Nets Set On Nash

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The Brooklyn Nets ended their search for a head coach with the hiring announcement of former Phoenix Suns Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash.

Steve Nash was reportedly 'struck by Durant's despondency' - SFGate

The hiring has seen mixed reviews among the NBA fan community, and today I wanted to take the time to analyze some of the potential pros and cons that could make this hire boom or bust.

Pros: Steve Nash

The Brooklyn Nets’ main benefit from this hire is the acquisition of one of the most accomplished and brilliant basketball minds to ever play the game.

Steve Nash showed a willingness to improve players around him during his playing days, and his mentality should carry over to coaching. Mixing his basketball knowledge and his good relationship with Kevin Durant — evidenced by his days as a Golden State Warriors consultant — is a recipe that could yield success in the big apple.

Nash can mesh the high octane talent on the Nets roster, and more specifically, can handle the task of meshing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to create a title-contending product.

Nash’s expertise will also help the rest of Brooklyn’s rotation, and I am looking forward to how he impacts the guards on the team.

Cons: NBA Head Coaching Experience

Steve Nash accepted this job with a lack of NBA coaching experience. The concerns here are real because lack of experience is what makes a move like this a risk. There are so many moving parts in an NBA organization, so it can be hard to trust an individual without experience on the coaching side of the game.

However, Nash recently held a consultant role with the Golden State Warriors and was able to be close to an organization and view the game from the lens from a non-player.

To sum up the move, I’d say it’s worth the risk because you don’t have doubts about Nash’s basketball mind when it comes to X’s and O’s, and hiring him appeases the superstars. One of the most overlooked parts of the head coach position in the NBA is the management of talent and egos, and I can’t think of a better way to manage all of the personalities on an NBA roster by adding a former MVP.

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District of Buckets All-NBA Bubble Team

The NBA bubble games have lived up to the hype.

Every team in the bubble is playing hard, and the level of basketball has mimicked the first week of the regular season as many players have fresh legs and a rejuvenated hunger to compete among the world’s best.

With the final seeding games approaching, and the official NBA all-bubble team announcement this upcoming Saturday, I decided to put a team together consisting of some of the most impressive players in the NBA restart.

Without further ado, here is the District of Buckets All-NBA Bubble Team.

PG: Damian Lillard

Before basketball stopped, Dame was on one of the hottest stretches of scoring we’ve ever seen from a guard, and his return to basketball has continued his run of high-powered scoring.

Dame Lillard Erupts for 51 as Sixers Fall Short to Blazers

In the last two games, Lillard went off for a combined 112 points against the Mavs and Sixers, and his level of play has Portland sitting in the 8th playoff spot in the western conference.

Lillard told the media that he “Packed for the whole three months” and backed that statement up with his play — The Blazers can clinch their spot as the team to beat in the play-in game with a win in their next matchup.

Per game stats: 37.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 9.3 assists

Shooting %: 48% field goal, 41.4% 3pt, 88.7% ft

Record: 5-2

+/- : 2.7

Fun Fact: Ever since Patrick Beverly clowned Dame for missing two go-ahead free throws, Lillard has shot 33-of-34 from the line. Dame is also the only Blazer with back-to-back 50-point games.

SG: Devin Booker

Devin Booker’s scoring is no surprise, but the 7-0 bubble winning streak for the Phoenix Suns is one of the biggest surprises in the NBA.

Booker earns his spot here in my lineup over both Harden and Luka Dončić for the one reason he’s often snubbed out of critical acclaim for his scoring abilities in the past — winning — yes, winning. The Suns 7-0 record in the bubble validates that his scoring ability translates to wins in a “win or go home” environment, and places him ahead of two guards that are performing at a similar level.

The Suns are tied with the Blazers and Grizzlies and need to win their next game to clinch a berth in the play-in series.

Per game stats: 31.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists

Shooting %: 49.7% field goal, 34.9% 3pt, 93.5% ft

Record: 7-0

+/- : 8.0

Fun Fact: Devin Booker has scored exactly 35 points in three straight games.

SF: T.J. Warren

T.J. Warren was averaging 19.8 points per game heading into the bubble, but nobody expected him to put on an offensive clinic in Orlando.

NBA: T.J. Warren scores 53 points in Pacers win over Sixers

T.J. Warren has always been a good scorer, but his willingness to fire more from deep, and his ability to hit at a high clip has taken his game from solid to show-stopping.

After Domantas Sabonis’ injury early in the restart, Warren has established his place in the lineup even further and is a driving force for any continuing success Indiana might find in the bubble.

Based on his play for the Pacers, it is safe to say they got a monster return in a trade that only saw them give up cash considerations.

Per game stats: 31.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists

Shooting %: 57.8% field goal, 52.4% 3pt, 88.9% ft

Record: 4-2

+/- : 11.7

Fun Fact: On August 1st, Warren put up 53 points on 69 percent shooting — Nice— against the 76ers.

PF: Kristaps Porzingis

I’m gonna be upfront and say that Kristaps’ place on this team is purely about putting the ball in the bucket. Porizngis is the only player on this list who holds a negative plus-minus and a sub .500 bubble record. However, he has been individually impressive and is the bubble player that I would want at the 4 in a lineup.

Porzingis scores at a high rate and his production will be desperately needed when the Mavs take on Clippers in the first round of the playoffs.

Per game stats: 30.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists

Shooting %: 47.6% field goal, 38.1% 3pt, 89.1% ft

Record: 2-4

+/- : -4.7

Fun Fact: On July 31st, Kristaps had 39 points and 16 Rebounds against the Houston Rockets.

C: Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid has been playing great ball for the Sixers in the bubble. Embiid looks to be the main driving force for Philly in the playoffs, as they will be without Ben Simmons for the foreseeable future. Despite injuring his ankle and missing a game, Embiid’s play thus far has been enough for him to secure the center spot in my All-Bubble Team lineup.

Per game stats: 24.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists

Shooting %: 51.2 field goal, 76% ft

Record: 3-2 in games played

+/- : 3.6

Fun Fact: In the Sixers’ loss to the Pacers in the bubble, Embiid put up 41 points and 21 rebounds.



Walking Bucket: Montrezl Harrell

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Heart, Passion, and a true example of a blue-collar hooper, Montrezl Harrell brings maximum energy when he steps on the floor — the self-proclaimed “modern-day Rodman” will bring his toughness to the Clippers title hunt when he returns to the NBA bubble.

Harrell finishes everything at the rack, as is evidenced by his 18.6 points per game on 58 percent shooting from the field.

Trez is a reliable two points around the rim, and brings attention inside that makes life easy for the phenomenal perimeter players that the Clippers have stacked on their roster.

