Aussies in the NBA: Exum shines as Rising Star

It's almost mid-season, and the coming All-Star Weekend has been highlighted by the selection of Danté Exum in the Rising Stars Challenge. I wish Joe Ingles could have been included, but one is better than none. We also look at Ingles' defensive highlights, Bogut's impact on the Warriors, Patty's shoulder and more.

Let's start off with Alistar's top 5 highlights this week. Exum's crafty pass to the Stifle Tower (that's Gobert's nickname) for the jam. Ingles' steal and dish in transition. Bogut's defense. Delly's lob to Matrix. And finally, the Curry-Bogut lob is alive again!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjfbrQ3c-wk


Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors)

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Andrew Bogut was out on the Warriors' home stand against the Bulls recently. According to Rusty Simmons from the SF Chronicle, Bogut was down with flu-like symptoms. He will however, return to play against Utah this weekend - another big Aussie showdown!

Golden State surprisingly, lost to the feisty Bulls in overtime, 113-111. While we can't attribute the loss directly to Bogut's absence, the numbers do paint a corresponding picture.

The Bogey effect

According to NBA.com/Stats, Bogey is 17th among the NBA's best rebounders this season. His plus-minus rating however, stands out among the top 20 rebounders at a staggering 10.6, next nearest being DeAndre Jordan at 7.8. Among players who have clocked at least 29 games, Bogut leads the league in Defensive Rating (92.6) and Net Rating (21.4.)

What do all of these numbers mean? He's a hell of a defender, a top rebounder, and his presence brings a huge positive impact to the team. But of course, you already knew that.

Visual impact

Here's more graphic goodness from this week's games to back it up.

First off, rim protection. Bogut is fourth among centers when it comes to opponent FG% at less than 5ft, and this play is a good example of the elite defense Bogut offers. See how Curry helps funnel Bradley to the rim, and Bogut takes care of the rest.

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Secondly, some sweet passing from Bogut to a cutting Curry. Fantastic off-ball movement from the Warriors, but it takes a good eye and quick hands to make that pass happen.

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Interview: Be sure to check out this exclusive interview with Bogut, where he talks basketball, the Warriors' chemistry, and something the modern world seems to view as a taboo: honest opinions.

Yes, I’m not really politically correct. I’m kind of honest, and I say what I feel so I piss a lot of people off but I don’t really care. It’s my opinion on certain things in the world and it drives me crazy a little bit whether it’s right or wrong – it’s just my opinion.

- Q&A with Andrew Bogut: On Success, The Future and Missing Australia

He certainly made his point on Twitter, when defending Nick Kyrgios’ behaviour at the Australian Open.

Wonder how many or us were upstanding citizens and perfect at age 19? And people complain when athletes are cliche and media trained...

— Andrew Bogut (@andrewbogut) January 26, 2015

More Bogut interview videos

  • Sport Eagle TV interviewed Andrew Bogut recently on his career, his motivation to play, and thoughts on possibly playing in Europe.

  • Bay Area HQ visited Bogut at Classic Materials Sports Memorabilia earlier in the month. Watch Bogut talk about men taking selfies (no), slow cooking, his pinball machine and more.


Aron Baynes (San Antonio Spurs)

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The Big Banger continues to excel in his chosen crafts: setting screens, sneaking open for the jump shot (or roll to the rim), and rebounding.

Exhibit A: Manu the crafty passer, always knows to get his teammates the ball at the right time for easy buckets.

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Exhibit B: Kawhi finds Baynes on the pick and roll play, and he finishes smoothly with the reverse. Very impressive.

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Baynes, the three point shooter?

Interestingly enough, he seems to have begun a trend on attempting three point shots. He only had four attempts at the arc for this season, and two of them came in the last three games.

I'm not convinced. We all know "the three point shot is more valuable than a mid-range jumper" blah, but this doesn't look like something he should be utilising as a weapon this season. Not if they're bricked like this. [gfycat data_id="GrandDamagedGilamonster" data_expand=true]

More than swishing a three, I'd like to see him crash the offensive glass. That seems to bring more value to the Spurs. But hey, I'm just some random dude scribbling on the internet, and the Spurs have some of the best coaching staff in the league. I'm just hoping this experiment doesn't go haywire.

