Archive for the ‘NBA Quick Takes’ Category

NBA Quick Takes: Patty Mills Interview & When Hip-Hop Meets Hoops

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

by Kamal Hylton

Kamal Hylton Blog





Hello War Room Nation!


It’s Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia and War Room Sports giving you your weekly fix of NBA Quick Takes. This week I bring you a great interview I did with San Antonio Spurs and Australian Boomers guard Patty Mills as well as my take on a Toronto Raptors halftime show that truly illustrate the marriage between Hip-Hop and Hoops.


Patty Mills Interview




Covering the NBA for a basketball mad country like Australia has been an absolute joy, a real eye opener, not only in the way the Aussie hoops community supports me and helps push my work, but in how readers/viewers REALLY appreciate the work I’ve been doing. They especially love getting updates on their fellow Aussies, so when the Spurs came to town and played the Toronto Raptors, I had to have a chat with point guard Patty Mills.


(Video courtesy of NBA Nation Australia)

Patty was such a nice and engaging guy, it felt like you were speaking with an old friend and I easily could’ve spoken with him for hours. One thing that comes across clear is how proud he is of being an Aussie in the NBA and how much his fellow players like Aron Baynes, Dante Exum, Matthew Dellavedova, and Andrew Bogut support each other. With the country talent pool growing and the national team program on the rise, this is going to be a fun group of players to watch. It’s a mirror image of what’s going on up here in Canada. Players like Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, Cory Joseph, and Tristan Thompson support each other in the same way and it’s beginning to bear fruit on a national and international level.


A big thanks to Patty Mills for taking the time out to give me an interview and for more video interviews make sure to visit NBA Nation Australia.


Phife Dawg at the ACC




The union that Hip-Hop and hoops share has been going strong for ages, from streetball games to rappers giving NBA stars shoutouts on tracks and more. I even have my own pre-game ritual I do before every Toronto Raptors game I cover. On my way to the arena I listen to the Tissue In The Tape podcast. So when “The Five Foot Assassin” Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest did the halftime show at the ACC during Raptors vs. Clippers, I was excited. I usually tune out the halftime performance at NBA games but when it’s a show like this or when Drake performed during Drake Night earlier this season, my ears perk up.




It was a great performance that got the crowd pumped up and me doing a head nod/chair dance combo in the press box, however it also got me thinking that something was missing. Phife Dawg’s performance was outstanding, but it also made me think about how amazing the show would’ve been if Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad were there. A Tribe Called Quest was subject of arguably one of the greatest documentaries out there called Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest by actor/director Michael Rapaport that came out in 2011.


If you haven’t seen it already, here’s the trailer. It’s a movie that has something for everybody whether you’re into music, movies, or just want to be entertained.



To catch all my NBA writing, photos, and videos visit NBA Nation Australia or on Twitter @NBANationOz.


Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia, for War Room Sports

NBA Quick Takes: Should the NBA Scrap the Current Playoff Format?

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

by Kamal Hylton

Kamal Hylton Blog





Hello War Room Nation!


It’s Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia and War Room Sports back with your weekly NBA Quick Takes, this week looking at the rise of Milwaukee Bucks small forward Khris Middleton, the Raptors upcoming tough stretch and why the NBA should consider scrapping the current playoff format to include the best 16 teams.


Is that Khris Middleton or Michael Redd?


NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at New Orleans Pelicans


Khris Middleton was basically a throw-in as part of the Brandon Knight/Brandon Jennings trade between the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks, but who would’ve thought he’d be a major player in who’s winning this trade so far? Giving credit where it’s due, Jennings was a key piece to the Pistons success this season (along with the dumping of Josh Smith) before going down with a season ending injury. However as we currently stand, it’s safe to say that the Bucks are winning the deal, due in large part to the former Pistons 2nd round pick (39th overall in 2012 NBA Draft). The principle part of the trade in Knight is leading this young squad and flourishing under the coaching of Jason Kidd (averaging 17.7 PPG and 5.3 APG), but the massive improvement Middleton has shown by picking up the slack through the team’s major injuries is nothing short of impressive.


Watching him at the ACC against the Raptors wearing the No. 22, he looked like a poor man’s Michael Redd in the way he played such an efficient game and took smart shots. Now I’m by no means saying he’ll turn into the caliber of player Redd was during his peak Buck years as a 20.0+ PPG scorer, but looking at his three point percentages and smooth stroke during his early days in Milwaukee (41.4% last season and 45.1% so far this season) and at only 23 years old, that’s a perfect player to pattern his game after.


