Around the NBA: 2019 NBA Finals in the books

The deep, talented Toronto Raptors overcame a shorthanded Golden State Warriors squad to seize their first-ever NBA title.

Congratulations to the 2019 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors! This is the first championship for the Raptors since originating in 1995. That also makes them the first team from another country to win the NBA Finals, which sounds neat.

Powered by Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet, the Raptors bench outclassed the Warriors reserved by a large margin. Toronto’s depth was pivotal all these 2019 NBA Playoffs. Former Defensive Player of the Year and first-time champion, Marc Gasol had a shaky Finals, but played a large role for the team since being traded from Memphis in February.

Likely the NBA’s Most Improved Player award recipient, Pascal Siakam showed us that his stellar season was not a flash in the pan. Siakam handled the pressure like a grizzled veteran and continued using his length to score over defenders until the very end. When you think Raptors though, you have likely thought Kyle Lowry for the last multiple years.

Lowry was passive at times all season, but remained an All-Star with his steadying leadership. He was bummed about losing his running-mate DeMar DeRozan this offseason, but the trade seems to have worked out in the end.

With the departure of DeMar DeRozan came the acquisition of now two-time Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard. “The Klaw” was a monster all postseason on both ends of the floor. His demeanor remained unassuming, but his scoring, rebounding, and all-around game would not be ignored.

Does this title come with an asterisk?

The Golden State Warriors could not complete the ever-difficult three-peat. It was a valiant effort on their part, with the most shallow lineup they’ve had in years. DeMarcus Cousins seemed a step slow from his injuries and he never was succussfully integrated in the first place anyway. Fellow center, Kevon Looney was playing hurt as well.

Steph Curry did his thing all series, though his shot appeared to have a mysterious hitch at times. Klay Thompson missed a game, but came back firing like a madman. Unfortunately, after dropping 30 early points last night, he suffered an ACL tear in his knee, ending his Finals.

Durant had an even more brief appearance, playing just a few minutes of game five before suffering an achilles injury. He has undergone successful surgery, but will likely miss next season - a huge blow to NBA basketball.

The Warriors had tough luck, but this championship should not have an asterisk by it for the Toronto Raptors.

Toronto has one of the deepest rosters in the NBA. They also have one of the best players in Kawhi Leonard. To even get to face the reigning champs, they had to defeat the talented Philidelphia 76ers (by a game seven buzzer-beater courtesy of Kawhi) and the Milwukee Bucks, who had the best record in the NBA and MVP candidate, Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Every season and especially every postseason has ample player injuries. It happens to several teams each year and it was just that year for Golden State.

To be down to three perennial All-Stars available for most of the series was the situation the Warriors found themselves in, so they were more equipped than most to deal with big injuries. Toronto can feel proud in defeating this squad to win the championship.

There is still WNBA hoops, USA basketball, the draft, awards, and more to come, so the pro basketball goodness is still far from over! Keep it locked to The Basketball Movement as we keep up with what is happening Around the NBA and beyond.

Rob Yanders: Playing professionally overseas

The Basketball Movement's founder, Rob Yanders dishes on his experience playing professional ball in Europe.

Rob Yanders' local impact through The Basketball Movement has been immense. He cherishes this community and is here to give back and enhance it through the sport he loves. Rob's time in Springfield and West Plains was a big part of his career, but his professional experience led him to a much different place.

For some of us, it is easy to forget that there is more to basketball than what we see in high school, the NCAA, and NBA. There are basketball teams all over the world; many are at the professional level.

The Movement is very unique in that it offers Euro Preparation to players that are looking to break into the pro scene. Rob's experience is an amazing resource for any American player considering playing basketball abroad.

I (@WilHarrington) sat down with Robert at The Basketball Movement to talk about his time in Europe.

Rob's experience playing overseas

After college, Rob Yanders headed to Sheffield, England to begin his rookie year of pro ball. He said that it was certainly a culture shock, but the team won the British Championship, easing his transition. "When you're successful and winning, everything is great." He credits the people he met and his teammate for helping to make it a great experience.

My experience in Europe helped mold me into the person I am today - my experiences getting away and getting cultured through these different walks of life. Sheffield, France, Scotland, Treviso, Norway, Zurich, Germany, Israel - because of basketball. Because of that round, orange thing, I’ve been to some amazing places.

In his pro career, he went on to win three European Championships, two regular season Championships, a National Cup, and Finals MVP. In France, Rob was also voted team MVP with both VCB and KABCA teams and earned All-Star Team honors in 2012. His time as a pro in Europe was certainly a success.

How Rob applies what he learned to The Basketball Movement

As a pro, Robert told me that you are always thinking about what comes next. Players are rarely guaranteed a safety net in their brief careers. When Rob thought about what he wanted to do, he leaned on what made him happy: basketball.

Enjoying and being around the sport of basketball does not have to end when playing days are over. Robert was a Community Recreation major in college and knew that he wanted to build or run a sports facility.

I grew up in Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Clubs, and YMCA’s. Those were places that gave me shelter to play the game and keep me safe from the streets.

He talked about the alone time you experience playing in a foreign country and the amount of time it allowed him to reflect on the future. He also got to participate in many camps, clinics, speaking opportunities, and mentorships. His leadership grew even more and allowed him to confidently assume his role within The Movement as founder and owner.

Advice for players considering college or the pro game

The advice that Robert shared on this topic centered around personal circumstances - situations vary greatly from player to player.

Do what’s best for your family. Invest in you and invest in your family - your time is valuable. Make sure you get the right council and information.

Rob also warned that the pro game will be a stark contrast for any players that are talented enough to play professionally straight out of high school. Playing with grown men that are playing for paychecks is a whole new world.

