On The NBA Beat

Attentively bringing the National Basketball Association to you

Max Rappaport: “Now 76ers Care About Wins & Losses Too”

76ers head coach Brett Brown is displaying much more trust in his players this season, argues Max Rappaport (TastyPoutine/Creative Commons).


Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

With redshirt rookie Ben Simmons garnering heavy praise around the league and Joel Embiid looking healthy and better than ever, the long-tanking 76ers are finally winning games, beginning to reap the benefits of their ambitious Process, which Sam Hinkie launched nearly four and a half years ago. As Simmons comfortably leads the Rookie of the Year chase, filling virtually every corner of the stat sheet, he’s surrounded by improved shooter Robert Covington, veteran free-agent acquisition J.J. Redick and, more broadly, a considerably bolstered roster compared to a season ago. Philadelphia’s Defensive Efficiency has cracked the league’s top 10, and Brett Brown’s squad is playing with confidence and even some semblance of consistency. Max Rappaport, co-host of the 76ers-themed Stepover Podcast and contributor to Complex Sports and Bleacher Report, helps us delve deeply into this up-and-coming Eastern Conference team. To close the show, Joe Borelli of the SuperFlight Podcast makes a special appearance to rave about Simmons, whom he affectionately refers to as an “anomaly” and a “physical freak.” The (numerical) time stamps below are only approximate, but the quotes contained inside are the real deal:

6:42-7:25 (MR): “I think the hardcore Process fans, maybe their enthusiasm level hasn’t really changed or it’s been shifted in a different way. They’re no longer cult followers of lovable losers. Now they care about wins and losses too, and that makes it, in some ways, more fun, because the team’s better and Embiid’s playing and Simmons has been awesome. But at the same time, it was kind of a win-win before…Now, it’s like half the time you’re kind of pissed after a game.” Continue reading

Duncan Smith: Drummond’s Game Sees “Complete & Total Shift”

Pistons center Andre Drummond dramatically improved his free-throw shooting in advance of the 2017-18 season, and that’s not all, according to guest Duncan Smith.


Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

The Detroit Pistons have bounced back from an incredibly disappointing 2016-17 campaign to begin this season 14-8. In the process, Detroit is securing come-from-behind victories with great frequency – half of its wins have occurred in games it trailed by double-digits – the second unit is dominating opposing benches and Andre Drummond is showcasing a vastly expanded offensive repertoire. Duncan Smith, contributor to The Athletic Detroit and Bball Breakdown, operates as our tour guide on this exhilarating exploration of the Motor City’s NBA club. We’ll discover how good the Pistons are and where they can still improve. Duncan’s game was clicking on all cylinders. Some highlights are excerpted below:

6:09-7:03: “I think it’s concerning when your starting lineup can’t get you out to good starts, and you need your bench reserves, led by Ish Smith – everybody loves Ish Smith but he is one of the worst shooters in NBA history. When that’s what you’re relying on for stability, it’s a bit problematic, at the very least…When together, they just aren’t effective…I think that’s it’s going to have to be understood and dealt with before long.”

13:32-14:11: “It’s a complete and total shift. Basically everything that we thought we knew about Andre Drummond has kind of gone out the window. And I think that it really calls into question everything we thought about his ceiling. We don’t really know how good he can be anymore, and that’s really exciting too, because I think we kind of had an idea that maybe he would just be one of the best rebounders ever who also isn’t a huge drag on offense. Continue reading

Eric Nehm: “Giannis Is a Kobe-Level Lunatic”

Giannis Antetokounmpo, 22, ranks second in the NBA in points per game (29.7), notching nearly two-thirds of those from inside the paint (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Since the Milwaukee Bucks took Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, he’s shown tremendous growth as a basketball player, both literally and figuratively. This season, he has planted his name firmly within the MVP conversation, even if casual fans still have trouble pronouncing it. To guide us through this episode wholly devoted to the Grecian phenom, we’ve brought on Eric Nehm, Bucks beat writer for ESPN Milwaukee and cohost of the Locked on Bucks podcast. Eric explains how Giannis’ humble upbringing, laser-like focus and basketball obsession have all contributed to his nearly unprecedented development from a lanky, unknown draftee into the all but unstoppable force he is today. Get a sneak peek of our conversation about the Greek Freak this week with these excerpts (time stamps approximate because of tailored advertisements):

10:10-11:20: “There was a part of me that kind of didn’t love it [Giannis’ nickname] at the start, just because I think ‘freak,’ the connotation of freak, there’s something wrong with you, there’s something to be ashamed about. Because I guess at some point I thought he was going to fit into a prototypical kind of archetype of an NBA player. That hasn’t happened. He is a total anomaly, so calling him something not normal? Yeah, that works out…There’s not anyone else really out there like him, so I think ‘Greek Freak’ works and it fits, and it’s ended up being kind of perfect.”

Continue reading

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).

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

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).

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

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).

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

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).

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

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).

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

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).

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

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).

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

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

« Older posts

© 2017 On The NBA Beat

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