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Tag: nba

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Knicks Stop Streak – James McKern

A Sunday matinee turned into an all you can eat buffet for the New York Knicks as they put their 7 game losing streak to bed.

The Denver Nuggets came into the Mecca following a 108-87 dismantling of the Indiana Pacers and looked to carry that winning feeling through.

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Believe it or Not: NBA Season 2014/15 Predictions

This is one of my favourite times of the year. The NBA season is here. You’ve drafted players into your own world beating fantasy squad. Players have been chopped, changed and drafted all over the league. And it is also the perfect time to make predictions about the NBA season. My personal belief is that if your predictions are said loudly, told to many people and said with a great deal of overconfidence that they just might come true. Here are my Top 5. Believe it or Not.

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Kamal’s Top League Pass Teams to Watch

By: Kamal Hylton (@KamalHylton)

I don’t know about you guys, but one of the first things I do when a new NBA season starts is to circle all my “League Pass Teams to Watch”.

I’ve been a NBA League Pass (or NBA Game Time) subscriber for quite a while now and follow it religiously, just being able to scour the league for those hidden gems or late night thrillers gets me amped!

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Sneaker Watch: Adidas Crazylight Boost

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Adidas have unveiled the new, amazing ‘Crazylight Boost’ sneaker for Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard.

The new sneaker pays homage to the Blazers Point Guard, with the colourway of Purple, Red & Black nodding at Lillards College colours of Weber State and his NBA home of Portland. Lillard’s nickname of ‘DAME’ is also incorporated into the shoe with the ‘E’ in the name using the 3 stripes of Adidas. Neat.

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NBA: NBA Draft

ROOKIE WATCH: MARCUS SMART (BOSTON CELTICS)

Following on from Nick C’s opening Julius Randle Rookie feature, I have decided to choose new Boston Celtics draftee Marcus Smart. My decision behind the pick was that as a Boston Celtics fan, I feel I can give a true account to his Rookie season as I’ll be watching him more than any other rookie in the League, while trying to stay as unbiased as I possibly can.

 

NBA: NBA Draft

 

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Sports mad Philippines on big stage at FIBA World Cup

By: Kamal Hylton (@KamalHylton)

Outside of North America, one of the more rabid yet underrated sporting fan bases come out of Asia in the Philippines.

Those that follow its sporting culture will know this has always been the case with combat sports like kickboxing and boxing as well as the worlds most global game in soccer, one only has to look at the god-like status Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao gets within his own country or the amount of people that watch European soccer at all hours to get an idea.

Pacquiao’s stardom along with other boxers like Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire inspires both native Filipinos as well as Filipino-Americans to create a new generation of boxers while soccer fans consistently come out in droves when big name European teams like Manchester United, Real Madrid and Arsenal feature on pre-season tours.

This is a nation is also passionate about its basketball, the NBA realizes this and capitalized on it when it chose to send the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers over to Manilla for the first time as part of the 2013 NBA Global Games. I remember waking up at 7:30AM ET to watch the game on NBA League Pass, and while the game its self was what you could come to expect from any ordinary pre-season game I took more away from the surrounding atmosphere.

Everything from the crowd, media and coverage of then Rockets guard Jeremy Lin showed just how obsessed the country is for the sport.

With the 2014 FIBA World Cup upon us, this got me thinking of whether this passion for sports in general and specifically for basketball translates to its national team. The team better known as “Gilas Pilipinas” qualified as finalists in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships, a tournament they hosted in Manilla and made it all the way to the finals only to lose to fellow Asian representatives Iran 85-71.

Through watching their style of play in exhibition games leading up to the tournament, they bring  speed, a desire to get the ball up the court on makes and misses as well as an offence that is predicated on strong guard play and drives to the basket.

During exhibitions, the team are defeating the likes of Chinese Taipei, Singapore, India, Jordan and most recently fellow World Cup participants Angola. However, against higher quality opponents like France, Australia and Ukraine they’ve found the level of play too much to overcome at times.

Here’s some ‘Sounds of the Game’ footage of its 97-75 loss to Australia:

Overwhelmingly small, Coach Chot Reyes has recruited some size to his squad in an unlikely source to help create second chance points with offensive rebounds and a low post presence. Joining the squad is current NBA free agent Andray Blatche, spending last season with the Brooklyn Nets he averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds while providing solid minutes as a back up big man helping get the Nets to the second round of the NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat.

His playoff numbers were understated but still helpful, averaging 6.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

Nobody is expecting a squad of players, that outside of Blatche are based solely from the Philippine Basketball Association, to make it out of a group consisting of Croatia, Greece and Argentina. However, playing on teams with such interesting names as the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, they should promise to be fun to watch and given the amount of support the country shows towards basketball don’t be surprised if there’s a large contingent of Filipino support with the team in Spain.

