With the NBA season now underway, Christopher Reive highlights the Kiwis making their mark on basketball at the highest level.
Ross McMains - New York Knicks
Little over two years ago, McMains was the head coach of the Taranaki Mountain Airs in the NZNBL. This season, he'll be working as a player development coach and the head video coordinator for the New York Knicks.
McMains grew up on Waiheke Island and found basketball was his calling from a young age. His career in the sport started in 2007 when he picked up some work with the NZ Breakers while attending Kelston Boys' High School. From there he went on to various roles in the States, including player development with the Sacramento Kings, assistant coach in the NBA G-League with the Reno Big Horns, and last year worked as an assistant coach with the Westchester Knicks – the New York side's G-League affiliate – while also working as an assistant coach with the Tall Blacks. Only in his late 20s, the future is bright for one of New Zealand's best basketball minds.
Chelsea Lane - Atlanta Hawks
Lane was heralded by a plethora of local media as the Golden State Warriors' secret weapon over the past few seasons – but there's a good chance her name is unfamiliar to fans of the league.
For the past three seasons, the former lead sports physio for Athletics New Zealand worked with the Warriors as the team's head performance therapist, helping players through injuries on their way to claiming two championships in her reign. This season, she will be working with the Atlanta Hawks as their executive director of athletic performance and sport medicine.
The Australian-born Lane will be the only woman running an NBA training staff this season. Lane's impact on the Warriors was a noticeable one, with Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson's father, Mychal, saying she should get a video tribute with the Hawks visit Oakland this season.
Sean Marks - Brooklyn Nets
After an 11-year playing career in which he won a championship ring with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005, Marks has made a name for himself as one of the savviest general managers in the league. Marks took over the front office role with the Brooklyn Nets in 2016, after spending three years as an assistant coach with the Spurs – winning another ring in that time. When Marks took over the Nets, he inherited a dumpster fire.
In 2013, the Nets and then-GM Billy King pulled the trigger on what has turned out to be one of the worst trades in NBA history, shipping out almost all their assets to acquire three aging stars – a 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, 36-year-old Paul Pierce, and 35-year-old Jason Terry - in a 'win now' move. In return, they sent Boston a bunch of role players, three first-round picks and the right to swap first-round picks in 2017. The move didn't work out for Brooklyn and with no assets to help improve their squad, they struggled to poor records and the Celtics reaped the rewards by turning the draft picks into a number of future stars.
Under Marks' watch, Brooklyn appear to have righted the ship with some smart moves over a number of off-seasons to put them in position to contend for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season.
Steven Adams - Oklahoma City Thunder
The 25-year-old from Rotorua was drafted with the 12th overall pick in 2013 by the Oklahoma City Thunder and has been an important member of the squad since. Entering his sixth season in the NBA, the Kiwi big man will look to push on from what was a breakout campaign last season.
In the 2017-18 campaign, Adams became just the 12th player in NBA history to average five or more offensive rebounds per game for an entire season. Earlier this year, he was voted the toughest player in the NBA by the league's general managers.
Aron Baynes - Boston Celtics
Granted, it is a bit of a stretch claiming Baynes. Born in Gisborne, the Celtics centre moved to Australia at a young age and represents the Boomers on the international stage. Still, there are plenty who like to point out Baynes is Kiwi-born and are more than willing to claim him as one of our own.
The 31-year-old joined the Celtics last season after previously toiling away with the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons. Now in his seventh year in the NBA, Baynes has carved himself a niche as a strong, defensive-minded role player. In his first season with Boston last year, he averaged career high's in games played, minutes player, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.