Bullets at Wollongong Entertainment Centre on October 27, 2018 in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images via Brisbane Bullets)

Life is never easy, but Jason Cadee is never one to quit. Now several games into the latest chapter of his NBL career with the Brisbane Bullets, the former King is relishing the new –and often uncomfortable– challenges that lie ahead.

In April, he officially became a Bullet, signing a three-year deal with the Brisbane club. It wasn’t the first time Cadee switched clubs, however. In 2010 he began his NBL career with the now-defunct Gold Coast Blaze. He made the switch to the Adelaide 36ers two years after, and in 2014 he returned to play for his hometown Kings.

Change is often the only constant in life, and it’s the same for professional sports – players quickly learn to expect the unexpected. A situation can quickly change, and what once was home can become foreign territory in an instant. After four seasons with the Kings, Cadee was reminded that stability is a luxury few players are gifted with. “If you had spoke to me earlier this year, I [would not] think I was going to leave Sydney, and then all of a sudden I do,” Cadee said. “It becomes a business really quickly in this day and age.”

Now with his fourth NBL team, Cadee knows all too well the realities of being a player in the modern basketball environment. “I grew up playing for the same rep club, same local club week in and week out and I thought that’s just how it works, you play for the same club and it’s all good, but that’s obviously not how it works. That’s part of being a professional athlete and it’s something you do have to get used to.”

With the Bullets, Cadee is now a part of a team that’s establishing their reputation in the NBL. Despite being one of the newest additions, the 27-year-old has become part of the leadership nucleus that’s shaping the club’s culture. “I’ve come into a group that’s got numerous team captains from different clubs. We’ve got Adam Gibson who’s been a captain at different clubs and with the Bullets, Mika Vukona who’s got a lot of experience, and Cam Gliddon who was captain of the Cairns Taipans.

“So I wouldn’t say I’ve come in and be the leader, I’ve just come in to help those guys.”

Part of being a leader is accepting, and even embracing healthy confrontation. It’s something Cadee was anxious about at first. “Keeping people accountable and challenging people was probably one of my biggest challenges. I am a guy who likes to be around all the boys and I like having that informal relationship with people. We are lucky with our group that people take what is said on board and move on. We all know we are here to try and help each other. It’s a pretty good feeling.”

Considering the fact they finished with the wooden spoon last season, the rebuilding Brisbane Bullets are off to a solid 4-4 start and are currently fifth on the ladder. Cadee isn’t content to sit where they are now, and he’s confident on improvement as the team continues to gel. “I think for us, it’s about consistency. We haven’t been around each other for that long and we are still developing. I think we are slowing getting there and we are seeing some good signs.

“Consistency is the biggest thing we need to improve, and I think that will come as we grow together.”

Personal consistency is something else Cadee hopes will eventually materialise. The offensively-minded Brisbane guard, who had some big shooting nights last year with Sydney, is in the middle of a frustrating shooting slump. Currently shooting 26% from three and 33% from the field, Cadee is in the worst shooting form of his career, a fact he’s not shying away from.

“I’ve shot the ball horribly so far this year, which I’ve been disappointed in. It’s a weird one because I feel like I’m actually playing really good basketball; I’m just not shooting the ball as well as I have in the past. So although I’m happy with the way I’m playing I’m also acutely frustrated with the shooting side of things. But that will come, that’s just how it is.”

He has every right to feel confident in his all-around game. Cadee’s shooting is in a trough, but his playmaking is quite literally peaking – his 4.2 assists per game are the highest they have ever been. While his shooting woes continue, he is taking great pride in setting up his teammates to be successful. “I feel like I really helped guys like Reuben [Te Rangi] and Cam [Gliddon] get good looks this year and put them in spots where they can be successful. Part of my growth is doing that with everyone; knowing where I can put people to get them a shot that they want. The next part for me will be to also start contributing offensively and just get back to being myself and shoot the ball with confidence.”

Time has a habit of fixing slumps. It’s only a matter of time before we begin to get glimpses of the man who dropped 30 points on the New Zealand Breakers last February. As much as anyone else, Cadee is eagerly awaiting for the day his shooting touch returns.

Since his move to Queensland, the Sydneysider has greatly matured as a player, both on and off the court. He’s had to come to grips with the fact that sometimes, it’s necessary to put friendship aside and accept the uncomfortable burdens of leadership for sake of the team’s health. Cadee’s short time with the Bullets hasn’t been without its obstacles. His departure from Sydney in April was unexpected, yet he remains optimistic that his new home is a place he can thrive and build something he’s proud of.

“[Brisbane] is different, but I’m loving it.”

Oliver Kay

Written by

Freelance sport journalist with a love for all things basketball.

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