Super 8: What to Expect from our NBA Aussies

With an unprecedented eight Australians embarking on NBA campaigns this season, what exactly should we be expecting out of each of our local heroes? Consider this your preseason cheat sheet on all things Australian in the NBA; an outline of exactly what you should be looking for from our ‘Super 8’.

Joe Ingles

I am catching up with Ingles in LA tomorrow and will be able to share more on his situation with the Los Angeles Clippers through both Downtown and NBA Australia in the coming days.

The big thing to understand about Joe’s current situation is that there is still a lot of work to be done. He had only played very limited minutes in preseason up to yesterday when he started for the Clippers and played 19 mostly-unproductive minutes.  Ingles’ fate may ell be decided during training whilst matching up against Matt Barnes, a well-known NBA pot stirrer. This should provide a great platform for Joe to showcase his temperament and calculated style of play.

If Joey manages to secure the contract, there is potentially quite a bit of scope for him in LA. With Matt Barnes the only true SF ahead of him, Jingles could realistically carve out a ‘hit-or-sit’ roll for himself with the Clips; a role Patty Mills played for the Spurs prior to last season. Keep those fingers crossed Australia, because if the door opens even a little, our man Joey Ingles will crash on through it.

Brock Motum

Brock Motum boasts both the confidence and physical traits of an NBA talent. He knows how to find the basket and he demonstrated enough of his abilities at the Las Vegas Summer League and the recent FIBA World Cup to impress the Utah Jazz front office.   Motum’s inside/outside game is a skill-set that Utah does not possess in many other players.  Favors has reportedly been working on his jumper this offseason and coach Quinn Snyder has spoken about Enes Kanter shooting threes (!) but Motum is clearly more confident and proven from range than both of those talented young bigs.

Like Ingles, Motum still has quite a bit of work to do before ever being afforded the opportunity to step foot on an NBA floor during the regular season. He has only played in one preseason game thus far where put up 7 points, 2 rebounds and an assist in 10 minutes against the Lakers.

Brock is not one to wait for an opportunity to present, and best believe he will be hustling for every moment of burn he can get.

Cameron Bairstow

Cam Bairstow was once described to me as a mountain of a man.  Well, he has a mountain of work ahead of him.

Cam is strictly a 4 man in the NBA.  He’s not big enough to mix it up with the likes of Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol and Al Jefferson and not quick enough to be chasing small forwards off down screens. Although restricted to the four spot, I’m expecting Bairstow to well and truly make the most of it. In the style of James Worthy, Cam has a great ability to face up and go by slower 4-men and bully the lighter ones.

Bairstow thinks the game well, something that makes him a good fit in a Tom Thibodeau system. Nonetheless, even with all his ability, smarts and work ethic, Bairstow will need a little bit of luck in order to see any regular season court time this year. Playing behind Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nicola Mirotic in the 4, Bairstow will need more than a PHD to force his way into the rotation.

This season will be one of development, both physical and mental. From there it will depend on Bairstow’s ability to fill gaps and develop a better outside game if he hopes to continue to realise his NBA aspirations.

Aron Baynes

“He is just angry, like ALL THE TIME” is how Aron Baynes was described to me by a fellow teammate on the Aussie Boomers FIBA World Cup squad. The last time I heard someone describe a player like that was when I was playing alongside Andrew Bogut in the Australian State Championships.

A certain level of aggression is critical to a big man in the NBA and I, for one, love it! Baynes didn’t receive much tick last season in Gregg Popovich’s system, however he has served his time in Pop’s developmental dog house and is now approaching graduation.

Baynes was relentless during the FIBA World Cup and was arguably Australia’s best player, alongside Joe Ingles. Before re-signing, Baynes and Gustavo Ayon were almost in a one-on-one battle for the final spot on the Spurs roster.

When Australia and Mexico met in the group stage, Baynes tore Ayon a new one; dropping 21 points, grabbing 5 boards, blocking 3 shots and landing the Spurs contract.

With Baynes’ aggression and relentless work ethic, a role similar to that which Steven Adams played for the OKC Thunder last season is not out of the question.

Dante Exum

My man Liam Santamaria described Dante’s rookie outlook perfectly in last week’s #StartingFive:

First things first: if you haven’t already tempered your expectations for Dante Exum’s rookie season, now would be the time to do so. 