He’s not a floor spacer, but he thrives where a power forward must thrive — rolling to the basket after setting hard screens. He also puts defenders on an island in isolation with ease and often sees multiple defenders crash the paint when he attacks.

On the defensive end, Harrell uses his physicality to intimidate scorers around the basket, and as a result, leads the Clippers in blocks with 1.1 per game.

Currently, Montrezl is dealing with a family issue away from the bubble. His absence —hopefully — is only temporary as it would be a pleasure to watch him play his part in the most dynamic bench duo in the NBA with fellow Clipper Lou Williams.

Clippers and Montrezl Harrell have been clicking on offense since ...
Harrell hanging on the rim (Los Angeles Times)

Can’t wait to see what he’s able to do when he returns.

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Walking Bucket: Emma Meesseman

In honor of the return of basketball this week, I wanted to remind you of—or introduce you to, one of the best scorers in the game, Washington Mystics forward Emma Meesseman.

Meesseman is a surgical scorer.

She picks her spots well, and when you mix good shooting with good shot selection, you get efficient scoring.

In the Mystics 2019 Finals run, Meesseman averaged 19.1 ppg while shooting 58.2 percent from the field, 58.1 percent from three, and 82.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Meesseman’s postseason marksmanship mirrored her regular season. In the regular season, she missed out on making the 50-40-90 club only by not having the required minimum amount of field goal attempts. (55.2 FG%, 42.2 3PT%, 90.5 FT%)

Aside from her sniper-like accuracy, Meesseman does a phenomenal job of using her size and footwork to create space in one-on-ones. She also moves incredibly well off-ball, and when paired with the talent on the Mystics, she always seems to be open.

As an individual defender when you run into a player this skilled, who doesn’t need much space to get a shot off, with a high basketball IQ, you’re helpless if they’re making shots that night.

Meesseman is one of the most accomplished Belgian basketball players of all time, and her career accolades speak for themselves, so get ready to experience the legend of “Playoff Emma” when the WNBA returns.

Be sure to tune into ESPN on July 30th at 6p.m EST to watch Emma and the Mystics go to work on national television against the Seattle Storm. (one of only three nationally televised games, all but three will be shown on local television.)

Report: WNBA receives high grades again in diversity hi ...

Link: Meesseman’s self-reflection on her championship journey

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TBT 2020 Recap

TBT 2020 lived up to the hype and served as an oasis in the middle of the sports desert during a tumultuous year. The tournament showed us that with a strict quarantine bubble and vigorous testing, sports can still take place even during a pandemic.

It was a pleasure to be granted media access to The TBT, and I am forever grateful for being able to get a close look at how sports media works. (Mostly via Zoom)

This post is a quick shoutout to the two teams who made the deep run to the title match, and a short video of some of the action that took place late in the tournament.

The Champs

The tournament delivered high-quality play and compelling storylines that captivated the attention of the basketball world for a “March Madness” like atmosphere in the middle of July.

Rising out of the madness were the Marquette Golden Eagles Alumni, who, behind Tournament MVP Darius Johnson-Odom, downed Sideline Cancer 78-73 in the title game and won the $1,000,000 prize.

The Golden Eagles Alumni (pic by Ben Solomon)

The Golden Eagles boasted four players with NBA experience. (Darius Johnson-Odom, Dwight Buycks, Travis Diener, and Jamil Wilson)

Experience at the highest level of basketball is what proved to be the difference as they remained cool, calm, and collective down the stretch.

The Golden Eagles also did a phenomenal job of holding Sideline Cancer’s leading scorer Marcus Keene to only 6 points on the night, a reward that validates the aggressive defensive scheme that was stressed the whole game.

We witnessed a great run from the Golden Eagles, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they will defend their title in TBT 2021.

Sideline Cancer

The TBT 2020 runner-up is first in the hearts of many.

Sideline Cancer represents the Greg and Kathy Griffith Family Foundation, a foundation dedicated to eradicating pancreatic cancer.

This incredibly talented team played for a great cause, and for their late teammate Jermaine Marshall.

You could notice their extra motivation, the backstory of the team struck an emotional cord as they delivered a magical run to the title game.

Marcus Keene, Mo Creek, and Remy Abell hit huge shots the whole tournament, and the team looked resilient after losing former Maryland big man Diamond Stone in the first game.

Through all the ups and downs, this team clawed and fought every single time they stepped on the floor.

I look to see them making noise yet again deep into TBT 2021.

TBT Highlight Mix

The Tournament: An Introduction

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BASKETBALL IS BACK ON ESPN JULY 4th.

The Basketball Tournament, also known as the TBT, tips off this weekend on ESPN, so I wanted to quickly catch you all up to speed before the teams hit the floor in Columbus.

The TBT is an open 24-team tournament, with a winner-take-all prize of $1,000,000. The TBT has grown substantially in interest and talent over its 7 years of existence, all while giving fans the intensity of the NCAA March Madness single-elimination style.

My favorite thing about the TBT is the talent pool the players come from. The talent in the tournament ranges from players who have “Elite” overseas and NBA experience to even a team full of D2 legends.

The range of talent displayed is amazing because it highlights how great a player must be to succeed at higher levels of the sport, which is something I feel most fans don’t understand when they decide to flip on a game.

The TBT TV schedule as found on the TBT website

To qualify for tournament selection, teams have to fill out an application, and based on multiple criteria (including fanbase support), they are chosen to participate. Once selected and entered into the pool, the bracket is made, and the fun begins.

TBT 2020 will look a little different with only 24 teams. (The TBT had 72 teams in 2018 and 64 teams in 2019)

The Elam Ending

The Elam Ending is what truly separates The Tournament from any other basketball competition on the planet.

The Elam Ending was implemented for TBT 2017.

The Elam Ending was created by Nick Elam, a professor who dedicated his time to figure out how end-of-game situations could move away from late-game fouling. (Fun Fact: Intentionally fouling as the trailing team in a basketball game works roughly 1.5 percent of the time)

The ending starts at the 4-minute mark of the 4th quarter.

First, the game clock is shut off. Next, a target score of 8 points more than the current score of the leading team is set. (Ex. if a game is 60-50, a target score of 68 ends the game)

The first team to reach the target score wins, and the game has to end on a made basket.

The NBA adopted a variation of this rule in the 2020 All-Star Game.

District of Buckets and the TBT

For TBT 2020 District of Buckets has received online media day access to 4 teams.

Herd That- Marshall University Alumni

Men of Mackey- Purdue University Alumni

Stillwater Stars- Oklahoma State University Alumni

War Tampa- Players from the state of Florida and Auburn Alumni

Throughout the tournament (July 4th-July 14th), I am going to focus on these 4 teams. My goal is to highlight the best performances each team has on the court and focus on the playing careers of the players hunting for the glory of the $1,000,000 prize.

