Christmas is just days away, and we are mixing things up this week. Instead of the usual Friday Five, let's bounce around the NBA, visit all the Australians, and pick one thing we would like to see with their performance in 2019.
Matthew Dellavedova: trade back to a playoff team
Dellavedova has showed signs of life during his Cleveland homecoming. If this continues through February’s trade deadline, it presents the Cavaliers an interesting proposition: do they trade Dellavedova and his $9.5 player option for next season for an even worse player / contract combination, with an asset attached as a sweetener?
This is dependent on a few variables, namely the Australian maintaining his performance and another team wanting to shed salary. A hypothetical trade is a win-win for both sides, with Cleveland getting another asset for taking on long term salary, while Dellavedova gets the opportunity to play meaning basketball games in April.
Thon Maker: showing off Playoffs Thon before the playoffs
Playoffs Thon is a revolutionary player. Performances during game 1 in Toronto in 2017 and game 3 against Boston in 2018 offered a glimpse into Maker’s extreme NBA potential. Unfortunately, they have been fleeting bursts.
Maker currently has a clear role as the Bucks’ reserve five man behind Brook Lopez, and Milwaukee is charging towards a top-four playoffs seeding. He has a golden opportunity to contribute on a team with dreams of making the conference finals. It’s time to see the very best of Maker, night in and night out, in the NBA. He cannot afford to wait until the postseason.
Jonah Bolden: NBA minutes as a five man
The Philadelphia 76ers bench is bad. When one of Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid misses time, it is really really bad. All this while, Bolden has not been receiving minutes at the NBA level. This is a signal that Philadelphia’s coaching staff believes he isn’t ready to contribute in the NBA. Not yet.
While they might be justified, the Sixers are in desperate need of bodies at this point. They need to throw Bolden out there and see what he can do. It's highly likely that things might go poorly, but the Sixers must explore their roster options before the trade deadline happens. At the very least, Bolden should get opportunities over Amir Johnson.
Ryan Broekhoff: minutes, minutes, minutes!
Broekhoff may have received his NBA initiation this year, although he has yet to truly receive an opportunity to contribute on the Dallas Mavericks. The Frankston native has played a total of 74 minutes across the Mavericks first 29 games. There have been momentary glimpses to what he can do at the NBA level. More minutes would be nice, though.
Joe Ingles: exorcism of shooting woes
Ingles has seemingly lost his fastball. Over the past 15 games, Ingles is shooting 35.7% from three-point range. This remains a nice figure. It is above average for NBA players, but it is well below what Ingles is capable of. The Australia shot 44% on threes during the past two seasons and started this campaign in equally impressive form. That old adage about the NBA being a make or miss league has caught up with Ingles of late. Here’s hoping the new year signals a turn for the better.
Mitch Creek, Isaac Humphries and Deng Adel: an NBA opportunity
Pretty simple wish for these three. Battling away in the G League is a relentless grind, but the new year offers hope in the form NBA 10-day contracts.
Starting in January, NBA clubs are eligible to sign players to 10-day agreements. This is a natural step for many in the G League and provides an opportunity to impress at the highest level. Creek, Humphries and Adel are all aiming to make an NBA debut in 2019, and this will be their best bet.
Ben Simmons: defensive attention to detail
Much attention is given to Simmons’ hesitation to shoot the basketball, but there is a much simpler growth area lingering within his game. Brett Brown has repeated this sentiment over and over again this season: Simmons has the potential to be an All-NBA defender. There are moments when Simmons makes Brown look prophetic, but these remain fleeting.
Simmons is a plus on-ball defender. The responsibility of leading a backline from the point of attack often stimulates his sublime athletic gifts. It’s a different story when Simmons is away from the ball, as unnecessary switches and a nasty ball watching habit often invade his game. Jimmy Butler’s presence gives Simmons the perfect defensive mentor. If Simmons can clean up some low-hanging fruit, his defensive performance could skyrocket.
Dante Exum: consistency
Here are Exum’s minutes played during the Utah Jazz’s past 10 games: seven, DNP (coach's decision), two, 11, 21, three, nine, 23, 15 and 20.
Exum hasn't locked a consistent role down, because of his spotty play. There are nights where he performs like the player who was rewarded with a rich contract extension in the summer, although these are often followed by a let down.
There are a number of specific improvement areas – one being Exum’s finishing, with his effective field goal percentage of 42.2% ranks in the eight percentage, per Cleaning the Glass – but as a general comment, Exum needs to bring a level of reliability into his game.
Aron Baynes: another deep playoff run
2018 was the best NBA calendar year of Baynes' career. It was, of course, highlighted by his performance in the Celtics' run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in May.
The Celtics are primed for another playoff tilt, and Baynes will be relied upon again when Boston face off against the best teams in their conference. Joel Embiid in Philadelphia, Jonas Valencunis in Toronto and Brook Lopez in Milwaukee are likely opponents on the Celtics march to the NBA Finals, and Baynes will be vital in slowing down these talented big men.
We will get an early glimpse of playoff action on Christmas Day, when Ben Simmons and the Sixers head to Boston. Baynes starred against Embiid on opening night and the pair make for great television every time they match up. Watch out for more Baynes action, once he recovers from his untimely hand injury.
Patty Mills: a tenth straight playoff appearance
Mills has made the postseason in every season he has played in the NBA. Through everything that has transpired this year in San Antonio - Kawhi Leonard being traded to Toronto, Manu Ginobili's retirement, coach Gregg Popovich's family tragedy, the season ending injury to Dejounte Murray and a glut of other ailments up and the down the roster - maintaining the playoff steak, both personally for Mills and San Antonio making their 21st straight appearance, would be one of the more impressive accomplishments in the NBA.
That’s another week of basketball in the books, and another Friday Five complete. Did we miss anything? Let Ben know on Twitter if there is anything you would like to see next week.