Australia will have Ben Simmons, Dante Exum, and Thon Maker soon, giving them a bright future
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Australia will have Ben Simmons, Dante Exum, and Thon Maker soon, giving them a bright future

Dante Exum, Thon Maker, Ben Simmons

Heading into the Rio Olympics, there was a lot of discussion about the lack of competition for the United States. In the past, Spain and Argentina posed legitimate threats to the Americans’ hunt for the gold medal. Basketball has been rising in Europe as a whole, and it was assumed that more and more countries would become contenders for medals.

Instead, the disparity between Team USA and the rest of the world has seemingly grown, with the exception of the nation down under.

Yesterday, Australia nearly defeated the U.S. in pool play. Patty Mills dropped 30 points, Matthew Dellavedova added 11, and Andrew Bogut put up 15. Their defense and team rebounding stifled the Americans, but despite holding a lead for much of the game, they ended up falling in the final moments.

We’ll have to wait and see how they fare against each other if they play once again in the medal round or during single elimination, but the Aussies’ performance last night proved that they’re one of the best international basketball teams in the world.

And, they’re only going to get better, as Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports notes:

The Jazz‘s Dante Exum claims that he has fully recovered from his ACL tear, which is great news for all basketball fans, but especially for those from Australia. His length and stifling perimeter defense will pose a big problem for Team USA’s guards down the road.

We all know about the hype for Ben Simmons, the number one overall draft pick of the Philadelphia 76ers. His passing is already at an elite level, and if he can add a serviceable jumper, he’ll become even more deadly. His size and athleticism will be vital to the Aussies as they match up with the Americans.

Thon Maker is the biggest question mark here. Maker, who was selected 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, has been bombarded with questions about the legitimacy of his listed age of 19. Regardless, Jalen Rose sees him as a “triple-double threat;” if Maker comes anything close to that, he’ll be another strong addition for the Boomers.

The pieces are in place for Australia to become the second best men’s basketball team in the world, if they aren’t already. Not surprisingly, optimism is flowing with their coaching staff.

From The Vertical’s Michael Lee:

“The future looks very bright,” Australian national team coach Andrej Lemanis told The Vertical. “The Australian development system, it’s been coordinated and organized. That work is all starting to show itself in the quality of player that is coming through. It’s exciting. And, the other thing with Australia’s cultural mix as well, the athlete that is starting to come through as well, is changing the landscape a little bit.”

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