The JumpOff weekly NBA Update with Tyler Butler
Last week I went on a small rant about today’s NBA. Since then, I’ve watched a ton of great basketball.
I hope you guys have been watching the Houston Rockets since the last player spotlight about James Harden. We were blessed to witness the game of the year so far in Houston vs Oklahoma City. It was Westbrook vs Harden! Both players did not disappoint either. Houston was up big going into the fourth quarter, but Russell Westbrook led back the young Thunder team.
Harden finished with 26, 12, and 8. Westbrook had another monster game with 49 points and a career high eight three pointers! The Rockets were able to seal the deal with a pair of free throws with 0.7 seconds remanding to sneak away with a 118-116 victory at the Toyota Center. This is what the NBA needs!
Two superstar who literally does everything for their team to have a game come down to the wire. A OKC/ Houston playoff matchup would be a dream scenario. In the Eastern conference, there is another player who is starting to do everything for his team as well. I promise you guys that I will not make this an all Chicago Bulls blog, but what Jimmy Butler has done these last three game is remarkable! There was a false report that came out about Butler about being on the trade block. The Bulls were just coming off of turmoil with the benching on Rajon Rondo and loosing 6 out of their last 10 games. They had the Cavs, Hornets, and Raptors coming up on the schedule. Not only did he help the Bulls beat all three, but he averaged 38 points per game during that stretch.
Butler is now running the point guard position. This was a position that he told Thibs he could run even when one time MVP Derrick Rose was still there. I’m not sure how long he’s going to keep it up at this pace, but in the meantime it’s very impressive. Jimmy Butler is not the only impressive wing in the Eastern Conference right now. That leads me to my player spotlight for the week.
Player Spotlight: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
If you don’t know who the "Greek Freek" is then where have you been? Giannis has been on a terror all season long! He is currently averaging stats very similar to Jimmy Butler, if not better. Here’s the comparison.
Jimmy Butler (25 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 4.5 APG)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (24 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 5.7 APG)
Giannis emergence probably has come as a surprise to most, but not to me. I saw the potential his rookie season back in 2013. All the kid had to do is work on his jumper and put on some muscle. On draft day he weighed 196 pounds, since then he has added nearly 30 pounds of muscle.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Giannis is on track to become the seventh player in NBA history to improve almost every statistical category in each of his first four seasons. He would also become the first since Rod Strickland did so from 1988-1992. He is currently leading the NBA with 13.6 points per game in the paint, and fifth in the NBA with 1.97 blocks per game.
NBA scouts raved over his hand size which is larger than defensive guru Kawhi Leonard’s. Giannis could become the first player to average 20 points, nine rebounds, five assist, two steals, and two blocks per game since those stats were tracked. All hail the Greek Freek!
Team Spotlight: Utah Jazz
The Jazz are back! Currently they’re number 6 in the western conference. This team is defiantly not your old pick and roll Jazz. There are no more short John Stockton shorts, or knee high socks running around the court this time around. The Jazz has the right mix of youth and veteran leadership. They are led by former Duke assistant coach and now Jazz head coach Dan Snyder.
The star of the team is Gordon Hayward. The former Butler start has made a name for himself in the league. He is surrounded by veteran leadership in Boris Diaw, George Hill, and Joe Johnson. The front court is very solid defensively in Rudy Gobert and former Georgia Tech star Derick Favors. This may be the best team defensive team in the Western conference. They might not upset one of the top seeds, but don’t be surprised if they win the 4/5 matchup in the playoffs.
This is something new I’m going to end on all of my blogs with. A rant! It’s pretty much what I’m tired of or feel like addressing. This is dedicated to the dreadful New York Knicks. Why are you so bad? Derrick Rose said that this was going to be a “Super Team!” Yeah, he actually said that. You shouldn’t be shocked that he said it because technically he never finished high school. If someone else finishes it for you, then you didn’t finish.
Phil Jackson refuses to let Jeff Hornacek actually coach this team. He is fixated on this team running the triangle. Granted he won 100 championships off of the triangle, but there is no Jordan or Kobe on this Knicks team. Hell there is not even a Ron Harper or Rick Fox on this team. The Knicks have been horrendous for the last few years, but this year was supposed to be different.
Spike Lee was supposed to make a movie about this year, but no one wants to watch that horror film. There is only one common dominator with the team the last few seasons. I can give you 15 reasons why this team has been stuck in mediocracy. Carmelo Anthony! I watch the Knicks try and run the triangle until the ball touches Melo’s hand, and then it turns into an octagon. I used the word octagon because you literally have to fight Melo in order to get the ball back.
Don’t you remember playing ball on the blacktop and there was always one guy you hate to pass the ball too because you know he’s going to shoot no matter what. That’s Carmelo Anthony. The front office decision making has not been the best either. Phil struck gold on drafting Kristaps Porzingis, but I’ll give you $100 if you can name the rest of the Knicks…don’t worry I’ll wait.
I’m sure you probably named Rose, Noah, or Jennings. After those guys, the Knicks look like a “create a team” from NBA live 97. Changes need to be made in the big apple, but something is telling me that the problem the Knicks have won’t change. Where’s Frank Sinatra when you need him.
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