The Cairns Taipans finished the season in their lowest position since way back in 2009 in the 2018-19 NBL campaign. The first year under Mike Kelly certainly had a lot of downs but there was optimism across the final part of the season that should help build towards 2019-20. Jordan Gerrans gives his honest assessment in a post-season review.
NATE JAWAI (B+)
Season averages: 11 points, two assists and five rebounds
The big man's second half to the season was not as good as his first 14 games for statistics but he showed he can play almost an entire season without injury for the first time in years. Jawai is 32 and nearing the end of his career but the imposing centre did enough this season to receive another contract with the Snakes.
DEXTER KERNICH-DREW (C+)
Season averages: three points, one assist and one rebound
The bench shooter had his season curtailed by a nasty face injury just as he seemed to be finding his rhythm in the NBL. When he did return, Kernich-Drew never reached the heights he did earlier in the season. At 27, he is young enough to persist with as a rotation player but he did not cement his position in the squad going forward.
JARROD KENNY (A-)
Season averages: five points, two assists and two rebounds
The reliable Kiwi was excellent for the Taipans in his support role to the imports.
He often hit the open three, took on the challenge of guarding the opponents best guard and just made smart plays.
Mike Kelly sending him into the starting line-up for almost a third of the season shows how much he trusted him.
ALEX LOUGHTON (B-)
Season averages: seven points, one assist and three rebounds
The old dog still had a few new tricks in his last few games in the NBL.
In his four final games, he passed double figures in points as he went out in style.
Numbers wise, Loughton did not put up as many as last season but his leadership and direction in a transition year with a new coach was invaluable.
ROB LOE (C+)
Season averages: eight points, one assist and five rebounds
The New Zealand big man had some great games, 19 points against Brisbane and 16 against Perth, but he was very inconsistent.
That can also come back to Kelly playing him inconsistent minutes, also.
With Loe signed for next year, potentially he can have a more defined role instead of his minutes fluctuating from game to game.
MITCH YOUNG (C-)
Season averages: two points, zero assists and two rebounds
The power forward’s opportunities to play dried up as the season wore on.
The 28-year-old will need a massive QBL season with Logan to earn himself another NBL contract.
LUCAS WALKER (C+)
Season averages: six points, one assist and four rebounds
At age 34, the jury is still out if the vice-captain has done enough to secure another deal in the Far North.
With Alex Loughton retiring, there would be an argument to retain Walker in a veteran leadership role for another season.
His numbers were well down on what he produced at Perth the season before but so was Walker’s minutes.
KUANY KUANY (C)
Season averages: two points, zero assists and one rebound
The smiling fan favourite never received the chance to play on a consistent basis in his two seasons on an NBL contract.
His minutes were up this year compared to last season but they were still inconsistent.
The small forward will need a big off-season at the lower level to find himself another NBL deal.
DJ NEWBILL (B+)
Season averages: 15 points, three assists and four rebounds
The import shooting guard was arguably the most consistent player on the squad this season when it comes to both end’s of the floor.
Newbill is a solid defender and his 15 points a game speaks for itself.
He never padded his statistics — Newbill just looked to get the job done.
MELO TRIMBLE (B-)
Season averages: 23 points, five assists and four rebounds
The summer of Melo brought big numbers in a team that finished on the bottom of the ladder. He is the first player in 12 seasons to have 600 points, 100 rebounds, 100 assists and 50 made three-pointers in a regular season.
After his first big overseas season of his career, the price tag for Trimble’s services is certain to have risen.
Can the Taipans afford the pay increase?
DEVON HALL (C)
Season averages: 9 points, two assists and five rebounds
As a guy who was drafted into the NBA, much was expected from Hall and he did not deliver on that potential.
He is a rookie and will obviously be better next year but it was a big learning experience for the shooter.
The Snakes offence did not help him flourish either, with Hall standing and watching Trimble dribble in isolation far too often.
Fabijan Krslovic (A)
Season averages: two points, zero assists and one rebounds
The development player was not a regular but did feature in eight games.
He is too old to come back as a development player next season which will hurt his chances of gaining another NBL deal but he did show glimpses of a bright future.
He was influential against Adelaide late in the season.
Very good bench cheerer, too.
Mike Kelly (B-)
Season record — 6-22
In his own words, the rookie coach says he made lots of mistakes in his first season at the helm but there was growth in his squad as the season progressed.
Kelly signed a two-year deal in 2018 and will want to see a big improvement next season to secure a long term deal in Cairns.
Here's my take for what they should do;
NATE JAWAI (C+)
1 year deal coming off the bench & playing 15-20 mins. Should come with a bargain price.
