One of the most represented international countries in the NBA leading into the 2016/17 campaign, eight Australians will look to hit the court for six different teams this season.
Milwaukee Bucks- Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker.
Dellavedova made the move to the Bucks from the Cleveland Cavaliers after winning the 2016 Championship, signing a four-year $38 million deal.
The recent news that Milwaukee have traded Michael Carter-Williams should see Delly gain an even bigger role in the back court as one of the team’s premier point guards.
Already a team with incredible wingspan through the likes of Giannas Antetokounmpo, John Henson, Greg Monroe and Jabari Parker, 216cm Thon Maker was added to that front court when taken as pick no. 10 in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Averaging 14.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game during the Summer League, Maker sent a scare through the Bucks camp when he hurt his wrist at a training camp although the injury is not considered serious.
The Bucks’ season opener will be played against Charlotte on Thursday, October 27.
Utah Jazz- Joe Ingles and Dante Exum.
The other team aside from Milwaukee with two Aussie representatives is the Jazz.
Following a Rio 2016 campaign and the birth of his twins, Ingles will be looking to maintain an important role within Utah, having played in 160 out of a possible 164 games across the past two seasons.
Hitting 39% from long range in 2015/16, Ingles’ passing ability is just as critical as his shooting to getting consistent minutes this year and hopefully he can have a meaningful role after he saw his court time diminish last season.
Exum will be fighting his way back into the line-up after tearing his ACL in August 2015, prior to the Rio Olympics. He has shown promising signs in the pre-season, with what looks like a bigger frame while his ability to set up team mates has not been lost, to the benefit of forwards like Rudy Gobert.
A hyper-extended knee in a game against Phoenix was a slight concern but the current news is that Exum will be right for Utah’s first game on Wednesday, October 26 against Portland.
Dallas Mavericks- Andrew Bogut.
A four-year stint with the Warriors has come to an end for Bogut, traded in a deal that included the addition of Kevin Durant to Golden State as they chase redemption for 2015/16.
Bogut seems comfortable with the move though and coach Rick Carlisle and Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki have already extolled the defensive and passing virtues of the centre.
Recovering from a knee injury suffered in the 2016 NBA Finals, Bogut still has the jump to connect with Deron Williams and J.J Barea on alley-oops and can settle in nicely under the rim to give space for Nowitzki to hit his patented fade-away jumpers.
San Antonio Spurs- Patty Mills.
The tide may be beginning to turn in San Antonio with Tim Duncan retiring during the off-season and Manu Ginobili (39 years old) and Tony Parker (34) in the twilight of their careers.
Mills has the chance to secure a place as Parker’s heir apparent in the point guard spot although coach Gregg Popovich does like to keep him coming off the bench to maintain the pace with the Spurs’ impressive second unit.
Recovering from a shoulder injury in 2015/16, Mills had one of his most efficient seasons with 8.5 points per game and will be looking to help San Antonio into the playoffs for a sixth straight year with the club.
The Spurs open their season with a game against the Warriors on Wednesday, October 26.
Detroit Pistons- Aron Baynes.
The injury bug has hit Baynes as well, suffering a broken nose in a pre-season game against the Bucks but if he can wear a mask, do not expect the big man to miss any of the regular season.
Coming up to his second year with Detroit after moving from the Spurs, Baynes enjoyed his most productive season when he averaged 6.3 points while shooting 50% from the field with 4.7 rebounds in 2015/16.
His big frame and physical style of play is the perfect complement to Andre Drummond coming off the bench and alongside 221cm giant Boban Marjanovic, the Pistons own one of the most intimidating front courts in the league.
Detroit hit the road for their first game of the 2016/17 campaign, facing Toronto on Thursday, October 27.
Philadelphia 76ers- Ben Simmons.
The hype surrounding number one pick Simmons has been put on hold after he fractured his foot in an inter-club scrimmage.
While rumours have circulated that he will miss his entire rookie season, the basketball world is hopeful to see him on court for the Sixers early in the New Year.
Predicted as the top rookie and one of the league’s best passers in a recent NBA General Manager’s survey, Simmons will now work on his jump shot during his rehab and the Philadelphia coaching staff, including ex-Boomers coach Brett Brown, will continue to work on his education.
The Sixers tip-off the 2016/17 season in Oklahoma City on Thursday, October 27.