Why James Harden’s comments about Giannis are simply wrong

As team captain of the 2020 NBA Eastern Conference All Stars, Giannis Antetokounmpo drafted his team mates against Lebron James for the second year in a row. With two players left on the board, Giannis had the second to last pick. Kemba Walker and James Harden are left. Giannis chooses Kemba, and jokes that “I want someone who can pass the ball.” While this was a fun jab at James Harden taking lots of shots and not passing often, Harden’s ego couldn’t exactly handle it.

In a recent interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Harden snaps back at Giannis saying “I wish I could just run and be seven feet and just dunk. Like that takes no skill at all. I have to actually learn how to play basketball and have skill.”

There’s a lot to unpack here. First off, it is well known that James Harden believed and still believes that he should have won the MVP trophy last year over Giannis. He believes that his scoring ability is above any other players in the game, and that no one even comes close. While Harden does put up insane scoring totals on a regular basis, I’d have to argue that this isn’t true.

During the 2018-2019 season, when Harden led all scorers with 2,818 points, he also led the league in shot attempts. Before I reveal how many shots he took last season, lets look at respective field goal percentages.

Giannis made 57.8% of the shots he attempted last season. That is an extremely high field goal percentage, especially for a power forward who has a taller center playing on the court at the same time. Harden on the other hand, shot 44%. Okay… not the worst fg% ever, but best scorer of all time numbers? Not exactly. That same year, similar scorers like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and even Demar Derozan were shooting 47%, 46%, and 48%.

So Harden misses some shots, but how many? Well, last season, Harden led the NBA in field goal attempts with 1,909. I’ll let that sink in for a second. He scored 2,818 points, on 1,909 shot attempts. With nearly 2,000 shot attempts, the “best scorer in the league” only made 843. Giannis was third in shot attempts, at 1,247, and he made 721 of them. Not only was the third highest volume shooter in the league taking 662 less shots than the shot attempt leader, he only made 122 less shots!!!

So just by looking at the numbers we can see that there are some issues with James Harden’s confidence, but what can we discern just by watching the game of basketball.

We can watch James Harden. We can see a guy take shot after shot, missing most of them, and heading to the free throw line more than any other player in the NBA. We’ll see him put up just horrible shots with the hope that it might go in. We’ll see lots of arguing with referees, lots and lots of foul calls, and a ton of borderline travels. In my opinion, it’s not the most exciting basketball to watch. Here’s an example below.

Giannis on the other hand has been very rapidly making the sport of basketball feel a bit more normal. The dude is aggressive. He attacks the rim, runs plays, and physically dominates the other players on the court. He doesn’t whine and beg for calls from officials, he simply plays hard.

Here’s an example:

When asked to comment on James Harden’s comments, Giannis kept it simple: “I never tried to take shots at anybody…My game is not just power for sure. I came in when I was 18, I was 180 pounds, so to power through big guys was kind of tough.”

If anyone in the league has worked hard to acquire the skill it takes to play basketball, it is Giannis, the skinny kid who worked his way from the slums of Greece to the MVP award ceremony.

If anybody is good for the game of basketball, it’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Fear the Deer: Why you don’t want your team playing the Bucks in the post season

Following a 108 – 97 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the Milwaukee Bucks have reached 50 wins, and have clinched a playoff spot. It’s February. The 2019-2020 Bucks have passed the legendary Golden State Warriors in the fastest playoff spot clinch. This team is scary.

During the preseason, all the hype was surrounding the two LA teams. The Lakers looked stacked with their addition of big-man scoring machine Anthony Davis, and the Clippers seemed to be just unfair, adding Finals MVP Kawhii Leonard and perennial all-star Paul George. Right now, both teams are looking great. The Lakers are sitting atop the West with a record of 44-12, while the Clippers are not far behind with their record of 38-19.

Both LA teams have been dominant, but unfortunately, don’t even come close to the sheer cruelty the Bucks have shown this season. The Clippers are 6th overall in winning margin, averaging wins by 5.7 points. The Lakers are second in scoring margin, an accomplishment that in normal circumstances would seem great, averaging wins by 7.4 points.

The Bucks are averaging 12.2 points over their victims. This may not seem like a huge feat, only five points more than the Lakers, but let me put into context why this number is so jaw dropping.

