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Damian Lillard (left) has been impressive for the Portland TrailBlazers

Basketball

NBA in the bubble: The African blogtable

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 15 – Every week the African Blogtable brings together some of the top basketball minds from across the continent answering some pressing questions related to the ongoing NBA Restart.

The NBA has announced that it will name the Kia NBA All-Seeding Games Team and the Kia NBA Player of the Seeding Games to honor top performers for games played July 30

– Aug. 14 during the 2019-20 season restart at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. What is YOUR All-Seeding Games Team and YOUR NBA Player of the Seeding Games?

Amine El Amri, Le Matin (Morocco): My Kia NBA Player of the Seeding Games: Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers). It is somewhat unfair to Carmelo Anthony to say that Damian Lillard carried the Trail Blazers all by himself. But Lillard’s performances throughout the games in Florida have shown that he is one of the best players in the league. Some would say that the trash talk coming from the Clippers might’ve triggered that. I’d say, if it pushes players to perform like Lillard did, bring it on!

My Kia NBA All-Seeding Games Team: Shooting Guard: Damian Lillard.

Point Guard: James Harden (Houston Rockets). This guy is still the best player to conduct a team offense. His dribbling and shooting abilities, sometimes from very delicate positions, make him one of the best players. Only a ring stands between James Harden and the honor to be among the best ever.

Small Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks). Because he can do anything, including losing his temper.

Power Forward: Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers). Just like before the hiatus, AD delivered during the games in Florida. It may be that the comfortable cushion that the Lakers had when assuring they were the top seeded team did not push Anthony Davis to play with urgency. But once it comes down to serious games, AD will most definitely deliver.

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Center: Bol Bol (Denver Nuggets). You might think that the weight of the name can hold somebody back, but Bol Bol isn’t one of those players. Bol is one of the most gifted centers in the league. While other rookies struggled, Bol Bol showed some fantastic skills and honored his father’s legacy. Including him in this team is more of an encouragement and there’s no doubt that he will achieve greater things.

Nicasius Agwanda, Clouds Media (Tanzania): There’s been quite a huge number of surprising talents that have taken the bubble by a storm and performed in a manner that has been incredibly special.

Think of the T.J. Warren storyline, how he had to prove to the Suns he was more than just a player they would trade easily. I wouldn’t blame Draymond Green for calling the Phoenix Suns out either because Devin Booker is the best player that a franchise has failed to build a strong team around.

He’s made the Suns look unbeatable at least for the games they played in the bubble. And for Damian Lillard, he just has to do a lot.

He needs to score a lot for his team to win and he’s proving a point that he’s one of the best point guards in the NBA. With that being said, it was tough not to choose Booker, but Lillard has put up incredible numbers.

That’s my Kia NBA Player of the Seeding Games.

After all that, I think I have got my three players in the bubble team. My backcourt will be comprised of Lillard and Booker (Phoenix Suns) and I’ll have T.J. Warren (Indiana Pacers), Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas Mavericks) and Michael Porter Jr. (Denver Nuggets).

Njie Enow, Cameroon Radio TV (CRTV): My bubble team will be: PG – Devin Booker; SG – James Harden; SF – Luka Dončić; PF – T.J. Warren; C – Nikola Jokić.

Kia NBA Player of the Seeding Games: T.J. Warren deserves some credit for the sort of blazing form he came into the bubble with, but Devin Booker gets my Player of the Seeding Games vote.

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He’s been a relish to watch, displaying the sort of maturity that’s not always inherent in 23 year olds in the NBA. That he’s scored 27, 30, 35, 20, 35, 35, 35 and 27 points in the Suns’ eight outings to establish a clean 8-0 slate is deserving of this distinction.

Refiloe Seiboko, Mail & Guardian (South Africa): My Kia NBA All-Seeding Games Team is based on performances that I’ve seen and liked a lot during the seeding games as well as who I’d be interested to see play together.

Damian Lillard, Gary Trent Jr. (Portland Trail Blazers), Luka Dončić (Dallas Mavericks), Anthony Davis (although I’m a little comme ci, comme ça on him at the moment) and Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets). Size, strength, shooting, defense and experience.

The Kia NBA Player of the Seeding Games is Damian Lillard.

I can’t overlook his insane scoring ability, his commitment to getting his team to where they need to be and his closing ability. He is clutch, clutch, clutch, and I absolutely love the conviction he plays with. I so wish the Blazers were healthy earlier, so they could be higher up right now!

Rotimi Akindele, Beat FM (Nigeria): It might sound weird that this is being considered by the NBA with the number of games being played in the bubble, but I think it’s still going to be fun because it allows for divided opinions. First on my team list is T.J. Warren of the Pacers.

Whatever happened to him since the restart has been all shades of positives. He’s shooting at least seven three-pointers a game and hitting a good above average percent at it. He currently leads all NBA players in scoring in the bubble.

Others would include: Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, Luka Dončić – seems he’s been improving with every game and Gary Trent Jr., who for me has emerged as the breakout star of this bubble.

My Kia NBA Player of the Seeding Games is T.J. Warren.

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Stuart Hess, Independent Online (South Africa): Kia NBA All-Seeding Games Team: Guards: Lillard and Harden. Forwards: Dončić and Siakam (Toronto Raptors). Center: Anthony Davis.

Lillard has carried the Blazers to the brink of the playoffs, while keeping everyone entertained on social media by going back and forth with a couple of Clippers players who should know better.

Harden’s been Harden, all flash handles while scoring like only Harden can. Dončić does it all as those triple-doubles suggest while Siakam is like a steam engine for the Raptors — he keeps chugging along seemingly unstoppable.

AD’s fast hands and his ability to protect on the outside make him a key defensive component. The opinion that he is the Lakers’ key player (and not LeBron) is gradually being proven in the bubble.

Kia NBA Player of the Seeding Games: Lillard. Came to the bubble as a ‘man on a mission’ and is proving why he is — in case people still don’t know — an elite guard in the NBA. Not that he needed to say it, but yeah, people need to “put some respect” on his name.

Woury Diallo, Le Quotidien (Senegal): My Kia NBA All-Seeding Games Team: Damian Lillard, Luka Dončić, LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

For the Kia NBA Player of the Seeding Games I vote for Portland Trail Blazers playmaker Damian Lillard. His most recent performances have proven his great class and his status as one of the top NBA players.

He has led his team almost singlehandedly and with the support of another big star, his talent and performances could stand out even more.

-By Sharon Allela

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