Jack White has secured an NBA contract to complete one of the more remarkable comebacks. Find out how his fellow Aussies fared in terms of deals at the NBA Summer League.
If there is a player who personifies being defined by your comebacks and not your setbacks – Melbourne United forward Jack White is the man.
Eighteen months after an Achilles injury ended his rookie NBL season, White has completed a remarkable turnaround to pick up an NBA contract.
The United big man secured a two-way deal with the Denver Nuggets on Monday after impressing at the pre-season Summer League.
White excelled for Denver, averaging eight points on 70 per cent shooting, adding 6.5 rebounds, 1.0 steal, and 1.3 blocks in 16.3 minutes per game.
He also had a game-high 15 rebounds in one match while he displayed his ability on the offensive end as a selfless teammate.
An emotional White was lost for words when United coach Dean Vickerman called to congratulate him on the deal.
The rising Boomer knows it wasn’t that long ago when his career was on hold after sustaining an Achilles injury.
A year-and-a-half on, White is NBA bound and he credits his resilience for the impressive rise.
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“I feel like I’ve shown the ability to bounce back at a high level, especially after a serious Achilles injury like that,” White told News Corp prior to dropping seven points, nine rebounds and two assists in his final Summer League game against the Utah Jazz on Monday.
“People know who I am and have seen improvement since my college days at Duke, especially coming off the injury.
“This is an amazing opportunity for me to take another step towards living out my dream of playing in the NBA, so I couldn’t be more grateful to the Nuggets for giving me a shot.”
White has enjoyed success at the Summer League, but concedes it hasn’t been easy competing in an ultra-competitive environment.
He described the pre-season Summer League as “ocean of basketball players trying to make their dream work”.
“Everyone is out here competing for a job,” he said.
“You know, playing to put food on the table. Guys have families, guys have kids, so it is for real, out here and it is no joke.
“Guys are on a business trip, even though it is Vegas and there is a lot going on.
“You just have to focus on what you can control and play hard.
“It’s the unpredictable nature of being a professional athlete, especially at the Summer League.”
White’s hardworking journey from rehab to the world’s best league was best summed up by his manager, Sammy Wloszczowski, who took to Twitter to celebrate his client’s achievement.
“471 days ago, Jack White’s rookie season went to hell,” Wloszczowski said.
“Now he’s the most inspiring example of being defined by your comebacks, not your setbacks. Congratulations Jack, the Denver Nuggets are lucky to have you.”
White has long aspired to become an NBA player, dating back to his junior days in his hometown Traralgon, in regional Victoria.
He joins a growing cohort of players from Melbourne United that have taken the leap into the NBA, following championship teammate Jock Landale, as well as NBA Summer League players Jo Lual-Acuil Jnr and Yudai Baba.
United CEO Nick Truelson is thrilled to see another United player in the NBA.
“We could not be prouder of Jack,” Truelson said.
“We have seen the incredible amount of work he has put in, and with the talent he has we had a feeling that this was a real possibility for him when he was selected to play in the Summer League.
“Jack is a fantastic person, athlete, and player, and we can’t wait to see what he can do now that he has been given this opportunity in the NBA.”
White revealed he has lent on NBA experienced teammates like Matthew Dellavedova and Landale for advice about playing in the world’s premier competition.
He also praised Denver for allowing him to play for the Australian Boomers’ in three World Cup qualifiers in Melbourne prior to joining the Nuggets for the Summer League tournament.
“That meant a lot to me,” he said.
“It was super important that I was able to play for Australia and the Nuggets understood that.
“I’ve been lucky to have really supportive teammates at Denver. I had 15 rebounds in that game, and they all told me they wouldn’t have won that game without me.
“It was rewarding to know that I can compete at that level and that there is serious attention there.
“It has been a lifelong dream to be able to play at this level and it feels good.”
White hasn’t been the only Australian to excel at the NBA Summer League.
Perth Wildcats forward Luke Travers impressed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, displaying his athleticism and skill at both ends of the floor.
Travers starred in a win over Atlanta, finishing with 14 points and five rebounds.
The Wildcats forward is yet to sign an NBA deal despite his impressive performances for the Cavaliers.
Former Melbourne United forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr is in a similar boat to Travers.
Lual-Acuil Jr looked comfortable on the NBA stage for the Suns, especially when he had a personal high 12 points in six rebounds in a win over Dallas, but is yet to lock in a deal to remain in the world’s best league.
Fellow NBL players in Duop Reath (Phoenix Suns), Makur Maker (Chicago Bulls) and Dejan Vasiljevic (Phoenix Suns) also impressed but all look set to return to the NBL for the 2022-23 season.
‘Works his a*** off’: NBA close to reality for ex-United star
Former Melbourne United big man Jo Lual-Acuil Jr is being tipped to secure an NBA deal after producing a breakout game at the Summer League for the Phoenix Suns.
Lual-Acuil Jr had 12 points, including seven in the first quarter, to help the Suns charge to a comprehensive 105-78 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
The NBL champion added six rebounds in an eye-catching performance that will give his NBA aspirations a significant boost.
