Thursday 30 April 2015

Thoughts on the NBL - Volume 3

The Giants are last unbeaten team standing

After the Saints loss to the Rangers on the 24th Nelson are the only team in the league with a perfect record. As I have mentioned before they were highly impressive in there win over the Rangers in round one (the only game I've seen) and have kept up that type of form. Their two imports have settled in and are playing well and are getting great contributions from everybody. If Mika Vukona is able to join the team after his time in Italy they will be a serious threat for the title.

Rams add another player with NBA experience

The Rams have seriously bolstered their squad with the recent addition of former NBA player Jermaine Taylor to their line up. Taylor was the 32nd pick in the 2009 NBA draft out of The University of Central Florida. He played 65 games in the NBA (39 for Houston and 26 for Sacramento). Has also played a bit in Europe, including a stint with Tom Abercrombie's current ACB team San Sebastian Gipuzkoa BC. He has been under a bit of an injury cloud since a knee injury in November 2013 but should be a pretty dominant player for the Rams.

Also a quick shout out to Sam Timmons who has recently decided to join Washington University in the Pac 12 conference. 

Tyler Marsh makes his NBL debut......At age 14

Waimea College student Tyler Marsh became the youngest player to ever grace an NBL court last friday against the Rams at just 14 years of age!! The young buck played a few minutes at the end of the Giants big win, Marsh had an opportunity to register his first points but unfortunately missed his two free throw attempts. Click here to read a little more about his history making appearance.

Sharks get back on track

After dropping three games in a row after their opening round win the sharks got back in the winners column with a 89-83 victory over the Rams! (the Rams had a tough round with three games in four days). Kevin Braswell lead the scoring with 24 and Todd Blanchfield had 21 and a ridiculous 18 rebounds!! Shea Ili also had a useful 15 and 5 off the bench. Hopefully this will spark a little winning streak for them! Last but definitely not least, congrats to Duane 'the real Duwala' Bailey on re-signing with the Breakers.

                                                  P - W - L

Wellington Saints                         7    6    1  
Nelson Giants                              5    5    0
Canterbury Rams                         7     4   3
Supercity Rangers                        5    3    2

Bay Hawks                                   4   2    2
Southland Sharks                         5    2    3
Taranaki Mountain Airs                  5    0   5
Manawatu Jets                             6    0    6

Wednesday 29 April 2015

"Hack A Shaq" (or Jordan) good? or bad?

Over the course of the Spurs vs Clippers series the hack-a-shaq strategy has been put into the spotlight...Is it good or bad for the game? Is it a legitimate strategy or a cheap tactic? Its got to the point where NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said publicly that he will look into ways to dissuade teams from using the tactic.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is the one who uses the tactic most...Having used it at some stage during every game in the series versus the Clippers, except game three, sending DeAndre Jordan who is one of the worst free throw shooters in NBA history (41% for his career) to the line constantly.
During todays game Jordan attempted 16 free throws, making 7, and if I remember correctly ALL of them were a result of 'hack a jordan'. It slowed the game to snails pace, the third quarter took forever and Clippers players, coaches and fans were obviously frustrated with what was going on. Clippers coach Doc Rivers had to remove Jordan from the game a couple of times to stop it, exactly what Pop wanted.

Of course you all want my opinion (LOL) so here it is...

I personally have no problem with the tactic. All they are doing is exposing another teams weakness and there is nothing wrong with that, after all isn't that what the game is all about? It forces the opposing coach to make a decision! "Do I keep him in or not?" It keeps the ball out of Chris Paul and Blake Griffins hands and if he does get taken out of the game it significantly weakens their interior defence and rim protection...Jordan is a fantastic player but its not the Spurs fault he is a bad free throw shooter! Why can't they use that to their advantage?

I can definitely understand why people don't like the strategy since it slows the game down and sometimes forces Rivers to take him out of the game and people don't pay money to watch one of the most exciting players in the league shoot free throws all day and sit on the bench...But from a tactical point of view I don't think there is anything wrong with it and I personally don't want any rules to be altered or new rules put in place to prevent it from happening. At the end of the day its about WINNING and it is a weakness they should be allowed to take advantage of if they choose to...

On top of that it does hurt the team doing it, it gets players in foul trouble and they also run the risk of the player actually making the free throws and gifting them points, so its not like it doesn't have disadvantages or risks.

