The 23-year-old 6’9” forward/center played four years at Notre Dame and averaged 16.2 points per game and 12.7 rebounds per game in his senior year. Mooney signed in the NBL last offseason with the Perth Wildcats, playing next to this season’s league MVP Bryce Cotton.
John Mooney in his first professional season averaged 17.3 points per game, 11.4 rebounds per game and shot 45 percent from three on 1.5 attempts per game. The two-man game between Cotton and Mooney was one of the NBL’s deadliest duos, that pair led the Wildcats to the league’s second-best record.
John Mooney has reportedly joined the Milwaukee Bucks Summer League team. What can he bring to the team? And can he play at an NBA level?
John Mooney made All-NBL first team, the NBL only has two All-NBL teams, with only four slots for “inside players” (forwards and centers), making the nomination considering his age and position even more impressive. For comparison, the Houston Rockets’ Jae’Sean Tate made All-NBL first team last season while the Rockets Cameron Oliver and now retired Andrew Bogut made All-NBL second team.
Cotton missed the entire playoffs with a hematoma to his left quadriceps – leaving Mooney as the alone star on the team. Despite missing Cotton, Mooney still led the Wildcats to the NBL Grand Final, where he averaged 13.3 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game in the NBL playoffs.
Mooney is a double-double machine who can score from the post and from three, on the other end it’s a little more complicated.
Mooney has the foot speed of a center but the length of a forward, he’s stuck between two positions and that may prove troublesome defensively. He can contest shots but he won’t block many shots with Mooney only averaging 0.7 blocks per game this past NBL season.
Despite the defensive concerns, Mooney is still a highly efficient scorer who can do it from all three levels, his screens and shooting prowess create a lot of space for guards, and he can still score from a roll and through an isolation post play.
His skill set is similar to the Bucks’ Bobby Portis and he could possibly fill that role off the bench. However, it is more likely that his Summer League gig is to see if he is can play for the Bucks G-League team the Wisconsin Herd.
John Mooney is only 23 and in his first professional season, he averaged 17 and 10 on a championship-contending team. The defense leaves a lot to be desired but he’s not a liability, he can be a neutral defender at the G-League level.
If you are looking for a comparison, I believe the Phoenix Suns’ Dario Šarić and his backup center role where he can score, pass and rebound would suit Mooney best.
NBL Analyst Liam Santamaria explained to Hoops Habit how he believes Mooney fits within an NBA setting:
"“Mooney’s ability to rebound will translate onto an NBA floor, I’ve no doubt about that. He can also score from mid-range although his ability to shoot consistently from NBA three-point range is unproven. His biggest challenges at the next level, however, will be at the defensive end where he’ll have to deal with quickness of NBA power forwards and the length and athleticism of NBA centres.”"
Mooney most likely won’t be an instant impact player for the Milwaukee Bucks if he gets called up, but he has already proven to be a high-level player on the international stage. And it is worth seeing if he can translate that at an NBA level through the Herd.