NBA Summer League review: Australia’s NBA Hopefuls

NBA Summer League review: Australia’s NBA Hopefuls

A number of Australia’s talented Basketball hopeful’s were a part of the NBA summer league this week. The NBA Summer League being an opportunity for NBA squads to trail both prospective players from local and overseas teams as well as to give recently drafted rookies a chance to earn minutes for the upcoming season and develop their game.

This year there were two invitational tournaments. One in Orlando, the other in Las Vegas where Aussies like Aron Baynes at San Antonio showed why he deserves more court time as he enters his sophomore NBA season while other Australian’s like Matthew Dellavedova and Brock Motum, who recently went undrafted, try to prove to NBA scouts that they got it wrong.

Whilst these players were perhaps the most focused on players from our shores attempting to break into the big leagues we also saw local NBL players like Melbourne Tigers Chris Goulding and New Zealand Breakers Thomas Abercrombie sit on NBA benches in the hope of developing their games and making NBA scouts aware of how they are.

And lastly we take a look at some of our recent NBL imports like Jonny Flynn and Cedric Jackson who are attempting to return to the NBA for one last shot at the big time.

Here we take a look at how the basketball talent from Australia and the NBL performed at the recent NBA summer league tournaments.

The Aussies

Aron Baynes

If there were questions about the ability of Aron Baynes to make a bigger impact in the NBA this year his production in Orlando and Las Vegas has more than answered that question.

Baynes started for the Spurs the entire tournament and was a legitimate double-double machine throughout the Summer League, most notably finishing 4th in rebounds for the Las Vegas tournament. Baynes clearly out played a variety of quality NBA players like Bismack Biyombo as well as put  big name rookies like Tyler Zeller (who had didn’t hit a shot against Baynes) to shame. Baynes’ best game came against the Atlanta Hawks as he shot 9-of-16 for 19 points on top of 15 rebounds and two blocked shots and he demolished Brazilian rookie Lucas Nogueira inside the paint.

Surely Bayne’s efforts will be rewarded this season with increase minutes in the Spurs front-line in what will be the Aussie’s first full season in the league (Baynes joined the Spurs mid-way through the 2013/14 season).

“I gotta work on my my composure” he said when asked about his work inside. “Also just waiting for the cutters to go through and try and make a strong move on the post.” Baynes said in an interview during the Summer League.

“At the end of the day offence isn’t what I’m trying to do out here, I’m trying to work more on the defensive end.”

It’s clear the hard work is paying off.

Notable Games

MINS
FG
PTS
REB
AST
ST
BLK
VS
27
9-16
19
15
1
0
2
Atlanta
24
6-14
13
10
0
0
0
Cleveland
24
5-12
11
9
0
0
2
Toronto

Aron Baynes highlights from his 19 point, 15 rebound effort against the Atlanta Hawks

Matthew Dellavedova

Aussie point guard Matthew Dellavedova who went undrafted last month decided to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers summer league team over other NBA teams because of the one vacant point guard spot that exists on their roster. The St. Marys product played in all five games, averaging 20 minutes of playing time per game as well as 2.8 points, three assists and 2.6 rebounds per game as the team cruised to a 3-2 record.

With the Cavs having recently signed Jarrett Jack to be Kyrie Irving’s primary backup the contenders for the Cav’s final point gaurd spot appeared to be a competition betwenn Dellavedova, Cory Higgins and Chris Quinn.  Dellavedova had a mid-tournament boost to his chances to make the Cavaliers NBA squad when Quinn was released after two poor performances in the Las Vegas tournament.

We have two guys that obviously can play the point guard position pretty good when you talk about Kyrie Irving and Jarrett Jack,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown told the Akron Beacon. “On top of that, we’ll probably need a third guy to be ready just in case. Dellavedova is a good name, Cory Higgins is a good name.”

Matthew Dellavedova will leave this tournament with glowing reviews for his basketball IQ but concern about his quickness, While the door is open for Dellavedova to earn an NBA spot passages of play like when he turned the ball over five times in the final game of the summer and four times in their first game will have coaches wondering.

It has been reported there are other NBA teams interested in him besides Cleveland, hopefully a good showing for the Boomers in their upcoming match up against New Zealand will help sway selection in Dellavedova’s favour.

Notable Games

MINS
FG
PTS
REB
AST
ST
BLK
VS
22
3-6
6
3
3
1
0
New Orleans
18
1-3
2
3
5
2
1
Toronto
24
1-4
3
2
3
1
0
Miami

Matthew Dellavedova Summer League Interview

Chris Goulding

In a surprise move the Cleveland Cavaliers offered Chris Goulding a late spot on their summer league roster after he impressed Cleveland’s starting point guard Kyrie Irving and Cavs assistant coach Phil Handy enough at a recent training run in Melbourne. Handy has a strong connection to Goulding’s current team, the Melbourne Tigers after playing for them as an import in 2002.