Basketball can’t get here soon enough.

More updates this weekend.

No Asterisk, The Winners of the NBA’s Orlando Reboot Are Legit

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This past Friday, the NBA released the schedule for its reboot in Orlando.

While it has been a pleasure to discuss upcoming NBA action, a developing argument about the legitimacy of a 2020 NBA Championship has gained popularity over the past few weeks. More specifically, an argument stating a Finals win in the Orlando bubble would not hold the same weight as any other championship.

As with most basketball arguments, the name LeBron James comes to the forefront.

There have been arguments made that if his Lakers win it —due the circumstances surrounding the reboot (COVID & social justice concerns)—the championship should not be viewed in the same light as his other rings.

I am vehemently against that idea, and anyone who wants to debate it can mention me personally, I have time to hear it all.

If you think the accomplishment of winning an NBA championship in the midst of a once in a lifetime pandemic somehow DIMINISHES the value of the win, you are just flat out wrong.

After teams complete their seeding games, they enter a relatively normal-looking playoff period. (based on number of games played)

Even though the optics around the game will differ (no real home games, no fans, etc.), every team will have the same chance to take the Larry O’Brien trophy home as even if play never stopped—However, this is all assuming that there are no hiccups and the reboot plan runs smoothly.

If the NBA’s plan alters course, and changes occur en route to a championship, the door is wide open to discuss a lack of legitimacy.

Until that happens, the last team standing is the rightful champion of the league, as always.

Please feel free to share your opinions on the platforms listed below.

Twitter- @BucketsDistrict

Instagram- districtofbuckets

John Wall’s 202 Assist

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Pro athletes in 2020 are displaying the power their platform holds within local communities.

During this mass period of demonstration, athletes have been incredibly visible. However, the question of how they can use their status to find concrete and quantifiable ways to improve the lives of others often arises.

Luckily in the D.C area, we have no shortage of athletes who love to give back, and impact the local the communities where they live.

A recent example of that desire to help is put on display by John Wall’s “202 Assist” program.

Wall’s foundation joined with the D.C government and Lydia’s House —A local organization that helps citizens in Wards 7 and 8— to provide rent assistance to D.C residents in ward 8.

Since June 1st, residents have been applying for much-needed help in a part of D.C hit hard by the pandemic.

Ward 8 residents—based on multiple factors—are on the front lines of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Add the obstacles created by COVID-19 to the fact that Ward 8 households use 62 percent of their income to pay rent on average, and you can arrive at the conclusion that paying rent in a city with a high cost of living is an advanced challenge under current circumstances.

Ward 8 Statistics

From May 22nd to June 22nd, “202 Assist” fundraised $531,860 in rent relief funds, and the organization is in the process of putting those funds to use.

Much of the work that Wall and other D.C athletes contribute to holds immense value beyond the donations and demonstrations themselves.

Wall’s presence in the D.C community is highly appreciated and needed.

It has been a pleasure to see one of my favorite players help people survive during a bleak time.

Image
John Wall and Brad Beal, the “House of Guards”

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Flashback Friday: The St. Louis Hawks

The Hawks hold one NBA Championship -won in 1958- and while we associate the Hawks with their current location in Atlanta, Georgia, their time as the crown jewel of professional basketball occurred in America’s gateway to the west, St. Louis, Missouri.

The Hawks’ time in “The Lou” lasted from 1955 to 1968, and in that time frame, they were home to several legends of the game and one of the most questionable trades in NBA history.

The team flourished on the court, but in a fashion that would become familiar to pro sports fans in the area, the Hawks would eventually succumb to poor attendance and relocate to Atlanta.

The First MVP: Bob Petit

The most successful player to take the court for the St. Louis Hawks is easily Hall of Famer Bob Petit.

Bob Petit is one of the pioneers of the NBA, and during his time in the league, averaged an impressive 26.4 points and 16.2 rebounds per game.

Petit was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player twice, once in 1956 and again in 1959. His MVP award in 1956 was the first time the league named an MVP, forever linking St. Louis to one of the top accomplishments basketball players aspire to attain.

Bob Pettit Hawks Legend - Detroitsportsfrenzy.com in 2020 (With images) | Bob  pettit
A battle between two Hall of Famers, Bill Russell and Bob Petit

Bill Russell Trade

In the 1956 NBA Draft, the Hawks held the 2nd overall pick. With the 2nd pick in the draft, the Hawks selected the University of San Francisco standout and immortal basketball legend Bill Russell. However, they traded their selection to the Boston Celtics for Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan.

Short term, the trade worked for the Hawks, The acquisition of two Hall of Fame level talents for one player, and THEN using both players to win a championship against the team you traded with, in most cases is an undisputed win.

However, long term, the Hawks lost out on having a player who would go on to change the game of basketball forever. Bill Russell’s legacy with 11 NBA Championships in a Celtics uniform (3 against the STL Hawks) is untouchable for players in the modern game, and his successes in “Beantown” were the building blocks of the expectation of greatness for Celtics franchise.

The magnitude of the mark Bill Russell left on the game leaves us wondering, what would his legacy look like if he played in St. Louis? Would the team still be there today if the trade never happened?

Unfortunately, we’ll never know, but we can acknowledge the Hawks’ success as they reached the pinnacle of the NBA in 1958.

1958 Champs

The 1958 St. Louis Hawks won the Western Division with a record of 41-31. In the playoffs, they beat the Detroit Pistons in 5 games and then would go on to beat the Celtics in 6, capturing the only NBA championship in Hawks history.

Robert Edward Auctions - The Premiere Sports Auction House

Note: Bill Russell was hobbled with an ankle injury for most of the series.

Overall, the Hawks’ time in St. Louis bred basketball success, and due to the legacy of players such as Bob Petit, it was also impactful in shaping what the league would eventually become in the future.

Hopefully this post left you with a few small tidbits of knowledge and hey, who knows, one day some of this might show up on a trivia question and you never would’ve known if you didn’t check out District of Buckets.

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Black Lives Matter: The Importance of Black Activism and A Shoutout To Stephen Jackson

In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, we’ve witnessed iconic images of the United States that will define this time in history.

We’ve seen everything from the ugliness of police brutality, to images of citizens uniting across the country, expressing their first amendment rights.

In a changing world, and amidst a potential return to play, the NBA is finding itself at the center of the social issues currently captivating the Nation’s attention.

Boston Celtic Jaylen Brown protesting in Atlanta

The political mobilization of Black athletes in the U.S impacts the young generation of African-Americans. An impact I’ve witnessed firsthand through experiences with my father.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists on the world’s stage at the Olympics in 1968, along with Muhammad Ali making his stance against the Vietnam war were both images of Black pride that occurred during my father’s youth.

