Ranking the top Australian, NZ players after NBA regular season

The NBA regular season is over, with the real stuff about to begin after a long and gruelling campaign for all 30 NBA teams, but how did the eight Aussies and one Kiwi perform through the competition.

At the beginning of the season, we ranked the nine contracted Australian and NZ players while also running a poll for you to nominate who you thought would end the campaign as the No. 1 player. Now it's time to revisit those rankings and look at how each player fared individually.

There have been plenty of ups and downs, as in every NBA season, with teams and players having gone through cold shooting streaks and rough patches when nothing went right before producing a stretch of perfect basketball. Injuries, unfortunately, also struck down a couple of the big-name Aussie players this season.

So, how did the ANZ stars perform?

As the opening saying on the opening montage of the hit TV show The Mighty Boosh goes: "Come with us now on a journey through time and space."

9. Ben Simmons (previous rank 5th)

This is probably as good a time as any to remind everyone that this list ranks the players' performances from the 2016/17 season. In all likelihood, Ben Simmons will never find himself ranked this low in the future but it's only fitting he occupy this spot having failed to grace the hardwood.

We were optimistic at the beginning of the season that Simmons' foot injury wouldn't derail his entire rookie year; sadly for Australian and Philly fans, it proved too great an obstacle to overcome. Multiple reports throughout the season raised hopes of an eventual return only for them to be squashed by reports that the 76ers weren't rushing their prized pick back.

Simmons could comfortably, and most likely will, hold the No. 1 spot on this list sometime in the future, but he sits on the bottom rung until he can get on the court and showcase his abilities.

8. Andrew Bogut (previous rank 1st)

Injuries again played the major factor in ranking Bogut. He played only 583 minutes, the second-lowest of his career, and posted a paltry 79 points, but still he showed where his value lies.

Ranking third in the NBA for Defensive Real Plus Minus (insider), his value and worth on the floor cannot be questioned. When he was on the floor for the Mavericks, they had a defensive rating of 97.4 -- which would clearly be the best in the NBA; the Mavericks allowed 10 points fewer per 100 possessions with Bogut on the floor, and that is a major reason why Cleveland Cavaliers went after the big man.

Hopes were high that another ring could soon be finding its way onto Bogut's hand, alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, but those hopes and dreams vanished after less than a minute in a Cavaliers uniform.

7. Aron Baynes (previous rank 7th)

The man who looks like he has walked straight off the set of the TV show Vikings and into a basketball locker room, Baynes has proved a vital backup for the Pistons all season long.

Not known to put up monster stat lines, Baynes exploded in a game against the Phoenix Suns. Playing a little under 18 minutes, he finished the game with 13 points on 5-9 shooting and pulled down 17 rebounds to provide another glimpse of his potential having featured strongly during the Rio Olympics. His touch around the basket and reading of the game are two of his biggest strengths, and the player option on his contract for next season means he could be headed towards a big payday.

6. Dante Exum (previous rank 6th)

Exum has endured a turbulent season in Utah, with his minutes fluctuating as coach Quin Synder tried to find a comfortable rhythm within his group. Exum stuck it out, though, riding the emotions of starting one night and sitting completely the next to show glimpses of his brilliance along the way.

His game-breaking change of speed was on display multiple times throughout the season, and it appears as if he is beginning to understand just how easily he can get to where he wants to on the floor.

The Jazz like to play a slow methodical game, but the injection of Exum's speed is a huge bonus that could prove instrumental during the Playoffs. With the experience of playing in the postseason and going through a pre-season without injury, Exum will undoubtedly rise in the ranks when next season rolls around.

5. Matthew Dellavedova (previous rank 4th)

The move to Milwaukee and into the starting role was a giant stepping stone for Dellavedova; the biggest question ahead of the season was whether he could translate his Cavaliers production across into starter's minutes.

He could.

Delly dished out more assists, had more steals and total points across the board even if his scoring averages did take a slight dip. The main concern for Delly to come from the season was the stellar play of rookie Malcolm Brogdon.

Delly's Playoffs experience will be enormous for the young Bucks, don't be surprised if the challenge of competition at the point guard spot sees him raise his game and climb the ranks next season.

4. Thon Maker (previous rank 9th)

What a journey it has been for Thon Maker since his shock selection by the Bucks with the No. 10 overall pick. He has been putting in incredible amounts of work and training with future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett.

Teammates and coaches have nothing but rave reviews for the enigmatic Maker, and the sky is the limit with his potential still untapped. Having started 33 games, the third most on this list behind only Dellavedova and Adams, Maker saved his best games for the end of the season.

In a game against the Detroit Pistons, Maker finished with a career-high 23 points that included going 4 of 7 from three-point range while posting a game-high +/- of +26. His game also went beyond the numbers as he showed hustle and then tremendous poise down the stretch.

With continued training and game time, Maker could well make a serious case for the throne next season.

3. Steven Adams (previous rank 3rd)

Steven Adams played a key role alongside Russell Westbrook in maintaining the Thunder as a serious Playoff threat after the loss of Kevin Durant, producing a rise in all major statistical areas. Putting more points on the board and grabbing more rebounds than ever before, Adams showed he is a force to be reckoned with.

Coming into the season, it was all laid bare for Adams to become the key partner for Westbrook and his revenge mission against the league. It's hard to quantify how well any other Thunder player fared thanks to the exploits of Westbrook, but Adams proved more than valuable as a teammate.

Still, he didn't done enough to move a step closer to the throne -- and indeed he has been surpassed by a surprise bolter.

2. Joe Ingles (previous rank 8th)

Hands up if you saw Joe Ingles producing this season's efforts? Anyone ... Bueller? Ingles not only finished as the best three-point shooter from down under, at 44 percent, but those numbers were good enough to have him fourth in the league.

Ingles found himself well down the depth chart after Utah signed Joe Johnson, with coach Quin Synder warning him of limited playing time, but he never let that get in his way. With the Jazz looming as a big threat come Playoff time, they'll be looking for Ingles to knock down more big shots.

The man known around the league as 'Jingles' made Zach Lowe's Luke Walton All Stars as a result of his form, and he would have been thoroughly deserving of top spot in these rankings if it weren't for the stellar play of ...

1. Patty Mills (previous rank 2nd)

What a season from Patty Mills, who continued his Rio Olympics form into the regular season and pushing himself to some career best numbers. He started only eight games, but his production cannot be understated.

Time and time again this season Mills delivered for the Spurs when they needed it most. In the last five minutes of games with the teams separated by 5 points or fewer, Mills had the best three-point percentage (63.6 percent) among players who took more than 20 shots.

His play was so good that talk about the size of his next contract became a major talking point throughout the season. As Kelvin Pelton stated in his NBA mailbag, the Spurs may have to offer a two-year deal worth around $30 million to keep the services of Mills in San Antonio.

With a big payday coming his way as a result of a stellar season, it couldn't be anyone other than Mills acclaimed the best baller from Australia and New Zealand.