Free Agency Analysis: July 28

With free agency underway, NBL Media’s Liam Santamaria is taking a look at each and every signing and breaking down what it all means ahead of #NBL21.


Signed by: The Hawks

The deal: One year

Age: 27

2019-20 team: ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)

2019-20 stats (per game): 10.8 points, 2.2 assists, 42.4 FG%, 38.8 3P%, 92.1 FT%

Projected role: High-scoring combo guard.

Quote: “My eyes have always been on the NBL. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. Playing for a great coach (Brian Goorjian), a great organisation, so I felt like it was the right move for my wife and I and for my basketball career to take this opportunity.” – Tyler Harvey

My take: Okay, so this guy is a genuine bucket. I mean, anyone who has a 58-point night in the G League can really fill it up and his ability to make shots will work well alongside Deng Adel’s slashing offensive game.

A 6’4 combo guard, Harvey turned himself into something of a Steph Curry-esque scorer in college. In fact, his rise to prominence at Eastern Washington is a pretty phenomenal story as he developed from a walk-on (who redshirted his freshman year) to become the nation’s top scorer as a senior.

From there Harvey has played a couple of years in the G League as well as stops in Italy, France and, most recently, Germany where he played in both the BBL and the EuroCup.

Similarly to how the Wildcats use Bryce Cotton, I expect Harvey will play minutes at both guard spots for the Hawks throughout NBL21. He’s a shoot-first scorer – he won’t lead the league in dimes – but with his herky-jerky game he can definitely get into the paint and make plays off the bounce.

What Harvey does best is make shots and, if Goorjian gives him the green light, he has the potential to lead the league in scoring. Will he? Well that’ll come down to consistency, something that’s been a little bit of a question mark over his pro career thus far. He’ll almost certainly win a few games for the Hawks off his own hot hand – kind of like how John Roberson did for the Phoenix last year. If he can fill it up night after night, the Hawks will have landed themselves a stud.


Signed by: South East Melbourne Phoenix

The deal: Two years (player option final year)

Age: 24

2019-20 team: San Diego State University

2019-20 stats (per game): 11.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 59.2 FG%, 31.8 3P%, 64.2 FT%

Projected role: Back-up big.

Quote: “We just feel like the sky’s the limit with the kid. He’s going to come in and be able to contribute straight away but also down the line he’s going to be an even better player and I feel like his impact on the game is going to be rather large for us.” – Simon Mitchell (SEM Phoenix head coach)

My take: This signing will fly under the radar but it’s actually a sneaky-good one by South East Melbourne. A 6-foot-10 big man with plenty of upside, Wetzell projects to become a really good pro.

After an impressive senior year of college ball, a number of NBL teams have been chasing the young Kiwi – including, of course, the Breakers – and there was a growing belief among some that he was likely to head to Europe. Thankfully, however, he’s chosen to begin his pro career in the NBL.

Wetzell plays with great energy, sets hard screens, runs the floor tremendously well and can get out and slide his feet as a pick-and-roll defender. He also has good touch and possesses an effective stroke from long range. I mean, it takes him a while to get his shot off but he can definitely knock it down.

It’s worth noting, too, that the 24-year-old only began playing organised ball when he was 17. It was then that he shifted his focus from Tennis, a sport in which he’d received a world junior ranking. With that in mind, Wetzell’s potential for growth is actually really intriguing. I see shades of a young Aron Baynes in how he goes about it, particularly in terms of his motor and the honest effort he gives at both ends of the floor.

Wetzell will come off the bench to begin next season but will likely see minutes at both the four and the five over the course of the year. How many minutes? We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of SEM’s roster shakes out. One thing I’m confident of: in three or four years this guy is going to be really, really good.


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