I would love to start this column by saying what an exciting week it’s been for our two lads in the NBA, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case again as Patty Mills saw limited court time (I’m looking at you Pop) and Andrew Bogut was still sidelined with injury (although he is traveling with the team now which I suppose is a good sign).
But then this bombshell dropped – on Thursday word leaked that the San Antonio Spurs would be adding a second Aussie to their roster in the 26 year old Aron Baynes (New Zealand born), having bought him out of his Euroleague contract. The deal with the Spurs is believed to be for $3.5 million over four years, with the last two years being team options.
I was surprized at first because I truly believed that Joe Ingles (who plays in Spain) would be our next NBA signing after his strong Olympic campaign, but after taking a closer look at Baynes it’s clear that he has the credentials to give the NBA an honest crack. And it’s pretty obvious that Boomer coach and Spurs’ assistant Brett Brown liked what he saw from Baynes in London and played a key role in getting him here.
Let’s start with the Olympics, where the 6-foot-9 Baynes averaged 9 points (on 65.6% shooting) and 3.3 rebounds despite coming off the bench, and he showed some impressive flashes of athleticism in connecting on a few alley-oop dunks courtesy of Matty Dellavedova. His performance in London really set the stage for what kind of player he could be at the next level; I envisage a banger-type 4/5 who can provide some energy off the bench. And as he displayed at the Olympics, he’s got a bit if a mean streak and likes to lay the wood on dudes. That will help him in the NBA.
Since the Olympics Baynes has been playing in the Euroleague for the Slovenian club Union Olimpija Ljubljana, averaging 13.8 points on 58.7% shooting and 9.8 rebounds (leading the league) in just 10 games. Prior to that he played for the Greek team Ikaros Kallitheas B.C. and averaged 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds during the 11/12 season.
In terms of his college career Aron played four years at Washington State, his best season being his senior year in 08/09, averaging 12.7 points and 7.5 rebounds.
Whether or not Baynes can develop into an NBA regular remains to be seen, but this much is clear – with his Boomers’ teammate Patty Mills to lean on, a familiar voice on the sidelines to provide some guidance in Brett Brown, and in a first class organisation like the Spurs with an all-time great coach in Gregg Popovich, Aron’s in the best possible situation to commence his NBA career.
And this is great news for the Boomers. With guys like Patty Mills, Andrew Bogut (hopefully healthy), Joe Ingles, Matty Dellavedova (developing nicely and should get drafted next year), Aron Baynes and possibly the young guns Ben Simmons and Dante Exum on board, the Boomers should have a cracking chance at a medal at the 2014 World Championships and 2016 Olympic Games.