In the last 20 years, the only other team to average over 11 points in margin victory was the 2016-2017 Warriors, the Warriors that would win 67 games in the regular season and then win the NBA finals. In the HISTORY of the NBA, the only teams with higher averages in victory margin, are the 1995 Bulls with Michael Jordan, and the 1971 Lakers with Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and the legendary Wilt Chamberlain.

What’s especially terrifying about this Bucks team, is how similar they are to the 1995 Bulls with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Michael Jordan = Giannis Antetokounmpo. Michael Jordan won MVP that season, Giannis won last season and is looking to repeat. Scottie Pippen = Khris Middleton. Both complementary pieces to their MVPs who are great at what the MVPs lack.

If the Bucks keep this pace up, I’m afraid there is no team in the NBA that will be able to stop them. Not only will they be cemented as one of the greatest teams ever, look to Giannis being entered into the GOAT conversation.

Damian Lillard: MVP Contender?

The Portland Trail Blazers are a team that many thought would be playoff contenders, but after a rough start to the season, that was put into question. Following multiple losing streaks, the Blazers picked up Carmelo Anthony, who added a much needed scoring boost.

However, even with Carmelo, the Blazers still seemed to not be 100%. Now that we are approaching the end of the regular season however, there is one person that is carrying the team towards the eighth seed in the west: Damian Lillard.

“Dolla” Dame Lillard is averaging 30 points and 8 assists on the season, but is averaging 34 points per game since January 1st, and 41.5 over the last 10 games.

Lillard is carrying the team on his back and it is impressive to say the least. The Blazers are winning games they should lose simply because of the clutch play by Lillard. He’s shooting 40% from three, and 49% overall. The guy is a walking bucket.

Is this enough to make Dame an MVP candidate? Well, let’s look at what an MVP candidate should be.

In my opinion, a regular season MVP should be judged based on these five qualifications:

1. Are his stats better or comparable to the best in the league?

2. Does he make his teammates better?

3. Is the team better when he is on the floor?

4. Is he helping the team to win games?

5. How much better does he make the team than other teams in the league?

Well, to answer the first question,yes. Damian Lillard right now is first in the league in scoring, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. With James Harden taking a dip in his efficiency, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lillard take home the regular season scoring award.

He also checks the second and third box. When Damian Lillard plays more minutes, the team does significantly better. Period.

Boxes four and five however, is what time will tell. As of now, the team holds the ninth seed in the west, and is desperately fighting to get to the eighth seed. If Dame can manage to carry his team into the playoffs, I’d say he’s in the conversation.

Until then, unfortunately, it is too hard to even mention him in the same conversation with players such as Giannis “The Greek Freak” who is leading his team to a wildly impressive 46-7 record.

It will be extremely interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out. If Dame manages to take his team to the playoffs and they make a run (even though the play offs aren’t supposed to matter in voting, they often do) then he will definitely be in the conversation.

Post Trade Deadline NBA

Following the Summer of 2019, most analysts thought that we wouldn’t see much movement this year before the trade deadline. There was a massive shift of power during the off-season, and most teams looked cemented. However, there have been some significant trades made in the last few weeks that will surely affect the landscape of the NBA moving forward. Let’s take a look.

Sixers, Warriors, Magic Three Way Trade

The Sixers add Alec Burks and Glen Robinson III to their bench from the Golden State Warriors and a second round pick.

The Warriors receive 3 second round picks

The Magic receive James Ennis.

Clippers and Knicks Trade

The Clippers add Marcus Morris and Isaih Thomas (Thomas will be waived)

The Knicks add Maurice Harkless, and a 2020 first round pick.

The Wizards receive Jerome Robinson.

Cavs – Pistons Odd Trade

The Cavs receive Andre Drummond.

The Pistons receive Brandon Knight, John Henson, 2023 second round pick.

Warriors Timberwolves Trade

The Warriors Receive Andrew Wiggins, 2021 first round pick, 2022 second round pick.

The Timberwolves receive D’Angelo Russell.

Heat, Grizzlies, Timberwolves Trade

The Heat receive Andre Iguodala, Solomon Hill, Jae Crowder.

The Grizzlies receive Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, Gorgui Dieng.

