Boomers face ‘dangerous’ dilemma for Paris Olympics with Australians in the NBA injured, out of form

It’s going to take a minor miracle for the Boomers to return to the basketball podium at the Paris Olympics.

With the 2024 Olympics only five months away, Australia’s men’s basketball team isn’t in the greatest shape as it aims to back up a historic bronze medal winning run in Tokyo three years ago.

Who could forget Patty Mills scoring 42 points in the bronze medal game as the Boomers broke through to claim their first medal at an international tournament.

But three years on, it’s going to be a tough ask to repeat those heroics with many of Australia’s best basketballers either injured on stuck in the NBA wilderness.

Watch an average of 9 NBA Regular Season games per week LIVE on ESPN, available via Kayo. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial Today >

Josh Giddey has endured a turbulent season for the OKC Thunder and has had his minutes reduced for the rapidly improving team.

Giddey is still getting on the court for the Thunder, albeit he likely won’t see many minutes in the playoffs after a recent trade for veteran Gordon Hayward.

But the good news is he’s injury free and will be the Boomers’ main man in Paris after just missing out on selection for the Tokyo Olympics.

Giddey, 21, was given the keys to the Boomers’ offence at last year’s FIBA World Cup with Mills playing a supporting role as the changing of the guard began.

The Aussies were knocked out in the group stage at the 2023 FIBA World Cup in a disappointing result as Germany took the gold medal ahead of Serbia and Canada.

The news isn’t as good for Boomers stalwart Mills, who will head to his fifth Olympics in Paris grossly underdone.

The 35-year-old has played just 19 games for the Atlanta Hawks this season after being traded from the Brooklyn Nets and it appears his days in the NBA are numbered.

“You don’t want one of your mainstays for your national team playing zero minutes over 12 months and last season he didn’t play a lot either,” Andrew Bogut told his Rogues Bogues podcast last year.

“The World Cup was probably not his best tournament when you compare the bronze medal run and runs before that. You don’t want to float into (the Olympics) having no form.”

Fellow veteran Joe Ingles is playing for the Orlando Magic and recently returned to action after being sidelined with a left ankle injury.

One of the most important pieces of the Boomers team is centre Jock Landale, who held his own against superstar Nikola Jokic in last year’s playoffs but has since been stuck behind Alperen Şengün in the big man pecking order at the Houston Rockets.

Landale missed last year’s FIBA World Cup campaign with an ankle injury and is another key cog who won’t have games under his belt when the Boomers get to Paris.

After winning two NBL titles with the Sydney Kings, Xavier Cooks was on the cusp of his NBA dream before he was brutally cut by the Washington Wizards on the eve of the NBA season.

He’s now playing in Japan along with big man Nick Kay, who has featured in coach Brian Goorjian’s squads but probably isn’t in the Boomers’ best starting five.

With Mills in the twilight of his career, the Boomers are crying out for a lights out scorer but in a huge blow, Perth Wildcats star Bryce Cotton has ruled out ever playing for Australia after being left frustrated by his failed bid for Australian citizenship.

The hits just keep on coming. Dyson Daniels was contributing to a solid New Orleans team, but the Pelicans announced on Tuesday the 20-year-old had sustained a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee and will be further evaluated.

We haven’t mentioned Ben Simmons yet, who recently made his return for the Brooklyn Nets but the 27-year-old will need to stay injury free to make the Boomers squad. That’s if he even commits to play for Australia.

There is some good news amongst the doom and gloom though.

Former Illawarra Hawk Duop Reath has taken his opportunity at the Portland Trailblazers with both hands, stretching the court with his ability to knock down three-pointers.

Dante Exum was the second best player for the Dallas Mavericks earlier this season before foot and knee injuries stalled his momentum.

Fellow Maverick Josh Green is in solid form and should join Exum in the Boomers’ starting line-up in Paris.

The Exum-Green-Daniels trio could force Matisse Thybulle out of the Boomers squad. Thybulle is an elite on-ball defender but doesn’t score enough to be an offensive threat.

Bogut’s Boomers concern for Paris

“Ben Simmons, Josh Green, Patty Mills, Jock Landale, just not playing much. That’s four integral parts of your Boomers program,” Bogut said on his Rogues Bogues podcast in January.

“Joe Ingles is back in the rotation, but he’s hurt, Josh Giddey’s hurt with all the distractions off the floor. There’s a lot going on with the Aussies in the NBA … that is not favourable for a Boomers positive stint, which you don’t like to see.

“There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge in the NBA season, but I would love to see Patty Mills getting a consistent 15 (minutes) off the bench, Ben Simmons back and healthy, Jock Landale getting 10-15 playing through good and bad.

“That’d be the ideal world for the Boomers, but we don’t live in an ideal world and that’s where it’s very dangerous right now for the Boomers program.”

Bogut said he’s almost prefer to see players tearing it up in the NBL be picked for the Boomers ahead of Aussies who can’t get on the court in the NBA.

“I’d almost argue that you take a guy playing in the NBL at 35 minutes a game to a guy that’s getting DNPs in the NBA,” he said.

“It’s always a tricky one, conditioning, shape, your mental health basketball wise, are you feeling confident? Are you feeling yourself? Are you feeling like you’re going to knock all your shots down?”

Melbourne United sharpshooter Chris Goulding is certain to be picked for scoring off the bench, while Nathan Sobey is in the frame for selection after returning to his best form for the Brisbane Bullets.

Matthew Dellavedova and Mitch Creek are other NBL stars who could be picked for the Olympics, although Creek’s horror injury run will dent his chances.

International basketball is more even than ever, evidenced by the USA’s fourth place World Cup finish and desperation to bring back the likes of LeBron James, Steph Curry and Joel Embiid to defend their Olympic gold in Paris.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Canada to bronze at the World Cup and the Canadians can still add NBA champions Jamal Murray and Andrew Wiggins to their squad for the Olympics.

Serbia won silver at the World Cup and Jokic didn’t even play, while Germany’s triumph shows just how hard it is to beat European teams in international tournaments.

So while anything can happen, it’s going to be a tough road back to ‘rose gold’ for the Boomers.

Originally published as Bogut’s radical plan as crippled Boomers face ‘dangerous’ dilemma for Paris Olympics