Opportunity and physicality: 5 Aussie observations from NBA Vegas Summer League Day 1

Credit: Kane Pitman

The first day of the 2018 NBA Las Vegas Summer League is in the books, with seven Aussies plying their wares and fighting for a chance to take that next step towards an NBA roster.

Here are five observations from opening day, on our Aussies and how they fared.

1. Deng Adel will need to make the most of his chances

It was an inauspicious start to Deng Adel’s NBA Summer League campaign. Just two minutes of play at the end of the first quarter, he saw an offensive rebound as the only contribution to the box score. He did drop in a nice floater to end the period, but it came just a fraction after the first quarter buzzer.

Unfortunately for Adel, it was the only opportunity he got, as he wasn’t called on to enter the game at all in the second half. In a positive for the Rockets though, they were able to take out a 92-89 win over the Indiana Pacers.

In speaking with The Pick and Roll postgame, Adel was feeling positive about his Summer League prospects moving forward, when asked if he was feeling any pressure to perform.

“[I’ve just got to be] patient, I’ve been through a lot personally, so I’m not going to quit now and depending on what happens through Summer League.

“I’ve got that resiliency to be patient and continue to grind,” Adel said.  “The opportunities are there, [obviously] I’m here now so the opportunities are going to be there.”

2. Xavier Cooks and Emmett Naar will be casualties from strong rosters

Both Xavier Cooks and Emmett Naar sat their team’s Vegas openers out, as both squads registered first-up victories.

For Illawarra Hawk, Naar, the potent Suns roster boasting several recent lottery selections looks like it will make it difficult for him to break through for meaningful minutes.

Cooks on the other hand has now suited up for four Summer League games with the Warriors, only to see the floor in just one.

Summer League is great exposure for these young Aussies to be involved in the NBA system, but the going will be tough if they don’t get a chance to shine.

3. Jonah Bolden is an athletic monster

Standing 6’10”, Bolden is the prototypical modern day athletic big. He is a power forward/center hybrid that fits the mould of the en vogue small ball five.

In his return game for Philadelphia, after spending last season in Israel honing his craft, it took a matter of minutes for Bolden to assert his authority on the contest.

Overall, Bolden did look like he was shaking the rust off a little when it came to offence, but it’s not hard to see why the hype machine is all over the Aussie big man. He looks like the real deal.

4. Mitch Creek’s physical play is already turning heads

Mitch Creek had a solid first outing for the Dallas Mavericks, playing 11 minutes of physical basketball on both ends of the floor. Not taking a backward step for anyone, Creek was even getting tangled up and talking trash to 2018 number one draft selection, DeAndre Ayton.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle made mention of Creek’s physicality when making a guest appearance at the announcer’s booth.

In speaking with The Pick and Roll postgame, Creek noted his intentions to keep playing the same physical style throughout the tournament.

“I’m just going to play my role. I’m going to attack the rim. If I’m open, I’m going to shoot it,” Creek said. “I’m going to play defence first and dive on a loose ball. I want to challenge guys physically, and if I can do that then that’s me helping the team.”

5. Mangok Mathiang has no fear at the rim on either end

The Charlotte Hornets took out their first Summer League contest over the Oklahoma City Thunder by the barest of margins, 88-87.

Mangok Mathiang had very limited box score impact in his 11 minutes on the floor, but he still managed to show his fearless approach to attacking and defending the rim.

He did miss his only field goal attempt, but got to the free throw line after aggressively taking the Thunder’s Deonte Burton to the rack in the first quarter.

It was a performance to build on for Mathiang, as he looks to improve on his rookie season in the NBA.

What’s up next?

Day 2 of the 2018 Las Vegas NBA Summer League will see three Aussies slated to take the court.

  • Jock Landale and the Atlanta Hawks will take part in their first Vegas action against the New York Knicks – 7:30am AEST.
  • Emmett Naar and the Phoenix Suns will also be in action, as they battle the Sacramento Kings – 9:30am AEST.
  • Jonah Bolden will back up his first game with a marquee matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers – 1:30pm AEST.

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