If the opportunity for a "one-and-done" type of player to play professionally presented itself, and they needed money, he may recommend going if the player is confident in professional ball as a career. For most though, an education is always a great idea. It will pay off more than fizzling out after a few pro seasons.

As Rob mentioned, receiving the right council and information is very important when considering playing in Europe or anywhere else. Coach Rob, Coach Anthony Shavies, and more can help players with this preparation right here at The Basketball Movement.

If you are interested in any capacity in playing overseas, please contact us and let us help you navigate the intimidating options that follow.

Becoming a leader with The Basketball Movement

In basketball and in life, leadership is highly valuable. It is the goal of The Basketball Movement to turn out as many leaders as possible.

Every individual is made up of unique skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Society and teams are at their best though when leaders are able to step up and guide groups in ways that benefit everyone. The Basketball Movement wants to make sure to do our part in creating as many leaders as possible.

On the basketball court, it is easy to point to a team’s leading scorer or point guard when picking out the leader. This of course does not have to be true. Leadership is possible at all positions.

A player that always makes sure to be a positive presence on the bench is a leader. Players that work to foster off-court relationships with their teammates are leaders. Players that outrun everyone else during practice are leaders. Players that hold teammates accountable in the classroom are leaders.

You can still have the classic leaders as well; The most vocal defender, the offense initiator, or others that lead by example.

Leadership can be a difficult aspect of life to hone. To be a leader means to be one step ahead of others by taking initiative. That can be a bit scary sometimes, and it may occasionally strike a nerve with those around you. The key is to be confident and understanding of the sacrifices it takes to help a team succeed.

If you’re going to be a leader, you’re not going to please everybody. You gotta hold people accountable, even if you have that moment of being uncomfortable.
— Kobe Bryant

The Basketball Movement understands that leadership can come from anywhere, so we make sure to empower all of our players to step up as leaders in their own way. Leadership in basketball is just one of many lessons that we want our athletes to take away from their time with us.

Those of you that are leaders already - Go forth! Spread your gift in any way you can that helps others, on the court or off. As our players apply their lessons to their respective teams and other aspects of life such as work or school, we wish them the best and hope they continue to hold themselves to our high standards.

For more on The Basketball Movement, you are in the right place, but can also follow along with us on Twitter @BBall_Movement

Around the NBA: Finals update

The 2019 NBA Finals is four games in but does not look the way it was expected to.

A game four victory for the Toronto Raptors last night gave them a 3 to 1 series lead over the defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are looking to three-peat, but injuries and poor defense have them teetering on the brink of elimination in the association’s 2019 Finals.

DeMarcus Cousins is back, but with no Kevin Durant so far in these Finals, the Warriors appear more vulnerable than they have been in years. Klay Thompson even missed game three, though he was able to return for four.

In game one, Golden State showed the world that they were mortal, losing and falling behind in the series off the bat. The defense was porous, with Toronto’s shooters firing at will. The Warriors did bounce back in game two, maintaining a steady lead to even the series after two games in Toronto.

Game three brought the series to the Bay Area, where the Warriors were even more shorthanded, holding Klay Thompson out due to injury. The Raps took full advantage, continuing to light up the poor defense of Golden State. Despite a herculean effort by Steph Curry, Toronto stole the road game to retake the series lead.

Now following game four, Toronto has a commanding 3 to 1 lead in the series as it heads back up north of the border. The Raptors are seeking their first championship in franchise history.

Should the series end in game five, it would certainly be Kawhi Leonard who would claim the Finals MVP award. It wouldn’t be his first time, as he raised the trophy once before in his time as a San Antonio Spur. Leonard’s scoring and rebounding have been phenomenal. The defense that got him to the league in the first place looks just as elite.

Steph Curry has looked like the scorer and sniper he is famous for being, but he needs help. Klay Thompson has been good and Draymond Green has been distributing away, but the Warriors depth has been a defensive issue.

The true hinge of the remainder of these Finals is the health of Kevin Durant. If Durant could come return next game and help them steal one in Toronto, then they would get to come back home. If they win that home game, we are already at a game 7 loaded with Finals-experienced Warriors vs. the depth of the Raptors.

Sounds exciting, but we will have to see what unfolds one game at a time. Game five is Monday (6/10) at 8:00PM (CST) on ABC. Tune in to see what happens!

Media and exposure for our athletes

The Basketball Movement caters to numerous age and skill groups. For many upper-tier athletes, we offer media exposure to help in their career.

There are plenty of reasons for The Basketball Movement to try as hard as we do on videos, photography, interviews, and more. The bread and butter of the facility and its coaches is skill development. Individual and team workouts are our primary tools to facilitate the growth of our athletes. There is more to basketball than skill development, however.

As players improve, it will show on the court - many fans, coaches, and recruits will see this. However, not everyone is going to be around to travel to your games. The more media you have, the more visible you will become. The more visible you are, the more likely you are to get noticed by people that can aid you in your career as a player.

Aside from being more visible as an athlete, the media can also help with confidence. If we throw up a cool video of players putting in work at our facility, that is going to make that player feel good and want to build upon what others are now getting to see. The importance of confidence on the floor cannot be understated. When you look good, you feel good, so we hope that our media clips can help athletes maintain the swagger required to stand out.

Simply put, all the pictures and videos are fun too. Having professionally created videos and images is a blast for players and guardians, and we have a good time putting it together as well. At our clinics, The League, invitational camps, what have you, the players have a blast lining up to get headshots at The Basketball Movement. The younger players in particular eat it up.

So, don’t have any delusions about the reasoning behind our media. Understand that everything we do, we do it for the benefit of our guys and girls.

Exposure is important as players near the collegiate level of the sport. Confidence is a key to hoops, and this can help with that. Also, remember that it is all in great fun as we continue to highlight many of our hardest workers.