Middleton is a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but with the way his game is growing, don’t be shocked if the South Carolina native is re-signed to a long-term deal.


It’s ‘Gut check time’ for the Raptors




Currently sitting 2nd in the Eastern Conference with a 33-17 record, the Raptors can be more than happy with how the first half of the season has gone. There’ve been some bumps in the road and some areas of inconsistency, mainly on the defensive end of the floor, but they coped well while DeMar DeRozen was out with a lengthy injury, have Kyle Lowry representing the franchise as an All-Star starter, and is seeing a major improvement in its big Lithuanian, Jonas Valanciunas (averaging five double-doubles in his last nine games). However the REAL test comes during the next eight games, starting Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers (in an ESPN game) followed by games against the San Antonio Spurs at home, Washington Wizards away, Atlanta Hawks at home, Houston Rockets away, New Orleans Pelicans away, Dallas Mavericks away, and Golden State Warriors at home.


With the All-Star break right before that four game road trip there will be some time to get away, rest and refocus, but coach Dwayne Casey will have in the back of his mind the last big road trip the team was on that finished 2-4 and included three straight beatdowns from the Portland Trailblazers, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns.


Time for the Best to play the Best




Over the last number of seasons the trend of the Eastern Conference being so much weaker than the Western Conference has made some of the early round playoff games unwatchable, having teams qualify with losing records only to get swept aside 4-0 in uncompetitive series. I brought this question up as a recent guest on the AFTER FURTHER REVIEW radio show of whether it’s time to scrap the conferences and go with the best teams. I said on the show they should and I feel even stronger about it while writing this.


Just to give you a picture of how this would look, here’s what the current playoff match-ups would roughly look like in that format if it started today (didn’t factor in any tiebreakers etc…)


1st vs. 16th seed: Golden State vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

2nd vs. 15th seed: Atlanta Hawks vs. New Orleans Pelicans

3rd vs. 14th seed: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Milwaukee Bucks

4th vs. 13th seed: Houston Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns

5th vs. 12th seed: Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

6th vs. 11th seed: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Chicago Bulls

7th vs. 10th seed: Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs

8th vs. 9th seed: Dallas Mavericks vs. Washington Wizards


Just at a first glance, doesn’t that look WAY more interesting as an NBA fan than the current format? Going this way weeds out all the teams that would likely get run over in the first round, not like NCAA March Madness with kids playing and mistakes being made to cause “Upset Specials” or “Cinderella Stories”, but also would help motivate other teams to build a winning culture and possibly get rid of this current tanking phenomenon.


To catch all my NBA writing, photos and videos visit NBA Nation Australia or on Twitter @NBANationOz.


Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia, for War Room Sports

NBA Quick Takes: Southwest Division Dominance!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

by Kamal Hylton

Kamal Hylton Blog





Hello War Room Nation!


This is Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia and War Room Sports blog back with your weekly dose of NBA Quick Takes.


This week’s column has a distinct Southwestern flavor to it, taking a look at the association’s toughest group of teams in the Southwest Division. Consisting of the Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, defending champion San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans, all you have to do is watch some of the divisional games and it’s clear there’s no sign of weakness.


They beat up on each other nightly and this only helps them develop a tough skin for when the playoffs roll around, matching up with any of these teams will be a tough test when we get down to the nitty-gritty. Looking at the standings we could be witnessing a rare feat of having an entire division make the playoffs, the only team really in doubt are the New Orleans Pelicans fighting to squeeze into the Top 8.


This leads me perfectly into my first Quick Take.


Pelicans Playoff Bandwagon

Since they’re not on national TV often, I’m not sure how often a lot of you watch the Pelicans play but when things are going well they’re one of my “League Pass teams” and a fun bunch to watch. I’ve watched quite a few of their games (including covering them once for NBA Nation Australia when they played the Toronto Raptors) and they are very underrated, showing resiliency and fight. A perfect example of this was on Sunday night, witnessing them go toe-to-toe on League Pass against the division foe Dallas Mavericks and coming away with a 109-106 victory on a key defensive stop by Anthony Davis. This is a team I want to see under the bright lights of playoff basketball.




