Emile Heskey cannot choose between Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski, as he claimed there are "parallels" between the duo.

Kane scored a hat-trick – his third for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga – in a 4-0 rout of Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker on Saturday.

The England captain has now scored 15 league goals for Bayern, setting a new record for goals from a player in the first 10 games of their maiden Bundesliga season. He is only the fourth player to score at least three goals in three different games in his debut season in the Bundesliga.

Bayern had been in search of a focal point to lead their line since Robert Lewandowski's departure to Barcelona in 2022, with Sadio Mane having failed to fill the Poland forward's boots following his switch from Liverpool.

Asked if Kane has been the ideal replacement for Lewandowski, who holds the record for the number of Bundesliga goals from a foreign player (312), former England striker Heskey told Stats Perform: "They're similar sort of players. When you're when you're talking about goals, I think it's a parallel.

"You can't really say there's an upgrade or downgrade or whatever it is. They're parallel, they're giving you goals.

"They might give you a different style of play, though, because I think Lewandowski is more runs in behind, he's really, really special with his movement off the ball when trying to get in and trying to get a one on one.

"Whereas Harry is more of a player who will come in, link, turn, have his shot, score goals from halfway line."

Kane has also scored twice in three Champions League games. He is just two goals from surpassing Paul Scholes as the third-highest English goalscorer in the competition. 

Heskey is unsure if Kane will prove the "missing piece" for Bayern's Champions League hopes, though the 30-year-old will do their chances no harm.

He said: "He'll perform but yeah, definitely, when it comes to goals, he'll definitely perform in that sense. Whether he's the missing piece and will take you to the final and eventually win it, only God will know.

"But he will definitely get you goals in any form of competition that he plays in. I remember Owen Hargreaves talking about when he first went to [Manchester] City, and they were talking about them winning the Champions League, and he said they were miles off it.

"He was saying, well, defensively, you can't be so open.

"Now I think if Bayern can be like what they're usually like, when it's quite close, quite compact, it's hard to beat with a Kane up front. You're going to get goals, you're going to get results."

Novak Djokovic could still win three majors next year but Gilles Simon reminded tennis fans the world number one is not "eternal" as he heads towards the end of his career.

Djokovic triumphed in three of the four majors in 2023, with September's US Open success taking him level with Margaret Court's record 24 grand slam triumphs.

Defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final, Djokovic – aged 36 years and 111 days – became the oldest winner of the men's singles title at the US Open, as well as winning a trio of majors in a year for the fourth time.

That saw him surpass Roger Federer – who won three grand slams in a year on three occasions.

Simon, though, warned that Djokovic cannot play on forever.

He told Stats Perform: "I think he can win some [majors, but] I think he's getting to an age where it is going to become difficult.

"Most of the observers want to believe that a player is eternal but none are more eternal than the others.

"I think he can win a lot next year; will he win one, two or three? Next year he can do one more big year, but I also think that it will be his last."

 

The 36-year-old Djokovic acknowledged the retirement speculation after his US Open victory, asking how long he can continue.

Simon likened the twilight of Djokovic's career to fellow great Federer, whose playing days were curtailed by injury and fitness issues.

"At one point like every player there's going to be a break, that was the case for Roger Federer, remember when he won in Australia at the age of 37 playing incredible tennis," Simon added.

"At Wimbledon, he could have won because he lost against Novak Djokovic on match point. Time never had a grip on him, he had never been injured, he played really well, and then all of a sudden he disappears."

Another of tennis' 'Big Three', Rafael Nadal has not played since January 18 at the Australian Open – again owing to injury problems as years of toiling on the court takes its toll on even the best.

"We have Rafael Nadal who we hope to see again next year, who got us accustomed to more traditional injuries, longer injuries and with doubts," Simon continued.

"Once again he wins the Australian Open, he wins at Roland Garros even with his history with his foot, he again has a semi-final at Wimbledon.

"We say no about Novak because he is more careful, but we said the same about Federer, he expends less energy, he has a more fluid game and technique, he preserved himself from injury.

"I think next year will be very interesting because it’s a year where he can again win, where he still has an advantage [ahead of the rest] but we saw him lose against [Carlos] Alcaraz at Wimbledon.

"I thought he would have more advantage on grass because of the experience he has compared to others and his game works so well on grass – but he is beatable."

Age has shown no sign of slowing Djokovic down yet after he lifted the Paris Masters trophy for a seventh time on Sunday, defeating Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets.

