The commission model is a fixed rate of 1.25 percent of VIP rolling chip turnover and the casinos remain responsible for gaming taxes.
- VIP junket operators, also known as VIP room promoters, act as facilitators for Macau’s billion-dollar casinos, guaranteeing a certain amount of revenue from China’s wealthy gamblers, luring them with free accommodation, travel and other perks in Macau, the only place in China where casino gamble is legal.
* Sources: brokerage research reports, Asia Entertainment and Resources and Reuters reports.
(Editing by Charlie Zhu and Chris Lewis)
HONG KONG Macau’s expanding gaming revenue has helped cement the former Portuguese colony’s position as the world’s largest gambling destination, surpassing Las Vegas five times over.
- Junket agents in Macau usually operate on a two-week debt-collection cycle, so a rise in bad gaming debts would likely be quickly offset by a pullback in new credit issuance.
Macau casinos have become extremely reliant on the VIP high-roller sector, which accounts for more than 70 percent of revenue.
- Macau’s six licensed casino operators — Wynn Macau Ltd (1128.HK), Sands China Ltd (1928.HK), Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd (0027.HK), SJM Holdings Ltd (0880.HK), MGM China Holdings Ltd (2282.HK) and Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd (MPEL.O) — provide gaming facilities, dealers, chips and a monthly commission to VIP junket operators in return for a minimum guaranteed rolling chip turnover per month.
- Macau’s biggest VIP junket operators include Sun City, Neptune Group Ltd (0070.HK), Dore Holdings Ltd (0628.HK) and Asia Entertainment and Resources Ltd (AERL) AERL.O. The win rate model is when VIP junket operators split the gross gaming win with the casino and also share the downside risk.
While thousands of Chinese pour into Macau’s cavernous casinos every day, the real money is made inside VIP rooms that are mainly controlled through the enclave’s opaque junket system.
- The VIP junket operators have a network of agents, known as sub-junkets whose job it is to select VIP patrons to gamble. There are more than 190 licensed junkets in Macau with the top 40 accounting for 80 percent of total VIP revenue.
By Farah Master
| HONG KONG
In recent weeks, Macau’s junkets have attracted increasing attention from investors because of worries that their funding channels may have their roots in China’s underground lending market, a legal grey area but a key financing channel for the legions of small and medium-sized enterprises in China.
- Macau has two types of remuneration models for paying VIP junket operators. Sub-junkets, or agents, are usually localized groups around China and familiar with the credit history of their clients. The sub-junkets receive commission from the VIP junket operators for giving credit to gamblers and are responsible for collecting debts.
Las Vegas will have four nearby rivals — at least by West Coast standards: the league’s three California teams and the Arizona Coyotes.
Foley’s also bid had the enormous advantage of an NHL-ready arena built with private funding and eager for a flagship tenant. “We’re dedicated to it. We’ll leave no stone unturned in our dedication, in our pursuit of hockey for Las Vegas, not just for our team, but for the community.”
“I think the NFL would be great here,” Foley said. He has strongly considered the Black Knights, a name that has special meaning to Foley, a West Point graduate.
With nearly 2.2 million people in the last census, Las Vegas is the largest population center in the U.S. Foley is joined by minority partners Joe and Gavin Maloof, the former owners of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
The NHL is expanding for the first time since 2000, when Minnesota and Columbus each paid $80 million to join the league.
“We think this is a tremendously exciting opportunity, not just for Las Vegas, but for the league as well,” Bettman said, calling Las Vegas “a vibrant, growing, global destination city.”
“We won’t sell out every game with season-ticket holders, but I believe it’s going to be 85 percent, 90 percent (filled by season ticket holders),” Foley said.
Although ice doesn’t last long in the desert, Las Vegas has had an appetite for hockey since the Kings and New York Rangers played a memorable outdoor exhibition game here in 1991. “I’m an Army guy, but maybe that’s not the right name for the team at this time. without a team in the major professional sports. Foley has already accepted more than 14,000 season ticket deposits and sold out all 44 suites in the 17,500-seat rink built by MGM Resorts International and Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Los Angeles Kings.
“There is no doubt as to the passion for hockey in Quebec City,” Bettman said. Foley announced plans to devote considerable resources to building community interest in youth hockey, including a two-rink team training complex that will be “open to all.”
“I love Black Knights,” Foley said. We’re going to work through the league.”
Along with a top-six pick in next year’s draft, the Vegas franchise will be stocked by a June 2017 expansion draft that will be more favorable than previous drafts, theoretically allowing Foley’s team to become competitive more quickly. The league’s alignment and playoff format won’t change.
Bettman said the league made the move largely due to the persistence and strength of the ownership group led by Foley, a financial services tycoon, who has been working on the idea for three years. The IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder sometimes drew more fans than UNLV’s beloved basketball team at the Thomas and Mack Arena in the 1990s, and the Minnesota Wild’s Jason Zucker leads a handful of locals who went on to hockey careers.
