Yes, It’s disappointing but don’t get disheartened.
Watching the boomers play at the Rio Olympics was great. Well I had a lot of fun.
Watching them down France, Lithuania, Serbia and coming within a few possessions of defeating team USA was pretty amazing.
However, the last two games against Serbia and Spain were definitely disappointing. Especially when you consider how close they were to beating the gold medal winners team USA. But I want to put this tournament into perspective.
Going in Australia was ranked 11th in the world by FIBA. France (5th), Lithuania (3rd), Spain (2nd), Serbia (6th) and team USA (1st) all outranked Australia significantly.
When we look at the boomers’ team taken to Rio you’ll notice a few notable names missing.
Let’s have a look at the squad:
- Chris Goulding – Melbourne United – SG
- Patty Mills – San Antonio Spurs – PG/SG
- Andrew Bogut – Dallas Mavericks – F/C
- Joe Ingles – Utah Jazz – SF
- Matthew Dellavedova – Milwaukee Bucks – PG
- Ryan Broekhoff – Lokomotiv-Kuban – SG/SF
- Cameron Bairstow – Brisbane Bullets – F/C
- Kevin Lisch – Sydney Kings – PG/SG
- Aron Baynes – Detroit Pistons – F/C
- David Anderson – Melbourne United – F/C
- Brock Motum – Zalgiris Kaunas – PF
- Damian Martin – Perth Wildcats – PG
A very talented group and well represented in leagues all around the world including the NBA.
It’s very possible that the core of this Australian team could be available for the next Olympics. Andrew Bogut would be 36 and probably the oldest member of the team. 36 is the current age of team captain David Anderson, so it wouldn’t be crazy to think Bogut would play in 2020.
What’s exciting is the number of quality young Australian players being produced including most notably Ben Simmons, Dante Exum and Thon Maker who have all been taken in the top 10 in the NBA draft.
Dante Exum – PG/SG
We’ve only seen flashes of Dante Exum spending his first year splitting time with Trey Bourke then loosing his entire second season due to a torn ACL. With modest NBA statistics so far (4.8 PPG, 2.4 APG and 1.6 RPG per game) it’s important to note that these numbers aren’t too dissimilar from Patty Mills’ and Matthew Dellavadova’s from their first few years in the league. Dante jumped straight to the league with no college experience. It wouldn’t be crazy to suggest that Dante could improve into a more productive player in the NBA than our two current guards. He’s also shown an ability to contribute on an international stage. Averaging 18.2 points and 3.8 assists for the Australian under 19s basketball team.
What does it mean for Australian Basketball?
We could see times when Dellavadova (PG), Mills (SG) and Exum (SF) are all on the court together. With Mills and Dellavadova’s shooting accompanied with Exum’s ability to slash and finish at the hoop would be really fun to watch.
It also means that one of these three (most likely Exum) would spend time with the second unit. Think Manu Ginobili with the Spurs.
Ben Simmons has a chance to be really special. Not just for Australia but in the NBA. The 76ers picked him number 1 overall and expect him to contribute right away. Although his LSU team didn’t have a great season, he finished with averages of 19.2 PPG, 11.8 RPG and 4.8 APG. The only players at a similar size/position I could find with comparable numbers were:
- Magic Johnson 17.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 7.9 APG (NCAA Career Stats)
- Larry Bird 30.3 PPG, 13.3 RPG and 4.6 APG (NCAA Career Stats)
- Draymond Green 16.2 PPG, 10.8 RPG and 3.8 APG (Senior Season Stats)
Now I’m not saying these four players are in the same category just yet. I’m just saying their college stats are comparable.
What it means for Australian Basketball?
Best case is a genuine superstar who can contribute to a game in a number of different ways.
Simmons projects to be a Small Forward (SF) which appears to be a position of need for Australia moving forward as only Joe Ingles is listed as a specialist SF. However, Simmons is tall and athletic enough to cover the Power Forward spot should Australia want to play smaller (see above).
If Simmons can develop a reliable jump shot, he could become one of the best players in the world.
Maker is a bit of an enigma having transferred to play the last two years of High School ball in Canada. Before transferring, Maker had averages of 22.1 PPG, 13.1 RPG and 1.9APG. Like Exum, Maker has not played any college basketball.
Although unproven there’s enough potential to justify a top 10 pick. Maker is 7ft tall and has skills worthy of a point guard and is athletic enough to run the floor.
What this means for Australian Basketball
Maker will be a nice juxtaposition to Baynes and Bogut offering a more unique skillset and greater athleticism.
He is a capable defender who, as mentioned above, is athletic and could prove hard to guard in fast break or pick and roll situations.
Interesting to note his younger brother is also a top recruit in the 2017 class.
Australian Basketball is in good hands! We’ve got a good coach and will have more talent than we’ve ever had at the next Olympics. If all goes to plan and we’re able to keep the core of Dellavedova, Mills, Ingles, Baynes and Bogut. Add in further developed Exum, Simmons and Maker and I think we would be even better placed to contend for a gold medal than previous Olympics.