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Bucks’ Bogut big among bigs

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How a seven-footer gets overlooked speaks to the team’s small market.

How a presence in the paint goes unnoticed reveals the low profile that surrounds him.

But the days of ignoring and dismissing Andrew Bogut are becoming a thing of the past, at least based on the present state of his game and the emergence of the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that is as hot as any outside of the red-hot Dallas Mavericks.

When the Bucks made Bogut the first overall pick in 2005, a draft class that is defined by point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams, the comparisons with fellow Aussie Luc Longley came fast and furious.

At first they were humorous, two bigs from Down Under who weren’t really known for their athleticism.

Bogut has distanced himself so far from Longley that it isn’t worth anyone’s time to even discuss any parallel.

Bogut now is threatening to keep company with the elite.

For once in his career, Bogut isn’t being plagued by back woes.

It often has been said that it takes time for bigs to develop and Bogut bears it out.

He has a staunch supporter in coach Scott Skiles and a point guard in rookie Brandon Jennings, who is more inclined to look inside to Bogut than heave perimeter jumpers early in the shot clock.

A few eyebrows were raised when Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders was asked to assess Bogut when the teams hooked up in a recent home-and-home set.

“Maybe the best centre in the Eastern Conference,” Saunders said.

Flip wasn’t being flippant and neither was he flippin’ crazy because there’s some merit in his words.

Bogut isn’t quite in Dwight Howard’s neighbourhood, but he is inching closer because Bogut’s game continues to evolve and improve.

The more the Bucks make noise in the East, including their late-game lock-down of the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, the more people will come to appreciate Bogut and the surging Bucks.

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Milwaukee has won 10 of its past 11 games; Bogut has recorded at least one block in a franchise-record 28 consecutive games; in Milwaukee’s past 11 games, Bogut has averaged 3.8 rejections.

Out of nowhere have emerged the Bucks, who hold down the No. 5 seed in the East and are playing the style of basketball teams need to sustain success.

With Bogut, Milwaukee plays an inside/outside game.

Skiles-coached teams always defend and seldom take possessions off. The trade-deadline deal for John Salmons has given Milwaukee a scorer and creator.

Ersan Ilyasova is long and has been a lot more consistent than his more famous Turkish-born baller in Hedo Turkoglu.

A scout was asked to chime in on this year’s surprise teams.

“People would probably say Oklahoma City or Memphis, but it’s Milwaukee for me. They weren’t picked very high in general after losing (Richard) Jefferson, (Charlie) Villanueva and (Ramon) Sessions and then they lost Michael Redd on top of that. Now they’re in the playoffs.

“The two big reasons are Bogut is playing at a really high level — more so than ever, it’s his team — and Scott Skiles is a helluva coach. Bogut has finally found a coach that believes in him and that he believes in and it’s working for him. This used to be Michael Redd’s team, but he’s taken control of that team and is starting to look dominant like people thought he could when he came out of college”

Maybe if the they were playing in a bigger market, there would be more of a buzz with these Bucks.

Maybe if Bogut were more self-promotional than selfless, he would get more exposure.

His opponents have taken notice.

“I think he’s the toughest matchup I’ve had all season,” Boston’s Kendrick Perkins said following Milwaukee’s 86-84 win, in which Bogut had 25 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks. “He’s playing well.”

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RIP OKC. Dame Time Clocks Thunder’s Reign From Way Downtown PDX

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RIP OKC. Dame Time Clocks Thunder’s Reign From Way Downtown PDX
What Time Is It...

Blazing!

Even two games down the Thunder bolt boys joked like the last laugh that was yet to be delivered, like this what’s the 4-1 punchline. Zero to zero for the best series of these NBA Playoffs so far, Russell Westbrook rocked the baby at Damian Lillard, before mocking his wrist watch celebration like he did Laker meme Lance Stephenson’s air guitar strumming one with D’Angelo Russell ice in his veins. All before Paul George double pumped a dunk as time expired on a game that was already decided way before the horn blared.

“It is the unemotional, reserved, calm, detached warrior who wins, not the hothead seeking vengeance and not the ambitious seeker of fortune.”

But then last night before posting that Sun Tzu quote on Instagram in this art of war. In the face of P.G. the PDX P.G. beat the buzzer as Dame Time struck from way downtown RIP City. With an Austin 3:16 bottom line to give OKC the history engraved tombstone and the Portland Trail Blazers a legendary storied, legacy making championship belt for this classic series in hardwood history.

Reminding us of that time Charles Barkley responded to a Nike barbershop ad featuring former Golden State Warriors Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell joking about dunking on him by putting all the points on them in the following game and running past them on the bench draped in dejected towels shouting, “put that in a f###### commercial!”

Colder than February. More ruthless than a convertible in Summer.

Damian Lillard 37 Footer Over Paul George
Damian Lillard buries series clinching 37-footer over Paul George – Photo Blazers

37 feet high and rising from deep. Deep as the halfcourt abyss. With the this time of season cherry blossoms blooming outside Portlandia’s Moda Center, the City of Roses was handing everyone from basketballs Oklahoma home funeral flowers. And leading the precession, hearse wrapping it up like his killer bars, Dame D.O.L.L.A was right on the money like exact change only please, waving goodbye. Even if Paul George walking off in defeat like LeBron James and getting his Vlade Divac on in a press conference more awkward than a blind date with an ex called it a “bad shot”. To which the great Dame simply replied with a tweeted “lol” (see also, laugh and last). He better Big Shot Bobby Horry check a newspaper or something. Dame Time didn’t just beat the buzzer. He took baby powder to it. As Dame had all the Louis Armstrong time in the world with ten on the clock and the last shot in this final frame to dribble drive or dish. But instead, toying with George like a cat does a mouse, as David beat Goliath like Jerry did Tom, Lillard had the sand to set up shop, his spot and his shot from what looked like a bunker. A hole in one, with the cocksure confidence of Tiger Woods putting for Masters glory in Augusta and embracing his kids, two decades after doing the same with his pops all for the green jacket.

