Thu, Oct 13, 5:22pm by Head Editor
With Ben Simmons and Thon Maker being drafted, the total of Australians in the NBA rises to eight for this season.
The 2015-16 season saw a record seven Australians suit up in the NBA, and with Simmons and Maker both being selected in the top-10 of the 2016 NBA Draft that makes a record number of Australians who are contracted for the 2016-17 season.
Unfortunately, Cameron Bairstow was released by the Chicago Bulls, otherwise the total would have been nine. Bairstow has started the season well back home for the Brisbane Bullets.
The eight Australians make the country among the highest in international representatives, only behind Canada (12) and France (12) and Brazil (9).
Let’s take a look at the eight players, how much of an impact they are likely to have and their team’s chances for the season.
The first Aussie to run our eye over is Matthew Dellavedova. ‘Delly’ played a key role off the bench for most of the season with the Championship winning Cleveland Cavaliers, in the process, becoming the sixth Australian to win the NBA title.
His move to Milwaukee in the off-season for a reported $38.4 million over four years means he’s making the big bucks, playing for the Bucks.
He will be playing much higher minutes at his new club, alongside draftee and the next Aussie up for discussion, Thon Maker. The Sudanese-Australian rookie finished with nine points, four rebounds, and one block in his NBA pre-season debut in a win over Dallas on October 9.
The Bucks will be looking to improve on their 50% record from last season, winning 41 and losing the same amount of games, they are not expected to feature in the post season, you can get $2.37 for them to make the playoffs and $151 for the Championship.
Another Aussie who found a new home in the off-season was centre Andrew Bogut.
The Melbourne-native was given a chance in Dallas’ aforementioned pre-season loss to the Bucks, he missed his only two field goal attempts, but made up for it with six rebounds and two assists in just 14 minutes of action. His experience will be important as the Mavs attempt to get past the first round of the playoffs, where they have stumbled the last three seasons.
The Mavericks finished second in the Southwest division and sixth in the Western conference with a 42–40 record. They are also at long odds for the Championship at $126 but are $2.05 to make the playoffs.
Dante Exum is nearly at full health after sitting out the entire 2015-16 season with an ACL injury, and is expected to play a key role for the Utah Jazz. His teammate and compatriot Joe Ingles became a fan favourite in Utah last season, playing all but two of the 81 games of the bench and averaging 15 minutes per game as well as 4.2 points
A man who played a key role in Australia’s Olympic campaign was Aron Baynes. He’s a key frontcourt option for the Pistons who made the playoff’ last season, losing to the eventual champion Cleveland 4-0 in the first week of the post season.
All reports are that Baynes is fit, firing and ready to go, unlike this time last year when he was out with an ankle injury that plagued the first half of his season. Baynes had a good first season with the Pistons, averaging 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Patty Mills will be playing in the playoffs with the Spurs, they are third favourite for the title at $8.50. Mills’ became one of the best ‘sixth-men’ in the league last season, in fact, he was so good he was in the discussion for the best sixth man award.
The 28-year old averaged 8.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in 20.5 minutes per game last season, and continues to be a nice source of instance offence against opposing second units. However, with Tony Parker looking more and more limited every year, there might be a chance for Mills to earn a larger role this season.
Unfortunately, number one draft pick, Ben Simmons will not be playing any part of at least the first three months of the season. Simmons fractured the fifth metatarsal bone his right foot in practice with the 76ers on September 30. A return date has not been set for the 20-year old.
The 76ers will want him back as quickly as possible, last season was a disaster for the team, they finished with a record of 10-72 which was the worst in the league. They are the biggest long shot for the title at $501 and $11 to make the post season.
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