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Andrew Schlecht: Thunder Have No Offensive Identity Yet

With the addition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook is “really trying to adjust his game,” according to our guest, Andrew Schlecht (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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The Oklahoma City Thunder turned heads around the NBA this offseason when they added stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. So far, though, integrating them into the team hasn’t been a smooth process. Before back-to-back wins against the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks, they had been riding a four-game losing streak and were winless against the Western Conference. Andrew Schlecht, host of the Down to Dunk and OKC Dream Team podcasts and contributor to Daily Thunder, joined us to try to diagnose what exactly has gone wrong and whether or not the Thunder should be worried. See what we’re rumbling about in these electric excerpts below (all time stamps approximate):

5:00-5:40: “Overall, there doesn’t seem to be any worry or panic within the team at all. They’re still pretty casual about everything. And then as a fan and somebody who’s watching them, you just have to wait. Even a team with some continuity will evolve over a season. So, there’s not a lot of worry. The team has a ton of talent, they’ve got talent on both sides of the ball, so you’d think they’re going to put it together. Luckily, really besides the Warriors and Rockets, there’s nobody that’s so far ahead of them in the Western Conference that the four or three seed are out of reach. So, they have that on their side.”

9:00-9:40: “They’ve relied heavily on isolation in all of their losses. I think that they can look at all those and say, ‘Wow, that did not work.’ The ball did not move. Basically, if you could not create your own shot, or if your name wasn’t Steven Adams, you weren’t going to touch the ball for any meaningful time. Continue reading

Adam Mares: “Guys Are Figuring Out New Roles Around Millsap”

In Paul Millsap’s first season in town, Adam Mares sees clear contributions on both sides of the ball. He also believes the forward’s teammates are still adjusting to their new roles (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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The 5-5 Denver Nuggets are currently about as good as their record would suggest, according to this week’s guest, Adam Mares, host of the Locked on Nuggets podcast and site manager for SB Nation’s Denver Stiffs. He argues that despite the team’s considerable continuity, many players are still adjusting to new roles this season. In addition, the Nuggets are still incorporating Paul Millsap into their game plan, particularly on the offensive end. Adam discusses this process, Denver’s many young guards and much more in this action-packed episode. He strikes gold throughout, but here are some examples (the exact time stamps slightly vary from user to user depending on the length of one’s customized ads):

7:28-8:23: “[Nikola] Jokic really quarterbacked the offense last year from the center position – he was a point-center. And that wasn’t just a cliché. He really was the facilitator on offense…Steve Kerr was in town yesterday with the Warriors, and he said that the Nuggets’ offense last season was like a pinwheel where Jokic was the center of that and everybody’s kind of operating and cutting and spacing around him. Well, this season, they haven’t really gotten to that yet – I think they’re moving in that direction. They’re playing through Paul Millsap a lot as I think you would expect – he’s a four-time All-Star – and guys are just kind of figuring out new roles around Millsap, Millsap’s learning how to play off of Jokic and Jokic off of Millsap. And so, right now, in particular, their half-court offense has been pretty bad. Not just a little bit of a step back, but I think a huge step back.” Continue reading

Sandy Mui: “Nets Fans Have a Lot to Look Forward To”

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson visited Jeremy Lin in the hospital after the point guard’s season-ending injury on opening night (Jeremy Lin/Instagram).

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The Brooklyn Nets’ 2017-18 season, much like Boston’s, was shaken from the very start when starting point guard Jeremy Lin went down with a scary-looking knee injury. Shortly after, it was announced the veteran guard would be sidelined for the rest of the season with a ruptured patella tendon. To discuss the implications of the devastating injury and much more, Sandy Mui, host of the Brooklyn Revolution Podcast, not to mention Brook-Lin.com assignment editor and writer at The Brooklyn Game, graciously joins Loren and Aaron. Particularly, she also pays close attention to the team’s youngsters, D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, among others, and some of the veterans exceeding expectations, like DeMarre Carroll. These selections below hit nothing but net:

5:00-5:15: “I think he [D’Angelo Russell] has looked great so far, aside from the fact that he’s struggled a bit with his passing and playmaking in these last couple of games, but we’ve already seen how high his ceiling can potentially be. In the first three games he played, he averaged 21 points, 4.3 points, 7 assists and 1.7 steals.”

9:25-10:50: “I was really heartbroken for Jeremy Lin too. You could see the look on his face after he fell down. He knew that this one was going to be bad…This is terrible news for a guy who only played 36 games last season. And now, he played less than 48 minutes for the entire season…As for the impact on the team, I’d expect, of course, more playing time for the young guys. Continue reading

Clippers Basketball “Transports” Will & Grace Co-Creator David Kohan

Patrick Beverley, who was acquired in the Chris Paul-centered blockbuster trade with the Rockets, is David Kohan’s favorite new addition and he tells us why (Pkantz/Creative Commons).

