Giannis Antetokounmpo

Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo Named Players Of The Week

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo have been named the NBA’s players of the week, the league announced (via Twitter). It’s the second straight player of the week award for both players.

Lillard, who won for the Western Conference, led Portland to a 3-1 week by averaging 38.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 6.8 APG on .500/.383/.981 shooting in 39.6 MPG. The veteran point guard was recently named an All-Star for the seventh time.

Antetokounmpo, the East’s winner, led Milwaukee to a 3-0 week by averaging 41.0 PPG, 17.3 RPG and 5.7 APG on .585/.231/.649 shooting in 36.0 MPG. He had a 54-point, 18-rebound effort versus the Clippers, plus a 35-point, 15-rebound, 11-assist triple-double against Miami.

Lillard has now been named the West’s player of the week three times this season, while Antetokounmpo has won the Eastern award four times.

According to the NBA (Twitter link), the other nominees in the West were Mikal Bridges, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Kawhi Leonard, while Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Darius Garland, Dejounte Murray and Cam Thomas were nominated in the East.

Eastern Notes: Antetokounmpo, Banchero, Yurtseven, Caruso

Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has full faith in general manager Jon Horst’s decision-making as the trade deadline approaches, he told Eric Nehm of The Athletic in a wide-ranging interview.

“I feel really good about this team,” Antetokounmpo said. “I feel this team has a chance to win a championship and that’s all you can ask for. Now, what Jon’s going to do, that’s in his hands. He’s really good at his job. GM of the Year in 2019. He’s made incredible trades, some of those trades helped us win a championship. We’ve just got to trust him. We’ve got to trust his judgment and what he sees and what he feels.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Top pick Paolo Banchero says he’s appreciates the tough love approach of his Magic coaches and veteran players, he told Alex Kennedy of Basketball News. “Everyone is here to help me — all of the coaches and a lot of the guys on the team, they all hold me accountable,” Banchero said. “They don’t just let me [do what I want]. If I’m out there making mistakes or not playing up to my abilities, they’re going to let me know about it.  They’re going to challenge me, and that’s why I love them. They don’t hand anything to me.”
  • Heat center Omer Yurtseven‘s surgically repaired ankle has fully healed, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Yurtseven is preparing for his season debut, which is expected to come shortly after the All-Star break. He’s been cleared for high impact work and is rehabbing in Miami while the team is on a road trip this week.
  • The Bulls have put such a high price tag on Alex Caruso that he’s virtually untouchable. His value goes far beyond the stat sheet, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “He’s one of those classic guys that if you’re watching the game and you really understand the game, then you look at the stat sheet, you’re like, ‘You know what, don’t tell me about the stat sheet. That guy impacts the game, he impacts winning,’” coach Billy Donovan said. “To me, the stat sheet never really tells the story about the guys that are really impacting the outcome of the game with different things they do.’’

Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo Named Players Of The Week

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo have been named the NBA’s players of the week, the league announced (Twitter link).

Lillard averaged 42.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.3 steals on .632/.514/.920 shooting in leading Portland to a 2-1 record last week. The Western Conference winner’s highlight performance was Wednesday’s victory over Utah, when the star point guard put up 60 points, seven boards, eight assists and three steals on an absurd .724/.600/.900 shooting line.

Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, led Milwaukee to a 4-0 week by averaging 38.3 points, 12.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.0 steal on .624/.467/.580 shooting. It’s the third Eastern Conference player of the week honor this season for the 2021 Finals MVP.

According to the NBA (Twitter link), the other nominees in the West were Anthony Edwards, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James, while Bam Adebayo, Kyle Kuzma and Julius Randle were nominated in the East.

Antetokounmpo, James Head All-Star Starters; Embiid Falls Short

Lakers forward LeBron James tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Thursday with his 19th NBA All-Star selection. James, who currently shares the record with Abdul-Jabbar for most All-Star Games played with 18, was chosen as a starter, according to a league press release.

All of the starters were revealed on Thursday night.

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic were the other starters chosen out of the Western Conference. James will serve as a team captain for the sixth straight year, since he received the most votes.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, named a team captain for the third time, heads the list of starters out of the Eastern Conference. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Nets forward Kevin Durant, Nets guard Kyrie Irving, and Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell will join him, but the league’s second-leading scorer, Sixers center Joel Embiid (33.4 PPG), didn’t garner enough votes.

The starters are selected by a weighted voting process with the fan vote accounting for half of the final outcome. The player and media portions of the vote each counted for 25 percent. Three frontcourt players and two guards were selected from each conference.

Embiid finished third in the player and media voting among Eastern Conference frontcourt players but fourth in the fan voting. All voting results can be found here.

The game will be played Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City. James and Antetokounmpo will choose their teams shortly before the game begins. James will set the league record for most All-Star appearances if he plays, since Abdul-Jabbar did not play in the 1973 game after being chosen.