...and who didn't find this entertaining


Tuesday 28 April 2015

Playoff picture - East

All we have heard all season (from me especially) is how much better, deeper and stronger the western conference is compared to the east, which it is...But the east has produced some very entertaining basketball in the first round.

As expected the Cavs didn't have to much trouble with the Celtics...though the series wasn't without controversy! Below is the video of Kelly "doesn't ever want to feel like he did that day, take him to the place he loves, take him all the way" Olynyk (sorry I stole that from here and thought it was hilarious, plus I love the Chili Peppers!!) and Kevin Love getting tangled up! A play which resulted in Olynyk being suspended one game and Love being ruled out of the conference semis...

What are your thoughts? Deliberate? or occupational hazard? ...For what its worth, Love is convinced he did it on purpose and described the play as "bush league"

JR Smith has also been suspended for two games for striking the Celtics Jae Crowder in the face. 

So in the conference semis they will be down Love and Smith for two games...They will most likely be facing Chicago in the semis. Could present a great opportunity for them to steal a game or two in Cleveland...They still have LeBron though so they will still be pretty good, but losing two starters hurts whether LeBron is on your team or isn't!

The Wizards also swept the Raptors 4 - 0...I didn't actually see any of the games but looking at stats and a few sportscenter highlights John Wall and Marcin Gortat were very influential and Paul Pierce hit some clutch threes in fourth quarters...Plus this is pretty funny

(I've recently jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon, so I actually understand this lol)

The last two series are were it gets interesting! The number one seeded Atlanta Hawks are locked up 2 - 2 with the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls have 3 -2 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks!

I guess in the Atlanta v Nets series both teams did what they are 'supposed' to do and defended home court...But in a 1 v 8 series most would have expected a sweep or Atlanta to get one win in Brooklyn. Deron Williams had probably his best game of the season today in game 4, Brook Lopez also continued the great form he has been in lately with 26 and 10 for the Nets

But the Chicago v Milwaukee series has been my favourite so far...The Bulls started the series 3 - 0 and it looked like a sweep was on the cards. But the Bucks executed to perfection on an out of bounds play in the dying seconds of game four to win on the buzzer with a Jerryd Bayless lay up and upset the Bulls on the road in todays game...The Bucks don't get a lot of games shown on TV down here and it was the first game I had seen them play this season! I gotta say they were very impressive! A very young and athletic team with great size and length across all positions...They were aggressive, fearless and very active. They created what seemed like a million turnovers, routinely getting in the passing/driving lanes for deflections and steals...I think the Bulls will ultimately win the series but I think it will go the full seven games. Definitely a team to keep an eye on over the next few years.


Monday 27 April 2015

Q & A with Ross McMains!

Ross McMains may not be the household name some other New Zealand basketball coaches are! But the man who has recently been named one of Pauli Henare's assistant coaches for the Tall Blacks has a pretty nice resume as a coach, including stints in the NBA Development league as an assistant coach and the big league with the Sacramento Kings as a development coach...I asked Ross a few questions about his new role with the Tall Blacks and a little bit about his career so far.

AP - How did the opportunity with the Tall Blacks come about?

RM - Through the relationship me and Pauli had built over the years when I was an intern for the Breakers, he reached out to me about it

AP - Is being involved in the national program something you ever imagined yourself doing in your career?

RM - Being involved with the tall blacks is something I've dreamed about since I was a kid growing up on Waiheke island. When I was in high school I applied for the assistant coaching position for the tall blacks... So I guess after 8 or so years, that application finally got processed! I have been hoping to find a way into being involved with the national programme for the past few years especially with all the great talent coming through in New Zealand, so I am very excited that opportunity has come along

AP - There is a wave of young talent coming through the ranks in NZ basketball at the moment! Are there any players in particular you are looking forward to working with?

RM - Basketball in New Zealand is definitely growing and it shows in all the success young players are starting to have. My roots are in player development so I'm naturally very excited to work with anyone young and ambitious to work hard and improve their game

AP - The schedule for the upcoming international campaign was released a few days ago! Is there a particular nation you are looking forward to coaching against? 

RM - I'm very excited about the campaign leading up to our series vs Australia. Every game will be big, just getting us prepared and closer as a team. But for me specifically I am definitely excited to play Slovenia. I spent a month there last year with the Dragic brothers, so will be fun to see some friends and then get to talk plenty of trash to them when we win.

