Aussies in the NBA: Bogut-mination
A ton of interesting news for all of you who have been missing our Aussies in the NBA this week. Bogut dominates the glass, and looks increasingly comfortable. Meanwhile Exum's put in his nomination for Shaqtin' A Fool, and his lack of drives are a becoming a popular topic. Ingles hits a career high, and opts to sit out for the Boomers this year. Finally, Patty has a great piece up on Sports Illustrated that you should definitely check out.
This week's video highlights
Delly dishes a great one to Mozgov, who finishes with a powerful one hand jam. Bogut is at it again with the top 2 spots filled this week. He had a dominating left-handed turnaround dunk over Robin Lopez, and cleaned up the offensive glass with authority on a putback basket. NASTY.
Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors)
"It's no secret how they get wins," Warriors center Andrew Bogut said. "They beat you up inside. They rebound very well. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They generally take good shots and try to play in the 80s and 90s.
"They're difficult for anyone in the league. It's not just us." - source
Despite Bogut's caution, the Warriors came out on top against the Grizzlies 107-84, playing the game to their pace instead of the grinding, punishing rhythm Memphis favours. Bogut played 27 minutes, and only attempted two shots, but affected the game in other ways (eight rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) along with a +/- rating of +26. His impact on the game tied for team highest with the Dubs' leading scorer this night, Curry with a double-double (38 points, 10 assists).
Bogut had excellent rebounding nights against the Blazers and Wizards earlier on. He scored his sixth double-double this season (10 points, 16 rebounds) in Portland, and had 12 rebounds against Washington. Playing without LaMarcus Aldridge, the undersized Blazers could not contain Bogut on offensive rebounds, especially when the other Warriors were driving to the basket.
There were also some highlight passes from Bogut against the Jazz last weekend, which just adds more evidence to the fact that Bogut's decision-making skills are a valuable part of the team's offense. It feels like Bogut is getting into prime form as the playoffs draw closer, and nothing could be better.
On being All-Defense
The Warriors center also shared with Rusty Simmons of SFGate about what being nominated to the All-Defensive team would mean. This is something new, and I can't help but draw parallels between Bogut's journey towards defensive brilliance, and how bad a shooter Ray Allen was in his younger days, to the prominence he gained in the NBA as a deadly jumpshooter.
“I’ve been All-NBA once, but to be All-Defense would be special, because I came out of college labeled as a guy who was a horrible defender and a guy who didn’t want to play defense. I heard that I was soft.
... So to have taken the journey I have and to be mentioned as one of the league’s top five or 10 defenders in the league, it would be something that gives me pride.” - source
The Stifle Tower, stifled?
Last but not least: here's a highlight block of Bogey emphatically stuffing the living daylights out of Gobert. [gfycat data_id="EminentCloseIberianlynx" data_expand=true]
Aron Baynes (San Antonio Spurs)
Baynes sprained his ankle in the first half, while when playing in Atlanta against the Hawks on 22 March 2015. He had to exit the stadium on crutches, and has been out of action since.
Cameron Bairstow (Chicago Bulls)
Cam did not see the floor this week for the Bulls, who have gone 2-1 this week, and are likely to make it 3-1 with the visiting Knicks tomorrow.
Dante Exum (Utah Jazz)
Exum only played 12 minutes today against the Nuggets, as he did not feel well in the second half according to coach Snyder. Fellow guards Trey Burke (28 min), Elijah Millsap (17 min) and undrafted Providence guard Bryce Cotton (12 min) --who recently signed a multi-year deal with the Jazz-- rounded out the guard rotation against Denver. Exum, who has not missed a game since being drafted this season, will hopefully be back in tomorrow's game when the Thunder come visiting.
There was a little offensive blunder from Exum earlier this week, when he smacked into Gobert while receiving a handoff, and his lack of three throws (read: not getting into the paint) continues to be a potential concern in the days ahead.