Whilst obviously highly talented and absolutely dripping with potential, it’s important to keep in mind that Exum is very young.  In fact, Dante will still be a teenager when the 2015 Larry O’Brien Trophy is hoisted by somebody, somewhere in June next year. 

Exum also has very limited experience playing against elite competition on a regular basis, having not embarked on a US College career prior to entering the pros.  His rookie season, therefore, will likely consist of some very underwhelming shooting percentages, flashes of offensive brilliance, a nightly struggle with turnovers and some impressive activity at the defensive end.

Buckle up, folks; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Through all the ups and downs over the next eight months, always remember that Exum possesses the physical tools and sharp basketball instincts to become an NBA star somewhere down the road. 

His navigator, new Utah Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder, has a smart basketball mind and plenty of experience in developing young talent through his years coaching at the University of Missouri and the Austin Toros of the D-League.  Snyder is under no illusion as to what to expect from Dante straight out of the gate and with the Jazz inking the rookie Head Coach to a multi-year deal, he can afford to exercise some patience while developing Utah’s exciting young core.

In that environment Dante should be given plenty of opportunities to impress without the stress and limitations of sky-high immediate expectations. 

It’ll be a bumpy ride – we know that from the outset.  But aren’t the bumpy rides usually the most fun?

Mathew Dellavedova

Matty Dellavedova has found himself in one of the most exciting situations of any Australian basketballer, ever! Not since Luc Longley hit the hardwood alongside the GOAT has an Aussie had the opportunity to run the floor with such high profile names as those headlining the Cavs this year.  So what should we expect for Delly?

Matthew Dellavedova (left) listens to teammate LeBron James (right)

Preseason has showed that Delly has all but locked up the back up PG role behind Kyrie Irving. Having started the last two games while Kyrie sat out with an ankle soreness, Delly has done his bit to impress new coach David Blatt.  Blatt has obviously already developed a level of trust in Delly and no doubt enjoys the smarts and defensive intensity the crafty Australian provides.

If Delly can maintain his energy on defense all season and knock down the open three, then he could not only find himself as the back up PG but also a crucial defensive leader to this star studded squad.

Patty Mills

What to expect from Patty Mills this season will heavily depend on how he returns from his offseason shoulder surgery.  Will we get “little fat ass” Patty (to use Gregg Popovich’s own words) or ‘Finals Patty’?

Mills will also have the extra motivation of knowing that Corey Joseph is waiting in the wings eager to rip his backup PG role, right from under his feet.

One thing’s for sure, the San Antonio Spurs wait for no man. With Patty starting the season on the sidelines, Corey Joseph will be given the opportunity to impress, and is more than capable of doing so. Having said that, Patty carved out a critical role for himself last season during the regular season and cemented it in the minds of Pop and the entire Spurs organizations during the NBA Finals.

If Patty can return to the court fit and healthy and can find his shooting stroke without too much delay then you can expect Patty to be used in a very similar role to last season. With the Spurs rolling into the 2014/15 season with a unchanged roster, Pop will be keen for Mills to slide right back into the back up PG role, providing the Spurs with the same energy, excitement and scoring punch as last season.

Andrew Bogut

The Golden State Warriors present as genuine title contenders this year and so much of their fate relies on the health and performance of Andrew Bogut.

Bogut is one of The Association’s best interior operators at the defensive end of the floor.  The Bogeyman anchors the Warriors’ defense with constant communication, elite rim protection and 7.3 defensive boards per game.

Heading into this season, however, there has been plenty of talk coming out of the Bay Area about increasing Bogut’s involvement at the offensive end as well.  New coach Steve Kerr plans to feature Bogut in more aspects of the Warriors’ offense this year; part of a plan to rely less heavily on Steph Curry high pick-and-rolls.

Bogut possesses excellent passing skills for a big man – some of the best in the world – and can be very effective when operating out of the elbows.  Expect a high volume of pinpoint high-low passing and strong one-dribble drives from Bogut this year.  Barring injury, Bogut could be in for a big year.


Follow me on Twitter @tommygreer10

Follow Downtown @Downtownball


Author of the article