By Liam Melrose and Ollie Nash
Jock Landale finished with 19 points on Monday night as Melbourne United defeated the Cairns Taipans by 2 points. Photo: ESPN
Jock Landale the perfect fit
Jock Landale has slotted in perfectly to this Melbourne United lineup. We’ve only seen two games, however his ability to stretch the floor and be active on both ends was a big reason Melbourne got over the line against Cairns on Monday night. The star big man finished with 19 points and seven rebounds on 70 percent shooting including 2/4 from behind the three-point arc. Hitting both of his threes back-to-back within a minute showed how dangerous he can be away from the ring. It looks as though Landale is comfortable with his role and is happy to let the game come to him.
Patterson needs to slim down/Delany a star
I’m not too worried about New Zealand’s 91-94 loss to Adelaide on Friday night, so let’s discuss a positive and negative from the game. Finn Delany is a star and as soon as he left the floor with an injury, the Breakers fell apart. Outscored by 11 in the fourth quarter and overtime without Delany on the court, they didn’t have the ability to spread the floor or bring the energy he provides on both ends. He’ll be a key part of their championship run. On the negative side, Lamar Patterson needs to slim down. He’s able to do so much on the court and dominates with his size and strength, but just imagine him 10kg lighter. A bit more agile and quick but still able to power his way inside. I can see so many positives from losing some weight and so many negatives come the end of the season if he doesn’t.
Bryce Cotton began his 2021 NBL campaign in his usual MVP form finishing with 27 points to lift the Wildcats past the Phoenix. Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Perth lose stars but gain reliable pieces
When a team loses their greatest ever leader, star shooting guard and dominant big man, you can be excused for expecting a significant drop off. That’s what separates Perth from a lot of teams. Will they win their third straight championship? I don’t think so. However, they know how to continue to be competitive. It’s about getting great team players that buy in to your system. John Mooney, Todd Blanchfield and even Luke Travers who has been a development player for the team in the past, are the perfect fit for this squad. To put it simply, they play really hard on both ends, think team first all the time and understand their role. With a superstar like Bryce Cotton, having guys like this around him is so important and proved beneficial in the Wildcats opening game.
There’s a lot to like about Isaac Humphries
Although he didn’t play in the NBL last season, right now he is my most improved player. Humphries has taken his game to another level in the early part of this season besides the 36ers opening night loss to Melbourne United. Since that game, he has been on fire and has helped lift Adelaide to two nail-biting wins. In round two we saw the best game of his NBL career to date, as he put together 24 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and two steals. Humphries has been known for his defensive presence, however after four games he is averaging just under 16 points per game shooting the ball at just over 67 percent. His energy has been vital for the 36ers in their two wins and if he continues this level of form Adelaide will continue to be a red-hot chance on any given night.
The Cairns Taipans have slumped to 1-3 to begin the 2021 NBL season. Photo: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
There’s trouble at the Snag Warehouse
Alarm bells are beginning to ring for the Cairns Taipans. After four home games to open the 2021 NBL season they’ve only managed to find one win, and just. If it wasn’t for a Casper Ware game-winning attempt missing the Snakes would find themselves 0-4 at the bottom of the NBL ladder. After bringing back almost the same roster from their 2019-20 campaign that saw them one win from making the NBL Grand Final, there is trouble in the Snag Warehouse. While they haven’t played that poorly the reality is they’ve let three home games slip and as we’ve seen in the past with this league, if teams struggle early they often find it difficult chasing the pack. If they do sneak into the playoffs it’s often a first-round exit. Fortunately for Cairns they’ve still got plenty of time to turn it around, they’ve got the talent and they’ve got the chemistry, however they need to act quickly before this season slips away.
Same old story for Brisbane
Brisbane would have to be the most irrelevant team in the NBL at the moment. Lost their superstar Lamar Patterson and key role player Cameron Gliddon, sit last on the ladder at 0-2 and don’t look like getting a win in round three against Sydney and Cairns. I’m a huge Nathan Sobey fan and Victor Law has been great to start the year, but that’s about it. After a finals run in 2018-19, they missed out last year in what should have been a shoo-in finals campaign and this year they have slid back into mediocrity to start.
Cover Photo: Getty Images