Ryan Broekhoff’s journey from Australia to the NBA — with plenty of stops along the way

Sep 28, 2018 | by Isaac Harris, Mavs.com

First-year Maverick Ryan Broekhoff joins Followill and Coop on our Mavs.com Live stream!

Sitting on the front porch of his in-laws’ house, Ryan Broekhoff was finally getting to relax as the past few weeks were a whirlwind. Traveling from city to city, Broekhoff had dedicated the first part of his summer traveling the United States working out for NBA franchises with the hopes of finally fulfilling his dream of playing in the league.

As the workouts were complete, he and his wife could finally sit back and relax at her parents’ lake house after years of sacrifice and dedication leading up to that moment.

Hailing from Australia, Broekhoff began playing basketball at the age of six during his early school years. As he played himself through school and other basketball programs at a young age, he eventually found himself at a youth training program where they trained for the Olympics and other professional sports.

It was there that a college in Indiana by the name of Valparaiso University began scouting him. In the fall of 2009, Broekhoff would begin his freshman season at Valpo.

“Going in, they never promised me any playing time or starting minutes,” Broekhoff said. “Basically, you earn what you work for.”

After a year of coming off the bench, Broekhoff would become a starter as a sophomore and start 102 games over the next three years. In fact, in the 2011-12 season, Broekhoff would be named the Horizon Player of the Year. The next year, Broekhoff would make his only appearance in the NCAA Tournament where they would square off against a major basketball program in Michigan State.

After working out for multiple teams and going through NBA Draft night in 2013, Broekhoff didn’t hear his name called. He then signed his first professional contract with Besiktas in the Turkish League.

Broekhoff would perform well in Turkey, even becoming an All-Star of the Turkish League. But he would spend just two years there before signing with Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in Russia. With his improved play in Turkey leading to a new contract in Russia, Broekhoff’s career seemed to be getting better as each year went along.

“I think I improved every year out of college,” Broekhoff said. “I became more consistent and added more wrinkles to my game.”

Broekhoff would land in Russia and hit the ground running. In 2017, Lokomotiv was one of the best teams in the league and Broekhoff earned a spot in the VTB United League All-Star Game and ended up winning the Three-Point Contest. Oh, and Broekhoff was also shooting an astounding 50 percent from behind the arc that season.

After a stellar third season in Russia where he averaged over 12 points a game and 50 percent shooting from behind the arc, Broekhoff came to America to workout for a handful of NBA franchises with the hopes of finally fulfilling his dream of playing in the NBA. All leading up to him sitting on the front porch of his in-laws’ lake house pondering what the future may hold for him and his wife.

Then his phone rang.

It was Rick Carlisle on the other end expressing to Broekhoff the interest that the Dallas Mavericks had in signing him. The dream was happening. He hung up the phone and embraced his wife on the porch. It was an embrace that embodied the long journey overseas and the sacrifice they had both went through over the past five years.

That was day one of the relationship between Broekhoff and the Mavericks. Prior to that conversation, Broekhoff never worked out for or communicated with the Mavericks. But it was obvious that the Mavericks had been keeping their tabs on him.

With the deep ties that Tony Ronzone, the director of player personnel for the Dallas Mavericks, has in Australian basketball, it’s a surprise to no one that the Mavericks made a move like this. Ronzone mentioned the shooting ability and Broekhoff’s solid Euro experience when chatting about the new addition to the team.

The rise of basketball in Australia is something that Broekhoff credits to his success. With Broekhoff now in the league, he will join fellow Aussies such as Matthew Dellavedova, Thon Maker, Patty Mills, and countless others.

With Broekhoff having Australian National Team ties to most of them, playing against them in the league is something he is looking forward to. “Playing against any of the Australians this year will be something I remember and something we will talk about on the national team,” Broekhoff said.

In fact, one his Aussie teammates and friends, is someone that many people like to compare his game to: Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles.

“There are some similarities in our games,” Broekhoff said with a laugh. “Not a huge amount of muscle tone on us.”

Even though some like to draw the comparisons, Broekhoff makes a point to talk about how their respected games are different also. “Joe does a lot of pick and roll playmaking while my role overseas was more off-ball coming off screens spreading the floor,” Broekhoff said.

On the first time they get to play against each other, Broekhoff knows that he will be hearing some chatter coming from Ingles. “I am sure there will be plenty of smack talk going on. He is a chatty one,” Broekhoff added.

Now Broekhoff finds his way to the Mavs where he recently moved to the city of Dallas just a few weeks ago. As fans started to follow Broekhoff on social media and seeing pictures of him for the first time since arriving, suddenly his youth-like appearance took a life of its own.

Broekhoff even joked that when he walked into the practice facility for the first time that other players questioned if he was a new intern for the team or not.

“Walking down the street I don’t get recognized too much,” Broekhoff said. “It is what it is, but I am always happy to prove people wrong in that respect.”

And the respect is exactly what he is earning within the team.

From the scrimmages taking place before media day to the first few days of training camp, praise was coming from all angles, as the Mavs love having an experienced shooter on the perimeter.

“He can shoot the ball,” J.J. Barea said. “He knows the game and is a smart guy. He can definitely shoot the ball. He is more athletic than you think. If he is open, it is basically a layup.”

Rick Carlisle knows the questions will surround his defense, but so far, he is proving his worth on the defensive side of the ball.

“He can make a shot,” Carlisle said. “He is a very good shooter. He has had three very good days. He knows how to play the game and move. Defensively, I see strong evidence that he can play successfully in a system.”

For Broekhoff himself, he knows what he can provide to this offense and the two young cornerstones. “I can spread the floor and give some extra space to Smith Jr. and Doncic,” Broekhoff said.

And just like Doncic, Broekhoff enters the league under the tab of a “rookie,” but is no rookie to professional basketball. He believes that those five years of sacrifice and hard work overseas is the reason why he is finally getting his shot at playing in the NBA.

“I think the five professional years over in Europe are a big reason why I am finally in the NBA and fulfilling my dream of playing in the best league in the world,” Broekhoff said.

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