Overlooked perhaps among the hot starts of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and DeMar DeRozan has been the play of Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose all-around floor game continues to shine. For more on Antetokounmpo and other NBA news, read below:
"Greek Freak" draws praise
Memphis coach David Fizdale recently described Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo as being “born to play this game” and a player who not only would become an All-Star, but also an “MVP candidate in his career.”
Such high praise has become the norm for Antetokounmpo, who even got a shout-out from President Obama on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old from Greece is off to an outstanding start in his fourth NBA season, averaging 21.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.9 steals. No player has ever posted those averages for an entire season.
Antetokounmpo conducted a conference call with international media this week. Among the highlights:
• On NBA general managers naming him the league’s top international player: “It’s a nice compliment, but I think I have a long way to go. I think I could get a lot, a lot, a lot better.”
• On his personal growth: “I’m really proud of myself. … [F]or the steps that I’ve made in my life, from where I started – I grew up in Athens not having much. … [T]o keep pushing, keep pushing, it’s a great feeling because all the hard work I did in my life, it paid off.”
• On the Bucks’ direction: “I think as an organization we are on the right path. We’re just getting better.”
• On new teammate Matthew Dellavedova: “Matthew is the best teammate I’ve ever played with. He always wants to get everything right.”
Speaking of Presidential praise . . .
Obama honors two NBA legends
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan, the two players most rational experts would rank as the two best basketball players in the sport's history (The Daily Sports Herald ranks Kareem #1, for the record), are being honored by President Obama next week.
The NBA legends are among 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The awards will be presented at the White House on Tuesday, Nov. 22.
Also included among the 21 recipients is Dodgers broadcasting legend, Vin Scully.
Stanley Johnson, Pistons forward: “In this league, your ability to use your IQ is critical. You have to be able to read the floor on offense and defense, be aware of mismatches and figure out how to expose them to the best of your ability. … The ability to see the whole – not just what’s in front of you – is what distinguishes a great player from an average one.”
Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports: “When [LeBron] James’ legacy is discussed, so often it’s about what he does on the court. But to James, his charitable work is as much a part of his legacy as the on-court accomplishments, if not more.”
Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks forward: “[Teammate Harrison Barnes] has the complete package. I’ve worked out with him a couple of times after practices, and he’s got every shot in the book. And he’s looked like a franchise player here the last few weeks. … So I think the sky is the limit for him.”
Scott Cacciola, New York Times: “[Devin] Booker, now a second-year guard with the Phoenix Suns, has established himself as one of the most promising young players in the N.B.A. … [B]ooker is known for showing up to practice early, for his meticulous shooting routines, for refusing to leave the gym until he wins the final game of knockout and for complaining to teammates if they clear the premises before he gets the chance.”
Marc Gasol, Grizzlies: The 7-1 center has made more three-pointers this season (16) than he did in his previous eight seasons combined (12).
Kemba Walker, Hornets: Charlotte (7-3) has matched the best 10-game start in franchise history behind Walker, who is averaging 25.8 points and shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from three-point range. Walker has scored at least 20 points in a career-high nine consecutive games.
Wilson Chandler, Nuggets: In Wednesday’s win over the Suns, Chandler became the fourth player in franchise history to record at least 28 points and 11 rebounds in a game off the bench. He raised his season averages to 16.2 points and 7.2 rebounds.
Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks: After a career-high 35-point performance in Wednesday’s victory over the Pistons, the second-year forward is averaging 24.3 points (on 53.0 percent shooting) in his last seven games.
Golden State Warriors: The 9-2 Warriors are averaging a league-high 117.4 points per game. Last season they averaged 114.9 points, the NBA’s highest mark since the 1991-92 season.
Nick Young, Lakers: The 31-year-old guard is averaging 13.4 points on 45.0 percent shooting from the field this season after averaging 7.3 points on 33.9 percent shooting last season.
Detroit Pistons: The NBA’s last remaining unbeaten team at home, the Pistons have won their five games at The Palace by an average of 17.4 points. On Saturday, they open a four-game homestand against Boston, followed by matchups against Houston, Miami and the Clippers.
Tim Duncan: The Spurs announced that they will retire his No. 21 jersey on Sunday, Dec. 18 after their game against the Pelicans.
Briante Weber, Sioux Falls Skyforce: The former Heat and Grizzlies guard opened the season by posting a triple-double with 14 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in a victory over the Salt Lake City Stars. His performance came after he received a championship ring and the Skyforce raised a banner for winning last season’s NBA D-League title.
Manny Harris, Texas Legends: He scored 49 points in a season-opening loss to the Maine Red Claws. Harris, a 6-5 guard, has spent time with the Cavaliers and Lakers.
Anthony Brown, Erie BayHawks: The No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Development League Draft tipped off the season with 38 points, seven assists and six rebounds in a victory over the Windy City Bulls. The 6-7 Brown appeared in 29 games as a rookie with the Lakers last season.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services