(h/t Chris Itz of Pounding the Rock for the Spurs v Lakers GIFs)

Off the court

Aron is holding an Instagram contest! Winner gets a signed pair of his game shoes. Winner announced 1 Feb 2015 (likely US time) so get cracking! #houseobayne

A photo posted by Aron Baynes (@houseobayne) on Jan 19, 2015 at 8:53am PST


Cameron Bairstow (Chicago Bulls)

Cam was a DNP this week.


Danté Exum (Utah Jazz)

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Stat milestones

  • Tied career high for field goals made (5 FGM, against BKN 24 Jan 2015)

The Rising Star

It's definitely a week to remember! Danté was nominated as part of the Rising Stars Challenge's World Team, including fellow rookies Andrew Wiggins, Nikola Mirotic, and Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert.

I like the fact that they didn't make this year's All-Star jerseys the awful sleeved versions of yesteryear. Ditto for the Rising Star jerseys, well done NBA.

Excited to be selected for the Rookie/Sophomore game this year. #worldteam @adidashoops A photo posted by Danté Exum (@daanteee) on Jan 28, 2015 at 3:37pm PST

On the court

Danté retained his status as starting guard this week, with his best performance coming against Brooklyn: 13 points with some fine shooting from deep, together with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. (Ingles/Exum highlights v Nets)

His passes were right on target. Watch how he saw Favors getting free off a slip screen, and threaded the pass for an open Derrick two-handed jam.

[gfycat data_id="AnyEqualAustralianshelduck" data_expand=true]

Despite putting up poor numbers against Boston (0 points, 1 rebound 2 assists), Exum exhibited solid defense against Avery Bradley. In this possession, he managed to slow the fast break down, and contained Bradley long enough for Ingles to pick off the baseline pass.

[gfycat data_id="HeavenlySeveralDeer" data_expand=true]

Coach Snyder did not seem to be too worried by Exum's performance in the Boston loss, and agreed on Exum's defensive efforts.

“Dante had a better night on film than he did watching him (play live) as far as defensively. We all can play a lot better, so I’m not going to focus on that singular decision to me. We just didn’t play well as a group.”

- Jazz coach Quin Synder not worried about bad start for rookie Exum

I think it's safe to say, we should be seeing Exum at the start for a while more.


Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz)

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Stat milestones

  • Career high for scoring (16 points against BKN, 24 Jan 2015)

  • Tied career high for assists (7 assists against LAC, 28 Jan 2015)

  • Career high for steals (4 steals against BOS, 26 Jan 2015)

  • Career high for free throws made (4 FTM against BKN, 24 Jan 2015)

  • Career high for three pointers made (4 3PM against BKN, 24 Jan 2015)

A week of new highs for Jingles! Love the fact that he's slowly inching his scoring upwards, while not forgetting about the other facets of that versatile Big Joe game: solid playmaking, crafty defense, and crashing the glass.

Even when he's not scoring, he still tries hard to make something happen. The Boston game was an awful showing for the Jazz, but look at how Joe fared. 4 steals, 5 assists, 4 rebounds along with 6 fouls? Sounds like good old hustle right there.

All about that defense

Here's the good old eyeball evidence on Joe's defense against Evan Turner. That 6'8" length just makes it so much harder for Turner. Look at how Ingles anticipates the pass, and nearly takes it away a second time. [gfycat data_id="AjarOccasionalEquestrian" data_expand=true data_autoplay=true]

Exhbit B: Ingles strips the ball from Brandon Bass this time, breaks out for the bucket with Smart and Bass in hot pursuit. Instead of forcing the layup, Joe wisely flips it back to a trailing Enes Kanter for the finish instead. [gfycat data_id="DefiniteClumsyHairstreakbutterfly" data_expand=true]

Turning defense to offense! It does look like there was some contact with Blake Griffin on this steal, but Ingles gambled and got rewarded. Left on an island in a 3-on-1 situation, Austin Rivers was pretty much stuffed. To his credit, he did try to defend the layup, but was negated by Ingles' wraparound pass to Kanter. (Ingles v Clipper highlights) [gfycat data_id="EnchantingRapidBedbug" data_expand=true]

Bonus reads

So, how important is Ingles to the Jazz? Pretty valuable I'd say. D'Joumbarey A. Moreau does a good job of writing about Ingles' grizzled veteran role on the team, worth a read.

