With the NBA Draft set to take place tomorrow morning (Friday) from 9am (AEST) and Ben Simmons looking the likely number one pick, it’s time to look back at how previous Aussies have fared in their quest to make it in the NBA.
The list below is of Australian players who have played in the NBA, if they were undrafted a * will be shown next to their name.
2009 – 2011
Andersen was drafted 37th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 2002 but it wouldn’t be until 2009 when the Hawks traded his rights to the Houston Rockets that he’d set foot on an NBA court. He played a total of 103 games in the NBA with the Rockets, Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Hornets (at that time they were not the Pelicans).
He has NBA career averages of: 4.9ppg, 2.8rpg, 0.6apg, 0.2spg and 0.2bpg.
1997 – 2000
Chris Anstey was selected with the 18th overall pick by the Portland Trailblazers in the 1997 NBA Draft however he never played for them. He played in the NBA for three seasons with the Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls, amassing 155 games.
NBA career averages: 5.2ppg, 3.4rpg, 0.9apg, 0.4spg and 0.3bpg.
2014 – present
Drafted in 2014 with the 49th pick by the Chicago Bulls, Bairstow stepped up his game his senior year of college to get the attention of NBA scouts. In recent weeks he has been traded by the Bulls and is now with the Detroit Pistons (along with Aron Baynes). In his two seasons in the NBA he has seen very little court time thus far.
NBA career averages: 1.2ppg, 1rpg, 0.2apg, 0.1spg and 0.1bpg.
2013 – present
Born in New Zealand but grew up in Australia and represents Australia internationally, makes him Australian. He was undrafted but picked up by the San Antonio Spurs in 2012 and becoming an NBA Champion in the 2013/2014 season. Before the 2015/2016 season he has moved onto the Detroit Pistons team where he has himself a nice role behind Andre Drummond.
NBA career averages: 5.4ppg, 3rpg, 0.6apg, 0.2spg and 0.4bpg.
2005 – present
The first Australian to be selected with the number one pick in the NBA Draft, Bogut was picked by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005. Injuries have not been kind to Bogut, particularly a freak elbow injury that has really limited his offensive game. One has to imagine what his career would have been like if not for those injuries. Since the joining the Golden State Warriors in 2012, Bogut has become an NBA Champion with them (2015) and also been selected to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2015). With the Bucks he led the league in blocked shots (2.6bpg in 2011), was selected to the All-NBA Third Team in 2010 and the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2006.
NBA career averages: 10.3, 8.9rpg, 2.3apg, 0.7spg and 1.6bpg.
1996 – 1997
Bradtke played with the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1996/1997 NBA season. He appeared in 36 games for them before returning to the Melbourne Tigers in the National Basketball League.
NBA career averages: 1.6ppg, 1.9rpg, 0.2apg, 0.1spg and 0.1bpg.
2013 – present
Australia’s newest NBA Champion, Dellavedova was undrafted and then picked up by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013 after being an absolute standout player for St Mary’s College of California. Delly took over the basketball world with his display in the 2014/2015 NBA Finals before being crowned champion last week as the Cavaliers won the 2015/2016 NBA Finals.
NBA career averages: 5.7ppg, 1.9rpg, 3.4apg, 0.5spg and 0.1bpg.
2014 – present
Drafted at the number five spot by the Utah Jazz in the 2014 NBA Draft, Exum has already missed one full season to injury. Looking very much like a rookie in his first season with the Jazz, the 2015 Summer League showed that Exum was more confident in himself and his abilities. He was then unfortunately injured while representing Australia which caused him to miss all of the 2015/2016 NBA season.
NBA career averages: 4.8ppg, 1.6rpg, 2.4apg, 0.5spg and 0.2bpg.
Signing with the Washington Bullets (as they were then known) in the 1993/1994 NBA season and played seven games with them. Returned to Australia and the NBL before having another short stint in the NBA in the lockout shortened 1998/1999 NBA season where he won an NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs. Considered Australia’s greatest ever basketball player, Gaze has been inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.
NBA career averages: 1.7ppg, 0.5rpg, 0.4apg, 0.2spg and 0.1bpg.
