We could open this week’s headline collection/wannabe column by taking sides in the vociferous debate regarding the DeMarcus Cousins waiver. After all, it’s the kind of red meat upon which I could take a somewhat lukewarm line dressed up in flowery language to give the impression that I’ve a clue what I’m talking about. Truly the MMMR’s bread and butter.
We’ll head in a different direction, though, as I’ve been continually reaching the conclusion that we may have fully entered a new era for basketball. The Giannis Era.
Not exactly an original take, I admit, but one that needs reiteration due to the ongoing discussion (normally American-centric) about who is truly the best player in the league right now. Giannis himself threw fuel on the fire of the discussion by stating (with feeling, as is his usual style), “Kevin Durant is the best player in the world” after the Bucks pantsed the Nets, 121-109 on Brooklyn’s home floor. It’s the perfect answer to give from his perspective: First, because there’s some part of his mind that believes it as a way to inspire himself to greater feats, second, because he is able to pay tribute to a fellow superstar who he respects, and third, what does it really say when one guy is regularly getting the better of an opponent he considers to have no equal?
The entire discussion is unnecessary though, because while Giannis might not have the jumpshot package of a KD, the offense-running craft of a LeBron, or the range of a Steph, but he’s mastered his physical dominance. A dominance that literally has no contemporary in basketball right now. So while teams can try to scheme up a defense, while players throw themselves at his legs in a bid to avoid a humbling, while the mainstream discussion contents itself with inanities, I rest easy. Any team with an eye on Milwaukee’s throne has to answer a deceptively simple question: How are you going to stop Giannis?
If you don’t have an answer, or if any response has more than a pinch of a wing and a prayer in it, there’s no need for further discussion. Good luck.
Raptors sign DJ Wilson to second 10-day contract (Raptors HQ)
This one’s for the true MMMR faithful. Godspeed, Smoove.
Be Like Mike. Milwaukee coach Budenholzer, Bucks could provide a model for the Hornets (Charlotte Observer)
A great piece here from the Observer striking that fine line of deference to Milwaukee and optimism that Charlotte is capable of following in the Bucks’s footsteps. If any group could be considered secondary winners from Milwaukee’s, it might be the league’s small-market franchises. They walk a fraught path to success, but half the battle comes with the belief that your group, in spite of the David & Goliath nature of the NBA, can win the whole thing in the first place. Best of luck to Charlotte (unless we see them in the playoffs, of course).
Milwaukee Bucks Center Bobby Portis on Winning a Title: ‘It Changed the Direction of my Career’ (Sportscasting)
It’s pretty rare for a free agent signing the likes of Bobby Portis to work out as well as it has. Having bounced around the league with maturity issues looming large, his arrival in Milwaukee turned out to be a revelation for both sides. Bobby finally found a team where he could contribute to high-level winning basketball, and both sides were able to mix their personalities and meld together into a fruitful relationship. About as good as it gets.
Lakers’ 33-Game Winning Streak Meets the Bucks: January 9, 1972 (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Substack) & John Block was ‘difference-maker’ in Bucks ending Lakers’ 33-game winning streak (Los Angeles Times)
Two good pieces here, the first an entertaining “day in the life” retelling by Kareem himself, the second covering it from the perspective of his teammate John Block as the Bucks halted the Lakers’s record-setting 33 game win streak.
It’s this kind of stuff I’d like to see the NBA work harder at promoting alongside all of its current stars. The game certainly has a different resonance for those who were fans of the team at the time, but it should be a larger part of Bucks lore than I sense it to be. Maybe that’s my failing. Still, fun reads regardless.
As has been his wont over the past few weeks, Zach Kram is chasing after some interesting angles in basketball and digging up stats to back it all up. What’s most interesting about the sheer number of players who have flowed onto NBA rosters this year is the fact that a good portion of them more or less have the talent to stick if roster limits weren’t a thing. Not stick as in become regular starters, but stick through a combination of craft gained over a long career, sheer want-to, or particular skillsets that work better in limited roles.
And if a couple more guys get paid some decent money for the pleasure of helping the league through Covid troubles? Well, that’s just a cherry on top.
