To set the tone early on the first day of training camp, Melbourne United head coach Dean Vickerman brought in the best Australian NBA talent to ‘set the standard’ and see what high-quality basketball looks like.
Oklahoma City Thunder’s Josh Giddey and Jack White, Houston Rockets’ new recruit Jock Landale, and New Orleans Pelicans’ Dyson Daniels all were invited by the NBL coach to match up against the United roster.
“The reason that we put this camp together was because of the internationals that we have on the roster. And then to have the invites that we had today to have a third team in practice that is at a pretty high level,” Vickerman said.
With roster spots remaining at the club, Vickerman is looking for a specific archetype at the power forward position that will assure their belief in the goal of competing at a high level with the new-look roster.
“We need to fill that spot up a little bit more. I thought his [Tanner Krebs] time in Brisbane when he played at the four, I thought he was effective as well, where you just have an elite shooter at that position and creates more space for you as well. So it’s something throughout the year that we could use,” he stated.
Speaking on Luke Travers and Matthew Dellavedova, Vickerman had high praise and optimism about what the pair will bring to the organisation ahead of the season.
“To make the championship game at Summer league and to win it. It’s a great way for him to start his campaign with us,” Vickerman happily said about new recruit Luke Travers.
The 2016 NBA champion only arrived on Wednesday and had immediately made a massive impact on the team.
Vickerman praised the Aussie point guard for being an example of what it means to be a Melbourne United player.
“You’ve got a guy that’s a leader, a winner,” Vickerman said.
“He leads in a lot of different ways but mostly leads in the way that the culture of this club is about and that’s contagious.”
12 months ago, Melbourne United was in chaos, rushing and feeling underprepared for worse-case scenarios when particular players got injured.
“We were scrambling a little bit this time last year,” Vickerman admitted.
“I think the work that we’ve done, this is the longest offseason that we’ve had for a long time. So I think our preparation to get ready to start the season and how we recruit people that fit the things that we want to do this year has been so much better.”
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With Travers heading back to Melbourne after his Summer League championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Matthew Dellavedova is returning to United after a season with the Sacramento Kings, who went seven games in the first round of the playoffs with the Golden State Warriors.
Dellavedova said it was fun training with familiar faces.
“Great competition and [it] feels like I almost never left,” Dellavedova said.
Playing in the NBA this past season allowed Dellavedova to build rhythm and confidence ahead of the Boomers’ World Cup and Olympic campaigns.
“It was an awesome experience. They [Sacramento Kings] were a great group of people. It was really fun to play for Coach [Mike] Brown again,” Dellavedova said.
“Sacramento getting back in the playoffs for the first time in 16 years was a lot of fun and they loved their hoops there.
“Heading into the Olympics next year [I] just wanted an opportunity to play a lot more. So looking forward to that and with the NBL finals finishing in mid-March, there’s always the opportunity to go back later on after playing a lot here.”
With the same chip on his shoulder, Dellavedova expects the Boomers camp to be of the highest quality basketball preparation, using the ‘underdog’ expectation to drive his motivation once again.
“Boomers camps are always some of the most competitive physical basketball that you’re going to play. I think that’s what makes the Boomers great, that competition has always been there and make sure that everyone is ready to go from that very first game,” he said.
“It’s basketball, it’s doing what I love. I’ve always been the underdog from juniors to now…going into camp I’ve always had the same mentality and I think that’s where I do some of my best work.”