Other than Blatche, there are a few players to keep an eye on as the tournament progresses.

None more important than team captain Jimmy Alapag, the 36-year-old is arguably the most decorated player on the squad winning everything possible in the PBA including being a four time PBA Cup Champion, PBA MVP in 2010-2011 and a constant threat on the court with career averages of 12.9 points, 6 assists and 35.7% from three point range.

Joining Alapag in the back court is recent addition to the squad Paul Lee, the 25-year-old has come on as an injury replacement and offers the ability to play both guard positions and young legs to a team that has an average age of 30-years-old.

When I look at the Philippines there’s a bigger picture to what they could accomplish at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, players like Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin have helped the NBA turn an eye over to the Asian market as more than a revenue stream. It’s a region that is full of pride and one that is producing its fair share of talent, a national team that could have some measurable success is another piece to the puzzle.

Whether that’s getting a landmark victory over a higher profile country, gaining a reputation as a tough team to play against or going on a magical run, this is a team with an opportunity to put Asia firmly on the map.



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Hornets Nest

I spent a few days tossing ideas around and even had a couple of hundred words written before I decided to scrap what I was going and go down a different path.

So without further ado, here is my weekly feature.

Huge thanks to one of my favourite pot stirrers Dave Jefferess for the inspiration.

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What happens when you kick a Hornets nest?

One thing you can bank on is a whole bunch of pissed off Hornets coming out swarming and more than likely biting every square inch of your body.

Has anyone actually kicked the Hornets nest?

No, no they haven’t.

But are we all giving them a slight kick in the privates with every conversation that takes place about the Eastern Conference contenders and leaving them out?

I’ll put my two cents worth down right now; I don’t see them as a legitimate contender.

Does that mean that they aren’t worthy of being mentioned?

Of course not, they have earned that right.

After a heck of a run last season that saw them secure only their second playoff berth in the last 35 years, things are beginning to look up in Charlotte.

It’s even better now that they have shed themselves of, without doubt, the worst franchise name in NBA history and gone back to being the Hornets.

Seriously who thought that it was a good idea to name a team the Bobcats?

Let’s find that individual and lock them in a padded cell until they come to grips with what they did.

In last seasons playoffs no team wanted to come up against the formidable Eastern Conference powerhouse, Miami Heat.

The Bobcats – cringe every time I have to type that – fancied themselves against the Heat and surprisingly I was on their side. If it wasn’t for an unbelievably unlucky injury to Big Al, who knows what may have happened.

Side note, whenever I hear the nickname Big Al this is all that I can picture

Bigayal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s move past that.

Kemba Walker automatically get’s a mention in my list of favourite players, why? Click here.

Sorry, but I just watched that video for the 400 Millionth Time.

He was on another level during his time at UConn and it was near on impossible to not get caught up in the Kema whirlwind.

Add to the two aforementioned players the fact that they somehow managed to day light rob the Pacers of Lance Stephenson (I cannot figure out how this happened still).

When you think of those three players (two stellar ball handling guards + a dazzling low post big man) and the bevvy of young stars they have on their roster (Cody Zeller, MKG, Vonleh) the sky is the limit.

The big question posed by Dave though however was, how will they go?

Once LeBron left Miami we all knew that the Eastern Conference was about to become a more even spread, and sadly when Paul George went down with his horrific leg injury it became a very open race.

The Cavs then decided to nab Kevin Love and lets not forget that the Bulls may have assembled one of the best rosters they have had in previous years.

Charlotte last season finished with a very solid 43-39 regular season record and my tip is they will go around better come next season.

I’m not willing to go all out and say they will increase this number by a drastic amount but I can easily see them finishing with a more than respectable 47-35 record.

This in my eyes should land them within the range of 4th to 6th in the East.

The true beauty within this Hornets squad though is that I cannot see a drop off coming within the years to come. Not only will they become accustom to the taste of NBA Playoffs but they may even cause some drastic upsets during this time.

It’s going to be an incredible journey and one that has been a long time coming, now that it’s here don’t bet on the Hornets going away peacefully.

 

Once a hornet gets a taste of blood they will not want anything else.

@jLmcKern



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Time for my Week 2 Friday Feature time and believe it or not the number two plays an enormous part in the entirety of this article.

If anyone was paying attention to a tweet I sent out earlier in the week, you may know where this is heading.

For those of you not hanging on my every tweet, I’ve decided to at least give you an inclination.