How Omicron Has Reshaped Sports & More NBA Teams Are Using A Pick And Roll Hack: Sticking Two Guys In The Corners (FiveThirtyEight)
Two more stat-heavy pieces, this time from the folks at FiveThirtyEight. Our first piece here goes hand-in-hand with Kram’s work from The Ringer as it breaks down some more numbers regarding defensive metrics, the drop in “favorite” winning percentage, and just the sheer amount of players on rosters this year. The second goes in on a strategic quirk in league-wide offenses taking advantage of the most valuable shot in the game from the corner three. I didn’t see a specific note about the Bucks’s usage of this strategy, but Jrue Holiday does get a nod as one of the most efficient pick-and-roll creators in such situations. Keep an eye out the next couple games to see the plan in action.
Readers have my sincerest apologies for having overlooked including the FPOTW when putting this together last night. This was not an attempt at collusion with the team increasing season ticket prices; rather, it was a function of my idiocy. For that, I say sorry.
However, Thirty Point Buck is deserving of this week’s award not only because nobody else posted anything, but because the topic at hand is a relevant one for the group of fans who can get to games regularly in, “Are you sure you want to charge more for this product?” I respect TPB’s candor, and I’ve certainly seen a lot of similar talk among folks across social media and in the comments section regarding the shift. You can understand the cold dynamics pushing team financing to try and jump at the recent success, but I have to imagine there’s a point at which demand can barely meet the asked-for pricing at a sustainable level.
But that’s why I’m a basketblogger and not a billionaire, I guess.
Know Your Enemy
- Charlotte Hornet - At the Hive - Recap: Hornets withstand 43 points from Giannis, defeat Bucks, 114-106
You know the rules: If we just played a team, we go back and find their latest recap to get a read on what they make of the recent matchup. Here, we have At the Hive’s edition...
- Golden State Warriors - Golden State of Mind - Klay Thompson will officially return vs. Cavaliers
I’m writing this while Klay Thompson makes his season debut. Best of luck to him and hopefully the return goes about as well as anyone could hope with that much layoff time. Seems to be okay so far:
...and continuing with the ruleset, here is Toronto’s latest recap from our loss to them last week.
The Social Media Section
Congrats to Darvin! The first of many, we hope!
Showering Coach Ham with a victory ice bath. pic.twitter.com/eURWl4Gh9v— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 8, 2022
Our thoughts go out to Marques and the Johnson family
We finally have video proof that Brook still has a back
Brook Lopez is actually alive what pic.twitter.com/rvb30jb1Gt— Henny (@Gintama_stan) January 4, 2022
Thank you to BB for starting the celebrations yesterday
Happy 3 year anniversary to all who celebratehttps://t.co/uFYfP9NmmO— BlazinBuck (@BuckBlazin) January 9, 2022
Respect the effort here. If the light goes green when you hit send, it’s a success.
The @Bucks are under performing this year & I don't see them repeating unless they make a few trades. I really like this one & @nyknicks sends the @sixers a unprotected 1st round pick. @celtics @NBA @NBATV @NBAonTNT @AlexLasryWI pic.twitter.com/ckuRy6O2Lj— Ryan Pohl (@RyanPohl34) January 9, 2022
We are going to start a dialogue
This is the real AD comparison we should debate lol pic.twitter.com/zkbDHuXDv1— . (@thfcadityav2) January 7, 2022
Sleep (or dreaming)...deer?
retired janitor’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 26-16
Riley’s 2021-2022 prediction record: 21-21
Milwaukee’s schedule slows down a bit this week with only three games on the schedule, but all three should be competitive if recent history/competition level is any indication. Things start tonight back in Charlotte to wrap up the away series against the Hornets, hit the big time on Thursday with the Golden State Warriors in town, and then finish up Saturday with the Raptors back in town.
With essentially our entire backcourt rotation on ice due to either Covid protocols or Donte’s ankle imploding, I think it’ll be a tough go. However, we seem to have stepped up to the challenge of marquee matchups regularly this year against the odds. Give me another topsy-turvy 1-2 week with the win coming against the Warriors. Giannis will do well again on the biggest stage staking another claim to another MVP trophy, if things go according to plan.