Manchester Giants: How much have they improved?
Last Season Finish: 11th
Makem Takem Prediction 2018/19: 12th
Key Player(s): James Jones
Likely Starting Five: PG – C. Jones / SG – McCall / SF – Bankevics / PF – Butler / C – Clayton
Concerns: Is there such a thing as too many point guards?
Manchester Giants have had a tough few seasons battling it out at the bottom of the table trying to avoid the wooden spoon. Last season they would have been thankful for the disastrous Leeds Force who only managed to pick up one win (which was against the Giants). The future, however, is looking brighter as this will be the last season the club play at the worse venue in the league, with a move to a new facility for the 2019/20 season has been confirmed.
There have been major changes in the Giants roster with only two players returning from last season. Those two players are Callum Jones and Ingus Bankevics, both of whom were critical pieces to any success that the Giants had last campaign. There are, however, some familiar faces returning from previous seasons and most notably is the return of James Jones, which will bring optimism to the Giants faithful. James Jones was considered one of the best players in the BBL when he left for a coaching job in Canada back in 2014. The question will be will that time away from the professional game as a player have impacted his ability to play.
Alongside the returnees, Giants have recruited three new faces to patrol the paint for them. Vlatko Granic hails from Croatia and will bring a more traditional European style big to protect the paint. At small forward Giants have recruited Torry Butler who is a versatile player equally able to post up as he is to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket. The final, and probably most exciting, of the three new big men is Willy Clayton. Clayton is a high energy player who just loves the battle and will quickly become a fan favourite in Manchester.
The final new face is American point guard Mike McCall Jr. McCall had a strong college career at St Louis but after one season in the G-League he played in the slightly less impressive ABA league in the states last season. He definitely has a point to prove and the ability to back that up but how does the fact that Giants will have three point guards in Callum Jones, James Jones and Mike McCall work. This is compounded by the fact that they have no true two-man. Basketball seems to be moving towards a more positionless structure but is this a step too far too soon. It is likely that McCall will be pushed into the shooting guard role but how will this impact his game when he has spent most of his career on the ball.
The Giants have definitely brought a much improved and far deeper roster together for the new season but the league has also taken a step up in quality so is it going to be enough. I think there will be issues in the backcourt with no real go-to scoring threat. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Giants raided the free agency market and brought in a scoring two-man before Christmas. They are predicted to prop up the table but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they had some surprise wins this season against higher level opposition.