That victory marked his second hard-court ATP-1000 title of 2023, Djokovic managing multiple Masters titles in a single season for the ninth time in his career. Only Federer, having won multiple such events in a year six times in his time, can get near to that feat.

Yet Simon suggested 30 major triumphs may be out of Djokovic's reach due to the emergence of Alcaraz, who won at Wimbledon this year, and a gruelling schedule.

"He's so strong he knows how to prepare himself, but he can't do a series of tournaments," said the Frenchman, who won 14 career titles and reached a high of number six in the ATP rankings.

"If everything was going well he would be playing every week like when he was 25 years old, so that is what is missing.

"He looks after himself, ultra-professional and very strong. The US Open was important for him, I see him maybe doing one or two next year, but I am waiting to see for the next few years after that.

"I can't see him reaching 30 [majors] for example when Carlos Alcaraz could win two or three a year – I wish it for him but I don't see it like that."

The Rolex Paris Masters became the first Masters 1000 to broadcast its qualifying matches on Twitch, live on Rivenzi's channel.

Chelsea's spending should have the Blues competing for the Champions League but Jan Vertonghen says the quality of the Premier League and injury issues have hampered them.

The Blues once again splashed on big-money arrivals ahead of the 2023-24 season, bringing in the likes of Moises Caicedo, Romeo Lavia, Christopher Nkunku and Cole Palmer.

Caicedo's arrival broke the British record after his £115million move from Brighton, a mark only set in the previous season when Chelsea signed Benfica's Enzo Fernandez for £107m.

Their aggressive activity in the transfer market is yet to pay dividends, with Chelsea winning just three of their opening 10 Premier League games before Monday's visit to Tottenham.

Having also signed Axel Disasi, Nicolas Jackson and Robert Sanchez for significant fees, Vertonghen believes Chelsea's acquisitions should have helped a top-four challenge.

Former Tottenham defender Vertonghen, an Athlete Partner for APEX, told Stats Perform: "They had to make it into the Champions League.

"They signed so many players. When I saw the squad at the start of the year, I thought they had to reach the Champions League, with so many good young players and the signings they made."

Talented young midfielder Lavia and former RB Leipzig talisman Nkunku are yet to play a minute in the league for Chelsea due to injury.

With injuries taking their toll and the likes of Aston Villa, Brighton and Newcastle United exceeding expectations, Vertonghen acknowledged the struggles Chelsea face.

"They suffered a lot of injuries, and when you look how strong the Premier League is – it's not just Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, you've got Spurs doing well, Brighton, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Arsenal.

"It's not a top four or six anymore, it's a top nine or 10 at the moment, especially when you see United and Chelsea being so far out.

"It's not easy. Chelsea should do better, but they've suffered a lot of injuries."

While referencing the challenges his former rivals are up against, Vertonghen suggested Chelsea are in safe hands with Pochettino.

The Belgium defender worked closely with the Blues head coach when at Spurs, helping Pochettino's former side to the Champions League final in the 2018-19 campaign.

"He's very good at shaping a team, shaping a squad," added the 36-year-old, who made 232 appearances for Tottenham.

"I think that's what he did very well at Tottenham. He got the right players in, the right characters, who wanted to work in his system and we had the perfect squad for that.

"A very good young core of guys who wanted to work hard and achieve big things and in his team I learned how to work and get the best out of my body. That's what I learned from him."

Jan Vertonghen believes his former Tottenham team-mate Harry Kane could be the "missing link" that helps Bayern Munich back to Champions League glory.

Kane has enjoyed a superb start to his career with the Bavarian giants, scoring his third hat-trick of the season in Saturday's 4-0 Klassiker win over Borussia Dortmund, taking his Bundesliga tally to 15 after 10 matches. No player has ever scored more than 13 in their first 10 games in the competition.

He is already just one goal behind the number the 2022-23 top scorers managed (Christopher Nkunku and Niclas Fullkrug – 16), while he is halfway to the record for the most goals scored in a debut Bundesliga season, currently held by Uwe Seeler (30) in the 1963-1964 campaign.

His record-breaking form is giving Bayern fans hope that he can lead them to a seventh Champions League title and their first since the 2019-20 campaign, and Vertonghen, who reached the final of that competition alongside Kane with Spurs in the 2018-19 season, believes the England international can be the man to return Bayern to European success.

Asked if Kane could be the final puzzle piece to a Bayern Champions League win, Vertonghen, an Athlete Partner for APEX, told Stats Perform: "For sure.

