It was a fairytale first season for the Tasmania JackJumpers as the NBL’s newest franchise made its first grand final appearance in its inaugural season.
Final ladder position: Fourth (17 wins, 11 losses)
The expectations for the JackJumpers were pretty low heading into their first season, with many predicting them to finish in the bottom half of the ladder. But they blew everyone away, making the finals and then making their way into the Grand Final series.
Tasmania started the season with a bang, winning its first-ever game against Brisbane in the season opener. However, it would then only win one of its next seven games, leaving it at two wins and six losses and left many experts thinking their pre-season prediction may come to fruition.
Head coach Scott Roth had other plans, the former Perth Wildcats assistant galvanised his players and continued to instil the culture and belief he had in them. The JackJumpers then went on to win five of their next six games, leaving them evenly poised at the midpoint of the season with seven wins and seven losses.
Tasmania was without its marquee local Will Magnay who only played the first 11 games of the season before succumbing to injury, but that didn’t stop Tasmania as it continued its push for a maiden finals berth.
Largely thanks to results falling their way, it came down to the last round of the season to decide if the JackJumpers would make the finals. The JackJumpers did their part by defeating United (who had already secured the top spot on the ladder), but to make the top four, they needed the Phoenix to defeat the Wildcats.
The Phoenix were able to defeat the Wildcats, meaning that the JackJumpers made the top four and sent them into their first-ever semi-finals appearance.
In the semi-finals, Tasmania matched up against Melbourne United, which it had previously beaten twice in the regular season. Going in the as underdogs, the JackJumpers fairytale continued as they took the series to three games and won the pivotal game three, sending them to the Grand Final where they faced the Kings.
Although Tasmania was outmatched against Sydney and was swept in the Grand Final series, no one will ever forget the team’s first-ever season.
Tasmania was known for its defensive prowess, it was one of the best teams defensively, finishing second for points against, conceding 80 points per game. The JackJumpers were led by players such as Matt Kenyon, Sam McDaniel, imports Josh Adams and Josh Magette, and Will Magnay when he was healthy.
The JackJumpers also led the league for steals, averaging 7.3 per game and 249 for the season. You knew when the JackJumpers were on and playing their best basketball when they were forcing their opponents to turn the ball over, they forced their opponents to a league-high 13.1 turnovers per game.
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Despite being the second-best defensive team, the JackJumpers struggled offensively. They ranked last in the league for points scored, averaging 79.4 points per game.
Josh Adams (17.5 points), Jack McVeigh (12.2 points), and Josh Magette (11.7 points) were the only players on Tasmania’s roster to average double-digit points per game.
Tasmania also struggled with its shooting percentage, ranking last in field goal percentage, shooting 40.2 per cent per game.
The reason for their low shooting percentage could be put down to their love of shooting threes. Although the JackJumpers ranked fifth for three-point percentage, they averaged almost 32 three-point attempts per game, accounting for almost half of its field goal attempts per game (70).
It’s hard to look past Josh Adams as the JackJumpers’ best player this season as he was named in the All-NBL First team.
Tasmania got exactly what it wanted when it signed the star guard, an exciting marquee player for its supporters to come and watch and Adams did exactly that, consistently creating highlight plays.
The 28-year-old played a massive part in the JackJumpers road to the Grand Final, hitting clutch shots when the team needed his scoring. Playing the entire season, Adams averaged 17.5 points, shooting 40.9 per cent from the field and 33.9 per cent from three-point range.
The majority of the JackJumpers local core are all under contract and they re-signed import Josh Magette, bringing back the veteran guard on a one-year deal. Tasmania, however, will be without MiKyle McIntosh and Josh Adams but have signed Rashard Kelly and Milton Doyle to replace the departing import duo.
After such an amazing first season, Tasmania will look to make the finals again but it will be more difficult as teams around look to get better.
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