With the AFL season well and truly over and the return of Test cricket still a few weeks away, many Aussie sports fans will be turning to the NBA to get their sporting fix.
I’m going to have a look at every AFL team’s NBA equivalent and maybe I can help some fans pick their new NBA team.
Adelaide Crows – Memphis Grizzlies
Both of these clubs who were born in the 1990s have been solid in the league for a long time without ever truly bottoming out. Unfortunately in recent years they’ve lost some experienced campaigners and now it looks like they’ve got a few lean years ahead. Both will have a new coach going into the season and they’re hoping some early draft picks can return them to competitiveness.
Brisbane Lions – Brooklyn Nets
Two of the most exciting young teams in their respective competitions. Surprisingly made a big leap and appeared in the post-season in a year where many thought they’d only take a small step. Both clubs had a lot of departures in the earlier parts of this decade but after significant improvement thanks to their young core and coach, they’re now a free-agent destination.
Carlton Blues – New York Knicks
Who else could the Blues compare with but the good old Knickerbockers. They are two massive clubs but have ultimately been irrelevant for the last 20 years. The off-season just gone was supposed to be huge but both were unable to sign anyone of significance. Their fans are some of the most passionate in the league and are more than happy to voice their discontent with the club. A lot of coaches have come and gone in recent years but fans will be hoping their promising young group can return them to the promised land.
Collingwood Magpies – Philadelphia 76ers
You could say the game-winning buzzer beater from eventual 2019 finals MVP Kawhi Leonard was reminiscent to Dom Sheed’s game-winning goal in the 2018 grand final. These two historic clubs were on the receiving ends of those brilliant plays and both fan bases (who are despised by others) will hate seeing that footage for the rest of their lives.
Although they have a proud history, both teams have only been crowned champions three times since 1955 (and people still seem to hate them no matter what). Philadelphia have secured their young stars for the next few years, keeping their championship window wide open and Collingwood will be desperate to do the same within the next 12 months.
Essendon Bombers – Houston Rockets
The only clubs in their leagues who are named after man-made airborne vehicles. Both teams dressed in red and black last experienced the greatest success around 20-25 years ago. Their constantly aggressive general managers are seemingly doing their best and taking big risks to get them back to the top. It looks like their experienced coaches are out the door after the season but fans are desperate to finally achieve some significant success.
Fremantle Dockers – Orlando Magic
Disappointingly for fans, neither of these clubs have won a single title. An excuse could be that they’re both newish clubs but in reality they’ve never been quite good enough to win it all. Both teams were made relevant around similar times by dominant big men – Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard plus Matthew Pavlich – but unluckily ran into some of the greatest players in league history on the biggest stage. Nowadays both teams are solid and are hoping to start their return towards the top in coming years.
Geelong Cats – Los Angeles Lakers
Two of the most successful clubs in the 2000s but have struggled to get back on top in recent times, increasing frustration among fan bases. Both have recently signed arguably the biggest free agents possible – Patrick Dangerfield and LeBron James – and are expecting that they will be crowned champions very soon. Also both cities are in close proximity to iconic surf beaches.
Gold Coast Suns – Phoenix Suns
Aside from the obvious fact that they share the same name, these clubs share many similarities. Let’s start with the harsh reality that they currently suck. Neither side has ever won a championship but both had a nice period where they were led by two stars – Gary Ablett and Tom Lynch plus Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire. They’ve equally butchered some early draft picks in recent years but if the new young guns can continue to grow they’re a chance to have some significant impact in around five years.
Greater Western Sydney Giants – Oklahoma City Thunder
They’re the two newest teams in their leagues and both were lucky enough to nail early draft picks at the beginning of their existence. Yes, I know OKC were Seattle, but it’s hard to think of them as the same team. They reside in two of the less populated parts of their countries but have still been able to give their fans something to cheer for. In their first appearances in the decider they were blown out of the water by dominant squads. Some big names have departed the clubs in recent times but smart management will keep them competitive.
Hawthorn Hawks – San Antonio Spurs
I think Gregg Popovich and Alastair Clarkson are related. The way they go about their business is incredibly similar and what they’ve been able to achieve is nothing short of spectacular. They’ve both been able to coach their sides to multiple titles – both have won more than any since ’03 – but the blueprint and timelines are very similar.
