Tag: Basketball

Urban Klavžar: The Next Luka Dončić

In professional sports, teams are always looking for the next ________. And in no league does that statement seem to be more true than in the NBA.

The next MJ? DeShawn Stevenson.

The next Larry Bird? Adam Morrison.

The next Arvydas Sabonis? Andrea Bargnani.

The next Kobe Bryant? Brandon Roy.

The next Kevin Durant? Brandon Ingram.

I think you get my point. Anyways, the latest young star that everyone is looking to get their own version of is Luka Dončić. As a rookie, he’s coming out of the gates firing on all cylinders, and he looks to be the future of the league.

So, naturally, it’s time to look for the next Dončić.

First off, I want to point out the obvious. DeShawn Stevenson never became Kobe, Bargnani came nowhere near Sabonis, and Ingram is only capable of showing near Durant’s ability for approximately one quarter per month.

These prophecies that people give to players before they even set foot in the league always fall flat.

With that in mind, please proceed to ignore that entirely as I hype up a 14-year-old’s NBA prospects.

Urban Klavžar may just be 14, but he’s already a somewhat well-known name throughout Europe. He made headlines toward the end of last season when he managed to score 14 points in just two minutes, and very quickly after that, made his move to Real Madrid.

The obvious comparison there is being in Real Madrid’s youth academy from a young age, as a young Slovenian perimeter stud.

Klavžar plays point guard, and at 6’1″ already at his young age, could easily grow to be a very lengthy player for a guard who could end up able to use his height to his advantage.

He has a lethal jumper from all distances and is extremely quick on his feet, making him extremely hard for opponents to gameplan for defensively.

He participated in the FIBA U-16 European Championship this past summer, representing his country, and he earned plenty of attention despite his team’s struggles. Slovenia finished in a disappointing 13th place.

Klavžar scored 11.9 points per game along with dishing out 2.1 assists. He particularly impressed in a game against Montenegro in which he scored 21 points with 3-5 shooting from deep, pulling down five rebounds, assisting five times, and also picking up two steals.

This is obviously way too early to realistically claim he’s the next Luka Dončić, but he’s the guy I’m betting my stakes on at this point.

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The Best Center in College Basketball: Breaking Down Bol Bol’s Game

Bol Bol is taking college basketball by storm, leading the Oregon Ducks to a 9-4 record.

Bol is a freakish 7’2, 234lb athletic player. His ability to space the floor, and be a consistent scorer is helping Oregon to a winning record. Along with his freakish stature, Bol has a 7’6 wingspan which helps him defend and block shots.

Bol is currently averaging 21 points, 9.6 Rebs and 2.7 blocks on 56% shooting from the field and an unbelievable 52% from 3.

Bol’s strength lies in his ability to score, defend, rebound, and block shots. He can do a lot of damage anywhere on the court. His ability to space the floor will make him a valuable asset for any team come the 2019 NBA Draft.

Bol’s most underrated skill is his IQ, he knows how to be an efficient scorer, as well as a smart defender. These skills will translate well in the NBA.

Bol’s weaknesses stem from his skinny stature. Ultimately, he needs to bulk up and work on being a force down low. Bol has a tendency to get knocked out of place by stronger opponents. Also, he isn’t the best screener and he isn’t keen on setting picks and rolling to the basket much.

Bol has to work on being a force as a big man, he sometimes looks for the jump shot rather than taking his opponent inside. His inability to do this is due to his lack of strength as he doesn’t feel enthusiastic about playing inside. He is very raw in this area, and to be a great center in the NBA, he must develop a consistent inside game.

He also isn’t the best decision maker as he currently averages more turnovers at 2.0 a game than assists at 1 a game. Sometimes when he is given the ball, he would look to dribble and go for a midrange shot rather than looking for a better shot.

The biggest question with Bol’s game is his heart to play. Does he really want it? He doesn’t always hustle and is sometimes the last man up the court in offensive and defensive possessions. Bol doesn’t always box out players and plays at one speed. He isn’t the toughest player at this point in his career, and that will get exposed at the NBA level if he doesn’t show the willingness to do the little things on the court.

Overall Bol’s value will lie on his defensive and offensive abilities. He is a remarkable athlete but needs to get stronger if he wants to play at the next level. Bol is a point guard’s dream, he is the ideal stretch big that NBA teams want.

Bol’s upside is unclear at this point, as it seems this may be the peak of his game. His work ethic and ability to play consistent minutes in the NBA will determine how better he will get.