The Timberwolves receive James Johnson.


A lot went down, and not all of it is exactly straight forward. Here is what we can take away from this star studded trade period.

The Miami Heat are looking to win, and they are looking to win this year. Picking up Andre Iguodala and his massive contract is no small move, and adding a veteran to their roster who has won multiple championships is a great move to get the team in contention THIS year. In my opinion, this bumped the heat up to the two seed in the East.

The Clippers will do whatever it takes to make sure the Lakers don’t get what they want. There had been no talk of the Clippers being interested in Marcus Morris until it was released that the Lakers were in trade talks with the Knicks. It’s obvious that the Clippers number one priority is to beat the Lakers, and so far, they are doing an outstanding job of that.

Cleveland is looking to make a lot of moves in the off season. It is now common knowledge that big man Kevin Love is not happy with the Cavs. It’s also been made known that the Cavs are looking to trade star back up center Tristan Thompson. By picking up center Andre Drummond from the Pistons, the Cavs have set themselves up to make a massive trade in the off-season by shedding both Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love.

The Warriors have said goodbye to the 2020 season and are all about the future. They picked up five draft picks during this trading period. FIVE. Look for the Warriors to be right back where they were by next year with a healthy Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and quite a few young stars. If I were a betting man, I’d say be prepared for Lamelo Ball to be a Warrior.

The Timberwolves are getting desperate. D’Angelo Russell is a huge pick up for them, but is he really what they need? The Wolves have been on a massive losing streak, and now they have traded numerous pieces so that they can pick up their star center’s friend. Seems like an odd move to me, but time will tell how this plays out for Minnesota.

Finally, and sadly, the BIG loser of the trade period. The Los Angeles Lakers. Over the past few weeks, we have seen that the Lakers have some pretty glaring issues. The biggest is their inconsistent shooting outside of Lebron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers have lost twice to their rivals, the Clippers, and it seems that they just can’t win big games. This is BAD news for the playoffs. One more addition, such as Derrick Rose, Marcus Morris, Bojan Bogdonovic, would have been huge for the Lakers. Instead, while contending teams got stronger, the Lakers remain stagnant. Following a ten point loss to the Rockets, it would be nice to see them start to show some motivation. Right now, I feel very uneasy about where the Lakers sit.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Please feel free to subscribe to receive email updates for when new blogs are posted!

– Beau

Derrick Rose: Is he worth it for the Lakers?

Let’s take a trip through memory lane. The year is 2008. Derrick Rose is drafted as the number one overall pick to the Chicago Bulls. All eyes are on the 20 year old as he makes his NBA debut, and the eyes are not disappointed. The young star can BALL.

Rose was Rookie of the Year in 2009, and an All Star in his second, third, and fourth seasons. He averaged over 20 points in each of those seasons. He was quickly admired by the rap world for his insane game, by rappers such as Kanye West, Drake, Jay Z, and more.

In 2011, Derrick Rose won the MVP award at the age of 23. 23! The youngest MVP ever.

Then, in 2012, his career took a drastic turn. Derrick Rose tore his ACL, and missed the entire season. It was a major shock to the basketball community. He would go on to only play 10 games the next season, before tearing his meniscus in his right knee.

Rose would subsequently be traded from the Bulls to the Knicks, where he would undergo a civil lawsuit, fines from the team, and then in 2017, he would tear his meniscus in his left knee.

Could things have gone worse for Derrick Rose? D Rose. The stunning, exhilarating, exciting baller from the Bulls, took more hits than almost any athlete in the history of sports.

But he kept pushing. From the Knicks he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, from the Cavs to the Jazz, from the Jazz to the Timberwolves, and from the Wolves to the Pistons.

Now, in his 12th season, Rose is making his comeback. Having had lots of physical therapy, time with his family, and self reflection, Rose is averaging 19 points, 6 assists, and is shooting 50%. Rose has been quoted saying “Most guys would have been retired.” But not Derrick Rose.

Rose has a certain something about him that has kept him going through all the trials and tribulations. Through the injuries and lawsuits, through the trades and team fines, Derrick Rose is in his twelfth season and finally starting to shine again.

So what drives Rose? Why hasn’t he hung it up? Why did Rose put up with all the injuries and all the scrutiny over the years? To me, the answer is simple. He has something to prove. He’s not yet shown his full capability. Clearly the talent is there.

