Luka Doncic’s breakout EuroBasket performance helped solidify his case to be the next No. 1 overall pick, argues Trevor Magnotti (Tuomas Vitikainen/Creative Commons).
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Led by tournament MVP Goran Dragic and impressive 18-year-old Luka Doncic, Slovenia upset the perennial favorite, Spain, on its way to a EuroBasket Gold, the first medal of any kind in the tournament for the small country of only about 2 million people. Trevor Magnotti, who covers all things EuroLeague at The Step Back, joins Aaron to break down the most important takeaways from EuroBasket, including the draft implications of Doncic’s performance and the possibility of new young powerhouses in Latvia, Slovenia and Finland replacing the longtime European mainstays of Spain and France. Of course, Aaron also gets Trevor’s viewpoint on how some of this season’s European rookies, such as the Clippers’ Milos Teodosic and the Cavaliers’ Cedi Osman, may fare in their transition into the NBA. Tour through the episode with these excerpts below:
6:51-7:35: “[Lauri] Markkanen came in on this [Finnish] team, and he immediately took charge of the situation. He was a massive part of their success, basically single-handedly beat[ing] France in the group stage in that big overtime upset that was by far the game of the tournament to me…He both kind of helped his team to a lot of success and also helped himself a little bit. I think that he’s a guy that I’m now much more excited to see at the NBA level, whereas I wasn’t really before, because he didn’t look as solid as we had hoped in his one year of college.”
13:23-15:11: “The fact that he [Luka Doncic] is 18 and he’s playing this big of a role on a team in this tournament, which is basically like the second tier below the Olympics in terms of international basketball, that’s never really happened before. Really the only player that I can think of who has played this big of a role on a EuroBasket team at his age is Pau Gasol, and that’s no small comparison. Continue reading
Jeff, a longtime Spurs reporter, discusses Gregg Popovich’s dominant, yet under-appreciated, squad in this exhilarating episode.
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Amid all the talk of a potential third straight Cavaliers-Warriors Finals matchup and a statistically historic MVP race between Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the San Antonio Spurs have quietly continued their dominance, on pace for 64 wins in the first season of the post-Tim Duncan era. Jeff Garcia, lead Spurs writer for News 4 San Antonio and Fox 29 San Antonio, as well as the host of the Locked on Spurs podcast, joins us to explain why the Spurs, as always, are perfectly content to stay below the national radar until the playoffs, and how their quiet, humble star, Kawhi Leonard, embodies that mentality. He also takes us through how, in recent years, the team has been able to transition seamlessly from a slow, grinding offense to the faster-paced, efficient one we’re seeing now. Among additional fascinating topics, Jeff tackles impressive backup point guard Patrick Mills’ impending unrestricted free agency. Particularly, will the Spurs pay to keep Mills in town and/or make him the starter over Tony Parker? Read more for our favorite excerpts from Jeff:
3:31-4:35: Despite their recent success, the Spurs are perennially ignored by the national media. Jeff explains why and if it matters:
“They just get the job done, and that can get boring at times. It’s like they say: ‘death, taxes, and Spurs’…They’re sitting at 32-9. They are a defensive animal. They’re an offensive animal. But yet, overlooked…Does it really matter? Because as long as this team is jiving at the right point [and] is heading into the postseason on the right foot, has a good rhythm, they’re going to get their national media attention, and hopefully that’s going to come late June when they’re hoisting up another trophy.”
Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies are enjoying a six-game winning streak and a nine-slot jump in these power rankings below (Verse Photography/Creative Commons).
Our three panelists, Loren Lee Chen, Aaron Fischman and Joshua Fischman, independently ranked the league’s 30 teams from top to bottom. Their averaged rankings produced this 1-30 list and took into account all NBA regular-season games up until and including Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. There were no contests on Thursday, the 24th.
Biggest Jumps: New York Knicks (+10), New Orleans Pelicans (+10), Memphis Grizzlies (+9), Boston Celtics (+8)
Biggest Drops: Miami Heat (-7), Brooklyn Nets (-6), Portland Trail Blazers (-6), Oklahoma City Thunder (-6)
- Golden State Warriors (13-2, Previous Rank: 3) – The Warriors nab our top spot from the Clippers after rattling off nine straight wins, most in blowout fashion. Golden State scored 149 points in its last game, sinking the Lakers, one of only two teams that have beaten the Warriors this season, by 43. Klay Thompson has shot the lights out and averaged 27 points over the team’s past four games, and Draymond Green again looks like Defensive Player of the Year material. Continue reading
Can the Chicago Bulls put together another strong season? (Jim Larrison/Creative Commons)
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This week, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report, NBC Sports and Sports on Earth gives us a detailed glimpse into the Chicago Bulls, a talented team that returns much of its roster but is playing under a first-year NBA coach in Fred Hoiberg. Sean highlights the many differences between Hoiberg and his predecessor, Tom Thibodeau, including Hoiberg’s considerably more easy-going nature. He also provides us the latest on Derrick Rose and explains why Chicago’s dynamic offense could make up for most of what the team figures to lose on the defensive end. Among other topics, Sean breaks down the Bulls’ impressive depth in the frontcourt, touching upon why Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah have rarely taken the court together. Despite the Bulls’ 130-105 drubbing in Charlotte, which occurred shortly before the interview took place, Sean looks forward to another strong season in the Windy City.
Music: “Who Likes To Party” by Kevin MacLeod