Kurt Helin

PBT Extra bold prediction preview: Greek Freak an All-Star?


Voters were not close to putting Giannis Antetokounmpo in the NBA All-Star Game — he came in 10th in fan voting for the  backcourt — but he’s a guy some coaches considered to round out the roster. Then the Bucks went on to make the playoffs and look like a potential breakout team this season.

A good Bucks start to the season might well be enough to get the Greek Freak into the All-Star Game in Toronto next February, I say in this latest PBT Extra. Two Bucks in the All-Star Game? Don’t get greedy, Milwaukee.

Antetokounmpo is the kind of player I want to see in a defense-free, up-tempo exhibition like the ASG. Get that man in the game.

51 Questions: Who will be your League Pass must-watch team?

Garnett, Wiggins, Towns, timberwolves

PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

What is your League Pass team? The team you consistently put on because you enjoy watching them play?

Everyone at PBT is a League Pass addict — we’re all watching a ridiculous amount of basketball, watching every team as it moves through the season. But there is always one team you’re drawn back to again and again, the one that may not be the best but you can’t stop watching them. Today we discuss the team we can’t take our eyes off of.

Kurt Helin: Minnesota Timberwolves

I’m going to see plenty of the entertaining powerhouse teams — Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Golden State (which is like Brazil in soccer, they are every fan’s second favorite team to watch). The teams I’m drawn to on LP are the ones with talented young players trying to figure out, and this year no team fits that bill like Minnesota. They have great pieces — Ricky Rubio at the point, Andrew Wiggins at the two, Karl-Anthony Towns (a surprisingly good passer) in the post, then there are the veterans such as Kevin Garnett and Andre Miller. Can’t leave off Zach LaVine, who is must-watch both for his dunks and cringe-worthy point guard decisions. They don’t know how to make it all work yet, but watching them figure it out is half the fun.

Dan Feldman: Cleveland Cavaliers

I was reluctant to pick a team with 25 national TV appearances, but Cleveland is so intriguing, I’m not sure I want to miss a game. LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were really starting to play beautiful basketball together before the latter two got hurt in the playoffs. The surrounding drama is even more intriguing. Will LeBron and David Blatt get along? Will LeBron and Love? Will Blatt use Love better? Will the Cavs’ big men play well enough that the team can avoid caving to Tristan Thompson? What will J.R. Smith do next? I don’t want to miss it.

Sean Highkin: Orlando Magic

Since the Dwight Howard trade three summers ago, the Magic’s rebuilding effort has been in a weird place: plenty of intriguing talent, but not great coaching and no clear identity. After three years in the lottery, they brought in Scott Skiles to win now, and if there’s one thing Skiles will do as a coach, it’s make a team better in the short term. This Magic roster is full of high-motor guys (Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon) who will respond well to his style. Plus, Mario Hezonja is already appointment television whenever he’s in the game.

Utah Jazz waive Bryce Cotton, Treveon Graham

Bryce Cotton, Quin Snyder

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz have waived point guard Bryce Cotton and forward Traveon Graham. The team announced the moves Tuesday.

The roster is now down to 15 players.

Cotton first joined the Jazz on a 10-day contract in late February and signed a multi-year deal in March. He averaged 5.3 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 15 games last season.

The release of Cotton leaves the Jazz with just two pure point guards on the roster – Trey Burke and Raul Neto.

Graham was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of VCU and played with the Jazz during summer league.

Andre Iguodala bought Allen Iverson suits to match NBA dress code

Russell Westbrook

It was 10 years ago this year that David Stern sent out the dress code memo. NBA players were dressing like everyone into the hip-hop culture — baggy jeans, sports clothing, gold chains, etc. This didn’t play well with the old, rich, white guys that buy luxury boxes and expensive seats (not to mention the league sponsors). Stern stepped in and made his call.

Players called it the AI rule, after Allen Iverson (who was at the forefront of ushering hip-hop culture into the NBA). Iverson, as you would expect, hated it.

Andre Iguodala didn’t like it either but he complied — and bought suits for Iverson so he would comply as well, Iguodala told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

Former Sixers forward Andrew Iguodala said Iverson bought several oversized suits to adhere to the dress code.

“Allen wasn’t a fan of it,” said Iguodala, now with the Warriors. “Allen just wanted to be comfortable. He wasn’t trying to just be a rebel without a cause. He was like, ‘I just want to be comfortable. I just want to go to the game and play basketball.’ He didn’t want to be uptight or feel restricted.

“You watched him play and his style was to be able to freelance and move carefree, just be comfortable in his own world. He said, ‘When I do that, I don’t want to be restricted with a tie or collar on my neck.’ “

The pendulum has swung the other way now — many players pride themselves on how they dress. A few guys even have their own clothing or accessory lines. The league relaxed the rule some — players used to have wear sport coats, now they can wear dress jeans and a button up shirt — but a lot of players go above and beyond anyway.

Then there is whatever Russell Westbrook is doing.


What preseason? Russell Westbrook drops triple-double on Jazz (VIDEO)

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With the NBA season going to start in a week, Thunder coach decided to run his first team out for something closer to regulation minutes. The Thunder reminded everyone just how good they are.

Russell Westbrook scored 21 points (on 14 shots), plus had 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Thunder past the Jazz 113-102. As you can see above, he looks to be in mid-season form.

So did Kevin Durant, who dropped 29 and is back to being an unstoppable scoring machine this preseason. And remember, they did all this on a Jazz team that is built around its defense and who also played their starters heavy minutes.