AP - You have been an assistant coach with the Reno Bighorns in the NBA D league for a few years! Whats the NBA D league like to coach in?

RM - It is fun and challenging. They say if you can coach in the D league you can coach just about anywhere. There is a lot of player movement so as a coach you are constantly integrating new pieces... On a 10 man active roster we saw 28 different players this year. It is a fast paced league with a lot of scoring

AP- Have any players that have played with the Bighorns been called up to the NBA?

RM - We had 5 call ups this year. Jordan Hamilton got signed by the clippers and is currently in the playoffs. Quincy miller was with the kings and later was signed for the season by the Pistons. David Stockton, Sim Bhullar, and David Wear all had 10 day contracts with the kings, and Stockton finished the season with them

AP- You also spent some time as a development coach for the Sacramento Kings! What was it like working with players like DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans etc?

RM - It was a great experience working with the Kings. Tyreke and Demarcus are both very talented players along with the rest of the team. Tyreke would often come back at night to get extra work in, we had some great sessions together, his ball handling ability is unbelievable. Previously all my player development time had been spent training players in the off season so it was an adjustment having to manage the game to game grind the players go through and factor that into our workouts. Some players bodies fatigue more than others and need more rest. Isaiah Thomas was a guy that seemed to have endless reserves of energy as we would be in the gym into the early morning hours and also get extra work in the night before games on the road

AP - Who is your favourite NBA team? Who is your favourite player(s)?

RM - I don't have a favorite nba team, really just a group of players I always check up on and hope their teams do well. Steven Adams is one I always follow being our kiwi rep in the nba. It has been great watching his growth and how much success he already has had. Then the main other players I track are guys that I've worked with, some of the more recognizable names being... Goran Dragic, Kyle Korver, Patrick Patterson, and Khris Middleton

AP - Last but definitely not least! Do you know how to do the haka? (I'm obviously an expert haha)

RM - I've done it before, but not too confident in my current abilities, will definitely need to polish them up and get some practice in! I played one season at Kelston and we would often perform a haka before the games 

Big thanks to Ross for taking the time to answer a few questions for me! 


Sunday 26 April 2015

Playoff thoughts - West

Remember last year when the first round of the playoffs was being talked about as the best ever? Three of the four western conference series went seven games  and the one series that didn't was won by a spectacular shot by Damien Lillard to beat Houston in six!

This season perhaps hasn't been as drama filled but has definitely had some spectacular moments!

The Warriors completed a clean sweep of the Pelicans today, though the Pelicans are probably still kicking themselves for blowing game three after being up 20 after three quarters! But Steph Curry's corner three to get it to OT was...Can he even see the hoop? haha

The Grizzlies are primed to sweep the undermanned Trail Blazers, while the Houston Rockets also have a commanding 3-0 lead over the Mavericks...Harden has been spectacular and Dwight Howard is getting back into form after his injury troubles and Marc Gasol has been excellent for the Grizz.

That leaves the Clippers vs the Spurs! A lot of people were split on this one, the (relative) youth and athleticism of the Clippers versus the very experienced but ageing Spurs! The Spurs currently lead 2-1 after stealing game two in LA and dismantling the Clippers at home in game three...I think the Spurs will win this series in six, I think the Clips will win game five at home and the Spurs will close it out at home...Kawhi Leonard was crowned Defensive Player of the year before game three and went out and had the best scoring game of his career with 32 points and simply had his way at both ends...I think he will definitely get that max contract he is after come seasons end. He's looking like a young Scottie Pippen out there at the moment!!!

Friday 24 April 2015

2015 Tall Blacks schedule!

Basketball NZ has put together a pretty comprehensive and challenging schedule together for the Tall Blacks this season! The build up includes six games, all against teams ranked inside the top 30 in the world. Then of course it all comes down to two games against Australia for the opportunity to play at the Olympics in Rio and unlike the World Cup qualifying series where both teams had already stamped their ticket, only one team gets a spot, so theres a lot at stake!!