I could always tell these moments carried weight for him, and I firmly believe the images of athlete activism that we see today will hold the same weight for the youth going forward.

The importance of seeing the most visible athletes take stands for what they believe in will forever lie in the beauty of children seeing their superheroes fight for them.

black power salute – Good Black News

Some recent examples of this include a moment in 2012, a brief moment when the Miami Heat posed with their hoodies up to show solidarity after the killing of Trayvon Martin.

In the time following their message, we’ve seen NBA players wear “I can’t breathe” warm-up shirts and slowly increase the use of their platform to speak about the need for social change.

We should not always look to athletes when we have societal issues, but due to the clout they hold in our society, their voices and actions matter, and can amplify the words echoing in the streets.

LeBron James' and other athletes' protest over Trayvon Martin ...
The Miami Heat Showing Solidarity With Trayvon Martin

Black athlete demonstration is also important because it combats the destructive idea of Black Exceptionalism, or in layman’s terms, the idea that being seen as exceptional is enough to omit an individual from many issues plaguing the community at large.

Unifying with the people shows that it is impossible for us to “Talented Tenth” our way to progress, it’s going to take as many bodies as we can get to push for change.

Stephen Jackson

Stephen Jackson and Karl-Anthony Towns

NBA Champion Stephen Jackson is the man in the middle of it all.

He’s the closest big name in sports connected to George Floyd, and as a result, he has decided to use his platform to pressure the nation to improve.

Jackson has marched in the streets, taken interviews across the country, and mobilized NBA players to fight alongside him.

Recently, Jackson expressed his opinion on the NBA returning. He mentioned a return to play could steal focus from what is going on in the streets.

Jackson was the type of player who brought an edge to every team he played for.

Every game, his opponents would feel his presence, and he brings the same energy to the sports media world on his show “All The Smoke” and to his role in the fight for social justice in the United States.

In honoring his friend George Floyd, Jackson is doing whatever he can to make the world a better place.

I’m with him, I hope you are too.

Derrick Rose of Chicago Bulls wears 'I Can't Breathe' shirt in reference to  Eric Garner

District of Buckets 2K20 Challenge: ’96 Bulls Vs. ’13 Heat (Games 1 & 2)

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In the 70 plus days since the NBA shut down operations, the same old conversations comparing basketball eras have been recycled incessantly. I decided I was tired of it and started lining up hypothetical matchups between NBA greats on NBA2K20.

NBA 2k20 is a cool tool to visualize how in-game matchups might work. For all the negativity I talk about the game 2K does an adequate job of programming tendencies and abilities to get an accurate view of play styles, and the way players work within their teams.

Naturally, I created a poll on twitter to decide which matchup to try first.

The 72-Win Chicago Bulls and the Big-3 Miami Heat are both impressive teams in their own right, and a matchup between these teams allows for us to also look at how a matchup between Prime LeBron James and Michael Jordan might play out.

Rules and Notes:

The Bulls have home-court advantage due to having a better regular season record (72-10)

I am playing as the home team in every game and making adjustments as the games continue, as would happen in an actual playoff series.

9-min quarters due to the increased speed of 2K in comparison to an actual game.

Game 1: Bulls 104-92 Heat (Bulls Lead 1-0)

Matchup Notes:

I started the game with Rodman on LeBron, didn’t go well. I then Switched Pippen on LeBron, Pippen could bother him on the perimeter with his combination of size, quickness, and strength. Rodman helping on the drive proved to be effective. I strayed away from putting Jordan on LeBron defensively because I needed him to use more energy on offense.

Despite LeBron’s injury at the start of the 3rd, Wade and Bosh were able to hold their own, but without LeBron, Jordan’s offensive output was too much to match.

A Mario Chalmers/Ron Harper matchup at the PG spot is intriguing. Harper was an incredible defender, but Chalmers is more than capable of taking advantage of his opportunities when teams have to focus on stopping the Big 3.

The Heat threw Shane Battier and Mike Miller at Pippen, Battier is the better defender of the two, but Guarding Pippen is a whole other level. Even though Battier is a solid defender, Pippen can exploit any mistakes on the defensive end better than most.

Wade v. Jordan: Wade will still get his points, but dealing with Jordan for the majority of the game tired him out and limited his offensive scoring output. Wade put up a great fight and carried the Heat offensively after LeBron got hurt, but eventually, he runs out of steam having to deal with the G.O.A.T.

Chicago Bulls Luc Longley and Bill Wennington are looking at a LONG SERIES of dealing with the slashing of James and Wade, along with the skill of Chris Bosh. Despite being outmatched, these two get a boost for having Rodman crash the boards with them. This combination allows Chicago to clean the glass, and as a result, they have won the rebound battle through two games.

Notable Stats: (Bulls)

Jordan: 51/4/5 (20pts in the 4th)

Pippen: 19/4/2 (7-14), (2-4) from three

Rodman:15/14/2 (7-9)

Luc Longley:9/15/5/1 (4-5)

48-34 Rebounds, Trailed by 17 before LeBron left game.

(Heat)

LeBron: 27/6/5 (Left in 3rd) +17 +/-

Wade: 25/2/1 (11-21) from the field

Bosh 10/15/3 and 1 block

Udonis Haslem +13 +/-

Game 2: Heat 117-110 Bulls

The main differences between Game 2 and Game 1:

  • LeBron played the whole game and caught fire in the 1st with 24 points
  • Pippen was cold (6-15) from the field

Matchup notes: Pippen was not holding his own against LeBron early and it took me switching MJ on him to slow his production down. LeBron still dropped buckets on buckets en route to a 60-point game.

Miami ends game on 27-13 run.

Chi- 12 turnovers

Mia- 20 points off turnovers

Scroll to 2nd tweet for game 2 highlights.

Notable stats: (Bulls)

Jordan: 44/6/4/1/3 (18-31), (1-4) from three

Pippen: 16pts on (6-15), (2-3) from three (-21) +/-

Longley: 12/5/1/3/1

Kerr: (0-4) from three

Kukoč: 6/7/6

(Heat)

LeBron: 60/9/4/2/1 (22-44), (2-4) from three (10-12) from the line

Wade: 22/8/5 (10-18)

Bosh: 16/11/1/2 (6-9)

Mario Chalmers: 8 assists, (+23) +/- (Highest on team)

After two the series heads to Miami all tied up. 1-1.

I’ll be bringing you the rest of the series with detailed analysis in the coming days and more DoB content every week on this site, twitter, and Instagram.

