Bobi Klintman believes his time in the NBL has helped give him the tools to settle more strongly into the NBA.

15 Feb
Dan Woods for

Having your name read out on draft night is a dream held by any and all players across the globe who harbour ambitions of turning professional, and a season in the NBL’s Next Stars program has been a stepping-stone for Cairns’ Bobi Klintman to make that dream a reality.

Swedish players have far from an extensive history in the NBA. Jonas Jerebko was drafted with the 39th overall pick in 2009, was selected with the 31st pick in 2012, and Damir Markota – who moved to Sweden as a child from Sarajevo – was selected with the 59th pick in 2006.

As it stands, Klintman is a near-consensus first round selection in the 2024 NBA Draft, which will not only make him the first Swede selected in 15 years, it would also make him the first first-round selection in his nation’s history.

The athletic wing says his time in the NBL could give him an “edge” over other prospects.

“The Cairns experience has been really good for me, but it’s been tough,” Klintman said on the upcoming episode of We Got Next.

We Got Next: Episode 5 will premiere on ESPN via Kayo at 5pm AEDT on Friday, February 16.

“After practice I wouldn’t say I’ve been doubting myself, but I’ve been down a little bit if I had a bad game, how can I bounce back from that? I’m going against these guys who are really good. There are some really good players in the NBL – mostly it’s been helping me a lot to go through these times.

“When I get to the NBA I’ve already been through this and I’m going to have an edge on the other rookies going into the same year as me, so I feel like that will help me a lot in the next level.

“There’s always going to be people thinking stuff about you whether it’s good or bad. I’ve been trying to keep not too high or not too low, just be a little bit in the middle. I feel like I’ve got a different mentality just coming from where I’m from.

“For me, manifesting was big. I’ve always dreamt about playing in the NBA and going to the next level.”

Klintman’s size, frame and incredible athleticism saw him labelled as the “NBA prototype” by Cairns head coach Adam Forde upon his signing with the Taipans ahead of NBL24, and he's shown plenty of signs of just how good he can be during the season.

The back end of his campaign has been impacted by a concussion, but some standout performances will no doubt have caught the eye of scouts.

He powered the Taipans home to a 15-point win in Round 10 with 22 points – including four of eight threes – and he almost dragged his side to victory in Round 12 against a heavily fancied Perth side, when he scored a season-high 24 points.

All in all, his averages of 9.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game don’t tell the story of the 20-year-old’s season. Rather, they only offer an insight into his remarkably high ceiling.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Bobi Klintman went OFF in the first half against Adelaide ?<br><br>The <a href="">@CairnsTaipans</a> Next Star finished the Round 10 contest with a career-high 22 points ? <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBL (@NBL) <a href="">December 12, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Klintman says his journey to the NBA Draft started almost a decade ago.

“When I was 12 years old I sat down with my mum and had a conversation it was really something I wanted to do. My step-dad saw I could be good, and I was growing and getting taller. Everything was set for me if I just put the work in, I could get to the top,” he reflected.

“It’s always been my goal to make the NBA and we used to talk about it a lot. He was like ‘you’ve got to put in the work’ and at the time maybe I said yes, but I didn’t really realise how much work it takes.

“I remember the 2017 or 2018 draft with my brother, it was late back in Sweden and we were watching the draft and I was like ‘this is dope, it’s got to be me one day’, and year after year after year you get closer and closer and closer. I don’t even know how to explain it but I’m trying to get there and it’s exciting just thinking about it, it gets me going – I don’t know how to explain it.”

Cairns will play its solitary Round 20 clash when it faces Melbourne United on Friday, February 16 at 7:30pm AEDT, live on ESPN via Kayo.

We Got Next: Episode 5 will premiere on ESPN via Kayo at 5pm AEDT on Friday, February 16.

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