Here is a quick run down of the games

25th July vs Great Britain 
29th July vs Croatia
30th July vs Slovenia

After that little trek through England and Europe they will head to China to contest the Stankovic against China, Mexico and Venezuela

Followed by a short camp back here in New Zealand then into the qualifying series against the Boomers. Game one is in Melbourne on August 15 and game two is on Wellington on August 18...With points differential deciding the winner in the case of a 1-1 tie

Pretty tough schedule for first year coach Paul Henare, but knowing him, will definitely be a challenge he is looking forward to.

The nations we are playing, depending on who is available and who isn't, will put some quality players out on the floor.

When you think of Great Britain, basketball probably isn't the first sport that pops into your head. But could potentially have Luol Deng of the Miami heat and Joel Freeland of the Portland Trail Blazers at their disposal.

Croatia may also have Bojan Bogdanovic of the Brooklyn Nets and Damjan Rudez of the Indiana Pacers (who is a 6'10'' SF!!). Plus Beno Udrih and brothers Goran and Zoran Gragic could also suit up for Slovenia.

Then in the Stankovic cup Mexico may have guard Jorge Gutierrez of the Milwaukee Bucks and Venezuela's Greivis Vasquez may also suit up for his home country, slightly of topic but slighty interesting, Vasquez is a former college teammate of Breakers championship hero Ekene Ibekwe...China don't currently have any players in the NBA, but at home (and with Chinese referees haha) they definitely won't be easy beats.

Then lastly the Boomers, the series is obviously a few months away so some players may make themselves unavailable, but so far the only player who has definitely pulled out is Utah Jazz swingman Joe Ingles. So Andrew Bogut, Aron Baynes, Patty Mills, Dante Exum, Cameron Barstow and Matthew Dellavedova, at this stage, haven't ruled out playing in the series. Factor in European based players like Nathan Jawai, Chris Goulding and Ryan Broekhoff plus projected 2016 number one draft pick Ben Simmons, could potentially be a very dangerous line up...

As usual, the Tall Blacks will be underdogs, but with over a month of preparation against world class competition, a new wave of talent making a name for themselves and some good old Kiwi spirit I wouldn't put anything past the Tall Blacks...Also just a quick message to Sam Presti, if you would allow Steve Adams play for us this year...

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Injury Update

Today was the one month post op appointment for my foot surgery and since I get asked a lot about how its going thought id let you know how its coming along.

The appointment went very well. The surgeon was very pleased with how it looked, the scar has healed well, everything is where it should far so good! I still have to wear a moon boot most of the time, though I was told that I'm able to start doing some very light movement exercises to start regaining some mobility...Little victories!

I was taken out of a cast two weeks ago and moved into a moon boot! My foot was cast in a position pointing down (almost in a ballerina position) to keep everything straight and to make it virtually impossible to put my foot on the ground so no weight went through it at all. My foot was pretty much stuck in that position for a few days after the cast was removed, but after a few days my foot/ankle loosened up and I can now walk around in a boot without much trouble...The two weeks in the cast seemed never ending! Going to the bathroom and to bed was pretty much the only reason I got off the couch. I do like playing the Xbox but you can only do that for so long before you start going crazy haha. 

Its very early in the rehab process but so far all signs are pointing towards a full recovery in the six month time frame the surgeon told me when it was first discovered surgery was required. Unfortunately this is not a 'quick fix' type of injury, its going to take a long time for all the swelling and inflammation to settle down and rebuild the strength and mobility in the joint! Its not like a sprained ankle where you can play if its 80-85%, I just have to continue being very careful with it and be patient. Im a few months away from being able to anything on court, but ill get there eventually :)

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Thoughts on the NBL...Volume 2

We are well and truly into the NBL season now, below are a few observations, thoughts and standings

The Saints have separated themselves from the pack

You usually always expect the Saints to be there or there about's every year and this one is no exception!! They are sitting pretty at the top with a 6-0 record, including four road wins. Imports Kareem Johnson and Torrey Craig have fit in perfectly, local guys have been playing their roles to perfection and Lindsay Tait is in MVP form. The only thing the Saints will be sweating over is the health of Leon Henry. He has posted a video and picture of the aftermath on twitter...Hopefully it won't require surgery or a long time on the sidelines because he was in excellent form and would be will be tough to replace if he can't play. But the Saints are looking like championship favourites at this very early stage.