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Walking Buckets: 2020 NBA Draft Prospects

In the past week, we learned the NBA Draft process, like much of life, will face a few setbacks. The dates of the NBA Draft Combine, Lottery, and Draft are moving to a later undetermined date.

Even though we don’t know exactly where teams are picking, or the final opinions teams my have on prospects, there has been plenty of time to evaluate the talent in the current class. This class lacks some of the polish that we’ve seen from classes in the past few years, but with the NBA’s recent commitment to developing young players, the ceilings for many of the prospects seem reachable in comparison to past draft classes

Today, we’re taking a look at Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman.

Anthony Edwards (6’5 220lb Guard) Georgia

Michigan State vs. Georgia score: Bulldogs freshman Anthony ...

Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards has been talked about as a potential #1 pick. However, in this class, there isn’t a clear cut #1 at the moment. Without the traditional draft process timeline, it is hard to have a gauge of where these guys will call home in the NBA (especially without knowing which team holds the #1 selection).

In the midst of all of the uncertainty there is one consensus, the potential for Anthony Edwards is seemingly boundless.

The first thing that stands out for Edwards is his size for the guard position. At 6’5 225, he would already be one of the bigger guards in the league. He also is incredibly tough to stay in front of for opposing defenders, and he has all the tools offensively to make games infuriating for his matchup.

The main critique of his game is his shot selection and playmaking. In the few Georgia games I have watched this year, there were times where he would settle for jumpers and get tunnel vision at the basket. This shot selection led to Edwards shooting 40 percent from the floor and roughly 29 percent from three.

None of his issues draw from his basketball ability, and many of his decision-making skills will improve after he becomes a pro. He demonstrates a willingness to improve his game, and while I don’t expect him to make a Luka or Trae Young type of impact in his first two years, he has promise that can lead him to a successful career in the NBA.

James Wiseman (7’1 240lb Center) Memphis

James Wiseman leaves Memphis, will prepare for NBA Draft | Yardbarker

Right now, if the lottery odds hold, the Golden State Warriors would receive the first pick in the draft. With a need for frontcourt help, it makes all the sense in the world for the Warriors to take James Wiseman #1 overall.

If you read my last draft post, I mentioned Obi Toppin is a good fit for the Warriors. I stand by that statement, but I am adding that he is the right choice if Wiseman is off the board. (This assumes the Warriors have a pick other than #1)

Due to issues with NCAA eligibility, Wiseman had limited opportunities to show us what made him the #1 prospect in the nation in 2019.

In the games he played this season, we saw that he moved incredibly well for being 7’1, 235lbs. He also showed an understanding of where to be on the court at all times, and finished everything remotely around the bucket at a whopping 76 percent from the field.

This combination allows for him to feast on opposing teams offensively and defensively in the interior.

During his brief collegiate career, Wiseman averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game. In his 3rd regular-season game, he had 14 points and 12 rebounds in 22 minutes against Oregon, a team that finished ranked 13th in the country before the end of the NCAA basketball season.

The short glimpses are enough to decide that Wiseman should be able to help any NBA team as soon as the next season tips off.

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Like Mike: Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant dead at 41: Michael Jordan pays tribute

Episode 5 of “The Last Dance” gave us a look at the public image of Michael Jordan. The highlight of his marketability, in the public eye, was without a doubt his “Like Mike” Gatorade commercial.

The importance of this ad is the way it lifts Jordan on the highest pedestal for athletes. Reaching this pedestal is a seemingly unmatchable goal, but one kid born in Philly did everything in his power to be like Mike.

In the short amount of screen time we saw Kobe last night, we witnessed the basketball connection he had with Michael Jordan. We saw a young Kobe picking Jordan’s brain during the 1998 All-Star game and the reaction the latter had to a young player with a “Killer instinct” much like his own.

The importance of those small moments of recognition were the building blocks of a relationship that helped build up the next player to inspire a generation of hoopers to pick the ball up and start playing.

“I don’t get 5 championships without him” – Kobe Bryant on Michael Jordan

Kobe’s game emulated Jordan in ways we may never see again.

The main similarity on offense is the fadeaway jumper. On defense, a calculating mind, tenacity, and pride in defending the basket linked MJ and Kobe.

The biggest takeaway for me from the limited screen time in episode 5 for Kobe is the instant recognition of the dedication to the game MJ recognized in him.

Mamba Forever.

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Walking Buckets: 2020 NBA Draft Prospects

Due to the postponement of major sports, and the release of “The Last Dance” Jordan documentary, basketball fans are stuck in the past. It can be great to reminisce about those who made us love the game, but now is the time to focus on players that can give fans the same feeling in the future.

The 2020 Draft is full of talent, and today I decided to focus on three of my favorite players who will hear the commissioner call their names on draft day.

Isaac Okoro (Auburn Tigers) 6’6 220lbs SF

Okoro’s stats at Auburn

Isaac Okoro will bring a high level of effort and intensity that is amplified by the high level of physicality he can bring to a game.

Offensively, he needs to refine his outside shot, but he showed great touch around the basket and is one of the most fluid athletes in the class. One area of his game I’ve seen analysts overlook is his passing ability. Okoro showed brilliant decision-making that shined in the open court during his time at Auburn.

Defensively, Okoro is a BEAST, and that should easily translate to the next level. He can guard multiple positions due to his combination of quickness and strength. Okoro is adept at anticipating where ball handlers are going and using his quick hands to help with steals and blocks.

When you combine his strengths on both sides of the floor, you have a complete prospect who, if developed correctly, has the making of a Swiss Army knife at the NBA level.

Obi Toppin 6’9 220lbs PF

Obi Toppin Stats, News, Bio | ESPN

Easily the best name in the draft class, Obi is a player fans enjoy watching because of how electrifying he can be. He’s a guy that often made ESPN for his in-game dunks, but his game has so much more than that.

On offense, Toppin was über efficient. He shot 63 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3. As a Power Forward, his ability to stretch the floor is one that has NBA teams salivating at his potential. He also finishes everything around the rim. With all of these tools, I am interested to see how an NBA offense is going to use him.

At Dayton, Toppin was a rim runner in transition. He would sprint down the floor and often was the recipient of a lob that forces one-on-one with a smaller defender. If this didn’t work, Dayton would reset their offense. Dayton kept great spacing and often took Toppin out of the paint and allowed for him to use his dribbling ability and off-ball movement to beat opponents. And if all that wasn’t enough, defenders would have to worry about him shooting a deep trey.

Depending on what the Warriors decide to do in the draft if he’s available, I could see them taking Toppin instead of Wiseman because of how well he fits the way they play. (They could find a center without going through the draft)

Defensively, Toppin relies on his vertical and wingspan to make life tough for his opponents. His lateral quickness is the weakness in his game. If he switches on pick & rolls, NBA guards will make him pay every time. If his offensive game isn’t as efficient as it is in college, it might be hard to keep him on the floor in certain matchups.

