Basketball Australia today announced a new addition to the Boomers’ selection camp, but not the addition that many would have liked.
Daniel Kickert was added to the Boomers squad after Dante Exum’s omission in lieu of Todd Blanchfield, despite Blanchfield’s continued heroics on the international stage.
Todd has led the Emerging Boomers to three consecutive wins in the first leg of their Asian tour, averaging over double figures for each game. He also was a clear stand out for the NBL All Stars that took on the Chinese national team in May before succumbing to injury.
Kickert, on the other hand, failed to make his mark on the NBL All Star series. Although Kickert outshone Blanchfield in his season as teammates for Melbourne United – where Kickert shot over 50% from the field, 40% from the three point line, and 90% from the free throw line – he has failed to launch internationally despite being on the fringes of the program since the 2006 FIBA World Championships.
Kickert’s height, at 6’10’’, is not the great equalizer internationally that it is in the relatively small NBL. The shots he leisurely pops over NBL power forwards will be heavily contested in any world competition. And when Kickert’s shooting eludes him, he provides few intangibles to warrant his selection.
Intangibles, however, are not a problem for Blanchfield; he is a feisty defender, a dynamic scorer, an intelligent passer, and puts in the kind of effort that would fit perfectly into the Boomers’ scrappy play style. He has the length, athleticism, and speed to trouble international wing men and the game to be reckoned with the best Australian small forwards and shooting guards such as Brad Newley and Chris Goulding.
An argument that could be made for Kickert’s inclusion might be that Australia needs more pick-and-pop big men. One might argue that Kickert could help the Boomers spread the floor and open up driving lanes for Patty Mills or Matthew Dellavedova.
But with Kickert’s matador defense, it is likely he will allow as many points as he scores or assists.
Blanchfield is a threat no matter what end of the court he is on. He is a player who makes things happen, and is always looking to affect the game by any means possible.
In my opinion Andrej Lemanis has bungled this decision. He has included Kickert, who is yet to impress internationally despite numerous chances, over Blanchfield, who is impressing right in front of him as we speak.
Todd Blanchfield is no longer an Emerging Boomer – he has emerged. And at 24, his best is yet to come. Hopefully Andrej Lemanis can see that sooner rather than later.