Q&A with Deng Adel: Australia’s latest NBA player

Deng Adel | Credit: NBA G League

Deng Adel is one step closer to the NBA dream.

Adel will sign a two-way contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, according to reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic. Signing with the Cavaliers represents Adel’s first NBA contact.

Adel, who spent three years in college with the Louisville Cardinal, had been playing with the Raptors 905, the Toronto Raptors’ G League affiliate team.

In 25 games for the 905, Adel has averaged 13.0 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31.6 minutes. These averages have been going up over the past month with Adel improving with every passing game.

Adel averaged 22.5 points and 7.5 rebounds during the G League Showcase in Las Vegas before Christmas and last week played the best game of his professional career. The 22-year-old recorded 25 points on 9-for-12 shooting in 30 minutes, adding four rebounds, three assists, and two steals against the Delaware Bluecoats.

The Cavaliers currently have the worst record in the NBA at 9-35, although that barely matters for Adel, who now has an opportunity to impress at the NBA level. He joins fellow Australian Matthew Dellavedova on the Cleveland roster.

Signing a two-way contract doesn’t guarantee Adel will play an NBA game for the Cavaliers, although it means the Cavaliers can call Adel up to their NBA roster at anytime. When not with the Cavaliers, Adel will likely remain in the G League, albeit with Cleveland’s affiliate, the Canton Charge.

The Pick and Roll spoke with Adel last week before news of his Cavaliers contract had been released. “I am chasing this NBA dream right now,” Adel said at the time. He is about to live out that dream.

Here is our chat with Adel.

Q: Let’s start with the G League showcase. You played some good basketball in Vegas. Can you describe what the week in Vegas was like?

It was new. It felt like AAU because there wasn’t much of a crowd, it was just you, your coaches, your teammates and scouts. It was fun. Just to get out there and show what you can do. That’s probably the best part.

Q: What is the feedback you are getting from the coaching staff – what are the areas of your game that they are helping you focus on?

Consistency. I have a lot of up-and-down games so they just want me to stay aggressive at all times. Because when I’m aggressive good things do happen. Sometimes I am not as involved in the actions. They want me to stay aggressive because it really helps the team. And just confidence. Shoot the ball with confidence. I’m not shooting the ball great right now but just making sure I keep working and keep shooting the ball with confidence.

Q: You got to spend training camp with the Toronto Raptors – they are known for having one of the better development systems in the NBA – what are your biggest takeaways from your first NBA training camp experience?

Just the preparation. How guys prepare. What they do before every game and before every practice. How they take care of their bodies. Just having that professional approach. Obviously learning how to be a professional on-the-court and off-the-court is very important.

The Toronto Raptors organisation is very professional. They have high expectations. For me, being one of the young guys, I am just learning from the veterans and learning from the coaching staff. Then trying to apply as much knowledge as I can to my game.

Q: Can you describe what life in the G League is actually like? I know a lot of people back in Australia think it is just as glamorous as the NBA, but that isn’t the case. What is life like on the road in the G League?

It’s not quite the same [as the NBA]. But it’s the closest thing to the NBA. There are a lot of games. 50 games. We are always on the road. We are based in Toronto but we are always travelling to the [United] States. You get your own freedom off-the-court. You have a lot off free time and need to find things to do. It’s fun. We are playing basketball. For me, I obviously want to play at the NBA level but I am still playing basketball. I am grateful for the opportunity.

Q: For you personally, what are the aims for the rest of the season?

First thing is being consistent with my performance. Staying aggressive. Defending on the other end. Getting my three-point percentage up, Just learning as much as I can. I’m new to this game. It’s a different game from college. So just learning as much as I can, as quick as I can. Just continuing to play with confidence. Continue to enjoy Toronto, enjoy where I am at and enjoy this experience.

Q: How is like as a professional basketballer different to college?

The lifestyle is definitely different. You don’t have class.

Q: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

For me, it goes both ways. I have to find other things to do. I have to do my own research and learn on my own. Read books and things like that. For me, it hasn’t been that difficult, but that’s has been one of the major differences: you don’t have class. Once you are done with practice, you don’t have anything until the next day. Time management is really important.

In college, the schedule is laid out for you. In the league, you are responsible for everything. If you miss a practice, it’s a fine. Nobody is going to chase after you.

Q; What does Deng Adel do for fun? Have you read any good books lately?

Right now I am reading Outwitting the Devil. It’s about fears and mental blockages for individuals. Also read a couple of financial books; Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

Just trying to learn as much as I can because I am not in school anymore. Just keep improving my knowledge. I’ve got one more year left to graduate so I want to get that out the way early.

Q: So you are still studying?

I am trying to get a couple classes in the summer. Right now, it’s my first year so I need to see how everything works, then next year I will focus on finding the time. Getting that out of the way is a priority.

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