Earlier this year
The Golden Generation Team 2016-2021
Excuse me for pandering to my whims as I'm still on a massive high after our bronze medal match. I've been thinking about how sometimes the difference between gold and missing a medal might just be a case of timing. I'd say this current generations peak has come between these two Olympic games and I thought it would be fun to envisage a "best of" team that we could form if we were able to take the most in form iteration of each player over our 2016, 2019 and 2021 campaigns.
C - Andrew Bogut (2016 Rio)
It may not be prime Olympic Bogues (that honour would go to his 2008 Beijing iteration) but given the makeup of the team 2016 Rio Bogut fits the role perfectly. A defensive, rim protecting anchor and the offensive hub of the Boomers beautiful flowing Rio offense, Bogut was the first person who instilled belief in the team (and made me believe back in the rebuilding days) that they were capable of medalling and he was one of the few keys we were missing this year in Tokyo.
PF - Aron Baynes (2019 China)
In terms of balance in the starting 5 you'd probably avoid playing our twin towers together too often but as one of the 5 pillars of this generation of Boomers I can't leave "Big Banger" out of the starting 5. Baynes brings the interior toughness on both ends that we sorely missed in the back end of the tournament and his 2019 form (especially stretching the floor from 3 against powerhouse France) was particularly scintillating. His form may have dropped off this year but make no mistake that the toughness that the Boomers are known for internationally isn't the same without Aron Baynes.
SF - Joe Ingles (2019 China) - Vice Captain
Slow mo-Joe, Joey, Jingling Joe. Doesn't matter what you call him he'll leave his opponents looking like friccin'morons. One of the best spot up shooters in the world and capable of running Australia's deadly offense when needed Joe was also one of the spiritual leaders of the team, bringing a light heartedness and steadying hand to the team (epitomised by the barrage of 3's that sealed our bronze medal). Whilst he was at his most clutch in Tokyo age has caught up to him a little and I believe 2019 Jingles was the most well rounded averaging 10/6/6 as the team's do it all lynchpin.
SG - Patty Mills (2021 Tokyo) - Captain
What can I say, O captain my captain, the heartbeat and the soul of this golden generation of outstanding Boomers. With the ability to slice you up on one of his dizzying drives to the bucket or to light the net up with a flurry of 3 pointers Patty has been the focal point of the Boomers offense since 2012 spruiking legends of "FIBA Patty" and invoking fear in opposition. Take your pick of which rendition of Patty you choose because honestly any of them is an all world choice but I chose 2021 Patty not because his play was the most outstanding but because after years of painful 4th place finishes 2021 Patty would not lose, willing the Boomers to their maiden major tournament medal in a virtuoso performance for the ages.
PG - Matthew Dellavedova (2016 Rio)
How do you balance the precision of Bogut, the power of Baynes, the versatility of Ingles and the brilliance of Mills? You put them with the one man who orchestrates the show. Our floor general, the tone setter and hustle man äffectionately known as Delly. Again like most of our aging core 2021 Delly had seen better days and the decision to bench him in favour of younger more mobile legs was the right choice in the bronze mdeal match. But watch some highlights of 2016 Rio Delly and you'll appreciate just what this man does to make the team tick. Scrapping for every loose ball, banging in clutch 3's and the Delly to Bogut alley-oop caused many a nightmare for opposition.
C/PF - David Andersen (2016 Rio)
The one man I believed we would miss badly in 2019, Rio Andersen was in red hot form, running the pick and pop and hitting clutch jumper after clutch jumper. Hitting 2 clutch free throws to almost steal the bronze medal 5 years ago Andersen was part of the 3 headed frontline beast that Serbian coach Sasha Djordjevic called the best frontline in the Rio Olympics.
PF/C - Jock Landale (2021 Tokyo)
Forgotten amongst the heroics of Mills and defensive menace of Thybulle was Mr. consistent. Probably our most impressive player in the round robins when it came to the knockout rounds and the Boomers needed a bucket down low Landale was the one we could turn to for a steadying hand in Tokyo. He's still got room to grow with regards to rebounding and rim protection but his floor running and ability to space to the 3 point line give the Boomers all sorts of looks and versatility on the offensive end.
PF - Nick Kay (2021 Tokyo)
Nick Aye-O-Kay. If Tim Duncan was the big fundamental then Nick Kay has to be at least the little fundamental. Most (including me) were tearing hairs out wondering why Lemanis played an undersized, unathletic big man instead of an NBA calibre big in Jonah Bolden. Most (including me) now have a fat load of egg on their face. Kay proved himself in the furnace of the crunch time matches in the 2019 world cup and he stepped up time and time again in our run to the bronze. Time and time again Kay just makes the right play, whether it's an incisive pass or a hustle rebound and thoroughly deserves his place on this team.