Most of our full-length clips are over on our Instagram, but all media is distributed across our Facebook and Twitter as well. Thanks as always for tuning in to what is happening here at The Basketball Movement!

What to do during the offseason

You probably aren’t playing in the NBA Finals and may not even be on Spring or Summer teams. What should you do?

We are going to hit on the basics, but of course our biggest offseason recommendation is checking out everything offered at The Basketball Movement. The Movement provides training in every aspect of the game for every level of player.

That is the obvious answer, so we will break it down more in a bit. Here are the basics for how to use your time in the offseason.

#1 - Work on your skills

During the season, you probably work plenty on situations, plays, and team drills. During the offseason is the best time to improve as an individual. Particularly, this is a great time to work on your shot and your ball handling.

Individual ball handling can be practiced in the gym or driveway. You can work on your shot anywhere you can find a goal to achieve a quicker release or smoother stroke. Have a coach to guide you through? Even better. Where do you find such a person? I think you know.

#2 - Work on your body

For players that or old enough (consult parents, coaches, or even a doctor), the offseason is the best time to hit the weight room. You do not need to be Arnold Schwarzenegger on the court, just achieve your body's balance to be as strong as necessary.

It has been said that you cannot teach speed, but even if you have a limit, you likely have not hit it yet. Speed and agility training are too real (ask The Basketball Movement for details). Agility as well on conditioning are very important and there is always more time for a run during the offseason.

#3 - Refresh your mind

The offseason is also a great time to reflect on what you accomplished or consider the goals you were not able to obtain. Take note of areas where you would like to have been better, making sure you focus on those during the offseason as well as your strengths.

Also, have fun! After a long season it is important to take a little time off as well to clear your mind. Get involved with a basketball program, play another sport to remain active, or even rest to nurse any nagging injuries or give your body some time to relax. Then once you are ready to get back, get in touch with The Basketball Movement of course!

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.
— Muhhamad Ali

In case you had not noticed, a solution to a lot of these fixes has been sprinkled in a few times. At The Basketball Movement, you will find top-of-the-line equipment to help you build muscle and stay in shape. Not to mention staff dedicated to improving your agility, skills, and mind.

To become the best player you can be and make the most out of your offseason this year, make your way to the basketball mecca of the Midwest - The Basketball Movement.

Around the NBA: 2019 NBA Finals preview

With a valiant comeback last night, the Toronto Raptors upset the Bucks to advance to the NBA Finals to face the Golden State Warriors.

With a few days to catch our breath before the NBA Finals, let’s take a step back to see how the Raptors and Warriors arrived here. Well, I suppose we all know how the Warriors arrived here for a fifth consecutive Finals appearance: they’re stupid good.

Golden State dropped a couple games to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first-round, but the biggest loss was DeMarcus Cousins to injury. We did not get to see much of Cousins in the regular season anyway, so any scares about ball-movement and flow were non-existent. They did suffer a second-round injury though that had greater implications.

Losing Kevin Durant to a leg injury seemed to leave a window of opportunity wide open for the Houston Rockets. Anytime one of the best basketball players on the planet goes down, the team should suffer, right?

Wrong.

The Warriors reverted seamlessly to the team that was so dominant before the Durant days, with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson whipping the ball around and splashing threes at a dazzling clip. Draymond Green looked the best he’s looked all season, stepping up his distribution and hitting timely triples. They swept the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals and have been resting ever since. KD’s health will be a big story in these Finals, though he expected to be available.

Toronto’s path the the Finals

After losing the first game of the Playoffs to the Magic, the Raptors rattled off four wins in a row to advance to face the talented 76ers. That wound up being a seven game series, with the Raptors riding the capable shoulders of Kawhi Leonard to victory.

Next up they faced the Milwaukee Bucks, that boasted an NBA regular season-best 60 wins. The Bucks took the first two games at home, but then Toronto turned around and did the same, taking their home games. With the momentum (and some poor shooting by Milwaukee), the Raptors turned their two-game streak into four, and now get a meeting with the reigning champs for their trouble.

This is the first Finals appearance in Toronto Raptors history.

2019 NBA Finals preview

The Golden State Warriors will be heavily favorited to win this series, especially if two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant is back to full strength. If he isn’t, they will still have three All-Stars in Curry, Thompson, and Green as well as Finals MVP Andre Iguodala coming off the bench to help defend Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard is a Finals MVP himself from his days playing for Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. Kyle Lowry is an All-Star, but will have his hands full trying to keep up with a quicker player in Steph Curry. Perhaps the biggest advantage the Raptors hold is a more talented bench, led by Wichita State alum, Fred VanVleet, who shot lights out to close the series against the Bucks.

Toronto owns homecourt advantage too, but it will still be tough sledding with the difference in experience playing against a squad that routinely plays this deep into the Playoffs.

Below is the Finals schedule, taken directly from NBA.com:

Game 1: Thur, May 30, Golden State at Toronto | 9 ET (ABC)
Game 2: Sun, June 2, Golden State at Toronto | 8  ET (ABC) 
Game 3: Wed, June 5, Toronto at Golden State | 9 ET (ABC)
Game 4: Fri, June 7, Toronto at Golden State | 9 ET (ABC)
*Game 5: Mon, June 10, Golden State at Toronto | 9 ET (ABC)
*Game 6: Thur, June 13, Toronto at Golden State | 9 ET (ABC)
*Game 7: Sun, June 16, Golden State at Toronto | 8 ET (ABC)  

* – If Necessary

Golden State has a knack for making the spectacular appear routine, so all expectations are for them to hoist the Larry O’Brian trophy once again. Hopefully the Raptors can provide some magic and steal some momentum again in this series. The closer to a full seven games, the better for basketball fans, so that is the goal! For continued coverage of the NBA Playoffs and these 2019 NBA Finals, keep it locked to The Basketball Movement!