Sports leagues once rejected the city outright due to concerns about corruption from Vegas’ massive sports betting economy, but the NHL and the NFL no longer share those worries, with Bettman calling his sport “less susceptible” to gambling interests due to the small volume of bets placed on hockey.. These components, the ones within the control of the Quebec City applicant, are first-rate.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bettman also announced that an expansion bid from Quebec City was “deferred” indefinitely, allowing Las Vegas to enter the league alone in the Pacific Division. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is interested in partnering with Vegas interests to build an enormous domed football stadium for his team.
Foley hasn’t decided on a nickname or logo for his team, but an announcement could be made in the next few weeks. “They have a different fan base than we do. Vegas was an economic boomtown in the previous decade, and the NHL is betting that its slowed growth hasn’t curbed the city’s appetite for sports and spectacles.
“We want everyone to be a fan,” said Foley, who fell in love with pond hockey while growing up in Canada. The new team will play in T-Mobile Arena, the $375 million building that opened just off the Las Vegas Strip in April.
The endurance of that appetite will depend on Foley’s ability to keep fans excited about the newest show in town, but the NHL seems confident it’s getting in early to a growing market. Concerns about the Canadian dollar’s fluctuation, the stress of a two-team expansion draft and the league’s desire to correct its geographical imbalance — the Eastern Conference already has 16 teams, while Las Vegas will be the 15th in the West — prompted the governors to go with Las Vegas alone.
Foley realizes his team might not be alone in Vegas for long.
The National Hockey League’s 31st franchise will play in Las Vegas beginning in 2017, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Wednesday.
Bettman strongly praised the bid backed by telecommunications giant Quebecor to return the league to Quebec City, the former home of the Quebec Nordiques. “There is no doubt as to the suitability of the Videotron Centre as a home for a team, and there is no doubt regarding the ownership credentials or the eagerness to own a team of Quebecor, which has been an outstanding partner. I don’t think it will affect us.”
On a 109-degree day in the Mojave Desert’s gambling mecca, the NHL’s Board of Governors awarded the team to billionaire businessman Bill Foley, who is expected to pay $500 million to the NHL’s other owners as an expansion fee
Congress banned online gambling in 2006. That doesn’t translate online,” DeGaris told FoxNews.com. “If we are unable to determine that you are in New Jersey, you will be unable to play on Virgin Casino,” the site notes. Chris Christie validated the vice in the waning weeks of 2013, saying he hoped to rake in $1 billion in casino revenues this year, of which the state will collect a 17 percent tax.
“Prohibition simply does not work,” Geoff Freeman told a House panel on Dec. Not just poker.”
“Last year, before a single state authorized legal online gaming, Americans spent nearly $3 billion on illegal, unregulated offshore gaming sites. To put that into further context, Americans accounted for nearly 10 percent of the entire $33 billion worldwide online gaming market,” Freeman said.
To prevent unauthorized access, Virgin Casino physically locates gamers’ cellphones periodically. “Blackjack, slots. will generate – in addition to tax revenue from the proceeds at casinos – approximately 22,000 new online gambling-related jobs, Freeman testified.
“Those from other states can play, but they cannot wager,” Fenton said. If your phone is off, or if you’re too near state borders, you may not be allowed to play.
. “Blackjack and poker have a very human element that’s lost online. market could be worth as much as $9 billion in the coming years as other states, including California, legalize online wagering.
Legalizing gambling across the U.S. H2 said the industry was worth $33 billion in 2013, with $4.5 billion coming from mobile gambling on iPads, iPhones and smartphones.
“There will be many games to play online in New Jersey,” Fenton told FoxNews.com. In online casino gambling, it’s about the game more than the bet.”
“It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out,” said Laurence DeGaris, associate professor of marketing at the University of Indianapolis and an expert in Internet culture.
‘Last year, before a single state authorized legal online gaming, Americans spent nearly $3 billion.’
Many Americans simply ignored the ban, he noted, as the country did during Prohibition in the ’20s.
Mega-entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is the latest entry in online gambling, teaming with the Tropicana Resort in Atlantic City and online game maker Gamesys to bring online poker, blackjack and slots to New Jersey this week. “The technology is rolling out this week.”
What happens online, stays online
Six other firms, including popular companies like WSOP.com and Ultimate Poker and other casinos like Caesars and the Golden Nugget, participated in the “soft play” launch of online gambling in New Jersey in November, the state’s Department of Gaming Enforcement Director Dave Rebuck said during a recent conference call.
Not everyone agrees with the odds. “That’s where I see the huge potential in online gambling, and I reckon the U.S. They play against the house at Virgin Casino, and they can finance their wagers with debit cards, credit cards, or in person.
“In sports gambling, it’s about the bet,” DeGaris said. Gov. will catch up to the rest of the world and allow it at some point.”
Globally, the business is even more lucrative. But new laws across the nation are rolling the rules back — and lawmakers think they’re holding a royal flush.
“Slots and roulette are very visceral games, lots of bells and whistles. “The federal government has tried the prohibition approach – specifically the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 and the Wire Act – and through multiple Justice Department crackdowns on offshore operators as well.”
And New Jersey isn’t alone; eight other states have bills in the works that will allow Internet gambling as well. 10. Others predict the overall U.S. market research firm H2 Gambling Capital, which focuses on the gaming industry, predicted about $300 million for New Jersey’s online casinos — or about $45 million in tax revenue, according to the New York Times. U.K.