The reserves, which are chosen by the league’s coaches, will be announced Feb. 2.

Bucks’ Antetokounmpo, Middleton Set To Return To Action

Bucks All-NBA power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and star swingman Khris Middleton are expected to be available for Milwaukee on Monday against the Pistons, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Antetokounmpo has been sidelined since January 11 due to an ongoing knee issue. When healthy, he’s played like an MVP again for the 29-17 Bucks. The two-time MVP – also a former Defensive Player of the Year and six-time All-Star – has been averaging a career-high 31.0 PPG on .524/.245/.653 shooting splits, 11.9 RPG, 5.3 APG, 0.9 BPG and 0.8 SPG through his 35 healthy games.

Middleton, a three-time All-Star himself, has missed all but seven games this season. The 6’7″ wing out of Texas A&M has most recently been shelved since December 15 with a knee injury of his own. In his seven healthy games, he has averaged 11.1 PPG on .325/.268/.895 shooting splits, plus 4.4 APG and 2.6 RPG, far cries from his 2021/22 season averages of 20.1 PPG, 5.4 APG and 5.4 RPG.

Antetokounmpo and Middleton are both listed as probable to return vs. Detroit.

Bucks Notes: Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Lasry

Giannis Antetokounmpo will sit out for the fourth consecutive game due to left knee soreness when the Bucks play Toronto on Tuesday, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets.

However, it appears Antetokounmpo has a good chance to be back in action for the Bucks’ next game. Milwaukee doesn’t play again until Saturday, when it visits the Cavaliers. The team has gone 1-2 with Antetokounmpo resting his knee.

We have more on the Bucks:

  • Khris Middleton came back from wrist surgery, then dealt with a right knee injury. He admits it’s been a rough stretch for him physically, Nehm writes. “Rehab is tougher than actually playing games,” Middleton said. “More hours in the gym, harder stuff. Games are fun. You’re in and out. I won’t say easier, but games are supposed to be easier than practices and stuff like that, so I’m ready to put this (stuff) behind me and move on to the fun stuff.” Middleton has only appeared in seven games this season, with his most recent outing on Dec. 15.
  • A previous report revealed that team governor and co-owner Marc Lasry was looking to sell his stake in the franchise. Now, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that while he’s in no rush to sell off his portion of ownership, Lasry likely remains willing to sell at a high valuation. The Bucks have been valued by Forbes at $2.3 billion.
  • In case you missed it, the Bucks are among several teams interested in the Pistons’ leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic. Get the details here.

Injury Notes: Jokic, Giannis, Turner, Capela

The right wrist injury that sidelined Nuggets star Nikola Jokic on Friday has been “bothering him for a while,” head coach Michael Malone said before the game, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter links). However, the team doesn’t seem to have any long-term concerns about that wrist issue, which doesn’t appear to be serious, Singer adds.

While it may be true that Jokic has been dealing with the ailment for a while, the impact on his performance hasn’t exactly been noticeable. In his last 10 games, he has averaged 24.9 PPG, 11.2 RPG, and 10.9 APG on .625/.524/.889 shooting.

Jokic and the Nuggets made the decision to sit him on Friday to let the wrist “calm down” a little, according to Malone, who expressed optimism that the two-time MVP will be available again on Sunday.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the league:

  • Another former MVP has been dealing with a nagging injury, and it will sideline him on Saturday — Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is out for a second consecutive game due to left knee soreness, head coach Mike Budenholzer confirmed (Twitter link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). Antetokounmpo scored single-digit points last Friday for the first time all season, then did it again on Wednesday, so it certainly seems like the knee pain has been bothering him.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner missed a second straight game on Friday due to back spasms, and while head coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t expect to be a long-term problem, he said the big man is unlikely to play on Saturday, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “It will be days, not hours, how about that?” Carlisle said. “There’s no concern that this will be anything but a minor thing. (Saturday) is maybe a reach. … Next week is more likely, but we’ll see.”
  • Hawks center Clint Capela missed his ninth consecutive game on Friday due to a right calf strain. Capela is making steady progress, but is still feeling some soreness in his calf, and as long as that’s the case, the injury isn’t healed, according to head coach Nate McMillan, who said there’s still no timeline for the 28-year-old’s return (Twitter links via Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal Constitution).

