Ben Simmons is looking like his old self again, Josh Giddey faced challenges in his second season and a few young guns are blooming before our eyes.
There have been a lot of Australians making noise in the NBA this season during an interesting few weeks for the stars of Down Under.
Here, foxsports.com.au It profiles all Australians to keep an eye on during the 2022-23 season.
BEN SIMMONS (Brooklyn Nets)
Is he back?
Former Pick 1 broke his season-early slump to suddenly look like the old Ben Simmons again.
Simmons averaged 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists in his last four games, shooting 80.8 percent off the field and returning to the top 11 in the last three games.
Facing his old team, the Sixers, was his biggest test yet, one that the Nets successfully and truly passed with a promising performance despite losing 106-115 to Philly without Joel Embiid and James Harden.
But in terms of Simmons’ individual play, it would come alive as the Nets could help keep them pointed in the right direction.
Brilliant Ben can’t handle Nets to win | 01:21
«Confidence is a really crazy thing. In some cases, I think there has to be an irrational level of confidence to play in the NBA. «If you don’t believe in yourself, you can see it physically,» former NBA player Anthony Tolliver said on SiriusXM NBA Radio.
«He’s been there for a while, going back to that playoff streak against the Hawks, and you can see that, he lacked confidence.
«I don’t know which button was flickering or what. His high motivation to perform in Philly last night was clearly a factor, but he had a few games that were pretty solid until that game.
«If he can play for them that way, it will increase his chances of winning tremendously… you can see his confidence increase a lot.»
JOSH GIDDEY (Oklahoma City Thunder)
It was an adjustment period for sophomore, he even admitted it.
Not only is Giddey learning to play alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has elevated him among the league’s best players, but the Australian is played differently by opposing defences.
On the surface, Giddey’s numbers looked good, averaging 15.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.
But it’s been a bumpy season for the 20-year-old, with an ankle injury and a three-pointer in the pre-season, but you can’t say he’s improved significantly in any area.
Having said that, his game has been much better lately, including hitting a triple-double for the fifth time in his career against New York last week. However, Giddey joined NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain as the only other player in league history to have a triple-double in their first two games at Madison Square Garden.
While the Thunder have exceeded expectations in a competitive enough 7-11 despite losing four of their last five games, developing their young players like Giddey remains a priority and will therefore continue to get opportunities for improvement.
It is not known how Giddey became an actor for ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
«They don’t draft for IQ as often as they draft for length and athletics – I think it’s a bit of a detriment to feeling,» Lowe of OKC said on The Dunker Spot Podcast.
«It’s clear that something is coming from Giddey’s ears. It was fun watching a guy who you expect to be a really good passer because he’s supposed to be a quarterback, quarterback or whatever Giddey is.
«I’m very curious how he’s doing in the NBA and how much he’ll need the ball in the end.
“He found some ways to get his body into people, get in the paint and finish the shots. Obviously people are always subordinate to him – what does that mean for his future? I just wonder what it’s turned into.»
DYSON DANIELS (New Orleans Pelicans)
For rookie Dyson Daniels, it’s all about being ready when opportunities come.
Playing for a loaded New Orleans Pelicans, currently third-placed 11-7 in the West, these opportunities have been inconsistent at times, especially during court times when the team’s stars were injured and pulled over.
But when his name was called, Daniels showed he could do it.
Daniels’ versatility was what really stood out, being ready for any task and showing promising flashes at both ends of the pitch.
Including pairing up with players like Luka Doncic and LeBron James at different stages and not getting crushed by either superstar.
In fact, Daniels welcomes such challenges.
“Playing against one of the greatest players of all time was special. It was a pretty surreal moment for me and it’s still sinking now. You dream about these as a kid,” Daniels told SportsCenter Australia that he played for James.
“For me, it’s just to embrace it and go out and accept the challenge.
«There’s a star on every NBA team these days that I look forward to protecting. For me, fighting against people like LeBron, Luka, DeMar DeRozan was very special to me.»
JOSH GREEN (Dallas Mavericks)
The former Pick 18 has seen his role in the Mavericks grow this season, and with that comes his confidence.
He’s playing the best 19 minutes of his career per game and has definitely turned the lights off this season, going with a 63 percent clip from the field at 1.1, including 53 percent from downtown.
He had an epic blast this week with a career-best 23 points against the Nuggets with six 3-pointers on 8v9 shots.
Beyond his dominant shooting spectacle, the young gun also showed leadership qualities against Denver.
«What came out with ‘Mic’d Up’ tonight is how aware everybody on the field is where they need to be and is heaping orders and his teammates are doing it,» NBA analyst Jeff Wade told Bally Sports Southwest.
«That’s a really good sign. There’s something you might say, ‘Well, I’m keeping my man ahead of me on this one and I’m going to stop him from scoring,’ but knowing everybody else’s duties and following orders is a really big step forward.»