Goulding didn’t get much opportunity to showcase his talents during the tournament but he never expected to. “”I’ll be training with the group for the summer league but I’m making no assumptions I might be added to that team.”

“Just the whole experience of this was too good to pass up,” Goulding said to Boti Nagy in an interview before heading over.

Notable Games

MINS
FG
PTS
REB
AST
ST
BLK
VS
14
1-5
3
0
0
0
0
Miami
8
0-3
0
2
0
0
0
San Antonio
3
0-1
0
0
0
0
0
New Orleans

Brock Motum

Brock Motum impressed a lot of scouts with his versatility in the pre-draft workouts despite not being drafted by an NBA team (we caught up with Brock less then a week before the NBA draft to discuss his thoughts on being drafted). It seems as though Brock’s chances of making an NBA team are limited this year, however it’s clear NBA teams have taken notice of the sharp-shooting Aussie and even if he has to spend a year in Europe or the D-League he will certainly remain a focus of many NBA scouts over the next twelve months.

Having played for Philadelphia in this tournament where former Boomers coach Brett Brown is a strong possibility to take over the coaching reins in the city of brotherly love, become perhaps a mid-season call up if there are injuries effect the squad could be a way we see Motum get a shot in the big time.

Notable Games

MINS
FG
PTS
REB
AST
ST
BLK
VS
7
2-2
6
1
0
0
0
Houston
5
1-3
2
1
0
0
0
Brooklyn
6
0-1
0
1
0
0
0
Indiana

Thomas Abercrombie

Although Thomas Abercrombie had perhaps the greatest team success from any of our local NBA hopefuls he probably get the most limited court time and NBA experience. Being a part of the Phoenix Suns team who lost the Summer League championship game 91-77 to Golden State would have done little to make up for a lack of playing time throughout the tournament.

Abercrombie had high hopes by many after his break out NBL season in 2012 but ever since an ankle injury sustained in the NBL Finals that year  Abercrombie has not been able to consistently return to that previous form.

Thomas Abercrombie joined a trio of Washington Huskies at the tournament (Aron Baynes, Brock Motum also attended Washington State) however his NBA dreams without the on court opportunities his fellow Huskies received any chance of making an NBA roster could only be realised if  he is able to have an incredibly strong big Tall Blacks campaign in 2014 in order to turn NBA heads back in the direct of his playing potential.

Notable Games

MINS
FG
PTS
REB
AST
ST
BLK
VS
16
0-3
0
2
0
1
0
Portland
2
1-2
2
1
0
0
0
Portland
2
0-0
0
0
0
0
1
Golden State

The Imports

Cedric Jackson

The reigning NBL MVP was more than impressive leading the Orlando Summer League in Assists with 9 per game (albeit he played in only one game for this tournament). Jackson shared his skills around the league as he played for the Miami Heat in the Orlando tournament and then Portland in the Las Vegas tournament.

It seems unlikely Cedric Jackson will return for the New Zealand Breakers at this point as his name has regularly been on NBA scouts tongues during both the NBL season and the NBA summer league.

While NBL fans will mourn the loss of potentially the Greatest true point guard to play in the NBL since the days of Derek Rucker, Darryl McDonald and Ricky Grace but surely the time has come for an NBA team to give Cedric Jackson another shot at the big time.

Notable Games

MINS
FG
PTS
REB
AST
ST
BLK
VS
30
4-11
15
4
2
0
0
Minnesota
25
1-4
5
3
9
2
0
Brooklyn
8
2-2
4
2
0
2
0
Phoenix

Jonny Flynn

Jonny Flynn will not return to the Melbourne Tigers next season but if he can make it back onto an NBA roster, that is far from certain. The former Syracuse and Minnesota Timberwolves star split his time in the NBA preseason with both Indiana and the LA Clippers, perhaps to get a higher level of exposure to boost his stock.

His performances did little to show NBA scouts he had improved since a season in Australia especially when compared with Cedric Jackson’s performances. A season in Europe seems likely for this fallen NBA star.

Notable Games

MINS
FG
PTS
REB
AST
ST
BLK
VS
11
1-4
5
1
3
0
0
Philadelphia
5
0-1
1
1
2
1
0
Utah
12
0-3
0
1
3
0
0
Boston

Other Notable Players

Tywain McKee

The Former Wollongong Hawks star played one game for Toronto and had 2 points and 2 rebounds against Miami

Michael Dunigan

Perth Wildcats mid-season import replacement this year played alongside Cedric Jackson at the Miami Heat, his best game being a 10 point, 7 rebound effort against Toronto

Derrick Low

Former Sydney Spirit import Derrick Low played 3 games for the LA Clippers but did not score.

Dan BoyceAuthor: Dan Boyce (306 Posts)

Dan Boyce is a die-hard Sydney Kings fan who grew up in Melbourne during the roaring 90's of Australian Basketball and spent far too much time collecting Futera NBL Basketball cards