Just another week in the NBA? Not for Australian basketball!
A historic moment transpired on 19 Jan 2015, when Aron Baynes, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Dante Exum were all on the hardwood at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. It marked the first time four Australian NBA players were ever on the court together, unfolding a proud milestone for Aussie fans everywhere.
Patty was honest about being locked in during the game, to the point where he hadn't realised the significance of the moment. And to be fair, it was just another season game for the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs.
The wave of exciting talent we have on the horizon however, says that this moment might just be the start of many more to come.
“To be Australian and know there’s four of us on the court at the same time, and not only that (but) there are a record number of us who are in the league right now speaks on Australian basketball and up-and-coming players now,” Mills said.
“It’s huge for Australia in general. The following back there has been enormous, and it’s only going to get better.”
- Dream comes true for JaMychal Green, San Antonio Express
Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors)
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Bogut has nearly returned to his usual productive self this week. Rebounds? Check. He's slowly but surely inching his way to double-digit rebounding. Defense? Surprisingly, not yet.
Bogut, the offensive multiplier?
He seems to be the nitro for their scoring engine instead, which is a really interesting observation.
Warriors during Bogut's absence (9 Dec 2014 - 6 Jan 2015)
Defensive Rating 98.8, Offensive Rating 110.9
Warriors since Bogut's return (7 Jan 2015 - 24 Jan 2015)
Defensive Rating 100.5, Offensive Rating 116.3
Disclaimers: The sample size is different (12 vs 8), the Jan schedule has been comparatively easier (less contenders), and Bogut sat a game out against OKC on 16 Jan.
With that said, Golden State was actually stingier on defense during Bogut's absence. The team is allowing 100.5 per 100 posessions since Bogey's return, but has made up for it with a monster offensive boost of 5.4 points per 100 possessions. That jump, is the difference between a a league-leading offense (Mavericks at 110.7) and the 10th ranked team: the Trail Blazers at 105.3.
Assorted Bogey highlights
From rebounding, to running the break, and the timely kick out pass to a transition three. Do out-of-character plays like these contribute to the Warriors' scoring? You bet it does. We might not see Bogut in Magic Johnson mode very often though!
[gfycat data_id="IllustriousCandidBudgie" data_autoplay=true data_expand=true] Less important, but equally entertaining: did anyone see the block party Bogey had on this fellow called Dwight? I heard he's a pretty good center.
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Howard was so upset with Bogut's no-nonsense play, he tried playing physical (read: swinging elbows around.) Not that it worked!
“I’m just trying to make it tough for him,” Bogut said after the game. “He’s a tough player. I blocked a couple of his shots and he got frustrated and started throwing the ‘bow, as he does. I was just happy to keep getting in the mix of things and knew the game would turn our way."
Secrets to success
Andrew Bogut was interviewed by SEN recently, and he thought the team's fantastic off-court chemistry to be a reason for their success too.
“This is one of the rare teams that I’ve actually being on that will actually have the whole team going out to dinner before the game and then a quick beer after,” said Bogut on SEN radio.
“We enjoy being around each other, our plane trips are hilarious, we’ve got a bunch of funny guys who are always joking and smiling.”
What do you think?
Aron Baynes (San Antonio Spurs)
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Free throws made career high (9 FTs, against DEN 20 Jan 2015)
The Big Banger had his best game of the week against the Denver Nuggets, scoring 15 points in only 15 minutes. He made a career high 9 free throws from the line, and was perfect from the field.
He also had a strong double-double game against Utah, but the achievement was somewhat marred by this somewhat embarrassing block from Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
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Oucho. Does it remind you of that James Harden block from last year?
Cameron Bairstow (Chicago Bulls)
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It was late in the fourth quarter when Cam checked into the game against San Antonio, with the Bulls' victory all but assured. Nonetheless, he found words of encouragement from Boomers mate Patty Mills.
"It's about time."
Bairstow made the most of those remaining minutes. His numbers certainly did not change the game outcome. Cam however, managed an offensive rebound in the waning seconds, and finished his putback over Spurs swingman Danny Green, completing the and one with a made free throw.
We all know it's all about staying ready. Like Bairstow now, Patty also had his minutes tightly reined in Portland during his first year in the league. Waiting's never an easy game though. Stay focused, stay positive! The time will come for Bairstow to step up and contribute.
Danté Exum (Utah Jazz)
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Points scored career high (15 points, against MIL 22 Jan 2015)
Assists career high tied (5 assists, against MIL 22 Jan 2015)
Field goals made career high (5 FGM, against MIL 22 Jan 2015)
Three pointers made career high (5 3PM, against MIL 22 Jan 2015)
Minutes in single game career high (35 min, against MIL 22 Jan 2015) (h/t Simon Legg)
Breaking the rookie wall?
Despite an inconsistent shooting slump earlier in the week, head coach Quin Snyder trusted Exum against the Bucks, and surprisingly got the nod at starting guard over a healthy Trey Burke. Burke had shot 27.3% on 14.7 shots a night over his earlier three games. Those numbers earned him a measly OffRtg of 87.2, a NetRtg of -15.5 (gave up more points than he scored), and likely the bench spot too. Coach Snyder however, attributed the move to a need for Burke's scoring on the bench.