But analysts are mostly rolling with Christie and the casinos. Nevada and Delaware also began offering some online gambling last year, but New Jersey is the first state to “fully” legalize it, said Lee Fenton, the chief operating officer of Gamesys.
Players must be at least 21 years old, and either reside in New Jersey or be in the state when they place their bets. Virgin could be holding a full house, but it could also fail before the flop.
Prohibition failed – again
Last month, the president and CEO of the American Gaming Association testified before Congress and urged legislators to repeal their 7-year-old ban on Internet gambling.
- Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association
Freeman said the Department of Justice has relaxed its views toward online gambling since 2011, and this could open up even more opportunities in the U.S
Thanks to the juice, the only one who profits in this scenario is the bookmaker. Otherwise, you’re better off doing your own research.”
“In an average season, fewer than one bettor in twelve turns a profit,” Gordon says. Focus on Conferences – “The best way to win money betting football is to develop a niche and follow it closely,” Moseman advises.
But that doesn’t mean you have to bet like a “square” and throw away your hard-earned money.
2. Oakland comes to mind) seem like the Super Bowl. These books change their numbers according to the betting patterns of their customers, so it is not entirely uncommon to find two or three point differences in the lines.”
So, how much are we gambling each football season?
So, how much should you bet a game?
4. “As for me, the best bet in football is betting the point spread or over/under totals on individual games. Money Management – “This is without a doubt the most important aspect of betting on sports and possibly the most neglected,” says Morey “Doc” Moseman, a professional gambler and sports consultant with DocSports.com for nearly 40 years. Research Football Services – “Most sports services realize that most people who sign up with them are insecure,” Gordon warns. Also, being “in action” can make a dull late-afternoon game (Buffalo vs. Chasing losses is the fastest way to the poor house.”
7. The payout is just the same as far as he is concerned.
“The biggest mistake that amateur bettors make is they increase their bets when they are losing,” Sevransky says. Avoid Exotic Bets – “For very skilled handicappers, with a proven track record, there can, at least in theory, be value in betting parlays,” says Gordon on the type of bet that combines two or more individual wagers. Consider Underdogs – “In the long-run, it’s easier to win betting on the underdog,” Konik says. He is not taken in by being involved in USC-Notre Dame just because it is the biggest watched game of the day. “In trying to bamboozle potential customers, many services make claims about having scouts all over the country that give them inside information and promise 70 or even 80 percent winners, as if the bookmakers were the biggest suckers in the world. “Thus, the bookies love and cherish the squares.”
Although exact figures are impossible to calculate, according to Jimmy Vaccaro, widely considered to be Las Vegas’ most influential bookmaker, Americans probably wager more than $50 billion a year on NFL and college football combined.
While these tips don’t guarantee you’re going to win, hopefully they can make you a little less square and a little more sharp in your picks this season. Locks Don’t Exist – “Anyone who has watched sports for about a month realizes that the difference between winning and losing, especially against the spread, can be infinitesimally small,” Gordon says. On college you will be able to find different lines at different sports books. “Squares usually bet later in the week and they tend to pick the favorites. They use powerful computers that can process millions of bits of data and produce a more accurate point-spread line than the bookmakers.”
And remember, in the immortal words of “Fast” Eddie Felson, “Money won is twice as sweet as money earned.”
Even Hollywood is not immune – think Two for the Money with Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey.
“A square or recreational player might have a vague plan, but after two Corona’s he will definitely run to the window and make a hasty decision on the USC-Notre Dame game because he wants to be involved in the party atmosphere,” Vaccaro says. If North Texas is his best bet on a Saturday then that is his bet. There are almost an infinite number of scenarios that can happen in a single football game. He loses year after year, according to Dan Gordon, a top football handicapper and author of How to Beat the Sports Books (Cardoza Publishing 2005).
Ted Sevransky, a well-known Las Vegas gambler and sports consultant with Sportsmemo.com, agrees.
But even though the math says it’s virtually impossible to win on a consistent basis, Americans continue to bet on football. “When you’re in a good rhythm and winning, you want to increase your bets. In fact, sports bettors must pick 52.4 percent winners just to break even.”
. Avoid Chasing Bets – “Don’t do it! There is no worse way to mismanage your bankroll than to chase your bets after a losing day,” cautions Moseman on the dangerous practice of trying to immediately win back your losses. “Most people prefer to bet on the ‘better’ team, the one that will probably win the game. “The sharps are usually members of a betting syndicate privy to the most up-to-date information on injuries, weather, game plans, and, most important, the real power of the teams involved. Slim underdogs regularly win outright. Big underdogs often find ways to cover the spread and they rarely give up toward the end of a game in front of the home crowd.”
“The standard bet requires gamblers to lay $11 for every $10 they want to win with the extra $1 or 10 percent known as the juice,” Konik says.
“A sharp or smart has a plan of what he wants to do,” says Vaccaro, the director of sports operations and public relations at Lucky’s Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas.
1. “Because alcohol clouds your judgment and usually helps you to make rash decisions you usually wouldn’t otherwise make. If you want advice about sports betting, find someone who has a successful track record. The NFL, for example, will have very similar numbers at most of the betting shops you visit.
