The 22/23 season of the NBA is just around the corner, and we at Edge of the Crowd are excited to see Australian players make their mark on the league. With the California Classic complete and the Salt Lake City Summer League underway, the Las Vegas Summer League is bound to be bigger and better than ever.
Akoldah Gak, PF/SF
The first Aussie landing a spot on the Bulls' Summer League squad is Akoldah Gak, who played limited minutes last season in the NBL for the Illawarra Hawks. A 6'11 forward from Sydney, Gak has represented Australia at an under-19 level and chipped in four points in three minutes during the April 9 blowout against the Bullets.
In his albeit limited career as a professional in Australia, Gak has shot an incredible 78% from the field, never shooting less than 50% in games where he's scored. This kind of wise shooting, combined with an impressive frame, makes the 19-year-old an exciting prospect for the future in the basketball world.
Makur Maker, C
One of the Aussies currently set to play for the Bulls in the Summer League is the Sydney Kings' Makur Maker, younger brother of former lottery pick and current Long Island Net, Thon Maker. After going undrafted in this year's NBA draft, the Bulls decided to take a shot on the 6'11 Kenyan-born centre.
Last season for the Sydney Kings, Maker averaged 7.7 pts and 5.3 rebounds with 45% field goal shooting. Maker's season highlight was his eight-point and seven-rebound effort against the Illawarra Hawks in April in front of a 12,000-strong crowd at Qudos Bank Arena.
While those stats may not wow you, the big man shows good fundamentals and a determined attitude on the boards that could land him a roster spot in the NBA or one of the G-League affiliates if he performs well.
Luke Travers, SG/SF
Everyone's favourite 20-year-old mulleted Aussie basketballer, Travers, was drafted at #56 in this year's NBA draft. At 6'7, he has the ideal length for a wing player and was an essential part of last season's Perth Wildcats team, averaging 7.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and adding in 2.2 assists.
Travers' career highlight in the NBL came in February when he led all scorers with 24 points against the South East Melbourne Phoenix. With his developing shooting touch and team-first attitude, Travers will look to be just as impressive in the Summer League with a young Cavaliers team, with hopes of securing a place in the squad for the season.
Sam Waardenburg, PF
In a surprising development, New Zealand-born forward Sam Waardenburg has found himself a spot on the Summer League team for the Dallas Mavericks. Having just agreed upon a 2-year deal with the Cairns Taipans, Waardenburg will be hoping to get some minutes and test his mettle against the rising stars of the NBA during the Summer League before likely beginning his professional career in the NBL.
In his senior year with the Miami Hurricanes, Waardenburg put up 8.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists alongside very effective shooting of 52% from the field and 42% from 3-point range.
Waardenburg's career highlight was his all-around performance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones, where he put up 13 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three blocks to help the Hurricanes to an appearance in the NCAA's elite 8.
Jack White, SF
After going undrafted in the 2020 NBA draft, 24-year-old Jack White of Melbourne United is looking to make an impact with the Nuggets' Summer League team after a strong showing for NBA champion Matthew Dellavedova's United in the NBL's previous season.
A 6'7 forward, White averaged 9.3 pts and seven rebounds at a 53% FG conversion rate. White's season highlight came in United's last game of the season in game 3 of the semi-finals, where he put up 14 points and pulled down a monumental 15 rebounds in a losing effort against the Tasmania Jackjumpers.
White will bring his rebounding and tenacity to the Summer League, where anything can happen with a good performance.
New Orleans Pelicans
Dyson Daniels, SF/SG
Perhaps one of the more decorated names on this list despite only turning 19 years old in March, this year's number 8 pick is bound to profoundly impact the Pelicans' Summer League team and possibly on the NBA entirely. Daniels grew up in Bendigo, playing for the NBL1 team Bendigo Braves before joining the NBA global academy in Canberra.
Last year, Daniels surprised many by foregoing playing in the NBL and instead joining the G-League team Ignite. The 6'6 Daniels is the 4th player to be drafted to the league via Ignite, joining last year's number 2 pick Jalen Green, NBA champion Jonathan Kuminga and former 5-star recruit Isaiah Todd. Last season, Daniels averaged 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the G-League, with his versatility and defensive prowess landing him a lottery pick in this year's draft.
Daniels also competed internationally, shining with 23 points, four assists, three rebounds and six steals against New Zealand. The sky is the limit for Daniels, and he is someone we're excited to see going forward in the NBA.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Josh Giddey, SG/PG
Perhaps the most decorated name on our list is All-Rookie Second Teamer Josh Giddey, whose dynamic passing and team-first mindset quickly endeared last year's #6 overall pick to the NBA fans. Giddey made history last year in his rookie season for the Thunder when he became the youngest ever player to record a triple-double in an NBA game with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists against the Dallas Mavericks in January.
Still only 19 years old, the 6'8 phenom with point guard skills has loads of potential to fill with an exciting young Thunder team, featuring this year's #2 overall pick, Chet Holmgren. Giddey was a stat sheet stuffer in his rookie season, recording impressive averages of 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists. Recording 14 points, 11 assists and five rebounds in his first game in this year's Salt Lake City Summer League, Giddey will be hoping to build upon this great start to his young NBA career.
Jo Lual-Acuil Jr, C
One of the older players on our list at 28 but also one of the more successful NBL names, JLA, as Melbourne United fans call him, is hoping to bring his efficiency and rebounding to the Phoenix Suns this year's Summer League.
JLA won NBL 6th man of the year in 2021, and this year ascended to a starting role with United, where he shined. The 6'11 powerhouse averaged 16.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks for the semi-finalists, being a key player for the team with his rebounding and defence.
Lual-Acuil also scored efficiently, boasting a 54% field goal conversion rate when taking around 12-13 shots a game. This kind of scoring efficiency mixed with size and defensive know-how make JLA an exciting player, whether in the Summer League or the NBL.
Duop Reath, PF/C
The 6'11 Perth native of Sudanese origin had a strong season for the Illawarra Hawks last season in the NBL. Reath averaged over 15 points and seven rebounds, regularly leading a committed Hawks team in scoring throughout the season.
At 26 years old, Reath still has some potential, and with his production in the NBL being at the level it is, there's every chance a team like the Suns may take a chance by signing him onto the roster if he performs well. Reath is a former champion in the Serbian Adriatic League and was a member of the bronze-medal-winning Australian team at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Dejan Vasiljevic, SG
The third Aussie getting a chance on the Sun's Summer League team is the 6'3 Melbourne Native Vasiljevic. Born in Canada but moving to Melbourne when he was just six years old, Vasiljevic played College Basketball with Miami, teaming up with Sam Waardenburg for a couple of years before going undrafted in the 2020 NBA draft.
The Sydney Kings guard is known for his sharpshooting from the perimeter. With an NBL average of 37% from 3-point range while putting in over 12 points a game for the champions. Vasiljevic is second on all-time three-pointers made for the Miami Hurricanes, putting in 271 3-point field goals for his four-year college career.
Watch out for these names during the NBA Summer League and into the regular season for some as we see more and more Aussies making their mark on the sport internationally.