"There's not a lot of great number nines at the moment – that's why Barcelona paid the money for [Robert] Lewandowski, that's why Bayern Munich paid the money for Harry.

"The young number nines are very rare – you have [Erling] Haaland, Gabriel Jesus. A lot of teams are looking for them.

"Harry was there, he's fit, he's got a lot of good years ahead of him and for sure he could be the missing link there."

Kane's Spurs exit in August saw him end a 19-year association with the club, leaving as the club's record goalscorer, having found the net 280 times in 435 appearances in all competitions.

Despite Kane's departure, Spurs have started the season very well under new head coach Ange Postecoglou and will return to the Premier League summit if they can beat Chelsea at home on Monday.

Vertonghen feels Kane would not have taken the decision to leave Spurs lightly, saying: "On his side it wasn't a no brainer, because Tottenham is in his heart – he's a legend there, everyone loves him, born and raised in London. It wasn't easy for him to leave, Tottenham really wanted to keep him as well.

"But I understand why he did it. He plays now for one of the biggest clubs in Europe, he probably thought he had more chance of adding some silverware.

"It's a shame for Tottenham, it's a shame for Harry – especially now you see the way they're performing now, but nobody would have predicted that.

"Everyone at Spurs wants him to do well; he's a legend, a great guy and he never put a foot wrong for Tottenham. He never complained, even in the bad times, he was always there as a leader, so everyone just wants him to do well."

Tottenham can go all the way in the Premier League title race after making a brilliant start to life under Ange Postecoglou, says former Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen.

Postecoglou has made the best-ever start by a Premier League manager across their first 10 games in charge, leading Spurs to eight wins and two draws while implementing a vibrant brand of possession-based football.

The former Celtic boss could become just the third manager to go unbeaten through his first 11 games in the competition when Spurs host London rivals Chelsea on Monday. 

Frank Clark (with Nottingham Forest in 1994) and Maurizio Sarri (with Chelsea in 2018) are the only men to previously achieve that feat, with the latter avoiding defeat in his first 12 matches.

With new arrivals including James Maddison, Micky van de Ven and Guglielmo Vicario requiring no bedding-in period, Tottenham have made their best start to a top-flight season since 1960-61.

On that occasion, they won their first 10 games in the old First Division before capturing what remains their most recent league title.  

With a lack of European football giving Postecoglou more time to work with his players, Vertonghen believes Tottenham can dream of replicating that success.

"He's doing an unbelievable job," Vertonghen, an Athlete Partner for APEX, told Stats Perform when asked about Postecoglou's impact.

"Lots of things have happened since I left Tottenham, but this year they made all the right decisions. 

"They signed the right players, the right coach with the right mentality that the club has missed for a while. 

"He's doing an unbelievable job. I'm really enjoying watching them and I don't see why they can't go for the highest things possible. 

"All the other clubs are playing in Europe or struggling with injuries, and besides that, Spurs have a great team and that's very important as well. 

"They have the crowd behind them. I can see them going all the way."

Spurs face a familiar face next time out as Vertonghen's former boss Mauricio Pochettino returns to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with Chelsea on Monday.

Vertonghen's old club have won all four of their home league games under Postecoglou, with Manchester United and Liverpool among the teams to leave north London empty-handed in 2023-24.

Another victory would make Postecoglou the first coach to win his first five home games in the Premier League since May 2017, when Craig Shakespeare achieved the feat with Leicester City.

Jan Vertonghen believes Ajax have started to take steps towards a much-needed rebuild, though concedes things may get worse before they improve.

The 36-time Dutch champions have made an awful start to 2023-24, taking eight points from their first nine games of the Eredivisie season to sit 15th ahead of Sunday's meeting with Heerenveen.   

Maurice Steijn left his role as head coach by mutual consent with the club mired in 17th place last week, just four months after he joined from Sparta Rotterdam on a three-year deal.

Hedwiges Maduro then took charge as Ajax made unwanted history against PSV last Sunday, suffering a fifth successive Eredivisie defeat for the first time in their history as they were routed 5-2.

Ajax responded by appointing former winger John van 't Schip as interim coach this week, and his first game in charge resulted in a 2-0 win over FC Volendam on Thursday.

New boss Van 't Schip represented the club for 11 years as a player between 1981 and 1992, before returning as Marco van Basten's assistant coach in 2008.

