The Australian Boomers' time in Las Vegas sure was... eventful.
It started with a Patty Mills game-winner, because of course. Then, there was a win over Team USA; the Boomers' second straight victory against that team. Hilariously, that wasn't even the US team's first loss in Sin City. Of course, a COVID-related disruption aptly reared its head for the Boomers in what may be a sign of things to come when they enter a precarious Olympic Village in Tokyo.
The warmups are done and dusted. The Boomers went 3-0 in Vegas - earning wins over Argentina, the USA, and Nigeria - and got one final, last-minute run in against the Argentines behind closed doors to complete their preparation.
For Australia, their time in Vegas was about introducing young faces to a now-famous program and system, meshing the old and the new to put the Boomers in the best position possible to compete for that elusive first major medal.
The Boomers' identity going into Tokyo: defence
Over previous campaigns, the Boomers became famous for their beautiful brand of basketball; the kind where a mixture of ball and player movement and high-IQ distributors led to wide open looks. It was the sport in its purest.
This iteration of the Boomers is showing signs of getting back to that point when it comes to their half-court offence, but their identity already looks to be on the other end of the floor.
What else do you expect from a Brian Goorjian-led team?
Matisse Thybulle is that wing athlete the program had been crying out for, and the difference his activity on the defensive end makes has probably been the most notable aspect of these warmup games. The Philadelphia 76er has been the leader for a classic Goorjian defence that junks it up, making it difficult for opposing teams to get any clean looks at the rim. Aron Baynes and Nick Kay also showed impressive flashes on that end, and it's clearly what this group is going to hang its hat on.
It's also been the beginning of more run-and-gun style of plays for a Boomers team that hasn't done much of that in the past, but now has the athletes to excel in that area. We've seen Thybulle steals and deflections lead to fast breaks, while Danté Exum showed he can use a stop to attack a defence that isn't set up yet.
Goorjian was always going to bring those sentiments to this team, and it already seems to be opening up a heap of new opportunities.
'Boomers Patty' has arrived
This one is no surprise.
When Mills puts on an Australian jersey, he seemingly transforms into a completely different player; one who can create like the best of them and put a team on his back.
Mills didn't shoot it particularly well over his two warmup games, but he stepped up when it mattered. Against Argentina, with the score tied and just a few seconds left on the clock, Mills came off a hand-off to hit the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. Two days later, with Australia holding a slight lead over Team USA early in the fourth quarter, he took over on the offensive end to extend the Boomers' advantage.
We saw Mills take Kevin Durant and Draymond Green one-one-one in the clutch in that exhibition game, and he ended up with a pair of points on both occasions. Boomers Patty is here, and it shouldn't be a surprise anymore.
In the NBA, Mills has been a perennial sixth or seventh man; a complementary guard who can reliably hit shots and bring a burst of energy. Come World Cup or Olympic time, and he turns into one of the most dominant players in world basketball.
We can refer ad nauseam to the limited amount of lead-in games, and that things are inherently fluid, but there's still a sense that some roles have started being solidified.
Jock Landale, the starting power forward in 2019, will continue in that role, seemingly even when the matchup might not be ideal. The thinking behind starting with two bigs make sense, and it's something Goorjian did with his Illawarra Hawks last NBL season. In saying that, Thybulle will almost always be the first Australian player off the bench. His versatility means he can play one-through-four at this level, and his apparent impact thus far indicates he'll likely be on the floor at the end of games.
We'll see a lot of Kay minutes at both the four and five spot, particularly because of his impact on the defensive end, and Duop Reath showed enough signs that he may have earned himself an extended run off the bench at some point, too.
Going into the Olympics, the backup point guard spot appears to be Exum's. He looked poised bringing the ball up the floor, and showed some creating and penetrating flashes that could potentially even see him get the most minutes at that spot.
These Boomers remain sparse in complementary shooting, so that's where Chris Goulding's value is. He shot 10-of-12 from downtown over the Vegas exhibition circuit, bringing an important scoring punch off the bench, as well as just ideal spacing for Australia's other creators to work.
Are we about to see a new 'Boomers Joe'?
Joe Ingles would be the first person to tell you that Boomers may well have been better with a more aggressive version of him showing up on a consistent basis.
It stems from the fact that, in the NBA, Ingles has emerged as one of the league's best three-point shooters, as well as an elite creator when coming off on-balls. On the international stage, though, we haven't seen enough of those areas where he excels.
Well, until now.
With no Andrew Bogut and what looks like a Matthew Dellavedova who'll provide less output than previous campaigns, Ingles appeared a lot more assertive as an initiator for the Boomers over his two warmup games.
During the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Ingles averaged 4.8 three-point attempts a game. This past week in Vegas, that number was up to 9.5 attempts. The team needs that extra creator outside of Mills, and Ingles - who's arguably the Boomers' best - looks ready to provide that.