Mangok Mathiang is one of Australia’s best basketball players that hasn’t hit national acclaim. He is a former NBA player with the Charlotte Hornets in which he played four games in the 2017-18 season.
Mathiang attended college powerhouse Louisville from 2013 to 2017. In his senior year he averaged eight points, six rebounds, a block and half a steal while playing 33 games.
Since those college years, he has travelled the world. He’s played in the NBA, G-League, Italy, Turkey, and Slovenia. During those stays, he’s been a part of an Italian Cup winning Vanoli Cremona in 2019 and a part of a Slovenian League championship winning team for Cedevita Olimpija in 2021.
Unfortunately, his talent hasn’t been seen. He has the unlucky ‘injury-prone’ tag due to his recent injury history. Just like many bigs in basketball, his knees have not been kind to him.
But the NBL could provide an outlet for him to get back to the player he once was. A place where he could finally be seen by an Australian audience and be recognised and admired for his true talent.
In his stay in the G-League, he averaged 10.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game for the Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte’s G-League affiliate). The G-League’s on-court level is very similar to the NBL’s so he could thrive in Australia.
So, what are some potential teams for Mathiang to join?
If the JackJumpers are not going to sign Thon Maker, they need to sign Mathiang. He is perfect for this Tasmanian team, adding something that the JackJumpers don’t already have, which is height.
They desperately need to sign another big. Tasmania simply cannot be running with Magnay at the five for half the game and then just play Bairstow, Krslovic and McIntosh out of position for the other half.
Mathiang will be able to free up Magnay and have him play as the power forward. Magnay played his best basketball in Brisbane when he was playing at the four next to Matt Hodgson. Mathiang could be the new Hodgson for Magnay.
Even though Mathiang can be considered more of a power forward than a centre, he could create a great one-two punch with Magnay in Tasmania.
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The Kings desperately need to replace Jordan Hunter. Their backcourt does not work without a full-time centre. And now with the season-ending injury to RJ Hunter, it does open up a roster spot for Mathiang to take.
Jarell Martin cannot function as a full-time centre. He is a guard in the body of a centre. If you go back and watch any Kings’ game last season when Hunter and Martin were on the court together, they were one of the best frontcourts in the league.
Martin cannot defend to the level which the Kings need at the centre spot. He has been constantly beat on the defensive end by Sam Froling, Duop Reath, Jo Lual-Acuil, Yannick Wetzell and more. He needs to be freed up and have somebody that can defend the five while he is at the four.
Mathiang could provide that. Xavier Cooks is a great power forward and Mathiang doesn’t have to take his spot, but he does have the ability to come off the bench and provide that big man that they desperately need. Rim protection, inside scoring and athleticism that would fit coach Chase Buford’s system perfectly.
He is a great fit for Sydney. They just need to make the call and save their ever-depleting roster.
Melbourne United and South-East Melbourne Phoenix
Theses are probably the ‘wildcard’ options. While United nor Phoenix need to sign another big man, these teams are still always on the table for Mathiang.
He has trained with both United and Phoenix in seasons past. He has been on their radar for quite some time and with the new COVID replacement player rule, he could be a perfect fit for them if somebody is out with health and safety protocols or even an injury.
These teams know Mathiang better than any other and Mathiang knows them. It just seems like a perfect fit. Just like Landale last year, Mathiang could thrive in a Melbourne environment.
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