Ex-United teammate Jack White, who is playing for the Denver Nuggets at the Summer League, believes Lual-Acuil has the skills to join the world’s best league if he maintains his current form.
“Jo is a true pro, so whatever comes his way, he’ll smash it, I’m sure,” said White, who has enjoyed his own success at the Summer League, including an impressive 15 rebound game for the Nuggets.
“He is a versatile big who has good size.
“He is seven-foot, has length, can run the floor and score in transition, he also has a good post game and defensively he can block shots and protect the rim.
“That is what the NBA is these days, with positionless players and Jo personifies that because he can play different positions.
“He is also a competitor, so if you put him in a challenging environment like the (NBA) he will rise up.”
White knows from experience at United in the NBL last season that Lual-Acuil Jr also possesses the work ethic to succeed in the NBA.
“Jo works his arse off, so he deserves to show himself on this level,” he said.
“He is an elite player and guy as well. I love JLA, so I’m super happy for him to have a breakout game like that.
“He deserves his shot. I’m going to miss playing with him next year because it looks like we won’t be teammates.”
Championship-winning Sydney Kings guard DJ Vasiljevic also had six points, including two threes, and two rebounds and one steal in Phoenix‘s victory.
Could NBA be getting a taste for White-line fever?
Melbourne United and Boomers forward Jack White has moved a step closer to fulfilling his NBA dream, with analysts rating him a “dark horse” to pick up a two-way contract at the Denver Nuggets following impressive performances at the pre-season Summer League.
White produced his finest display at the Summer League in Las Vegas on Monday, with eight points, three blocks and a whopping 15 rebounds in a win over Cleveland.
His impressive effort attracted widespread praise from fans and scouts alike on social media.
The feeling was unanimous that White deserves a shot in the NBA.
“Jack White has skyrocketed up my own personal power ranking for the final two-way spot,” one person wrote.
“Smart player. Hustler and a good connector. Has a few elite on ball defensive possessions.”
White’s 15 rebounds (3 offensive) in only 12 minutes off the bench was particularly impressive.
He has shown an ability to involve himself in all aspects of the game — a trait that will serve him well if he makes the NBA.
White has enjoyed a successful period following his standout performances for the Australian Boomers in three World Cup qualifying wins.
Former United big man Jo Lual-Acuil Jr deserves a mention for his effort playing for the Phoenix Suns in a loss against Washington on Monday.
Lual-Acuil Jr had six points, two rebounds and 1 steal for the Suns.
Fellow Australian and NBL product Luke Travers has also stood out at the NBA Summer League playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Travers had three points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in a loss against White’s Denver side.
The Perth Wildcats forward also produced a devastating dunk, prompting the Cavaliers to post a tweet saying: Mullet Appreciation Post, in reference to the Aussie’s long, blonde hair.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, unveiled Australian Boomers Olympic medal-winning assistant John Rillie as the club’s head coach on Monday.
Rillie joined Wildcats executives at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas where he agreed to join Australia’s most successful basketball franchise on a three-year contract.
The Australian basketball great brings three decades of elite experience to Perth, both as a championship-winning player and high-level coach.
Rillie is thrilled to be returning to Australia for his first opportunity as a head coach.
“For my first head coaching position, I wanted to pick a situation that was right for me.
“With Perth’s history and reputation, not just in the NBL, but in the Australian sporting landscape — it was like a magnet to me. I’m really excited, and I know we’re going to get great fan support from day one.
“I want to play an attractive, opportunistic style offensively, but to play that way we’re going to have to be an aggressive defensive team.
“The mindset I had as a player, I’ll be looking to adopt that as a coach on the offensive end, but I’ll be striving to make us one of the top one or two defensive teams statistically in the NBL.”
After retiring as a player in 2010, John Rillie has spent more than a decade developing his coaching craft in the US college system.
He joined the Wildcats from UC Santa Barbara, where he’s held the position of associate head coach of their men’s program since 2018.
He was a part of the Australian Boomers program from 1997 to 2004, representing his country at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Seventeen years later, Rillie returned to the Olympics as part of Brian Goorjian’s coaching staff for the 2020 Tokyo Games, where he helped lead the Boomers to its first Olympic medal.
Red-hot Giddey shines again in Summer league
Australian NBA sensation Josh Giddey has continued his red-hot return to the court, dropping a triple-double in another Summer League win for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
A day after dropping a double-double in his first game since a hip injury ended his rookie season in February, Giddey starred in a comfortable 87-71 victory over Memphis.
The Melbourne-born guard recorded 14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists while he added two steals. He becomes the first player to record a triple-double in the pre-season Summer League since Lonzo Ball in 2017.
Giddey has now amassed 21 assists in his first two Summer League games.
The rising Boomer also regularly attacked the rim during the game, showing off his bigger frame from a summer of work in the gym.
“Lifting weights this off-season — I’m trying to get stronger,” Giddey said post-game.
“I’m trying to get into the D-paint and I know for a bigger guard I’ve got to be able to finish over these smaller guards.