While Vertonghen – who began his career with Ajax before leaving for Tottenham in 2012 – knows his old club have a long road ahead of them, he believes they have the right structure in place to bounce back.

"It hurts. Obviously, [Ajax] can't win the league every year, but where they are now is not good," Vertonghen, an Athlete Partner for APEX, told Stats Perform.

"It was bad on every level, but sometimes you have to hit lows to get back up. I think they're getting the structure back right. 

"Obviously, they've given a lot of power to someone who wasn't familiar with the culture at Ajax [Steijn]. In three or four months, a lot of damage was done. 

"Where they are now doesn't reflect the quality of the squad at all. Bringing in 13 or 14 new players and a new coach, it takes time, and at Ajax you don't get that time. You need to perform. Being second is not good enough. 

"They've got some people back at the club with Ajax in their heart, who want the best for Ajax. So, yeah, it will take a while, and hopefully they can get into Europe this year."

Vertonghen moved to his homeland to represent Anderlecht last September, but he endured a dismal first campaign with the 34-time Belgian champions, who finished 11th in the Pro League.

However, Anderlecht have bounced back under Brian Riemer this campaign, sitting second in the table ahead of back-to-back away games against title rivals Cercle Brugge and Gent.

Asked about Anderlecht's upturn, Vertonghen said: "Last year was a very, very bad and disappointing season, but we had a very good transfer window. 

"We made great signings, people that didn't really fit in left, and we brought in some young guys and experienced players; Kasper Schmeichel, for example, guys who want to win. 

"That's what we need. The atmosphere in the team is great. We have a very, very strong squad of 20 to 25 players. In Belgium, it works with a play-off system. If you get into the top six, you go through to the championship play-off, and that's our ambition: to be in that top six. 

"Whoever's in the top six can be champions. It's important for all the teams who have the ambition to achieve the highest things to be in that top six. 

"There are eight or nine teams fighting for that top six, and then we'll see. At the moment, we're second but still only a couple of points from seventh, so now we have two massive games.

"It's massive for us, two away games as well, so if you lose those two games, you can be seventh. That's how close it is, so we have to get at least four points out of those two games."

Gilles Simon has warned that Carlos Alcaraz dominating men's tennis is no certainty.

Alcaraz has enjoyed a stunning rise to the top of the rankings over the past two seasons, with the 20-year-old winning two grand slam titles and 12 trophies overall.

The Spaniard has not won a title since triumphing at Wimbledon in July, however, and has reached only one final since then, losing to Novak Djokovic at the Western & Southern Open in August.

A shock defeat to Roman Safiullin at the Paris Masters this week has damaged Alcaraz's chances of pipping Djokovic to the year-end world number one, and Simon does not feel he is a shoo-in to be the standout player of the next generation.

"There are a lot of people who say: 'He's going to win 20 Grand Slams'," Simon told Stats Perform.

"It's long a career. People say he has got the freeway ahead of him. Yes, but we do not know what's behind him? 

"When [Roger Federer first arrived, we thought he was going to win a lot, and he did. Breaking [Pete] Sampras' record, we were sure of it.

"But the danger came from behind. First Rafa [Rafael Nadal] then Novak, then Andy [Murray]. And I think it will be the same for Carlos. The danger will come from behind."

Simon, who won 14 career titles and reached a high of number six in the ATP rankings, pointed to the likes of world number four Jannik Sinner and number three Daniil Medvedev, though the latter is seven years Alcaraz's senior.

"There are players aged 16, 17, who are playing extremely well and who may also have a similar career path. In the end, he still has Novak and hyper-stable, hyper-strong players like Daniil on hard court or other players on clay who can really cause him problems," Simon continued.

"Sinner and so on, but he may also have two or three guys behind him who, in two or three years' time, we don't know who they are yet, but they'll be up there like him, and we'll be saying to ourselves: 'Ah well, he never had that period when he was supposedly going to win everything with no competition in front of him'.

"There is never no competition. The other players, even if they are not the calibre of Federer or Nadal, they are very strong. Daniil is very strong, very stable on hard court, so he can beat [Alcaraz].

"Carlos seems to have the upper hand. But no, Daniil finds a solution, comes up with something else and beats him. And that is why it's never a foregone conclusion, and why it's so interesting to follow. Otherwise, we would not even be watching the match."

The Rolex Paris Masters became the first Masters 1000 to broadcast its qualifying matches on Twitch, live on Rivenzi's channel.