NCAA: Juwan Howard is going back to Michigan

NCAA hoops fans both new and old are familiar with Michigan’s “fab five” from the early 90’s, which included Juwan Howard - now the Wolverine’s Head Coach.

Perhaps one of the most talented NCAA rosters ever, Michigan’s “fab five” team still stands as one of the best remembered squads in college basketball history. The program drew four McDonald’s All Americans back in 1991 and went on to experience plenty of success. You could call them embattled though, as both of their Final Four appearances and many of their wins were expunged due to compromises in amateur status for several players.

The fab five were: Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson, and Juwan Howard.

Jimmy King’s NBA career was brief and Ray Jackson did not go on to play in the association. Chris Webber went on to have a 15-year career in the NBA, though he seemed to spend much of it injured. Despite missing multiple games almost every season, he holds career averages of almost 21 points and 10 boards. He is now an analyst on TNT.

Jalen Rose is also currently an analyst and personality on TV, over at ESPN. Rose was a solid scorer for over a decade in the NBA. Juwan Howard was an NBA journeyman and excellent scorer over his NBA career. He last averaged double-digits with Houston in the 05-06 season, but continued playing as a veteran presence for teams until retiring after the 12-13 season. He was a two-time champion riding the pine with the big 3 era Miami Heat.

For Howard, his days at Michigan are not over yet.

Coaching comeback for Juwan Howard

As we have told you, former Michigan coach, John Beilein has agreed to a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers to become their new head coach. After a stint as an Assistant Coach for the Miami Heat, Juwan Howard is now heading back to Michigan to assume head coaching duties.

Howard will bring a deep knowledge of the game to Michigan, but also a passion that stems from his now ongoing legacy with the school.

This is not the only situation like this going on in the NCAA world. Penny Hardaway is looking to begin his second year as Head Coach for Memphis, where he played two seasons as a player. He had a strong campaign last year and expectations will be high after drawing the nation’s top recruit in James Wiseman.

Patrick Ewing is also coaching at his alma mater in Georgetown. There he will hope that the undeniable star-power of Mac McClung will payoff as they shoot to return to the NCAA Tournament.

For more NCAA, NBA, and prep news and updates, keep checking back with us at The Basketball Movement!

Establishing a support system

In basketball and in life, you are going to need a support system. The further you want to go, the more important it becomes.

Whether it is 100 people or just one person, you are going to need a support system of some kind as you advance in your basketball career. You may have a circle already, but is it filled with individuals that truly support and want the best for you?

Yes, your mama can be your support system. Yes, a teacher, friend, or coach can be your support system. It doesn’t matter who it is as long as they are honest, supportive, and willing to have your back as you fight to achieve your dreams. Taking any path in life by yourself is going to be exponentially more difficult than doing it with the support of others. Even more difficult is going through life surrounded by the wrong people.

Individuals can unfortunately be toxic in many different ways. There are those that scheme and undermine you intentionally, though it may not always be immediately apparent. Sometimes people just don’t want you to succeed and will work behind the scenes to hold you back. It is a tough reality to face when this happens, especially when it comes from a source that you believed was in your corner.

Often, there is an even more difficult obstacle to detect. Some people in your corner may be unintentionally toxic. They think they help, they think they build you up, but really they are unaware that they do more harm than good. These situations are tough to deal with.

Cutting ties with someone you’re close to is going to be hard. However, it is imperative that you only surround yourself with those that will build you up and help you be the best person and player you can be.

The further you get in your basketball career, the more important this lesson will become. A negative influence is going to impact you at any level. That said, seriousness turns up as you select a college to play for. The more positive voices in your ear, the better. The more negative influences, the greater the consequences.

After college, if you are trying to play pro ball, you will need to work harder than you ever had in your life. You need everything to be as streamlined and beneficial as possible. At this stage, a negative influence can cost you everything. Make sure that your support system is filled with those that want to lift you up - not those that are looking for a meal ticket.

Knowing exactly who has your back can be more difficult than it sounds. Trust your instincts and listen to any nagging inclinations that someone may not have your best interest in mind. What is easy is stringing these people along for far too long. Don’t make that mistake; you will need to pull the weeds as soon as you can if you are going to grow and flourish to reach your potential (congratulations on reading the first and last gardening/basketball tie-in ever).

We used the words “difficult” and “tough” quite a bit in here. Establishing a support system is not always difficult, but maintaining it can be. Do your best, and really lean on those that you can trust completely. A strong support system will carry you far in all aspects of life!

Around the NBA: Draft lottery, Conference Championships, and Beilein

Tonight is the NBA Draft Lottery, meaning the future of several franchises hang in the balance.

Two Around the NBA articles back-to-back? It must be your lucky day. Or, it could just be a busy time around the association. The Eastern and Western Conference Championships have been highly anticipated and the draft lottery has been on the calendar for a long time. We did however receive some interesting news from one of the organizations vying for a top pick.

The Cleveland Cavaliers made a surprising announcement yesterday. They have hired former Michigan coach, John Beilein. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported via Twitter that Beilein and the Cavs have agreed to a five-year deal.

At 65 years old, the contract could very well take Beilein right into retirement once his obligation is complete. The Cavs cited character as a large reason for the decision and referred to Beilein as a “culture driver.” In his 39 seasons as a coach at the collegiate level, he has had much success, especially leading the Michigan Wolverines over the last five years.

NBA Draft Lottery

Tonight is the night that teams around the NBA will learn where they will be picking in the 2019 Draft. The lottery will be televised on ESPN starting at 7:30pm (CST).

