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What makes Kawhi Leonard one of the top five players in the NBA?

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If one was to lock a group of mad basketball scientists in a room and tell them to design the kind of player they’d want for the current NBA era, it’s not hard to figure what they would eventually come up with.

They’d want someone “long” to use one of the euphemisms of the day, lanky with arms that hang down around the knees, a 6-foot-7 frame that’s at the same time muscular and lithe.

Kawhi Leonard’s physical attributes help make him become a top five player in the NBA.
Kawhi Leonard’s physical attributes help make him become a top five player in the NBA.  (Alex Goodlett / GETTY IMAGES)

They’d want someone capable of defending multiple positions and playing them on offence, a wing who could check some bigs, a big who could score against slower players and physically dominate smaller ones. Someone who can shoot three-pointers and attack the basket because multi-faceted is the way the game is going.

They’d want someone who can be considered low maintenance, someone “coachable” who can be plugged into a system and thrive.

It wouldn’t take long for those great minds to come up with what they want and they’d emerge unscathed and with a player in mind.

A player like Kawhi Leonard.

Of course, there are many questions to be answered, chemistry issues to figure out, practices to be held and coaching philosophies to be developed. But Leonard is the most intriguing player to put on a Raptors uniform in more than a decade.

And not just because of what he can do for himself. His presence should elevate the team in all facets of the game, which is what makes him standout more than anyone else on the roster.

His defensive versatility should allow new head coach Nick Nurse to experiment with all kinds of switching schemes that are now in vogue in the league. They won’t ever have to “hide” Leonard; they can use him in a variety of ways.

It’s the same on offence. When he first broke into the league, the question was whether he could consistently score and shoot or whether he was going to be a one-trick defensive pony.

He’s not at the elite three-point shooting level but his ability to score in different ways while not being a ball-dominant player should allow him — and his teammates — to not miss a beat from one of the most prolific offences in the NBA last season.

It’s the package that makes Leonard good, his own skills and what they do for his teammates.

Just like a panel might draw it up.

But what makes Leonard so good? Here’s a quick look:

WHY HE’S SO GOOD OVERALL

  • His wingspan may provide a clue. Because his reach is a whopping eight inches longer than an average person, Leonard can guard people bigger than him — while taking advantage on offence because he’s quicker than the bigger player.
  • Another argument is that basketball is a two-way sport, so you have to consider both sides of the court when picking the game’s best player.
  • Win share is a stat that tries to divvy up credit for team success to the players — Leonard was fourth in overall win shares (13.6) in his last full season, behind James Harden (15.0), Rudy Gobert (14.3) and Jimmy Butler (13.8).

WHY HE’S SO GOOD ON OFFENCE

  • He can attack the basket, score off the dribble, hit spot-up jumpers and create shots for his teammates.
  • Opponents also have to respect his shooting from the three-point line (a high of 44.3 per cent in 2015-16, 38.6 per cent over career), opening up the floor for his teammates.
  • In his last full season, he averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. The scoring average is remarkable because the Spurs are coached by Gregg Popovich, known for spreading the offensive workload for the team. That’s backed by Leonard’s usage rate . . .
  • Usage consists of the number of chances a player takes out of the possible chances a team has when he’s on the court. The higher his usage, the more likely he’s the primary scoring option for the team. Russell Westbrook led the league in 2016-17 with a usage rate of 41.7 while averaging a triple double for the entire season (25.4 points, 10.2 assists, 10.1 rebounds). Leonard was eighth with a 31.1 usage rate, yet he still managed to average 25.5 points. Theoretically, if Leonard’s usage was higher (with the ball in his hands more), he’d score even more.
  • Player efficiency rating (PER) is a per-minute rating of his performance. It’s a complicated formula that sums up a player’s positive accomplishments (field goals, three-pointers etc.) and subtracts the negatives (fouls, turnovers etc.). The league average is 15. Leonard was tied for second in his last full season at 27.6 with Kevin Durant — behind only Westbrook (30.6).
  • Leonard is a consistent perimeter scorer who has flirted with the elite 50-40-90 club — 50 per cent shooting from the field, 40 per cent from the three-point line while making 90 per cent of his free throws. His career stats — 49.5-38.6-84.6

WHY HE’S SO GOOD ON DEFENCE

  • As good as Leonard is on offence, it’s defence where he made his name. Not only did he win two straight NBA defensive player of the year awards, he finished third in voting the season after.
  • Considered the NBA’s top one-on-one defender, he guards the other team’s best player, game after game.
  • He fouls infrequently — he averages more steals per game (1.8) than fouls (1.7) over his career, remarkable considering that he guards the other team’s top player in every game.
  • His enormous reach makes it difficult for the player he’s guarding to shoot over him.
  • Conversely, he doesn’t have to worry about the opponent blowing by him because he’s not too close to his man.
  • His enormous reach (length) allows him to poke the ball away from an unsuspecting opponent, disrupt passes and swat away shot attempts.
  • In 2015-16, the Spurs had the league’s No. 1 defence, allowing 96.6 points per 100 possessions. With Leonard on the court, they were even better, allowing 94.7 points per 100 possessions, according to nba.com/stats.
  • His reach allows him to provide weakside help to contest and block shots.
  • By being able to guard multiple positions, he can switch easily between a smaller and bigger opponent, giving his coaches flexibility to put different lineups on the floor to take advantage of matchups.
  • Leonard is also considered a very smart basketball player, using video and scouting reports to his advantage.
Kawhi Leonard strips the ball from Ben McLemore on two straight possessions in a Spurs-Kings game from 2016.

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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