According to NBA Stats, more than 84% of Exum's shots in March are taken in the wide open (more than 6 feet) or open (4-6 feet) categories. He seldom finishes his shots in the paint - only 13 of 73 shots, or 17.8% of them are taking in the paint or restricted area. This really needs to change. Either the team has to adjust and get him more space to attack, or he has to use his opportunities on being the weak side shooter, and drive when the chance presents itself.
Scoring woes aside, Exum is slowly but surely finding his feet on half-court defense, and learning to defend attackers that drive - even bigger ones like Draymond Green.
[gfycat data_id="EarnestWetGoldenmantledgroundsquirrel" data_expand=true] Defensive lapses often lead to easy buckets. Exum needs to stay alert on transition defense, and not give open buckets away the way he did during this Blazers possession. Being prepared and in position to defend the drive would have helped defend this better.
[gfycat data_id="QuarrelsomeGorgeousHammerheadshark" data_expand=true]
Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz)
From scoring a career-high 18 points, to the announcement yesterday about not joining the Boomers this year that caused much debate, Big Joe has given the folks at home some interesting topics for debate. Is he finally showing consistent aggression on offense? Is he resting for a better season ahead with the Jazz? Is it even "unpatriotic" to not play with the Boomers this year?
Jingles had 18 points against the Timberwolves this week, scoring 4 of 6 from downtown but took care of the ball poorly, something that Ingles was disappointed with. He has attempted 10 shots in each of his last three games, a promising sight by any measure. The last time he took that many shots was back in early January against the Pacers. Granted the result was somewhat inconsistent (6, 10 and 18 points) --and Jingles probably took the shots because Hayward was out for two of those games-- the willingness to step up and make an impact is definitely a positive.
The Boomers debate
Ingles' decision not to play for the Boomers this year has cast some doubt on the Boomers' odds against the Tall Blacks in the Olympic qualifiers this year, and there have been comments on Ingles versus Gaze's resilience in playing across the NBA, the Boomers, NBL and more without much pause.
Again, Jingles is still in his first season with the Jazz. He's adjusting to the physicality of the NBA, a new coach, a young team finding its footing, and the combined fatigue from hopping on and off charter flights, road games, hotels and more. Not an easy transition by any means, and the unanimous decision from the Boomers and Jazz to rest Ingles is likely for the best.
The drive and dish
Check out this great play from Ingles during the Blazers game. True to his interesting moniker, Slo Mo Joe plays the high screen and roll with reserve big man Jack Cooley. Ingles took the double-team head on, drove into the paint and made a wraparound pass to the waiting Jack Cooley. [gfycat data_id="LikelySpanishAltiplanochinchillamouse" data_expand=true]
Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers)
by Alistar Sullivan
Matthew Dellavedova has had a consistent run of games this last week, with his numbers staying steady except for the last night against Brooklyn, where he didn't score and only had 10 minutes of court time with one shot attempt.
Delly has always been praised by how he prepares himself and the way he goes about his job on a day to day basis.
Blatt said Dellavedova is usually the first player to arrive in the gym each morning. On a recent day, Blatt showed up at Cleveland Clinic Courts at 8:45 a.m. Dellavedova was already there hoisting up shots.
Dellavedova said he’s not the only early bird on the team.
“Me and Joey (Harris) usually get in there and try to put the work in each day,” he said. “Eventually, it will pay off.”
Also known for his intensity and hustle on defense, Matty is considered a grinder and we can see why.
[gfycat data_id="ChubbyImpeccableHeifer" data_expand=true]
There is but a rare handful of NBA players that commit to smart, tough defense. This play shows Matthew's great hustle and basketball IQ. He observes the floor spacing, and first helps out on the cut from the high post, before sprinting as hard as he can to close out the 3-point shooter to disrupt the shot.
[gfycat data_id="GranularLikableCatbird" data_expand=true]
On this clip, he never gives up on the play. Delly chases Udrih from one side of the floor to the other, and gets slowed down by double screens. He sees Shumpert has lost his man due to Carter's pump fake, leaves Udrih (stuck baseline) and covers Shumpert's man, making it harder for Carter to sink the three.