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David Kohan, best known for co-creating the pioneering hit comedy series “Will & Grace” is actually a huge Los Angeles Clippers fan, attending games as early as the late ‘80s. In this episode, Aaron had the opportunity to talk with David about both the return of Will & Grace after 11 years off the air and his beloved Clippers. We’ll hear about a wide array of topics, including how David processes the loss of Chris Paul, his take on Blake Griffin’s newfound 3-point stroke and why Patrick Beverley is our guest’s favorite new addition. Some non-Clippers areas covered include why the show has returned, what, if anything, is now different with the program and when David might collaborate with his sister, Jenji, who created “Weeds” and “Orange Is the New Black.” Some clips, pun intended, are excerpted below:

*But, first, two quick editor’s notes:

  • Early on, when David is referencing the 2016-17 Clippers’ hot start through 10 games, Aaron remarks, “14-1 or something like that.” In fact, those Clippers began 10-1 and 14-2. So he was close, but no cigar.
  • Between the interview recording and release, rookie point guard Milos Teodosic’s foot MRI results were revealed. He’ll be sidelined indefinitely with a plantar fascia injury.

4:31-4:50: “There was something about last season that felt joyless. In fact, that should have been what it said on the T-shirts: joyless. This year so far, in the two-game sample size, they seem looser and freer. It seems more fun.”

10:30-11:54: “The thing that I will miss about Chris Paul is he was the guy that, in any crunch-time situation, he was the one you trusted the most. I trusted Chris Paul as a scorer, as a defender, as a team leader, as the guy who was going to make the right decision more than anybody else on the team by far. So it was scary initially when he was traded. Continue reading

Sekou Smith (Eastern Conference Preview): Giannis’ Next Challenge? Being Great Every Game

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo won’t turn 23 until early December, but that hasn’t stopped some from mentioning him as a fringe MVP candidate. Guest Sekou Smith thinks it could happen (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

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A number of stars, including Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Paul Millsap, no longer play in the East, potentially leaving the conference with ample playoff spots available for the taking. In addition, the reigning Eastern Conference finalists recently swapped star point guards, adding a special flavor to their existing rivalry. Meanwhile, teams like the Raptors, Bucks and Wizards hope their various brands of continuity can vault them to an elite class. To help us sort through it all, Sekou Smith, NBA.com writer and host of the Hang Time podcast, appears for a can’t-miss episode. By all means…sample some Sekou snippets:

4:59-5:35: “[Dwyane Wade]’s been a starter basically his entire career. I think in his career, he’s maybe come off the bench 10, 11 times. To ask him to come in and play a role as a bench guy right now, [considering] the fact that he’s not a great 3-point shooter, that would have been asking a lot for him to come in cold and be effective and make an impact on that team.  I think, as a starter, you give him a chance to not only do what he’s always done as a scorer… but you give him an opportunity to get in a rhythm… and to play off of LeBron at a high level, which you know he can do.”

10:00-10:14: “The team that I like, that’s kind of my wild-card team in the East, is Milwaukee. I think they do have a depth of talent that could put them in a position to challenge for one of those top two or three spots if a bunch of things go right for them.” Continue reading

Ward-Henninger (Western Conference Preview): OKC Has “Operation Shutdown Potential”

Russell Westbrook will be looking to follow up on his MVP season alongside the Thunder’s two high-profile offseason acquisitions, but guest Colin Ward-Henninger foresees chemistry challenges ahead (Keith Allison/Flickr).

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Colin Ward-Henninger of CBSSports.com helps preview the talent-loaded Western Conference after an action-packed offseason replete with key player movement.

8:54-9:52: “Paul George actually had a higher usage rate and more touches than Melo last year, and we all know what Russ [Westbrook] does on the court. And he had a hard enough time playing with Durant, and then when Durant left, we saw the madness that happened last year with just the NBA record usage rate of like 40 percent or something like that, which is insane, and it’s hard to just turn that off. I think it’s going to take a while…I think it’s going to be very difficult. I think that Paul George is going to have the hardest time adjusting, because I think he’s going to be the one who’s expected to take fewer shots. Melo, we hope at this stage in his career understands that he’s not the No. 1 guy or even the No. 2 guy in this case, but you never know. And these are two guys that can opt out of their contracts, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. So if they get 20 games into the season and they don’t like playing with Russ, there’s some Operation Shutdown potential there.” Continue reading

Dave Zirin: “There Is No Stay in Your Lane…All the Rules Are Gone”

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has become one of the league’s most vocal advocates on various social issues (Zereshk/Creative Commons).

