Best ever Aussie in the NBA: Simmons and Baynes advance
Just because there is NBA action on the court doesn’t mean we cannot take the time to consider which Aussie has enjoyed the best career to date in the world’s best league.
Last week saw two massive Round 1 battles between some of Australia’s finest ever NBA exports in the “Best Ever Aussie in the NBA” fan vote.
In the opening vote featuring not one, but two number 1 NBA Draft picks, it was a case of out with the old and in with the new.
The public got behind two-time NBA All-Star and 2018 Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons to held guide him to landslide victory against 14-year veteran and 2015 Champion, Andrew Bogut.
Bogut, who is also made an All-NBA Third Team in 2010 with Milwaukee prior to his devastating injury, should consider himself unlucky. Not only did he draw Simmons in the opening round, but he was most likely a victim due to a combination of recency bias and popularity. Not only was Bogut one of the top two or three centres in the NBA prior to his injury, when he joined Golden State he provided a much-needed presence in the paint on his way to earning All-NBA Defensive Second Team honours.
Not taking anything away from Simmons however, who is widely considered the most talented Australian in the NBA ever.
In what many would have considered a heart-breaking first round match-up, Aron Baynes got the win over Boomers teammate Matthew Dellavedova. Again, this was a tough one, with both Baynes and Delly both fan favourites, complete with their own fan clubs too. Both have the distinction of going undrafted, yet each player has an NBA Championship to their name.
Perhaps the public could not see past the Baynes screen that had Delly trapped behind it? Maybe, like Bogut, recency bias played a part? Nonetheless, Baynes advances to face Simmons next week in the semifinals.
This week’s match-ups
We look to complete round 2 of the fan vote this week with Patty Mills taking on Thon Maker, while three-time NBA Champion Luc Longley goes head-to-hand with Utah Jazz star Joe Ingles.
Can Detroit Pistons big man Maker be competitive against the Spurs heart and soul, Mills? One would think it would be a massive ask of Maker to make it a close contest, and with March Madness well and truly over (well really, it never got a chance to start), a miracle may well be all that saves him this week.
Patty has an NBA ring, been the backbone of the Spurs for the best part of a decade now, and has been playing his best basketball in 2019/20. Can anyone see Patty not progressing?
With the launch of The Last Dance this week, we have Australia’s most successful NBA player Longley being challenged by Jingles.
Indisputably, Luc Longly was a pioneer and achieved a long list of Australian firsts. Selected at number 7 by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1991 NBA Draft after dominating the Mountain West Conference with New Mexico, he finally stepped onto an NBA floor for his first game on 30 November 1991, becoming the first Aussie to play in the NBA.
Traded to the Chicago Bulls late in the 1993/94 season during Michael Jordan’s short-lived retirement, he would famously go on to become a three-time NBA Champion. A veteran of 10 seasons across four teams which included brief stints in Phoenix and New York before injury forced him into retirement. He departed the NBA as a true trailblazer for Australians in the NBA, finishing his career with 4,090 points (7.2 ppg), 2,794 rebounds (4.9 rpg) and 549 blocks (1.0 bpg) across 567 games.
Joe Ingles took a different route to the NBA, from the NBL, to Europe before find a home in UItah. One of the best three-point shooters in the NBA, Ingles has developed cult status with Jazz fans, and loves nothing better than a good trash talk on court – just ask Paul George. Whether Slow-Mo Joe can overcome the legend of Longley though is yet to be seen.
Fan vote brackets
Round 1 | Tip off on 14 April 2020
- 14-April | (1) Bogut lost to (8) Simmons
- 16-April | (5) Dellavedova lost to (4) Baynes
- 21-April | (2) Mills vs (7) Maker
- 23-April | (6) Ingles vs (3) Longley
Semifinals | Tip off on 28 April 2020
- 28-April | (8) Simmons vs (4) Baynes
- 30-April | To be confirmed
Voting opens at 8:00am AEST on The Pick and Roll’s Facebook page and remains open for 24 hours.
Be sure to check in and vote for who you think has had a better NBA career.
All-Time Australians in the NBA*
|Andrew Bogut||C||2005–2018; 2019||14||1|
|Andrew Gaze||G||1994; 1999||2||1|
*As at 13 April 2020
Thank you for loving Aussie hoops! From Kein, Damian and #TeamPnR