EXCLUSIVE Aron Baynes talks Pistons, Australian players in the NBA, Ben Simmons and Spurs

We have some exclusive quotes from Detroit Pistons’ Aron Baynes speaking on his experience in Detroit, on the success of Australian players in the NBA, on Australian prospect Ben Simmons and on if he still keeps in touch with his former teammates in San Antonio.

On his time in Detroit: “Yes I’m definitely pleasantly surprised with the area. I heard a lot about Detroit coming in, everyone has a negative perception of it I guess, but I’ve really enjoyed my time here. When I get to go downtown it far exceeded my expectations. I definitely like the area there (Downtown Detroit), you can tell there’s a lot coming back into the city down there. But at the same time we don’t really live in Downtown Detroit, we’re an hour north up in Auburn Hills. It’s a nice area here (Auburn Hills), my family is settled so that’s the biggest thing for me. I’m settled and it allows me to focus on basketball. The team here is very professional and I’ve enjoyed my time working with the guys trying to build the right atmosphere here in Detroit.”

On the change of scenery making him a better player: “Yes because it allows me to fill different roles, and of course with the coaching staff here having some great ex-NBA players around us- Tim Hardaway, Malik Allen. The coaches here are great, everyone from Stan (Van Gundy) and on. I’m still learning the game of basketball that I’ve been playing for as long as these guys have been around. There’s always more that I can learn and getting with these guys as well on the court. I have a different role here than I did in San Antonio. I’m enjoying it, I’m trying to embrace it, and I’m going to do what I can to help the team improve and help myself improve.”

On his biggest supporter with the Pistons: “Within the organization there’s some great guys. I lean a lot on some of the other players here. Being on the road a lot you get tight with some of those guys and I’ve definitely found a group of guys I can get along with very well and we spend a bit of time on the road together. That’s something that’s important when you come into a new environment- trying to bond with teammates and try to get the cohesiveness not only on the court but off the court. All the coaches have been great. Like I said I’m learning from them, I haven’t been playing the game for too long so there’s still a lot I can learn. I’m trying to take in as much as I can.”

On the success of Australian players around the NBA: “It’s positive for Australian basketball. A lot of us have grown up playing together and seeing all the different paths we’ve taken to get here- I’m very thankful for it and it’s great for Australian basketball. Hopefully I can translate into some international success as well. There’s still a lot more talent coming through from Australia and it’s only going to keep getting better. But I think with how big the NBA is down there in Australia more children and kids are going to a spot to try and reach the level we’re at. That’s great. Basketball’s been so good to all of us that we want to share it with as many people as we can and let them experience the great game of basketball.”

On Ben Simmons: “He’s definitely a very talented player. He has his support crew around him and I’m sure they’re making the right decisions on his behalf. It’s a matter of he has to take that next step from college- he had a tough season, very up and down. But he was able to prove just how good a basketball player he is. I’m looking forward to watching him take that next step and hopefully he’ll be involved with the (Australian) national team. I think he can help us a lot but we’ll see where that gets down to at the end of the day. But it’s great seeing him and his progress from the last few years. I remember when I think he was 15 and he came into one of our national team practices and seeing how much he’s developed since then is pretty awesome to see where he is now. Hopefully he keeps getting better and I wish him continued success.”

On keeping in touch with former Spurs teammates: “Yes I stay in contact, especially Patty Mills with the Australian connection there. All the Australian basketball players we keep in contact with each other throughout the season. I’ll send a few messages to the rest of the guys here and there. I’ll send a few text messages about more humorous things that we find throughout the year. It’s pretty hard keeping in contact with the guys because our schedules are so busy. Everyone’s playing a game every day pretty much between us. I like when we play against them, I definitely like catching up with all of the guys. One of the things, if I’ve learned anything (from San Antonio) is you have to come and compete every possession. That’s one of those things that Pop (Gregg Popovich) really engrained in the team. You see how well they’re playing this year, they don’t take a possession off. That’s something we can learn here and hopefully I can be one of the foundations in that- playing every possession, the pounding the rock attitude that they have down in San Antonio. That’s the metaphor that Pop used all the time- ‘it’s not necessarily the 900th hit that broke the rock it’s the 899 leading up to it.’ So that’s kind of how they play basketball, it’s every possession. That’s what we need to focus on here and that’s something that can help us take that next step to get to the playoffs. That’s what we’re trying to focus on now- not taking possessions off. At the end of the day if you do that then you can compete with anyone in this league.”

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Source: Pitch London
Image: Getty/NBA