When it comes to the Australian and New Zealand presence in the NBA, the upcoming 2022-23 season may well be the most anticipated ever.
From Ben Simmons returning after his awfully long hiatus, Josh Giddey set to build off a historic rookie season, Dyson Daniels looking to follow in his footsteps as a first-year player, and the countless Australians likely to play major roles on contenders, there's reason to expect big things from the region's players.
It's a breadth of talent and potential team success that we haven't seen in some time; going into the new NBA season, there are 10 Australians and one Kiwi flying their respective flags.
We've taken a look at what to expect from each of them.
Ben Simmons - Brooklyn Nets
After sitting out the entire 2021-22 season amid a dramatic, dragged-out trade request with the Philadelphia 76ers, Simmons is now settled with the Brooklyn Nets, and there's reason to think he could return to his All-Star form sooner than later.
While we can't ignore the unpalatable way in which Simmons' arrival in Brooklyn happened, it's easy to see how the fit on the Nets roster is quite favourable for the Australian.
Simmons remains one of the league's most versatile defenders, and his ability to distribute and screen at a high level is the perfect skillset alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The 26-year-old starts at the four-spot for Steven Nash's team, but where he and the Nets will likely have the most success is when he's playing the five in smaller lineups; it's a switchable group with Simmons and four shooters - Durant and Irving with Joe Harris, Seth Curry, and/or Patty Mills, for example - who can be really dynamic on the offensive end.
Simmons has over $113 million left on his contract, which goes through to 2025, so despite coming off back surgery and not playing for an entire season, there's an expectation that he eventually gets the Nets' third All-Star level player. The change in scenery will undoubtedly be good for Simmons, who very well could be in a position to compete for a title when the season's at its pointy end.
Josh Giddey - Oklahoma City Thunder
If his preseason is anything to go by, Giddey looks like he'll bypass a sophomore slump.
Over four games against NBA teams in the preseason, Giddey averaged 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists, in just over 20 minutes a game, but the 20-year-old's shooting numbers provided the biggest indication that he may be in for a big second season in the league. The point guard shot 8-of-14 from downtown in those games, showing clear improvements after shooting just 26.3 percent from beyond the arc last season. Coming off his first full NBA off-season helped in that regard, as well as the Thunder's addition of Chip Engelland - a shooting specialist - as an assistant coach.
The measure for success for Giddey and his Thunder slightly changed when Chet Holmgren went down with a season-ending foot injury. There's really no expectation to win games; instead, continuing to build chemistry with the team's young core, particularly Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, is the top priority, along with growing his own skillset.
What Giddey has shown over the preseason has been without Gilgeous-Alexander on the floor, so whether he can continue to produce in the same way is yet to be seen. If he can show an expanded scoring repertoire - especially the jumpshot - and consistency on the other end, then Giddey's second year in the NBA would be regarded as a success, notwithstanding how his team performs.
Patty Mills - Brooklyn Nets
Along with Durant, Mills may well have been the Nets' most reliable presence last season.
The point guard took over a good amount of the scoring load when Irving sat, and then played his role off the bench relatively well. Mills had a blip toward the end of the season where his numbers took a dip but, on and off the court, he was a vital piece for a Nets team that underperformed in the playoffs. So, when given the opportunity, he was quick to re-sign on a two-year deal in order to right that wrong.
With Irving back and seemingly set to play the majority of this season's games, Mills can settle in to the sixth man role he excelled in during his time in San Antonio. With the attention that Durant, Irving, and now Simmons will draw, Mills will continue to be the recipient of good looks behind the three-point line, coming off a season where he shot 40 percent from downtown.
Mills, alongside his compatriot in Simmons, has the opportunity to be a key piece for a Nets team that has a real shot at getting to its first Finals series since the franchise moved to Brooklyn.
Joe Ingles - Milwaukee Bucks
Ingles signed with the Bucks in free agency, but still has a good amount of recovery to get through after suffering an ACL tear midway through last season.
That means we likely won't see him hit the floor until January, according to the Bucks' general manager, Jon Horst.
When Ingles does eventually hit the floor, though, there's reason to be optimistic about his fit on a talented and proven Bucks roster. The 35-year-old is well regarded as a catch-and-shoot threat from beyond the arc, and that's the type of complementary skillset that works so well alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo. Ingles is also adept at operating as the ball handler in pick and roll situations - he did it extremely effectively in Utah with Rudy Gobert - so it wouldn't be surprising to see the Australian and Greek forwards connect in that regard.
The Bucks are talented enough that, when the time comes to integrate Ingles into the lineup, they'll more-than-likely be close to locking up a playoff berth, so that can be a gradual process. The Australian is, on paper, the perfect ancillary piece for a Bucks core that won a title back in 2021, so there's a good chance he could help them toward a similar fate this season.
Matisse Thybulle - Philadelphia 76ers
Thybulle has become a household name in Philadelphia since being drafted by the 76ers in 2019, and is reaching the point in his career where we'll soon find out how much the team values him.
That's because the Australian-American will enter this new season while being extension-eligible, so the pressures of showing improvements will be alongside that of trying to help a talented 76ers team toward a postseason berth.
Thybulle will continue to come off the bench for Doc Rivers' team, doing his thing as one of the premier perimeter defenders in the NBA, while shooting the three-point shots he's required to. The 76ers' trade for De'Anthony Melton - also a quality defender, but with a more reliable jump-shot - may lead to a dip in Thybulle's minutes if he can't hit the three-ball consistently. The 25-year-old is a career 32.4 percent three-point shooter, and that number will need to tick up if he wants to remain in the rotation come the playoffs; and if he wants a fruitful second contract in the league.
