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Aug 29, 2017
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Everyone has been doing their part to make the NBA sabbatical more bearable—from shocking deals to videogame updates. That includes retired legend Kobe Bryant, who posed a series of challenges to current superstars over the weekend.

The Black Mamba, who is known for his unrivalled competitiveness, didn't go easy on players seeking additional basketball motivation. The question remains, though: how doable are these personal tests?


John Wall
 (Washington Wizards)

Possible foils: Chris Paul, Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Tony Allen

The last time that the All-Star made it to an All-Defense squad (second) was during the 2014-15 season, when he put up 1.7 steals and 4.2 defensive rebounds per game—the Wizards finished fifth in defensive rating (103.0) over that period. He should be most wary of Beverley (Clippers) and Bradley (Pistons), whose respective All-Defense stocks rose after being traded to mediocre teams. Wall could only hope to join Paul, who is poised for a seventh-straight inclusion (nine overall) in the first team.

Isaiah Thomas (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Possible foils: Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving

Sad to say, the player who took his place in Boston has a better shot at achieving this feat. Playing alongside LeBron already puts Thomas at a disadvantage, not to mention at least three legitimate MVP contenders who are playing the same position, vying for those two spots. He may have a bigger chip on his shoulder entering the season, but the circumstances simply aren't going his way. Rather than focus on individual honors, Thomas should make the most out of a more probable NBA Finals appearance.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)

Possible foils: Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard

The hardest, yet the most attainable. The dramatic power shift in their conference this summer benefited the Bucks, the group that is expected to make the biggest jump in the East. Other than Leonard, Antetokounmpo won't have to worry about voter fatigue (in the case of James and Durant) and All-Star teammates (reigning MVP Westbrook and Harden) hurting his chances of taking home the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. The Greek Freak, who became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the Top 20 of all five major statistical categories, is in the best situation to respond to Bryant's challenge.

 

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