Record: 10-18 (Last)
Average Points: 81.0 (8th in league)
Average Points Against: 85.4 (6)
Points Differential: -4.4 (8)
Points: Torrey Craig – 15.2
Assists: Adam Gibson – 3.8
Rebounds: Torrey Craig – 8.0
Blocks: Tom Jervis – 0.8
Steals: Torrey Craig – 1.1
Team MVP – Torrey Craig
The one shining light in an otherwise dark season. After coming off the bench the last two seasons with Cairns and being a bit player, Craig exploded this season to be far and away the best player on this Brisbane team. Not only did he lead the Bullets in points, rebounds, and steals, but he was also awarded the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award and was named to the All-NBL Second team, capping off an incredible campaign.
He started the season on fire and was in second place in Aussie Hoopla’s halfway MVP awards. Fatigue, injuries, and losses knocked him out of that spot, but he continued his fine form, even when Brisbane was losing. An example of his never give up attitude was in their last game of the season, where even though the Bullets were annihilated 106-79, Craig continued to play hard with 30 points and 18 rebounds, the most rebounds for any player in any game this season.
The numbers validate this selection, as he was thirteenth in points in the league, second in rebounds, fourteenth in steals and eleventh in blocks. In a season of injuries for the Bullets, Craig was the rock that kept this team together.
What Went Right
For half the season, it seemed that the Bullets were back in a big way. The team was sitting second on the ladder at the end of round nine and had arguably the best starting frontcourt in the league.
Unfortunately, after that, the team went 3-12 with a new injury appearing nearly every round.
This means that he shot better than 50% from the field, 40% from three and 90% from the free throw line. He didn’t just make the club, he joined it with ease, shooting 54.4% FG, 45.9% 3P, and 95.1% FT and nearly created a ludicrous 55-45-95 club.
Kickert may get some criticism for not being a traditional big man but his shooting is in the all-time great category and this season was magnificent. He was awarded an All-NBL Second Team position this season, joining his teammate Torrey Craig.
After a slow first two games, Jeremy Kendle took this team on his back when the Bullets’ guards started dropping through injury. In his first two games, Kendle averaged five points and three rebounds in 15 minutes a game.
His final five games resulted in 13.4 points, three rebounds and three assists in 29.5 minutes a game. Although probably suited best as a third import who provides score scoring punch off the bench, Kendle has done enough in 2017 to warrant resigning for next season.
Kendle has already played three years of basketball in Australia so if he wouldn’t be too far away from potentially naturalising and playing as a local. Something that could interest a few teams.
What Went Wrong
Injuries. There’s nothing else that can derail a basketball team’s season more than injuries to your best players. The biggest one was Cam Bairstow how was ruled out of the whole season with an ACL injury after only 14 games. Losing a former NBA player, the franchise guy for the Bullets who, even though was limited in minutes, was playing like a superstar, is heartbreaking. Unfortunately for Brisbane, that was just the beginning.
Anthony Petrie was shut down for the remainder of the season on New Year’s Eve with cartilage damage in his left knee while Adam Gibson hurt his calf in mid-January. The team was so banged up that out of the 13 players who logged at least ten minutes of court time on average, only five of them played in every game of the season.
When the Bullets were firing, they had the best starting frontcourt in the league with Torrey Craig, Cam Bairstow, and Daniel Kickert. Unfortunately, they may have had the worst starting backcourt in the league in Adam Gibson and Jermaine Beal. The duo would regularly underperform which would waste quality games from their big men.
The team was last in assists per game (15.1) and second last in turnovers (16.1) and the only team in the league with more turnovers than assists. It just wasn’t good enough for two players with good resumes. The league is a guard’s paradise which makes the errors of Gibson and Beal even more noticeable.
Focus For Next Season
Healthy bodies. This team was a contender until the injuries hit so if they can keep most of their better players on the team then they should be able to sniff the playoffs at least.
The biggest weakness that needs to be addressed is their guard play. The four playoff squads include the names of Jerome Randle, Travis Trice, Bryce Cotton and Rotnei Clarke. Sitting at home are Casper Ware, Kevin Lisch, and Kevin Dillard. Every other team in the league had that superstar guard who could take the team on his back and lead them to a victory. The Bullets had a guy who shot 37% from the field and another one who couldn’t average more points than Cedric Jackson. Gibson had an average season but at 30 years old would prosper coming off the bench.
Season Grade: C
The team had talent and halfway through the season were winning games. As said before, injuries derailed the team so grading the Bullets too harshly wouldn’t be fair. If they can keep the team intact and add a quality guard (preferably a point guard), then there is no reason why the Bullets can’t make the playoffs.