The 76ers managed to get James Harden to re-sign, while also adding PJ Tucker to the mix; for Thybulle, it's all about proving to be the perfect complementary piece next to what Harden, Joel Embiid, and Tobias Harris bring to the table.
Dyson Daniels - New Orleans Pelicans
The eighth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Daniels looks primed to make an impact for a New Orleans Pelicans team looking to make another playoff run.
The big, versatile point guard has already shown that his defence - his most pronounced skill heading into the draft - will likely translate to the NBA, and there's potential for him to make an impact on the other end of the floor, too.
Daniels' ability to defend multiple positions means the chances of him being part of the Pelicans' rotation is more likely than not. The NBA Academy product out of Bendigo, Victoria is primarily a point guard, but his much-improved jump-shot has seen him be effective on the wings, so he can play alongside ball-dominant guards like CJ McCollum and Jose Alvarado.
During the preseason, the 6'8 guard has been matched up on the opposing team's primary offensive option multiple times; a clear vote of confidence from Pelicans' head coach, Willie Green.
"I've been a defender my whole career," Daniels told ESPN.
"It's just something I've prided myself on. Ive got the lateral quickness. I've got the speed, the height, the agility, so I have all the tools to be a good defender, and then it's all about effort; just reading players, knowing what they wanna do...
"My offence has come a long way, which is gonna help me stay on the floor, but defence is what I hang my hat on: being able to block shots, get steals, stay in front, force turnovers, and things like that."
Steven Adams (NZ) - Memphis Grizzlies
Adams really emerged as a key cog on a fast-growing Grizzlies side, patrolling the paint on both ends as his team reached the Conference Semifinals.
The Kiwi big-man's presence brings so much value to the Grizzlies - particularly alongside Ja Morant, who enjoys the fruits of Adams' screens - that he was quick to re-sign, coming into the 2022-23 season on the back of inking a two-year, $25.2 million extension.
Adams, 29, won't be expected to carry much of a scoring load for the Grizzlies - he's coming off a season where averaged the least amount of points and field goal attempts since his rookie campaign in the NBA - but that's by design, because he produces in other ways. Adams averaged a career-high 10.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game last season, with his passing and offensive rebounding both adding a creation wrinkle to the centre's impact on the young Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies' young core is still relatively young, so the leadership and experience Adams brings to the table is invaluable for a group that, on the back of Morant's superstardom, is turning into one of the threats in the West.
Josh Green - Dallas Mavericks
This is an extremely important season for Josh Green, who's shown glimpses of being a really effective NBA player but has yet to find consistency with his output.
Green worked out in Las Vegas this off-season, and worked on the parts of his game he knows will make him effective on the Luka Doncic-led team: being complementary to the Mavericks' superstar.
"People forget how important role players are for teams," he told ESPN's Kane Pitman. "You look at the Warriors, the guys who have a particular role and are able to kill it in that role. It works so well for teams; teams are able to be successful. Going to the Mavericks, I knew I wasn't getting drafted to take any superstar role, it's solidified. "There are teams where you know you aren't going to dribble the ball; I maybe dribble the ball tops three times. I got my first minutes realising I need to play defence and do a good job of it, I have to be cutting, I have to pass the ball well." Green's versatility on the defensive end is what gets him on the floor, but hitting spot-up threes is how he stays there. Last season, he shot 35.9 percent from downtown, with that number increasing to 40.7 percent from both corners, so there's a chance that increased confidence and experience can see that jump even more.
The 21-year-old is extension eligible after this coming season, so he has a big opportunity to prove to the Mavericks' front office that he can be a long term piece for their franchise, who are coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance.
Jock Landale - Phoenix Suns
Landale was traded to the Atlanta Hawks as a filler on the team's deal to acquire Dejounte Murray, before he was quickly sent to the Suns for cash considerations.
In Landale's short time in Phoenix, he's made the sort of impact that's led to a reasonable prediction that some of the Suns' backup five minutes could be his. The soon-to-be-27-year-old was really effective in his limited minutes with a tanking San Antonio Spurs team last season, but the context of where the Suns are as a franchise - absolute win-now mode - means they could use his size and floor spacing at that position.
The big-man capped off his preseason by dropping 17-points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 4 blocks and, for a team looking to get deep into the postseason, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them play the skilled big with international experience behind Deandre Ayton - and ahead of Bismack Biyombo - in the rotation.
Matthew Dellavedova - Sacramento Kings
A respectable season with Melbourne United, followed by an impressive showing in a few FIBA World Cup qualifying games, was enough for Mike Brown to want the 32-year-old Dellavedova as a veteran presence on a Sacramento Kings team that needs it.
The non-guaranteed deal Dellavedvoa signed meant that the point guard still had to earn his spot as the deadline to finalise rosters approached, and he managed to do just that; it's official: he'll enter the new season as a King.
Over his NBA career, Dellavedova has averaged 5.5 points and 3.7 assists a game while shooting it from deep at a reasonable rate, but there isn't an expectation that he'll see a ton of minutes for the Kings. De'Aaron Fox is the team's franchise point guard, and he's backed up by Davion Mitchell - who's coming off a solid rookie season - so it's likely Dellavedova's value will largely come off the court.
Jack White - Denver Nuggets (two-way)
White used a wildly successful NBA Summer League campaign to earn a two-way contract with the Nuggets, joining a growing list of NBL players to make the leap.
As a two-way player, the 6'7 forward will spend the majority of his time with the Nuggets' G-League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, so that's where he'll be honing his craft coming off another successful season with the NBL's Melbourne United.
Two-way players are permitted to spend up to 50 games with their respective NBA teams, but the Nuggets are a contender going into the regular season, so it's not likely we'll see White crack Michael Malone's rotation. Still, he'll have the opportunity to travel and practice with the team; there's value in just being amongst the likes of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, even if that doesn't mean sharing the floor with them in games.