NBA Playoffs: Daniel Theis With Chances, Maxi Kleber With Problems

Of course, it’s about winning at sport and proving that you’re objectively better than others. And in the end there are even songs about it, only the title counts, everyone is a loser that no one remembers. If you apply those criteria, Franz Wagner had a terrible first season in the NBA. His club, the Orlando Magic, has the second-worst record (22-60) in the North American Basketball League and failed to qualify for the playoffs, which began Tuesday with a mini-tournament for the remaining four of the 16 spots.

But you can also see sport as a challenge, how good you can get in a discipline, and so pretty much everyone agrees that Wagner took a few steps towards the room that only very, very few athletes walk in and the door says: Admission only for the best in the world.

Having had an excellent rookie season, the impressive statistics (15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game) tell only part of the story, just like in a team sport, people win the title who don’t. nothing lost in the best of the game. world room. The NBA talent exchange is always a crystal ball look. (Wagner was voted eighth in his class, before only one German: Detlef Schrempf in 1985.)

You can be as good as you want in college, and Wagner made it to the quarterfinals with Michigan — he also plays against people who become lawyers and dentists. You only realize how good someone really is when they compete against the best. “They’re so incredibly good,” Wagner recently told SZ. “But you only realize that when you play them directly: how athletic they are, how fast, how talented.”

That’s exactly what they say about Wagner: how elegant he moves, how incredibly high his understanding of the game is despite his only 20 years, how he fools even seasoned professionals. Of course there are videos of him with nimble dribbles, fine passes, dunks. But his qualities are more evident when he hits the ball no Have. Running free in the NBA is like trying to run from building to building in the rain. You have to wait for the moment when it’s not raining so hard, and then get there as quickly as possible using the shortest path you have to identify beforehand.

Wagner must gain a few pounds of muscle to seek physical contact with opponents in a more fearless way

Wagner recognizes these situations, recognizes the path, and then he takes the ball, that’s the advantage for a young player when his club has a bad record: he can develop and take those steps; in Orlando they just didn’t want it to be too fast. “We want to do it perfectly and not skip a step,” coach Jamahl Mosley said at the end of the regular season. They want to build something and hope to have laid the groundwork for it, especially with Wagner, because he’s still a little way from that best space in the world.

He must now gain a few pounds of muscle, if possible, to seek physical contact with opponents in a more fearless way, both in the movement to the basket and in defense. And they want him to find other ways to score besides the ones that have worked well this season and that opponents are already familiar with. That’s why it’s often said that the second season is more difficult and more important than the first, and for Wagner the holiday work begins: now, while others fight for the title.

In search of the target water: Maxi Kleber.

(Photo: Ron Jenkins/AFP)

For example, Maxi Kleber of the Dallas Mavericks, who faces the Utah Jazz in the first round. In Dallas, they agree they have a serious shot at the title – if that glue is healthy and confident. Of course it depends on the stars in the playoffs, with the Mavericks it’s Luka Doncic. But Kleber’s versatility on defense and his marksmanship make him what the US calls “piece of the title puzzle”. However, for weeks Kleber looked like someone had stolen his target water, since February he has only hit 24% of the shots beyond the three-point line.

The Celtics need Theis basket protector against the Nets’ offensive spectacle

It’s not just about the points themselves, Kleber got seven per game, but also that the Mavericks need him as a pick-and-roll option for Doncic (who decides after the block if he wants to score himself or put Kleber in) and as a threat from beyond the three-point line when Dwight Powell pulls for the basket. One way to come out of such a deep valley is to have a sense of achievement at the end of the regular season, but Kleber was injured at the time. In an emergency, he must now free himself from the crisis.

Germans in the NBA Playoffs: Favored with the Boston Celtics: Daniel Theis.

Favorite with the Boston Celtics: Daniel Theis.

(Photo: Morry Gash/AP)

Things are looking a little better for Daniel Theis, who the Boston Celtics brought back in February and says of head coach Ime Udoka who now sees him not just as a regular center because of Robert Williams’ injury, but as a major player in the title. Fight Player. The Celtics are second in the Eastern Conference. In the first round there could be a duel with the Brooklyn Nets, who didn’t have a good record due to Kevin Durant’s injury and Kyrie Irving’s lateral thinking, but are considered favorites if they win the play-in against Cleveland (on Wednesday night -market ). The Celtics need Theis basket guard against the Nets’ offensive spectacle.

Wagner must now work to ensure the Orlando Magic is a playoff contender as soon as possible; Kleber and Theis hope the title works this year. It’s also about how everyone can be good at this sport, but in the end it’s all about winning.

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