DEXTER KERNICH-DREW (C)
Even when fit didn't regularly make his shots. If fit & carves up the ABA a bench role at best. Mike seems to like him so he must have some game!
JARROD KENNY (B-)
Was always asked to come in & save the game as the starters were always out played in the 1st quarter. Proved in Perth he can hold his own. Signed & hopefully plays good back up minutes. Not a starter but solid backup.
ALEX LOUGHTON (C+)
Was no where near as efficient as last season but had a different role. Sounds like he was a quality locker room good guy to new guys & coach. Will be missed!
ROB LOE (C)
Signed & has enormous upside but needs to bring it every night. Watch some Chris Anstey tape & get some 3 balls up over the summer!
MITCH YOUNG (D)
Was a suprise signing & needs a 3 ball to stay relevant. Can't see it happening.
LUCAS WALKER (C-)
I cringed when he was on the floor in tight games at the end. The game may have passed him. 9 or 10 spot at best. Waxy also needs a 40% 3 ball.
KUANY KUANY (C)
Fine athlete but they are a dime a dozen. Carve it up with the Marlins and maybe....
DJ NEWBILL (B+)
Played with passion & effort for the last month in a contract year. I like his game & in a perfect world would be a perfect 6 man. One year deal!
MELO TRIMBLE (A+)
Outstanding player & it's possible to say we would't have won a single game without him. I also think he can improve defensively. A must keep but needs more A grade talent around him! Chq book will be thrown at him but hopefully stays loyal.
DEVON HALL (D)
At times looked lost in the offence & is too much a one trick pony. Easily scouted & struggled to create his own shot once perimeter game guarded. If he was an aussie i'd have him on the bench & develop but not close to a pro yet. NBA - no way!!
Fabijan Krslovic (?)
Never heard of him!
Mike Kelly (C)
Season record — 6-22
Mike is an outstanding person & obviously a players coach & former champion. I've never seen a pro organisation struggle so much in the 'W' column & not call for the coaches head! That is the character & respect of Mike Kelly! I thought at times he made mistakes especially with plays called in the clutch (he admits this), & i also thought he could have put more experience next to him (Geordie Mcleod lives in Cairns)comes to mind. In saying that we are all excited up here to see what he brings to the table next season. Coaching takes time. I'm glad the club have not been trigger fingers. I, however, would not like to be in his shoes if they are 1-6 or the like to start next season.
Cairns were the ABA Marlins with Trimble & possibly Newbill. There record suggests this also. Does Mike have a few tricks up his sleeve recruiting wise or the budget to pull it off? I think he needs 3 quality starters. Easier said than done...
NATE JAWAI (C)
Can see Cairn a going after him hard unfortunately. Christ knows why, there has to be a better 5-man out there for the money he's on. Even if he's fit and healthy cany help but think the modern game is evolving beyond what he's able to offer.
DEXTER KERNICH-DREW (D)
Had bad luck with injuries but was essentially a budget desperation signing to pad out the roster last year. offers nothing that a younger college grad couldn't provide.
JARROD KENNY (B-)
Got better as the season went on. Solid back up to a stud PG and will lead the bench next year. Can see him being captain by default if walker isn't re-signed.
ALEX LOUGHTON (C)
Captain my captain! Hope he gets to enjoy a few beers watching from the sidelines.
ROB LOE (C)
Huge disappointment for me. Never managed to become the outside threat that he was recruited to be and made too many silly mistakes in the paint. Needs to spend the off season learning to hit the 3 under pressure.
MITCH YOUNG (F)
When he was announced as a signing last year I was sure our season was going to be fucked. May well have another big season in the qbl but so will any 6'7" bruiser who can outmuscle other semi-pros. if he's brought back I'm tearing up my season ticket.
LUCAS WALKER (C)
Have always rated his character and I really want to like him as a player but hasn't offered enough this year beyond locker room leadership. wouldn't be too surprised if he comes back for one more year in a leadership role but not sure this would be a great move.
KUANY KUANY (C)
Nice guy but time to move on. bring in some new blood on the bench.
DJ NEWBILL (B-)
Agree, strong 6th man candidate for next year. Not afraid to take big shots but as they say in top gun, a lot of the time his ego's writing cheques that his body can't cash.
MELO TRIMBLE (B+)
No way he stays, just too good and too much potential to come back. He's no scottie wilbekin though.. the Taipans only really started winning when Melo started playing some D and sharing the ball round. if he's re-signed I hope it happens early in the off-season and gives Kelly the chance to build a team around him rather than slipping him in mid-August into a finalised group.
