'Expendable' Boone to let results do the talking again
You get the feeling Josh Boone still has a point to prove.
Since arriving at Melbourne United late in the 2016-2017 season he has played a pivotal role in their transformation from an overhyped roster to NBL champions. Yet the club still took their time re-signing him in the off-season.
United’s Josh Boone guards Toronto Raptors guard Jonas Valanciunas.Credit:AP
Boone is a former NBA centre and a true professional. He accepts a team will always assess its options, especially with imported players, despite Boone proving last year he is among the most reliable big men to come to Victoria as his rebounding, interior defence and durability stand tall.
But Boone remains diplomatic, and even when pressed a second time if he has any extra motivation regarding Melbourne’s powerbrokers, he maintained his perspective.
“It’s a business and all over the world, you know that teams will see imports as expendable,” Boone said following training on Wednesday.
“I’m happy to be back here, I wanted to be back here and this was my first choice about where I wanted to be.”
United open their title defence against the Hawks in Wollongong on Friday night before hosting New Zealand Breakers in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon.
Boone and the team only arrived back from North America on Monday following two NBA pre-season games and the players are still recovering from jet lag.
Travel comes with the job and changing time zones is no excuse come game time, especially with the Hawks coming off their own trip to Malaysia for a tournament last week.
As far as big-man battles go, Boone won’t lack for elite opposition as Andrew Bogut joins the Sydney Kings while several other sides bolstered their centre position in response.
Melbourne have added four-time championship-winning centre Alex Pledger and he starred during the NBA games while Boone was recovering from a hamstring injury.
Boone and Pledger will likely split the minutes at centre although coach Dean Vickerman has also flirted with a “small-ball” line-up with David Barlow there.
There has been plenty of focus on Illawarra’s guards and outside shooters during the off-season with Todd Blanchfield, Cedric Jackson and rookies Daniel Grida and Emmett Naar all catching the eye, but their bigs are all proven talents with AJ Ogilvy, Brian Conklin and former Melbourne star David Andersen primed to go.
My shot has improved and I might even try a few threes this season – if Dean lets me.
Boone chose to give himself a longer break instead of playing overseas and has benefited from the rest and extended training program.
He says he has made some strides with his jump shot and won’t be shy to utilise it this season.
Could he even knock down a couple of three-pointers? If Illawarra’s defence obliges on Friday night, he just may test it out.
“My shot has improved and I might even try a few threes this season – if Dean lets me,” Boone joked.
As a championship team Melbourne might feel a little ignored considering the Kings have received so much attention following Bogut’s arrival.
“It’s interesting we have gone under the radar a bit but with signing Bogut, re-signing Jerome Randle … that will get you headlines,” Boone said.
“We know how good of a team we are, know what we accomplished last year and we know what we are capable of doing this year but we still have to go out and earn it everyday, just like everyone else.”
Melbourne United play Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong on Friday at 7.50pm with Fox Sports showing the game live.
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