In Australia, they love their Aussie-rules football above all else, but cricket and rugby are fan favorites as well. It therefore comes as no surprise that the land down under has produced remarkably few elite basketball players over the years. Though there's not a lot to pick from, here are the top 6 Aussie-born NBA players of all time. You'll want to pay attention, because you might be surprised by the last name on the list.
6. Luke Schenscher
Though last among players on this list due to a short and unglamorous two-year stint in the NBA, Schenscher makes this list as an honorary selection for his accomplishments in college. In 4 years at Georgia Tech, Schenscher started 90 games and averaged 7.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while seeing just 21 minutes of action in each contest. In his senior year, Schenscher and the Yellow Jackets made a miraculous NCAA tournament run all the way to the championship game before being downed by a stacked UConn team featuring Emeka Okafor, Charlie Villanueva, and Ben Gordon.
5. David Andersen
Born in Carlton, David Andersen spent the same two years in the NBA that Schenscher did. What broke the tie is Andersen's success on the professional level elsewhere and the contract given to him in 2009. Andersen spent 9 years in the Euroleague, with his teams winning the championship 3 times during his stay. Andersen just finished the last season of a 3-year $7.5 million deal he signed with the Rockets.
4. Patty Mills
One of the most promising young players in the NBA right now, Mills began his NBA career after a stellar two-year stint at mid-major St. Mary's College. He was selected 55th in the 2009 NBA draft by the Portland Trailblazers. His big break came this past season when he played in 16 games for the San Antonio Spurs, the team that finished with the best record in the league. Mills even started 3 games, and averaged over 10 points per game in just 16 minutes of floor time each night. He followed that up by playing amazingly for the Australian national team in the Olympics a few weeks ago. Watch out for Patty Mills moving forward!
3. Luc Longley
Though much of Luc Longley's fame was not fully his own doing, he was still the only one on this list to be a big part of an NBA championship team, and he did it three times! Longley was the starting center for the Bulls in 1996,1997, and 1998 when Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen led them to 3 straight championships. The 1996 team finished with the best record in NBA history at 72-10. Not bad for a big Aussie!
2. Andrew Bogut
In the 2005 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks drafted Andrew Bogut, an Australian center, with the first-overall pick. Bogut didn't play the toughest competion while putting up amazing stats in his two years at the University of Utah, but there are very few quality centers in the league these days, and the Bucks had no choice but to take their shot at one. Since then, Bogut has been solid yet unspectacular, averaging nearly a double-double in his career, but recently has had some injury issues. Still, the number 1 pick is nothing to sneeze at. If not for the technicality of the last player on this list, Bogut would be an easy choice for the top Aussie.
1. Kyrie Irving
Yes, it's true: The Cavaliers' 2011 Number-1 overall draft pick and young star Kyrie Irving was born in Melbourne in 1992 while his father Drederick was playing for a local team. Kyrie grew up American, and attended the legendary Duke University basketball program, but his Australian birth cannot be denied. In just one professional season, Irving has lived up to his billing as the top pick, as he averaged 18.5 points and 5.4 assists per game on a horrible team. Surround this man with a better supporting cast, and he could win a championship like Longley really soon!
There were a few standouts at this year's Olympics, so we might see more Australians stateside in the future. Until then, did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments below!
Adam Robinson is a guest blogger who writes about all things Australian. His home from home is www.luckynuggetcasino.com/au/online-pokies/.