Former Boston Celtics centre Aron Baynes is expecting two of his ex-teammates to reach NBA superstar status in coming years but wants to assert his authority over them during this week's Australia vs. Team USA exhibition series.
Baynes -- who recently moved with his family to Phoenix after the Celtics traded him to the Suns -- has been able to closely track the development of two of Boston's brightest stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Brown, the third pick in the 2016 draft, was selected in the NBA's All-Rookie Second Team in 2017 while Tatum was No. 3 selection in 2017, making the league's All-Rookie First Team in 2018.
Boomers veteran Baynes, 32, said Tatum in particular was ready to explode thanks to his offensive weaponry and desire to improve defensively.
"Definitely [he's ready to reach superstar status]," Baynes said in Melbourne as the Boomers prepare for their two-game series against Team USA.
"He's so talented - even from the first day I played with him when he was a rookie in his first preseason, you could see how talented he was offensively and he also wants to work on the defensive end which isn't common in the NBA - some guys live on that offensive talent but he wants to develop his all-round game.
"He's going to be a fun one to continue to watch.
"Those younger guys [Tatum and Brown] are thirsty to go out and improve their game and there's no better place than the summer time playing international ball against some of the best players in the world.
"Those guys are still in their rookie contracts and they're looking to prove themselves over the next couple of years and they definitely have all the tools to do it. They're competitors, I've played against them all the time in practice and I know what they're capable of ... and it's fun to play alongside them. But right now they're wearing the wrong colours and I'm not going to take a backward step against them."
Baynes said his knowledge of his former teammates' games may help the Aussies prepare for the visitors.
"Our scouting is done really well," he told ESPN. "We understand people's tendencies and what they feel comfortable doing most - there's a few nuances I might be able to share with the guys but overall we've all watched them and we know what most guys want to do.
"It's about taking away their best looks and make them take a secondary shot, and if we can do that for the full 40 minutes then we should be in good stead."
Aron Baynes says playing for Australia in the FIBA World Cup will be perfect preparation for his first season with Phoenix after being traded by Boston in the NBA offseason.
Both the Boomers and the U.S. are severely depleted for their exhibition games and the upcoming FIBA World Cup in China after significant withdrawals.
Australia split their warm-up series against Canada 1-1, losing the first match before rebounding strongly in the second contest.
But Baynes knows the American team -- despite the high-profile withdrawals -- will be a step above as they seek a hat-trick of World Cup titles after wins in 2014 and 2010.
"The team the US is bringing in, there's All Stars, future All Stars ... they're pretty good basketball players - I've played with a few of them," he laughed. "They're going to come down here, they're the reigning champs and we have to dethrone them ... it might even put a bit of a chip on their shoulders, everyone talking about them not being as good as they could be."