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All right now that everyone has seen the above reference I guess the cat is out of the bag. For some unbeknown reason, perhaps it is the lack of basketball, I have watched an abundance of WWE over the past fortnight.

I hand on my heart can say that I have watched more in this timeframe than I ever have in any part of my life.

Am I ashamed of this fact?

You better believe I’m not.

Now I’ll happily admit that modern WWE isn’t as good as years gone by but it was never going to be. I mean the bar was raised to unfathomable heights thanks to the likes of The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and The Rock.

Again, I’m managing to ramble on about irrelevant information so I guess a point is necessary at some stage.

With reference to my above tweet, I’m trying my hand at comparing some of the all time great WWE Tag Team partnerships to some of the most formidable NBA Duos.

Some of these were easier to come by however some really took a bit of time researching, both on the Internet and playing Xbox1.

 

The one that came to me in an instant was the most damaging duo that exists within the NBA right now2. The run and gun is slicker than oil and the air with which they carry themselves is unrivalled. Of course I’m talking about none other than Oklahoma’s Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook.

One story that makes the following comparison seem more fitting is a steel cage match from the 2001 Survivor Series. The Dudley Boyz put their WCW title on the line against the Hardy Boyz3. With Matt safely out of the cage, Jeff had the chance to escape, instead opting to Swanton Bomb his way back into the cage and effectively out of the match.

As frustrating as this was, it’s hard not to be captivated by the moment and how insanely awesome it was. Jeff Hardy perfectly encapsulates Russell Westbrook; he was flashy and colorful but took risks that at times simply weren’t needed.

If you haven’t seen it, or cannot remember the steel cage match I’ve taken the liberty of including the link below.

http://www.wwe.com/videos/the-hardy-boyz-vs-the-dudley-boyz-tag-team-championship-unification-steel-cage-m-26050642

 

Whenever the topic of greatest NBA duos is brought up there is one pairing that reigns supreme. Two of the greatest 30 players of all time, none other than Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen4. They wreaked havoc on the league on their way to capturing 6 titles and were as close to unstoppable as there has ever been within our great league.

With that in mind, this comparison actually is pretty straightforward. If Jordan and Pippen are the greatest NBA duo of all time then their WWE counterpart can only be the current record holders for the single longest tag title reign & most combined days as champions; Demolition.

They made Tag Team title contenders look like boys amongst men much the same way as Jordan and Pippen did, there will always be others who will contend but in the end the champions always stand the tallest.

 

After spending a few quality hours playing some more Xbox, I came to the conclusion that the next pairing is seriously lethal. By themselves they are as fearsome as they come but when paired up the fear inside reaches critical levels. Known as the Brothers of Destruction, Undertaker and Kane dismantled any wrestlers who were brave (or dumb?) enough to get into the ring with them.

They simply towered over opponents and had next to no holes in their game. The best big man combination that comes to mind is Tim Duncan and David Robinson. I may be cheating a little with this one but I am only going off of one NBA Season (1997/98), why you may ask – because it’s my article. That’s why.

During this season the Admiral and Big Fundamental combined for 3,305 points – 1,752 boards – 423 assists and 517 stocks. Those numbers are absurd and show the complete dominance they had over the league. By themselves they could more than capably get the job done, but when teamed up they were a complete nightmare.

 

Now it wouldn’t be a decent comparison article if I only did players of the last 20 years.

So what I will bring to you is my final pairing.

 

I love nothing more than putting on one of my many DVDs of games from the 70s and 80s and watching how different the game was back then to how it is now. The same can be said for the WWE, ashamedly I do not own quite nearly enough DVDs of old school wrestling than what I would like.

However the beauty of this day and age is that anything can be found on the Internet. I have watched hours of footage of a Tag Team pairing named Valiant Brothers, who back in the early 1970s held the title for 370 days, which was the record up until Demolition knocked them of their perch.

When I think of early 70s NBA a fair few superstar names come to mind but the one pairing who are an extremely close second in terms of all-time greatness can be the Bucks combination of Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar.

They carried the Bucks organization to an NBA Title and an enthralling 7 game battle in another NBA Finals. The beauty of Oscar and Kareem was that there games were so far ahead of their times which was the exact same as the Valiant Brothers. This helped them to achieve the greatness they thoroughly deserved.

 

Well there you have it, my second Friday feature and if your not enjoying the interesting spin I’m trying to bring this offseason then let me know about it.

Although I have a few ideas for upcoming articles, if you have anything interesting then let me know.

Stay tuned.

 

1One of my greatest writers block techniques is playing NBA on the Xbox or playing any game I am trying to write about. Don’t believe me? Try it out one day.