Bol Bol may find more playing time at the power forward position more than the center position in the NBA, as his ability to stretch the floor will be a huge asset to teams.

Bol is the son of Manute Bol, who is famous for playing for the Washington Bullets in the late 1980s. Manute was 7’7 with an 8’6 wingspan but struggled to find consistent play timing.

Bol has a lot of the skills that Manute had but better. Bol is a better offensive player at this stage then his father was.

Bol has drawn comparisons to New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis. They both are similar in their strengths and weaknesses going into the draft. The biggest question with Porzingis was his strength, toughness, and feel for the game. Bol has similar question marks at this point in his college career.

Early Top 5 NBA MVP Candidates

The NBA season has been full of surprises, we have seen the rise of the Denver Nuggets and the fall of the Houston Rockets. Questions remain with all the surprises in the NBA, who will be the MVP this season?

The NBA MVP race has been interesting this season. We have seen remarkable plays and emergence of many players. Here are the 5 players who are the top candidates to win MVP this season:

5. Anthony Davis

Team: New Orleans Pelicans
Record: 14-15
Stats: 27.4 Points 12.2 Rebounds 4.8 Assists 2.8 Blocks

Anthony Davis has been an MVP caliber player for the past four seasons, but his team hasn’t produced the wins for Davis to be a serious candidate. Davis is doing it all for the Pelicans this season. He is producing on both sides of the court, offense, and defense.

The Pelicans are 4-6 in their last 10 games falling to the 10th seed in the Western Conference. For Davis to win MVP this season, his team has to start winning. Davis has MVP caliber stats but unfortunately is not winning games to back up his case for MVP.

Davis does have a decent supporting cast to pull out wins but the Pels haven’t found a way to win games consistently. The Pelicans as a team rank 2nd in both points per game and assists per game. The offense is there for the Pelicans but they must be consistent on this end and also on the defensive end.

4. Stephen Curry

Team: Golden State Warriors
Record: 19-9
Stats: 30.1 Points 5.8 Assists 5.2 Rebounds 1.1 Steals

Stephen Curry is always an MVP candidate every year since 2015. His tremendous shooting ability, playmaking, and overall offensive abilities have helped lead the Warriors to a winning culture.

Curry is currently having a 50/50/90 season. The last person to achieve this historic stat for a season is his coach Steve Kerr in the 1995-1996 season with the Chicago Bulls. Curry is shooting 51% from the field, 50% from the 3, and 93% from the free throw line. These historic shooting numbers from Curry will help elevate his case for MVP this season.

Curry’s MVP case might be tarnished due to early season injuries as well as being on a super team with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

Curry is having a historic season and is easily the best player on the Warriors. He will have plenty of nods to be in the MVP conversation this year.

3. Kawhi Leonard

Team: Toronto Raptors
Record: 22-7
Stats: 26.1 Points 3 Assists 8.3 Rebounds 1.9 Steals

The Toronto Raptors are currently the best team in the NBA, holding the best record in the league. This is in large part due to the remarkable play by Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard is the best player on the raptors and affects the floor both on offense and defense. With the help of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Serge Ibaka, the Raptors may find themselves in the NBA Finals in June.

After his dramatic departure from San Antonio during the offseason, Leonard is reminding everyone that he is a Top 5 player in the league.

With the Raptors rolling this season, Leonard is a top MVP candidate this year.

2. Lebron James

Team: Los Angeles Lakers
Record: 17-10
Stats: 28.3 Points 7.1 Assists 7 Rebounds 1.3 Steals

A 33-year-old Lebron James is leading the Lakers to a 5th seed in the Brutal Western Conference. James is averaging close to a triple-double and producing wins for this Lakers roster whose next best player is Kyle Kuzma.

James is on a tear this season and has been the sole reason this Laker team is winning games. He has the best chance to take the MVP trophy home this season if he continues to produce more wins for his team. He has played in every single game this season and it seems like he is getting better with age.

The Lakers have won 7 games in their last 10 games. James continues to exceed expectations year in and year out as he is leading this team who has struggled the past 5 years to the playoffs. The Lakers are 1.5 games behind from being the number one seed in the conference. With how the Lakers are playing, they might be the first seed by Christmas.

James is leading the Lakers in Points, Rebounds and assists for the Lakers. His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is the highest on the team at 27.4. Next highest is Kyle Kuzma at 16.1 PER.

