[close]

Aussie Adel fulfils NBA dream at Cavs

Australian Deng Adel has quickly become a favourite with Cleveland Cavaliers coach Larry Drew as he makes his mark on the NBA.

Aussie Adel fulfils NBA dream at Cavs

Australian Deng Adel has quickly become a favourite with Cleveland Cavaliers coach Larry Drew as he makes his mark on the NBA.

DENG ADEL #22 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots during a game against the Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia.
DENG ADEL #22 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots during a game against the Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia. Picture:Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Australian Deng Adel vividly recalls the feeling that flooded his body when stepping onto an NBA court for the first time.

It was a sensation to which anyone who has chased down a lifelong dream can relate.


"I was nervous, so very nervous," Adel says.

The Sudan-born, Melbourne-raised Adel had long dreamt of playing in the NBA, but his unease centred on what could go wrong.

What if his first shot in the NBA was an air ball? The thought rattled around Adel's mind when he debuted for the Cleveland Cavaliers - although he ultimately had nothing to fear.

Adel's first shot as a Cavalier, a three-point attempt, slid through the basket, and he was on an NBA scoreboard for the first time.

"That feeling, you can't trade it for anything and I am just happy," Adel says.

The 201cm forward started the NBA season in the G League and impressed the Cavaliers with his versatile talents, earning a maiden NBA contract in January.

Adel's joyful nature and work ethic has quickly endeared the 22-year-old to his new colleagues in Cleveland.

"I love having Deng around the team," head coach Larry Drew says.

"It just seems like he never has a bad day, every time he comes in to the gym he is always smiling."

While Adel's opportunities in Cleveland have been limited - he has appeared in just 14 games - time around an NBA organisation provides a platform to improve the important aspects of his game.

He's averaged just under 13 minutes per NBA game, scoring 1.8 points.

"I am continuing to work on my body, continuing to work on my shooting and just learning the game; the more experience I get, the more I learn," Adel says.

He admits adjusting to life as a professional basketballer was challenging and that he struggled to find consistency earlier in the season.

Growing pains are common for NBA rookies and now, reflecting on a life-changing experience, Adel can identify personal development.

"The more I got to play on the floor, the quicker I started to pick up things and I think over the past couple of months I have done a good job being consistent, preparing mentally and going out there and just playing" he says.

With Cleveland eliminated from play-off contention with a 17-51 record, Adel is already looking ahead to an off-season he claims will be the most important of his career to date.

Adel will be a free agent when the Cavaliers' season finishes, meaning he will be auditioning for another NBA contract at July's Las Vegas Summer League.

While most players prioritise rest after a long season, Adel will get straight back into the gym.

"I really want to take maybe two days and then go straight into it. I think I'll take a week off from basketball and just lift during that week. Get in the weight room and do a lot of body exercise," he says.

"After that week is over, just relax a little bit, have some fun and then back to it."

AAP


AAP




Latest Stories