Aussie Boomers 2020: The faces of our future
The future of Australian basketball is approaching and it is looking good!
After a solid performance at the 2014 World Cup that resulted in what some would call a disappointing result, the Boomers and all their fans can turn their attention to the future. Between now and the 2020 Olympics, Australia is poised to become a world basketball superpower. There’s sure to be an extreme level of excitement and with it, potentially a medal for our boys in green and gold on the court. All of this of course, is dependent on the future development of our homegrown talent.
For those of you who have been living under a rock and don’t know much about the influx of young NBA-potential Australians, here is an in-depth look at just some of the guys who could be in a Boomers uniform when they challenge for a medal in 2020.
First up, lets look at someone who is likely to be a key player on the future 2020 Boomers team.
The now 19-year-old has competed in his first NBA Summer League tournament after being drafted with the 5th pick by the Utah Jazz. Despite putting up what some might call “average” numbers (26.6 min, 7.2 points, 2.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds while shooting just 30.8 percent from the field), he displayed court vision and a first step that will translate once the regular season kicks off.
He followed that up with limited playing time in the recent FIBA World Cup. However when he was on, he provided glimpses of the passing and court vision that is surely going to flourish when he has gained further experience in the NBA. Playing against men will help, but also when he has the likes of Simmons, Maker and Humphries playing beside him in the future this start getting a little exciting.
The 6’6" combo guard should benefit for the experience in playing either guard position for the Jazz this year. By the 2020 Rio Olympic games he could potentially have five NBA seasons of experience under his belt along with an Olympics and a second World Cup. If he can improve his shooting and add some weight (listed at 198 pounds), I think we’ve found a starting point guard for 2020 and potentially all the years in between.
Ben Simmons goes up for the dunk - Courtesy Randy Kemp / MaxPreps
If you’re a basketball fan from Australia and you haven’t heard the name of either of the next two Aussie kids currently in US High School, shame on you!
While Exum decided to forgo college, Simmons has firmly committed to attend Louisiana State next year. The 6’9" (almost 6'10") forward has been impressing scouts across America since moving to Montverde Academy. With games like his 24 point, 10 rebound and 3 assist outing in his last EYBL game having become standard for the Aussie standout, its easy to see why he was recently polled as the most NBA ready high school player and now #1 ranked ESPN Top 100 player for 2015.
With court vision that could be mistaken for LeBron's, the strength to bully other players and finish with either hand, it’s easy to see the potential and to get a little excited! Though he is going into his senior year of High School, the kid looks like he could be ready for the draft this time next year. Although some believed he was a surprising exclusion from this years FIBA World Cup team, look for him to feature prominently in the Boomers starting lineup in 2020 and potentially have a serious impact alongside his good mate Exum.
Thon Maker at 2014 adidas Nations - Courtesy adidas
Is it Kevin Durant? No, Kevin Garnett? Wrong - it’s Thon Maker!
The Sudanese born Aussie has been generating quite a stir across the US. After moving to America with his brother Matur and guardian, Maker has quickly adapted to the different style of play and ranked as ESPN's #1 player for 2016 until his recent move to Canada to complete his high schooling. With a recent transfer to Athlete Institute in Canada, there is still a chance of seeing him reclassify to the class of 2015 and therefore join Simmons is the same NBA draft!
The 7’1" wonder with amazing handles for his height, plays with a fluidity and smoothness that makes you wonder if Kevin Durant actually has a younger brother. He also has the intensity, ferociousness and developing post game that makes you think of Kevin Garnett. The reality is that he is somewhere in the middle, which has to be scary for anyone that faces him both now but also into the future.
According to Maxpreps.com, Maker's US High School stats stand at 22.2 points, 13.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 4.5 blocks per game. Look for him to continue to build on those north of the border as he looks to improve his strength and conditioning. If the numbers don’t demonstrate how good this kid could be, just jump on YouTube and check out the continuously updated stream of videos claiming him as the "next big thing."
While some question whether Maker will suit up for the Boomers, he has previously indicated that he will play for Australia, potentially as soon as the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championships - something many Australian hoops fans are looking forward to. Additionally, the reclassification could help him suit up for the U19 Aussie team next year.
