HEAL: Why Joe Ingles is NBA ready
USA's LeBron James embraces Australia's Joe Ingles. AP Photo/Charles Krupa
If we are to single out one Aussie capable of making the jump to the NBA, Joe Ingles should be it. He’s an NBA player.
His talent and potential were always evident during his time in the NBL, but moving to Europe has seen him mature and set the tone for a transition to the best league in the world.
Watching our Olympic team in London this year, I thought Ingles was our best player. He played great defence, he rebounded, he passed the ball well. He showed a whole lot more poise and maturity in his game.
The experience of playing at such a major event and at the highest level in Europe for Barcelona means his game is at the perfect stage for an NBA move next season.
He wouldn’t just be making up the numbers, either.
I think when he gets to the NBA, people are going to be very surprised to see he can actually contribute at that level. He’s a very good defender and can be an amazing NBA player defensively.
For his size and his length, he also handles the ball well. People forget that Joe is 6’8″. With his wingspan, he’s probably like a 6’10″.
The player his size reminds me of is Toni Kukoc. If he can pick up the Kukoc jump shot – he’s not far off and he’s got the ability to do it – then he can really make it in the NBA.
But for now, he’s already an NBA level defender and a great passer, which will help him go to the next level.
While Ingles is ready to go, there are a few Australian players overseas right now who might not be too far behind him.
His Barcelona teammate Nathan Jawai is quite possibly next in line.
Nathan was probably a bit immature when he arrived in the NBA. Since then he’s had to go out and do the hard yards in Serbia, Russia and now Spain, and as a result he’s got his game and his numbers back to a strong level.
I think there’s a spot for him in the NBA now he’s more mature.
Behind Jawai I’d have Aron Baynes. A couple of years ago you wouldn’t have predicted it, but he’s shown in Europe and at the Olympics that he’s got an NBA body.
On top of this, his game has improved to where he’s a double-double every night in a top European league.
Next up, I like Matthew Dellavedova. He’s a real student of the game and was sensational at the Olympics. He was a stabiliser for the team, controlling the offence and defence.
Delly can shoot, guard multiple positions and is very good at the pick and roll. He reads rotations well and finds the open man.
Even if he doesn’t go first round, I think there will be a spot for him somewhere in the NBA.
Aleks Maric is someone who will probably get an opportunity over the next couple of years. I don’t think he’ll ever be a star in the NBA but with his big body he can certainly play a role.
He’s a hard worker, a real banging big inside. He can hold down some minutes in the right situation.
Lastly, a player worth keeping an eye on is Washington State senior Brock Motum, who averaged 18 points last year.
He’s 6’10″, a left hander and inside and out he’s got the ability to push for a spot in the NBA. He needs a big senior year but if he does that, he’ll give himself a real chance.
Shane Heal is the current coach of the NBL’s Sydney Kings. He played NBA basketball for the Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs and represented Australia at four Olympics. Follow him on Twitter: @ShaneHeal
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