Xavier Cooks, who spent his college career at the Big South Conference, barely stood out.
As a senior, he averaged 17.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.1 blocks per game, and was a slim 6-foot-8 fit for the professional game. But the Big South is the Big South. Outside of the realm of professional scouting, most people wouldn’t have noticed.
Nonetheless, enough scouts noticed that Cook had NBA looks.Upon graduating from Winthrop in the summer of 2018, he joined the Summer League with the Golden State Warriors before moving on to the next year. is back for a second Summer League stint with the Phoenix Suns. Just as Juan Toscano Anderson proved like a fairy tale that he was promoted to the rotation on the same Warriors team that Cook was on the radar for, if you have the NBA physical profile, you you will find it. And Cooks does.
Apart from spending his first season in Germany, Cooks’ professional career so far has taken place in his hometown of Australia, where he is in his fourth year as a member of the Sydney Kings. In these four years, he has grown even more as a player, especially in attack. His rather unique record of 6.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in his first season has seen him produce 15.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game so far this year. .
Furthermore, in addition to the added output, he has become Australia’s highlight reel. Big dunks have become a regular occurrence, and with his NBA length, athleticism, and bursting, he can pummel anyone. So he does.
Cooks brings not only the physical side of things to the NBA, but also the skills. Face-up he’s a four-man (and/or more traditional small he’s a forward) with enough handle that Cook is great for running, posting, shooting a little and hitting other cutters. Pass his vision. He can be the one who drives and kicks others for their drives, or the one who drives and kicks them. He can be the one running the lane in transition or the one leading it. , drives closeouts at Biggs and passes better than most forwards. Not the go-to guy, he’s always on to something.
Cooks are also defensively always on to something. With a history of having to defend the paint due to his time spent in the Big South, he charges in the lane and outside of it his superior length and activity make him a distracting threat. He can fall back on bigger opponents, but he’s always faster than them (at least at Australian level) and times everything well. Those hands go everywhere. With good length and good hands, Cooks is always aggressive, always aggressive and his hands are everywhere.
If the above sounds like Giannis Antetokounmpo’s skill set, I’m hooked.The cook is the best in the universe if you have time to drive. His handle isn’t too tight in traffic and he doesn’t have the power or skill to seal and finish or descend low. Despite Burst, he doesn’t have any Yannis-type powers.
However, the aforementioned Toscano-Anderson still serves as a good comparison. Just so, there’s no reason Cooks couldn’t take a place on his NBA bench like his Mexican ancestors. After all, now 27, he’s about the same age as his Anderson in Toscano.
The Australian NBL is uniquely positioned as it ends much earlier than any other basketball league with a fall start date. Players can sign up for the season in Australia, complete it, and then join an NBA team to advance to the final stages, as Andrew Bogut did in the 2018/19 season.
I’m not saying that Xavier Cooks does the same. But I definitely say he can. And if he can, he should.