DEVON HALL (C)
I place a lot of the problems at the start of the season on DH's struggles. if we'd signed a decent 3 and D guy to put next to Melo this season could've been a lot different. I've always wondered if that was what Kelly had in mind and then someone offered him a genuine Nba draft pick and he got a bit starstruck.
Fabijan Krslovic (C+)
Didn't get a lot of chances but took advantage of the minutes he got when he finally got them. if he has another big year in the qbl retain as our 11th man.
Mike Kelly (?)
Reserving judgement until I've seen what he can do with a full lead in into off season. if next year's roster can't get them mid-table at the worst he'll be gone. but great character and someone who clearly backs and respects his players. I'm crossing everything that he can pull it off.
One consistent theme in this thread is that Devon H was a spud.
Most unlikely he will be back so saying I somewhat disagree is pretty irrelevant.
And he definitely offered no "Future NBA" presence on court.
*he was an absolutely excellent stopper and his fails were often rotational fails by others, leaving him exposed. A lot of his defensive contribution showed up one and even 2 ball movements after the ball went through his cover area. Pretty assured Lemanis would not be joining those grading him down, defensively at least
*he was an eminently safe offensive player, unselfishly forwarding the ball well to open opportunity
*he knew all the plays, and knew when the system was breaking down
*he took responsibility, especially for his own slip-ups
*that makes him the vital team player, someone that Walker will never even aspire to be
*that makes him someone that is left on the court for more minutes than score-power would suggest.
For one, I'll be sorry to not see him return to The Orange.
Greybouy he needs to be able to create his own shot though. He is a long, quick defender & looks great when left alone on the perimeter & drains his shots. This didn't happen enough though. He has youth on his side. He wouldn't have lasted the year on any other roster unfortunately.
Mike Kelly should have received an F.
Given in the past you were critical of Fearne's record as coach and then later (when it suited you) you were very complimentary of his record and given you recently praised Loughton on his retirement and then not long after you said his greatest achievement was getting Beecroft to pay him the season he has just completed, I look forward to you posting in the near future about how good a job Kelly did in his first season of coaching!
A- for Jarrod Kenny pretty much says it all for the 'journalist'
Perhaps A- is a tad too high, however Gerran's summary of the reasons for giving him that are spot on. Kenny was very good, particularly in the 2nd half of the season. He won the Coach's award at the end of season dinner.
In general, although some of Gerran's markings were a bit wonky, I thought most of the comments he made were reasonable enough. Trimble was entitled to an A- at least, I would have thought, and Krslovic should have received a similar mark to Kuany (C). Kuany did well when given minutes and was named Player's Player at the end of season awards night on Friday night.
The C mark that Gerrans gave Hall ( rather than a D others think he should have got) was warranted imo and I agree with Greybuoys comments in his post. Once he settled in, Hall was a solid all round contributor. Having Trimble and Newbill at the 1 and 2 spots limited his scoring opportunities I felt although he could have been more aggressive at the basket at times. He looked ok when he did that, I thought.
I also feel that Jawai offers a bit more to the team than most posters seem to think. Overall, he had a solid season and I wouldn't have a problem if he was signed for another 2 seasons. Yes, we pay overs for him but remember the Taipans do not pay all of this themselves. It's not like there are better options out there.
Where Kelly is concerned, taking everything into consideration, I thought he did a good job, with the 2nd half of the season being a big improvement on the first half. Next season will tell more about whether he will be a good long term coach.
As far as next season goes, I think bringing in a good import 4 and finding a decent Australian player to fill the 3 spot would help greatly. The latter is easier said than done though.
I have no idea who's contracted, so for the sake of argument I'll ignore that.
Ciarns had a couple of good imports, but with them it always seems to be more a case of who they find for next season rather than anybody returning. The irony being they may keep Hall, if they see promise, whereas the others will move on to greener pastures.
On the whole, their dumpster diving did not pay dividends. They would have been better off targeting youth.
Was an important part of 2 championships at Perth. He's a great backup PG, and its hard to fathom that he had to wait so long for a shot. He could persist as a backup option for another seasosn or two, but at some point they want a young gun to step into that role.
No, next. Occasionally he will wander on to court and bomb a few threes, but in between he does nothing much.
It was great to see Waxy have a resurgence late in his career, and even win a Gold Medal. But he's well past it. A team like Cairns can't afford to have too many "11th man" type players. Maybe give him another year if they're scraping.
Great QBL player.
Everyone seems to love this guy, but times running out
I thought he looked impressive at times. I think he's a good foil for Nate
Supposedly he returned home to play for Cairns, fo less than he could have received elsewhere. He had a good season, so provided his salary is reasonable, you'd think he'd be chosen as Captain.
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