2If you try and say that KD+RW aren’t the most lethal duo right now, you are clinically insane.

3I miss the early 2000s and being able to put a Z instead of an S and this be considered cool.

4Nobody was keen to argue with me about Pippen being a top 30 so you better believe I’m going to mention this as many times as humanly possible



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2014 NBA Summer League: The Awesome Trailer to the Upcoming NBA Season – @KamalHylton

This piece has been posted on behalf of NBA Nation Australia member Kamal Hylton

Have you ever been really excited for a movie to come out just by watching those thirty second to minute long trailers? 

Well, the NBA’s equivalent is about to tip-off this weekend with the 2014 NBA Summer League taking place in both Orlando, Florida (July 5-11) and Las Vegas, Navada (July 11-21). 

Now for the casual basketball fan, they look at this as rookies getting in early reps and for fringe players and those in the NBA Development League to latch onto an NBA roster or leave an impression for more than a 10-day contract at the tail end of the season. 

However, for us die-hard hoop heads this time of year means so much more. 

Not only does it start the clock counting down between now and Halloween night (the date usually marking the start of the season), but also gives us a glimpse into what teams just drafted, systems that coaches will play and is a measuring stick we can use beyond speculation from “experts” or scenarios our active imaginations dream up. 

So what am I looking forward to during this Summer League? 

Being a Raptors fan, the first thing I’d like to watch for is what Bruno Caboclo is all about. The 18-year-old Brazilian was taken 20th overall by General Manager (GM) Masai Ujiri and has been compared by some of these same “experts” as the “Brazilian Kevin Durant”, a notion that has fans more than skeptical. Now, I for one am not going to put that much pressure on the kid and have since tempered the anger I was feeling the moment his name was called.

I’ll admit, after passing on more well known players like UConn point guard Shabazz Napier and Duke shooting guard Rodney Hood I was upset. In the end though, I do hope Caboclo proves me wrong just like another Raptor has done.

I had the very same reaction when former President and GM Bryan Colangelo drafted Jonas Valanciunas, doing so with the knowledge that Raptor fans would have to wait a year for him to finish playing with his Lithuanian club Lietuvos Rytas.

I felt this way considering UConn standout Kemba Walker was still there for the taking, a player that was the second leading scorer in the nation, helped lead the Huskies to a NCAA National Championship and was ultimately taken ninth overall by the Charlotte Bobcats.

A couple years removed from that 2011 draft, Valanciunas is now getting regular starters minutes, looks to be a building block for the teams future and is happily making me eat my words.

Outside of the Raptors, another team that has me pumped for Summer League are the Cleveland Canadians…. oh sorry, I mean the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Taking Andrew Wiggins first overall puts him alongside countrymen Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson, something that bodes well for the profile of Canadian basketball, the Canadian National basketball program and is a wet dream for Canadian basketball fans like myself. 

There has been a lot of hype over how Wiggins will do in the NBA, we get our first taste of this on July 11th when his Cavs take on second overall pick Jabari Parker and the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Likely the only time of year you’ll be eager to see a Cavs vs. Bucks game.

Another team that looks interesting are the Boston Celtics, in coach Brad Stevens’ second season much of the news surrounding the team is whether Rajon Rondo will be on the move. 

Keeping that in mind, the decision President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge will make could hinge in one way or another on how sixth overall selection Marcus Smart and 17th overall selection James Young work as a back court tandem. Having already re-signed Avery Bradley to a 4-year, $32 million deal and Phil Pressey also looking to work his way into the mix the log jam at the guard position will be something to keep an eye on this summer. 

The last team I’m fascinated to see as many of you Aussie basketball fans are is the Utah Jazz, drafting Australian Dante Exum fifth overall and the aforementioned Rodney Hood with the 23rd overall pick the Jazz have a litany of young talent that will be fun to watch. Especially if they are able to keep Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors on the roster, both have been rumored with moves away.

I for one believe that the possibility of watching Exum team up with Trey Burke in the back court is worth the price of a $14.99 NBA League Pass subscription for Summer League (if you don’t already have League Pass that is).

Other teams or players of personal interest are the other two Canadians taken in the first round, Sacramento Kings Nik Stauskas (or “Tricky Nicky” to borrow a phrase from Pumpa and Boof at The Hoops Podcast) and Phoenix Suns Tyler Ennis. Summer League will also be the first chance to see the new look Charlotte Hornets in action, seeing teal and purple running up and down the court just gets me reminiscing about those pre-Bobcat days. Also although Philly fans won’t get to see Joel Embiid, they do get to welcome in a rookie of sorts with center Nerlens Noel back in action after a season long injury layoff. 

