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District of Buckets All-NBA Bubble Team

The NBA bubble games have lived up to the hype.

Every team in the bubble is playing hard, and the level of basketball has mimicked the first week of the regular season as many players have fresh legs and a rejuvenated hunger to compete among the world’s best.

With the final seeding games approaching, and the official NBA all-bubble team announcement this upcoming Saturday, I decided to put a team together consisting of some of the most impressive players in the NBA restart.

Without further ado, here is the District of Buckets All-NBA Bubble Team.

PG: Damian Lillard

Before basketball stopped, Dame was on one of the hottest stretches of scoring we’ve ever seen from a guard, and his return to basketball has continued his run of high-powered scoring.

Dame Lillard Erupts for 51 as Sixers Fall Short to Blazers

In the last two games, Lillard went off for a combined 112 points against the Mavs and Sixers, and his level of play has Portland sitting in the 8th playoff spot in the western conference.

Lillard told the media that he “Packed for the whole three months” and backed that statement up with his play — The Blazers can clinch their spot as the team to beat in the play-in game with a win in their next matchup.

Per game stats: 37.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 9.3 assists

Shooting %: 48% field goal, 41.4% 3pt, 88.7% ft

Record: 5-2

+/- : 2.7

Fun Fact: Ever since Patrick Beverly clowned Dame for missing two go-ahead free throws, Lillard has shot 33-of-34 from the line. Dame is also the only Blazer with back-to-back 50-point games.

SG: Devin Booker

Devin Booker’s scoring is no surprise, but the 7-0 bubble winning streak for the Phoenix Suns is one of the biggest surprises in the NBA.

Booker earns his spot here in my lineup over both Harden and Luka Dončić for the one reason he’s often snubbed out of critical acclaim for his scoring abilities in the past — winning — yes, winning. The Suns 7-0 record in the bubble validates that his scoring ability translates to wins in a “win or go home” environment, and places him ahead of two guards that are performing at a similar level.

The Suns are tied with the Blazers and Grizzlies and need to win their next game to clinch a berth in the play-in series.

Per game stats: 31.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists

Shooting %: 49.7% field goal, 34.9% 3pt, 93.5% ft

Record: 7-0

+/- : 8.0

Fun Fact: Devin Booker has scored exactly 35 points in three straight games.

SF: T.J. Warren

T.J. Warren was averaging 19.8 points per game heading into the bubble, but nobody expected him to put on an offensive clinic in Orlando.

NBA: T.J. Warren scores 53 points in Pacers win over Sixers

T.J. Warren has always been a good scorer, but his willingness to fire more from deep, and his ability to hit at a high clip has taken his game from solid to show-stopping.

After Domantas Sabonis’ injury early in the restart, Warren has established his place in the lineup even further and is a driving force for any continuing success Indiana might find in the bubble.

Based on his play for the Pacers, it is safe to say they got a monster return in a trade that only saw them give up cash considerations.

Per game stats: 31.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists

Shooting %: 57.8% field goal, 52.4% 3pt, 88.9% ft

Record: 4-2

+/- : 11.7

Fun Fact: On August 1st, Warren put up 53 points on 69 percent shooting — Nice— against the 76ers.

PF: Kristaps Porzingis

I’m gonna be upfront and say that Kristaps’ place on this team is purely about putting the ball in the bucket. Porizngis is the only player on this list who holds a negative plus-minus and a sub .500 bubble record. However, he has been individually impressive and is the bubble player that I would want at the 4 in a lineup.

Porzingis scores at a high rate and his production will be desperately needed when the Mavs take on Clippers in the first round of the playoffs.

Per game stats: 30.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists

Shooting %: 47.6% field goal, 38.1% 3pt, 89.1% ft

Record: 2-4

+/- : -4.7

Fun Fact: On July 31st, Kristaps had 39 points and 16 Rebounds against the Houston Rockets.

C: Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid has been playing great ball for the Sixers in the bubble. Embiid looks to be the main driving force for Philly in the playoffs, as they will be without Ben Simmons for the foreseeable future. Despite injuring his ankle and missing a game, Embiid’s play thus far has been enough for him to secure the center spot in my All-Bubble Team lineup.

Per game stats: 24.4 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists

Shooting %: 51.2 field goal, 76% ft

Record: 3-2 in games played

+/- : 3.6

Fun Fact: In the Sixers’ loss to the Pacers in the bubble, Embiid put up 41 points and 21 rebounds.



Walking Bucket: Montrezl Harrell

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Heart, Passion, and a true example of a blue-collar hooper, Montrezl Harrell brings maximum energy when he steps on the floor — the self-proclaimed “modern-day Rodman” will bring his toughness to the Clippers title hunt when he returns to the NBA bubble.

