Written for nbl.com.au by Liam Santamaria
Anything can happen.
That’s the message from Sydney Kings sharpshooter Jason Cadee ahead of his team’s pre-season clash with the NBA’s Utah Jazz on October 2 (U.S. time).
The Kings will play the Jazz in Salt Lake City as part of an historic three-game series of NBL-NBA clashes. In the other games, Melbourne United will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on October 8 and the Brisbane Bullets will take on the Phoenix Suns on October 13.
“It’s super exciting,” Cadee told NBL Media.
“It’s actually crazy. If someone had of mentioned that four or five years ago everyone would’ve said ‘you’re crazy’ and now (NBL Executive Director) Larry (Kestelman) and his staff have come on board and taken over and year by year it just gets bigger and better.”
Thrilled to have the chance to battle a team from the world’s greatest league, Cadee balked at the suggestion that the odds were stacked against Sydney keeping it close.
“People can put whatever odds they like, anything can happen,” Cadee said.
“They’ve said it all the time, ‘you can’t beat this team, you can’t beat that team’ but it’s just not the Australian way to think like that.
“Obviously it’s going to be hard – they’re the cream of the crop for a reason – but anything can happen in a basketball game.”
In fact, Cadee knows that from experience. Along with new Sydney teammate Todd Blanchfield, the high-scoring guard was a member of the Aussie team that shocked the United States at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia.
That American team was made up of a host of college stars, including current Dallas Mavericks point guard Yogi Ferrell, Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick and Chicago Bulls forward Doug McDermott.
“Everyone said, ‘oh you can’t beat them’ and we beat them by 10,” Cadee said.
“Anything can happen and we’ll just go there and have a crack and hopefully we can make it an interesting game.
“It’s not going to be easy, but it will be fun and you never know.”
It’s that kind of mentality – combined with his age and skillset – that makes Cadee a particularly intriguing prospect for these NBL-NBA games.
His ability to make plays off the pick and roll is world class, he possesses legitimate NBA range and you’d bet your house on him getting ‘em up. If Cadee catches fire, you never know, a pre-season game against the Jazz could be just the kind of platform to launch him onto NBA radars.
“It’s almost like a free hit out,” the 26-year-old said.
“We get to go and play an NBA team and if some of us get hot and play well, you never know.”
— Sydney Kings (@SydneyKings) August 1, 2017
It was actually in Salt Lake City, in a warm up match for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, when four-time Olympian Shane Heal caught fire against the USA. After nailing 8-of-12 threes and bumping chests with Charles Barkley, Heal wound up playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves for a stretch the following season (“Are you Healed?”)
It happens. Cadee knows it. But he’s not about to go rogue.
“The main goal for us as a Kings team is to go over there and improve and work on some stuff and get better as a group,” he said.
“Within that if some individual performances can come through then great. But they’re smart enough to know if you’re getting stuff within the team or if you’re trying to go one out.
“The main thing is to go over as a Kings organisation and represent the NBL well.”
As for playing the Jazz, Cadee said he can’t wait to go head-to-head with Aussie duo Dante Exum and Joe Ingles.
“It’s always good fun when you’re playing against guys you know and you can talk a little bit of crap and just enjoy it,” he said.
Ingles, of course, is the man most likely to talk back.
“Joe will be Joe and talk some noise and have fun,” Cadee laughed.
“But he’ll go about it the right way. He understands how big this is for Australia.”