I think he'll fit nicely playing alongside Simmons. Australia could run with Simmons and Maker sharing time at both forward spots - sounds good to me. Expect to see him playing like Anthony Davis is during the 2014 World Cup come 2020.
Jonah Bolden - Courtesy adidas
A name many of you might not of heard of, unless you were talking about his dad Bruce.
The 6’9 small forward is another in the long list of players whose fathers have spent time in the NBL. After dominating the Australian Junior Championships, the young man moved to the USA in the hopes of securing a Division I college offer. Well, he got what he wanted after committing to basketball powerhouse UCLA for the coming season only then to have the NCAA determine he is ineligible. While he is unable to play for the Bruins in 2014/15 (he is able to train with the team), it does not take away his talent and his potential.
His modest 13.3 point and 7 rebounds per game production at the 2013 adidas Nations don’t jump off the page, having watched this kid with my own eyes, if he works hard and bulks up he should be joining his aforementioned compatriots in playing in the big leagues. With length and a smooth shooting stroke the sky is the limit for him as well.
Whilst he is bigger than your prototypical wing, he could play the two or three spot for any future Boomers teams. Look for the long armed Bolden to be swatting shots and draining buckets in KD-like fashion on the 2020 Boomers team.
Deng Adel - Courtesy adidas
He may be a little less known to those who aren’t as hardcore on their young Aussie talents, but the 18-year-old Deng Adel could be huge for Australia in the coming years.
The 6’7" guard/forward from Sudan via Melbourne has made huge strides in his game. Playing down under for the Waverly Falcons before making the move to the USA, he averaged an incredible 27.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game while shooting better than 50% from the field.
Since arriving in the US, he has continued his impressive play to the tune of 22 points and 8 rebounds per game for Victory Rock. Scouts were so impressed with his potential that he was invited to the NBA Top 100 camp where he performed well. He has also since moved up to #30 in ESPN's Top 100 for 2015.
Adel has since accepted an offer from Louisville where he will join fellow Australian Mangok Mathiang and coach Rick Pitino in pushing for NCAA glory. After Pitino stated “he had not been this excited in ten years for a kid (to commit)”, it's easy to see the NBA and Boomers campaigns in his future.
Lock him in for future glory in the 2020 games as our sixth man off the bench, providing an ability to score in a multitude of ways.
Now, to the big man. When I say big, I mean 7'0" tall at just 16 years of age and still growing! Growing up in Sydney’s south, Humphries is following the increasing trend of young Australians heading to the US to finish high school and gain some highly desired exposure. #453603328 / gettyimages.com After earning a camp invite to the Boomers squad last year at just 15, you start realising that this kid was and is going to be good. The 17.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game at the 2014 U18 Australian Junior Championships showed Humphries was ready to test his game against the best in the world. He did just that at the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championships in Dubai, breaking the single-game scoring record by racking up a tournament record 41 points and 19 rebounds against Canada! The team went on to win silver and along the way he earned himself a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
A true big man, Humphries does most of his damage with his back to the basket although he has shown an increasing ability to hit the 15-foot jumper. With mobility not seen in many kids at his age, when coupled with his size, he could provide a solid presence for Australia in our future medal attempts. Look for the kid on next years La Lumiere team as well as our 2020 green and gold team providing a strong presence down low on the block.
With the players listed above we could see a brand new style of basketball for the Boomers. A team that pushes the tempo and forces turnovers in a similar way to how team USA has done in the past. Australia would have levels of athleticism not seen on any of our previous teams. So without further ado, here is just one possible outlook for what our 2020 team could look like.
Mathew Dellavadova - The heart and soul of the team and now NBA veteran
Patty Mills - The NBA-hardened veteran will be a required leader on this team
Aron Baynes - NBA and European veteran come 2020
Keanu Pinder - Committed to Nebraska and another son of a former NBL import
Deng Gak - Another young gun to keep a watch out for
Matur Maker - Thon's younger brother is likely to also emerge
I had to make the hard call to leave some other exciting and talented players such is the depth Australia is set to boast by 2020. Exciting times ahead for the Australian Boomers. So who do you predict will be on the Boomers 2020 team?