Straight Shot: Some Giant Changes are Exactly What Nelson Needs

Photo credit: Shuttersport Nelson

From year-to-year it seems you never quite know what you will get from the NBS Nelson Giants, but a string of changes for season 2024 are timely. Sky Sport commentator Justin Nelson believes the land of the Giants is heading into a fresh and exciting era.

Every few years the Nelson Giants flirt with a championship, and from time to time they manage to win one - please see 1994, 1998 and 2007 as exhibits A, B and C.

And when I say flirt, we're talking some serious flirtation given they have lost eight grand finals since being a founding member of the competition back in 1982.

Mind you, their last GF appearance was back in 2013, so the glass has been dry for quite some time.

The longevity of the Giants is commendable. In a span of four decades that has seen more than a few teams come and go (and others go and return) the Giants remain as the only team to have played in every Sal's NBL season. 


And while there have been some magic moments, and more than a few incredible players, you can't help but feel like you're on a roller coaster with this team.

However, I believe that is about to change. 

The organisation has settled over the last few years and a lot of work has gone into creating good fiscal management coupled with commercial growth.

A string of sell outs and a real desire to connect with the community has put all the right foundations in place for consistent success.

The Giants have become a good business, and I think that will flow out onto the court over the next few years.

Season 2024 will see a fresh approach with Sam Dempster and Tom Ingham bringing through a new local contingent, led by the very impressive and now Tall Black, Hayden Jones.

Yes, we know he's Phill's son , but I dare say pops wants nothing more than to see Hayden do his own thing as Hayden, away from the shadow of the Reefton Kid

Nelson's championship run at the U17 nationals last year, along with a great performance at Secondary School Nationals, is a sign of what's to come for the Giants.

The Giants will likely capitalise on the introduction of the Sky Broadband Rapid League more than most. These baby Giants are going to see plenty of action and develop at pace.

Coach Mike Fitchett has somewhat taken a broom to the team over the summer, a move that I think was needed.

The signature of Dan Fotu is a prized catch - kudos for the work done to get that deal across the line. 

The loss of Callum McRae wasn't ideal, but in the modern version of the Sal's NBL - you win some, you lose some.

As always, the reliance (and pressure) to nab the right imports will be crucial. Fitchett has a good eye for talent that can produce withing budgetary constraints usually but he needs a couple of genuine stars to help compete with the best teams.

Overall, I really like where this organisation is heading. It values fans and works hard to entertain them. 

The Giants have long been a staple diet for Nelsonians, but there is a really fresh feel right now. It's like a new restaurant has opened and a seasoned chef is on the tools.

A fourth title might not land this season, but with this band of young rising stars and some more good recruiting, I have no doubt some bling won't be too far away.


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