News

FEATURE

Draft rankings snub ‘fuel to the fire’ for Travers

By Liam Santamaria

Perth Wildcats young gun Luke Travers is aiming to become a first round pick in next year’s NBA Draft despite being left off a recent list of the world’s top prospects.

Travers turned heads last NBL season as he played key minutes for a Wildcats team who made it all the way to the Grand Final Series.

Beginning the year as a starter, the 20-year-old played limited minutes for much of the season but stepped up late in the absence of injured teammate Bryce Cotton.

Travers averaged 10.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game across his final 7 games, becoming the third-youngest player in history to record a double-double in an NBL playoff game.

That performance, in particular – a player-of-the-game showing in Game 2 of the semi-finals – has filled him with confidence and with NBL players being scooped up early in the past two NBA Drafts, Travers is determined to continue that trend next year.

“It's no shorter than a first round (pick) or I'll be pretty frustrated with myself,” Travers told NBL Media.

“They’re just the high expectations I have of myself and that I need to have.”

The 20-year-old’s drive to rise up draft boards gained speed recently after being left off ESPN’s list of the Top 100 prospects for the 2022 NBA Draft.

Those rankings, compiled by experienced NBA Draft analyst Jonathan Givony, featured no less than seven prospects expected to play in the NBL this season, including New Zealand’s Ousmane Dieng (14), Melbourne’s Ariel Hukporti (47) and Adelaide’s Mojave King (74).

Travers’ name, however, was absent and the lack of recognition didn’t go unnoticed by the multi-skilled forward.

“It definitely adds some fuel to the fire,” he stated.

“To have the year that I did last year towards the end and not even be in the top one hundred. I mean, it's not frustrating – I'll never be frustrated with the position I’m in, being twenty years old and playing a sport I love for a living – but sometimes it can get a little bit exhausting.

“I'm pretty internally motivated as it is but just to see that is definitely going to help… it's definitely a goal to be up in that list.”

It’s an ambition that has driven a vigorous regime of off-season work. Travers has put on some muscle over the past few months, he says, and has been working hard on developing his stroke.

Travers made just 10 three-pointers across 40 games last season, connecting on 29 percent of his long range attempts. This year he’s aiming to increase that clip to somewhere around the mid-to-high thirties.

“I sort of found a rhythm with my shooting towards the end of the season but I just want to be a little bit more consistent.  That's definitely been a main focus,” Travers explained.

“Also my ball-handling, which has always been alright but I’m just working on taking it to the next level. I want to be a point forward so taking those two areas to the next level will be a big benefit for me in the long run.”

Another focus is to establish a consistent role alongside superstar teammate Bryce Cotton. Travers knows that finding ways to complement the three-time MVP will be crucial to both his, and Perth’s, success in NBL22.

“When Bryce was on the floor (last season) I wasn't playing too much and wasn't playing too well. Then when he went out I started to be more aggressive,” Travers said.

“So just figuring out how to play with him a little bit better off the ball will be a big focus for me this season.”

It’s all part of the larger challenge for Travers over the next nine months: convincing scouts and draft analysts of his ability to impact the game at the NBA level.

The key to that process will be answering the question most commonly asked when evaluating prospects: what is his NBA skill? What does he do at a high level that will a) get him drafted and b) get him on the court in NBA games?

For both LaMelo Ball and Josh Giddey – the NBL’s two recent top ten picks – that was an easy question to answer: they both possess world-class play-making skills. For RJ Hampton it was speed. Jae’Sean Tate? His unbelievable motor. Torrey Craig? The ability to defend four positions.

According to Travers, that skill will ultimately prove to be his versatility. He considers himself to be a guy who “does a little bit of everything”; a three-and-D wing who can also handle the ball and get work done on the glass.

Those kinds of players are valuable commodities and Travers says he’s doing everything he can to grow into an NBA-level Swiss Army knife. That includes studying NBA wings, both past and present, who have made names for themselves with their ability to contribute across the board.

“I've got some guys that I watch film-wise,” he explained.

“I’ve got tape on guys like Paul George, Gordon Hayward and, back in the day, Andrei Kirilenko. Guys who play at their own pace but are deceptively quick.  Taller guards who can create their own shots but also do all the little things.

“I try to focus on what they do, implement some of those things into my own game and then showcase that to NBA scouts.”

One thing’s for sure: it’s going to be a fascinating season ahead for the talented West Aussie. Nine months that could potentially change his life.

That said, he’s a Wildcat… which means there’s always the broader team goal at the front of his mind.

“The main focus right now is contributing to winning a championship,” Travers explained.

“That first year I got a taste for it (winning a title) and then last year I got another taste of the finals.

“Contributing to a championship is definitely the main goal.”

NEWS

Buford Opens Up on ‘Tumultuous 36 Hours’

13 hours ago

NEWS

Shaun Bruce Re-Signs in Sydney

15 hours ago

NEWS

13 NBL Players Named in Tall Blacks Squad

17 hours ago

NEWS

NBLxNBL1 Player Watch: May 23

17 hours ago

NEWS

“Money Talks”: Roth on JJ’s Imports

3 days ago

NEWS

Hawks Sign Wani Swaka Lo Buluk

3 days ago

NEWS

Scott Roth to Lead JackJumpers for Next 3 Seasons

3 days ago

NEWS

Wildcats Reveal Free Agency Approach

3 days ago

NEWS

Hawks Provide Reath, Cleveland Contract Updates

3 days ago

NEWS

Besson Impresses in Combine Scrimmage

3 days ago

LaMelo Ball Leads Hawks, Taipans Beat Bullets Again

16 September 2019

Fourth Place Frustration for Boomers in China

15 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Bronze Medal Game | Australia v France Preview

15 September 2019

Prather Shines In United's Big Win, Taipans Smash Bullets

14 September 2019

Starting Five: World Cup Heartbreak

14 September 2019

Spain Again Breaks Boomers Hearts in Double OT

13 September 2019

Watch Live | Illawarra Hawks vs Melbourne United

13 September 2019

FIBA World Cup Semi-Final | Australia v Spain Preview

13 September 2019

Starting Five: Boomers Two Wins from Gold

12 September 2019

Australia Advance to World Cup Final Four

12 September 2019

NBL Partners

Naming Rights
Major Partners
Broadcast & Media Partners
Profile Partners
Suppliers
Associates