Basketball is one of the most popular sports on the planet but for those talented players aspiring to perform on the biggest stage of all, there’s only one place to go: the NBA.
With eight Aussies now strutting their stuff in America’s primary division, basketball fans from all four corners of the globe can see some of Australia’s best stars in action. Here are five of the most well-known players currently doing the business on the big stage.
Dec 27, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut (6) reacts during the game against the Houston Rockets at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Without a doubt, Bogut is one of the most successful Aussies to star in the NBA in recent years. He has won an NBA championship during his stint in America’s top league and he has been a key figure and role model for young Australians trying to break into the industry.
His four-year stint with Golden State came to an end last year, and Bogut will be desperate to succeed in the near future. According to the latest odds from bet365, the Warriors are 3/4 to avenge last year’s defeat and win the NBA title – the now Dallas Mavericks man would certainly have helped their chances of glory.
Oct 30, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova (8) gives five to forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during the first quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons won 98-83. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
When the 26-year-old signed with the Milwaukee Bucks last offseason, Australian basketball fans were excited at the prospect of seeing the former Cleveland Cavaliers star at his best. It didn’t exactly go to plan in the 2016-17 campaign but he still has time on his side.
With 7.6 points and 26.1 minutes on the court per game, Dellavedova wasn’t a complete flop and Milwaukee fans will give him the benefit of the doubt. To be fair, he didn’t have too much help around him and the Bucks may flourish next year with a couple of astute offseason acquisitions.
Oct 5, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles (2) handles the ball in the first half of the game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Utah Jazz defeated the Phoenix Suns 104-99. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Ingles featured in all 82 regular season games this season; a solid achievement. In fact, he has now played in 242 of a possible 246 matches since joining the Utah Jazz in 2014 and you cannot complain about his consistency and fitness.
Over the last few years, Ingles has developed a habit of landing long range shots; he hit 39% of his efforts in the 2015/16 campaign. With a career-high 24.1 minutes per game this year, he has blossomed into a reliable option on the Utah roster.
Oct 27, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. The Spurs won the game 102-94. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
With Tim Duncan retired and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili approaching the end of their respective careers, Patty Mills could be set for an increased role for the San Antonio Spurs. Up until now, Gregg Popovich has used him sparingly but it would be foolish to write Mills off just yet.
Since recovering from a long-term shoulder injury last season, Mills has been efficient and effective when needed, averaging 8.5 points per game off the bench. He is getting more time on the court nowadays and Mills was sublime in San Antonio’s recent playoff win over the Houston Rockets.
Jul 12, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons (25) directs teammates during an NBA Summer League game against the Golden State Warriors at Thomas & Mack Center. Golden State won the game 85-77. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Last year, the Philadelphia 76ers selected Simmons with the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft – a very prestigious honour. In fact, he became the third Melbourne-born player to go number one overall in the last 11 years, which shows just how influential Australian basketball is on the international stage.
Unfortunately, a serious ankle injury ruled him out of action for the entire campaign but he will bounce back stronger than ever next season. Standing at seven foot tall, he could become the face of Australian basketball if he continues to develop.