Michael Konik, a sports writer and best-selling author of The Smart Money (Simon & Schuster 2006), explains why it is so hard for the recreational gambler to win at betting on football. The only locks that exist are those that need keys to open them.”
5. “Over the course of several seasons, the percentage of bettors who turn a profit is minuscule.”
Newspapers and popular sports sites routinely publish the lines or point spreads for games, and football insiders offer their picks to viewers each week on ESPN and other cable networks. “There will be more discrepancy in the numbers at different sports books. There is a wealth of information on the Internet; it is just up to you to find it and research it daily.”
Another difference between squares and sharps is how they approach betting on game day.
However, Konik adds that there are some bettors who actually know how to beat the bookies. Bet at the Right Time – “The sharp bettors tend to bet underdogs, and they tend to bet them early,” Moseman says. “If you listen to their advice, you are sure to lose.
10. “Teams play inspired ball at home.
So, is it possible for the average square to become a little sharper in making football bets this season? According to professionals like Vacarro, Konik and Gordon, amateur bettors have the best chance to win if they demonstrate a little patience and follow the 10 basic tips below. So underdogs tend to be slightly undervalued – except by the sharps.”
Betting on football games; whether it’s through a local bookie, an offshore Internet site or a Nevada casino (still the only legal place in America to make football bets), most of us have done it or know of someone who has.
“There is probably no better bet in sports than playing an underdog at home,” Moseman says. Giving 11 to 10 odds is almost always the cheapest price you can give.”
“Most people with an understanding of football gambling bet between 3 percent and 5 percent of their bankroll, increasing when they win and reducing when they lose,” Vaccaro says. And why not? We have unconditional love for the sport and betting $50 or $100 on a game adds an extra rush of adrenaline. But, when you’re struggling, that’s when you want to reduce your bet size until you get out of your slump. If you like an underdog, it is best to get your bet in as late as possible, where there is heavy action from squares on favorites. “In the NFL, a game will often be totally turned around by one or two plays, or even a single penalty. “If you become an expert on a smaller conference like the WAC, you have a good chance to beat the house because sports book operators do not have the time or resources to follow this conference the way you can.
“The talking heads on TV know nothing about sports betting,” says Sevransky. “The key to proper money management is to be sure not to bet more than you can afford to lose.”
“A square is the average, unsophisticated gambler whose decision making is based on hunches, media manipulation, or spurious systems that cannot overcome the bookmaker’s inherent mathematical advantage,” Konik explains. The only touts bettors should consider are the ones who talk about the long haul and realistic winning percentages, which are in the upper 50 percent to lower 60 percent range.”
Moseman agrees and especially likes home underdogs. “He is not jaded by teams and does not bet with his heart. If you are going to go with a favorite, it is best to place your bet early in the week when the sharps are laying heavy money on the points.
Certainly not back into the pockets of the average bettor.
And where does all that money go?
“The bookies fear and despise a tiny coterie of professional bettors known as ‘the sharps,’” Konik says. Drinking and Gambling Don’t Mix – “There is a reason the casinos in Las Vegas supply you with free drinks while you are gambling,” Moseman says. Not all games work according to this formula, but it is usually a good rule of thumb.”
6. “For example, if you have a $1,000 bankroll for the season, you should generally bet no more than $50 a game.”
Also, it’s probably a good idea to disregard advice from the myriad of ex-players and football experts you see on television each week. To be a successful sports bettor you need to operate with a clear mind.”
9. Shop For Numbers – “Another important aspect of betting on football is shopping for the best number,” Moseman explains. “Common wisdom says that over the course of a long football season the average man or woman will pick approximately 50 percent winners
Durant seized more possessions, dished more dimes and drove Oklahoma City to a better scoring margin in his non-Westbrook minutes than in the opposite scenario, per NBA.com research.
Defenders have to chase Walker over picks, and that means he can ankle-break his way into the paint — drawing help and opening up 3-point looks for Charlotte’s army of shooters. But you could imagine these Warriors playing good defense without Green; they did under Mark Jackson, using a more traditional scheme. Patrick Patterson’s candidacy suffers from the same lack of raw production, but his 3-point shooting at power forward and ability to guard multiple positions make him a key part of almost every successful Toronto lineup. He hit 3s at nearly a league-average rate, led fast breaks and assisted on 18 percent of Denver’s buckets while on the floor — the fifth-best mark in history for a rookie big. They help in one spot, bend away from another and return there before the offense even realizes anyone was open. Kemba Walker
3. Popovich tweaks the stylistic fringes to fit every new cast, and that’s why this second-place vote isn’t just a lifetime achievement trophy. Remember: I was touting Whiteside early in the season when commentators who didn’t bother digging into even one layer of context would robotically recite the stat showing the Heat defended better with Whiteside on the bench.
That is why Jamal Crawford is a two-time winner and such a popular candidate as he finishes this season with a flourish of crossover goodness. No team plays, and lives, with a better spirit. You trust Stevens’ play calling a bit more than Casey’s in crunch time.
