Tuesday 30 June 2015

NBL Final Four

The 2015 NBL season is coming to a close and the championship will be decided this weekend in Wellington. The match ups have been determined and will no doubt be an exciting weekend of basketball in the capital, with some rugby game mixed in between haha.

The first semi final will be contested between the top seeded Southland Sharks vs the fourth seed Super City Rangers...Game two will feature the second seed Nelson Giants vs the third seeded Saints.

Over the next few days will have a more in depth look at the two match ups and make a few predictions of both semi finals and who I think will ultimately win it all. There are a lot of little story lines to keep a close eye on leading into the weekend. Some of those include the Sharks 14 game winning streak and incredible form heading into the weekend...The retirement of honorary Kiwi Kevin Braswell...Paul Henare's final weekend coaching the Sharks and the uncertainty surrounding MVP candidate Torrey Craig.

Its sure to be a great display of basketball with four talented rosters and coaches...The games have been moved to an earlier time so it doesn't clash with the rugby. Will be a great sporting weekend in the capital.

Stay tuned over the next few days for closer looks at the two match ups and a few predictions.


Saturday 27 June 2015

2015 NBA Draft

Another NBA draft has passed so it time to share a few thoughts. Outside of a few players that slipped a couple of spots and perhaps one or two taken a little early it was a relatively quiet draft...No league altering trades, no completely out of the blue selections! A lot can happen during free agency but the actual draft day was relatively uneventful.

Below are a few of my thoughts of teams I think did well and a few I'm not quite sure about just yet...Since none of these guys have played a second in the NBA yet I don't think its fair to say who the 'winners' and 'losers' were! But just a few of the thoughts I had while watching.

Teams who did well

The top 3

The T-wolves got their man with Karl Anthony Towns! A versatile, skilled and athletic big man! Will fit in well with up tempo players like Andrew Wiggins, Zack LeVine and Ricky Rubio! He isn't Anthony Davis obviously but like Davis he has good offensive skills, has good mobility, can play defence and protect the rim! I think its a fair to say he could become a poor mans Anthony Davis type of player. The Wolves also got Tyus Jones via trade with Cleveland. He is a little undersized but has great passing ability, leadership skills and will be a great back up to Rubio.

The first surprise of the night was the Lakers selecting D'Angelo Russell over Jahlil Okafor...But you can't blame them for selecting a possible all-star guard with Kobe's imminent retirement. Having a good PG is pretty crucial to success in the NBA, especially in the West. The Lakers are looking to make some noise in free agency with Kevin Love, LeMarcus Aldridge being two of their main targets along with trade rumours surrounding DeMarcus Cousins. Most people were expecting Okafor but this is a great pick.

Lastly the 76ers. Though they have drafted Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid over the last few year they had to pick Okafor, when you have the third pick and a player with no1 pick talent is on the board you can't pass him up! Sometimes you have to take the best available player rather than selecting based off of team needs...What does this mean for the future of Noel and/or Embiid in Philly? Only time will tell, but getting a player who has been in number one pick discussions since high school third overall is obviously a great pick up.

Miami Heat

Getting Justise Winslow out of national championship winning Duke is a steal at no10 for the Miami Heat! Expected to be taken around the 5-6th pick he fell right into Pat Riley's arms. Though spending just one season at Duke he is incredibly strong and tough and is ready to play in the NBA! One of my favourite draft websites nbadraft.net compares him to James Harden! He probably won't be that lethal offensively, his offensive game combined with good defensive ability and his size reminds me of Jimmy Butler of the Bulls...Excellent value at 10 if he can get to Butler's level.

Kentucky Wildcats

The aren't in the NBA obviously but having six players drafted, four in the lottery, is a pretty solid effort! Hopefully in the next few years our own Tai Wynyard will be amongst the list of Kentucky players who make it to the big time.


Sacramento Kings

I like Willie Caulie-Stiens game but can't help but think the Kings reached just a little bit here for a defensive specialist sixth overall. He has remarkable athleticism and mobility for a seven footer and has the ability to guard pretty much anyone but I think there were a few better options on the board! Jay Bilas said during the draft that to justify being picked this high he would have to be a multiple time all-defensive player and DPOY candidate and I agree with him there! If he becomes a Tyson Chandler type of player he would be worth the pick but if he doesn't and makes a career off of being an energy guy sixth overall might have been a bit of a reach by the Kings.

New York Knicks

Knicks fans the world over were praying Jahlil Okafor would slip just one more, but it wasn't meant to be. Kristaps Porzingis is probably the biggest 'high risk high reward' player that was selected! He could be the next Dirk Nowitzki or he could be the next Darko Milicic or Nikoloz Tskitishvili (google him). Its pretty hard to pass judgement since he is a relative unknown...Based on the 30 seconds of individual workout video we saw after he was selected he seems to have a great shooting stroke and be a pretty good athlete for a 7'1'' guy...but only time will tell if this is a good pick or not.

Charlotte Hornets

This isn't a knock on Frank 'the tank' Kaminsky at all, but this choice was a little confusing only because the Hornets recently picked up Spencer Hawes, a player with very similar abilities to Kaminsky, in the trade that sent Lance Stephenson to the Clippers...Maybe a trade or some type of deal is in the pipeline? Who knows, but it seemed strange to select someone who is almost a carbon copy of someone you already have with such a high pick.

Those were just a few of the thoughts that were running though my head while watching yesterday!

