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