NBAussies Feb 2018

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It has been a long time between drinks, but NBAussies is back – and yes I am sticking with the terrible name!

I am going to have a look at how the season so far has played out for the 8 Australians playing in the NBA this season in an effort to help you have some talking points the next time you get into a conversation with an NBA tragic and don’t know what to say to their way too in depth analysis of Markelle Fultz’s jump shot.

Joe Ingles
Key Stats: 30.5 Minutes Per Game, 10.1 Points Per Game, 4.1 Assists Per Game, 45% Three Point Percentage

It has been a big year for Joe on a misfiring Utah team. After a fantastic performance for the Jazz in the playoffs last season, Ingles has become a permanent starter which has naturally seen his production increase. Playing 6 and a half more minutes per game than any other point in his career, Ingles has seen increases in his Points, Assists and Rebounds per game, and his three point percentage has him currently 3rd in the league at 45%. This Utah team is at somewhat of a crossroads at the moment with the departure of All-Star Gordon Hayward to Boston and the ongoing injury issues for Rudy Gobert the team has floundered. Through this, they have uncovered a new potential All-Star in rookie Donovan Mitchell. With this season looking a bit like a write off (in spite of a recent winning streak against some of the league’s best teams), the remainder of the year will be about getting Mitchell and Gobert to get used to working together and finding which pieces fit with those two and which don’t. Thankfully for Ingles, his three point shooting and defence is a perfect fit for both the modern NBA and also this Jazz team. Joe loves the organization and they love him right back, so he should expect to be able to build on the success he has had so far in Salt Lake City.

Ben Simmons
Key Stats: 16.7 Points Per Game, 7.2 Assists Per Game, 7.8 Rebounds Per Game, 53% Field Goal Percentage

The man who is potentially Australia’s first NBA All Star is having a rookie season for the record books. This season Simmons became the first rookie since Oscar Robertson (one of the greatest players of all time) to record 2 triple doubles in his first 9 career games. He was the first rookie since Shaq to record 7 Double Doubles in his first 10 career games. The only rookies in the history of the game to score at least 16 points, with 7 assists and 7 rebounds per game are Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson and Ben Simmons. It is safe to say that he is not going to be a bust no matter where his career goes from here, but the kid’s stated aim is to be the best player of all time, and if he is going to do that, he still has a lot of work to do on his shot. If he can add a jump shot over the next year, then begin to extend the range on the jump shot over the following few seasons, he is in with a chance to be a generational player. At the moment Simmons is playing a key role in the well overdue return of the Sixers to the winners circle, and while his main competition for the ROTY award has come from unexpected places (Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma etc) it is his trophy to lose if he stays healthy.

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Patty Mills
Key Stats: 24.1 Minutes Per Game, 9.5 Points Per Game, 2.7 Assists Per Game, 39% Three Point Percentage

The slow decline of Tony Parker has seen Patty’s minutes per game increase to a career high, however that hasn’t been followed by an increase in his PPG, APG or even 3P%. in the 9th year of his NBA career (and 7th in San Antonio) Patty knows who he is as a player and Pop knows his value to the Spurs. That value is his energy off the bench. Patty was given a shot at the starting Point Guard spot early in the season, but he failed to have the increase impact that the team had hoped for in that role and he has since been moved back to his more comfortable role coming off the bench and proving a spark for his tired team mates. It has been a bit of a tough season for San Antonio as they have endured playing the majority of the season without their star player in Kawhi Leonard, but they are still a top 4 team in the stacked West, and Patty is playing his part in making that happen. Mills is a national treasure and one of the most reliable players in the league. That won’t be changing any time soon.

Andrew Bogut
Key Stats: Currently Unemployed

A surprise signing for the Lakers to start the season, Bogut played 24 games with only 9 minutes per game on average – his previous career low in MPG was 20.7 in his final season with the Warriors. In a league that now values shooting and lateral quickness in their bigs, Bogut may have played his final NBA game. He goes down as one of the best that this country has ever produced with arguably the most successful career at an individual level, and an absolutely loose unit on Twitter. Bogut would be a great fit for the NBL if he wanted to play. They only play once or twice a week which would be great for his aging body, but given his career earnings it might not be a thing that he has any interest in. If he wants to extend his playing career though, it would be great for both him and the local league.

Thon Maker
Key Stats: 17.9 Minutes Per Game

Given that Maker is a project in the works, his minutes per game almost doubling from his rookie season last year is the most important stat for him. His length means that long term he can function as a rim protector that can shoot three’s at a reasonable rate (at least for a Centre) which means he should have a long future in the league. It will be interested to see what sort of a coaching situation Maker finds himself in and how that impacts his progress, but his Per 36 Minute stats are comparable to a solid back up Centre in only his second season, and with a lot of improvement still expected for Thon over the next few seasons, the future of Australian basketball is still in good hands.

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Matthew Dellavedova
Key Stats: 19.1 Minutes Per Game, 4.4 Points Per Game, 38% Three Point Percentage, 91% Free Throw Percentage

Delly’s minutes are at the lowest they have been since his rookie season and his points per game at the lowest they have ever been, but that is the product of a different role. His 3P% has improved on the big dip it took last season, and his FT% is absolutely outstanding (in an admitted small sample size). Being a Buck these days is all about facilitating the exciting young core that they have and Dellavedova knows that. He is a great teammate, and a nightmare opponent. They type of guy you want on your team, and especially effective as a bench player in a similar manner to Patty Mills, but as with Thon Maker, a lot of his future depends on what the incoming Milwaukee coach does.

Aron Baynes
Key Stats: 18.2 Minutes Per Game, 5.2 Rebounds Per Game, 40 Games Started

The forgotten Aussie in the NBA over the last few years has had a resurgence with the Celtics this year and has hit career highs in his minutes and rebounds (which is essentially his job for the Celtics). Interestingly, Baynes has started more NBA games this season than he has in all 5 of his previous seasons combined but given his total minutes are still the equivalent of a bench player that has limited value. I wrote last year about Baynes needing to re-invent his game to continue his career in the NBA and add some range to his shooting, but he has proven his value doing what he does best with the right coaching and in the right set up. It will be interesting to see what the potential Greg Monroe trade will do to Baynes’ position in the hierarchy but Stevens knows his value and I think he will still find a place

Dante Exum
Key Stats – 0 games

Poor Dante just cannot get on the court. Every time he plays he gets better and he was always seen as a long term prospect, but these injuries are just killing any chance he had to become a good player. As an Australian it makes me sad, as a Jazz fan it makes me really sad and as both it is just depressing. I am holding out hope that he can get back on the court this season and Coach Snyder will give him plenty of minutes for development once the playoffs are mathematically impossible for Utah.

Hopefully most of these players can come together for the Boomers in the 2019 Basketball World Cup and make an impact, so get on board now!