04/07/2014
Paulo Kennedy's view from Downunder

Taking a new approach

MELBOURNE (Paulo Kennedy's View from Downunder) - To be honest, had Patty Mills pulled out of the Boomers in 2010 or 2012 I would have disappointed, but not too discouraged.

The reason is in this article, he was a talented but not complete basketball player, someone with great skill and physical ability but without the knowledge of how to best use it.

But that's old news, Patty's progress in the past two years has been remarkable, and his upcoming shoulder surgery could well be seen as a fatal blow to Australia's medal hopes at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

That's not the way the Boomers or any Aussie team works, however, and you can bet Andrej Lemanis and his coaching staff are already making progress figuring out Plan B, C and D.

Certainly Joe Ingles made it pretty clear on social media that while he'll miss his running mate, he isn't intending to leave Spain empty handed all the same: "@Patty_Mills out is huge but it does not change what we are going 2 Spain to do. We will adjust & find ways 2 win. Opportunity for others."

But how do you replace Patty Mills?

You don't. He's a special character and a unique player when wearing that green and gold singlet. However, you can try to fill the different areas of brilliance he provides.

The first is fullcourt disruptive defence, a much-improved area of Mills' game which is a key to the Boomers' new identity.

Luckily there is a bloke named Damian Martin who is one of the best in the world at it. He has been waiting for the chance to get meaningful minutes in an aggressive defensive system and this could be his chance to shine.

The next hole Mills leaves is streaky but devastating shooting. Luckily there is a rising offensive stud named Chris Goulding currently impressing NBA clubs fresh from winning the scoring title Downunder. His ability to shoot over defenders is extraordinary, now he’ll get the chance to do it at the highest level.

Another player worth mentioning is Ryan Broekhoff.

While he isn't a dynamic scorer like Mills and Goulding, Broekhoff defends, makes few mistakes and spreads the floor with his shooting, something that could be valuable if Matthew Dellavedova and Martin - not lights-out shooters - are going to play more guard minutes.

The third crucial area Mills provides is that x-factor, able to make plays with his speed that few other players around the world can. Luckily there is a young man named Dante Exum who is ready to unleash himself on senior basketball.

While Dante might not be ready to star, I suspect he is already capable of making some plays that will turn heads, excite teammates and catch opponents unaware.

Of course, while it's easy to say there are three or four players who can replace those key traits, you can't have them all on the court at once, and Lemanis has a hell of a job reworking his rotations to cover all the necessary bases.

The other big chasm the Boomers must fill is arguably Mills' biggest role - he is the heart and soul of this team.

While Dellavedova has unofficially assumed the role of leader, Mills is the inspiration. When a man of his talent openly buys into the coach's system and selflessly does the little things it becomes contagious.

Mills learned that from the stars in San Antonio and now he is becoming that guy for Australia.

Who is going to answer that call in Spain in under two months' time? The answer to that question could be the key to how far the Boomers can progress without their dynamic guard.

Full points to NBL, players
The NBL and its players' association have long been at loggerheads about the player points system, which has been in place to help the league maintain relative parity.

So it was another big tick for the league's new HQ when they announced a working group to examine both the points and salary cap systems.

Rather than bicker, the working group will bring league and player association reps into the same room to work constructively towards a system that accommodates both sides.

Furthermore, the NBL produced this fantastic interview with NBL Players Association President Jacob Holmes for their website.

It had seemed to me last season the new administration had been a bit shy about controversial topics, but this was a great step forward in terms of being proactive and taking a new approach.

There was one misconception the article promoted that does need tackling, however, and that’s the inference the points system is in place because the salary cap can’t be enforced.

If all NBL clubs could afford to pay the salary cap this might be an issue, but they can't.

Even if the NBL could guarantee no club would spend over what's allowed - which is a rubbery figure now with the introduction of the marquee rule - there would still be a large discrepancy between the rich and poor clubs.

That's where the points cap helps clubs like Wollongong, Townsville and Cairns to all beat last year's champions despite spending significantly less.

As I have said many times, the system isn't perfect, but there isn't a better suggestion out there yet, and until that changes the league needs that crutch to lean on.

Hopefully, after this working group does its thing, that won't be the case any longer.

Paulo Kennedy

FIBA

FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

Paulo Kennedy

Paulo Kennedy

Paulo has joined our team of columnists with a weekly column called 'The View from Downunder', where he looks at pertinent issues in the world of basketball from an Oceania perspective, perhaps different to the predominant points of view from columnists in North America and Europe.

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