Australians in the NBA, Ben Simmons injury, Josh Giddey, Josh Green 3-point shooting, Jock Landale

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Ben Simmons is back on the court, Jock Landale is emerging as a key part of Pheonix’s title push and Josh Green has taken a big leap to put his name in the bright lights in Dallas.

It has been quite an interesting few weeks for a number of Australian players in the NBA, with rookie Dyson Daniels also learning an important lesson in New Orleans.

Below foxsports.com.au looks at how all the Australians in the NBA are going in the early stages of the season.

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‘His career is absolutely on the line!’ | 00:54

BEN SIMMONS (Brooklyn Nets)

Simmons said he is his “harshest critic” after his return from injury on Tuesday and that says something given the level of scrutiny that has surrounded the Australian this season.

But the 26-year-old certainly did not hold back when asked what he made of his first time back on the court after missing four games with left knee soreness.

“Terrible,” Simmons responded.

“There’s a place I want to get to. I got to keep working, I got to keep pushing myself and adapting, so I’ll get there.”

Teammate Kevin Durant was more kind in his assessment.

“I thought he moved well,” he said.
“I thought he got up and down the court. It’s been a week now, so it’s only going to get better.”

Ben Simmons returned against the Mavericks. Tim Heitman/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

For Simmons though, all that mattered was getting through the game without any additional setbacks, finishing with two points, three rebounds and two assists in 16 minutes.

“That was the main thing for me,” Simmons said.

“Just have no pain. Get up and down the floor, sprint, run, jump, so I felt good.”

It has been a rough start to the season for the Nets, who are now without Kyrie Irving after the star guard was suspended for five games for promoting anti-Semitic material on social media.

Getting Simmons back on the floor though is a step in the right direction for Brooklyn, who also parted ways with former head coach Steve Nash last week.

Speaking to media after Simmons’ return, interim coach Jacque Vaughn said it was “good” to see the 26-year-old back again playing with “speed” and “pace”. He also gave an insight into how the Nets could use Simmons moving forward.

“I put him out there with a group that could play fast, hoping to get some shooters around him,” Vaughn said.

“At that stretch, we didn’t make a lot of shots. But, overall, seeing him back on the floor, he played with speed, he played with pace, which is good.”

Ben Simmons has been watching from the bench for a few games. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

JOSH GIDDEY (Oklahoma City Thunder)

It has been a tough run for Giddey recently, sidelined earlier in the week and missing a win over the Magic with an ankle sprain.

The Australian had just nine points, two assists and six rebounds in Oklahoma City’s recent 112-103 loss to Detroit, shooting 4-for-12 from the field.

There is still no shortage of highlights from the 19-year-old guard though, dishing it up for Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to slam it home against the Pistons.

But it is still hard to ignore that Giddey does not look his normal self, or at least may not be 100 per cent early in the season and was subbed out of the Pistons game with nine minutes remaining.

Giddey had made been making clutch plays throughout his rookie season so it is not as if the Thunder do not trust him to come up with the right decisions.

It may just be a case of easing the Australian back while getting other younger players crucial minutes down the stretch as Oklahoma City continues to plan for the future.

Nonetheless, after having his season cut short last season through injury, it has been a frustrating opening for Giddey who is seeing increased attention from opposition defence.

Josh Giddey and Chet Holmgren are part of the future at OKC. Ian Maule/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

JOCK LANDALE (Phoenix Suns)

It is a different story though in Phoenix for Landale, who has quickly emerged as a key rotation big for one of the NBA’s title contenders.

Traded to the Suns from the San Antonio Spurs as part of the Dejounte Murray deal, Landale is making an impact on both ends of the floor and cemented his role as the primary backup center.

The 27-year-old is averaging 8.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 0.9 blocks and 0.3 steals per game — all career-high numbers.

It is shaping as a breakout season for Landale, who has been on quite the basketball journey since first being scouted by St. Mary’s and making a name for himself in college circles.

From going undrafted in 2018 to playing in Europe and Australia before eventually joining San Antonio, Landale has taken a very different path to most other prospects.

Landale is making a name for himself in Phoenix. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

But all that adversity has taught him a few key lessons according to Marty Clarke, Landale’s assistant coach at St. Mary’s.

“I do think the time he has to spend out of the league has made him more determined, aggressive and hungry to not just be in the league but be in the league and be a player,” Clarke told foxsports.com.au.

“Not necessarily that everything happens for a reason but everything happens and it’s how you react to it and Jock has had a great reaction. He’s been able to use that time in Europe and the NBL and then with the national team, got himself around good people and now he’s ready. He’s ready now.”

DYSON DANIELS (New Orleans Pelicans)

Australia’s latest first-round draft pick learned a brutal lesson earlier this month.