So, while the main attraction isn’t set to be released for another few months we can all sit back and be seduced over the next few weeks just thinking about what is to come.



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Who Is Australia’s GOAT? – @jLmcKern

This piece has been posted on behalf of Hoops Podcast co-host and NBA Nation Australia member James McKern

Australian basketball players throughout the years have been extremely fortunate to have teamed up with some of the greatest players to ever grace the hardwood.

Luc Longley was surrounding by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Andrew Gaze played with twin towers David Robinson + Tim Duncan and lastly Aron Baynes and Patty Mills were fortunate enough to play alongside the best big 3 in terms of playoff wins (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli).

As a country we have collected 5 NBA Championship Rings. Not too shabby when you consider we have only had a total of 14 players make it into the biggest basketball league on earth. Of the 14 however none have ever seriously been considered to be dominant NBA players.

It really opens up an interesting debate as to who is considered to be Australia’s Greatest Basketball player. The following list has some clear standouts and a couple of names that can be brushed aside, but based purely on output within the NBA one name stands higher than the rest.

David Andersen – Chris Anstey – Mark Bradtke – Nathan Jawai – Luke Schenscher -Darnell Mee* – Ricky Grace* -Shane Heal

Cross off the above 8 players, yes they made the big time but they were about as effective as the “NO BOMBING” sign at every hotel pool.

Andrew Gaze – 1999 NBA Champion (Spurs)

Aron Baynes – 2014 NBA Champion (Spurs)

Yes Baynes + Gaze both have an NBA Championship to their name but their outputs that contributed to the respective results were about as miniscule as you could imagine.

I’ve just completely crossed off 10 of the 14 Australians who graced the NBA, am I mad? Perhaps, but it’s hard to argue against what has so far been written. The following 4 players are head and shoulders the greatest that have come from our vast shores.

Matthew Dellavedova

I wrote Delly off before his career even took off, I didn’t see him making a final roster. How pleasantly surprised I was when the Cavs took the boy from Maryborough. Playing behind Kyrie Irving he carved out a very nice niche for himself in season number 1, proving that he is capable of orchestrating an offense. By the time his career is all said and done his place this high on my list will be justified.

Career Averages = 4.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 2.6 APG (41-36-79%), 72 Games

Patty Mills

Fatty Patty as Coach Pop used to refer to him has become a national treasure after securing his first NBA Championship ring with the Spurs. The energetic pocket rocket has been influential throughout the regular season and in the Finals when it mattered. Drafted with the 55 overall pick in 2009, he currently holds the Australian record for most points in a single game (34) and was the leading scorer at the London 2012 Olympics averaging 21.2 points per game (locking up a spot on ESPNs All London Second Team) http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/49130/the-all-olympics-team

Career Averages = 7.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.6 APG (45-40-84%), 229 Games

Luc Longley

Taken with the 7th pick in the 1991 NBA Draft, Longley became the first ever Australian to make it into the NBA. Involved in a dream trade that landed him on the famous Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls, quickly became the starting Center and was a part of the second three peat for the Bulls franchise. The current games record holder for Australian baksetballers he was a solid player but never a stand out. The 3 rings will always hold him in high esteem but it isn’t enough to give him the #1 spot.

Career Averages = 7.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG. 567 Total Games (Current Games Record)

No unfortunately for Longley and Aussie Bulls fans (Adam Ryan + Adam Howes) the number #1 Australian Basketball Player is our only Number #1 draft pick and resident fight starter

Andrew Bogut

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Taken with the first overall pick back in 2005, Bogut quickly showcased his tough and unrelenting impact on the defensive end. Never known for being an offensive beast he has proved throughout his career that he is one of the best defensive big men in the game. The first ever Australian to make an All NBA Team in 2010 and also finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2006. Whilst he is a clear number 1 pick for my list imagine how much better his career may have been had he not suffered some horrific injuries, lets just hope that from now on he can carry on and get back to his 2010 best.

Career Averages = 11.6 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.2 APG (52-08-56%). 507 Games

The future of Australian/NBA is bright with Dante Exum, Ben Simmons, Thon Maker and perhaps Joe Ingles still likely to make an impact in the big time.

Compiling this list wasn’t exactly an easy task but with the help of some resident Australian Hoops experts it made the number one pick a lot easier to make.

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Without doubt in future this list will require changing but at this exact moment in time the mantle of the number 1 Australian player belongs to the Melbourne native Andrew Bogut.

Don’t like the list? Let me know about it, I’m a big boy I can take the criticism.

James McKern

@jLmcKern