The game between the Thunder and the Bucks on Monday was extremely chippy, especially considering that after the first quarter, the end result was never really in doubt. Oklahoma City sprinted out to an early 17-point lead and won by 20, with Milwaukee never getting closer than 10 the rest of the way.
There were seven technical fouls in all, with two of them being handed out to Serge Ibaka and Mike Dunleavy for their little dust-up shown in the video clip above. Ibaka puts sort of a death grip on Dunleavy there, and Dunleavy tries to escape by using a downward chopping maneuver that just misses after Ibaka decided to let him go.
Dunleavy isn’t a small man; he’s listed at 6’9″. But he clearly couldn’t shake the one-armed super-strength of Ibaka, and one wonders if he had connected with that chop of his if the league would have considered that a “punch” by its rules and handed down a suspension.
Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.
In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).
Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.
Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury
The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.
After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.
Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).