As productive as Daniels can be on both ends of the court, all anyone remembered from the 120-117 overtime loss to the Lakers was his two missed free throws.

Just one successful bucket would have given the Pelicans the win but instead Matt Ryan nailed a 3-point attempt to send the game to overtime and the Lakers went on to take the win.

It was a tough lesson for Dyson Daniels (right). (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

It was unfortunate for Daniels, who had eight points, five rebounds and two assists in that game while also continuing to prove himself one of the best defenders from his draft class.

“He played a really good game,” teammate CJ McCollum said of Daniels after that Lakers game.

“Hits two 3s. Plays well on defence. Unfortunately, he misses two free throws down the stretch.”

What McCollum said next though was important.

“This is how you build character,” he added.

“You’ve got two choices: You can crumble or you can put the work in and overcome what happened tonight. I think he’s the type of player who can overcome it.”

Daniels did not get much of a chance to show how he would respond to that kind of adversity, given just five minutes against the Hawks in another overtime loss.

He still made an instant impact though, grabbing three boards in the defeat while missing his only attempt from deep. Even the fact he is still willing to take the shots is a positive though.

Daniels has drawn some tough assignments. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Speaking to Sporting News, Pelicans coach Willie Green said Daniels will play a “huge part” in the team’s plans moving forward, be that this season or in the long-term.

“He’ll continue to earn minutes as the season progresses, but there’s no concerns on our part,” he said.

“I think he’s going to be a huge part of our program.”

It has been quite the initiation to the NBA for Daniels, who has drawn tough defensive assignments to begin his rookie season, including Lakers superstar LeBron James.

“Toughest cover I think was Luka out of those guys,” Daniels told Sporting News.

“Just how smart he is. He gets to his spots, uses screens, picks apart defences with the first move. LeBron’s strength, I tried to take a charge on him but that didn’t work.

“Obviously these guys are all great players and different players, tough in their own way.”

JOSH GREEN (Dallas Mavericks)

Green spent the entire summer working on his game, telling foxsports.com.au back in August that it had been a “big offseason”.

“It didn’t really work out at the end of last season but it’s helped me become motivated and ready to go,” Green added.

The Mavericks guard was referring to his lack of time on the court in the playoffs last season, with Green averaging just 7.6 minutes per game during the post-season.

Josh Green is making an impact on both ends. Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Things have changed very quickly and that work Green put in is starting to show on the court.

The 21-year-old had a season-high 16 points in Dallas’ 96-94 win over Brooklyn on Tuesday, shooting 100 per cent from the field while also adding five rebounds and two assists.

Mavericks assistant coach Jared Dudley told reporters before the season tipped off that Green would make a “huge jump” this season and it certainly looks that way.

When asked about his teammate’s improvement at the post-game press conference on Tuesday, Dorian Finney-Smith interrupted a journalist, declaring: “You’re talking about the best 3-point shooter in the league.”

He is not wrong either, with Green shooting at a league-leading 66.7 per cent from downtown, although he is admittedly only averaging 1.7 attempts per game.

But Green is seeing his game lift to new levels on all fronts, averaging 5.4 points (career-high), 2.5 rebounds (CH), 0.6 assists and 1.0 steal (CH) per game.

He is proving to be a crucial role player for Dallas and is seeing his minutes increase accordingly.

GREEN’S MINUTES ON THE RISE

13 minutes vs Brooklyn

15 minutes vs Oklahoma City

17 minutes vs Orlando

19 minutes vs Utah

20 minutes vs Toronto

26 minutes vs Brooklyn

And if you ask Dallas head coach Jason Kidd, it is just reward for Green.

“The one word is confidence. You can see his confidence is high,” Kidd said after the Nets game.

“His teammates believe in him. The coaching staff believes in him. He played late, he played a lot of minutes tonight and he deserves those minutes. It just shows you’ve got to give him the compliment that he worked extremely hard to put himself in this position.”

Speaking after his 16-point effort against Brooklyn, Green said he is more “comfortable” shooting than ever before.

“There’s going to be times when I’m shooting well,” he said.

“There’s going to be times where sometimes you’re going to miss. For me, it’s about keeping the same mindset, if I’m open — shoot it. We worked on it a lot in the offseason.

“I shot too many times in the offseason and put myself in too many situations now where I shouldn’t passing up open 3s. I feel comfortable shooting them. It’s not so much counting makes but making sure I’m taking the right shots.”

Again, that word confident later came up as Green once more touched on putting in the extra minutes in the offseason and seeing the results of all that work.

“This season in general I feel so much more confident on the offensive end,” he added.

