Bogut Here, Simmons There: Basketball Booms


The tweet came through late on Sunday evening. After months of speculation, the Sydney Kings announced that they will sign former NBA champion Andrew Bogut.

The details are still to come thanks to the NBL’s bean counters who poured a bit of water on today’s exciting news by insisting that Bogut’s contract be treated like any rookie’s deal.

But however you slice it, the signing is a huge coup for the NBL. Bogut may not be in his prime, but he’s still effective enough around the rim and as a passer that plenty of NBA teams wanted to sign him for a playoff run this season.

And Sydney’s a town that loves a celeb and loves a winner, so for want of a better comparison, call him the NBL version of Buddy Franklin.

For the Skeptical Brigade, there will be plenty of unanswered questions:

-How effective can he be as a big man in a comp that skews towards run and gun?
-Can he play under Andrew Gaze, who the jury is still out on as an NBL head coach?
-Will Victorians ever forgive him for leaving the self-proclaimed sporting capital?
-Will his occasionally-controversial political stances on social media put fans offside?

Again we don’t need to answer those questions right now. This is a positive move and another uplift for Australian basketball, which is currently riding the Ben Simmons wave. I hesitate to call it a bandwagon because frankly, who cares when people started following him?

There are thousands (millions?) of fans in the US and worldwide that are falling in love with this kid and I say the more the merrier. Simmons is doing freakish things on a highly-entertaining team and if his career pans out the way most experts think it will, he’ll be the biggest sportsman in Australian history from a worldwide perspective.

The good news isn’t just limited to Simmons either. The Utah Jazz, featuring Joe Ingles and Dante Exum took a 2-1 lead over the favoured Oklahoma City Thunder, with Ingles scoring 21 in Game Three.

And although Aron Baynes’ Celtics have dropped two in a row to Milwaukee, the Bucks’ resurgence has been bolstered by Aussies Than Maker and Matthew Dellavedova. Maker, who struggled to get minutes down the stretch of the regular season, has come alive in the last two playoff games, blocking five shots in back-to-back games, something that hasn’t been done since 2014.

Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo told reporters “he (Maker) is the reason the series has changed.” Meanwhile, Delly pulled off one of his characteristic smart, scrappy plays today in Game Four, stealing and scoring at the buzzer:

Even Patty Mills, mired in a lost season in San Antonio – the team reeling from the death of head coach Gregg Popovich’s wife and the confusion of the Kawhi Leonard squabble – had a good day, scoring nine points and handing out five assists as the Spurs avoided a sweep at the hands of the Warriors.

What do you think?