With a strong consensus for the number one selection in Zion Williamson, the order will have a big impact on the landscape of the NBA for years to come. The second selection will likely be Ja Morant or RJ Barrett, depending on team needs. The third of the Duke freshman trio, Cam Reddish is projected at seven. Darius Garland and NCAA Champion De’Andre Hunter are currently projected as the fourth and fifth picks, respectively.

A few picks have already been traded some time ago and could shift depending on tonight’s lottery. For example, if the Dallas Maverick’s pick is outside the top five, they owe it to the Hawks. Per ESPN: “If not conveyed, the pick remains top-five protected in 2020, falls to top-three protected until 2022 and becomes unprotected in 2023.”

ESPN lists the odds for each team as shown below:

content%3A%2F%2Fmedia%2Fexternal%2Fimages%2Fmedia%2F444.jpeg

Conference Championships

In addition to the draft lottery, tonight also marks the start of the NBA Conference Championships. Beginning at 8:00pm (CST) on ESPN, the Portland Trail Blazers travel to take on the Golden State Warriors. The Western Conference Championship is still Golden State’s to lose, though they will be without Kevin Durant due to injury, at least for the first game or two.

In Portland’s game 7 win over Denver on Sunday, they proved that on the rare occasion that Damian Lillard is not scoring in loads, they can still stay afloat. CJ McCollum carried the Blazers in that game 7, but will have his hands full with Klay Thompson this round.

The Eastern Conference Championship begins tomorrow with the Toronto Raptors coming to the United States to take on the Bucks in Milwaukee. The draw to this series should be self-explanatory. Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Kawhi Leonard. The Greek Freak vs. The Klaw. This game is a true test of superiority for the Eastern Conference and should be thrilling throughout.

That should have you pretty caught-up on what’s happening Around the NBA. Keep checking back with us and follow along on Twitter as we continue to break down the action!

Around the NBA: Brink of elimination

The Milwaukee Bucks are headed to the Eastern Conference Championship, but we still have three other series coming down to the wire.

After having an NBA regular-season-best 60 wins, the Milwaukee Bucks may have had the easiest road to the Finals. They first got a Detroit Pistons team that did not have their best player, Blake Griffin at full health. Up next they were to get the winner of an overachieving Pacers squad or under achieving Celtics squad. Boston looked for a while like they had flipped the switch, but lost four straight to the Bucks after taking game 1.

Thus begins a new, interesting story line in the NBA: Kyrie Irving the seemingly disgruntled free agent. That is an article for another day though, as the Playoffs are still in full swing.

Bucks vs. Celtics is the only Conference Semifinal matchup that has concluded. All other series are heading into game 6, meaning a team is up three games to two in all of them. The higher seeds have the advantage in all of the matchups to this point. It is also interesting to note that all of the first round matches went to the higher seeds. Will we see an upset in these Playoffs?

Potential elimination games are always fun. It will be interesting to see what Houston, Portland, and the 76ers do with their backs against the wall, facing elimination. All three of these teams certainly pack the firepower to climb back into their series. Hopefully we will see at least one or two game 7 situations.

When, where, and who

ESPN has tonight’s games: Raptors @ 76ers at 7:00pm (CST) and Nuggets @ Trail Blazers at 9:30pm (CST). The Sixers seem to have as much talent as anyone in the league, though their starters have all played less than 20 games together including the Playoffs. The Raptors have an edge in experience, but also Kawhi Leonard, who has been playing at an MVP level.

Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers has had interesting ups and downs, with the series seeming to hinge on Damian Lillard’s ability to go full Steph Curry when possible.

Perhaps the most intriguing matchup, Warriors @ Rockets is at 8:00pm (CST) tomorrow, also on ESPN. This has been a good series in its own right to this point, but it now has an interesting wrinkle. The Warriors lost DeMarcus Cousins to an injury in the first round, but last night, they lost Kevin Durant to a “calf strain.”

Exactly how long Durant will be out is unknown, but he will at least miss tomorrow’s tilt. It certainly not only changes the landscape of this series, but the entire playoff picture. Sure, it seems like being down to three All-Stars isn’t that bad, but Golden State isn’t as deep this year as they have been in the past.

On TNT’s Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley went as far as to say the remaining Warriors cannot win this series against Houston. The Warriors will still be an extremely tough out, but it appears that a window may be open for the Rockets to knock off the defending champs.

Plenty of exciting basketball to watch and we aren’t even to the Conference Championships yet. Keep an eye on these games over the next few days and follow along with us as we keep you up-to-date on the action.

ESPN's NCAA "Way-Too-Early Top 25"

Sports are all about competition, so we like to compare those who were the best, are the best, and will be the best. “Will be” is up for debate.

We are only about a month or two removed from the NCAA Tournament Championship. That said, college basketball fans still need things to chat about, right? Enter the good people over at ESPN, that have compiled a list of which teams will head into the 2019-20 season with the highest expectations.

Not all incoming freshman have committed to their collegiate teams yet, so the list will likely look a bit different by the end of the summer. Many top prospects have committed, so we are finally getting to see lists like this one that are adjusted to account for incoming talent as well as those that have graduated or declared for the NBA Draft.

James Wiseman, who we had the pleasure of covering at the 2019 Tournament of Champions, is the number one incoming prospect in the country. He has helped to get Memphis into the top 25 list below. Though North Carolina lost arguably it’s five best guys, they are still at 12 due to incoming players such as guard, Cole Anthony.

Though they are the reigning champs, Virginia is just at 14 following the loss of three key players to the NBA Draft. The return of Cassius Winston has made Michigan State the consensus number one while Duke is number two despite losing Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish to the draft. Incoming players such as Cassius Stanley will look to keep Duke more than relevant.

