At least seven Australians are set to feature during the 2020-21 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, with Ben Simmons the most likely to walk away with a Championship ring.
- The 72-game NBA season begins on Wednesday, Australian time
- Among the Australians expected to feature this season is first round draft pick Josh Green
- Ben Simmons’s 76ers are fifth favourite to win the NBA title
The NBA season gets underway on Wednesday, Australian time, after the league’s proposed November tip-off was pushed back to late December due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
The Simmons-led Philadelphia 76ers are equal fifth favourites to win the title, behind defending champions Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks.
Here’s a look at the Aussies set to take to the court in the world’s premier professional basketball competition this season.
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
Simmons, who averaged 16.4 points per game during the 2019-20 regular season, is rated as one of the brightest young stars of the NBA but is yet to reach his full potential.
He missed the 76ers’ 2020 playoff series with the Boston Celtics after injuring his knee.
The 76ers are now coached by Doc Rivers after parting ways with Brett Brown.
If Rivers can get the best out of the former number one NBA draft pick, then the talent-laden 76ers could be a force to be reckoned with.
Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs)
Thirty-two-year-old Patty Mills averaged a career-high 11.6 points last season and has been a regular impact player at the Spurs since 2012.
San Antonio are tipped to struggle this season, but Australian fans will be hoping Mills gets significant court time ahead of the 2021 Olympics.
Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz)
Three-point specialist Joe Ingles had a slightly lower output last season but still averaged 9.8 points per game during the regular season and 9.1 in his seven finals.
The Jazz are expected to make the finals again and the hot hand of Ingles is set to play a key role in their chances of success.
Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Tough-as-nails workhorse Matthew Dellavedova was almost traded to the LA Lakers last month to be reunited with former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James.
The Lakers eventually decided against it and Dellavedova signed a one-year extension with Cleveland.
He averaged just 3.1 points per game last season and shot at a lowly 23.1 per cent from long-range.
Aron Baynes (Toronto Raptors)
Aron Baynes shows no signs of slowing down at age 34 after averaging a career-high 11.5 points per game for the Phoenix Suns last season.
His long-range shooting has become a weapon over the past two years and he is a strong chance to return to finals action with a talented Raptors roster.
Dante Exum (Cleveland Cavaliers)
The number five pick from the 2014 draft, Dante Exum has been ravaged by injuries throughout his stop-start career.
The Utah Jazz finally lost patience and traded him to the Cavs early last season and he looks on track for a breakout campaign after sinking 23 points during a recent pre-season game.
Josh Green (Dallas Mavericks)
The number 18 pick in the 2020 draft, Josh Green has already made a good impression at the Mavericks with his strong work ethic and no-nonsense attitude.
The former Arizona Wildcat isn’t expected to play huge minutes this season, but it will be an invaluable learning curve for the 20-year-old guard ahead of a possible Olympics debut for the Boomers.
Several other Aussies on the cusp
The number of Australians could rise to eight if Thon Maker wins the final spot on Cleveland’s list or Will Magnay earns an upgrade.
Magnay recently signed a two-way deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, but it’s expected the Brisbane-born centre will spend the bulk of his time with the club’s NBA G League affiliate Erie BayHawks.
Jonah Bolden, who played three games for the Phoenix Suns in 2020 after 48 with the 76ers, is expected to continue his career in Europe after failing to land at another NBA club.
Spanish outfit Real Madrid is circling Bolden after American Anthony Randolph suffered a season-ending injury.
Boomers swingman Ryan Broekhoff is on the lookout for a new home after being waived by the 76ers earlier this month.
The Lakers are favoured to repeat as NBA Champions after signing James and Anthony Davis to contracts during the offseason and adding DeMar DeRozan and Montrezl Harrell.
The NBA season has already been reduced from 82 to 72 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the league will try to complete its 16-team playoffs between May 22 and July 22.
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