Patty Mills hopes to transfer his Australian Boomers form into the NBA, challenging himself to improve as a leader and have a bigger impact in his 11th season.
Nine Australians are set to play in the NBA this season, with Mills and the San Antonio Spurs to start their campaign with a clash against the New York Knicks while Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers start their year against the Boston Celtics.
The veteran Spurs guard is the longest-serving player on the San Antonio roster and will be a crucial cog in their hopes of continuing a 22-year run of making the play-offs.
Mills starred for Australia in the NBA off-season, leading the Boomers to a historic win against the United States in Melbourne before suffering World Cup medal heartbreak in China. The 31-year-old has been the Boomers' starting point guard for most of his career since bursting into the team more than a decade ago.
He is a three-time Olympian and averaged 22.8 points and 3.9 assists per game at the World Cup last month.
But his role with the Spurs is that largely of a role player depends on those around him, spending most of his time as a role player from the bench and then swinging into the starting five when needed.
"In terms of individual performances, I've always had a different role on the national team than I might have had here in San Antonio," Mills said in a season preview interview with KSAT.
"Making the most of that opportunity to go back and play [for Australia] is obviously great fun. For me, the challenge I've got to find is to see how I can transition that into my role here in San Antonio. It's a good challenge to have and something I look forward to putting in place this season.
"...I'm not sure [of the specifics] now. I think it will be one of those things we'll learn about each other on the fly. The challenge is out there for me to try to grab by the horns. I'm looking forward to it."
MORE CANBERRA SPORT
Mills crammed as much as he possibly could into a hectic five-month break from the NBA after the Spurs were knocked out of the play-offs by Denver last season.
He married partner Alyssa, played for Australia and started a Community Water Project to help communities hit by drought in regional areas.
The initiative uses hydropanels to produce drinking water via sunlight and humidity, and Mills launched the program in Mildura before the Boomers ramped up their campaign.
Mills has made it his mission to inspire on and off the court, using his brief time in Australia to connect with communities and then immersing himself into San Antonio life.
He has been at the Spurs for the past eight seasons and helped the team win a title five years ago.
"It's been busy," Mills grinned when asked about his off-season. "It was exciting. To play for Australia in Australia was huge, and to do it against the USA was a different dynamic.
"It awakened the old basketball bones in Australia and to get a win was huge.
"There's a lot more morning when you get to play for your country. To be honest, I have that for San Antonio [too]. There's much more meaning to why I represent the San Antonio Spurs. There's background meaning to being a Spur. I feel just the same as I do playing for Australia.
"...We've always been the underdogs [at the Spurs]. To have that mindset as a collective group ... we have to play every game with that."
Mills will be joined be several Australians in the league, with Simmons leading the 76ers and Joe Ingles ready for another big year with the Utah Jazz. Matthew Dellavedova is back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Aron Baynes is at Phoenix, Dante Exum at the Jazz and Jonah Bolden with Simmons in Philadelphia.