1. There isn’t much difference between them statistically, and Durant reclaimed some control of the Thunder offense once Billy Donovan started staggering the Westbrook/Durant minutes in February. And alas, DeAndre Jordan is not quite as good as his reputation.
Davis’ 21 minutes drove Portland toward the unexpected. Both will make a lot of ballots, and that’s fine.
Additional apologies to: Crawford, Turner, Patterson, Thompson, Mirza Teletovic, Jeremy Lin, Shaun Livingston, Dennis Schroder, Clint Capela, Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday, Darren Collison, Patty Mills, Cory Joseph, Manu Ginobili, Bismack Biyombo and Matthew Dellavedova.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
There are seven candidates for the last four spots: the four listed, plus Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry and Draymond Green. For all the angst over whether Leonard can generate offense when everything else stalls out in crunch time, he ranks among the league’s best one-on-one scorers — from both the perimeter and the post, per Synergy Sports research.
Green is the firing brain circuitry of perhaps the greatest team ever, nearly as important to Golden State’s top-five defense as Curry is to their all-time offense. He’s a slick passer from the post, the elbows and in transition.
Also: Win 72 games — and maybe 73! — and I break my long-standing rule of voting for Popovich every season.
I have an official ballot again this year, so these votes count. Most of the Clippers’ bench mobs have stunk, anyway. Leonard doesn’t think, or pass, two steps ahead of the defense, and he’s not strong enough to bulldoze his way to the rim every damn time. You cannot imagine Golden State with a league-average point guard in Curry’s place. Redick and Jordan. Brutes with touch and the heft to get into Whiteside’s body have done damage on the block; opponents have hit 51 percent of their post-up shots against him, per Synergy Sports research, 10th worst among 72 defenders who have faced at least 75 post-ups this season.
This is like choosing between Elastic Man and a fire-breathing version of The Thing. The first type is packed: Gary Harris, Doug McDermott, Clint Capela, Rodney Hood, JaMychal Green, Jerami Grant and many more. He has been a two-way force with the inside-outside skill set a big-man star needs in the modern NBA. Iguodala laps the field as a playmaker and defender. Houston found something last season as a carefree, go-go outfit, brought back the same cast and fell apart amid chemistry issues, laziness and a staleness of spirit. Do that now, and Walker is roasting you from deep.
Durant gets the nod by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin. He blew them away. Kristaps Porzingis
3. He loosed Isaiah Thomas without worrying about his defensive limitations, encouraged Avery Bradley to chuck more 3s and pushed Jae Crowder to test his off-the-bounce game. Their ascension is almost expected. Davis has better stats across the board: 61 percent from the floor as a basket vulture, the fourth-best offensive rebounding rate in the league and much better rim-protection numbers.
Creating a cohesive ethos that sticks is a rare thing. He finally made good. What a season.
I lean toward Green because of his versatility — and especially his unique ability, at 6-foot-6, to credibly guard centers. A lead ball handler polishing his long-range shot is the rare isolated skill development that ripples across an entire roster. There was almost nothing in Mahinmi’s dossier to suggest he could work as the dive man in a semi-functional pick-and-roll offense. A lot of bench-heavy units are light on shot creators and need someone, anyone, to chuck when the shot clock dwindles. Popovich re-centered his offense around Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge without completely losing the pass-first mojo that powered the 2012-2015 versions of the Spurs borg; you especially see it on bench-heavy units. The bigs who might normally displace him have battled injuries, or slipped a bit from peak form: Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Rudy Gobert, Andrew Bogut, Tim Duncan, Anthony Davis and a few others. Will Barton
3. Green and Curry lean on each other, and lift the team together, but the value gap between them is large enough to shove Green off this ballot.
Lowry became a superstar, always in hunched motion, waiting to spring into open space when you take a breath. Isolating a coach’s work from Halloween through tax day is a strange conceit.
A word on the Leonard-LeBron debate: LeBron at full throttle is the better player, and perhaps still the best player in the league. It takes nurturing over years. C.J. He might win, and he’d deserve it.
SIXTH MAN AWARD
1. Kevin Durant
5. Ed Davis
Clifford reimagined Charlotte’s offense as a high-octane triple machine without conceding an inch on any of his conservative (basketball) principles: low turnovers, fast-break paranoia, and killer defensive rebounding. Thompson has been great, but the Cavs would have finished first or second in the East even if he had held out the whole season. 2 option for the Knicks. The Warriors would have to reinvent their entire offense, and they might not be very good.
Additional apologies to (deep breath): Barton, Crowder, Capela, Whiteside, Kent Bazemore, Zach LaVine, Allen Crabbe, Evan Fournier, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lance Thomas, Khris Middleton, Marvin Williams, Reggie Jackson and many other nice people.
He has also played 900 more minutes than Jokic, the equivalent of 19 full games, while shouldering a much heavier load; Jokic averages a hair fewer than 10 points per game, and sometimes looks reluctant to assert himself. Kawhi Leonard
3. He’s a horse on the glass, always does his job in transition and plays hard on every damn possession.
He didn’t just maintain his per-minute stats over triple the minutes. LeBron James
4. It’s a little corny how Boston’s Stevens talks about wanting players to “soar with their strengths,” but he lives up to the motivational mantra. You could build an argument for James Harden, carrying the wheezing wraith of Houston on his back, but he showed up out of shape and played zippo defense for a would-be contender about to limp into the No. He became a different player.
