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Rose Gold Renewals
The World Cup is fast approaching so let's get selective.
I think about the potential of a full-strength Boomers squad at major international tournaments at least once a week, such is my life. With the influx of local talent into the NBA, the strength of the domestic league and the residual momentum of a breakthrough Olympic medal, the Boomers have a chance to solidify themselves as global basketball powers.
The 2023 FIBA World Cup will be held between August 25 and September 10 in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. That’s just over six months away, and while there’s still a heap of basketball still to be played both locally and abroad, it’s never too early to talk national selections.
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For this exercise I’ll be selecting a main 12 man squad and 3 “emergency” players. For the purposes of this exercise I’m going to assume everyone is available and willing to play (I think you know where I’m going with this).
Perhaps unceremoniously left off the Olympics roster in Tokyo, the former Adelaide 36er got his NBA Draft moment with the Oklahoma City Thunder and hasn’t looked back since.
An NBA All-Rookie Second Team nod that could’ve easily been first team if not for injury limiting Giddey to 54 games in his first NBA season, the 6’8” point guard possesses that rare blend of size and playmaking that has become new hotness in this modern era of basketball.
My biggest beef with the admittedly raucous run the Boomers made at the 2020 Olympics was the lack of court time given to young emerging Dallas Mavericks role player Green. A full NBA season under his belt apparently wasn’t enough to warrant minutes on a team sorely bereft of athletic wing defence.
Green has cemented his role as a willing shooter and elite wing defender on a Luka Doncic-led Dallas squad that recently traded away two capable players in Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith for a ticket to the Kyrie Irving Experience. As I’m writing this, Green has just scored a career high 29 points in a win over Utah, and is a certain lock for the World Cup squad.
Robbed of a spot on this year’s Rising Stars rosters due to an untimely injury, the Bendigo native has lit up the NBA in his rookie season with impressive defensive capabilities and instincts. Another of the bevy of athletic defensive presences Australia has produced in recent times, Daniels figures to be a lockdown presence for club and country for years to come.
Daniels had earned meaningful rotation minutes on a New Orleans Pelicans squad with high expectations coming into the season. A freefall in the standings and injury aside, Dyson figures to form part of an elite defensive unit for the Boomers.
I don’t need to say much about Mills do I? The MVP of the Boomers rose gold renaissance in Tokyo and heartbeat of the program for the better part of 15 years, Mills has a spot on the roster as long as he can run.
While Mills’ move to the Brooklyn Nets from the safe confines of San Antonio has hardly been a raging success for either party, FIBA Patty is very much a real thing and immune to the sands of time.
You cannot convince me that there are 450 better players in world basketball than Dante Exum right now, and yet that’s the reality as the former lottery pick from the Utah Jazz currently plies his trade in the Euroleague for Partizan in Belgrade, Serbia.
I thought Exum’s run in Tokyo would be enough to catapult himself back into the NBA but I was wrong. The streets won’t forget the final showdown against Slovenia, where Exum was responsible (scoring or assisting) on 13 of the Boomers 20 points in the vital 20-8 run in the fourth quarter that locked the game and medal away.
This season has been tough for Australia’s favourite adopted son Thybulle, who has seen his minutes decrease for Philadelphia due to the additions of De’Anthony Melton and PJ Tucker. Thybulle’s offense still isn’t at the level where it warrants consistent NBA court time.
One thing that cannot be questioned though is his defence, which remains at an All-Defense level. Thybulle was a revelation to the Boomers in Tokyo, an athletic presence the likes of which the program hadn’t had since another naturalised American star in Darnell Mee, who himself was a five time Defensive Player of the Year in the NBL between 1999 and 2006.
The newly-minted NBL MVP has seen his career trajectory explode north the last two years. One of the last cuts of the Boomers squad before Tokyo, Cooks used the motivation to be a force for the Sydney Kings in the NBL in 2021-22, taking out the NBL Finals MVP en route to a championship.
Another great regular season in the books, Cooks (pardon the rhyme) is now well and truly on the radar of NBA scouts, admitting in recent days to being courted and wooed via Zoom calls and informal chats. He might not be on Australian shores for much longer but he deserves to cap his time home with a Boomers call up.
Legitimate questions about Ingles’ long term future were raised when he tore his ACL playing for the Utah Jazz in January 2022. 34 at the time of the injury, there were fears Ingles was done at the high level and the Boomers had lost a key contributor. The Milwaukee Bucks punted on him in free agency should he return.
Those fears have since been allayed. To say Ingles never relied on athleticism to be effective is putting it mildly, but the South Australian has fit in seamlessly to a Bucks contending juggernaut with his crafty playmaking and elite shooting from the small forward position.
