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.
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.
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.
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
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
+/- : 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.
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
+/- : 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
+/- : -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.
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 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 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.
The TBT 2020 runner-up is first in the hearts of many.
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.
That shot is the type of moment all players and fans live for.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
Luc Longley:9/15/5/1 (4-5)
48-34 Rebounds, Trailed by 17 before LeBron left game.
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) +/-
Kerr: (0-4) from three
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
NBA All-Star Weekend 2020 tipped off in Chicago last night, and fans witnessed the basketball prowess of pop culture icons and the raw ability of the best young players in the game.
The All-Star Celebrity game gave us exactly what we were expecting. From sideline antics from Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon as coaches to slight hooping from Famouslos, Common and Quavo. Former NBA player Darius Miles added to the fun by proving that he should never possess a hot mic.
Before we dive into the antics of the Celebrity Game, it is important to focus on the pregame ceremony.
Just like the rituals that took place in games across the country, the All-Star Celebrity game began with honoring the lives of the Late Kobe Bryant and David Stern. Stern and Bryant influenced basketball from different sides but provided a legendary impact on the game that so many love.
After the heartfelt tribute, it was time to play basketball. Here are a few of the best moments of the game that saw Chicago rapper Common take home the MVP.
Rising Stars Challenge
The best young players that the NBA has to offer were also on display Friday night in the Rising Stars Challenge.
Team USA bested Team World 151-131 behind MVP Miles Bridges. Aside from the box score, the real intrigue of the game came from watching the jaw-dropping feats of skill and athleticism that occurred in a low-effort exhibition game.
Here are a few of the highlights that caught the eyes of many last night.