By Tom Minear
The NBA Draft is only a couple of months away and everyone has their own opinion of who should go number one, which team needs what and so on, but we won’t know anything for sure until David Stern starts to read out names at Madison Square Garden. Some of the best predictions have come from the mouth of Eric G. Satterwhite, who has been providing great insight into the first round of the NBA Draft for readers of Hoops Addict. I can’t say I always agree with him, but he is opening the eyes of all basketball fans to the amazing depth and potential of the 2007 Draft Class.
Down here in Australia, the media takes little interest in the NBA. The biggest news for us was two years ago, when Andrew Bogut was the number one draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks. While we have no one to rival his success this year, there are a number of players in the mix to play NBA in the next few years. Luke Schencher has recently been signed to Portland for the rest of the season, David Anderson is exploring a move to Atlanta next year, Sam Mackinnon (the Australian league MVP) is considering his options while NBA scouts have been all over 19-year-old sensation Joe Ingles. A number of Aussies are also tearing up the college scene, including Aaron Bruce, Daniel Kickert and Aleks Maric.
However, the player with the best chance to get drafted to the NBA in 2007 is Brad Newley.
Newley is a 6’6″, 190 pound shooting guard who has been on the radar of NBA scouts for a number of years. He had nominated for the draft last year, but pulled out so he could further refine his game with the Townsville Crocodiles in the NBL (Australia’s national competition). It proved to be a good decision, with Newley having his best year in the league.
At 22, he has accomplished quite a lot. His first year in the NBL was a stunning success – Newley came off the bench every game but won Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year. This culminated in his selection for the All-Star Game, where he delivered with 35-4-7 and the MVP trophy.
Newley has got better and better in the two years since then, playing mainly as a shooting guard but also rotating to small forward. 2007 was another solid season, as he lived up to the expectations of Australian fans and NBA scouts that were present throughout the year. Newley posted career high numbers in scoring, three point shooting, rebounding, steals and blocks and featured prominently in MVP voting.
Here are Newley’s numbers from his three years in the NBL:
Year PPG FG% 3PT% 3PG RPG APG SPG BPG
2005 15.8 52% 36% 1.6 3.2 2.0 0.9 0.6
2006 19.3 44% 35% 2.2 5.1 4.3 1.0 1.0
2007 22.4 45% 41% 2.8 5.4 3.2 1.2 1.3
These numbers are bloated by a number of factors. The first reason is NBL basketball is an extremely open court, free running style which encourages high scoring and three-point shooting, as well as little on ball defence. Also, the three-point arc is shorter than the NBA arc, making the long-range shot a much more widely used weapon. However, this should not discredit Newley’s numbers as he has proven to be a scorer on the international scene and in a number of pre-draft workouts in 2006.
Aside from his time in the NBL, Newley has impressed in a variety of other matches around the world of basketball. He was a starring member of the Australian U-20 team, and combined with Andrew Bogut to win the gold medal at the World Junior Championships in Greece in 2003. After his time with the youth teams and at the Australian Institute of Sport on a basketball scholarship, he became a regular fixture in the Australian team – the Boomers. Newley has started most games for his country as a guard/forward, most recently at the World Championships in Japan last year, where he averaged 8 points per game. Newley has also impressed in the US, particularly last year in a number of workouts before the draft. He played some of his best basketball in front of the Utah Jazz while going up against JJ Redick and Randy Foye.
Scoring ability – This is the key to Brad Newley’s game, because he really does have the ability to score from anywhere on the floor. His three-point shot has become deadly, either off the dribble, in transition or when spotting up. Newley’s mid-range game is also very tough to defend. He has a sweet jumper with a quick and high release, and it is a rare event for his shot to be blocked. Although not the quickest player (especially by NBA standards), he can change his pace surprisingly well and has a great first step to burn past defenders. He doesn’t have much of a post game, relying instead on shooting or slashing. Newley finishes strong at the rim and has no fear, instead attacking big men with the ability to create a dunk from nowhere or manufacture a shot over defenders in the paint. It is this ability that can draw people to compare Newley to Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.
Team player – Although his assist numbers don’t appear to be that high, Newley is one of the leading passers in the NBL. He is by no means a pass first player, but as he matures, Newley has become increasingly good at creating shots for his team mates. He draws many double teams and passes out of them extremely well and also can drive to the basket and dish to open players. At 6’6″, he is not that tall but is long enough to see over the defense and hit cutters.
Attitude – In the past, he would become frustrated when his shot hasn’t been falling but Newley has developed his game to a level where he finds other ways to contribute and always wants to be involved in the game. He takes a very professional and team-first attitude, and will rarely pull up for a bad shot. Newley also has that Shane Battier-like quality for doing everything possible to help out his team and is a great hustle player. He can grab big rebounds, create steals and block shots, and will always dive for the loose ball or try to draw a charge.
Lack of size – Newley is 6’6″, but there are question marks over his body strength. He has put on plenty of muscle, and will need to continue to do so if he wants to be a good NBA player. More size is very important because it gives Newley more confidence on the offensive end and will stop him from being brushed away on defence.
Defence – He has never been a great on ball defender, but in a league where scoring is all that matters, Newley is yet to be truly exposed by a great player. But this is the area of his game that he has done the most work on, and at 22 he still has the potential to become a very solid defender. His attitude to guarding players has always been sound, and he does have very good length (as evidenced by his 1.2 steals 1.3 blocks per game in the most recent NBL season).
Range – As mentioned earlier, the NBL arc is shorter than the NBA arc. Newley does have great range, and has worked hard to extend it so he can compete on a higher level. He can be a good NBA shooter, but would probably have to cut the pull-up shot from his game and instead focus on hitting his open looks from downtown.
Brad Newley has always struck me as a standout player in the NBL. He will never reach the level of Andrew Bogut, and unless luck is completely on his side, a starting gig in the NBA could be very tough to come by. However, Newley definitely has a chance to go the big smoke, and should come into contention somewhere in the second round of the NBA Draft. If he does get drafted, then he could have a long career as a sixth/seventh man on an NBA roster. Newley can be a great spark player, who will always provide a lot of hustle on the defensive end, and will make and create shots for his team.
In fact, he would be a perfect fit on the Milwaukee Bucks – that would be a dream come true for Australian basketball fans like myself.