Don’t let the True Aussie Skullet distract you, Jock Landale also has a magnificent classic Australian mustache! These things might be considered “warning signs” in the US. However Down Under (Never say “Australia” when you can say “Down Under” - that’s one Hollywood promise I intend to keep.) where the rugby kangaroos hop backwards down the drain while fleeing swarms of deadly giant venomous spiders, it’s perfectly normal.
That’s it. That’s the preview.
What else do you need to know?
As part of the Rockets “Let’s field an actual basketball team that makes sense.” efforts, they signed former Phoenix backup (and when Deandre Ayton grew too petulant, full-time) center Jock Landale.
He’s only played two years in the NBA, but is already an experienced 27, having won the King Mindaugas cup in 2020. All joking aside, Jock has know real success wherever he’s played outside the NBA. He played college basketball in the US, for the St. Marys Gaels, where he was an all West Coast Conference player averaging around 17pts and 10 rebounds per game, but wasn’t drafted or signed to an NBA team.
In 2018-19 he played for Partizan Belgrade, which won the Serbian Cup and was named to the Adriatic Basketball Association’s “Ideal Starting Five”. What makes them ideal? We can only hope it’s haircuts.
2019-20 saw Jock move to Lithuania, where he was part of a Zalgiris Kaunas team that won the aforementioned King Mindaugas Cup. He averaged 11 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1 assist in this league.
It’s worth noting that both the Adriatic League and Lithuania are noted for tough and skilled big man play, so the fact that a young Australian could come in and thrive in both leagues is notable.
2020-21 featured a move back Down Under for Jock, to his native Victoria and Melbourne United. United played the Perth Wildwombats in the NBL Grand Final, which saw Landale playing a starring role with strong statlines across the board as Melbourne swept the Grand Finals in three games. Jock won the Grand Finals MVP Award, averaging 16.4pts, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
All this international action is noted here to demonstrated that while Landale has been in a subordinate role in 2021-22 in San Antonio and 2022-23 in Phoenix, he’s a player who is capable of considerably more than pedestrian bench center production.
In the 2022-23 playoffs, Landale averaged more minutes than now traded former Suns 1-1 pick Deandre Ayton against Denver, as part of the only team to take two playoff wins off the Nuggets.
In the tradition of most Australians to play in the NBA (most, Ben Simmons, not all) Landale is a tough, smart, player who isn’t afraid to get chippy with opponents. He claims to have added 3pt range this season, and in 2021-22 shot a respectable 33% for the Spurs, so it’s possible he can be a stretch five. He’s a good free throw shooter, so he can play at the end of games if necessary. You’d like to see a slightly higher TS% from a center than 60%, but that really could be a function of being a second unit player.
I believe, given Jock’s good production in decent or very good international leagues, that his low stats are primarily usage driven, and should be linear up to about 18/10 per game on starters minutes, should that prove necessary. He’s good at moving his feet, protecting the paint, and can pretend to cover outside the paint for a bit, based on what we’ve seen from him.
I very much believe that Jock could handle starters minutes, or a platoon with Alperen Sengun, but I don’t think that will be necessary, as I think we might be seeing a breakout season from Alpy. In which case, Landale is a backup center, signed on backup center dollars, and that’s perfectly fine.
He was a good, sensible, and reasonable signing from a Rockets team that appears to be doing good, sensible and reasonable things in their attempt to leave The Tank.
Also, worst case, we can just enjoy the glorious Skullet from Down Under.
What do you like most about Jock Landale?
Sense of Humor
Unmentioned Australian Cliche