Even in the absence of star point guard Jrue Holiday, who’ll hopefully be returning from injury soon, they’ve had great performances by others holding down the fort. The main man in this regard has been Tyreke Evans, efficiently providing scoring punch and back court leadership. Evans has reinvented himself slightly from his Sacramento Kings days, showing an ability to guard multiple positions, be much more team oriented, and still have the capability to take over a game when called upon. Coach Monty Williams and the front office should also be given credit, securing two very strewed moves by adding Omer Asik in the offseason and the recent acquisition of Quincy Pondexter. Both have helped ease the burden on Davis defensively, Asik giving him a partner down low that will do the “dirty work”, allowing Davis to play his more natural power forward position (something he couldn’t do last season) while Podexter helps on perimeter defense. These players along with others like Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson are helping this team compete, but the main reason why I’m jumping on the Pelicans Playoff Bandwagon is to see the next stage of Davis’ development. He has quickly become one of the league’s dominant bigs, but we as NBA fans should hope he doesn’t get stuck in purgatory of a losing franchise (something his fellow University of Kentucky alum is experiencing in Sacramento).


Embrace Grit and Grind Basketball

Another team that doesn’t get much attention, despite being second in the Western Conference, are the Memphis Grizzlies. Most fans aren’t flicking through League Pass and landing on the Grizzlies, nor do they have the same “wow factor” as other teams. They aren’t nearly as exciting as those Golden State Warriors with their up tempo style and the “Splash Brothers” raining threes at the “Roaracle”, or as flashy as the Los Angeles Clippers high-flying act known as “Lob City”, but in its own way the style known as “Grit and Grind” basketball is a beautiful thing to watch.




This team is built for the playoffs, displaying a defensively focused mindset that is anchored by its two bigs, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. They take pride in stifling offenses, clog the lane, forcing bad shots, getting into the passing lanes, and being cerebral in half court sets. Grit and Grind is more than that though, it’s hard-nosed perimeter defense by players like Tony Allen, high basketball IQ from its point guard Mike Conley, and contributions from unheralded players.


Watching last night’s game against the Mavericks displayed just how deep this team can be, as they had players like Courtney Lee, Nick Calathes, and Beno Udrih step up seamlessly in the absence of Allen and Conley sidelined with injuries. Lee and Calathes combined for 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and Udrih managed the game without playing beyond himself, proving the system works and makes players better.



Do yourselves a favor the next time you watch the Dallas Mavericks, watch the effortless way Monta Ellis can take over a game. He has always had this ability, but this time it’s different. As mentioned on the latest episode of Court Vision, on War Room Sports TV, Ellis is showing that he has grown up from those bad Warriors and is far more efficient.


I recently wrote an article for NBA Nation Australia ( on the Mavs masterminding a championship contender and my thoughts are now confirmed, that although Dirk Nowitzki is the face and leader of this Mavs team, Ellis’ role has arguably become much more important. During key stretches of tight games it’s the Jackson, Mississippi native that has the ball in his hands, his teammates knowing that he’s the first option on a pick and pop with Nowitzki.




This is in no small part due to coach Rick Carlisle putting the ball in his hands and giving him the confidence and responsibility to create while at the same time not overburdening. Enter Rajon Rondo. While most people were quick to say a Rondo/Ellis back court wouldn’t work I was on the opposite side (if you don’t believe me you can check my Twitter timeline). It’s still early, and it won’t be truly tested until playoff time, but having a player like Rondo buy into Carlisle’s system has been essential. With two legit threats in the backcourt, it becomes a “pick your poison” situation for opposing defenses and Ellis has been the major beneficiary so far. At times he becomes too much to handle, which has led me to adopt the hashtag #TooMuchMonta.


I borrowed this from Nowitzki’s line in this Mavs parody video of Run DMC’s ‘Can’t Be Stopped’.



To catch all my NBA writing, photos and videos visit ( or on twitter @NBANationOz (


Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia, for War Room Sports

NBA Quick Takes: Russell Westbrook, Spurs vs. Hawks NBA Finals, and Dennis Schroder

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

by Kamal Hylton

Kamal Hylton Blog





Hello War Room Nation!

This is Kamal Hylton, your boy from North of the Border, a writer/editor for NBA Nation Australia and part of the War Room Family with The Gaffer and Hooligan Soccer Podcast on the War Room Sports Podcast Network.

