Bucks vs Knicks in London: screenshot diary

The NBA returns to the UK for its fifth London-hosted regular season game. For many Brits, this is a high-point of their exposure to the league.

Even though it’s an underwhelming matchup given New York’s current fecklessness and Milwaukee’s general irrelevance, a screenshot diary is mandatory. God save the Queen.

Pre-game

It’s a nominal Bucks home game, but both teams get the full pre-game intro treatment, meaning the crowd gets to sit through not just one but two generic hype videos.

Jared Dudley and Carmelo Anthony address the crowd and thank them for showing their support. Dudley no doubt realizes that roughly no one has come to watch the Bucks, despite them being a dramatically better team.

I take it back. This man has come to see the Bucks.

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Hassanity: The emergence of Miami’s Hassan Whiteside

Hassan Whiteside was a second round pick in the 2010 Draft who played 19 nondescript games over the first four years of his career and bounced around from Sacramento to the D-League by way of Memphis, Lebanon and China.

Now, he is breaking out as the Miami Heat’s back-up center and quickly becoming one of my favorite players in the league.

Over Miami’s last four games, he has put up 14.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.0 blocks and 77.1% shooting in 24.0 minutes off the bench. Not coincidentally, the Heat have won three of the four.

What exactly is going on?

Quite simply, they are a completely different team with him on the floor.

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The greatness of Dirk Nowitzki and his place in NBA history

This week, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki passed Moses Malone to become the seventh-leading scorer in NBA history. His rise up the all-time scoring charts is a testament to his incredibly diverse scoring ability and his longevity. Let us pay proper respect to his greatness and consider where he ranks among the all-time best at his position.

Dirk’s offensive abilities are well known to anyone reading this blog.

The best-shooting big man we have ever seen, at seven feet tall he is able to get his shot off over any defender – be it a face-up jumper or his patented fall-away off one leg. He is the only player 6’10” or above to make at least 1,500 threes. He is a master of head-fakes to get his defender off-balance, and he is comfortable taking smaller opponents in the post and finishing with either hand at the rim. He is a great teammate and is excellent at seeing the floor and passing out of the double-team.

He has aged well and he has adjusted seamlessly to shooting a few less shots per game than he used to, something past-their-prime superstars normally struggle with. Remarkably, he is still the cornerstone of a contender today at age 36, powering a Mavs offense which, built on shooting and floor spacing, is truly assembled in his image. Not coincidentally, it is the most efficient in the NBA.

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What on earth are the Sacramento Kings doing?

Mike Malone

The Sacramento Kings last night fired head coach Mike Malone after going 11-13 to start the season, citing underachievement. This is one of the stranger front office decisions in recent NBA history.

The Kings sit just one win out of the playoffs in the brutal West and are on course to win ten more games than they did last season. They are 15th in the league in offensive efficiency and 18th in the league in defensive efficiency despite possessing a deeply-flawed roster that I would rank among the bottom ten in the NBA on both ends. And all this with franchise player DeMarcus Cousins having missed the last nine games.

Prior to Boogie going down with viral meningitis on November 28, they were 9-6 for the season. They were developing an identity. They appeared to have good chemistry. They appeared to be going somewhere. They were overachieving.

They have gone 2-7 since then, but are the decision makers in the Kings front office even aware that Boogie has been out? Do they grasp that their starting lineup currently features Darren Collison and Ryan Hollins? How could they truly believe Malone was underachieving?

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My 2015 NBA All-Star ballot

With a quarter of the regular season in the books, NBA All-Star balloting began in earnest yesterday.

Of course I took the first available opportunity to vote for my ten most deserving starters – three frontcourt players and two guards from each conference:

Western Conference

FC: Anthony Davis (New Orleans)

25.1 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.9 BPG, 32.9 PER, 10-11 record

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In appreciation of Andrew Bogut, point center and elite defender

Andrew Bogut

Golden State center Andrew Bogut is averaging 7.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, hardly earth-shattering numbers. However, he has established himself as perhaps the best passing big man in the game as well as one of its finest rim protectors. He has helped lead the Warriors to a league-best 14-2 start and is due proper praise here.

Bogut is a newly-unleashed offensive fulcrum for the Warriors, who are stylistically and statistically much-improved on that end of the floor in large part due to his increased role. I wrote on the eve of the season that the Aussie could “get his Boris Diaw on” and be devastating as a passer in a motion-packed offense under new coach Steve Kerr. He has done exactly that.

Remarkably, Bogut is currently assisting on 18.7% of teammates’ buckets whilst he is on the floor, a distinctly Diaw-like number. Fittingly, Diaw is putting up an almost-identical 18.5% assist percentage.

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The ridiculousness and potential all-time greatness of Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis

After twelve games, Anthony Davis is averaging 26.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 2.2 steals on 58% shooting. He has led a deeply flawed New Orleans Pelicans roster to a 7-5 record and become a one-man League Pass wrecking crew. At just 21 years old, Davis is must-watch television, the best player at his position and without any doubt a future MVP of the league.

Since I started following the NBA religiously in 1996, only two other 21-year-olds have had the same air about them: Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Both will go down among the top ten or twelve players of all time by the end of their respective careers. It is no exaggeration to state that Davis could join them some day. The opportunity to witness his development is to be cherished.

AD is an athletic freak, a once-in-a-generation force of nature on both ends who is just scratching the surface of his potential. He is a player whose stats will never tell the full story of his impact, yet he is a threat to put up one of the most ridiculous statistical résumés we have ever seen all the same.

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Is Steph Curry a legit MVP candidate?

The season is in its infant stages, but it is never too early to celebrate a player who is putting up 27.7 points, 7.2 assists and 6.3 rebounds and playing some impressive defense. That player is not LeBron James. It is the Warriors’ new and improved Stephen Curry.

Steph Curry

Coming into the season, Curry was 40/1 to be named MVP – the 11th favorite to win the award. Based on A) the news that Kevin Durant would miss 8 weeks through injury and B) my firm belief that the Warriors would be much improved under Steve Kerr, I wagered a harmless pound on him. At this stage I wish I had wagered £100.

With KD out and LeBron having a sluggish-by-his-standards start to the season and Cleveland playing .500 ball, the MVP race is, for now, wide open – making those odds look laughably long.

Whilst Anthony Davis is a once-in-a-generation force of nature who is doing unseemly things on the defensive end, the unwritten rule is that the MVP must win a bare minimum of 50 games. AD’s Pelicans may not even make the postseason. Besides, he is only 21 and has plenty of time to win several MVPs before he is done.

The time is now for Steph.

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