Overall, I’m not too worried about him on the defensive end, but it lowers his ceiling, and his strengths on the offensive end have the potential to outbalance his weaknesses.

LaMelo Ball 6’7 181lbs Guard

There was no way I was going to start talking about the 2020 draft class without mentioning LaMelo Ball. We’ve all been hearing plenty about him for years, and it’s time for him to test his talent against the best in the world.

LaMelo has some of the best handles in the draft class. He can go wherever he wants on the floor, and he shares the passing vision his brother Lonzo has. What separates LaMelo from Lonzo is how much the kid loves to shoot, and during his time playing in Australia, that love turned into 37 percent shooting from the field, and 24 percent from three.

He has plenty of confidence in his lightning-quick jumper. Combine that confidence with a few mechanical issues, and you have a perfect recipe for a volume shooter.

His percentages don’t alarm me as an 18-year-old playing against pros in the NBL. If he shows effort to improve his game all of his shortcomings are fixable, he has limitless potential as a true combo guard.

On defense, his strength can be an issue. Bigger and stronger offensive players can move him around with ease. His main asset at his position defensively is his size. His size can allow him to contest shots well. Also, I’ve read that his effort can sometimes wane on defense, but when he decides to play D, he can lock down on the perimeter.

LaMelo is a player that is worthy of the attention he’s been getting. All of the experience he has overseas is a bonus to whatever team drafts him. He should be ready to play day one in the NBA.

LaMelo Ball, Obi Toppin, and Isaac Okoro are only a few names in the NBA’s 2020 draft pool, and I’ll be back next week with a few more names you can get familiar with before draft day.

How The NBA’s Interests In China Gave The League Foresight On The Impact of COVID-19

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COVID-19 is re-writing daily routines across the globe. The response to the pandemic differs across the world, but no group is handling the crisis with seamless flexibility like Adam Silver and the NBA.

Commissioner Adam Silver discussing the NBA suspension on ESPN

The NBA’s response is impressive due to how league prioritized instant isolation and testing, as well as general care for the health of their laborers and consumers. One important note to add is how intensely the NBA has reviewed data from respected health organizations, their employees abroad, and even ex-US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to figure out how to best maneuver during these trying times.

The steps the NBA are taking to prevent the spread among their employees after shutting down games is showing a small scale blueprint of the type of action that can be taken to prevent the spread in other areas, if the resources are there. The league instilled temperature checks at team facilities before eventually shutting those down as well in response to the news that 14 players have now tested positive for COVID-19.

The NBA shutdown before most of the country and prevented more community spread of the disease. The day the NBA stopped is also the point when Americans seriously saw the potential damage COVID-19 could have on their lives.

Side Note: ESPN Writer Ramona Shelburne did a fantastic job recapping the NBA’s response to Coronavirus earlier this week.

To get to this point it is important to understand how the NBA’s relationship with China influences how they make decisions regarding operation in the United States.

In the preseason, the NBA’s relationship with the PRC strained when Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted about China’s actions during the Hong Kong protests. The decisions made by the league at that time were scrutinized, but this post is focusing on how the NBA’s relationship with China impacts the response to COVID-19.

The NBA still has ties to China through offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Taipei. The correspondence the league has with employees in China and the observation of how the Chinese Basketball Association handled the outbreak gave the NBA a sense of urgency and preparedness that lacked in the United States.

The NBA’s commitment to repairing relations with China allowed for the league to analyze the severity of COVID-19 and act accordingly to protect itself so that when this is all over basketball will be in the international spotlight as a milestone of recovery from this disaster.

The probability of restarting the NBA this season looks bleak, but hope can be found by looking at the Chinese Basketball Association. The CBA is planning to restart in mid-April, and former NBA players Jeremy Lin and Lance Stephenson will return after a two-month absence.

Hopefully, recovery efforts across the globe go well so it won’t be too long until we get to see NBA basketball in 2020.

Pre-Weekend Posters

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We’re nearing the end of the week, so here are some poster dunks to help get you through the day.

Vinsanity on Alonzo Mourning

This Vince Carter dunk is forever in my top 5 of all time. This dunk easily checks all the boxes for a legendary poster.

  • Hangtime
  • Contact
  • on a 7-footer
  • Power

Just another example of the physical anomaly that is Vinsanity.

The Human Torch on Kenneth Faried

Terrance Ross aka “The Human Torch” showing off the highlight reel athleticism that helped earn him his nickname.

PG24 on Birdman

Players can become superstars in the eyes of the public overnight, and Paul George is no exception. During his 3rd season in 2013, George was having a breakout year.

That season, George averaged 17.4 points per game, a huge improvement from the 12.1 he averaged in the previous year. George was also slowly getting introduced to superstar minutes as he played 37.6 per game.

Even though he received an uptick in minutes and production, George was relatively unknown to casual fans, that was until his breakout against the Big 3 Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

George burst onto the national stage by leading the Pacers in a competitive series against the Heat, and the exclamation point on his emergence was this dunk on Chris “Birdman” Anderson.

Madison Williams Vs. Valparaiso

As if dunking on someone wasn’t enough, Madison Williams, the former Illinois State Redbird, taunts his victim while still under the basket and earns a technical foul.

Shaq on Chris Dudley

I don’t have to say much about this one. Dudley got so mad he threw the ball at Shaq. Just another prime example of why Shaq was the most dominant force in professional basketball.

Baron Davis on AK-47

Baron Davis is one of the most well-rounded guards in NBA history. Not many players had this combination of skill and athleticism. A vicious combo that made him able to compete at the rim despite being only 6’3.

This dunk came during the Warriors playoff run in 2007, the last time the Warriors were in the playoffs before Steph, Klay, and Draymond returned Golden State to the playoffs in 2013.

The “We Believe” Warriors team that Davis spearheaded is also the first and only 8-seed in NBA playoff history to defeat a 1-Seed in a 7-game playoff series. The Warriors bested the (67-15) Dallas Mavericks in six games and then went on to play the Utah Jazz in the next round, where this happened.

These are exactly what you needed to power through the day and get to the weekend.

All-Star Reserve Reaction

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Yesterday, the reserves for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game were released. As the names dropped, people across the globe have offered their opinions on if the pool of players was an adequate representation of All-Star level talent in the league.

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Every season, a few players get snubbed from the All-Star game, but before we get to that, we should acknowledge the players who achieved their goals by playing at an All-Star level and were selected.

All the players selected had compelling cases, the reward goes beyond just playing in an exhibition game, and a top tier player not being selected can have ramifications that impact the entire league.