“It is an advantage I’ve been working on this off-season, finishing around the ring.
“So, when they (the opposition) are going under screens, having a screener like (Chet Holmgren) who can draw so much attention, I can get downhill, make passes and finish at the ring.
“I’m just trying to read what the defence is giving me.”
Giddey was also asked post-game why he is such a natural passer and a player blessed with the ability to make others better.
“It has been natural,” he said.
“I’ve always been a pass first type player. To play with guys like (Chet) and the rest of the guys we’ve got, they make my job nice and easy.
“I give them the ball, they make the shots and make me look good, so it’s a joy to play with the guys we’ve got.”
Giddey’s new partner in crime, power forward Chet Holmgren backed up his dominant debut with another standout display.
Holmgren, who the Thunder selected with the second pick in the 2022 draft, had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds while adding three assists.
In other basketball news, former Australian Boomers assistant coach Adam Caporn has been named an NBA assistant coach at the Brooklyn Nets.
Caporn is joining the Nets staff after serving as head coach of the Long Island Nets in the 2021-22 season.
He led Long Island to the franchise’s second playoff berth in history and earned G League Coach of the Month honours in February.
A host of Boomers stars, including veteran swingman Joe Ingles, took to social media to praise Caporn for his elevation to the NBA coaching ranks.
Ingles tweeted: “Really happy for Adam”, a reflection of the respect he has from the Australian players.
Boomers big man Jock Landale was officially unveiled as a Phoenix Suns player on Thursday after being traded to the Arizona based club via the Atlanta Hawks.
Landale, who played 54 games mostly off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs in his first NBA campaign last season, will be hoping to take the next step at the Suns as a consistent performer on the biggest stage.
Fellow Boomer Ingles was also officially unveiled by the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.
“Joe is a proven shot maker who will add great depth to our roster,” Bucks General Manager Jon Horst said.
“He is a terrific person and teammate who will fit in well with our team and community. We’re thrilled to welcome Joe and his family to Milwaukee.”
Giddey shines on return as Thunder unveil next star
Australian NBA star Josh Giddey impressed in his first game since February, but it was his uncanny connection with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s latest draft signing that had the basketball world talking.
Minneapolis-born power forward Chet Holmgren — who the Thunder took at No.2 in this year’s draft, put on a show alongside Giddey in his Summer League debut in a dominant 98-77 win over the Utah Jazz.
Holmgren produced an explosive first half, dropping 18 points, including four of five from range.
He finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists while his synergy with Giddey on the offensive end was a highlight.
The pair looked like they had played together for years, which is a huge positive for the rebuilding Thunder who finished second last in the Western Conference last season.
Giddey recorded a double-double in his return from a season-ending hip injury, with 14 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
Holmgren, though, stole the headlines to have commentators hailing his performance “special” and one of the best Summer League debuts in history.
The 20-year-old looked like he belonged on the NBA stage with his potential offensive skills for such a big man standing at 7’ foot 1.
Holmgren spoke to the media post-game on one condition – that he could do the interview with a teammate.
He fittingly selected Giddey and praised the Aussie guard for helping him make his transition to the NBA – admittedly the Summer League – so much easier.
“A shout out to this guy here (Giddey) – he had a double-double, so it was a great night for him and that helped me a lot,” Holmgren said, as he stood with his arms around Giddey.
“Also, a shout out to my teammates for setting me up and putting me in positions to be successful.”
Giddey was equally glowing in praise for Holmgren, who also had a Summer League record six blocks.
“The hype that he came in with and the way that he played tonight was big for us,” Giddey said.
“Being a high pick like that there is a lot of pressure coming in, but he handled it as good as he could of.
“It makes my job really easy playing with someone like him who can stretch the floor, finish at the rim, and protect me.
“He has my back on the defensive end, so I love playing with him.
“It has only been one game, but the chemistry is already getting stronger.”
Giddey picked up where he left off last season, excelling in his first NBA appearance since a hip injury ended his remarkable rookie season.
The Melbourne-born guard had more NBA experience than most of his rookie rivals, and it showed as he calmly steered the Thunder around the court with class and poise.
Giddey brushed aside two clunky turnovers in the first quarter to quickly rediscover his trademark pinpoint passing and vision.
The rising Boomer’s connection with Oklahoma City’s newest draft star Holmgren, was particularly pretty to watch.
Giddey had an immediate cohesion with Holmgren, including one play in the first quarter when he drew two defenders before finding the rising big for a three.
The partnership had Thunder fans rejoicing online at the prospect of having two of the NBA’s best rising talents.
Giddey enjoyed a memorable rookie season, highlighted by becoming the youngest player to record a triple-double.
He amassed four triple-doubles in total, including three straight in February before a hip injury prematurely ended his season.
Giddey has the potential to reach greater heights this season, especially in a hugely talented Thunder side featuring one of the 2022 draft’s best players in Holmgren.
Originally published as NBA Summer League news: All the latest on the Australian and NBL products trying to make their way in the world’s biggest basketball league