2014-15 NBL Season Preview – Perth Wildcats
Who did the Perth Wildcats add this season?
DeAndre Daniels: The second round NBA Draft Pick has been stashed in Australia by the Toronto Raptors
Earnest Ross: Guamanian fresh out of college and built like a linebacker
Asst Coach Jamie O’Loughlin: joins the team with recent SEABL head coaching and national youth coaching experience
Who did the Wildcats lose this season?
James Ennis: The super-skinny dunker signed with the Miami Heat.
Erik Burdon: Singing for the Animals, or playing in the SEABL. Not too sure
Mathiang Muo: Dude was in the team, then he wasn’t. Thanks, Earnest Ross
Asst Coach Andy Stewart: Highly liked Assistant Coach has moved on
Who will be the keys to success?
Whilst DeAndre Daniels’ addition to the roster adds scoring punch the key to the Wildcats is the depth and experience of this roster playing together. When you consider that there are only two player changes to the roster that annihilated the 36ers in last season’s grand final; the idea is scary. Their commitment to the team and each other is admirable. Oh, and it is quite a luxury to sub Shawn Redhage out for Jesse Wagstaff, or Matty Knight for NBL Rookie of the Year, Tom Jervis.
Daniels is a player that has little problem with making his shots but is known to have trouble dealing with contact and passing out of double team pressure. A lot rides on how well the Wildcats can keep this guy open. A Matty Knight screen or two will do that.
Who will be the X-Factor that could elevate the Wildcats to absurdly good?
To have a reliable scorer off the bench is a highly sought after commodity in the world of hoops. If Earnest Ross can come off the bench and add the scoring punch that he seems capable of then the season could be a long one for all teams not based in Perth. Same if Tom Jervis continues to impact the game like he did last season. Jesse Wagstaff is another one that has been sitting between the cusp on solid NBL player and NBL Superstar. If the dude can make the jump to the next level then the Wildcats could be scary good.
NCAA Final Four standout, DeAndre Daniels also plays a pivotal role in the team’s success. It is evident that the guy doesn’t like passing the ball, much preferring to shoot it. A quick look at his stats tells you that the dude average 0.6 assists per forty minutes on the court. That was the worst of any of the top 100 NBA draft hopefuls. Should Daniels go into ‘star mode’ and not involve his team in a team heavy system, watch the offence dry up.
Where will the Wildcats finish on the ladder?
Though this season the NBL seems to have made huge strides in obtaining a large amount of talent, with most teams looking a lot stronger on paper, anything less than 1st place on the ladder and another NBL Championship would be considered a disappointment.
What reason does an average fan have to watch the Wildcats this season?
1. Damian Martin: Has there ever been another point guard that is capable of leading their team in steals, blocks and boards? Getting goose bumps from hearing 11,000 fans roar with excitement after a Damian Martin chase down block is an amazing feeling. He is the sort of guy you just point at and say “That is how you play defence”
2. Jermaine ‘Dolla’ Beal: In my opinion Beal was the Wildcats best player last season, at his best in the clutch. Often in the latter stages of a game Beal took over, nailing a late shot to remove the hope from the other team or making a late play to seal the game. It is moments like these that make watching basketball one of the greatest things
3. Transition Offence: When a team executes their defence as well as the Wildcats do, you can expect quick transition baskets. We saw James Ennis last season anticipating the steal and the fast break dunk, but this season expect to see similar from Daniels, Ross and even Jesse Wagstaff who has been throwing them down in the pre-season with gusto
Next: our Season Preview of Melbourne United.