Long story short, if a player feels disrespected on a national scale, they might look elsewhere to play in the offseason. If the NBA can’t keep top tier talent spread around the league, the potential for parity in the NBA is low.

Sabonis & Bam

Before we get to the snubs, take the time to acknowledge two players that made a surprise run into the All-Star team this season.

Domantas Sabonis and Bam Adebayo were not on the radar of many fans to be all-stars at the beginning of the season. Despite not having the initial hype, these two excel every time they step on the floor and got the reward they deserved.

Beal & Booker

Several players have been mentioned in lists by many as All-Star snubs, but Bradley Beal and Devin Booker are at the top of mine.

Beal and Booker are both in the midst of two of the most impressive seasons that NBA players can have, and both produce enough to be considered a part of the top players in their respective conferences.

Beal and Booker are the 6th and 8th highest scorers in the league respectively, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (Currently 12th) is the only other top 15 scorer that is not an All-Star.

Devin Booker might be one of the most disrespected scorers in NBA history. (by fans)

Beal is currently averaging 28.7 points, 6.4 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game. Those who feel it was fair to Beal attribute his non-selection to the lack of Washington’s success as a unit.

The argument of team success or missing a few games here is understandable, but the NBA has consistently allowed players who play on bad teams, miss games, but have good numbers, into the All-Star Game.

The Wizards are 16-31 and hold the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference. The team success argument should be a bit quieter when selecting a player who has individually placed himself within the top of his conference with the way he is improving his level of play this season.

Without Beal, the Wizards wouldn’t even compete to the level they have been, and they still are only 4.5 games out of the last playoff spot in the east.

Devin Booker

Devin Booker averages 27 points on 51 percent shooting from the field. Booker also has a true shooting percentage of 63 percent.

A list of other NBA players with similar points and true shooting for an entire season consists of Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Charles Barkley, and Adrian Dantley.

Five out of the six names mentioned are MVP winners, and two are currently in the Hall of Fame. (Dantley, Barkley)

Booker is in elite company and should receive the recognition he deserves for his play.

Ja Morant

Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant is another name that is on the list of All-Star snubs. Yes, I know the raw numbers aren’t the most flashy, but his play on the court is both flashy and effective.

Morant is the floor general for a 24-24 Grizzlies team that is riding a 4-game winning streak and sitting at the 8th seed in the Western Conference.

Morant is averaging 17.5 points, 7.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. He has a hand in everything positive or negative that happens on the floor in Memphis and unites with fellow rookie Brandon Clarke to make one of the best rookie tandems we’ve seen in a long time.

That’s all there is to say about the All-Star reserves.

Feel free to battle me in the comments or on twitter @BucketsDistrict.

Image result for ja morant kevin love"
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Myles Powell, Walking Bucket

In March, the basketball world shines a spotlight on the NCAA Tournament, and basketball players across the country, especially those who play for smaller schools get their chance to erupt on the national scene. One player that caught my eye during the tournament was Seton Hall guard Myles Powell.

Powell is Bucket of the Week because his play raises the odds of victory for Seton Hall even if the rest of his team isn’t playing up to their usual strengths.

During the NCAA Tournament Round of 64, Seton Hall and Wofford squared off. While most of the country had its eyes on the Wofford 3-point barrage, led by NCAA All-Time 3-point field goal leader Fletcher Magee, I was impressed by the 27 point scoring effort that Powell was able to string together for Seton Hall.

In that matchup you could see that Powell was the only cog working in the Seton Hall offense that night, as he ended up being the only Pirate to reach double figures in the 68-84 loss.

Despite the result going against his favor and having a rough shooting night (10 for 25), it was a spectacle to see how he was able to keep fighting through the different looks the Wofford defense presented him and his scoring ability was the sole reason the Pirates were in the game until Wofford pushed away in the 2nd half.

Putting the ball in the basket is second nature for Powell, who averaged 23.1 points per game during the regular season and 26 per game in Big East Tournament play.

Powell has a great combination of shooting ability, handle and insane body control when attacking the basket. Guarding his combination of skill when he picks his spots effectively is a tall task for any defender, but his high energy on the defensive end of the floor and especially in passing lanes makes him a threat even on off shooting nights, so as long as he is on the court Seton Hall has a chance to beat any team on any night.

Bio from ESPN.com

Powell is returning to school for his senior year. If he can take his play from last year to an even higher level, Seton Hall could be primed to make a run in March.

LeBron James, Wizard Killer.

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The most talented player of all time has garnered a bit of ill will during his career and diehard Wizards fans are close to topping the list of true LeBron Haters (Bulls fans are without a doubt #1).

I will forever admire LeBron’s play and appreciate what he does off the court, but I will never forget the repeated heartbreak he has bestowed upon Washington Wizards fans.

Most LeBron haters spawned from the belief that Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T or general disapproval of his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. Unlike the others, My Wizards fandom and LeBron related heartbreak are the deep-rooted foundation for the disdain I once held.

LeBron has career averages of 27.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.1 assists against the Wizards. These numbers aren’t too far away from his total career averages, but the utter dominance he displays over the team ripped the hearts out of Wizards fans who once hoped their teams would return to the glory the Bullets had in 1978.

The mid-2000’s Wizards “Big 3” that included Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antwan Jamison were often pummeled by LeBron. The tale as old as time rang the same in the coming years, even after the Wizards went through a full rebuild and built the “House of Guards” consisting of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

The following are my personal top 2 LeBron James Wizard killing moments.

#2. The Damon Jones Game

The 2006 Eastern Conference First Round between the Wizards and Cavs was an absolute dogfight. The series was full of high emotion and clutch moments. After five hard-fought games, the series was 3-2 in favor of Cleveland.

At home in game 6, the Wizards fought aggressively and forced overtime. Late in overtime with the Wizards up 113-112, Gilbert Arenas got fouled, went to the free-throw line, and missed his first free-throw.

Before Arenas took his final shot, LeBron strolled to the line and whispered to Arenas as he prepared to take the shot. After the exchange, Arenas, an All-Star and an 80 percent career free-throw shooter, missed the most important free-throw of the game.

The Cavs secured the rebound, pushed the ball, and LeBron made a crisp pass out of a double team to a wide-open Damon Jones in the corner.

It is important to note that Jones had only just checked into the game, played a total of 14 seconds and attempted one shot the entire night.

Jones nailed the shot with 4.3 seconds remaining, and put the Cavs up 114-113.

After the shot, the Wizards got the ball back, but Caron Butler’s game-winning attempt clanged off the rim and in the blink of an eye, the series was over. Cleveland beats Washington 4-2.

Years later, we would eventually learn what LeBron said to Arenas at the line, and the details of what he said are what make this Wizard killing LeBron moment sting a little bit more.

