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Despite having never been to Milwaukee, or even the state of Wisconsin, I am a sucker for the Bucks. I think it’s because I studied in Greece for a little while in college, and brought back Giannis fandom like a kid returning from Spain who won’t shut up about the siesta. Fortunately for my obvious and public bias, there’s a decent chance the Bucks will be a very good NBA team this year. The piece goes into a variety of reasons – Jason Kidd, the Greg Monroe signing, the strength of the relative unknowns on the bench – we should be ready for the Bucks to make a major impact on the East this year. Closing with “It’s not a matter of if the Milwaukee Bucks will win the Eastern Conference, it’s when” is a little bold, considering the role luck plays in the NBA, but its an easy-to-understand sentiment.
The downside to The Alphabet’s inevitable ascension to league dominating stretch five and eventual Final’s MVP is that everyone is going to know and love him. You can sit around and post Instas in front of your “Greek and still Growing” poster if you want, or you can get on board the next insanely fun and weirdly charming euro player bandwagon before it gets rolling. Orlando Magic rookie Mario Hezonja, for all the reasons Grubel lays out, should be one of the better shows in basketball next year if he gets the minutes. At the very least, his combination of explosive athleticism and unassailable self-assurance means he should be involved in a few highlights at the rim. Whether that means he’s getting blocked out of the gym or dunking someone into the grave will depend largely on which of the athleticism or self-assurance is inspiring the attempt.
The Suns are rapidly becoming the Lindsay Lohan of the NBA, a cautionary tale of what happens when a young team gets too good, too fast, and doesn’t develop the maturity necessary to handle it. They’re betting big that Tyson Chandler will help them get back on track, for the Drew Barrymore-esque return to grace that has eluded poor Lohan. Moore’s take seems fair; they’re going to need their players to develop into leaders in their own right under Chandler’s guidance for his influence to be truly worthwhile. In the age of analytics, it’s cool to see something unquantifiable like veteran influence and maturity, being valued so much by young teams like Phoenix and Minnesota.
It is long since time that we all agree to stop referring to young players as the next X. It’s just a crumby way to put unfair expectations on kids, and prevents us from actually watching what they’re doing. Cato does an admirable job here of just paying attention to what Andrew “Ender” Wiggins has been up to, and makes a case that the potential endpoint of his progression is stardom. The three point shooting is a little worrying, especially because of the system he’s in. But give it some time and there’s a good chance someone will be complaining that we should stop wondering if young players are the next Wiggins.
This story is almost a week old, but it’s getting a bump since I don’t know how much the readership of Today’s Fastbreak and Jezebel overlap. The fact that it’s well written and fascinating doesn’t hurt, either. The economics of the NBA are a topic of constant conversation these days, but the financial realities of everyone beyond the owners and the players don’t get much attention. Barker shines some light on the ugly reality that is dancing for an NBA team, and just how undervalued the work these women do is. The league has been patting itself on the back recently for the progressive and high-profile hirings of Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman; Barker’s article is a sobering reminder that while the accomplishments of those women are incredible and worthy of celebration, the NBA as a whole still has a long way to go.