Since 2014 a blueprint has developed in the NBA… You need an Australian on your roster if you want to win an NBA Championship. Just ask the San Antonio Spurs (Patty Mills and Aron Baynes) in 2014, Golden State Warriors (Andrew Bogut) in 2015 and the Cleveland Cavaliers (Matthew Dellavedova) in 2016.
Australians have been given a reputation in the NBA as great team-mates and glue guys and that’s one of may reasons why there’s currently a record eight Boomers on NBA rosters.
At All-Star Weekend’s media day, Believe The Hype caught up with Utah Jazz forward and first-time All-Star Gordon Hayward for a quick chat about the two Aussies he gets to go to work with every day – his teammates Dante Exum and Joe Ingles.
Gordon, what’s your thoughts on Dante Exum’s season so far this year? Year two for him after missing a year with the ACL injury. How have you thought he’s been playing, especially over the last few weeks where he seems to have really lifted?
Yeah he’s had a tough go as far as his journey with the injury and everything. His aggressiveness over the last few weeks has been really good with getting to the lane. I think for him the next step is decision making and that’s something you learn over time, so I think it will come. I’m just happy that he’s out on the court competing, playing hard and being aggressive.
And he’s out here as well this weekend, playing tonight in the Rising Stars Challenge. Are you going to catch him?
Yeah I’m going to go and watch him and Trey Lyles and hopefully they show me a little something.
Joe Ingles this year has had a great start to the year. He’s one of the guys that you’re closest with on the team. He’s shooting well from three. What do you put his breakout season this year down to?
Yeah he’s been a key piece for us and has really stepped up when people have gone down with injuries. Obviously he’s shooting the basketball really well, but I think the thing that makes Joe special is the little things that don’t show up like his passing, his cutting, his playmaking and his defense has been tremendous this year too.
Yeah his defensive confidence is sort of back to what we saw in Europe before he came to the NBA…
…Oh so he was a defender before when he was in Europe? [laughs]
Yeah he was, a 3-and-d guy.
[laughs] Yeah his defense has been great. He’s stepped up to the challenge and has regularly guarded the best player. He’s been really good for us.
What about off the court also with him, he’s one of the key guys in the locker room. Can you speak a bit about what he brings to the team off the court?
Yeah he seems to think he’s a funny guy. But he’s got a great personality. We’ve got a lot of good guys in the locker room. I think that’s why we’ve been so successful this season and he’s always in the mix of things.
Thanks very much Gordon.