Russell Westbrook is thrilled to be reuniting with James Harden and P.J. Tucker at the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers are acquiring Harden and Tucker in a blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Filip Petrusev is also joining the Clippers, with Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum and KJ Martin heading the other way.

Harden, who was in attendance as the Clippers beat the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, had been in a dispute with the 76ers, and missed their opening game of the season – a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks – and their second fixture, a win over the Toronto Raptors.

The 10-time All-Star played alongside both Tucker and Westbrook at the Houston Rockets, and the latter, who refused to confirm the trade before it was made official, could not hide his delight.

"Right now, James and P.J. are off-limits. I got nothing for you until it's official," Westbrook smiled, as per ESPN.

Asked if he was happy, Westbrook said: "Yeah. I mean, s***, why wouldn't I be?

"Yeah, excuse my language, but definitely, definitely happy."

As for the Sixers, Tyrese Maxey is set to inherit the point forward role Harden occupied in the roster.

"I think our group has been prepared," Maxey said. "I think we've done a good job of keeping the main thing the main thing, and I think that's what's gotten us all to a solid start.

"We have some really good guys that are focused, that are determined to go out there and play and show what we can do, and [a] coach that's keeping our mind in the right place."

Maxey also had a special word of thanks for his former teammate.

"I texted him and I told him I love him, told him I appreciate him," Maxey added of Harden. "One thing that he really installed in me is confidence. I've always been a confident person, but he made me be even more confident than I already was, and all I can do is appreciate him for that.

"He took me under his wing, taught me a lot of things as far as just being a professional in this league and how things go. So I appreciate him and I love him. Same thing with Tuck. Love those guys."

Philadelphia coach Nick Nurse, meanwhile, seems ready to move on from the Harden drama.

"I got to get ready for Thursday, and I got to coach the guys we got," he told reporters. 

"I really like where we are right now. I mean, there's so much I'm learning about this group. I think there's so much improvement we have to make in a lot of ways, and I'll let Daryl and [76ers general manager Elton Brand] and the boys worry about all that stuff, and I'll coach the guys here on a daily basis."

Jan Vertonghen does not believe there will be two players who dominate the Ballon d'Or during the next decade in the way Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have done.

Messi scooped his record-extending eighth Ballon d'Or on Monday in Paris.

The 36-year-old led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar last year, and also enjoyed a fine individual season with Paris Saint-Germain.

This Ballon d'Or will almost certainly be Messi's last. Since 2008, he or Ronaldo have won every edition of the award bar two, with Luka Modric taking it in 2018 and Karim Benzema in 2022.

Messi finished ahead of Erling Haaland – who scored 52 goals in his first season at Manchester City – and his former club-mate Kylian Mbappe, who played a direct part in 50 goals in all competitions for PSG and was the World Cup's leading scorer.

While Haaland and Mbappe have been tipped to fight it out for the award over the next decade, former Tottenham and Ajax defender Vertonghen thinks the days of two players dominating are over.

"I don't think it's going to be two guys dominating for the next 15 years," Vertonghen, an Athlete Partner for APEX, told Stats Perform.

"There are a lot of massive talents. Obviously, you've got Haaland and Mbappe already there for a couple of years, but then if you look at [Jude] Bellingham, what he's doing now, [Jamal] Musiala, I love him, Phil Foden, Vinicius [Junior].

"Those are the young guys. I hope one day a defender or even a goalkeeper [can win]. Thibaut Courtois was very close the year [Real Madrid] won the Champions League.

"I'm probably forgetting 10 or 15 more names. With Belgium, we have a great couple of young guys. There's so many, and I hope one day it could go to a Belgian one."

Bellingham enjoyed a strong season with Borussia Dortmund, though has taken his play up to an elite level since his move to Real Madrid.

The England midfielder finished 18th in the overall voting, with Bayern Munich star Jamal Musiala coming in 26th, 20 places behind Vinicius.

Kevin De Bruyne came fourth in the vote, and Vertonghen enthused over his compatriot's quality.

"Kevin, his passing ability is the one that stands out - you know that he is known for his assists and his vision, but he understands the game so well," he said.

"He knows how to use the space, where to run, he is very, very good in pressing which is something you don't really think of when you think of him, you think of assists, vision, scoring goals, but the way he is able to understand how a team builds up, he's just a genius of the pitch.

"Whenever I played against him with Tottenham, we would always try to build up on the other side because he's the one that will get the team going."