Central Notes: Mitchell, Bayno, Jackson, Antetokounmpo

Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell hopes he’ll get a warm reception when he returns to play in Utah on Tuesday for the first time since the Jazz traded him, he told Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“I don’t know what the response will be. I hope it’s cheers,” the Cavs star said. “We did a lot of great things there. Obviously, we didn’t accomplish our end goal. But I had a lot of positives despite not winning a championship. That’s not easy. Only one team does it. We had five cracks at it, and we missed.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons assistant coach Bill Bayno is back on the bench and traveling again after undergoing surgery for prostate cancer, James Edwards III of The Athletic writes. “Thank God I got this while I was with an NBA team,” he said. “When you have good employer health insurance, it makes a huge difference.” The cancer was discovered during a screening while the Pistons were participating in the Summer League.
  • Pacers big man Isaiah Jackson, who had fallen out of the rotation, had an eventful and busy week, as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files notes. He was sent to Fort Wayne in the G League and played back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday. He then played 15 minutes, contributing 12 points and two blocks, in Indiana’s game against Portland on Friday. “A little tired, but I feel like that’s all mental for me right now,” he said on Sunday. “I just want to see how hard I can push myself. … I was like I might as well just to keep that momentum up. I feel good for the most part.”
  • The Bucks have hit a rough patch but Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t panicking, as he told Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Even though we’ve lost a few games, we’re still second or third in the East,” he said. “There’s no reason to panic but there’s a reason for us to be urgent, have urgency in the way we practice and the way we play the game. But we have a chance, so as long as we get better every single day, we have a chance to be great when it matters the most.” Milwaukee has dropped six of its last nine games.

Central Notes: Antetokounmpo, Holiday, LaVine, Drummond, Mitchell

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday are both available to play for the Bucks tonight against Washington, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Antetokounmpo sat out Sunday’s loss to Washington due to left knee soreness. Holiday has not played since Christmas Day due to a non-COVID illness.

The Bucks have listed Khris Middleton (right knee soreness) and George Hill (non-COVID illness) as out.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Zach LaVine, in the first season of a five-year max contract, admits he needs to do a better job giving consistent effort on the defensive end, he told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “That might just be finishing plays as well as the possession goes on,’’ the Bulls’ wing said. “Getting a rebound, one more contest, one more rotation, one more effort … and you know, you can take that on the chin and say, ‘Yeah, there’s been possessions where if I have to make that last rotation, I have to give a better effort toward that.’ That’s something I do have to be better at.’’
  • Bulls center Andre Drummond thought he’d spend his entire career with the team that drafted him, the Pistons, he told Mike Curtis of the Detroit News (subscription required). “For me, (Detroit) was always a place that I thought I was going to be for my entire career. But, it didn’t go that way,” he said. “They had other plans; I think they wanted to restart their team again and it’s never any hard feelings. I know the way of the business. It’s always love. I love (Pistons owner) Tom Gores. I love his family. I love the city of Detroit and I love the staff there.” Drummond played seven-and-a-half seasons with Detroit before he was traded to Cleveland.
  • Donovan Mitchell‘s 71-point eruption on Monday has washed away his disappointing postseason performances with Utah last season, Michael Pina of The Ringer writes. The 25-year-old Mitchell has been as efficient offensively as he’s ever been during his career. If he can sustain that, the Cavaliers got a special talent that rarely gets traded, particularly before the player reaches age 30.

International Notes: Parker, Dorsey, Vildoza, Antetokounmpo, Doncic

The EuroLeague may be the next stop for Jabari Parker, according to a Eurohoops story. Parker spent eight years in the NBA, including 12 games with the Celtics last season, but he hasn’t played since being released last January.

“Jabari is looking for overseas opportunities now,” Parker’s agent, Nuno Pedroso, said in an interview with Mozzart Sport. “He was close to signing with two NBA teams, but it didn’t work out and now we (are) checking options overseas.”

Pedroso also denied a recent report linking Parker to Partizan Belgrade, saying, “Regarding Partizan, nothing is on the table or close to it. We just inform them that he’s available. News that there are advanced talks is not true.”

Parker, 27, was the second pick in the 2014 draft, but a pair of torn knee ligaments hampered his career. After spending his first four seasons with Milwaukee, he bounced around the league with short stays in Chicago, Washington, Atlanta, Sacramento and Boston. He averaged just 9.3 minutes per game with the Celtics in 2021/22 before being released in January in advance of his contract becoming guaranteed.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Tyler Dorsey, who was waived by the Mavericks last week, will see if he can land a 10-day NBA contract before considering his options overseas, sources tell Aris Barkas of Eurohoops. Barkas cites three EuroLeague teams — Fenerbahce, Olympiacos and AS Monaco — that have shown interest in Dorsey, a 26-year-old wing who was averaging 24.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 17 games this season with the G League Texas Legends. Teams can begin offering 10-day contracts on Thursday.
  • Luca Vildoza, who appeared in seven games for the Bucks during last year’s playoffs, has earned EuroLeague Player of the Month honors for December, according to another Eurohoops story. Vildoza signed with KK Crvena Zvezda in mid-October when Milwaukee released him before the start of the regular season.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic will square off in Athens, Greece, this summer before the start of the FIBA World Cup, per a Eurohoops report. Antetokounmpo’s Greek team will host Slovenia in an August 4 exhibition game that will mark the stars’ first meeting in an international competition.