Bristol Flyers: Are they ready to take off?
Last Season Finish: 6th
Makem Takem Prediction 2018/19: 7th
Key Player(s): Justin Gray / Fred Thomas
Likely Starting Five: PG – McCloud / SG – Gray / SF – Thomas / PF – Vigor / C – Edozie
Concerns: Lack of perimeter shooting / Lack of Quality Size
Last year they had their best ever result in the league finishing 6th and really took the first step to establishing themselves as a secure mid-table team. Knowing Coach Kapoulas he won’t be settling for a repeat of last season and will be aiming to try and break into that top 4.
However, there are some wholesale changes in the roster with all four of their players that averaged double digits last season leaving in the summer (Boggs, Smith, Goodwin, Weary). That means that Coach Kapoulas needs to get his recruitment spot on once again and bring in players who can match (or surpass) their predecessors.
Of their new additions, Justin Gray could be one of the best in the league. He can play both ends of the floor and will bring a tempo to Bristol’s offense. He wasn’t the go-to guy at Texas Tech but he was a 36 game starter who was a big part of them making it all the way to the Elite 8. If you don’t believe how good this guy could be how about taking the word of Jeff Van Gundy as Gray has featured in the senior USA men’s team in both Americup last year as well as the World Cup Qualifiers.
If that wasn’t exciting enough pairing Gray with Fred Thomas could provide one of the most entertaining duos in the league. Thomas has a great college pedigree at Mississippi State but more impressive has been his transition to the professional ranks. Thomas had a breakthrough season last year in Norway for BK Kongsberg Miners. More importantly, he’s also improved his perimeter shooting (38.9%) which was a concern previously.
Jalen McCloud is the final import player for the Flyers and a crucial piece of the puzzle. The issue is he is probably Coach Kapoulas’s biggest gamble. McCloud seems to be a score-first point guard and this could cause an issue with both Gray and Thomas expecting their pg to be a provider. Bristol may be in a situation where there isn’t enough ball to go around. If this is the case you may see Lewis Champion take on more minutes and McCloud moving across to more of a two-guard role.
Although Flyers have got two of the best new players in the BBL is it enough to help them make the next step up and break into the top four. The lack of an impact big and perimeter shooting in the starting five (with the exception of Vigor) will cause them issues. That said they have to be a favourite to make the playoffs which will be the first year that that can be said, so Flyers are club on the up.