He’s not LeBron in those situations. Only Rick Carlisle, a confirmed warlock, and perhaps now Kerr can touch Pop’s in-game strategy and lineup optimization.
Porzingis can’t match Jokic’s advanced numbers, and he actually shot a tick worse from downtown. He empowered Curry to test the limits of his revolutionary game, sold stars on passing and cutting, convinced big names to sacrifice and gave everyone a voice in choosing strategies. He sure scored a lot, though! Devin Booker got started too late, defended air and finished with an ugly — if understandable — uptick in turnovers. Paul Millsap
None of the league’s perimeter stoppers — including Paul George and Jimmy Butler — matched the consistency of these three studs.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Walker reinvented only one part of his game, but that single change — morphing into an above-average 3-point shooter — transformed everything for the Hornets. Other teams fear Westbrook. 5 or No. But he’s plenty good, with a jumper that clicked as LeBron’s broke apart, and he has been the league’s second-best player.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Crawford’s limitations on defense matter even more when he plays with those guys, since that means he’s probably also playing against opposing starters — lineups that might not offer him a safe hiding spot.
The fully engaged Warriors are a perfectly coordinated swarm. They don’t think of him much at all, really. Everything about the Warriors — their style, their identity, their strut — emanates from his historically unprecedented shooting.
I understand if some readers might not be able to identify Jokic if he walked by them. Being a low-key dude in Utah and Atlanta will do that.
He redefined the tone of the organization the moment he walked in the door. Chicago lost its way, and by the end of the season, the Bulls were just throwing crap against the wall on offense — lifeless possessions with no purpose. But Porzingis logged nearly 400 more minutes and did heavy lifting as the No. The Magic still don’t know what in the hell they are.
But from start to finish, Leonard had the better season, for the better team. If you’re looking for a high-volume chaos engine, this is your guy.
The Blazers snagging the No. Both engineer decent shots from nothing, but only LeBron can steamroll to the rim almost whenever he wants. He would be a star anywhere. Most of those chuckers can slide into a secondary role alongside starters in crunch time.
This was just a brutal category.
The final spot came down to a bunch of guys whose teams play together, play hard and know who they are: Stotts, Dwane Casey, Brad Stevens, Steve Clifford, Erik Spoelstra, Dave Joerger, Quin Synder, Stan Van Gundy, Mike Budenholzer and Carlisle. We don’t do a good enough job noting the other three or four bets that come up snake eyes, leaving shooters open and hanging teammates out to dry. Westbrook’s decision-making at money time can be scattershot.
Barton and Enes Kanter might represent superior versions of the classic Crawford candidacy. Much of that gravitates from Stotts. He doesn’t take possessions off. He logs about 21 minutes per game, the same as Kanter, and half-dozen fewer than Tristan Thompson, his burlier doppelgänger in Cleveland, working the same role as a hybrid, rim-running big.
Coming later this week: my picks for All-NBA, All-Rookie and All-Defense.
But you can’t make a case based on a single, all-in-one stat, especially one questioned by team insiders with access to the real secret sauce: analytics derived from SportVU tracking data. Towns kills by those metrics, sources tell me, and he laps the field by most other public statistical measures.
Walker vowed for years he would do this. They respect Paul, but they don’t shudder at the possibility of him smashing through their entire team — and the concept of normal basketball — for two or three pivotal minutes.
That leaves an impossible choice between Westbrook and Durant — a choice that almost seems unfair given the Thunder’s hit-or-miss supporting cast. Stotts placed cast-offs and unknowns around Lillard and forged a playoff team in Portland.
The only drama comes in the last four spots, which means it really doesn’t matter much for historical purposes. Paul can’t match Westbrook’s gaudy triple-double numbers, or turn a game on its head with 45 seconds of snarling athleticism. He is much better than his traditional numbers suggest. Crawford thrives with Paul, J.J. Even piss-poor bench lineups relying on such tough jumpers can redistribute some of those shots to other players, and not lose much. He stabilized the team’s iffy defense with some key midseason tweaks, including a few that nudged players into uncomfortable new challenges. Without further ado:
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
He’s also a better, more versatile defender — quick enough to guard any wing, and so long, he can dart in from the strong side to snuff a drive and veer back to a sharp shooter without conceding a thing. There is some merit to that. That culture of openness and community held up as Kerr recovered. He envelopes opponents, and he’d be the captain of my Mirror Guy team for defenders who move in such exact sync with a ball handler, it almost appears as if the ball handler is dueling with a reflection.
1. An MVP sharpening skills-within-skills to transform into an historic superstar might be the hardest advance, and certainly the most unusual. Opponents for years clogged Charlotte’s dreary offense by ducking under screens against Walker, walling off his driving lanes and leaving the Bobcats/Hornets heaving up junk late in the shot clock. The Raptors love Casey and play hard for him. Young players get better with experience, and they get to play more.
Traditionally, this is an award for gunners. The Blazers don’t rise from the ashes without McCollum maturing into a borderline star.
