NBA media day has come and gone, and our Aussies have had their say. Typical soundbites aside, did they give any clues on their mindset in the coming season, and what their focus will be?
Here’s a quick roundup.
1. Ben Simmons knows where he is at
It’d be easy for Ben Simmons to get ahead of himself. The Aussie has a lot going for him. He took home Rookie of the Year, helped guide the 76ers to the playoffs, has an entire country behind him and heck, the guy even dated (is dating?) a Kardashian.
However, if what he said at media day is anything to go by, he is staying grounded. He told the press he had been working on his jumpshot, one of the few faults in his game, but also told them he knew he wouldn’t “come in and hit threes this season.”
We all know sky’s the limit for Simmons and he probably knows it too. But for the moment, he is taking on his teammate’s advice and trusting the process.
2. Thon Maker doesn’t want to be known just as a centre
(Note: Maker didn’t speak to the press on media day, he did it on the first day of training camp.)
When asked about the signing of Brook Lopez, Thon Maker’s shoulders didn’t droop, nor did his tone. In fact, he went the other way. He got excited, because he saw it as an opportunity to play more minutes at the four position. It makes sense as well with Jabari Parker having moved to Chicago, and it would make for a scary and long 3-5 lineup of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Maker and Lopez.
It’s unclear as to exactly what new head coach Mike Budenholzer will do with the Aussie, but with defence likely to be a major focus, Maker could find a handy role for himself this upcoming season.
"What's being asked of me is, to bring that playoff performance of the last few years into the regular season. So that's going to be my challenge."
Thon Maker On Training Camp Day One: pic.twitter.com/6FhdjptoS2
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) September 26, 2018
3. This could be Dante Exum’s breakout season
There seems to be a quiet air of confidence about Dante Exum that we may not have seen a whole lot of in recent times. Despite the Jazz drafting another guard in Grayson Allen, Exum seemed very positive at media day, knowing that he can build off a strong finish to last season.
For many looking in from the outside, Exum is edging closer and closer to being labelled a bust. The former pick No. 5 is yet to hit his stride in the NBA, and we all know how quickly people like to judge.
However, with momentum heading into the season, this year has a different feel to it for Exum and could very well be a breakout one for him.
4. Aron Baynes is still a deadset legend
There is nothing quite like hearing a shoey explained to Americans. During Celtics media day, Baynes was asked by a host about the new-found Aussie tradition of a shoey. Of course, the big man was more than happy to explain the bizarre phenomenon to them and did so with aplomb.
Shoey on everyone.
— NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) September 25, 2018
5. Patty Mills is the heartbeat of the Spurs
(Spoke to the media at training camp.)
We already thought this, but when Patty spoke to the media, it just reaffirmed everything. He was quizzed about the changing of the guard and the Aussie acknowledged that he is the bridge of the playing group between the golden era of Duncan, Ginobili and Parker and the new batch of Spurs.
It made abundantly clear that Mills is the heartbeat of San Antonio in the NBA and he knows it. He has always been a heart and soul guy, which is why he is loved by fans, coaches and players alike. With the rise of Dejounte Murray, it’s unclear as to what role Mills will take on the court but you can bet that behind the scenes, he will be a true leader.
6. Ryan Broekhoff will be a fan favourite
New Aussie in the NBA, Ryan Broekhoff, sat down with the crew from Mavs.com on media day and immediately made an impression. He got along well with the presenters and showed off his personality.
Now this might seem like something minor, however Broekhoff is fresh into the league and will do himself plenty of favours if he can be a well-respected and well-liked character around the franchise.
The combo of three and ‘D’, along with being a great bloke should see the former Frankston Blue be an instant fan favourite amongst the Mavericks faithful.
7. Jonah Bolden’s future is in his own hands
6’10”, athletic and versatile. Jonah Bolden is the prime NBA athlete and he knows it’s on him to deliver. Talking at the 76ers media day, Bolden told the press that coach Brett Brown had outlined that consistency was the key for him.
If the son of former legend Bruce Bolden can add consistent shot making to his game, it will be impossible for Brown to not give him minutes as he will be an absolute weapon.
“My biggest thing is tying my personal goals into the team goals and that is getting better in just my shot, consistency, physical attributes, getting bigger, stronger and knowing my role,” he said.
It’ll be a case of “focus on yourself to help the team” for Jonah Bolden in 2018/19.
8. Matthew Dellavedova is in new territory
Delly had a tough season last year, with injury playing a massive part. He has never had to come back from a season like that in the NBA and he knows it.
“It was definitely tough last year dealing with those injuries that I’ve never had to deal with in the NBA. It was obviously very frustrating, but obviously it was very challenging to just try and get better, improve, and make it back by the playoffs,” he explained to the press on media day.
We know Dellavedova is as tough as they come, so we’re expecting to bounce back in a big way. Of course, minutes will be another interesting discussion, but if he can get his body right, he looks as though he will be a player Coach Budenholzer will love.