So, is Derrick Rose worth it for the Lakers? Well, let’s take a look at where the Lakers sit.

The Lakers are first in the Western Conference, with their eyes set on a title. To most Lakers fans, myself included, anything less than a championship this season is a failure. Lebron James and Anthony Davis have been an absolute show on the court. But that’s been about it. Lebron and Anthony Davis.

The Lakers scoring outside of their two superstars has been inconsistent to say the least. Kyle Kuzma, the third year player who everyone had hoped would be the Lakers third scoring option, has been extremely hit or miss, and not at all inspiring. Danny Green, the so called sharpshooter that the Lakers acquired in the off season, is shooting just 41%, and averaging only 8 points per game. Aside from big men Javale Mcgee and Dwight Howard, the Lakers seem to be lacking that third scoring option, that trusted person on the court handling the basketball.

Welcome Derrick Rose. The twelfth year veteran who is on a tour to prove himself in the league. Someone who has tasted the spotlight as the youngest MVP, has fought through injuries and trials, and is still hungry for something. What better motivation for Derrick Rose is there than to win a championship.

Is Derrick Rose worth trading multiple pieces for? Absolutely.

Trade Deadline: Trade Talks and Rumors (As of Tuesday, February 4th 2020)

With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, many fans are waiting anxiously to hear how their teams are going to look as we approach All-Star weekend. While no trades have yet been confirmed, here are the rumors that are circling around the basketball community.

Houston Rockets:

The Rockets are rumored to be in talks with teams to trade Clint Capela. How viable this information is, who knows, at it seems the Rockets would be at even more of a disadvantage without their big fella. However, multiple sources are reporting that Clint is on the trading block.

Charlotte Hornets:

The Hornets are apparently interested in acquiring Julius Randle from the New York Knicks. It is unclear what the Hornets have to offer the Knicks, or how either team would benefit from this trade.

Memphis Grizzlies:

The Grizzlies are still sitting on Andre Iguodala, who appears to have created preferred list to be traded. This list was leaked in an attempt to ward off teams less desirable teams, however this shouldn’t ward off the Grizzlies from trying to get rid of him. Right now, he is an annoyance on a rebuilding young team, that should be gotten rid of as soon as possible.

Recap of Monday February 3rd, Looking Towards Tuesday the 4th

First off let me just say, I could not have been more spot on with my predictions last night. The Heat absolutely dominated the 76ers, and while Joel Embiid wasn’t exactly shut down, the team as a whole was. The Knicks vs the Cavs was an extremely high scoring affair, handily covering the over as I predicted. Finally, the Kings beat the Timberwolves, extending Karl Anthony Towns losing streak into February. The man just can’t catch a break.

Around the NBA on Monday, the Clippers eked out a win against the Spurs, with the final score being 108-105. Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers, posting 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists, while shooting 8/17.

The Mavericks earned their 31st win against the Pacers, tying both teams records at 31-19. The Mavs were led by an impressive Kristaps Porzingis, who had 38 points and 12 rebounds. If the Mavericks want to make a run in the playoffs, Porzingis is going to have to start posting more games like he did tonight.

Tuesday February 4th

Looking ahead to Tuesday, there are only four games. The Milwaukee Bucks are traveling to New Orleans to visit the young Pelicans team, the Charlotte Hornets are traveling to Houston to take on James Harden and the Rockets, and the Denver Nuggets are hosting the Portland Trailblazers. Finally, the Los Angeles Lakers play the San Antonio Spurs, which should be a simple win for the Lakeshow.

Tomorrow I think the big thing to look for is Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek Freak, having a career night against the Pelicans. The Pelicans will likely match up Brandon Ingram against the freak, and while I mean no disrespect to the first time All Star, he simply does not match up to the reigning MVP. I expect Giannis to put up lots of scoring, 3+ blocks, and a triple double.

The Nuggets should seemingly handle the Trailblazers, however Damian Lillards recent boom in production makes this game a must watch for all NBA fans. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Dame have another high scoring night in this Western Conference match-up.