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After an underwhelming barrage of misses from the arc in earlier games, Exum did not waste any time in his start. He swished back-to-back three pointers in the opening minutes, and had four makes from downtown by half-time. Despite a lingering flu that had him coughing away, Dante ended the game shooting an impressive 50% from deep. Most of the shots were caught in rhythm, and he's looking more and more comfortable letting those shots fly.
“The coaches have talked to me about trying to be aggressive ... spacing on the backside, making sure I’m stepping into my shot. We talked about making the extra pass and my teammates did that and found me for a couple of open shots.
Dante was playing the off-ball guard again, with Hayward and Ingles doing most of the playmaking. It's a rather interesting decision. Coach Snyder looks like he wants to develop Exum's shot confidence first, and let the bulk of his ball-handling/decision-making experience come later.
Not giving up on the play
Learning to play against elite defenses like San Antonio is a part of the journey, and Exum stayed focused in this possession. Watch how the initial pick got foiled, and he had to pick up his dribble. Rather than leaving it to others, he swooped back for the ball, stayed aggressive and found a streaking Elijah Millsap for the cut and finish.
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Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz)
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Steals career high tied (3, against LAL 16 Jan 2015)
Assists career high tied (7, against MIL 22 Jan 2015)
The all-Aussie backcourt returns! Like Exum, Jingles' highlight game came this week against the Milwaukee Bucks. Ingles showed off his versatile skills once more, and did a bit of everything from scoring to rebounding to passing.
Making the best of a bad possession
Ingles' veteran presence helps to settle the offense down, especially in possessions where the initial action breaks down.
This possession began in transition, with a quick Booker screen. Burke took the screen, drove and lost his dribble. He was forced to kick it out to Ingles, who passed it off to Elijah Millsap for a corner three. Instead of reading the close out, Millsap drove right into a waiting Henson. Worse, he got caught in a triple team. Elijah Millsap ended up dribbling out awkwardly, and passed it back to Ingles.
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Ingles proceeded to take over with 13 seconds left on the clock, and salvaged the situation. He called for a high screen, drove in and found Millsap waiting on the weak side for a corner 3. Swish.
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Assorted Ingles goodness
More evidence of Ingles' talent as a creator when handling the ball. He breaks free, fakes his defender and drives. He doesn't fail to notice the open Burke lurking at the wing however, and kicks it out with precision.
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This is just a quick little baseline drive, that became a mid-air handoff to Gobert for the dunk. Perfectly executed.
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Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers)
By Alistar Sullivan
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The Cavs are finally having some luck on their side, winning the last 4 games against some quality opponents.
Matthew Dellavedova has seen his minutes drop but not diminish entirely. Coach David Blatt loves the way Delly plays defense with his intensity and effort enough to warrant 10-20 minutes a game.
Dellavedova remains consistent throughout this week with his shooting. One noticeable change is Delly's focus on offense, where he was not afraid to drive the ball into the paint and get contact heading to the bucket. Matty got to the line 4 times this week, and that's more than he's had in the last month!
One question that still remains heading into the All Star Break, is how Delly will fit into the rotation once Iman Shumpert returns from shoulder injury. I am expecting Blatt to maintain similar minutes for Dellavedova, to either relieve Irving at the point or Smith/Shumpert at the two guard.
You can see in this clip how Delly's basketball IQ has vastly improved. He now looks to analyse the defense and alter his shot, rather than getting the ball and suddenly passing it off or shooting the abrupt jumper.
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Remembering the Clippers win
Delly was part of the reason the Cavaliers prevailed against the Clippers on the road. It was 123-121 w 9 seconds to go, and Delly got fouled. Thankfully, he remained calm and made both FTs to put Cavs up 4.
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A photo posted by matthewdelly (@matthewdelly) on Jan 16, 2015 at 1:13pm PST
Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs)
by Alistar Sullivan
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Rebounds season high (5, against CHA 14 Jan 2015)
Field goals made season high tied (7 FGM, against POR 16 Jan 2015)
Free throws made season high tied (4 FTM, against CHI 22 Jan 2015)
Patty was in fine form this week. He was a mite below his season record of 19 points, with 18 points scored against Portland.
It also feels like Patty never was out for months with injury. Since returning, he has slotted perfectly back into the Spurs offense. He is contributing well, sharing the rock and is a threat shooting the long ball. What else could be better?
This play where Patty and Cory Joseph literally busted their asses to get the two points, merits nothing but respect.
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Diving to the floor, flying out of bounds for a transition bucket in a regular season game? Well done sirs, very well done.
The future of Boomers basketball
When interviewed at the United Center, Patty was very confident in the future of the Australian Boomers, and expressed the need for Ingles and himself to step up and lead the younger generation moving forward.
"With Ben Simmons and Dante Exum coming through, [they] have future potential. ... As we move forward --obviously losing Matty Nielsen as our captain-- you look at me and Joe Ingles as leaders and captains. For us to step in, and help Ben Simmons and Dante through it, because they're gonna be a huge part of basketball in Australia."
- Patty Mills, post-game interview with Olgun Uluc on 22 Jan 2015
Off the court
Sneakerheads, rejoice! Patty has joined Steph Curry over at Under Armour. Do you see this move accelerating the day to a pair of signature Bala Pat kicks?
A photo posted by Patty Mills (@balapat) on Jan 19, 2015 at 4:22pm 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.