With the Rio de Janeiro Olympics just around the corner and the Boomers team having just been named, it’s time to talk potential rotations for one of Australia’s most promising medal chances.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely promising young stars Ben Simmons or Dante Exum will play, both for different reasons. However, given they have both been named, they will both be included in this article.
Who’s in the mix to see the most game time for the Boomers?
Honourable mentions: Chris Goulding, Todd Blanchfield, David Andersen
Chris Goulding can score with the best of them, and was close to cracking the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks not long ago. However, the guard depth in the country at the given time will limit his minutes, as will his defensive frailties.
At 24, Todd Blanchfield is a fantastic future prospect for the international team, highlighted by his winning of the Most Improved Player award this year in the NBL. Don’t be surprised to see him play against the lesser nations.
At 34, David Andersen is the oldest player in the squad, but experience is exactly what counts at such a high level. He still plays European basketball for ASVEL in France, and is still capable of putting in at international level.
Point guards: Patty Mills, Dante Exum*, Matthew Dellevadova
Believe it or not, Patty Mills was the leading scorer last Olympics; helped out by the game-winner he drained to help beat Russia. Given Andrew Bogut’s recent absences from the national team, Mills is still the leader of this team, and its’ starting point guard.
Dante Exum is doubtful for the Olympics due to a long-term acl injury, but is slowly working back his strength and has been named in the squad nonetheless. If he can make it back, he’ll be Patty Mills’ right-hand man.
It’s staggering kind of depth in the country right now when an NBA point guard is the third-best for his position in the country, but that’s exactly the spot Matthew Dellevadova finds himself in. Exum or no Exum, it’s likely head coach Andrej Lemains will find him some time.
Shooting guards: Joe Ingles, Kevin Lisch
Joe Ingles is another experienced head amongst the squad that Australia will be able to draw on in late game situations. A great shooter and defender, Ingles is a veteran of Olympics passed, which will prove crucial in big game situations.
Kevin Lisch only just gained his Australian citizenship, but is already gearing up to play for his adoptive country at the Rio Olympics. An excellent addition considering he just won his second NBL MVP as well as defensive player of the year.
Small forwards: Ben Simmons, Brad Newley
As mentioned earlier, Ben Simmons suiting up for the Boomers this year is touch-and-go. However, if he does, he will surely be starting at small forward, off the back of his monstrous form at Louisiana State.
Brad Newley was unlucky never to play in the NBA considering he was actually drafted in 2007, late in the second round by the Houston Rockets. At 31, he has been a long-term tenant of the Euroleague, and similar to Joe Ingles, provides experience either in a starting role or off the bench.
Power forwards: Cameron Bairstow, Aron Baynes
Cameron Bairstow is undoubtedly the best power forward in the country right now (counting Ben Simmons as a small forward), but the limited time he plays for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls may prevent him from starting, if anything. However, given the country’s relative weakness at the four, odds are on that the big man starts.
Whilst Aron Baynes plays primarily at centre in the NBA, the lack of experienced depth at the power forward position (following the omission on Mark Worthington) will mean he’ll log some minutes at the four. Hopefully he will be able to adapt his limited offensive game to the smaller man’s position.
Centre: Andrew Bogut, Brock Motum, Aleks Maric
It’s great to finally have Andrew Bogut back in green and gold after making his return last year in the FIBA Oceania Championships. His play as a defensive anchor in the key will be key to medalling at Rio.
Brock Motum has been close to making the Utah Jazz’s final roster on multiple occasions, and one would not back against him making an NBA team in the near future. He’ll have another chance to impress in extended minutes off the bench at the Olympics at centre and power forward.
Ageis slowly catching up with Aleks Maric , but has always been productive for his country. Unfortunately, between Andrew Bogut, Aron Baynes and Brock Motum, there will not be a lot of minutes to go around at centre.