Both dynasties were made possible by the drafting of hall-of-famers and have now been able to remain competitive through clever signing of free agents. Popovich and Clarkson are able to develop strong relationships with youngsters and keep immense respect from veterans. It’ll only be a matter of time until they’re competing for the top once again.
Melbourne Demons – Minnesota Timberwolves
Young stars were the source of these sides success in 2018 but neither expected the departure of key contributors – Jesse Hogan and Jimmy Butler – would make them fall back down the table in 2019. Both of their post-season exits were very disappointing in 2018, which might have contributed to their downfall in 2019, however they’re both expecting the young stars will propel them back towards the top in the coming season. Plus, Minneapolis has plenty of snow and Melbourne supporters love a trip to the slopes.
North Melbourne Kangaroos – Chicago Bulls
They dominated in the ’90s and haven’t been able to achieve anything significant since. They were led by arguably the best to ever do it in their respective sports – Wayne Carey and Michael Jordan – and had a sidekick that was one of the best defenders ever – Glenn Archer and Scottie Pippen. In the earlier part of this decade they were around the mark but no one really considered them a genuine contender. Ben Cunnington is about as close as you can get to a bull in the AFL and both sides’ exciting young groups will be the key to their rise.
Port Adelaide Power – Detroit Pistons
Two blue-collar cities who definitely don’t mind a bit of a dust-up. Both achieved ultimate success in 2004 when they beat sides who had previously three-peated. They were both able to return to the big stage within the few years after their initial glory but were beaten by a dominant side. Sadly for their working-class fans they haven’t really been close to the top since that devastating loss in the grand final/finals. Now both have solid teams who are probably just enough to sneak them in the post-season but not advance them much further than that.
Richmond Tigers – Golden State Warriors
Most people felt sorry for these guys about five years ago. Then they got good. Really good. They were able to climb the mountain for the first time in a long time a few years ago and looked like they were well on their way to go back to back, led by the league’s best and fairest/MVP in Dustin Martin and Stephen Curry. However, they were upset in the finals by one of the league’s biggest names and their back-to-back hopes were diminished. So they went out and signed the biggest free agent and dominated their way to another title. Also they’re both coached by significant role players on multiple championship/premiership teams.
St Kilda Saints – Utah Jazz
Both have historically lacked ultimate success but have usually been able to put solid teams out on the floor/field. They experienced back-to-back heart-breaking losses on the final day of the season where their potent attack was led by a dominant forward – Nick Riewoldt and Karl Malone – and a crafty yet irritating little guy – John Stockton and Stephen Milne. Now everybody is expecting these lovable clubs to improve with their well rounded list. Also, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ is one of the most iconic jazz songs of all time.
Sydney Swans – Miami Heat
The most electrifying player in the NBA (LeBron James) took his talents to South Beach in 2010 and the most electrifying player in the AFL (Lance Franklin) took his talents to Bondi Beach a few years later.
These two clubs seem to always be in contention when a big name comes up in the off-season and their fans expect nothing less. Both teams won a title in the mid-2000s then lost to the same team they beat next time they made the decider.
Their current coaches were in charge for their 2012 premiership/championship and were both assistant coach when they won in ’05/’06. Unluckily, their success has come with some devastating defeats in the final week of the season. They believe they’ve got enough good youngsters and smart veterans to return them to the finals/playoffs very soon.
West Coast Eagles – Dallas Mavericks
Two massive clubs in the west and both share the iconic royal blue. Both lost a grand final/finals to a team they eventually beat when they made it the next time. The passionate fans reside in very similar average yearly temperatures and always expect the team to be competitive. Their most young and exciting recent trade acquisitions – Tim Kelly and Kristaps Porzingis – could get them another trophy soon.
Western Bulldogs – Cleveland Cavaliers
The ultimate underdogs. Who could forget their 2016 glory. Against the odds coming from seventh/3-1 down and beating one of the league’s powerhouses on the grandest stage of them all. Both fan bases embody so many underdog features. They’re not the most successful but they’re hardworking, they’re loyal and they love that gritty persona. Their respective locations have plenty of industrial employment and both clubs are praying their promising young players can lead them into the future.