First of all, how would you rate your rookie season?
If you told me this time last year what was going to happen I definitely would have taken it, although it was disappointing from a team aspect that we weren’t able to make the playoffs after we made a push at the end of the season.
Being an undrafted rookie and having three guys taken ahead of you in Cleveland, what were your expectations heading into your rookie season?
I wanted to play and earn some court time but you’re not sure if you’re going to get that opportunity so my focus was to try and get better every day and do whatever would help the team. I think I did that and it paid off in the end for me.
I spoke to Kyrie Irving in December and we were talking about your improvement and the fact you were both born in Victoria and I asked whether he had to provide you with any advice on your rookie season. He said that he didn’t have to provide a lot of advice for your rookie season because you were mature heading into your first season. A lot of players leave college early to pursue their NBA dream but you stayed at St Mary's for four seasons. Do you feel that prepared you to be an instant impact player in your rookie season?
Yeah definitely. I didn’t really feel like a rookie last season because I had those four years in college and St Mary's helped me prepare really well for the NBA. My experience with the Boomers and playing international basketball at the Olympics definitely helped prepare me for what I was going to face in the NBA.
I know we don’t like talking about players getting injured but Kyrie’s injury last season helped your development because it increased your minutes. In February, March and April your minutes increased and so did your numbers, how did you feel your game developed with the extra minutes that coach Mike Brown gave you in that time?
It was unfortunate that Kyrie got injured but it was a great opportunity for me to play some point guard and really get some good minutes playing that position. By the end of the season I really felt comfortable playing the point guard position and it gives me confidence for next season.
Do you see yourself being a point guard or a two? Or do you want to be more of a combo guard as your NBA career progresses?
I definitely think I’m a point guard that can play the two spot. While being a point guard you have to know every spot on the floor and that means that you can play any position. Obviously within reason, matching up on fours isn’t realistic but it gives you an understanding of what it takes to play every position. I also think that basketball is going the way of having two point guards on the floor because it makes it easier to make plays for your team. You can’t just try to shut down one person or guard, if you take one player out it throws the offence out of whack so I think you’re going to see more teams running two point guards together.
One of your major strengths in your rookie season was your defensive tenacity and the fact that you could guard both the one and the two spot and maybe even some threes. At NBA Australia we created a couple of hashtags for you, one of those was DellyClamps. Are you happy for us to continue with that?
Thanks for that! I obviously really focused on my defence and I wanted to impact the game on the defensive end last season and I think being pretty strong for my size it definitely helped me guard the two position and helped me try to guard the three position and really front them in the post and send them towards the help.
Mike Brown was a big fan of yours. I’m sure you’re sad to see him go but also really excited at the appointment of David Blatt. You played for him in Summer League so you’ve had a chance to get to know him. Has he outlined some plans for you?
Firstly, coach Brown was great for me and gave me a great opportunity and really believed in me and taught me a lot, especially on the defensive end so I was sad to see him go. I’ve heard a lot about coach Blatt and he was coaching Russia when we played against them in the Olympics so I was familiar with him and Joey (Ingles) played for him last year as well. I met him in Summer League and I’ve already learned a lot off him and it’s going to be really exciting to see what kind of stuff he puts in for the team we’re going to have this year. He hasn’t given me anything specific but at Summer League he really wanted me to be the leader on the team while I was the point guard.
I can’t not talk about your new recruit... I’m assuming you’re excited about the signing of LeBron James?
Yeah! Any time the best player in the world is coming to your team you’re going to get excited. It’s a great opportunity for Cleveland the city and the Cavs and I’m looking forward to seeing how hard he works everyday.
Did you know it was coming?
I didn’t know. I was watching the news and SportsCenter and following on Twitter like everyone else so I was pretty excited to hear that he was going to come to Cleveland.
Obviously last season you would have had great expectations, every team going into a new season does but clearly the expectations are higher with his arrival. What do you think the ceiling is for this team next season?
The final team probably won’t be set for a while. We’ve still got some spots left to fill and I think we’ve just got to focus on getting better each day and not worrying about what’s going on outside of the practice facility and our team. Obviously there’s going to be a lot more attention with LeBron coming back and the expectations that go with it but if we focus on what we need to do each day and not get too far ahead of ourselves we’ll be ok.
Moving over to the Boomers. Firstly, congratulations on making the 12-man squad.
Similar question to what I just asked in relation to Cleveland, now you’ve had training camp and you’re 29 days away from the FIBA World Cup, what’s the ceiling for the team and how excited are you to represent your country again?
There’s nothing better than representing your country and that’s always the number one thing for me because it’s always been something I’ve dreamed of doing growing up as a kid and watching the Olympics. Our goal is to win a medal and we know how tough that’s going to be but we’ve been working since last year and we’re really committed to the Boomers program. We had a really good training camp and we’ve set ourselves a solid base to build from. We have 10 practice games before we get to Spain so I think that preparation as well is going to hold us in good stead to do something special over there that hasn’t been done before.
Obviously Patty Mills’ absence is disappointing due to his injury but it does present a greater role for you. Do you see yourself being the primary ball handler on this team and the real back court leader?
It sucks for Patty and it sucks for our team that he won’t be with us and I know how much it means to him to play for Australia so we’ll be looking forward to getting him back next year. I think I’ll be one of the leaders on the team and I’ll try to bring some experience because we’ve got a fair few new guys at international level. I think I’ll be one of the main ball handlers for the team.
Dante Exum will be one of your back court teammates. Given you’re a year ahead of him in terms of NBA experience, were you able to provide him with a little bit of advice during training camp?
Yeah I tried to give him little tips here and there and he’s got a good head on his shoulders and he knows what kind of work it’s going to take to get him where he wants to go. If he needs help with anything he knows he can ask me and he’s been doing a good job so far.
Last question before I let you go. We have an official NBA presence in Australia now with NBA Australia , we’ve got six players playing in the league and the Australian national team is doing really well. How do you think the game is placed back home?
I think it’s really taking off. I think people have always been interested in basketball and I think with all the FIBA World Cup games being shown live on ABC 2 it’s really positive. The sport is on the up and it’s going to be exciting times ahead.
Thanks very much for your time!
Thanks for having me.