Mika Vukona is off to Italy

The Giants are also off to a perfect start with an unblemished 4-0 record. But they have just lost Vukona to a short term deal in Italy with Virtus Roma (that link isn't going to help you much unless you speak Italian haha)...we all know what makes Mika a special player, what he brings to a team goes well beyond what any stat sheet will ever tell you and really can't be replaced, but his absence will provide opportunities for players like Sam Dempster, Finn Delany and Bronson Beri to get more playing time and responsibility! Nelson are still a very good team but it definitely hurts losing him, hopefully depending on how long his trip in Italy lasts he might be able to rejoin the team towards playoff time and help them make a run at a championship.

40 point games for everyone!

Ok that may be slight exaggeration. But you don't see many 40 point games in the NBL, let alone two on the same night!

First up the Supercity Rangers Jason Cadee had 41 points on 15-21 fg 9-13 3pt and 2-3 ft along with 3 assists and 2 steals in a 117-94 win over the Manawatu Jets.

Not to be outdone, Torrey Craig of the Wellington Saints matched Cadee's 41 points (16-22 fg, 3-6 3pt and 6-9 ft) and just for good measure also added 11 boards, four steals and four blocks in a 108-97 W over the Taranaki Mountaineers.

Two very impressive and efficient performances.

Standings after 3 rounds
                                                   P   W  L

  1. Wellington Saints             6    6   0
  2. Nelson Giants                   4   4   0
  3. Canterbury Rams             4    3   1
  4. Supercity Rangers            4    2   2
  5. Hawkes Bay Hawks         3    1   2
  6. Southland Sharks             4    1   3
  7. Taranaki Mtn Airs            4    0   4
  8. Manawatu Jets                  5   0   5

Monday 20 April 2015

NBA MVP wrap up

Well the regular season is over and we are well into the playoffs! I have gone over the candidates and some pros and cons of each...Now its decision making time!

When choosing a winner for an award like this it all depends on your definition of valuable! There are so many angles you can come from, so many pros and cons to consider...The voters have a tough choice to make this year!

Theres the "best player on the best team" argument, the "how good would the team be if he wasn't there" argument, the "If you put this guy on this team they would be better/worse" argument and the "this guy has a better supporting cast" and "This guy carried a weaker team" angles...on top of all the "making teammates better" & "performing in clutch moments" arguments people like to make.

Considering all of the above I believe the most deserving candidate is *drum roll please* James Harden AKA The Beard...Ive said a million times over the last week that the western conference is so much better/deeper than the east its almost unfair, the fact that James Harden carried them to the second seed is nothing short of phenomenal!! Im not saying Houston without Dwight Howard is bad, but does it scream "two seed in the west' at you? it doesn't to me. Plus what he does on court speaks for itself. He can score and get to the line pretty much at will, he has excellent play making ability and gets his teammates involved and he has a much improved attitude towards defence and is no longer the liability he has been in the past.

However, I don't think he will win the award, I think Curry will...I am in no way hating and he would be an extremely worthy MVP. But I don't think voters will be able to look past that fact that the Warriors had the best record in the NBA (67-15), won the west by over ten games and him being there best player.

An idea that was discussed in a recent episode of First Take on ESPN that I would love to see was a Players Choice award...Its pretty common knowledge that select sports writers/media members are the people who vote. The NBA season has ALOT of games and some players argue think that its simply not possible for voters to watch every single game of every candidate so a lot of votes are based on who seems to be the most popular, or as Kevin Durant calls it in the video 'sexy', pick. Where as the some players believe a players choice would be a more accurate representation of an MVP since they are on the floor with these guys and see first hand how much they mean to there teams and how valuable they really are...It would be interesting to see the difference (if any) between the sports writers choice and the players choice.


Thursday 16 April 2015

Final Candidate - James Harden

Before I start, just imagine for a second if the OKC Thunder decided to pay James Harden what he wanted and he was still there? Im not mad about it, the trade for Harden resulted in the draft pick that ended up being Steven Adams, and who doesn't love seeing him on a (when healthy) great team. But just imagine it! KD, Westbrook and Harden? Almost wouldn't be fair!

But anyway, Harden has had a phenomenal season with the Rockets and turned into not just an all star, but a legitimate superstar. Here are the numbers

27.5 - Points a game which second in the league on 44/37/87 shooting
5.6 - Rebounds (3rd among guards)
6.9 - Assists a game which is ninth in the league
2 steals and 4 turnovers a game
5th in the league with a 26.82 P.E.R

Just like Westbrook and Curry, video game like!