Gilbert Arenas @no.chill.gil tells instagram what LeBron told him at the free throw line

#1. The turnaround bank shot

One of the best shots in LeBron’s career was also one of the most painful to watch as a Wizards fan.

In 2016, the Wizards season ended during game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis. Losing to the Celtics was painful, but this LeBron buzzer-beater was a spirit-shattering moment during the most successful season for a men’s professional basketball team in D.C since the Washington Bullets won the NBA Finals back in 1978. (The Washington Mystics won the WNBA title in 2019).

To get to this iconic moment, we have to look at the lead-up to the shot attempt.

First of all, unlike Arenas from the 2006 matchup, John Wall nailed both of his free throws and gave the Wizards a 117-120 lead entering the 4th quarter. Next, Kevin Love inbounded the ball more than 3/4ths the distance of the court to get the ball to LeBron.

After completing the pass, King James would have to get enough separation from Bradley Beal to attempt the shot. Lastly, it took a stroke of luck to bank in cleanly off the backboard to tie the game.

If you’re a Wizards fan, you believe in Murphy’s Law, and everything that could go wrong went wrong that possession, unfortunately, it was enough to tie the game at the end of regulation.

In overtime, the Cavs dominated the period en route to a 140-135 win.

The shot will forever be in the annals of NBA history as one of the best regular-season moments in LeBron’s career.

That shot, like many others, does more than simply displaying the greatness of LeBron James, It also serves as a reminder to hoop fans in the District.

A reminder that the Wizards still have a long way to go before our home team can consistently compete on a championship level.

There are many examples of LeBron imposing his will on the Washington Wizards, and an endless supply of disappointing Wizards late-game moments, but these two were the worst watching in real-time.

Here are a few more Wizard destroying LeBron moments:

NBA free agency 2019…so far

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On Sunday afternoon the NBA free agency moratorium period opened and within only a few brief seconds the power dynamic of the NBA started to shift dramatically.

So far we have witnessed one of the most active and lucrative free agency periods ever as NBA teams agreed to shell out an estimated $3 billion dollars within the first 8 hours of free agency.

Along with the extensive amount of money changing hands, the sheer level of talent on the move is changing the power structure of the NBA. We’ve seen Finals MVPs, league MVPs, perennial All-Stars and faces of franchises find opportunity and wealth in new locations.

We’ve all seen the names but before I can even get to the players it is important to have a background on what the moratorium period is.

What exactly is a moratorium period?

For those who don’t know, the moratorium period is when NBA teams can negotiate and agree to verbal terms on contracts with free agents, but they can’t put pen to paper until the moratorium period is over.

The reason this period exists is because the NBA is finalizing the exact amount of the salary cap. The cap is finalized on July 6th. The first day that free agents can physically sign contracts.

The signings made so far should be honored, but there is always a slight chance that a deal could fall through in the coming days.

The 2015 Deandre Jordan fiasco was the last major example of a key signing rescinding a verbal agreement and signing with another team when Jordan backed out of his Mavericks agreement in order to return to the Clippers.

The verbal contract commitments and trades have us seeing a chunk of the top talent in the NBA moving to other teams and probably by the time this is posted more league changing moves will have been made.

Deandre Jordan agreed to a contract with the Dallas Mavericks, but was convinced by Clippers teammates to stay in Los Angeles. (2015)

Big moves so far…

We’ve seen the Warriors lose two Finals MVPs in Kevin Durant (Nets) and Andre Iguodala (Grizzlies), Lock up Klay Thompson with a max contract, re-sign Kevon Looney and trade for D’Angelo Russell.

The Charlotte Hornets asked All-Star guard Kemba Walker to take a significant pay-cut under the $220 million Supermax they could’ve offered him, so he decided to take his talents to Boston to claim the starting point guard spot vacated by Kyrie Irving (Nets).

Jimmy Butler is part of a four team sign-and-trade deal that sends him to the Miami Heat. J.J Redick agreed to sign with the Pelicans which frees up enough cap space so the Sixers can add Celtics big man Al Horford.

The Utah Jazz signed sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanović and tenacious defender/rebounder Ed Davis in order to solidify their roster for a potential contending run this year.

The Portland Trailblazers looked to do the same as they re-signed Rodney Hood and traded for Hassan Whiteside.

These are just a few of the moves that are morphing rosters in a summer that looks to bring parity back to the NBA….Unless Kawhi decides to team up with LeBron and Anthony Davis in LA.

Walking Bucket: Isaiah Thomas

Basketball—at its core—is a simple game.

You can analyze it in a million different ways, but at the end of the day, if you want to stand atop the NBA’s best offensively, the ball has to go in the bucket.

This week, I wanted to show my appreciation for one of my favorite players to watch, a player who is the personification of the term Walking Bucket.

Isaiah Thomas has been scoring at a high level for as long as I can remember, I was first introduced to his game when I watched his Washington Huskies in the 2011 Pac-10 Tournament. (Now the Pac-12)

Thomas’ moment of the tournament occurred in the championship game versus the Arizona Wildcats.

In overtime, tied 75-75, I watched as Thomas—who by the way, had 28 points on 10 of 16 shooting—slowly walked the ball up the floor, shook his opponent with a right-to-left cross that he turned into a stepback fadeaway jumper that sailed through the basket as time expired.

“SHAKE, CROSSOVER, STEPBAAAACK!!!!”- Gus Johnson

That shot is the type of moment all players and fans live for.

Pure magic.

The level of execution displayed on that play developed into a nightly experience in the NBA, and during the 2016-2017 season with the Boston Celtics, Thomas took his talents to a new level.

I decided to highlight the ’16-’17 season because even though I.T has shown elite scoring his whole career, this year, he was seemingly unstoppable.

In the 2016-2017 season, Thomas averaged 28.9 points per game (3rd in NBA) on 46.3 percent shooting from the field, 37.9 percent from three, and 90.9 percent from the foul line.

Thomas willed the Celtics to the 1-Seed in the Eastern Conference (53-29 record) amid a season that saw him record his 2nd consecutive All-Star appearance and a place on the All-NBA 2nd team.

It was awesome to see how high he raised his game, but it was even more impressive once you understand the obstacles that he overcame that year. He also played so well in clutch moments he earned the nickname “The King in the 4th”.

Thomas played through grief, a hip injury, and losing his front tooth in game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Even while dealing with all of that, he still rose to the occasion. Watching his 53-point game in honor of his late sister’s birthday is forever one of my favorite basketball memories—despite it coming at the expense of a win for my Wizards.

I could keep talking about the play of Isaiah Thomas, but the best way to understand how special the ’16-’17 season was, is to witness some of it for yourself.