1. Giannis Antentokoumpo

Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 18-8
Stats: 26.5 Points 13.3 Rebounds 6 Assists 1.3 Blocks

Giannis Antentokoumpo is doing everything for the Bucks, scoring, grabbing rebounds, playing defense, dishing out assists. 2019 is the year of the Greek Freak as he has lifted the Bucks to the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference.

Giannis is the best player in the Eastern Conference. He is a nightmare for any team. Giannis hasn’t quite figured out his shooting ability in the NBA yet, only shooting 11% but is still finding a way to score buckets and be a force in the league.

The Bucks are a scary team to face as they currently rank 1st as a team in points per game and rebound per game. They also rank 4th in assists per game being one of the more unselfish teams in the league.

Giannis is leading the team in Points, Rebounds, assists and steals basically every statistical category other than blocks which Brook Lopez currently leads the team in.

Giannis is 4th in PER, ranking only behind Steph Curry, Boban Marjanovic and Anthony Davis.

The Bucks are a difficult and scary team to face this season and that is due to the rise of Giannis Antentokoumpo. Giannis has the best chance to win MVP this year as he doing everything and winning with the Bucks.

Should the Knicks trade for John Wall?

The New York Knicks have been waiting for ages for a dynamic point guard. Rumors and speculations have surfaced online that the Knicks are currently gathering assets to make a trade for Washington Wizard’s star John Wall.

The Wall era in Washington has been rather disappointing. The team has underperformed the past couple of seasons and struggled to make it to the conference finals in the weak eastern conference. In addition to that, Wall signed a $170 million contract extension back in the summer of 2017 and that contract may haunt the Wizards if they continue to hold on to him. Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter are currently the highest paid players on the roster. If the Wizards want to land a big fish in free agency, they are going to have to let go of one of these players.

Wall has gathered a bad reputation in Washington through the years, butting heads with coach Scott Brooks, former teammate Marcin Gortat and calling out his teammates. With the Wizards not playing up to standards and constant frustration going on in the organization, a new home for Wall may lie in the Big Apple.

The duo of John Wall and Kristaps Porzingis along with Tim Hardaway Jr, Kevin Knox, and Allonzo Trier sounds like a stepping stone into a winning culture for the Knicks. The Knicks need a dynamic point guard who is going to slash up the defense and make plays. Wall can help the Knicks in an area they have been suffering in for ages.

The Knicks have plenty of assets to use as trade bait, particularly, Enes Kanter, Lance Thomas, Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke, Courtney Lee, and Emmanuel Mudiay. The Untouchables would include Kevin Knox, Tim Hardaway Jr., Mitchell Robinson, Kristaps Porzingis and rising player Allonzo Trier.

Wall, 28, is entering the prime of his career. He is currently averaging around 21 points and 8 assists on the season. Despite all the drama surrounding him, Wall is still a special player who may need a fresh new start.

Whatever the Knicks decide to do, winning should be the priority. If the Knicks do trade for Wall, they need to build right away for playoff contention. If they don’t, developing their young talent and rebuilding for at least two more years isn’t a bad option. The Knicks would have to take on a contract that will last all through Wall’s prime. Either way, the Knicks decide to go, there isn’t a bad route in this situation.

The Next International Basketball Star: Meet Sekou Doumbouya

The NBA has already been accustomed to witnessing great French basketball talents such as Tony Parker, Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Boris Diaw, and Nicolas Batum. But when the 2019 Draft hits in June, the NBA may witness another great French talent in Sekou Doumbouya.

At 6’9 230 pounds, Sekou’s athleticism is the first thing that jumps out when watching him play. His ability to defend multiple positions, drive, post up and use crafty moves to get by his opponents make him a very promising young basketball talent. Sekou is an explosive athlete who at times can even help protect the rim, blocking shots and grabbing rebounds to start a fast break.

He is currently 17 years old and will turn 18 in late December. His youth will give him time to grow more in height and length. Sekou is really fast with a good frame for a forward. His frame will give him the ability to defend multiple positions in the NBA.

 

Sekou has almost a Lebron-like aggressive mentality when driving to the basket. He can slash up a defense and uses crafty moves to finish around the basket.

With all his athletic abilities, Sekou is a streaky jump shooter as when playing with Poitiers Basket 86 in the 2017-2018 season, he shot 29% from 3 point range through 28 games. He isn’t the best shooter, but his shooting mechanics look smooth and fundamental. Sekou must look to improve on his shooting consistency.

Sekou isn’t the best defender and tends to get lost on that end at times. Sekou has the length and shows the ability to be a top-tier defender but he will have to polish some of his defensive mistakes to reach that level.