But what Harden has done with this team is exceptional! Dwight Howard has only played half the season and the half he has played he has been fighting injury and hasn't been his usual dominant self (though the 15 and 10 he's putting up is still pretty useful). A legit argument can be made that Houston without Howard is similar talent wise to Oklahoma City without KD, but Houston have a playoff spot wrapped up, in fact about a week ago they were 2nd in the west, and depending on the results of todays Spurs vs Pelicans game and OKC's game vs Minnesota, OKC might not make the playoffs. The saying "putting the team on his back" doesn't really do him justice! They are tied for the second best record in the west (there final seeding hasn't been determined yet) and as I have mentioned with Westbrook and Curry, the west is extremely tough...A pretty special accomplishment for a team that hasn't been healthy the majority of the year and Harden is without question the biggest reason why they are in the position they are.

Now everyone knows Harden doesn't have a great reputation on the defensive side of the ball, most of us have probably seen one of the many youtube videos of Hardens lack of defence from last season by now...While he is probably never going to be a defensive player of the year candidate he is much improved in the area! Defensive stats (steals and blocks) aren't always great indicators of someones overall defensive ability, but Harden is 5th in the league in steals. He is still prone to the occasional possession like the one below...but he definitely isn't the liability he has been in the past at that end.

                                  (Seriously though this is pretty funny)

Regardless of whether he wins the award or not...He definitely has the best beard out there haha


Wednesday 15 April 2015

Second Candidate - Steph Curry

Where to start with this guy? How about with his season shot chart?

(LOL sorry I couldn't help myself! Click here for his actual shot chart)

As you can see in the linked shot chart there is a lot of green!! In fact the area of the floor where he isn't so great is in the paint! Heres a quick glance at his numbers for the season.

24 PPG - Sixth in NBA on 49/44/91 shooting
4.3 RPG
7.7 APG - Sixth
2 Steals and 3 turnovers
3rd in the league with a 28.13 P.E.R

As you would expect from an MVP candidate his numbers are pretty damn nice!

But what sets him apart from Westbrook and Harden (who I will cover tomorrow) is his efficiency! When you consider that teams game plan defensively around Curry and focus so much attention on him, shooting pretty close to 50% from the floor and 44% (second in the league) from 3 is unbelievable. People on the Westbrook and/or Harden bandwagons can obviously argue that they get the same amount of defensive attention, and they are right. But lets be honest, and I mean this in the nicest possible way, Curry looks like he is still in high school! He doesn't have the athleticism/explosiveness of Westbrook or the size/strength of Harden! He may not have the physical tools the others have but as Stephen A. Smith would say "This dude can boogie on anybody and pull up from 30!!!!" He has quite possibly the best handle in the game combined with a quick release, he needs just a millimetre of space to get that shot off and when he gets in one of those grooves where every shot he jacks up goes in, opponents just have to pray he misses.

On top of all that Golden State have just ran away with the western conference! At 65-15 they have a ten game lead over the second place San Antonio Spurs and thats pretty remarkable considering how tough the west is. Some would argue that the Warriors are a very deep team and Curry has a better supporting cast, therefore Westbrook and Harden are more 'valuable' since they have to do more for there teams to be successful. While those people may be right, there is absolutely no doubt that Curry is the engine that makes them go, he's their go to guy and their leader.

Plus is there anyone more entertaining in the NBA than Curry? I don't think there is.


Tuesday 14 April 2015

First Candidate - Russell Westbrook

First off I'm aware that I am slightly contradicting myself with Westbrook, since in my last post I said that team record and making the playoffs plays a pretty big part in my decision making process (if the playoffs started today OKC would miss out) but his body of work this season just simply cannot be ignored! Below are his numbers for the season

27.5 PPG, which is tied for the league lead, on 42/29/83 shooting percentages (floor/3pt/FT)
7.3 RPG which is first among guards (36th total)
8.6 APG which is fourth in the league
2.2 Steals a game is good for second in the league
4.4 Turnovers unfortunately is league leading
11 Triple Doubles
65 games played
Second in the NBA with a 28.83 P.E.R
1 dent in the side of his face!!!!