Another success story of the NBL to NBA pipeline is former Melbourne United and current Denver Nuggets two way forward Jack White. A team captain at the fabled Duke University and former teammate of the likes of Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish, White himself bounced back from a devastating injury (a torn Achilles) to lead United to a semi-final series loss in 2022 before being poached by the Nuggets.
Limited NBA action has predictably followed but White has made the most of his G-League stints, averaging north of 18 points per game and providing his signature elite rebounding from his forward slot.
I said I was assuming everyone was available, stop yelling at me I do not care.
I don’t think it’s a particularly controversial take to say Simmons is one of this country’s best twelve basketballers from a pure talent perspective. Yes I know talent is one piece of the puzzle and nothing is linear but this is a fun thought exercise and I have the emergency section for this reason so back off.
After a slow start this season Simmons had shown signs of returning to a lite version of his old self, and his assist numbers have remained largely unchanged, but that famous lack of scoring and mysterious knee injury have reared again. Still, if he’s available, his ever-present defensive ability and big man playmaking is enough to warrant selection, in my opinion.
Also the Boomers are not an asylum run by inmates like the Nets are, so there’s that.
Landale has had a weird season since being shipped from the Spurs to the Phoenix Suns in the offseason. He’s never really cemented himself as the primary backup big man to Deandre Ayton, often having to be content sharing a timeshare of minutes with fellow reserve Bismack Biyombo.
Still, Landale is one of Australia’s premier players and brings a point of difference to a lot of the bigs and wings on this theoretical roster and that’s offensive versatility and scoring. His three point shot has largely abandoned him this season but Landale remains a threat from outside, while maintaining a serviceable post game.
I have done such a 180 on Nick Kay from when he was first shoehorned into the Boomers setup until now. As I was combing through my player pool I kept returning to the former Perth, Illawarra and Townsville big man as an absolute rock inside. You’d look at this list of names in a vacuum and probably call Kay the “weak link” or the most easily upgraded but his value remains tangible and valuable.
A stalwart of several tournaments now, Kay plies his trade in the decidedly less sexy Japanese B League, a far cry from NBA arenas, the home allure of the NBL or a frenzied Belgrade derby like his more fancied teammates, but his fundamental brand of basketball always has a place on the roster.
I’m assuming Cotton’s citizenship has gone through by now for this. In a different world Cotton has already gained his citizenship and represented the Boomers but two reasons now make that unlikely. Firstly, the glut of elite guard depth the Boomers are now presented with due to the rise of guys like Giddey, Daniels and Green. Secondly, FIBA laws stipulate that you’re only allowed a max of one naturalised player per international roster, and in my mind Matisse Thybulle easily claims that spot.
You could make an argument for Creek to easily slot into this squad and he’s likely in the actual squad proper if assumed departures happen. A finalist in this season’s NBL MVP award, Creek dragged a beleaguered and oft-injured SE Melbourne Phoenix lineup to the new play in tournament and is undoubtedly the driver in that organisation.
I have utterly fallen in love with Pinder’s game the last two seasons and I could very easily be compelled to make room for him in this squad. His rebounding and defence have always been his cornerstones but his offensive improvement since leaving Adelaide for Cairns has been off the charts. Elite in the pick and roll with a developing spot up trail or corner three pointer, Pinder could be a Boomers regular in coming years.
OTHER PLAYERS CONSIDERED
MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA, ARON BAYNES, CHRIS GOULDING, NATHAN SOBEY, THON MAKER, DUOP REATH, MANGOK MATHIANG, SAM FROLING, TYRESE PROCTOR, ALEX DUCAS, WILL MCDOWELL-WHITE, TARAN ARMSTRONG, BROCK MOTUM, MITCH MCCARRON, RYAN BROEKHOFF
END OF AN ERA
I feel like I should address this here, but obviously this Boomers squad is missing a few notable names, namely Aron Baynes and Matthew Dellavedova.
To me, if the Boomers want to make progress and move forward they can’t cling to their heroic veterans of the past in some nostalgia grab, and in my honest opinion neither Baynes nor Delly deserve anything more than legacy spots.
The Brisbane Bullets were an absolute headcase this year, with terrible play on the court and rumours of infighting off it leading to a disastrous 9th place finish for a team many thought had playoff aspirations with the additions of Baynes and Tyler Johnson, as well as existing stars like Nathan Sobey. However the season never got out of second gear, the coach got fired and the year petered out.
Delly, all credit to him, leveraged his sole season back in the NBL with Melbourne into a new NBA contract with the Sacramento Kings, thus proving me wrong, but we’ve seen the last two tournaments now…Delly is just past it. There’s no shame in admitting it, he’s been a great servant to the Boomers for the better part of ten years, but his irritating defence has lost a step, his jumpshot is broken, and his strengths are covered by others.
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