Sekou is a lottery-level talent as his upside will be appealing to NBA Teams. It will be interesting to see what team drafts him, he is likely to a #4 pick – #9 pick in the draft.

Should the Knicks be concerned with Frank Ntilikina?

In the last two games New York Knick’s guard, Frank Ntilikina’s play has looked erratic. Scoring 0 points in back to back losses is not a good sight for the young developing guard. His erratic play on offense this season is leaving Knicks fans displeased.

Ntilikina’s role with the Knicks seems out of place this season. With the Orlando Magic being interested in trading for him, a fresh start may be ideal for Ntilikina.

When scouting the play of Ntilikina, the only positive and consistent aspect of his game is his defense. His ability to play aggressive defense and lock down opposing players are his biggest strength. On the other hand, when on offense Ntilikina does not look confident at all.

The stats say it all for Ntilikina. Through 23 games into the season, he is playing 23 minutes per game and averaging around 6 points per game shooting 33% from the field and 25 % from 3 point land.

Sloppy offensive numbers from the second year player from France. Ntilikina isn’t a bad player, but he does need time to grow. He has the tools to become a great two-way player but he just hasn’t found his offensive niche in the NBA.

Ntilikina may have a similar case with Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antentokoumpo as a late bloomer in the NBA. It took 4 seasons for Giannis to adjust to the league and become a dominant scorer, only time can tell if the same may happen to Ntilikina. Giannis came out of Greece as an extremely raw prospect and lacked experience playing against elite level basketball talent.

Ntilikina’s struggles stem from the offensive side of the floor. His lack of aggression, consistency, and inability to create offense is concerning. Defensively you can’t teach effort, and his effort on defense is one of the best in a league where lockdown defense has become a lost art.

The Knicks shouldn’t look to trade him just yet in his young career, but try to mold and push the young 20-year old into developing a consistent offensive game. Ntilikina must look to tighten up his handle, learn craftier moves around the basket and find a go-to move if he wants to survive in the NBA as a starting point guard.

Is Kevin Durant-OKC Reunion Possible in the 2019 NBA Free Agency

In the 2016 NBA Offseason, 9x All-Star Kevin Durant shocked the entire world when he signed with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors were just coming off two finals appearances and the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green already achieved a championship back in the 2015 Finals and was out for revenge after losing to a Cleveland Cavaliers team led by Lebron James back in the 2016 Finals. 

Durant’s decision sparked disappointment and anger from the fans of Oklahoma City and general fans around the league. Fans labeled him as a “snake”, “cupcake” and a “coward”. With recent videos of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook showing friendly gestures such as hugging and shaking hands, all might be forgiven in OKC. The question rises could a possible reunion between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant happen come this year’s free agency?

 

Durant, in his time with the Golden State Warriors, went on to captured 2 NBA Championships as well as 2 NBA Finals MVP’s in back to back years. Durant finally captured the championship he has been chasing his whole career. At this point, it seems highly unlikely he leaves the Warriors.

With the recent clash of Durant and teammate Draymond Green, it seems that Durant may have his foot out the door in Golden State. Draymond, in an interview with ESPN, expressed uncertainty but support in the future of his teammates Durant and Klay Thompson’s decision in free agency:

“You know, at the end of the day, as I’ve said before, whatever Kevin decides to do, whatever Klay decides to do, whatever who decides to do, we had great years together and I support everybody wholeheartedly, 100 percent,” Green Stated. “Because as a man, as a human being, you got the right to do what you want with your life. So I will never question that.”

In a scenario that Durant joins OKC in free agency, the team would be complete and the Thunder would have everything to be championship contenders. The core of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams, and Kevin Durant sounds like a dream come true for Thunder fans.

Ultimately, this scenario does not seem likely to happen and this is due to OKC not having the cap space to make this happen. Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Steven Adams are the top paid players on the team and with Westbrook and George earning over 30 million a year, there is no flexibility that the team has to bring in Kevin Durant unless they trade one of those three guys.

Durant is looking for a big payday come free agency and teams such as the Lakers, Nets, Knicks, Mavericks, and Clippers have the cap to give Durant big time money. Durant’s decision comes down to how satisfied and happy he is. It doesn’t make sense leaving a situation where he is winning championships in Golden State unless he is unhappy with the team.

Durant may possibly be interested in rejoining the team that drafted and molded him at some point in his career but the odds seem low due to OKC’s lack of cap flexibility. But from history, we have learned that the NBA is unpredictable and a scenario such as this doesn’t sound too far-fetched.