It sounds simple, but patience is quite often the hardest thing to learn. It’s the philosophy that’s allowed Deng Adel to stay focused on showing teams what he can do, move past the speed bumps and take his career to new heights.
That patience has been rewarded, as Adel has earned a training roster spot with the Minnesota Timbersolves.
The Pick and Roll spoke with the 21-year-old South-Sudanese Australian small forward about his time in the NBA Summer League and the opportunity that has been presented to him at the Timberwolves.
“It’s a great opportunity to head down and try to get straight on their [15-man team] roster – I am heading there next week to start working out early so I am ready and waiting for training camp in mid September,” shared Adel.
It has taken intense effort for Adel to get to where he is now. His resilience and trademark patience have helped him stay the course, and allowed the young Aussie to show that he can cut it with the best of them.
These same qualities that been engrained in Adel throughout his life. Having fled war-torn Sudan with his mother and five siblings his family came to Australia for a second chance and he is so thankful to the country he credits for his opportunity to ball professionally.
“I have been through a lot personally up until this point. That country, Australia, means a lot to me – it’s where I grew up and is really where basketball started for me.”
With understanding the importance of patience and resilience in achieving his dream of playing in the NBA, Adel is ready to take the next steps and grab his shot with both hands aggressively in the same tone that he plays.
“I’m a competitor who has always put in the hard work. I belong in the NBA right now, and that is how I am approaching it.”
Adel possesses a versatile skillset, one that translates on both ends of the court. He has the length and athleticism to drive and finish through contact, coupled with the ability to hit from well beyond the three-point line. Defensively, he is multi-positional and can be shuffled around, depending on the team’s needs. Adel is aware of what he offers, and knows it.
“I’m ready to work hard and take what’s mine.”
After a solid collegiate career with Louisville, he finished it off with a senior season where he averaged 14.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists across 33.1 minutes. However, he did not hear his name called in the 2018 NBA draft. While draft day was a disappointment, he would manage to secure an opportunity to play for the Houston Rockets in the Summer League.
In his first game of Summer League, Adel was used sparingly, playing only two minutes for a single rebound. In a situation where most players would simply give up or lose hope, Adel soaked it up and remained patient. He worked hard, listened and learned, knowing that when given another opportunity, he would be ready and primed to prove he could play and contribute in the NBA.
“The first game I didn’t get the chance to show what I could do and the second game I didn’t even touch the floor,” Adel explained. “From that most people give up mentally but I never give up. The biggest thing I took from it which I was proud of was that third game when I had my name called, I came in and from there on I took my opportunities to get some minutes and perform.”
The athletic wing would go on to play four of five games for the Rockets, avering a respectable 8.3 points, 1.3 assists and 1.8 rebounds across that time.
For somebody who started playing basketball later in his teens, he has continued to push his case on what he can offer on the court and was rewarded with strong interest from the Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves and the New Orleans Pelicans. For Adel, the plan back then was clear.
“I had to get back to the States, work out and figure out who I was going to training camp with to fight for that roster spot.
“There is a lot of interest in me there but at the end of the day, nothing is guaranteed.”
Having secured a training camp with the Timberwolves, a team that needs depth, Adel is now in a position to do what he has done all his career to date – work hard and continue to be patient.
Good things happen to those who wait – and believe.