The 2018-19 NBA season tips off tonight, once again doing so with a truly international feel. A record equaling 42 nations have representation on an opening night NBA roster, while a total of 108 players have made the final cut.
More specifically to Australia, nine players will suit up for their respective teams to begin their campaigns. The number is a record figure for our nation, and has it tied for second with France for the most represented country outside of the United States - Canada leads all with eleven.
The Australian contingent will be led by burgeoning superstar Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers, while the veteran of the crew will be Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs. The 30-year-old Mills is entering his 10th season in the league and looks likely to take on his greatest role yet, with the Spurs point guard stocks already depleted by injury.
Simmons will be thrust directly into the limelight today, as his 76ers take on the Boston Celtics in the very first game of the regular season. The reigning Rookie of the Year will once again lead the charge with All-Star big man Joel Embiid, under the guidance of former Boomers head coach Brett Brown.
Utah cult hero and playoff star, Joe Ingles will once again team up with Dante Exum on the Utah Jazz. Exum comes into the season hoping to escape the injury curse that has derailed the early years of his promising professional career. The 5th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft has only been able to manage 162 appearances over four seasons, though the Jazz saw enough to re-sign the athletic guard to a three-year, $33 million deal in the off-season.
While in Milwaukee, the longstanding connection between the Bucks and Australia will once again continue, with Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker hoping to solidify their place in a suddenly deep rotation. Maker's ability to capitalise on his endless potential could quietly become a key for a Bucks team looking to take a leap into Eastern Conference contention.
Potentially the biggest chance to collect an NBA ring among the Aussies will be Aron Baynes, who again figures to play a key role in an absolutely stacked Boston Celtics squad. With LeBron James no longer holding court in the East, the C's head into the season as the favourites to take out the conference crown.
About to kick off their rookie seasons will be Jonah Bolden in Philly, and Ryan Broekhoff with the Dallas Mavericks. Bolden, a second round draft pick two seasons ago has joined the Sixers after a season playing abroad in Israel. Broekhoff on the other hand is following the Joe Ingles blueprint; plying his trade in Europe, before finally receiving the well overdue call to take his talents to the worlds premier competition.
Incredibly, the number could have been even higher, with Mitch Creek (Brooklyn), Deng Adel (Toronto) and Isaac Humphries (Atlanta) just missing their respective teams 15-man roster.
Australian basketball is without question continuing its surge into a golden era, and with representation on the global scene stronger than ever, hoops fans are set to feast on a continuous schedule of homegrown talent on the big stage. Bring it on.
Aussies in the NBA for 2018/19
Aron BAYNES | Boston Celtics (preview) Ryan BROEKHOFF | Dallas Mavericks (preview) Jonah BOLDEN | Philadelphia 76ers (preview) Matthew DELLAVEDOVA | Milwaukee Bucks (preview) Dante EXUM | Utah Jazz (preview) Joe INGLES | Utah Jazz (preview) Thon MAKER | Milwaukee Bucks (preview) Patty MILLS | San Antonio Spurs (preview) Ben SIMMONS | Philadelphia 76ers (preview)