Those are amazing numbers! You could argue that just from a purely statistical point of view he is the best player in the game...Id be happy to put up numbers like that on 2k!! He has been criticised in the past for being reckless, out of control and not being a quote unquote "true point guard". If your name happens to be Skip Bayless you will still argue that last part to the death, but there is no doubt he is an elite player, regardless of position. 

Its a pretty well known fact that the Thunder line up has been absolutely decimated by injury this season! The one that gets the most attention is obviously Kevin Durant playing in just 27 games due to a foot problem (I feel your pain KD) but Serge Ibaka has also missed a lot of time with a knee injury and Kiwi hero Steven Adams also missed a month with a broken bone in his hand, just to name a few. They picked up some nice players in Enes Kanter, DJ Augustin, Kyle Singler and Dion Waiters along the way but that doesn't make up for who they have lost this season. When you consider all those injuries to key players its amazing that this team is still very much in the hunt for the 8th seed in a ridiculously deep western conference, the 43-37 win/loss would be good for a sixth seed and guaranteed playoff spot in the east. Ultimately I don't think he will win the award but he definitely deserves consideration for the way he has carried this team and almost willed them to a playoff spot in the western conference which, according to many NBA experts, is the deepest its ever been.

Just slightly off the MVP discussion I wanna mention its amazing (to me at least) that after multiple knee surgeries he is arguably the most athletic/explosive player in the league!! Mind Boggling


Monday 13 April 2015


As most fans are very aware we are only a few games away from the NBA playoffs...Which means the regular season MVP is close to being crowned

Even those who only casually follow the NBA know who the MVP favourites are this year. I think there are three main contenders. They are Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook and "The Beard" James Harden! Over the next few days I will present cases for each player and decide who I think is most deserving.

But before I do that I think its important to briefly touch on what I believe an MVP actually is, since different people have different criteria when deciding things like this.

Some people believe it should be the best player on the best team. Others believe that it is an individual award, not a team award, so team success should not play a huge factor in deciding, Im kind of in the middle...While I definitely understand the logic behind the "its an individual award, not a team award" argument, I can't 100% agree with it, if you have a player with video game stats but is not on a playoff contender you have to ask the question, How valuable are they? Its the Most Valuable Player award! Not the best player/best stats award...if it was DeMarcus Cousins would surely be in the conversation as well? But in my opinion you can't make a legitimate argument for him because, despite his highly impressive individual season, his team isn't going to make the post season. 

Lastly, without deliberately sounding like ESPN and saying LeBron's name just because he's LeBron. I think he is easily the best player in the world but he just isn't one of the leading contenders this season. Its been well documented that over the first half of the season for whatever reason he was't playing to his usual high standard and his heart didn't appear to be completely in it! That may seem a little harsh, since his 'below average' is still pretty damn good
But to me almost half a season is to much to ignore despite his amazing form over the second half of the year.

Stay tuned

Sunday 12 April 2015

Thoughts on the NBL so far

I love the NBL! It gives me an opportunity to play in front of friends and family in Hamilton (when they actually have a team) who can't always make it up to Breakers games! Unfortunately the last few seasons I've had some body part to fix and haven't been able to play but have followed the league very closely! Unfortunately its quite hard for me to write anything in-depth about each game since they aren't shown on TV and there is no live streaming service this year (that I'm aware of). So outside of Rangers home games there isn't much for me to go off besides stat sheets! So instead every couple of rounds ill post a few of my thoughts.

Nelson coming out of the blocks HOT!

I made my way out to the Otara rec centre in round one to check out the Rangers vs Giants game. Honestly I was expecting a somewhat comfortable Rangers win. Nelson only had 9 players suited up (only 7 wound up playing), two imports who, despite nice resumes, had never played in this league before, no Mika Vukona, a pulled out of retirement Phill Jones and a (I think) rookie head coach against a pretty stacked Rangers outfit. Boy did they make me eat my words!! They, for the most part, handled the Rangers very aggressive pressure well, had a nice balance of outside and inside scoring! It was definitely fun to watch!

They proved it wasn't a fluke by beating Hawkes Bay on the road the next day and then picking up a quality home win against the Southland Sharks!

Im not really sure why I was surprised with the result against the Rangers. To me to Giants are the San Antonio Spurs of the NBL, during the regular season they don't get a lot of attention, they just quietly go about there business, then playoff time rolls around and more often than not they are there...and with Mika Vukona back in into mix expect them to only get better as the season progresses.