Harrell finishes everything at the rack, as is evidenced by his 18.6 points per game on 58 percent shooting from the field.

Trez is a reliable two points around the rim, and brings attention inside that makes life easy for the phenomenal perimeter players that the Clippers have stacked on their roster.

He’s not a floor spacer, but he thrives where a power forward must thrive — rolling to the basket after setting hard screens. He also puts defenders on an island in isolation with ease and often sees multiple defenders crash the paint when he attacks.

On the defensive end, Harrell uses his physicality to intimidate scorers around the basket, and as a result, leads the Clippers in blocks with 1.1 per game.

Currently, Montrezl is dealing with a family issue away from the bubble. His absence —hopefully — is only temporary as it would be a pleasure to watch him play his part in the most dynamic bench duo in the NBA with fellow Clipper Lou Williams.

Clippers and Montrezl Harrell have been clicking on offense since ...
Harrell hanging on the rim (Los Angeles Times)

Can’t wait to see what he’s able to do when he returns.

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Walking Bucket: Emma Meesseman

In honor of the return of basketball this week, I wanted to remind you of—or introduce you to, one of the best scorers in the game, Washington Mystics forward Emma Meesseman.

Meesseman is a surgical scorer.

She picks her spots well, and when you mix good shooting with good shot selection, you get efficient scoring.

In the Mystics 2019 Finals run, Meesseman averaged 19.1 ppg while shooting 58.2 percent from the field, 58.1 percent from three, and 82.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Meesseman’s postseason marksmanship mirrored her regular season. In the regular season, she missed out on making the 50-40-90 club only by not having the required minimum amount of field goal attempts. (55.2 FG%, 42.2 3PT%, 90.5 FT%)

Aside from her sniper-like accuracy, Meesseman does a phenomenal job of using her size and footwork to create space in one-on-ones. She also moves incredibly well off-ball, and when paired with the talent on the Mystics, she always seems to be open.

As an individual defender when you run into a player this skilled, who doesn’t need much space to get a shot off, with a high basketball IQ, you’re helpless if they’re making shots that night.

Meesseman is one of the most accomplished Belgian basketball players of all time, and her career accolades speak for themselves, so get ready to experience the legend of “Playoff Emma” when the WNBA returns.

Be sure to tune into ESPN on July 30th at 6p.m EST to watch Emma and the Mystics go to work on national television against the Seattle Storm. (one of only three nationally televised games, all but three will be shown on local television.)

Report: WNBA receives high grades again in diversity hi ...

Link: Meesseman’s self-reflection on her championship journey

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TBT 2020 Recap

TBT 2020 lived up to the hype and served as an oasis in the middle of the sports desert during a tumultuous year. The tournament showed us that with a strict quarantine bubble and vigorous testing, sports can still take place even during a pandemic.

It was a pleasure to be granted media access to The TBT, and I am forever grateful for being able to get a close look at how sports media works. (Mostly via Zoom)

This post is a quick shoutout to the two teams who made the deep run to the title match, and a short video of some of the action that took place late in the tournament.

The Champs

The tournament delivered high-quality play and compelling storylines that captivated the attention of the basketball world for a “March Madness” like atmosphere in the middle of July.

Rising out of the madness were the Marquette Golden Eagles Alumni, who, behind Tournament MVP Darius Johnson-Odom, downed Sideline Cancer 78-73 in the title game and won the $1,000,000 prize.

The Golden Eagles Alumni (pic by Ben Solomon)

The Golden Eagles boasted four players with NBA experience. (Darius Johnson-Odom, Dwight Buycks, Travis Diener, and Jamil Wilson)

Experience at the highest level of basketball is what proved to be the difference as they remained cool, calm, and collective down the stretch.

The Golden Eagles also did a phenomenal job of holding Sideline Cancer’s leading scorer Marcus Keene to only 6 points on the night, a reward that validates the aggressive defensive scheme that was stressed the whole game.

We witnessed a great run from the Golden Eagles, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they will defend their title in TBT 2021.

Sideline Cancer

The TBT 2020 runner-up is first in the hearts of many.

Sideline Cancer represents the Greg and Kathy Griffith Family Foundation, a foundation dedicated to eradicating pancreatic cancer.

This incredibly talented team played for a great cause, and for their late teammate Jermaine Marshall.

You could notice their extra motivation, the backstory of the team struck an emotional cord as they delivered a magical run to the title game.

Marcus Keene, Mo Creek, and Remy Abell hit huge shots the whole tournament, and the team looked resilient after losing former Maryland big man Diamond Stone in the first game.

Through all the ups and downs, this team clawed and fought every single time they stepped on the floor.

I look to see them making noise yet again deep into TBT 2021.

TBT Highlight Mix