Mike Budenholzer just worked his way out of Atlanta to Milwaukee to coach Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo, just 23, is already a superstar. Helping to mold him is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
But what if Budenholzer could have been coaching Antetokounmpo all along?
The Bucks drafted Antetokounmpo No. 15 in 2013, but they had competition from the Hawks, as Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN detailed on The Woj Pod:
- Wojnarowski: “That night with Giannis, Atlanta was really – Brian, you both know this. Atlanta was really determined to get him.”
- Windhorst: “Oh, yes. I’ve listened to Danny Ferry’s sob story about this one.”
- Wojnarowski: “Danny Ferry, Wes Wilcox were really focused on him.”
The Hawks entered the draft with the No. 17 and No. 18 picks. How determined were they if they couldn’t move ahead of Milwaukee picking 15th?
I believe Ferry and Wilcox, both since ousted, liked Antetokounmpo more than most teams did. But if they had an inkling Antetokounmpo would even near the level he actually has, the Hawks would have gotten him. He fell all the way to No. 15!
Instead, Atlanta traded up from No. 18 to No. 16 with the Mavericks – who have their own Antetokounmpo draft-night story – and got Lucas Nogueira. The Hawks took Dennis Schroder No. 17.
Of course, only the near-hits get leaked. All the times Ferry and Wilcox were “really determined” to trade for a player who wound up a bust, you’ll never hear about it.
Still, I’m fascinated by the “what if?” Atlanta already had Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver. That same summer, the Hawks signed Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll to complete the starting lineup that would win 60 games a couple seasons later. Imagine that team with Antetokounmpo coming into his own.
Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.
Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.
The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.
That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.
Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.
Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.
The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.
The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.
It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.
Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.
The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.
Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).
Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.
If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.
Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).
With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.
Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.
Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.
The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.