You can see why Blatt is always impressed by Delly's work ethics and is constantly full of praise for the Outback Jesus:
“Every good thing that happens to that guy, he deserves,” Blatt said recently. “Matty worked his way into being a good player. He is purely a function of outworking everyone, all of the time. When he gets his chance, he gives you all he has.” - source
This play, is a rather impressive team play and a sign of Delly's evolving play, more than anything else. Delly sets the high screen for LeBron, pops out and catches the bounce pass at the three. Instead of putting the shot up, he drives, and dishes it out to the waiting shooter.
[gfycat data_id="DetailedSameBull" data_expand=true]
Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs)
Patty had a really insightful piece published on Sports Illustrated this week. More than his NBA career, the column looked at Patty's heritage, his basketball journey, how much Mabo Day means to him, and how the Spurs have embraced his culture as well. It's a fascinating look into Patty beyond basketball, and I would highly recommend the read.
The walls of the locker room in the Spurs’ arena, the AT&T Center, are festooned with the same Popovich-chosen motivational saying, posted in every language represented on the roster, including Meriam Mir, which is spoken in the eastern Torres Strait. “I wasn’t interested in ‘There is no I in team’ or any of that crap,” the coach says. Instead the words are from Jacob Riis, the 19th-century Danish immigrant to the U.S. who became a social reformer and championed the stranger in a strange land: When nothing seems to help, I go back and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it—but all that had gone before. Ordinarily the Spurs outsource the Riis translations to linguists at San Antonio’s Trinity University, but Meriam Mir is so obscure that Mills’s relatives had to be enlisted to help.
Indigenous Australians have a hard-won understanding of the sentiment at the heart of that quote. But there’s a saying in the Torres Strait that echoes the words of Riis. It speaks both to the Spurs’ philosophy as an organization and to the mentality that Mills has taken with him to the NBA: Your past must connect with your present to create your future.
More interestingly, it gives us an idea of the level of connection Patty has made with his Spurs brothers, (or rather, bala), and the road that Patty sees after basketball.
As always, the Spurs use their awareness of one another’s stories as they ramp up for the playoffs. On Mills’s recommendation, Manu Ginóbili, the swingman from Argentina, has seen Rabbit-Proof Fence and spoken with Yvonne Mills during her visits to San Antonio. Patty has shared with Ginóbili, Diaw and Splitter video of himself doing island dances and explained the choreographed narratives of island life and legends. “We always say, Someday we’ll meet on Thursday Island,” says Ginóbili, who’s among the Spurs who call one another bala, the Torres Strait honorific for brother.
“We talk a lot about what we want to do after our careers are over,” Diaw says. “With Patty, it always comes back to his heritage. One thing he wants to do is help make Mabo Day a national holiday in Australia.”
On a related note, Patty addressed the Spurs home crowd before the All-Star break and drew parallels between Eddie Mabo and Martin Luther King during America's MLK Day.
So when I heard that was an opportunity I took it and I spoke on the night, said some words that I truly believe in. I felt like I wasn’t only speaking to the crowd that was there that night, but to everyone around the world. I thought that was very powerful.
It's great to see someone like Patty, who embraces his heritage with pride, and continues to remember and connect history with who he is now. After all:
Your past must connect with your present to create your future.
On the court
In other news, Patty has played hard with mixed results; the team continues to find its rhythm behind a re-energised Parker and the defensive havoc Kawhi Leonard continues to wreck on a nightly basis. Patty's best night came against the Thunder, where he had 11 points and connected on 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. This is made all the more impressive, when you notice his outburst came after a back-to-back game against Dallas on the road the night before.
Game schedule for the week featuring Aussies in the NBA
We are using an embedded Google Calendar format, which would hopefully make it much easier for all of you to keep track on when our favourite Aussies in the NBA are hitting the court!
Game schedules courtesy of NBA on ESPN.