NBA

Middleton and Lopez wish Giannis the best, just not against Team USA at World Cup

By Sports Desk August 07, 2019

Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez wished their MVP-winning Milwaukee Bucks team-mate Giannis Antetokounmpo the best with Greece at the FIBA World Cup, just not against the United States.

Middleton and Lopez watched as Antetokounmpo dominated in the NBA last season after he averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists while helping the Bucks clinch in the number one seed and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Bucks pair heaped praise on Antetokounmpo, even if they are set to be his rivals at the upcoming World Cup in China.

"There are just so many possessions, so many dunks, but the vision, the unselfishness that he has, it's just so impressive for a superstar of his talent," Lopez told reporters on Wednesday. "And his work ethic is just what amazes me the most, it’s really second to none."

"Every night he steps on that court, you know he's going to give it his all," Middleton added. "You know he's due for one of those big plays."

Middleton and Lopez will not be Antetokounmpo's team-mates at the World Cup, which gets underway in China on August 31.

Antetokounmpo will lead Greece, who have been drawn in Group F alongside New Zealand, Brazil and Montenegro.

Reigning champions Team USA, meanwhile, will face Turkey, Czech Republic and Japan in Group E.

"We've spent hours in practice against each other and it will definitely be fun to get it in a real game," Middleton said. "That's my team-mate, my brother and wish him the best but hopefully not too good against us."

There is no guarantee Middleton will get a chance to match up with Antetokounmpo, but it is not out of the realm of possibility, either.

If both teams finish in the top two of their pools, they could get a chance to face off down the line.

It is something Lopez said USA are not planning for yet but admitted it would be a difficult task on defense, just like it was for every NBA team this past season.

"It would be a total team job," Lopez said. "All five guys have to be on the same page all doing our job."

Related items

  • Timberwolves need Wiggins 'to be a main contributor' – Rosas Timberwolves need Wiggins 'to be a main contributor' – Rosas

    The Minnesota Timberwolves need Andrew Wiggins to be more consistent, according to president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas.

    Wiggins signed a five-year, $146.5million extension with the Timberwolves in October 2017, but the 24-year-old regressed over the last two NBA seasons. 

    Rosas was asked about Wiggins – the 2015 Rookie of the Year – and his development during an appearance at the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday.

    "Andrew in particular with his talent and physical abilities, the potential he's shown, we've got to get that on a more consistent basis," Rosas told the Star Tribune. 

    "He's focused on it as well. In order for us to have the success we want to have, he's got to be a main contributor. He understands that, we understand that."

    The Timberwolves acquired Wiggins from the Cleveland Cavaliers before his rookie season as the centrepiece of the Kevin Love trade.

    Wiggins averaged 18.1 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting a career-low 41.2 per cent from the field in 2018-19.

    Rosas thinks Wiggins will benefit from playing under Ryan Saunders, who was named the Timberwolves head coach after serving in an interim role to end last season. 

    "To be fair to [Wiggins], he needs some continuity in terms of coaching, philosophy, strategy and style of play," Rosas said. "We think he's going to be one of the better beneficiaries of this style of play.

    "His physical tools, talent and skill. We do feel there's a lot of upside for him. He's worked very hard this summer. He's been committed to everything that we've done."

    The Timberwolves finished 2018-19 with a 36-46 record and missed the playoffs.

     

  • Harden blames 'media narrative' for Giannis winning MVP race Harden blames 'media narrative' for Giannis winning MVP race

    James Harden believes a media narrative was behind Giannis Antetokounmpo beating him to being named NBA MVP for 2018-19.

    Houston Rockets guard and 2018 MVP Harden averaged 36.1 points in the regular season – the most since Michael Jordan tallied 37.1 in 1986-87 – and went on a stunning run of 32 30-point games in succession.

    However, Antetokounmpo was the best player for the Milwaukee Bucks, who finished the regular season with the best record of any team. He averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

    "[It was] one for the books. Even when I'm gone, they're going to talk about it," Harden said to 97.9 The Box of his season, before offering his thoughts on how the MVP race unfolded.

    "It's out of my control. Once the media, they create a narrative about somebody from the beginning of the year, I think they just take that narrative and just run with it the entire year.

    "I don't want to get into details. All I can do is control what I can do, and I went out there and did what I was supposed to do at a high level. There's only a few other seasons that anybody has ever done that before.

    "People were tuned in to how many points I was going to score the next game. It was a thing. But I can't control that. The only thing I can control is coming back next year and being better than I was, and winning a championship."

    The Rockets dealt Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder to add 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook to their roster for 2019-20 and Harden is eager to get going.

    "I'm excited. Obviously, Chris did an unbelievable job the two years that he was here. He's helped our organisation and team a tremendous amount. But we have most of the same core guys coming back, and then we add Russ," he said.

    "We all know how Russ plays, and he's even a greater guy off the court. It's difficult playing against him, just because he plays with that aggression. He plays with that anger. But it's going to be better to have him on our team now.

    "Now we've got him and PJ [Tucker] … crazy together. We've got a lot of guys who are return and then you add Russ, it's something special."

    On potential opponents in next year's playoffs, Harden added: "It don't even matter because we focus on ourselves. We've got so much talent in that locker room, and our organisation is so great.

    "We don't pay attention to other teams. We just focus on what we control, our team, and being the best we can be. Whoever we face, let's get it on."

  • Trail Blazers' Lillard on joining super team: What's the fun in that? Trail Blazers' Lillard on joining super team: What's the fun in that?

    Damian Lillard does not intend to move on from the Portland Trail Blazers to team up with other NBA stars any time soon.

    The guard signed a four-year, $196million extension with the Trail Blazers and refuses to "sell out" for championship rings by leaving the city that picked him sixth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.

    Lillard spoke with Complex on Wednesday and discussed his thoughts about super teams.

    "I think people are taking control because there's no greater time to do it than now," Lillard said.

    "And I don't have a problem with that, but the way I see stuff is, like, I don't prefer to go that route. Just like they're choosing to do this stuff for their career, I'm choosing to do what I want for mine, too."

    This offseason was an eventful one in the NBA. Kevin Durant elected to part ways with the Golden State Warriors to join the Brooklyn Nets, Anthony Davis forced his way to the Los Angeles Lakers via trade request and Paul George leveraged his way to an ideal situation when he joined Kawhi Leonard on the Los Angeles Clippers. 

    The balance of power has shifted in the NBA because of these moves, but Lillard wants to stay put and win it all on his own terms.

    "To leave, what did I invest all this time for just to leave, you know?" Lillard said. "If I go play with three other stars, I don't think that many people would doubt that I could win it. We would win it, but what is the challenge or the fun in that?"

    Lillard, a four-time All-Star, has consistently been one of the best guards in the NBA in recent years. He has career averages of 23.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists and has developed a reputation for knocking down clutch shots – like the signature dagger that eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder from the 2018-19 playoffs.

    "I wanna be the one, the star that wants to be here [in Portland]," Lillard said. "I wanna be the one that embodies all of those things and then be a part of the rise from 'we haven't won since '77, and now we won, and Dame's everything to our city'. I just am who I am, and that fits here."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.