Sport Patty Mills is set to thrive alongside Ben Simmons at Tokyo Olympics

18:18  17 june  2021
18:18  17 june  2021 Source:   sportingnews.com

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With Australian NBA stars still alive in the 2021 NBA postseason, it would be easy to forget the Tokyo Olympics are right around the corner.

The Boomers are just over a month away from beginning their redemption tour in pursuit of a historic first medal for the men's program at a major tournament.

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One of the most difficult tasks in the lead-up will be making final cuts to the initial 24-man group that was without question the most talented in Boomers history. On Thursday, Basketball Australia announced they had made the first cut, with a 19-man squad selected for the upcoming training camp in Las Vegas.

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Australian 19-man Olympic Squad
Player Current team (league)
Aron Baynes Toronto Raptors (NBA)
Ryan Broekhoff South East Melbourne Phoenix (NBL)
Xavier Cooks Sydney Kings (NBL)
Mitchell Creek South East Melbourne Phoenix (NBL)
Matthew Dellavedova Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
Dante Exum Houston Rockets (NBA)
Josh Giddey Adelaide 36ers (NBL)
Chris Goulding Melbourne United (NBL)
Josh Green Dallas Mavericks (NBA)
Isaac Humphries Adelaide 36ers (NBL)
Joe Ingles Utah Jazz (NBA)
Nicholas Kay Real Betis (Spain)
Jock Landale Melbourne United (NBL)
Patty Mills San Antonio Spurs (NBA)
Brock Motum Nanterre (France)
Duop Reath Crvena zvezda (Adriatic League)
Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers (NBA)
Nathan Sobey Brisbane Bullets (NBL)
Matisse Thybulle Philadelphia 76ers (NBA)

The squad boasts nine current NBA players, with Joe Ingles, Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle still active in the NBA Playoffs. A blend of new faces and experience, Patty Mills will join Ingles as the most experienced Olympic campaigners, with both set to appear in their fourth Olympics after Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.

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Mills in particular is set for a monster campaign, with his usual explosive offence set to be aided by the addition of two NBA All-Defensive team members.

In Simmons and Thybulle, head coach Brian Goorjian will be able to have a world-class defensive guard on the floor for the full 40 minutes, releasing Mills to have maximum impact on the offensive end.

Patty Mills at the Olympics
Olympics MPG PPG 3P%
Beijing 2008 23.7 14.2 36.4
London 2012 29.7 21.2 35.4
Rio 2016 29.6 21.3 34.4
#Simmons #Mills © Provided by Sporting News #Simmons #Mills

The focal point of the Boomers offence in the previous two Olympic campaigns, Mills has had the ball in his hands more than ever, averaging over 21 points per game with some spectacular performances along the way.

The 32-year-old will no doubt carry a high usage rate across the tournament, though it's the inclusion of Simmons that may benefit Mills the most.

Knocking down 37.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc with San Antonio during the 2020-21 season, Mills was even better in catch-and-shoot scenarios, where he buried 41.3 percent of his 3.9 tries per outing.

Ben Simmons isn't a superstar and it's disappointing

  Ben Simmons isn't a superstar and it's disappointing Ben Simmons was supposed to be the next LeBron James, or at least the next Magic Johnson, yet as his fourth season drew to a close after a disappointing playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, I can’t help but feel that those high hopes everyone once had for the Australian are now nothing more than a pipe dream. I will give credit where it is due. Simmons has become one of the best defenders in the league and having the ability to defend all five positions on the court is not something to blink at.

In Simmons, the Boomers are adding one of the best 3-point assist men in the world. According to PBP Stats, Simmons led the league in 3-point assists during the 2020-21 season with 93 despite only playing 58 out of a possible 72 games. He was third league-wide in 2019-20 with 226 assists that led to 3-point makes, only trailing LeBron James (234 in 10 more games) and Luka Doncic (244 in four more games).

It's not that Mills needs to score off assists — he's proven time and time again in the green and gold that he's more than capable of carrying the offence in big moments — but with Simmons, it could allow the veteran guard to take advantage of his strengths, leaving him to attack in moments rather than across the entire 40 minutes in the herculean efforts we have gotten used to witnessing.

As always, the Boomers are set to produce a versatile defensive lineup with the ability to mix and match small and big lineups. Offensively, they've never had the versatility Simmons could deliver, and Mills has certainly struggled to find a rare moment of airspace.

If he does, the Boomers may well find themselves on a path to a historic podium finish.

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