*rant alert* One thing that I found absolutely stupid while watching was the stat they pulled out giving a percentage on a players chances of being a star or a bust...like when after D'Angelo Russell was selected some stats guy said he had a '41% chance of being a bust' I would love to know how he possibly came to that conclusion! Im not a Charles Barkley type who thinks advanced stats are worthless and serve no purpose because they do...However I found it stupid how someone ,somehow, calculated a 41% chance of him being a bust! The guy hasn't even stepped on an NBA court yet!!


Thursday 25 June 2015

NBA Draft

Tomorrow the 2015 NBA draft takes place! A very exciting time for all NBA fans to sit back and watch a new wave of talent enter the league! For 60 players from all around the world dreams will be made true when they hear their names get called out.

That dream has come true for two Kiwis. Sean Marks was the 44th pick by the NY Knicks back in 1998 and more recently Steven Adams was the 12th pick by the OKC Thunder in 2013. Though he went un-drafted Kirk Penney has also played a few games for the Miami Heat and LA Clippers during his career...Lastly for Breakers fans Ced Jackson has played alongside LeBron James in Cleveland while also playing a few games for the Spurs and the Wizards

Although I find the entire thing entertaining to watch my favourite part is the late second round. The first round is obviously fun but everybody knows who the top prospects are and it can be somewhat predictable. Most years somebody who was expected to be taken high slips and someone who was expected to be taken a little later gets taken earlier and on occasion someone who nobody has ever heard of gets selected (Like Bruno Caboclo last year) Plus Danny Ainge of the Celtics likes throwing a spanner in there from time to time and make a few big trades. But the late second round (picks 45-60) is truly unpredictable...A lot of the time little known prospects from Europe and other countries get selected here and while they may not join the team right away, their progress is monitored by the team while they ply their trade elsewhere. 

This is where it could get quite exciting for NZ basketball fans...Isaac Fotu, who is surely a house hold name for basketball fans by now, is eligible to be selected and with his excellent showing at last years world cup and highly impressive rookie season in the Spanish ACB, one of the best leagues in the world outside the NBA, don't be surprised one bit if his name gets called. Just looking at the draft order the OKC Thunder have the 48th pick and how cool would it be to see him along side his old mate Steven Adams and the Spurs are known for liking their foreigners and they have the 55th pick. Regardless of whether it happens or whether it doesn't Isaac is definitely on the NBA radar and would still be a chance to crack the big league over the next few years even if he goes un-drafted...But how cool would it be to see his name get called? Thats the beauty of the draft! You just never know...6'8'' athletic and versatile forwards are quite sought after these days with the way the game is evolving and becoming smaller and quicker, hopefully someone will pick him up tomorrow.

Plus who doesn't love tuning in to see the Knicks faithful boo every pick and give commissioner Adam Silver a tough time up on the podium...The Knicks had one of the highest chances to get the top pick and were almost guaranteed a top two pick and one of the highly sought after big men Karl Anthony-Towns or Jahlil Okafor, but wound up slipping to the fourth pick. The reaction to whoever they pick will be worth tuning in for haha


Wednesday 24 June 2015

Injury update

After a three week holiday around the United States its time to get back to training and preparing for the new season. This morning I had another catch up with the surgeon...After all the walking I did around the USA and all the travel and time spent in planes I was unsure what he would think...But he was very pleased with its progress.

While still feeling a little tender and weak it is considerable stronger and more mobile than when I met with him before I went away...Obviously those are two pretty good signs that everything is on track and recovering well.

The Breakers strength and conditioning coach Steve Buckley got the news he was wanting to here...I still have some restrictions on what I can and can't do in the gym but can do most things in there. Will be spending a lot of time on the rowing machine for the next few months, will have to find one with a comfortable seat!!

Next visit is in a month and if all is still on track I will be able to start jogging and build up to running...Its hard to put an exact date and time on things but the way things are going I'm expected to recover fully and be ready for the season. Which is obviously very pleasing.

*shameless plug alert* The NBA draft is coming up in a few days and tomorrow morning (7.45) ill be chatting about it on TAB trackside radio! So if your stuck in traffic and feel like hearing my voice (lol) make sure you tune in :)


Monday 22 June 2015

Im back...

Over the past few weeks I have been away on holiday...To my surprise I actually had quite a few people asking why nothing has been posted for a few weeks, which I never thought would happen! But if I spent holiday time on the computer writing basketball related stuff my partner Bailee would have shanked me haha.

There was obviously a lot going on while i was on holiday! I was in San Francisco the day of game one of the NBA finals and it was pretty crazy! You couldn't go anywhere without seeing a Steph Curry singlet/shirt and there was a real buzz around the city. It was actually pretty funny how many people thought I played for Cleveland as I walked around the place! Must have confused me for Mozgov or something haha. I looked into going to the game but the cheapest tickets I could find where $500USD for seats that would need binoculars to see anything so the sports bar down the road from the hotel was a nice alternative, Warriors fans are definitely passionate!!

My toe is also recovering very well, I waited for a few months until after the season to go away so I didn't have to travel in a moon boot which would have been lame! So still on track for a full recovery there.

Theres also a lot coming up! The NBA is in a few days so ill definitely be giving my two cents on that! The NZ NBL final four is just around the corner (How about those Sharks!!). The Tall Blacks extended squad was just named and the Breakers roster is shaping up pretty nicely :)

Stay tuned



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