Sam Timmons

When you think of young basketball prospects in this country the name that will pop into most peoples heads first would be Tai Wynyard but Sam Timmons is also starting to make a name for himself. The 17 year old big man is averaging 10 points on a pretty handy 63% shooting and 5 rebounds in just 16 mins a game through the first 3 games for the Rams...including a 20 point 9 rebound display, in just twenty minutes, against the Manawatu Jets. Without sounding like a hater the Jets had to play (very) small ball due to injury and foul trouble, but was a very impressive performance regardless. The future is looking very bright for the 17 year old.

Leon Henry's game against Hawkes Bay

The Saints forward scored 24 points against the Hawks in round two. A pretty useful haul for any player...But he somehow managed to do it with just FIVE shot attempts...FIVE. When you throw the 12 rebounds and 2 steals on top of that it makes it even more impressive. Im not really one who cares to much about advanced stats and analytics but I bet those who do loved breaking down that stat line!

Rangers Coaching staff

Theres a lot of them...


Friday 10 April 2015

How I was introduced to the game

When did you start playing basketball? It's a question people ask me all
the time. The short answer is when I was 16 and a sixth former at Fraser
High School in Hamilton. But the long answer I think is quite an
interesting story and quite a unique one as well.

I didn't grow up in a real sporty family! My Mum was an X-ray tech and my
Dad was a butcher and didn't really force sport on my brother or i. I
played rugby on Saturday mornings like most kiwi kids but besides that the
only sport I took somewhat seriously was swimming (another sport where
long limbs are quite useful) but for whatever reason I got bored with it
and gave it up. So between the ages of 10-16 I didn't really play sport at
all. Then one day, though at the time I didn't realize it, my life changed

As I was walking to school one morning I got stopped on the side of the
road by a man named Doug Courtney. He asked me if I played basketball and
I said "No I don't" and he gave me the same look everyone else gave me
when they asked the same question. He encouraged me to attend the tryouts
for the schools basketball team later that day. It was strange at first!
Outside of knowing who Michael Jordan was I knew very little about the
game! I was naive enough to think that basketball being classed a 'non
contact' sport literally meant no contact. There was also another moment
that my brother STILL brings up to this day, I got a rebound and was
looking for someone to pass it to and without even realizing it I started
walking!! The coach stopped us and said "Big fella, you cant walk like
that, that's called travelling" (A problem I'm still trying to fix haha).
I didn't really go to the trials with any expectations, but I did walk
home with a pretty big smile on my face after being selected.

As it turned out Doug wasn't just some random guy who pulled over to talk
to me that morning. He was a skills coach who worked for High Performance
Sport under the guidance of Tab Baldwin. Next thing I knew I had moved to
Hamilton Boys High School, where Doug was a coach, I was playing for
junior national teams and was considered a future Tall Black! The rest, as
they say, is history.

I'm not really one who believes in fate, but it is pretty crazy to think
that if I had left home two minutes earlier or later than I did that
morning would I have even met Doug? Would I have gone to the tryouts that
day? Basketball was pretty popular at the time due to the Tall Blacks run
at the World Champs in 2002 so I think I would have picked up a basketball
somewhere along the line. But sometimes I do sit and wonder what I'd be
doing now if that chance meeting with Doug, who today I consider one of my
best friends, never occurred.

Thanks for reading

Thursday 9 April 2015


As a lot of you know I am on a pretty lengthy injury hiatus at the moment! So I thought since im not able to play the game right now I will release the fan boy within and write about it!

It’s a pretty fun time in the basketball world at the moment with the NZNBL in full swing, the NBA playoffs just a few games away, The NBA draft is soon and the build up for the Olympic qualifying series versus Australia is just around the corner as well. 

I am a pretty quiet person by nature but if theres one thing I can talk about a lot basketball is definitely it! What you see here will simply be thoughts and opinions from a professional players point of view.

Hopefully you will all find what I have to say interesting and a worthwhile read! Though I wouldn’t consider myself a wily veteran yet I have been around for a while and have experienced a lot both in my pro career and internationally playing for the Tall Blacks and think I have pretty good knowledge of the game and how it is played around the globe!

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you back here soon




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