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From this master, like a tap in putt with no Mulligan to carry, this was always going in. Nothing but net. All water like those Thunder tears. O.K. now that was a 3.

And to think I swore I wouldn’t go back on social media until after the new Avengers movie came out, but DAMN Dame Time! Spoiler alert, this is the new ‘Endgame’ now.

Cousy. Pettit. Sam Jones. Wilt. Chuck Barkley. M.J. And now the Dame train as the legendary Lillard goes hard to join this lineage as the only players to hit 50 in a playoff clinching game. And what a way to do it, fading away to clock out of the game and series 118-115 for the greatest Portland playoff moment since the G.O.A.T’s shrug. As mobbed by teammates on the floor he sank into, telling Russ to ‘Get Out’ his house. Peeling off like Jordan, Damian all on his own like a devil, GIF turned into an instant meme, as he turned the Thunder into a memory (you know the one were everyone loses their mind around that smirking kid with glasses in the raincoat? Well now guess which superheroes face is super imposed?). Staring into the camera with that look you know was for Russell Westbrook.

Blazers Win Damian Lillard Buries 37 Footer
Blazers Win. – Photo: Portland Trail Blazers

What a whole mood.

Whose left holding the baby now?

Dame didn’t even have to check his watch. Why? Him, her, them. They all knew what time it was. His. As Dame Lillard just did it in the Oregon home of Nike. Shoe dog like Phil Knight, running off victory for the courtside crowd, including legendary comedian Cedric the Entertainer for this last laugh lap. As this Gladiator hit one of the best and biggest shot fired in NBA history. Subliminal and literal.

Are you not entertained?

Why not?

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Two-time U Sports MVP Kadre Gray declares for NBA Draft

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Two Time U Sports Mvp Kadre Gray Declares For Nba Draft
Photo: Laurentian Voyageurs

Two-time U Sports basketball player of the year Kadre Gray of the Laurentian Voyageurs has declared for the 2019 NBA Draft.

Gray, a 6’1″, 190 lbs junior guard from Toronto, Ontario has been terrorizing Canadian university basketball since his freshman season — cementing his legacy as a two-time MVP and scoring champion with a ridiculous 26.3 points per game career average in three full-seasons with the Voyageurs.

The 2016-17 U Sports rookie of the year award winner took the league by storm — leading the country in scoring as a freshman with 23.2 points per game. He finished second in his sophomore season with 24.4 points per game and led the nation in assists total with 141.

He took his game to a different stratosphere in his junior season — increasing his league-leading output to the third highest scoring average in Canadian university hoops since 1981-1982 with 31 points per game.

Calgary Dinos’ all-time great’s Richard Bohn and Karl Tilleman both led the nation with higher and ironically, identical scoring averages.

Both Bohn and Tilleman averaged 32.8 points per game. Bohn doing it during the 1995-1996 season and Tilleman, a two-time Canadian Olympian and NBA draft pick dominating the league in 1981-82 — before Canada’s adoption of the three-point line.

Two Time U Sports Mvp Kadre Gray Dribbling Declares For Nba Draft
U Sports MVP Kadre Gray dribbling against Ottawa Gee-Gees – Photo: Laurentian Voyageurs

Not a one-trick-pony, Gray averaged 7.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists, 1.6 steals in 34.1 minutes per game.

Gray erupted for a career-high 48 points in a 101-81 win over the Lakehead Thunderwolves — shooting 13-of-23 from the floor and burying 19-of-20 shots from the foul-line on November 3rd, 2018.

He delivered his third 40-plus point game of his career with another impressive performance — 16-of-29 shooting against the Ryerson Rams on February 9th, 2019 — his lowest scoring output of the season was 23 points on multiple occasions.

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Kadre Gray U Sports Basketball Highlights
Two Time U Sports Mvp Kadre Gray Caree Conference Stats
Laurentian Voyageurs’ Kadre Gray Career Conference Stats
Two Time U Sports Mvp Kadre Gray Caree Conference Stats Other Stats
Laurentian Voyageurs’ Kadre Gray Career Conference Stats
Kadre Gray FIBA Americas Qualifiers Against Brazil
Kadre Gray takes it to the rack during FIBA Americas Qualifiers Against Brazil – Photo: FIBA

Gray also represented Canada during the FIBA Basketball World Cup process playing in games against Venezuela and Brazil.

Prior to Laurentian, Gray honed his skills as a two-time athlete at Eastern Commerce Collegiate for three-years — leaving track and field (high jump, 100 meters) in the rear-view mirror and transferring to rival Oakwood Collegiate to conclude his high school career.

Ryerson’s seven-foot center Tanor Ngom also declared, making it the first time in the history of Canadian university basketball that two U Sports players have entered the draft.

Additionally, with a record number of Canadian players in the NCAA tossing their names in the draft process we should expect 2019 to be the biggest year for Canadian’s at the NBA Draft.

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