Since the 1970s, Australia has quietly become a basketball hotbed. Granted, the Aussies have never medaled at the Olympics, so they’ve failed to reach the same level as the U.S. or some European countries. But they’ve sent more than a few prominent players to the NBA. If nothing else, there have been enough Australian players in the NBA that it’s worthwhile to have a debate as to who are the best Aussies to ever play in the NBA.
Longley’s longevity in the league and three NBA titles are just enough to keep him ahead of Matthew Dellavedova and Dante Exum for the fifth spot on our list. Granted, he was just a role player, but he was also a starter for most of his career.
Longley averaged over seven points and nearly five rebounds per game over 10 NBA seasons, which is a solid career a lot of players would love to have.
In barely six seasons, Ingles has become the all-time leader in made three-point field goals in Jazz history. That’s no small accomplishment for a player who has become an integral part of Utah’s success in recent years.
Ingles has averaged double figures in multiple seasons and also started to average more than five assists per game for the Jazz, showing that he’s more than just a shooter.
His first stint in the NBA didn’t go particularly well, but Mills tried again with the Spurs and has turned in a nice career. While he’s almost exclusively come off the bench for San Antonio, Mills has still averaged double figures in multiple seasons. He was a key piece when the Spurs won the 2014 NBA championship and has had some impressive games in the playoffs.
Mills may primarily be known as a three-point shooter and a role player, but he also brings a lot of intangibles to the table that a winning franchise like San Antonio has noticed and appreciated.
As the first overall pick in 2005, Bogut was a trailblazer for Australian basketball players. For what it’s worth, he never lived up to the billing of a top overall pick. However, Bogut was one of the best defensive big men in the NBA for much of his career, leading the league in blocks during the 2010-11 season. He also played an important role on the Warriors when they won the 2015 title.
During his heyday with the Bucks, Bogut averaged a double-double in three straight years and finished his long NBA career averaging a respectable 9.6 and 8.7 rebounds per game.
In just a few years, Simmons has set the bar high for future Australians. He got off to a late start after missing his entire rookie season due to an injury. But by his second full season in the NBA, Simmons became a perennial all-star, showcasing a skill set that few 6’11’’ players possess.
He’s part point guard and part power forward, and he makes an impact at both ends of the court. The sky is still the limit for what Simmons can accomplish in the NBA, allowing him to help open the door for future generations of Aussies in the NBA.