Angus Crawford from NBA Australia conducted an interview with Ingles recently, that covers a variety of basketball topics from Europe to the Boomers and the NBA.

The day that [the Jazz] called me… If you’d have told me that I would start 12 games by halfway through the year, I would have thought you were crazy. It’s awesome; it’s great just to be able to get out there and compete, starting or not. I’m just going to do what I do, and help the team, and it’s a nice honour to get that starting role, but I’d do the same either way, really.

- Q&A: Joe Ingles


Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers)

by Alistar Sullivan

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The Cavs are blazing hot this week. They are on an 8-game win streak, and garnered a solid 108-98 victory over OKC.

As mentioned previously, the addition of J.R Smith and Iman Shumpert is starting to take a toll on Dellavedova's minutes and shot attempts. After his stint as a starter with 30+ minutes per game, mental adjustments are needed for a bench role and limited minutes.

Defense is still a major priority for the Cavs, and that is what makes Matty so important off the bench. This play reminds us of how good Delly can be with his pressure and defensive intensity.

You always want to be fitting into the team’s defensive scheme, but I think it’s definitely helpful if the team only has to defend for 17 seconds of the shot clock versus 21, or 22, and have them start their offence from further out.

- Q&A: Matthew Dellavedova

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Last season, Delly seized every opportunity on the floor like it was his last. This year, it seems like he has drifted away from the focus he used to bring every night. It's great to see a glimpse of the effort that got him to where he is today.

Interview

Angus Crawford from NBA Australia caught up with Delly for a few questions about his NBA journey so far, the Cavs roster and his focus on the jump shot.

The NBA is always changing, and you play so many games that some guys are going to be out (or sick), and there are going to be different situations that you’re thrown into. I feel comfortable playing the point guard and the shooting guard, and just trying to help out where I can. I think I’m a point guard that can play the two, that’s how I’d describe it.

- Q&A: Matthew Dellavedova

Off the court

Looks like Delly's converting his Cleveland teammates to don the Collingwood colours, one at a time.

Glad to have you on board mate! Repost: @varejaoanderson17 "Carn' the Pies!! My Australian Football team @collingwood_fc @matthewdelly @sp_10 #sidebyside"

A photo posted by matthewdelly (@matthewdelly) on Jan 23, 2015 at 1:15pm PST


Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs)

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Kinks in the shot?

According to Chris Dutton of The Canberra Times, Patty has yet to regain full use of his right shoulder. There's no shaking Patty's confidence though.

"I had to learn how to shoot again and have the feeling of the ball. But I didn't want to take short cuts and I was patient ... and when I got going again I knew I'd gone at the right pace.

This injury didn't rattle me in terms of worrying that I wouldn't get back to where I was last season."

- Patty Mills ready to unleash injury frustration to chase another NBA title

This week, Patty has been shooting poorly in the mid-range (1 of 6), and anything from acceptable to fantastic in the three point zone. The mid-range jumpers were not contested, and looked to be relatively clean pull ups attempts. Could it be his shoulder that's affecting his pull up shot?

On another note: Cory Joseph has been huge for the Spurs this season during Patty's absence, and his continued good form has caused a dip in Patty's minutes. There's no question Patty is a team player, but it might be hard to get a consistent rhythm going with sporadic minutes.

The magic Manu pass

More of a Manu highlight than a Patty one, but too good not to share. Watch the angle of that nonchalant bounce pass, it's the next thing to pure wizardry you can find on an NBA court.

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Off the court

Patty recently held a competition to name his new Under Armour sneakers, and the winners have been announced! "SoleM8s" sure sound sneaker-ish and Australian at the same time, brilliant.

and we have a tie... The winners are @lil_potpiggy15 and ashleycampbelll_. They have nicknamed my new @uabasketball shoes "SoleM8s". Congrats to the two winners and I hope everyone is having a good Australia Day!!! #Straya

A photo posted by Patty Mills (@balapat) on Jan 26, 2015 at 5:09pm PST


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.