You could give the third slot to at least two-dozen guys, but I’m going with Mahinmi, Indy’s only source of reliable front-line play over the full season. Casey, Clifford and Stevens were the final, painful cuts; all of them have real arguments for the top spot.
He likes to hang back on the pick-and-roll, inviting disaster against sharpshooters like Curry and Damian Lillard, who need only a sliver to unleash pull-up 3s upon turning the corner. He can play with any lineup, and against any lineup. Green is the yapping nervous system of that defense.
But those teams had more continuity in talent; we knew most of them would be at least decent. By some measures, the dude is wrapping up one of the best all-around seasons ever for a rookie center. They are active with such synchronization; you barely notice the activity. He has remade himself into a natural fit for Stotts’ catch-and-go system, and works hard on defense.
He has been Portland’s best big man; he plays a lot of crunch time, and has stepped into an even more important role with Meyers Leonard hurt and Noah Vonleh fading. LeBron resides in another universe as a passer. Green can play up a position for entire games if need be, and that is the launch code to basketball’s nuclear bomb: the Death Lineup, with Green as a sneering, rampaging, fast-breaking center, and shooters raining death around him.
There isn’t a case for anyone else. When two bets in a row hit, it looks spectacular, and we laud Westbrook’s ability to bend the game to his will. He’s just not as good as these other guys.
That left Durant, Westbrook and Paul for two spots. Some combination of injuries, infighting and confusion undid Washington, New Orleans and Phoenix. Jokic has more competition for minutes and touches, but it’s not as if he’s stuck in a loaded roster; the Nuggets are only four games ahead of Minnesota, and Jusuf Nurkic, one of Jokic’s main competitors for playing time, spent half the season injured and in Mike Malone’s doghouse.
There is more to winning basketball than shooting and scoring.
Towns should win unanimously. He works as a co-point guard off the bench, defends the other team’s best wing players, drains 40-plus percent of his corner 3s when Curry is on the floor and shares a genius-level defensive mind-meld with Green.
He’s still bad on defense, but not as bad as he once was. Players embraced those challenges, in part because they thought their coach and their superstar had already embraced them.
Confession: I had no idea what to do with this award once Iguodala started missing games — and with Whiteside ineligible.
So, screw it: I’m going with the blue-collar, unheralded Ed Davis — a journeyman who became essential for Portland, and has long slapped up per-minute numbers that blow away almost every other sixth-man candidate. Gregg Popovich
3. Myles Turner is coming off the bench again.
Kanter might win the damn thing, and I’d have no problem with that. Who doesn’t?
There are too many six-point, five-rebound nights for Davis to win this award, but he deserves a hard look. No one else should get a first-place vote.
This is partly a multiyear achievement award for Kerr and Popovich, and it should be. He had never started more than 12 games, and he entered this season with 107 career assists; ask him to throw a quick-hitter on the move, and he was more likely to fling the ball five rows deep in the stands.
1. Gentle reminder: I consider every speck of information — game film, public stats, secret stats I wrangle up, exchanges of intel with team officials — and I don’t hate your team.
Westbrook is incredible, and he might finish in the top three once the votes are in. He’s already a bright, shining plus at everything: post scoring, jump shooting, passing, defending the rim and scampering around in space. 8 spot with a win over the tanking Kings.
Even so: There are matchups that trouble him. They switch and re-switch without cracking open even the teeniest lanes. Post-up brutes do better against backups; dump the ball to Kanter against some second-unit sad sack, and he’s eating buckets. Stephen Curry
2. Nikola Jokic
Westbrook remains a manic gambler who submarines too many possessions with reckless choices. Draymond Green
2. Terry Stotts
But Curry and Leonard were already so damn good, they had only so far to leap. Evan Turner fills every gap for the Celtics.
Yeah, Iguodala will end up missing 25 percent of the season. Jahlil Okafor missed 35 percent of the season, played some of the worst big-man defense in NBA history and exacerbated an internal crisis with embarrassing off-court behavior. Steve Kerr
2. No one watches the Nuggets — not even in Denver. He can slide more easily between the two big-man positions, hang with guards on switches, and swat damn near everything around the basket.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jabari Parker and Julius Randle are basically rookies. Both guys can defend up a position, but Durant sliding to power forward opens more lineup possibilities than Westbrook muscling a shooting guard.
The Warriors’ offense falls apart without Curry, and for the second straight season, opponents outscored Golden State — by a huge margin — with Curry on the bench. He’s like a five-tool center! If he’s not a top-15 player already, he’s going to be soon.
I gravitate toward the squishy middle — mid-career guys who make an overall leap, or hone one key skill that unlocks other parts of their game. No one is. He also absorbed a larger burden during Griffin’s absence.
This is why, as queasy as it makes me, I can look past the fact that serious health issues kept Kerr off the sideline for half the season. That is remarkable. 3 spot will raise some eyebrows, especially in Miami, where Hassan Whiteside rejected everything in sight. McCollum is really a Category 1 type on a one-year delay, but unlike a lot of young guys thrust into larger roles, he’s pulling this as the second-best player on a playoff team. It’s like a 60-win team pushing for 70 the next season.
