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Aussies in the NBA: An international scouting profile
We all love our Australians in the NBA, but what about the professionals? What do they think about our boys taking on the Association?
Ahead of the NBA season, we caught up with Pete Philo, a long time talent evaluator and former Director of Scouting for the Indiana Pacers, to get an NBA scout’s perspective on five Australians in the NBA. Philo is also the brainchild behind Virtual Scout School, a digital platform that offers a groundbreaking basketball education.
Please check out our full interview with Philo for details on the platform, including how you can get access to NBA level coaching and scouting information at the click of a button.
For now, here is his NBA scouting profile on five Aussies in the NBA.
Ben Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers
Ben is so versatile. You can play him at any position. He grew up playing a lot at the point guard position, so instinctively he has a lot of point guard instincts. He handles the ball. He makes such great decisions and passes that you feel comfortable trusting him with the ball.
But then do you want him guarding point guards? Do you want him guarding small forwards? Do you want him guarding the four?
I could see scenarios where he could play part of the game at the one and part of the game at the four. With him being the playmaking, passing four and putting shooters around him. That would be a terrible situation for teams trying to guard that. Ben is going to be a very special player.
He’s going to go through his struggles, some nights, because he hasn’t really played yet. But he’s such a high IQ player and so gifted physically that he’s going to be pretty damn good for a very long time.
Thon Maker | Milwaukee Bucks
Thon’s obviously a great talent. I know they love him up there in Milwaukee. He was a fun guy to scout over the years.
You walk in the gym and if you drew a picture of a basketball player, you would probably draw a picture of someone similar to Thon’s size and length. Just his body type is really interesting. He can make a shot.
For Thon, he’s going to be as good as he wants to be. With that size and the ability to make a shot.
We say it all the time about guys. Some guys have been blessed with size and length. The rest of it’s on their mind and heart if they want to be great. Some guys end up being great and some guys end up being average. But at that point, it’s on them, versus the guy who is not blessed with those physical tools but ends up being great because they are so hungry.
Patty Mills | San Antonio Spurs
My favourite Aussie of all time. Another guy that I brought to the EuroCamp. Unfortunately, when I brought him in, he had a bad ankle so he struggled a little bit making shots and making plays.
But holy cow, what a great human being. He’s smart and fun. He’s a leader. He’s a winner. The guy is just a winner. That’s the best way I could describe Patty. You guys all know that down there, you’re really lucky and fortunate to have such a great person and player in your country and on your Australian national team.
We are all so lucky to have him in the NBA. I know San Antonio loves him. The entire league loves him. He’s one of those guys who is really loved around the league.
Dante Exum | Utah Jazz
(we spoke to Philo before Exum suffered his unfortunate shoulder injury)
I had really high expectations on Dante. Unfortunately the injury happened. It was a tough deal for him. I really hope he continues to stay healthy and develop. I think he still has a long way to develop. He’s a tweener in a way. He’s a primary ball handler. He can play both positions, which is great in this NBA game.
As long as he keeps learning and stays healthy, I think he’ll be fine. He’s got some ways to go but I hear nothing but good things about him.
Joe Ingles | Utah Jazz
I’ve got a long history with Joe. He’s one of the guys I brought to the EuroCamp. Funny guy. When I think of Joe, I just laugh. He’s quite a character. I love him. I love him as a guy.
Timing has worked perfectly for him in one sense. The league really needs shooters so Joe is fitting into this era of NBA basketball really well. I know they love him out there in Utah.