In the off-season, the 36ers had a similar experience, signing former Breaker BJ Anthony. After promising so much early in his career, he went from an end-of-the-bench guy to a not-even-in-the-league guy. Loads of ballers have gone this way but BJ grinded in the NZNBL with such impressive results he found himself back in the league and back on his country's national team. Now he might just prove to be one of the finds of the year.
For years, Adelaide has struggled to find a quality second back-up big man. In recent years, Wade Helliwell and Pero Vasiljevic have fulfilled the role with limited success. This year, Adelaide has put it hopes in BJ and so far he's looking very, very good.
Last year, Adelaide started DJ and Big Luke at the 4 and 5...with limited success. Luckily they had Anthony Petrie coming off the bench, who had a career year. When Schensch started missing games with injury, Adelaide's depth was exposed with only Pero and the undersized Jan Warbout in reserve.
This year, I figured DJ and Schensch would again start. Whether Luke's injury had an impact or not, coach Joey Wright will instead turn to DJ and Peach with Luke likely to be used conservatively off the bench during the regular season. If Schensch does have to be nursed through, Anthony will likely see a lot more minutes than originally planned.
In my podcast with Dean Parker last week (which you can listen to on the player on our site, on I-Tunes or here ), I predicted BJ would likely have some games where he'd get spot minutes and others where he'd get solid minutes if our bigs got in foul trouble and could score in the 15-18 range. In the hit-out against the SBL All-Stars, BJ's shot was off but he pulled down 10 boards. In this week's clash against Perth, BJ got the call up when DJ and Petrie both got in early foul trouble and scored 19 points in just 27 minutes. Those points came at an efficient 6-9 from the field and he could have easily had a 20 point game if he shot better than 7-14 from the line. He also hauled in an impressive 8 rebounds.
Like DJ, BJ is comfortable either inside or outside and scored those 19 without taking a three point attempt. In some games he will be forced to stay down low and grind and look to create off misses. Other times he'll have the luxury of drawing his defender outside and utilising his much-improved three point shot.
It's early days but don't be surprised if Anthony becomes a match-winner several times this year for Adelaide and not just a towel-waving cheerleader..