Below is the top 25 NCAA rankings for 2019-20 per ESPN:

  1. Michigan State

  2. Duke

  3. Kentucky

  4. Villanova

  5. Michigan

  6. Gonzaga

  7. Ohio State

  8. Louisville

  9. Maryland

  10. Kansas

  11. Seton Hall

  12. North Carolina

  13. Arizona

  14. Virginia

  15. Oregon

  16. Texas Tech

  17. Washington

  18. Memphis

  19. Houston

  20. Utah State

  21. Saint Mary’s

  22. Baylor

  23. Florida

  24. Creighton

  25. Tennessee

A couple of bubble teams that retained most of their core are Creighton and Saint Mary’s, which is why they are on this list. Experience goes a long way in the college game. Seton Hall has some big questions around returning players, but Ohio State is coming back strong.

These rankings figure to shift before the season begins, but it is fun to take a look at where schools are slated so early. College basketball fans have to talk about something! For the fans that are also interested in the NBA, high school ball, and just basketball in general, keep checking back here where hoops are always in season!

Alize Johnson gives back to his community

Ally of The Basketball Movement, Missouri State Alum, and NBA forward, Alize Johnson is using his platform to improve his community and change lives.

At The Basketball Movement, we talk about using basketball to give back to the community quite a bit and we are thrilled to see that our friend, Alize Johnson is doing just that. When he was coming into our facility to get work while he was attending Missouri State, Alize was a bad man on the floor and a good one off of it. Things don’t appear to have changed, which is awesome to see.

The Indiana Pacers signed Johnson to a two-way contract in his rookie season, which means that he played plenty of G-League ball, but was also available to play minutes with the Pacers. Never the biggest player on the court, he still did an excellent job of crashing the glass all season and turned in a nice rookie campaign.

Despite staying plenty busy all season, Alize has still found time to do big things through the Alize Johnson Foundation.

Originally from WIlliamsport, Pennsylvania, Johnson is clearly remembering his roots, as this will be the site of his foundation’s big project. He will be putting in three NBA regulation outdoor courts. The project includes adjustable hoops, lights, fencing, and new bleachers. The courts will have a security guard stationed from 4-8pm to aid in making this a safe space for the youth of Williamsport.

The project is titled WtaWtaW (Where there’s a Will, there’s a Way). The project is also sponsored by PRN Home Health Services and the Pepsi Bottling Group in Williamsport. Their donation page can be found here: https://fundrazr.com/41ShQ7?ref=sh_c7ssh2_ab_319MbZF7yHP319MbZF7yHP

We are proud of Alize for supporting his community in this way. Basketball is obviously his bread and butter, so finding a way to channel that into something bigger is incredible to see.

The Basketball Movement is focused daily on helping players on the court. However, there is nothing better than seeing athletes (especially one’s we’ve had the pleasure of working with) use basketball for an even greater purpose.

Props to Alize for making big moves that will positively affect lives in his community. No doubt he continues the good work through his career and beyond.

Pursue your passion at The Basketball Movement

We encourage everyone to pursue their passion. If yours is basketball: you couldn’t be in a better place.

Each individual is gifted with a unique array of preferences, strengths, and interests. To maximize strengths, cater to preferences, and pursue interests is to seek a happy and successful experience in life. Woah… got deep for a second there. All that is to say that you need to do what makes you happy.

If you are reading this, you likely have some sort of tie to the game of basketball. Noting that it is a game is often important, but at the same time, it is a true passion for many people.

Whether you play the game, watch it, coach, ref, or just like a little 2K action, the game has something for everyone. The back-and-forth action is perfect to get adrenaline pumping. The mix of speed and strength, brute force and finesse, or offensive versus defensive prowess means that no game will be exactly the same. The constant is two teams that want to win and maybe even more so: don’t want to lose.

The Basketball Movement keeps its doors open for all kinds of players. Multi-sport athletes looking to get in shape can certainly come in and get in intense workouts. Players that just need to stay sharp with occasional drills or with our shooting gun are always welcome. Though the facility accommodates so many types of players, it was clearly built for those that are passionate about the game.

Rob Yanders, Founder of The Basketball Movement, is one of those individuals that is passionate about the sport of basketball. It is evident all over the facility. The off-court amenities such as the Chop Shop upstairs, the smart screen in the film room, the embroidered leather seats, everything is all detailed in ways that show Rob’s passion for the full breadth of the sport. Still, the true fire for the game blazes on the courts.

The Basketball Movement, Rob Yanders, and the other coaches are all at their absolute best when they are mixed with other individuals that have a true passion for the game.

A desire to improve is great, but a desire to be one of the best is the kind of all-in mentality that it takes to be an elite player. This facility is built so that you get out exactly what you put in. If you leave it all on our courts during workouts, you will improve without a doubt. The change could be subtle or drastic, but rest assured that the passionate will come away better.

Want to make varsity? Play at the D1 level? Get paid to play professional hoops? We can get you there; you will just have to be willing to put in the time and effort.

If basketball really is your passion, you have to reach out to us at The Basketball Movement. It is a business, but it is one ran by passionate hoop-heads that want little more than to bring others into the fold and maximize their potential on the court or even off of it. You will not regret pursuing your passion for basketball right here at The Basketball Movement.

What team chemistry really means

Coaches, fans, and basketball pundits all love to talk about team chemistry. What does it really mean?

At the risk of starting this off like a middle school essay, let’s just go ahead and state the literal definition of the word “chemistry”. The definition is not as clean and simple as we may like. However, you can see how when broken down, it can be simply applied to the sport of basketball.

Google defines chemistry as “the branch of science that deals with the identification of the substances of which matter is composed; the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change; and the use of these processes to form new substances.”

To start, we can fill in a few of the terms with basketball jargon: Identification of the players of which a team is composed. Identifying for our purposes isn’t just knowing your teammate’s names. To achieve ideal chemistry, you must know their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies.

“…the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change…” Once you know them as mentioned above, you can begin to anticipate their actions, while also watching them grow as players and teammates.