PF/SF - Matisse Thybulle (2021 Tokyo) (Import Slot)
It's not easy to slot into a team with so much history together and fit right in, especially into the larrikin Aussie culture as someone raised in America. It takes a special kind of character and Matisse showed himself every bit a true blue Aussie in the way he handled himself in choosing to wear and represent the green and gold with pride. On the court? He was everything we absolutely needed and 2nd most important Boomer this bronze medal run after Patty. A man with the best natural defensive instinct of any perimeter defender I've seen and capable putting even the best players in the world in basketball jail (see Luka Doncic) the "Great Barrier Thief" is now a lot of people (not to mention my wife's) new favourite Boomer.
SF/SG - Ryan Broekoff (2016 Rio)
One of the best snipers in the world outside of the NBA and in 2016, "The accountant" showed just how valuable he could be coming off the bench punctuated by a 13 point 5/5 shooting performance against the might of the Spanish team in a bronze medal showdown. A noticeable absence in our last 2 tilts at a medal there's no doubt Broekhoff would have been valuable presence adding length and a deadly outside threat. Much looking forward to "Rowdy" rejoining the Boomers ranks for the next world cup/Olympic cycle.
SG - Chris Goulding (2019 China)
Like Nick Kay I would've been surprised to see Goulding on this list a few years ago but consistent performances in stepping up as one of our most lethal offensive threats Goulding has more than earned his spot here. With NBA level shooting ability and the ability to heat up like a microwave having Goulding as a weapon on the bench has been a luxury for the Boomers when needing to give Patty a breather.
PG/SG - Dante Exum (2021 Tokyo)
A few years ago listing dream Boomers teams of the future made us all salivate when we imagined our wily veterans like Bogut, Mills and Ingles team up with future NBA superstars Ben Simmons, Thon Maker, Jonah Bolden in the Tokyo 2020 games. Whilst Covid made sure that never eventuated a bevvy of factors including underachieving, mental struggles and poor attitudes meant that our next golden generation either had little success or little care about perpetuating Boomers culture. Yet throughout all that one of our next gen superstars was infected by the legacy of the men that came before him and I'm grateful that Dante, like his brothers in arms, bleeds green and gold. The X-factor of the 2021 Boomers Dante took a while to find his feet after coming back from injury, but when he did his explosive 1st step and fearless attitude gave the Boomers an athletic weapon rarely if ever seen in a green and gold singlet and together with Thybulle formed a defensive wave from the bench that engulfed opposition set plays.
Brian Goorjian (Defensive co-ordinator) - There's no doubt that the Boomers played more beautiful, flowing offense under Lemanis and I honestly have both the coaches dead equal. But Goorjian gets the nod for head coach because his team got the result in the end. What he lacked in offensive creativity he made up for in defensive grit and scouting the opposition offensive weaknesses. Tokyo's "Rose Gold" run was built on the back of the teams defensive identity and watching the green and gold defense move perfectly on song like they were on a string was like watching a basketball symphony.
Andrej Lemanis (Offensive co-ordinator) - I know it doesn't work this way but hell this is my list and if I'm gonna make a dream team I'm writing my own rules. The one man who missed the podium (besides Bogut) who had his fingerprints all over this team was Lemanis. What Goorjian did for the Boomers defense Lemanis got them humming on offense, playing unselfish, ball whizzing offense which led to a bevvy of easy backdoor cuts the 2016 and 2019 rendition of the Boomers played the beautiful game well.. beautifully. Whilst Goorj's defense is needed to grind out a medal I believe in order to challenge the USA you need to get cheap buckets off teamwork to stretch the juggernauts and I feel having Lemanis to continue the Boomers free flowing offense is just the key to that.
6 Bogut // 13 Andersen
12 Baynes // 14 Landale // 15 Kay
7 Ingles // 10 Thybulle
5 Mills // 9 Broekhoff // 4 Goulding
8 Dellavedova // 11 Exum
What do you guys think? How would this team fare? The steady hand of our starting 5 and the versatility of our bench to go small (Landale, Kay), athletic (Exum, Thybulle) or simply bring snipers in and go 5 out (Andersen, Broekhoff, Goulding). I'd be thinking Silver medal favourites and a solid contender for gold when USA can't get their cheistry together in time.
I chose a short time frame to highlight just how good this team could've been (not that it hasn't been an honour as it was) had a couple of the boys not had career altering injuries or been born a couple years earlier or later.