In other NBA news, there are talks all around the league about possible trades before the upcoming trade deadline on Thursday. While I don’t expect many exciting trades to happen, there are rumors that the Lakers are interested in acquiring Derrick Rose. Having the youngest MVP ever would be a huge boost to the Lakers star power, however what they would have to give up in order to make that trade work, I’m not sure. Time will tell.

Check back tomorrow for your night time fantasy DFS picks! Thank you all so much for reading, please be sure to check back soon!

– Beau

Welcome To Balling Stats – Preview of Monday February 3rd

Hello everyone, my name is Beau Russell and I am super pumped to welcome you all to my new NBA news and editorial blog!

I am a fanatical Lakers fan, born and raised in Los Angeles, but I will always present the facts as facts, and my opinions as opinions. As a life-long Lakers fan, this last week has been rough for me, as well as many others, as we come to accept a world without Kobe Bryant. It’s my hope that for the rest of the season we can all watch the game of basketball with the joy and appreciation that Kobe had for the game.

Without further ado, I would love to get into the games of this week.

Monday February 3rd:

New York Knicks Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

This game is going to be a disaster.

The Knicks, who have been an inconsistent shooting all year, have marked forward Julius Randle as questionable against the Cavs on Monday. Guard Frank Ntilikina also has a questionable tag placed on him, meaning that their two top scorers may or may not play. RJ Barrett will also sit. This leaves the door open for some guys such as Bobby Portis who haven’t seen as much playing time to show what they got against a team who simply does not protect the basket.

The Cavs however will be playing all five starters led by Collin Sexton and Kevin Love. Sexton and Love have been shooting 46% and 45% respectively, which aren’t bad figures. The issue is that the Cavs have adopted a team policy of only playing their five starters, who are averaging 31 minutes per game, leaving very little time for rest. This has shown itself on the court with inconsistent scoring, and almost non-existent defense.

I look at this game as a high scoring affair, with everyone getting open shots. If you plan on taking the over/under, take the over. If you’re looking for value fantasy picks for your DFS slate on Monday, I would look to the Knicks bench for some unusual scoring.

Philadelphia 76ers Vs. Miami Heat

The 76ers are coming off a two game losing streak against the dismal Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics. They are going into Miami, who are 21-3 at home. Not only have they not been able to score well as a team, there is clearly something seriously wrong with their star center Joel Embiid. Embiid is coming off of a game against the Celtics where he shot… wait for it… 1 for 11. The man is 7 feet tall. Playing against the Celtics. Embiid was matched up against Daniel Theis, who is only 6’8, and is one of the WORST paint defenders in the league. If the Sixers hope to get out of this slump and start looking like a play off team again, the big man has got to figure out what’s going on with his scoring.

I predict he won’t, and Bam Adebayo, who is one of the best defensive players in the league, will shut Embiid down. The 76ers have lost to Miami in their two last meetings, and I expect the trend to continue here.

Minnesota Timberwolves Vs. Sacramento Kings

These are two teams I don’t see generating much excitement, but I feel there is one glaring stat that needs to be addressed, because it is simply depressing.

Karl Anthony Towns has been all the hype for the last two years, and now the big man is averaging 26.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists, while shooting 51% overall, and 41% from beyond the arc. The guy is a bonafide BEAST.

However….the man has not won a game since NOVEMBER 27th. It is February. What is happening with the Timberwolves? They have gone on two 11 game losing streaks this season, and can’t seem to figure it out, even with their monster presence in the paint.

I expect them to beat the Kings tomorrow, and I expect a monster game from the big KAT. However, I won’t be too surprised if they fall short again, and add to the losing column.

Fantasy Picks:

PG: Spencer Dinwiddie | Brooklyn Nets (With Kyrie Irving out, I expect big numbers from him.) $8,000

SG: Alec Burks | Golden State Warriors $5,300

SF: Cedi Osman | Cleveland Cavaliers $4,200

PF: Kevin Love | Cleveland Cavaliers $7,100

C: Karl Anthony Towns | Minnesota Timberwolves $10,600

G: Duncan Robinson | Miami Heat $4,400

F: Isaac Bonga | Washington Wizards $3,400

Util: Jarrett Allen | Brooklyn Nets $6,700

Thanks so much for reading guys, be sure to check back in tomorrow for more fantasy picks, game predictions, and more!

– Beau