While the podcast is taking a break, I thought I’d hop onto the WRS Blog and give you a weekly view on the NBA… through my eyes.

I’m not feelin’ Russell Westbrook’s Interview

By now you’ve all seen Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook’s interview, the one where he only used the word “execution” in all its various forms to answer reporters’ questions after the Thunder beat the Western Conference leading Golden State Warriors 127-115 and he had a career night of 17pts, 17ast and 15rebs.

To refresh your memory or for those that haven’t seen it, here it is:

Most people have come out and said things like “Screw the media!” and “Let Russ be Russ!”. I’m all for players being themselves and sometimes members of the media ask questions that deserve these types of answers, like when a reporter asked Westbrook this question in 2013.

However this trend is going too far and I’m now completely against it for a few reasons.

This isn’t even creative or original, copying Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s “Thankful” interview doesn’t get him any type of respect or brownie points with me… it just makes him look corny. Also, none of those questions were out of line in any way or could even be considered “dumb”. After the third use of “execution”, I would’ve shut my recorder/video camera off and walked away. Reporters only get limited time for post-game interviews, this nonsense cost those guys battery life and space on their devices as well as time that could’ve been spent with more engaging players.

Most of all it lacks professionalism on Westbrook’s part, those guys are there to do a job just like him and even if he doesn’t like doing interviews or has a problem with a particular reporter, I don’t think it’s that hard to suck it up and answer questions with an ounce of respect. Maybe I’m biased being part of the media, but this one word answer thing from players has gone from funny to tired REALLY quickly.

I’d love a Spurs vs. Hawks NBA Finals for one reason

I know it’s WAY too early to be talking about NBA Finals predictions, but the way the Hawks have been playing during this wining streak (currently at 13 games at the moment of writing this) has me wanting them to make the finals. Picking up the moniker “Spurs East”, I’d actually love to see them take on San Antonio for one major storyline.

Mike Budenholzer vs. Gregg Popovich… or what I like to refer to as Karate Kid vs. Mr. Miyagi.


Their story has the makings of a Hollywood film, let me set the scene.

Budenholzer spent 19 years under Popovich in San Antonio, working his way up from an unpaid video coordinator to assistant coach and as his right hand man. Together they won four NBA championships, Budenholzer playing the role of understudy to Pop until this season. Now striking out on his own, coach Bud has taken over a middling Atlanta Hawks team using the teachings of his grand master to make them one of the best in the association.

If Spike Lee or Steven Spielburg got hold of that script it’d be an instant hit! Being a self professed “basketball nerd”, I’m most fascinated by the high level game of human chess that these two would be playing on national TV. Popovich taught Budenholzer pretty much everything he knows about NBA coaching, but did he save a few tricks back for a moment like this?

I’m on the edge of my seat just thinking about the possibility of this game.

Dennis Schroder is my Homeboy!

I’m sure you all have non “superstar” players that you love watching or are fans of that others don’t understand why, maybe it’s the intense way he plays defense? jumps out of the gym? or drops dimes?

Well that player for me is Dennis Schroder, the second year German backup point guard on the Atlanta Hawks. Now I know what you’re thinking, why is he one of your favorite players? For one thing he has a smoothness to his game this season that’s enjoyable to watch on this Hawks team and the way he attacks the basket shows that few players can stay in front of him, how he comes off screens and glides to the rim is reminiscent of a slithering snake. The other reason why I like him is for the nickname that’s quickly catching on, Dennis “The Menace” is not only catchy but fits his style of play to a tee. It’s actually on a t-shirt, one that I bought myself ( I actually spoke with him for a few minutes after the Hawks defeated the Raptors at Air Canada Centre recently, talking about his development, the nickname and the fact he has fans in Australia.

(*Dennis Schroder interview courtesy of NBA Nation Australia)

He was fantastic, he’s a quiet guy but I get the feeling that’s mostly because of the minor language barrier. He has a great command of the English language, better than some people born in North America, but I get the feeling once he’s fluent in all the little nuances and references that he’ll hold his own in the trash talking department.

That’s all for now, but I’ll leave you with this cool “NBA On NBA” theme remix that recently came out by Boy Pierce.

 To catch all my NBA writing, photos and videos be sure to visit NBA Nation Australia ( and follow them on Twitter @NBANationOz (

Kamal Hylton of NBA Nation Australia, for War Room Sports