Tyson Fury has been backed to defeat Oleksandr Usyk when the heavyweights finally meet in their highly anticipated bout.

Fury and Usyk are set to meet in a fight that is tentatively scheduled for early 2024.

Widely considered as the world's leading heavyweight, Fury was pushed to the limit by UFC brawler-turned-boxer Francis Ngannou in a non-title bout in Riyadh on Saturday.

Indeed, Fury was fortunate to come away with a win, with two judges deciding in his favour.

Ryan Garcia, who is set to fight Oscar Duarte in December, believes the undefeated Fury will still have too much for Usyk, though.

"The Gypsy King, that's it," Garcia told Stats Perform.

"He's the best, the Gypsy King is an unbelievable talent. And he has an amazing personality. He's super, super cool."

Fury's meeting with Usyk will quench a long-held thirst, though despite years of posturing, a battle of the Britons between the 35-year-old and Anthony Joshua is yet to take place.

"I'll be excited to see him versus Anthony Joshua one day, I would want to go to that one that will be huge," Garcia said.

"And that’s the one I would actually be looking forward to more [than Fury v Usyk], to be honest."

Fury, for his part, was honest in his appraisal of his own performance against Ngannou in Saudi Arabia.

"He's given me probably one of my toughest fights in the last 10 years," Fury said. "Francis is a hell of a fighter, strong, big puncher, and a lot better boxer than we all thought he would be.

"He's a very awkward man and he's a good puncher and I respect him a lot."

Fury and Usyk bumped into each other in Riyadh prior to Saturday's fight, with the pair sharing an embrace.

And the duo faced off in the ring following the bout, with Fury saying:  "Let's go,"

Usyk added: "Let's go. I'm going to be fighting him, amazing."

The Milwaukee Bucks will be "tough to stop" in the Eastern Conference race this season after pairing star point guard Damian Lillard with two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

That's according to former Buck Michael Carter-Williams, who believes the Boston Celtics may emerge as Milwaukee's closest rivals after picking up Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis.

After 11 years with the Portland Trail Blazers, Lillard joined the Bucks in a huge three-team trade in the offseason.

He made an immediate impact as Milwaukee began their 2023-24 campaign with a 118-117 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.

Lillard finished with a record-breaking 39 points on his Bucks debut, surpassing Terry Cummings' 34 points on his first outing for the team back in 1984, while Antetokounmpo added 23 points and 13 rebounds.

With those two stars linking up, free agent Carter-Williams – who represented Milwaukee between 2015 and 2016 – expects his former team to enjoy an exciting season.

"They're both amazing players. The things that they do on the court are tough to stop," Carter-Williams – who will play in the G League in Mexico City as he awaits an NBA offer – told Stats Perform.

"You put those two together, it's a tough combination, and they're immediately one of the best combos in the league. 

"It's going to be interesting to see what they can do and like I said, they're both huge talents so they're going to be tough to stop."

Carter-Williams was surprised to see Lillard land in Milwaukee, but he says the team had to do everything possible to secure him in the huge trade. 

"I was shocked," he said. "I didn't see that coming, I thought it was going to be Miami or Toronto, or there was one other team in the mix.

"I didn't see him going into Milwaukee, but the trade made sense. Obviously, it's tough to give up Drew [Timme] but when you're getting a guy like Damian, I think anybody besides Giannis is liable to get traded."

After Antetokounmpo was taken by the Bucks as the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, Carter-Williams had the chance to play alongside him during his formative years. 

Reflecting on his time as a team-mate of Antetokounmpo, Carter-Williams said: "It was great, especially seeing him play early on in his career and watching his development.

"Every day, you could see him slowly getting better and better and just to watch his work ethic… he's an unbelievable person. 

"He's a better person than he is a basketball player and I think that's what makes him unique. 

"Watching him play has been great, as a friend, as a fan, as a team-mate, it's been awesome to see."

Milwaukee's offseason moves have seen them touted to improve on 2022-23, when they topped the East but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Miami Heat.

Boston also went down to Miami in the playoffs after finishing second in the East, and they have subsequently strengthened by adding former Bucks guard Holiday and Porzingis from the Washington Wizards.

Carter-Williams expect last season's top two to battle for supremacy in the Eastern Conference again, saying: "I like the Bucks and the Celtics in the East. 

"The Celtics getting Porzingis and Jrue are two huge pickups for them. I like them coming out of the East, in the West, we'll see how things shake up. 

