NBL22 Season Preview: Tasmania JackJumpers

The JackJumpers will be looking to leap above the competition in their first season in the league. (Picture: NBL)

Tasmania is returning to the NBL for the first time in 25 years, and the JackJumpers will be hoping to make an instant impact on arrival.

As the league’s 10th and newest team, Tasmania will be out to prove that it belongs and solidify its place within the competition’s hierarchy.

But while the club will be looking to quickly get results on the court, its inaugural season is also about connecting with the Tasmanian community and revitalising the state as a basketball market.

To do this, head coach Scott Roth has brought in a mixture of talent from all across the world, who will lay the foundations for years to come.

Last year:

While there’s no previous season to recap, that doesn’t mean the JackJumpers have been resting on their laurels for the last 12 months.

The club’s established its coaching staff and inaugural roster, while also making inroads within the Tasmanian community and establishing fan support.

It started with Scott Roth being appointed as the team’s inaugural head coach, after serving as lead assistant coach with Perth.

A 15-man roster has been assembled, with a mixture of local talent, players from other NBL clubs, and imports.

Upgrades have also been completed at MyState Bank Arena to make it an NBL-ready venue.

Biggest in:

Every player was eligible for this section, given it’s the team’s first season in the league.

But it was for that very reason that the veteran experience of point guard Josh Magette was hard to go past.

He will be key to helping develop chemistry and cohesion within the team and dictating how they’ll play, since he’ll have the ball in his hands for the majority of the time.

Magette’s pedigree as a player also makes him one of the JackJumpers’ most important assets.

He’s played basketball all over the world, including two stints in the NBA with Orlando and Atlanta.

He was also a part of USA Basketball’s Select Team this year, charged with helping prepare the national team for its Olympic campaign.

Coach Scott Roth has even mentioned him alongside the likes of Steve Nash and Steph Curry, after what he’s seen Magette do in practice.

Player to watch:

Will Magnay will be hoping to use a fresh start with Tasmania to re-establish himself as one of the country’s best big men.

He had a standout 2019/20 campaign with the Bullets, when he was named the league’s Most Improved Player and finished runner-up in the Best Defensive Player award.

Magnay parlayed this breakout season into an opportunity with New Orleans over in the NBA, though this move unfortunately didn’t work out.

He only registered minutes in one NBA game and mainly played for the Pelicans’ G-League affiliate team before being waived.

Upon returning to Australia, Magnay linked up with the Wildcats at the backend of last season.

At the time, it looked like a move that would put Perth over the top on its hunt for another title, but Magnay was down on his best.

This was likely due to him joining a new system late into the season, while also dealing with bone spurs in his foot (which he later had a procedure on).

But when he’s fit and firing, Magnay has shown what a dominant center he can be.

During the 2019/20 NBL season, the 23-year-old averaged 8.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks a game, while he also played well for the Erie BayHawks (New Orleans’ G-League team) during his stint in the States.

Given his age, size and skill, there’s every chance that Magnay gets another shot at the NBA someday.

But how he performs this season could dictate when or if that happens.

Starting five:

PG: Josh Magette

SG: Josh Adams

SF: Nikita Mikhailovskii

PF: MiKyle McIntosh

C: Will Magnay

Full squad:

Sam McDaniel, Jack McVeigh, Matt Kenyon, Fabijan Krslovic, Jarred Bairstow, Will Magnay, Jarrad Weeks, Clint Steindl

Josh Magette, Josh Adams, MiKyle McIntosh (Imports)

Nikita Mikhailovskii (Next Star)

Sean Macdonald, Serj Deans, Jock Perry (Development Players)

Tasmania’s full squad. (Picture: Tasmania JackJumpers)

More NBL22 Previews:

NBL22 Season Preview: Sydney Kings

NBL22 Season Preview: Brisbane Bullets

NBL22 Season Preview: Adelaide 36ers

Fixture highlights:

All eyes will be on the JackJumpers when they host the season opener against Brisbane on December 3.

Being given such an important match in a marquee timeslot on Friday night is a big coup for the fledgling franchise and an important vote of confidence from the league.

It’s the perfect stage to see how competitive the team will be and show the support the club has managed to generate throughout the community.

Given Tasmania’s proximity to Victoria, it’s reasonable to think that rivalries could develop with both Melbourne-based clubs.

The JackJumpers play the Phoenix on January 10, and the fact that they’re the competition’s two newest teams could make them natural rivals.

While Tasmania will get to test itself against the reigning champions, Melbourne United, on New Year’s Day.

In a similar vein, getting to play the competition’s gold standard, Perth on December 19, will also be another welcome to the league moment.

Only adding to the match-up is that head coach Scott Roth and two-time champion Clint Steindl both crossed over from the Wildcats to join the JackJumpers.

What to expect:

The main challenge for Tasmania will be seeing how the team melds together, as it’s unlikely that 15 players joining forces for the first time will instantly work as a group.

While training and the Blitz are great ways to build chemistry, nothing compares to the experience of playing in an actual NBL game.

This means the early part of the season might be filled with growing pains as the team develops continuity, which is unlikely to translate into wins immediately.

Tasmania will also be reliant on its three imports to lead the way.

Josh Magette and Josh Adams have the potential to form a dynamic backcourt and impressed in the Blitz against Brisbane.

Adams is sure to bring the crowd to their feet with his explosiveness, while Magette will run the show at point guard.

Forward MiKyle McIntosh showed good signs in the team’s first pre-season hit out and will be an important presence in the paint.

The team’s Next Star, Nikita Mikhailovskii, will be another source of excitement.

He won the VTB United League’s Young Player of the Year Award in 2019 and 2020, and also represented Russia at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.

Mikhailovskii scrapes into most experts’ top 100 prospects for the upcoming NBA draft, so he’ll be looking for a strong season to boost his stock.

The JackJumpers have also recruited two proven NBL players in Sam McDaniel and Jack McVeigh, who are ready to take on more substantial roles for their new team.

Potential concerns lie with the squad’s frontcourt depth though, particularly at center.

Will Magnay at his best should be an intimidating force, but Jarred Bairstow and Jock Perry aren’t the strongest options behind him.

This will only be compounded upon if Magnay has any injury issues again.

The last word:

While Tasmania has assembled a solid squad and experienced group of coaches, that doesn’t mean success will come instantly.

Wins will help the team’s growth both on and off the court, but they’re not the sole defining factor over what will constitute a successful season.

The JackJumpers’ main goals will be building a dedicated group of supporters and a solid base to build a franchise upon.

If the team can also develop chemistry and consistency on the court, it will go a long way in retaining players and attracting marquee stars in the future.

Tasmania will finish near the bottom in ninth, but there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the NBL’s future in the state.

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About Hamish Spence 41 Articles
Hamish writes about Aussie Rules, cricket, basketball and all things Tasmanian sport for The Inner Sanctum. His experience includes working for organisations like 10 News First, AFL Tasmania, The Mercury, the TSL, the Hobart Hurricanes and Draft Central. He recently finished a media degree at The University of Tasmania.

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