But he has developed into the keystone of the league’s stingiest defense since Jan. He isn’t the only one responsible for building it, but he was the driver, and he’s one of the few who’s powerful enough to undermine it if he ever chose.
Millsap’s comfort zone extends across the full court, and every playing style. He doesn’t snap at teammates or manufacture chaos with calculated, passive-aggressive social media fits. People don’t think of Millsap as an elite defender. Kawhi Leonard
3. The drudgery of travel and in-the-moment decision-making are big parts of coaching. Leonard and Green are the two most important, cruelest, most unfair defenders in the league, and it isn’t close. Karl-Anthony Towns
2. Curry has been the best and most valuable player in the NBA — a glitch in the system who transformed a sport. Pair him with a drive-and-kick star like Westbrook or Durant, and Kanter morphs into perhaps the league’s pre-eminent scoring mooch — gobbling up drop-off passes and offensive rebounds when his man leaves to help on a Thunder stud.
D’Angelo Russell combined hot shooting with beyond-his-years playmaking after finally earning Byron Scott’s trust, only to betray Nick Young’s and deflate the Lakers’ locker room.
1. Crowder and Whiteside are matching what they did last season in more limited runs in Boston and Miami, respectively.
But Crawford is barely shooting 40 percent from the floor. Kanter is trying harder this season, and he can usually survive if the other team plays at least one traditional big man.
The bedrock principles of San Antonio’s culture have been unassailable for 20 years. Chris Paul
Below that stratosphere, team identity and culture are fragile. Not here.
But on a night-to-night basis, Paul is the more calming, precise player, and he has to be on the ballot after keeping the Clippers afloat amid Blake Griffin’s injury melodrama.
Mahinmi doubled his career assist total, nearly doubled his scoring average and obliterated almost every past statistical marker — all while maintaining his SMOTHERED CHICKEN presence around the rim on defense. McCollum
2. Some smaller guys can fake it for a possession or two, provided some crisis — like a rebound bouncing in their direction — doesn’t happen. McCollum worked as Portland’s de facto backup point guard when Lillard rested, and the Blazers outscored opponents during those minutes, per NBA.com research. But no other candidate has done enough in every facet of the game to unseat him — especially given Golden State’s historic success.
Stotts empowers players to stretch themselves in his whirring motion offense, knowing that if they feel involved on that end, they’ll buy into the grunt work. Jokic leads all rookies in adjusted plus-minus by a mile; he’s ninth in the whole stinking league, right ahead of DeMarcus Cousins! He’s an intuitive, nasty defender — better than you’d guess, given his ho-hum athleticism.
Two broad player types give me trouble here: the second-year guy who thrives with increased playing time, and the superstar who somehow becomes even better. They’re going to win mega-awards, anyway, and one of them will likely snag the championship.
Somehow, it’s already time to hand out regular-season awards. 6 seed after losing four starters is perhaps the happiest story of the season. Ian Mahinmi
Now, he’s doing stuff like this:
He gets those numbers without gambling, and he can guard any position in a pinch. The NBA is considered the most predictable of the four major U.S. Cousins could crack this ballot if he tried hard all the time. The better team usually wins a best-of-seven series, and the best teams with the best players win championships.
Advanced stats wonks have argued he should win the award, and he has a strong case to leapfrog Porzingis for the No. But Kerr was very much present during his absence, especially when the Warriors were at home.
Choosing Millsap for the No. 2 slot. LeBron can be the fastest all-court defender in the league when he wishes; remember, he outperformed computerized ghost defenders programmed to be perfect!
Still: Kanter gives back a lot of points, and the Thunder will have to cut his minutes against elite postseason offenses who target him like chum.
I haven’t wrapped my head around what to do with the second type — notably Curry, Green and Leonard. Andre Iguodala
2. Whiteside has been more diligent taking an extra step out toward such players over the past 40 games, but he’s wobbly — and vulnerable to blow-bys — outside his comfort zone.. 1 — a jack-of-all-trades with the speed to extinguish pick-and-rolls 30 feet from the basket, glue-trap hands that rip more steals than almost any big man in league history, and the guts to initiate an airborne collision at the rim. Barton outshot Crawford despite a late-season slump, revved up Denver in transition, rebounded like a power forward and defended more reliably across both wing positions. Millsap is averaging 1.7 blocks per game, by far a career high, and he’s the only rotation player in the league topping 1.7 blocks and 1.7 steals per night.
1. When Stotts asked Davis to defend power forwards so that Leonard could hang closer to the hoop against centers, Davis accepted the shift out of position — and busted his butt to make it work.
Whiteside doesn’t, though he has found another gear over the past three months. It’s a big reason Charlotte gradually found its footing in those minutes when Walker leads the offense without Nicolas Batum as co-pilot.
Leonard might be an even better one-on-one defender, though, and he could toggle between positions more often if Gregg Popovich demanded it. pro sports leagues, and at the top, that’s true
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Life was not always full of glamor and glitz for some of Hollywood’s actresses, actors and singers. From working at gas stations to cleaning chicken coops, these super hot celebrities had their fair share of odd first jobs.
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