"I think if Anthony Davis and LeBron [James] can be healthy, I think they [the Los Angeles Lakers] are a tough team, they have built a nice little roster over there.

"Then there's Denver, who you can't count out, they got [Nikola] Jokic and they just won it so I think those two are at the top in the West."

The Celtics moved to 2-0 for the season by beating Miami 119-111 on Friday, with Holiday and Porzingis finishing with 17 points apiece. 

Victor Wembanyama will be "unstoppable" for the San Antonio Spurs when the 19-year-old finds his feet in the NBA.  

That is the view of 2014 Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, who has urged the seven-foot-four power forward to learn from the likes of LeBron James and Stephen Curry to boost his chances of success.

Wembanyama – the first overall pick in this year's NBA Draft – has been touted as one of the most exciting prospects of his generation. 

While Wembanyama was unable to stop San Antonio losing their 2023-24 season opener against the Dallas Mavericks earlier this week, he played a key role as they bounced back with a 126-122 overtime win over the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Wembanyama finished the Houston victory with 21 points, 12 rebounds and one assist, and Carter-Williams believes his physical stature and all-round skillset make him unique. 

"I think he's definitely an anomaly, right? There are not too many seven-foot-four dudes that can move like him," Carter-Williams – who is a free agent after leaving the Orlando Magic – told Stats Perform.

"Obviously, we'll see other people with other attributes, but I think for him, he's so tall and he's got such a long reach that he affects the game in so many different ways and it's going to be cool to see him develop. 

"You saw it with Giannis [Antetokounmpo] a little bit. You'd watch the game and there would be like two or three plays where you're like, 'if he can do that 10 times a game, he's in for some serious competition'.

"I think you see that with Victor as well, there's five or six times in the game where you're just shaking your head about how amazing the things that he does are.

"As soon as he starts doing those things more, he's going to be unstoppable."

Asked if he had any advice for the 19-year-old, Carter-Williams said: "I would find my routine. 

"If you start that as a rookie and you maintain that work and effort and that health, I think it sets you up for a really good career. 

"Obviously, the easy answer is to listen to your coaches and listen to this person, listen to that person, but I think the biggest thing is if you can stick to your resume every single day.

"You hear about LeBron and Steph taking care of their bodies, doing these offseason things and yes, they do have a million resources, but they put themselves in a situation where they can succeed. I think that's what's most important as a rookie."

Carter-Williams has experience of being a highly regarded prospect, having been named NBA Rookie of the Year after starring for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2013-14.

Asked how Wembanyama would respond to the heightened interest in his performances, Carter-Williams said: "It's funny, when you're that age coming into the NBA and people have high expectations, you're kind of oblivious to what's really going on.

"There's so many things going on that you're like, 'I want to play basketball'. That's where I was at that time, obviously at a different level to him, he's one of the hottest rookies of all time. 

"He's probably got it 10 times as much as I had it when I was on my streak of being Rookie of the Year, so it's a little tough. 

"But I think that when you're at that level, you're just so focused on being on the court, it's like, 'I got a lot of hype, but I really haven't truly done anything'. 

"There's that pressure there, but for the most part, I think it's mostly, 'I just want to get on the court, I'm excited to be out there, and I get to play against all these guys that I once looked up to.'"

Michael Carter-Williams has backed Joel Embiid to win a gold medal at the Paris Olympics, but he thinks an NBA title is out of reach for now.

Embiid was named the NBA MVP last season, having played 66 times for the Philadelphia 76ers across the regular season, averaging 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

However, Embiid was unable to inspire the 76ers in the playoffs, as they lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ahead of the new season, Cameroonian-born Embiid confirmed he would represent the United States at next year's Olympic Games, and Carter-Williams, who played alongside the center in Philadelphia between 2014 and 2015, thinks a gold medal is more than achievable for Team USA.

But he does not feel Embiid is likely to win an NBA championship with the 76ers just yet.

"I think that the gold with the United States is a way more sure bet than him winning the championship in Philly, just because they [have] got some things going on," Carter-Williams told Stats Perform.

"I believe that Embiid will get a championship in his career, I just don't know whether it's right now with Philly or if it's later on.

"There are just other teams that have made some really tough moves, I don't know how well Philly matches up with that."

The Sixers began the 2023-24 campaign with a 118-117 defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks. Embiid finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists in that loss.

"He's been unreal," Carter-Williams said of Embiid.

