And then there were two.
It's Ben Simmons taking on Patty Mills for the mantle of the Best Ever Aussies in the NBA according to The Pick and Roll's fan vote for 2020.
Simmons easily accounted for Aron Baynes in the semifinals, advancing to the final courtesy of a 73% landslide win. Fans could not look past the fact Simmons is already a two-time NBA All-Star - something no other Aussies has yet achieved. Baynes' NBA Championship ring with the Spurs, nor his evolution in adding a three-point shot to his offensive repertoire for which appears to be the only weakness in Simmons' game.
In the other semi, it was fan-favourite Mills getting the win over three-time NBA champion and Aussie NBA pioneer Luc Longley with a 60% majority vote. Longley's legacy could not see him get past arguably the most lovable Aussie in the NBA, with many fans prepared to vote for Mills as the next Prime Minister of Australia! An NBA champion in his own right, Mills is primed for a showdown with Simmons this week in the final.
Previewing the final
Simmons is Australia's current big thing. There is no denying his talent, skill level and athleticism. There has been no other Australian basketball player like him before, standing at 6'10 and playing the point like a gazelle. An outstanding defender and brilliant passer, there may not be any better player in the open court than Simmons. He does have a weakness and that is his unwillingness to shoot from the perimeter, and it may be the only flaw in his game.
A two-time All-Star, he has all the tools to be the greatest ever Australian in the NBA. However he is just at the start of his career, has he done enough already to earn the mantle already?
Patty Mills may beg to differ.
Mills is more than just an NBA role player. Not only has he become the heart and soul of the Spurs, but he is also an indigenous role model and owns an NBA championship ring. He is has also made a name for himself in coming off the bench to be an offensive spark plug, and has shown he can light up the scoreboard, and in a hurry!
Standing at just 6'0, Mills has arguably already defied the odds to carve out a long and successful career in the NBA. Does his longevity in the NBA coupled with his championship win with the Spurs give him the edge over a young Simmons who is just starting to scratch the surface of what promises to be an outstanding career in the NBA?
It's time to vote!
Fan vote brackets
Round 1 | Tipped off on 14 April 2020
14-April | (1) Bogut lost to (8) Simmons
16-April | (5) Dellavedova lost to (4) Baynes
21-April | (2) Mills defeated (7) Maker
23-April | (6) Ingles lost to (3) Longley
Semifinals | Tipped off on 28 April 2020
28-April | (8) Simmons defeated (4) Baynes
30-April | (2) Mills defeated (3) Longley
Final | Tip off on 5 May 2020
5-May | (8) Simmons vs (2) Mills
Voting opens at 8:00am AEST on The Pick and Roll’s Facebook page and remains open for 24 hours.
Be sure to check in and vote for who you think has had a better NBA career.
All-Time Australians in the NBA*
NamePosYearsSeasonsC’shipsDeng AdelF20191 David AndersenF/C2009–20112 Chris AnsteyC1997–20003 Cameron BairstowF/C2014–20162 Aron BaynesC2013–present81Andrew BogutC2005–2018; 2019141Jonah BoldenF2018–20202 Mark BradtkeC1996–19971 Ryan BroekhoffG2018-20202 Mitch CreekG20191 Matthew DellavedovaG2013–present71Dante ExumG2014–present5 Andrew GazeG1994; 199921Ricky GraceG19931 Shane HealG1996–19972 Isaac HumphriesF/C20191 Joe InglesF2014–present6 Nathan JawaiF/C2008–20102 Luc LongleyC1991–2001103Thon MakerF/C2016–present4 Mangok MathiangF/C2017–20181 Darnell MeeG1993–19952 Patty MillsG2009–present111Luke SchenscherC2006–20072 Ben SimmonsF2017–present3
*As at 13 April 2020