NBA Quarter Season Aussie Roundup
Just over 20 games have now been played in the 82-game-long NBA season. Amongst the jostling for positions, players and teams are already looking ahead to the playoffs. And it looks as if some records will be broken this season. And Australian players – who are not the superstar type, but are better known for their hard work ethic – are in the thick of it.
Cameron Bairstow (Chicago Bulls)
After only playing two games for the Bulls – with an average of 1 point per game (and 5 min playing time) – forward Bairstow was relegated to the Austin Spurs in the Development League. There, he has been playing well with an average of 14 points per game (over 5 games). Now the Bulls have recalled him to the team. The Bulls are coming fifth in the Eastern Conference, with 12 wins and 8 losses. The consensus among fans is that he will either get some game time or be traded.
Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz)
Ingles has played in all 21 of the Jazz’s games, averaging 11 minutes game time and 3.5 points. The Jazz are coming eighth in the Western Conference with 10 wins and 11 losses.
Aron Baynes (Detroit Pistons)
Baynes has played in all of the Pistons’ 24 games – averaging 13 minutes game time and 4.3 points. But they have slipped to ninth in the Eastern Conference, with 13 wins and 11 losses.
Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs)
The Spurs are motoring along in second place in the Western Conference, with 19 wins and 5 losses. Mills is one of the role players who are integral to the team’s success. He has played in all 24 of their games, averaging 21 minutes per game and 8.4 points. Early in the season the Spurs recruited star player LaMarcus Aldridge – as a planned offencive combination with aging Tim Duncan – and are said to be still adjusting to his addition to the team. For example, their free-throw average is low at 27th in the NBA. However, they are still on track to make the playoffs.
Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Dellavedova – who is known for his aggressive playing style – has played in 21 games, and is getting 28 minutes per game with an average of 8.7 points, showing that he is a solid performer. They are leading the Western Conference with 15 wins and 7 losses. The Cavs are said to have been unlucky to have lost last season’s finals, as a result of player injuries compared to the good health of their opponents, Golden State. And now their star player, LeBron James (who is 30 years old and scoring 26 points per game), doesn’t have a lot of time left to add to his two previous championship wins. But he is keen to win one for his home state of Ohio, which he was unable to do when he was with the Cavs between the years 2003-2010.
Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors)
It is the Golden State Warriors who are setting the NBA alight this season – even more so than they did last season. Despite the fact that centre Bogut was out injured for six games, and the regular coach has been ill – and replaced by the assistant coach – they have had an incredible run of 24 wins and no losses to lead the Western Conference. This is the second longest run of season wins in NBA history, which has included 13 straight away-game wins – the first team to make such a record. Bogut has played in 17 games, averaging 20 minutes and 6.2 points. In a recent game against the Indiana Pacers, he scored a double-double of 14 points and 10 assists – so he looks to be getting back to top form. Their star player of the moment is point guard Stephen Curry – who is one of this season’s highest scorers with an average of 32 points per game, largely because he is so difficult to defend against. The team’s confident style comes from the joy that they exude when playing both offence and defence. Defence is normally the less enjoyable part of the game, but Golden State mix their defencive matchups to add greater variety and support. Comentators believe that only a good team with a superstar player would be able to beat them.
The other NBA news is that star LA Lakers player, Kobe Bryant, is retiring at season end at the age of 37. He has been playing in the NBA since he was 18. But he has suffered injuries over the last couple of years, and has dropped in scoring average back to his rookie year level of 15.8 points per game. This is better than most players, but it’s low for a superstar, who would typically average between 20-40 points per game. With the Lakers he won five Championships, but they are struggling at the bottom of the Western Conference this season with only 3 wins. Some believe that he should have retired a few years ago, and that his continued presence in the team has prevented the development of younger players.