Finally, “form new substances” is the resulting team. Players that know each other inside and out, on and off the court form the teams that will have what is referred to as great team chemistry.

Chemistry can be difficult for teams that introduce or bid farewell to players frequently. Still, stressing the importance of chemistry allows our coaches and teams to have a working understanding of what is necessary at all times.

We create a standard for how we want to do things and everyone’s got to buy into that standard or you really can’t have any team chemistry. Mediocre people don’t like high-achievers and high-achievers don’t like mediocre people.
— Nick Saban

When a team has good chemistry, it shows. Chemistry happens in the trenches, such as during practices. It also happens off the court, when teams are able to bond on more personal levels.

This is an important area for teams and we encourage our players to always stick together. Help your teammates up, give them affirmation in real life or on social media, just… be a friend.

For more on teamwork, motivation, and everything else basketball, keep it locked right here!

Around the NBA: Dame time

Now seems like a pretty good time to talk about Damian Lillard, don’t you think?

Many of the NBA Playoffs first round matchups are coming to a close, but none have slammed shut quite like the one between Damian Lillard’s Portland Trailblazers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Trailblazers completed a “gentleman’s sweep” last night, besting the OKC Thunder with a 4 to 1 series victory. This one had an exclamation point on it though.

After plenty of jawing between OKC’s Russell Westbrook, and Portland’s Damian Lillard, “Dame D.O.L.L.A.” put his money where his mouth was and scored his 50th point on the night by burying a 37 foot, game winning step-back triple over Paul George. That’s Defensive Player of the Year candidate Paul George, mind you.

The fanfare that followed helped to make this one of the iciest moments in recent NBA Playoff history. After sinking the impossible shot, Lillard’s expression never changed as he politely waved goodbye to the OKC bench before being mauled by his teammates, his brother and sister, and the Blazers’ staff.

He even slipped in a stare-down into one of the cameras during the dogpile. This was some Iverson stepping over Lue-esque bad-assery.

This has been a big season for Damian Lillard - his seventh in the NBA and with Portland. He has led his team to a three seed in the West again, but may actually finally have the brass to take the team to the Western Conference Finals this time.

Lillard was already in the discussion for top-5 point guards in the game, but this series feels like it’s pushed him past Westbrook. We may be talking top-3 now. Kobe Bryant noted back in 2013 that Lillard had that #MambaMentality that made him a killer on the court. He has continued to improve and now owns two amazing game-winners in the Playoffs.

The Blazers get the winner of San Antonio vs. Denver next. The Nuggets won last night to put them up 3 to 2 in the series. The matchups that are in the books so far are: Bucks over Pistons, Celtics over Pacers, Raptors over Magic, 76ers over Nets, and these Blazers over the Thunder. The Rockets and Warriors will look to clinch tonight.

Whatever happens as the playoffs continue, appreciate the moments like these that will be replayed for years to come. The depth of talent in the NBA (and on down) is possibly stronger than it has ever been. We will continue to see titans clash again and again as the NBA Playoffs continue and we can’t wait.

Catch tonight’s games on TNT and keep checking back here for tips and news from prep-to-pro.

Zion Williamson is headed to the NBA

Zion Williamson has officially declared for the 2019 NBA Draft; he isn’t the only Duke Blue Devil either.

A couple weeks ago, we highlighted the early names that had declared for the NBA Draft or were at least testing the waters. That list was headlined by Murray State’s Ja Morant, who figures to be picked in or around the top three. Now, we are starting to see those other names at the top fill in as well.

The list of names of players that have declared has gotten long, so it may not be worth listing here. What you mostly need to know is that Zion Williamson has officially entered the fray.

Duke freshman Zion Williamson has been on this path for years. We started hearing about him from high school dunk highlights, but he really exploded on the national scene while playing for a stacked, but young team for Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Being built like a tank while maintaining athleticism has helped set him apart. We at The Basketball Movement also know that this has taken years of incredibly hard work, so, congrats to Williamson for making his dreams a reality.

As great as Zion is, he not the only Duke freshman looking to explode onto the NBA scene. RJ Barrett has also declared for the draft now and will likely be picked at two or three alongside the aforementioned, Ja Morant. Cam Reddish has also officially declared. While he had a comparatively quiet season with Duke, he is still an undeniable, elite talent.

A standout from the NCAA championship game, De’Andre Hunter of Virginia has declared along with teammate, Kyle Guy. Other big names like Darius Garland, Bol Bol, Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, Romeo Langford, Nassir Little, EJ Montgomery, Kevin Porter Jr., Semisola Shittu, and Coby White, have also declared in addition to some overseas talent.

We will be bringing you draft reports and are as excited as you are to see these guys in action. Until then, the NBA Playoffs are underway, so keep an eye out for more news from all levels of the game of basketball!

WNBA update: Breanna Stewart, 2019 draft

Despite being the offseason, it has been an eventful few weeks for the WNBA, with the future of the league drawing many questions.

First: the good news around the WNBA. The 2019 WNBA Draft is in the books, bringing many exciting new players into the fold. The Las Vegas Aces had the first overall pick and selected Jackie Young of Notre Dame. Interestingly, five Notre Dame players were taken within the first 20 picks. 2018 NCAA Tournament standout, Arike Ogunbowale of Notre Dame was selected fifth by the Dallas Wings.

For more local players, Missouri guard Sophie Cunningham went 13th to the Phoenix Mercury. Missouri State’s tournament opponent, Stanford’s Alana Smith went eighth, also to Phoenix.