“I wouldn’t just say this game, like I said before I feel like I put in so much work this off-season it’s just like, ‘What have you got to lose?’, you’ve just to go out there and play basketball. My whole thing is have fun, play basketball.”

Josh Green is more confident. Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

The Mavericks announced back in October that the front office had exercise the fourth-year, $4.8 million team option on Green’s rookie contract for the upcoming 2023-24 season.

The 21-year-old will enter restricted free agency in the 2024 offseason. Green is now eligible for a $6.7 million qualifying offer, which the Mavericks must make to have right of first refusal.

MATISSE THYBULLE (Philadelphia 76ers)

Like Green, confidence may be all it takes for Thybulle to unlock the next level in his game. No one is doubting the Australian’s abilities on the defensive end, having made the All-Defensive second team twice. It is why he is still getting minutes despite struggling to shoot the ball.

Thybulle is shooting at 33.3 per cent from the field and just 20 per cent from deep, averaging 1.5 points from 10.4 minutes per game — all career-low numbers.

The 25-year-old has played six-straight games now with at least one block or steal, further cementing his disruptive presence in defence but the Sixers need more.

Matisse Thybulle still has plenty to offer. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

That does not mean shooting though, as Sixers coach Doc Rivers revealed earlier this week.

Speaking to Philadelphia beat writers, including Sam DiGiovanni, Rivers spoke about how he used Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green as an “example” with Thybulle.

“He shoots it. Sometimes he drives it, sometimes he dribbles it at a player and makes a play,” Rivers said of Green.

“What you can’t do is hold it and so we just tell him that play free… he’s open for a reason. Teams are smart. We’re trying to teach him to make them pay with your shot or with your play, no matter what teams are doing.”

As for Thybulle himself, he told reporters this week that teammates are consistently trying to get him to shoot the ball, giving him the belief to keep trying even if the buckets are not coming.

“Joel’s (Embiid) been saying it for the last three seasons,” Thybulle said.

“I guess, he’s been really consistent with it, but I mean, it’s across the board. I feel actually really lucky in that sense to have teammates who do believe in me and encourage me to take those next steps.”

Thybulle also revealed advice from former Sixer JJ Redick that continues to stick with him as he tries to overcome his shooting slump.

Matisse Thybulle is putting the work in. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

JJ Redick told me a long time ago that the only thing you can really do to get your confidence up is to do the work,” Thybulle said.

“You know you’ve done it and I think that plays a big role in it and then also just believing in it for myself was just putting it in that aspect as well.”

PATTY MILLS (Brooklyn Nets)

It has been a productive start to the season for the Nets sharpshooter, even while averaging just 13.4 minutes per game — down from 29 last season.

Mills is shooting at 43.2 per cent from deep, up from 40.0 per cent last season, although he did make a fast start before tailing off so the Australian will be keen to avoid repeating that this season.

The 34-year-old’s most impressive recent game came against the Hornets, with Mills scoring 11 points to go with two assists in the 98-94 win.

The Nets won’t have to lean on Mills as much with Joe Harris healthy, although should that change he will be more than capable of taking on more minutes.

Otherwise, Mills will continue to be a positive influence as Simmons looks to rediscover his best form for the Nets.

JACK WHITE (Denver Nuggets)

White is not getting anymore minutes with the Nuggets for the time being, although he could get back in the frame should any injuries hit in Denver.

The 25-year-old has made two appearances in the NBA so far for a total of four minutes, having played a starring role for Denver at the Summer League.

While White may not be getting regular NBA minutes yet, he is certainly making an impression for the Grand Rapids Gold — Denver’s affiliate team in the G League.

White recently scored 20 points while shooting 8-for-11 from the floor in a 130-123 loss to Fort Wayne. Starting at center, the Australian also had 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.

Jack White made a big impression at the Summer League. (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA (Sacramento Kings)

Judging by some comments on social media, it seems some people still don’t realise Dellavedova is back in the NBA — and are all here for the Australian’s rebirth in the league.

There have been limited opportunities on the court for Dellavedova, who has played just the three games for the Kings this season, although recently he got 20 minutes against the Heat.

Star guard De’Aaron Fox was sidelined for that game, which ended with Miami taking a tight 110-107 win and Dellavedova scoring five points to go with two rebounds, one assist and a steal.

Dellavedova nailed his one 3-point attempt in that game and is now averaging 66.7 per cent from deep, having made one of two attempts in a comeback win over Charlotte last month.

JOE INGLES (Milwaukee Bucks)

Nothing has changed for Ingles, who remains sidelined for the Bucks with an ACL injury that he suffered back in January.

At the moment he is expected to return to the court until around January according to Milwaukee general manager Jon Horst.

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