It comes in a crucial season for Green in which he qualified for overtime, and frankly, he hadn’t quite reached the draft position prior to this campaign.
A solid defender who added the smash hit to his game was seen as a crucial part of his development.
And according to former NBA player Devin Harris, Dallas is also trying to turn him into third ball possession.
“They’re trying to make it that way, and what’s this ball possession doing? Knowing where everyone else on the court is, it’s a quarterback mentality, and we’re talking about a coach (Jason Kidd), who is one of the best quarterbacks to play the game, instilling that in one of his players,» said Harris. .
“We see how that can come together and how you can turn a game coached by a guy who naturally doesn’t play the position but plays it at a really high level and how tutelage is. He plays with great confidence.
“This is something he hasn’t had for the past two years. We know he’s a talented player, we’ve seen flashes and now we’re starting to see what confidence paired with hard work can do.
Green’s super-skilful moves torch Nets | 01:13
MATISSE THYBULLE (Philadelphia 76ers)
It’s been a frustrating season for Matisse Thybulle in many ways.
First, he was removed from rotation early in the season and forced to watch from the bench as the Sixers got off to a dismal start.
Injuries to James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Joel Embiid have since opened minutes for the defender, but haven’t fully improved his chances.
And now, Thybulle is on the injury list with an ankle problem.
Simmons jokes about returning to Philly | 01:24
He even tried to get over the injury at Wednesday’s meeting with the Brooklyn Nets due to how lacking Philly was already, but withdrew for the second half due to his physical limitations.
Unfortunately, as a result of his injury, he’ll have to run out of time and get in shape when he returns.
«We didn’t have any men,» Thybulle said of his ankle injury, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“So I wanted to be available. And if I can get something out of it, do it. But having me there, I think the coach (Doc Rivers) and I felt that just having a broken wheel was more of a responsibility than a benefit…”
«So it’s going to take me a while to deal with this now so I can go back and be myself.»
JOCK LANDALE (Phoenix Suns)
Landale is all about the team.
Opportunities are already limited behind Suns star center DeAndre Ayton, but Landale was even declined for spare minutes for the first time this week in favor of Bismack Biombo against the Knicks.
When Landale’s family made the long trip from Australia to watch him play an NBA game for the first time, the big guy didn’t take it personally.
«It hurt for a moment, as it was the first game my family could see me playing basketball in the NBA,» Landale told the Arizona Republic.
«I think it’s good for the team. I think my head is always there. Whatever is best for the men and us to win.»
Simmons’ Nets & Curry’s Warriors win big | 01:19
However, Landale was unable to take the field again in the Suns’ last game against the Lakers as Biombo took the lead over the Australian, who had not played NBA minutes since playing against Utah on November 19.
It’s clearly less than ideal, but the 26-year-old is used to such grind and challenge, such is his NBA journey.
During an 82-game season, a substitute like Landale is prone to ups and downs, especially when playing for one of the league’s top teams. It will attempt to return to rotation as the campaign progresses.
Jack White (Denver Nuggets)
White was recently recalled after several absences from Nuggets’ G-League member Grand Rapids Gold and earned a few minutes of rotation on Mike Malone’s team.
Despite only having limited opportunities, there have been calls for the 25-year-old to play more after showing promising signs, including a two-shot blocking against OKC on Thursday.
He even entered the game ahead of DeAndre Jordan, who started at center for the Nuggets as Nikola Jokic stepped aside in the Covid-19 protocols.
It’s also worth noting that White is in excellent form in the G League, averaging 16 points, 11.3 rebounds (fifth in the league), 1.3 steals and one block per game.
Surrounding such a development while standing shoulder to shoulder with players like Jokic and Jamal Murray can only be a good thing for White – even if he doesn’t get key NBA minutes.
PATTY MILLS (Brooklyn Nets)
The veteran has lagged more behind the Nets this season – playing 11.5 minutes per game – his lowest return since the 2012/13 season.
He has also played more than six minutes only once since November 14.
Regardless, Mills remains a valuable locker room asset in Brooklyn, especially given the off-court drama that often consumes the team.
The security guard also provides valuable ground clearance should Jacque Vaughn so desire. And if the Nets ever cop any backcourt injuries, they know more than Mills is capable of stepping into the plate.
MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA (Sacramento Kings)
Dellavedova was given limited playing time for the Kings with just two games totaling 10 minutes on the field over the past two weeks.
The 32-year-old recorded four assists and one steal in a 153-121 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
It was a nice touch considering Dellavedova had their first pivotal minute at home and the Sacramento fans gave Australia a huge round of applause as they entered the game.
JOE ENGLISH (Milwaukee Bucks)
There are no updates on the condition of Ingles, who has returned from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Milwaukee general manager Jon Horst revealed in September that he realistically expected the Aussie to return in January, so it likely remains the target date.
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