Below are the full results of the three rounds of lottery picks as reported by slamonline.com/wnba:

ROUND 1

1. Las Vegas Aces: Jackie Young — Notre Dame

2. New York Liberty: Asia Durr — Louisville

3. Indiana Fever: Teaira McCowan — Mississippi State

4. Chicago Sky: Katie Lou Samuelson — UConn

5. Dallas Wings: Arike Ogunbowale — Notre Dame

6. Minnesota Lynx: Napheesa Collier — UConn

7. L.A. Sparks: Kalani Brown — Baylor

8. Phoenix Mercury: Alanna Smith — Stanford

9. Connecticut Sun: Kristine Anigwe — California

10. Washington Mystics: Kiara Leslie — NC State

11. Phoenix Mercury (from Atlanta): Brianna Turner — Notre Dame

12. Seattle Storm: Ezi Magbegor — Australia

ROUND 2

13. Phoenix Mercury: Sophie Cunningham — Missouri

14. New York Liberty: Han Xu — China

15. Chicago Sky: Chloe Jackson — Baylor

16. Minnesota Lynx: Jessica Shepard — Notre Dame

17. Dallas Wings: Megan Gustafson — Iowa

18. Connecticut Sun (from Minnesota): Natisha Hiedeman — Marquette

19. L.A. Sparks: Marina Mabrey —Notre Dame

20. Minnesota Lynx: Cierra Dillard — Buffalo

21. Connecticut Sun: Bridget Carleton — Iowa State

22. Dallas Wings: Kennedy Burke — UCLA

23. Atlanta Dream: Maite Cazorla — Oregon

24. Seattle Storm: Anriel Howard — Mississippi St

ROUND 3

25. Indiana Fever: Paris Kea — UNC

26. New York Liberty: Megan Huff — Utah

27. Chicago Sky: Maria Conde — Spain

28. Indiana Fever: Caliya Robinson — Georgia

29. Dallas Wings: Morgan Bertsch — UC-Davis

30. Minnesota Lynx: Kenisha Bell — Minnesota

31. L.A. Sparks: Angela Salvadores — Spain

32. Phoenix Mercury: Arica Carter — Louisville

33. Connecticut Sun: Regan Magarity — Virginia Tech

34. Mystics: Sam Fuehring — Louisville

35. Dream: Li Yueru — China

36. Storm: Macy Miller — South Dakota State

Plenty of familiar names here from the NCAA in addition to some intriguing overseas talent. We of course look forward to seeing these rookies in action with their new squads!

Breanna Stewart Injury

Unfortunately, the biggest news from the world of women’s hoops was an injury. Reigning MVP, Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm has suffered an achilles injury while playing in the Euroleague. It is looking like Stewart will not be able to help her Seattle team defend their title next season.

While the injury itself is the real news, the implications also raise some questions that have already been asked for years now. Why is the MVP playing overseas anyway? Simple: she makes more money playing for the Russian team, Dynamo Kursk than she does for the reigning WNBA championship team.

While WNBA health insurance does cover the injury, it clearly highlights an ongoing issue with professional women’s hoops.

The league’s players are not delusional about their monetary opportunities compared to their male counterparts in the NBA. The NBA commands substantially more revenue than the WNBA. However, steps should probably be taken if the league can’t even afford to monopolize what is likely it’s top player.

Everyone accepts that in basketball women will not get paid what the men get paid, at least for the foreseeable future. What the players do want is a piece of the pie that is comparable. Men draw a larger percentage of the league’s revenue than the women do. Whether or not the WNBA can afford to give their players a similar opportunity depends on their overhead but also their willingness to increase player salaries.

Breanna Stewart’s injury will likely become a rallying call for a new collective bargaining agreement between the players and the league. This could be an interesting offseason.

That’s it for now! Keep checking back for basketball news from all levels, tips, and training opportunities here at The Basketball Movement.

Read More

Thriving in the underdog role

With the NBA Playoffs underway, we have had the opportunity to see multiple teams embrace the underdog role and surprise the big dogs.

No-matter your record, seeding, reputation, anything, you can still beat the odds and be the best team for a game. Once you start rolling, you may gain momentum that can help you sustain that success. We have seen it many times before, especially in the NCAA Tournament as we did again recently. In the first round of the NBA playoffs, we have already gotten to see it multiple times.

Despite long odds, the Nets, Clippers, Magic, and Spurs have already pulled off upsets on the road. The biggest one came last night, as the Los Angeles Clippers deafeated the Golden State Warriors in game two of the series.

The Clippers were down by 31 in the third quarter before storming back to defeat the back-to-back NBA champs. Rookie Landry Shamet (formerly of Witchita State) hit a go-ahead three to seal it. Patrick Beverly continued to lock-down Kevin Durant and Lou Williams went on one of his scoring tears to climb back into it. The 31 point comeback marked the biggest comeback in NBA Playoff history.

This seems like a good time to remind you that no team is invincible. There are still plenty of games left in each of the NBA series’ involved in these upsets. That said, the landscape has significantly shifted, stealing confidence from one side and feeding it to the other. Confidence is big in the sport of basketball.

Everything negative - pressure, challenges - are all an opportunity for me to rise.
— Kobe Bryant

For that reason, it is important to approach every game and every moment with confidence. Believe that your shot will go in. Believe that your team can win the game. Believing is clearly not everything, but if you have put in the work, there is no reason that you can’t give it your all and compete. If you do that, then you can shift the odds at any time.

Being the underdog in a game or being overlooked as a player or team often means that you may be underestimated. Use that as fuel. Harness the chip on your shoulder. No one knows what you can do better than yourself. There isn’t much that is more satisfying than defying odds and proving nay-sayers wrong.

So be that team! Be that player! Don’t sweat rankings or records, just control what you can by working as hard as possible, being confident, and not backing down from a challenge.

Remember, to help you work as hard as possible, stay at the peak of your game, and keep raising that peak, contact The Basketball Movement. We believe in you and we can help you be ready for the big moments.