Friday, December 23, 2016

2016-17 Moncton Miracles Season Preview

Courtesy: Brian Cormier
It’s hard to be optimistic as a Moncton Miracles fan heading into the 2016/17 season. Stability has been hard to come by for the struggling franchise, which recently had another falling out with potential ownership. Despite this, the Miracles are back for the 2016/17 season, although their return was only officially announced a few weeks ago. With the announcement came the training camp roster that Head Coach Paul Mokeski will be working with.

Last season’s Miracles team struggled to find any real success. Moncton’s woes were highlighted by a 3-12 run during March and April, but they did manage to play exciting basketball for portions of the year, eventually falling to Saint John in the first round of the playoffs.

The good news for Moncton fans is the size of their listed training camp roster. A total of 19 names are listed on the team’s official list. While that number may be inaccurate, securing a good number of players for camp is important for a franchise in their position.

* - Denotes Canadian player

BACKCOURT: Russell Byrd, Malik Story, Lawrence Westbrook, Mike Malat, Antonio "Scoop" Jardine, Darius Gibson, Vincent Dillard, Leon Sutton

Moncton does appear to have to have lots of hard choices to make when it comes to their backcourt. Not only are there eight listed guards, none of them are returnees. While other NBLC franchises manage to keep a starting point guard (Anthony Anderson in Saint John, for example) or versatile player in the backcourt year-after-year, Moncton will be starting fresh.

Leon Sutton, Moncton’s first pick in the off-season’s draft, will likely be found moving the ball around in the backcourt for most of Moncton’s season. The 6’1” Las Vegas native managed to get about 100 minutes in the D-League last season — experience that led him to such a high draft selection.

Obviously the loss of James Justice will be huge for Moncton in this part of their game, but they will still enjoy some spectacular shooting from Tydran Beaty, who actually lead the league in three-point percentage (.519) last season. While Beaty works as a forward, he will prove to be a valuable asset to their backcourt this season.

FRONTCOURT: Theo Davis*, Grant Fiorentinos, Timothy Mitchell, Vernon Lewis, Jamal Gatali*, Tyrrel Tate*, Cordell Jeanty*, Jordan Stotts, Dominique Reed, Tydran Beaty

2015/16 was a very good year for forwards in the NBLC. If the league has another forward-heavy season, Moncton could be one of the teams to reap the benefits.

The biggest standout on this list would be NBA D-League veteran Vernon Lewis. The 33-year-old forward could become a leader for Moncton both on and off the court.

Theo Davis leads off the list of centres that could cause havoc for Moncton this season. The 6’11” Brock grad has some substantial NBLC experience. Expect him to flourish in an expanded role under Mokeski. You can also expect some interesting minutes out of Grant Fiorentinos — a 24-year-old South African that comes in at a slender 6’10”.

When it comes to the power forward and small forward positions, the Miracles can expect to see some experience shine through over the next couple of months. Tyrrel Tate, Cordell Jeanty, and Tydran Beaty are the club’s three returning players from last season. With only three missed games between the three of them, they have been proven to have a huge impact on the team as the season went on.

OUTLOOK

Will the Moncton Miracles win a playoff series this year? Will they end the season near the bottom of their division for the sixth year in a row? Admittedly, just like every year with this franchise, it’s hard to say that they won’t. Nothing really sticks out in terms of talent right now.

Arguably the league’s most insecure franchise has a promising head coach in Mokeski and another shot to make it work. However, just like last year, there’s always a chance for a great individual performer to make an impact.

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