Aussies in the NBA: 2017/18 preview

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Take a look at where our Aussie representatives will be around the USA as we head into the 2017/18 NBA season, beginning tomorrow.

Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker- Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks have bolstered their back court during the off-season so Dellavedova can expect to come off the bench this season but after a few years in Milwaukee, he will be comfortable in his role. While his numbers were slightly down last season, he is still a strong distributor and sees the floor as well as anyone else on the team and if the new talent can find Dellavedova as well, he may find his point production increasing in 2016/17.

Surprising many during his rookie season, Maker will now be aiming to avoid the sophomore slump and further prove why the Bucks selected him as a top ten pick. As a member of the Bucks’ front court that boasts a heap of talent and length, he will be providing rim protection as well as continuing to improve his three-point shot which could become a serious weapon in 2017/18. Milwaukee have not made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since 2004 but have the talent to make some noise in a depleted East Conference.

First Game: Milwaukee vs. Boston at 10.30am Wednesday AEDT.

Patty Mills- San Antonio Spurs

Back again with the Spurs this season, Mills will have a major role to play as San Antonio’s premier point guard in Tony Parker is out for at least the first half of the year. Coach Gregg Popovich still likes to play Mills off the bench as he has synchronicity with that second unit but he should be expected to play close to 30 minutes a night. The focus from oppositions will be firmly on the Aussie point guard as he aims to lead the successful Spurs franchise deep into the playoffs for the 21st consecutive time but he is coming off his most productive season statistically since 2012.

First Game: San Antonio vs. Minnesota at 12.30pm Wednesday AEDT.

Joe Ingles and Dante Exum- Utah Jazz

Along with the Bucks, Utah are sporting two Aussies on their roster again this year. Last season, Ingles finished third for the league in three-point percentage, knocking down 123 makes overall at a 44.1% clip while also shooting at 45% from the field overall. Re-signing during the off-season and seeing the departure of Gordon Hayward, Ingles should have even more court time in 2017/18. His ability to distribute is also a key piece of the Jazz puzzle as they aim to go one step further than their Semi-Finals effort last season.

Exum’s season, unfortunately, is currently in limbo as he undergoes surgery for his shoulder which he injured during the pre-season. Opting for surgery, that could mean he is out for the entire 2017/18 campaign which would be a devastating blow for the 22-year old.

First Game: Utah vs. Denver at 12pm Wednesday AEDT.

Aron Baynes- Boston Celtics

Making the move to Boston from Detroit, Baynes has signed a one-year deal with the Celtics. It will be interesting to see how the organisation utilises him as he provides a real option in the centre position but could find the going tough against the best opposition forwards. With only this season to prove himself, Baynes is sure to put everything out on the table and with the Celtics a legitimate chance for the Eastern Conference title, he has more opportunity for success.

First Game: Boston vs. Cleveland at 11am Wednesday AEDT.

Andrew Bogut- Los Angeles Lakers

Bogut left his decision quite late in the off-season as he recovered from injury but has signed with the Lakers as his fifth team after stints in Milwaukee, Golden State, Dallas and Cleveland. Potentially missing Los Angeles’ first game with a groin complaint is a disappointing way to start but hopefully Bogut can get some extended court time as he slots in behind Brook Lopez in the front court. Previous history with head coach Luke Walton will also help while Bogut has never lost his ability to set solid screens or pass the ball which the Lakers brigade are sure to make the most of.

First Game: Lakers vs. Clippers at 1.30pm Friday AEDT.

Ben Simmons- Philadelphia 76ers

We have had to wait a year but Simmons is finally expected to make his NBA debut on Thursday morning Australia time. While the pre-season can be a dangerous predictor, Simmons has starred at both ends of the floor and proven his ability to play the point guard role, which coach Brett Brown hinted at. He will be aiming to continue to work on his jump shot but in the meantime, his ability to distribute for team mates such as Joel Embiid will be just as important to Philadelphia’s chances. Without a winning record since 2013, the 76ers should be able to turn that around this season with the next step being whether they can reach the playoffs.

First Game: Philadelphia vs. Washington at 10am Thursday AEDT.

Mangok Mathiang- Charlotte Hornets

Currently on a two-way contract with the Hornets, Mathiang has around two months to prove his impact for the team before they must make a decision on his future. Averaging 7.8 points and six rebounds per game as a senior, the forward played for Charlotte during the NBA Summer League which got him the two-way contract but it means he will most likely spend most of his time with the Greensboro Swarm, Lousville’s G-League team. However, Mathiang is only 25 years old and any international experience will be valuable for his development.

First Game: Charlotte vs. Detroit at 10am Thursday AEDT.