Born in the United Sates but became an Australian citizen and represented Australia internationally. He was drafted in the 1988 NBA Draft at pick number 67 (third round) by the Utah Jazz however failed to make their active roster at the time. He played the majority of his career in the NBL with the Perth Wildcats, setting a range of records for the team. In 1993 he played three games in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks.
NBA career averages: 1.3ppg, 0.3rpg and 0.3apg.
1996 – 1997, 2003
“Hammer” is one of the great shooters of Australian basketball and he was picked up by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1996/1997 NBA season to do just that, just not very often. He had a second stint in the NBA during the 2003/2004 NBA season with the San Antonio Spurs. Most people, from an international viewpoint, would remember him and Charles Barkley going at each other in a warm up game for the 1996 Olympics. Heal hit 8/12 three point shots in that game to lead all scorers with 28pts.
NBA career averages: 2ppg, 0.4rpg, 0.8apg, 0.1spg and 0.1bpg.
2014 – present
After plying his trade in the NBL and then in Europe, the Utah Jazz picked up their second Aussie (Dante Exum). He’s now played two seasons with the Jazz and has had some great games coming off the bench. He played every game of the 2015/2016 NBA season.
NBA career averages: 4.6ppg, 2rpg, 1.7apg, 0.8spg and 0.1bpg.
2011 – present
Born in Australia but has dual citizenship with the United States and has represented the United States internationally (youth). Describes himself as an American but throw him in here anyway as a player born in Australia to be taken in the NBA Draft. Selected first overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
NBA career averages: 20.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 5.5apg, 1.4spg and 0.3bpg.
2008 – 2010
Selected with the 41st pick overall in 2008 by the Indiana Pacers before having his rights traded to the Toronto Raptors, Jawai became the first indigenous Australian to play in the NBA. He has struggled throughout his career with injuries and fitness, specifically during his NBA run he had to “rest” due to a cardiac abnormality which limited his movement. He has since returned to Australia and the NBL, recently signing a three year deal with the Cairns Taipans (where he started his professional career).
NBA career averages: 2.8ppg, 2.7rpg, 0.6apg, 0.2spg and 0.2bpg
1991 – 2001
Longley was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the seventh pick in the 1991 NBA Draft. He played there for two and a bit seasons before being traded to the Chicago Bulls. It was here he became a well known player, winning three consecutive NBA Championships between 1996 – 1998 alongside Michael Jordan. He was the starting centre for that Chicago Bulls team and became the first Australian to win an NBA Championship. He also played for the Phoenix Suns and the New York Knicks to round out his NBA career.
NBA career averages: 7.2ppg, 4.9rpg, 1.5apg, 0.5spg and 1bpg.
1993 – 1995
Born in the United States Mee became and Australian citizen and represented Australia internationally. Mee was selected by the Golden State Warriors in the 1993 NBA Draft with the 34th overall pick. He was traded to the Denver Nuggets though and never played for the Warriors. He played 40 games in the NBA before making his to China, Australia and parts of Europe.
NBA career averages: 1.9ppg, 0.9rpg, 0.5apg, 0.4spg and 0.3bpg.
2009 – present
Selected with the 55th overall pick by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2009 NBA Draft, Mills became a household name for his enthusiastic towel waving on the bench. In 2012 he moved to the San Antonio Spurs where his career has begun to flourish. Now renowned as a “sparkplug” and high energy scorer, Mills has found a home with the Spurs and won the 2013/2014 NBA Championship.
NBA career averages: 7.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 1.9apg, 0.6spg and 0.1bpg.
2006 – 2007
Originally undrafted, Schenscher signed with the Chicago Bulls in 2006 and the Portland Trailblazers in 2007. Played in 31 games across those two seasons before making his way back to Australia and playing in the NBL.
NBA career averages: 1.8ppg, 1.7rpg, 0.3apg, 0.1spg and 0.2bpg.
Other Australian’s to be Drafted:
These Australian’s were selected in an NBA Draft but have never played an NBA game – CJ Bruton (1997, #52), Paul Rogers (1997, #53), Ben Pepper (1997, #55), Brad Newley (2007, #54) and Ater Majok (2011, #58).