The guessing games have begun as NBL 3X3 teams attempt to plan their draft plans, all while trying to decipher what the other nine teams will do come draft night on Wednesday, September 1.
As much as drafting the best player available at the time is important, so too is finding the right balance amongst a team of four players. Being too guard or forward heavy won’t deliver the goods in 3X3, heading to the Schick 3X3 Cup with a balanced unit will be a vital ingredient when chasing the national title.
The opening round of the draft will be fascinating with each Captain afforded just 60 seconds to make a selection. Should their time expire, they will fall one spot down the draft order. Not ideal.
And as the guessing games begin, so too have the phone calls as teams contact each other and try to gleam intel and propose post-draft trades …. “If we draft this player and you draft that player, will you be open to a trade?”
The only thing we know right now is who the Captain of each team is, and who is in the draft pool waiting to hear their name called out. Let’s take a look at who might go where, and why?
Pick 1 – Nelson Giants / Captain - Sam Dempster
The Giants have scored the plum seat on the bus and will no doubt think long and hard about which way to go. Dempster is a fierce competitor and will like the look of teaming up with Hyrum Harris, Derone Raukawa or even Taylor Britt. One other player to consider is Dempster's Giants teammate Tom Ingham, one of the stars at last year’s Schick Cup. The Giants will shape the draft via this selection.
Pick 2 – Northland United / Captain – Mike Karena
The newcomers find themselves in the spotlight with a high pick and from all reports they are super keen on Hyrum Harris and Taylor Britt. One concern remains the availability of Captain Mike Karena, who is currently in based in Australia – should he be unavailable due to travel restrictions it will mean United will need a 4th selection at the end of the draft, making this opening selection all the more important. Don’t be surprised if Jayden Bezzant or Dom Kelman-Poto is also being discussed around the United draft table as well.
Pick 3 – Hawke’s Bay Hawks / Captain – Ethan Rusbatch
The Hawks will have the tough task of having to quickly adapt depending on what the Giants and United do with their selections. Captain Ethan Rusbatch has made no secret that he wants Derone Raukawa by his side, but what if Hyrum Harris is available? Remember, balance is everything and getting a forward with this pick might be a better fit alongside Rusbatch. If Raukawa and Harris have already been snapped up, will Rusbatch look for Jordan Hunt? While drafting a forward makes sense, the lure of Raukawa is strong and Rusbatch will have his fingers crossed that the dynamic guard is available.
Pick 4 – Otago Nuggets / Captain – Richie Rodger
The Nuggets will probably be expecting Hyrum Harris to have been taken by this point and given Captain Richie Rodger fills the playmaking guard shoes, it’s unlikely that Derone Raukawa or Taylor Britt will be on his radar. So say hello to 2020 Nuggets teammate Jordan Hunt or versatile forward Dom Kelman-Poto.
Pick 5 – Auckland Huskies / Captain – Chris McIntosh
The Huskies are another team set to look for a forward and will be hoping one of their 2020 3X3 players, Jordan Hunt, will be available. If Hunt has gone, Dom Kelman-Poto looks a perfect fit. Like the Nuggets, Brayden Inger will also be discussed given his length and shooting prowess. The mid-round draft battle between the Nuggets and Huskies will be fun to watch.
Pick 6 – Franklin Bulls / Captain Denhym Brooke
With Captain Denhym Brooke set to hold down the big-mad duties, the Bulls will be eyeing a guard with this pick. The best result would be Taylor Britt or Jayden Bezzant, they look a perfect fit alongside the aerialist skipper. Brayden Inger could also work if Britt is gone, while Tom Ingham or sharpshooter Haize Walker could be worth a look after his good Sal’s NBL season with the Airs.
Pick 7 – Wellington Saints / Captain Kenneth Tuffin
The Saints will painstakingly be watching what goes down ahead of them and could be hoping that Wellingtonian Jordan Hunt somehow slips this far down the order. Captain Kenneth Tuffin is built for 3X3 and will be one of the best players in the competition, so this pick is vital to the Saints’ chances of claiming another national title. If Hunt is off the table, don’t be surprised if young star Carlin Davison comes into the picture. Tom Ingham or veteran Everard Bartlett will also be carefully looked at.
Pick 8 – Canterbury Rams / Max Darling
Captain Max Darling is a prized leader and will be one of the players to watch at the Schick Cup, so who he puts alongside himself will be key to the team’s chances. Taylor Britt would be the dream pick, but you would think the only chance of that happening will be via a trade. Quintin Bailey is a good get here and knows the Rams system, but they'll better hope to get a ball handler in the second round if that's the case.
Pick 9 – Southland Sharks / Captain – Johnny Helu
The Sharks would have been keen to secure Alonzo Burton but that won’t happen now that Burton has confirmed the news he is still rehabbing his broken hand. With Captain Johnny Helu set to carry and distribute the ball, the Sharks will be eyeing a forward. Quintin Bailey works, while thinking outside the square, taking a punt on Jake McKinley is also worth a shot. The Sharks will also be working the phones in an attempt to see if they can find a way to land Dom Kelman-Poto or Brayden Inger? That makes their pick 12 very important – could they perfect a two-for-two trade with a team higher up the order?
Pick 10 – Taranaki Airs / Captain – Tai Wynyard
The Airs will want Carlin Davison with this pick, the athletic guard with length and hops will be a lot of fun to watch. Given they also have pick 11, they can really do what they want here. Grabbing Davison and Haize Walker with the next pick makes a lot of sense and will immediately lift the Airs to the pointy end as a well-balanced team at the Schick Cup. Despite drawing pick 10, the Airs could come out of this smelling like roses.