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In these unprecedented times in which sports is constantly intersecting with politics and society, Dave Zirin of The Nation and the Edge of Sports podcast joins the show for an important conversation. Below, you can find some highlights from the interview:

6:31-7:18: “There is no stay in your lane at this point. All the rules are gone, and I think the very existence of Donald Trump should remove this idea, even as a debate. But the reason you’ve heard it step up in recent years is precisely because we have this Donald Trump[-led] racist backlash taking place in this country. And part of this racist backlash involves squelching voices of dissent. I would argue there’s been no cultural sphere quite like the world of sports in terms of being a center of anti-racist activism. It has been the voice, the clarion call, the moral conscience about racism in the United States over the last five years, dating back to, I would argue, the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.”

12:49-13:18: “This has always been part of his [LeBron James’] DNA. This has always been a part of the kind of legacy he wanted to leave. So while LeBron James, I would argue, has been strongly affected by the Black Lives Matter movement, by social media, he’s also somebody who came into the league with this idea of thinking to himself, ‘I want to be a global icon like [Muhammad] Ali. I don’t want to be defined just by my bank account but [by] the kind of political contribution that I can leave behind.’” Continue reading

Trevor Magnotti: Luka Doncic’s “Brilliant Passing” Draws CP3 Comparison

Luka Doncic’s breakout EuroBasket performance helped solidify his case to be the next No. 1 overall pick, argues Trevor Magnotti (Tuomas Vitikainen/Creative Commons).


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Led by tournament MVP Goran Dragic and impressive 18-year-old Luka Doncic, Slovenia upset the perennial favorite, Spain, on its way to a EuroBasket Gold, the first medal of any kind in the tournament for the small country of only about 2 million people. Trevor Magnotti, who covers all things EuroLeague at The Step Back, joins Aaron to break down the most important takeaways from EuroBasket, including the draft implications of Doncic’s performance and the possibility of new young powerhouses in Latvia, Slovenia and Finland replacing the longtime European mainstays of Spain and France. Of course, Aaron also gets Trevor’s viewpoint on how some of this season’s European rookies, such as the Clippers’ Milos Teodosic and the Cavaliers’ Cedi Osman, may fare in their transition into the NBA. Tour through the episode with these excerpts below:

6:51-7:35: “[Lauri] Markkanen came in on this [Finnish] team, and he immediately took charge of the situation. He was a massive part of their success, basically single-handedly beat[ing] France in the group stage in that big overtime upset that was by far the game of the tournament to me…He both kind of helped his team to a lot of success and also helped himself a little bit. I think that he’s a guy that I’m now much more excited to see at the NBA level, whereas I wasn’t really before, because he didn’t look as solid as we had hoped in his one year of college.”

13:23-15:11: “The fact that he [Luka Doncic] is 18 and he’s playing this big of a role on a team in this tournament, which is basically like the second tier below the Olympics in terms of international basketball, that’s never really happened before. Really the only player that I can think of who has played this big of a role on a EuroBasket team at his age is Pau Gasol, and that’s no small comparison. Continue reading

Matt Hill on His Projects, Lonzo Ball Fascination

Lonzo Ball has reeled our guest Matt Hill back into being a full-fledged Lakers fan (TonytheTiger/Wikimedia Commons).

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The creative Matt Hill, Super Hoopers cofounder and cohost, graces us with his presence, as we discuss a wide selection of topics, ranging from his viral animated comedy web series “Spurs Special Forces” to Lonzo Ball, bandwagon fans and so much more. A trio of excerpts can be found below:

6:50-7:06: Matt discusses longtime friend Randall Park [actor-comedian]’s unique contributions to “Spurs Special Forces.” 

“He’s just an old friend. So I was doing the Spurs [Special Forces video], and I thought it’d be funny to have him even though he knows nothing about basketball. He has no idea who Manu Ginobili is. Basically his impression of Manu Ginobili is almost like half-Scarface. It’s like a high-pitched Scarface.” Continue reading

Celebrating the 100th Show

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For this special episode, your hosts will break precedent and not write too much below the audio player. Most importantly, we sincerely appreciate the myriad contributions to our project and made this episode to help spell those out. It’s a long episode, but one which we hope you’ll find well worth your while.

Interview Timestamps:

13:25-23:52: Lang Whitaker

44:24-51:52: Andy Liu

52:40-57:40: Justin Faudree

58:50-1:06:16: Josh Baumgard

1:06:41-1:13:40: Dan Feldman

1:14:52-1:22:15: Nick Denning

1:24:17-1:29:16: Adena Jones (formerly Andrews)

1:30:41-1:41:12: Michael Pina

1:42:15-1:51:30: Chris Axmann

A few other notable features:

23:52-26:59: Fun Fact Montage

27:10-44:24: Andy Liu Montage


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Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod

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