"Someone who's also an abnormal-sized human being doing those things is unreal. His focus level is also really good, he just focuses on his footwork, I always just saw him watching films of so many big [players], Hakeem Olajuwon especially.

"Then I saw him on the court just emulating those moves over and over again, and I used to see his feet and his jump shot just improve over and over again, especially through his rookie year when he was hurt, and he was sitting out and his process was slowed down a little bit.

"You could see him practice every single day, and then as soon as he started going against guys in practice, you'd be like, 'man, he's killing it' and nobody could do anything about it."

Andre Drummond believes reaching 10,000 career rebounds would cement his place as the best rebounder in NBA history, with the Chicago Bulls center closing in on the milestone.

Drummond has 9,968 total rebounds to his name following the Bulls' 124-104 defeat against the Oklahoma City Thunder in their 2023-24 season opener on Thursday.

Having led the NBA in rebounds four times in 11 seasons, Drummond looks certain to reach five figures in the coming weeks, with just 32 more required. 

A struggle for regular minutes has limited Drummond's chances of climbing the NBA's all-time rebounding charts, topped by legendary duo Wilt Chamberlain (23,924) and Bill Russell (21,620).

However, Drummond has previously claimed to be the best rebounder in league history, a belief he reiterated when asked about the importance of hitting the milestone. 

"It puts a lot in perspective for myself and just for the public," Drummond told Stats Perform. "I always tell everybody I feel like I'm the best ever to do it.

"Despite me having – or being about to have – 10,000 rebounds, I think my body of work and my percentages and numbers help prove that.

"Honestly, it just shows the amount of work I put in. Every year I set a goal to be the best rebounder, each and every season.

"To have the honour of reaching 10,000… not too many people have the chance to do that. So I am with a group of high-calibre guys."

Drummond led the league for rebounds in 2015-16 and in three successive seasons between 2017-18 and 2019-20. His 2017-18 average of 16 per game remains his best across a single regular season.

The 30-year-old – who finished Chicago's first game of the new season with five rebounds – has the highest total rebound percentage in NBA history (24.85%).

While Drummond believes his statistics put him right up there with the very best, he also feels honoured to simply be mentioned alongside the likes of Chamberlain and Russell.

"To be associated with Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, it's a no-brainer not to feel good about yourself," he added.

"Those are the guys who paved the way for guys like myself; strong, brute-force players that do all the dirty work for teams. To be in the same breath as those guys is truly an honour."

Andre Drummond believes London would be a "good place" to move an NBA team and feels now is the right time to expand the league.

The NBA has introduced an in-season tournament for the new campaign, with the Final Four set to be played in Las Vegas in December, leading to some reports the NBA could be looking to expand and place a new team in the Nevada city.

Across the Atlantic, London has also been touted as a potential home to a new franchise.

The NBA last expanded in 2004, taking the number of teams up to 30, and Drummond says it is time to expand again, with London one of the locations the Chicago Bulls center highlighted as a fitting place to put a new team, citing the travel of football teams playing in Europe as an example of how it could work.

"I think it's time [to expand]," Drummond told Stats Perform. "We should do it.

"Even London, because London is close enough. London is like an eight-hour flight. So London will probably be a good place to have a team.

"How far do soccer players travel for games? If they can do it, why can't we? Then we'll be able to shorten the season and then have no more 82-game [campaigns]. Think about it."

London aside, Drummond pointed to Las Vegas and Seattle as ideal locations for new franchises.

Seattle has not had a team since the SuperSonics, winners of the 1979 NBA championship, were moved to Oklahoma City following the 2007-08 season.

"I think we do so much stuff in Vegas already," Drummond added. "Why not just give them a team?

"We bombard their city for almost two months every year, so we might as well put a team there.

"I think Seattle should get the team back. I think their fan base is crazy. I mean, I missed it. I came in two years after but just watching their games there was wild."

The decision to bring in an in-season tournament has split opinion, and Drummond is unsure if there was a need for its introduction, though he says he and his Bulls team-mates are going to take it seriously.

Asked for his views on the tournament, Drummond replied: "I still don't understand it to be honest. I have no idea what it's about.

"Everybody gets a big trophy if you get to the final. So, I guess it gives us an incentive to not have star players sit out because we're playing for something now.

"I think everybody has the mindset to want to win. I don't think anybody is going to take this tournament lightly, there is a big incentive, and we all get something out of it, so why not play?

"We're already doing it so we might as well just play to the best of our ability."

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