If we are being honest, the location of Mitch Creek’s basketball future is an unknown.
The options are there, with the South East Melbourne Phoenix, Minnesota Timberwolves or another NBA team being the three most likely destinations for Creek.
However, after a whirlwind year and a half that saw him play in Adelaide, Germany, the NBA Summer League, Long Island, Brooklyn and Minnesota, Creek’s immediate focus is on something he hasn’t had a lot of lately – rest.
When asked on SEN SA radio if he knew his plans for next NBA season, Creek admitted the undecided nature facing him by answering “not really”, but he did explain why he needs to take a quick physical and mental break.
“I need a bit of time at home, it’s been pretty much 18-19 months of straight basketball for me,” Creek said.
“I did have a 10-day break to go overseas and put my feet up for a little bit. To have 10 days of actual rest in total in two years pretty much isn’t enough.
“I need to try and get my body 100 percent and at the moment it’s about going back over there with a fresh mind and a fresh body and putting in all the work I can when I get there.”
Creek finished the season with the Wolves, but hasn’t got an NBA contract for the 2019/20 season.
However, in a positive sign for Creek’s chances at retaining a roster spot, the team has asked him to come back early, after being impressed with his character at the backend of the season.
“I’m going back in about four weeks time, about the middle-end part of May,” Creek said.
“They asked me to come back in and help build the culture and help lead by example as I did with my time there. They were very impressed and very happy with what I did and what I showcased.
“There are no guarantees for next season at the moment but the promising sign is normally they wouldn’t have guys in until mid to late June but they’ve asked me to come back in a matter of weeks.
“Hopefully I’ve left the impression I desire to leave on every basketball team and that’s a desirable one where they want to use you and utilise you as a performance tool and in a mentoring and leadership role.
“They’ve got a young, talented team, so at the moment it’s just about trying to play my cards at the right time and not trying to peak too early.
“It’s just about trying to showcase what I can bring to the table and so far I’ve done that and hopefully that can turn into something special in the next couple of months.”
Creek has signed with the Phoenix for next NBL season, but both parties have already stated publicly if an NBA opportunity presents, it will be pursued.
When reflecting on his time in Minnesota, Creek revealed one of the first people to greet and welcome him to the Timberwolves was 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose.
“I walked in on the first day and one of the first people to come up to me and introduce themselves and say some nice things like, ‘I’ve seen you play and I’m really impressed, excited to have you in and get to know you,’ was Derrick Rose,” Creek said.
“I’m playing three on three on the court the first day I got there and he walked up, we just finished a game, and he came over, shakes my hand and talks to me for about 30 seconds about how much he had seen of me already and how much he has heard and how he is looking forward to it.
“When one of your star guys comes up and does that from day one and always comes in and asks how you are, do you need anything, like if you need food come around to the house, that’s a really promising sign for a young and upcoming ball club.”
Creek also described how defensive schemes are devised in the NBA, and how playing the numbers game is a massive help in trying to limit the output of your superstar players.
“It hits you some days when you look at your phone and you see Russell Westbrook is still playing and Damian Lillard is still playing, and you think three weeks ago, you were running around playing against them,” Creek said.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling to play against all these big name guys. You don’t really look at them as, oh hey it’s Russell Westbrook, I’m intimidated by him or I’ve seen him do this 1,000 times.
“It’s more about, okay what are his deficiencies, how can I try to exploit them, what can I try and do to not let him score the way he wants to score.
“You want to try get in his head a little bit, you want to try rattle his cage, you might want to force someone to their right hand because he likes going left to his pull up.
“You got to understand and study the game and know the percentages aren’t always in your favour but if you can limit a player from going left where he might score 70 percent of the time instead of going right where he scores 46 percent of the time, that gives you a 24 percent difference of stopping him.
“At the end of the day, the NBA is based off analytics and that’s how you try and guard players.”