NBA TV analysts Greg Anthony, Steve Smith and Chris Webber along with NBA Digital Vice President of Content (and Marv Albert’s favorite NBA on TNT producer) Albert “Scooter” Vertino took part in a media conference call on this date.
Discussed today was the upcoming NBA season and what we can expect to see. In addition, the analysts gave their thoughts on the changes in personnel plus what fans should watch for in the strange 2011-12 campaign.
Here are the highlights of what was said to the media today.
Participants: NBA TV analysts Greg Anthony, Steve Smith, Chris Webber and Vice President of Content, NBA Digital, Albert “Scooter” Vertino
Anthony on this year’s potential contenders and surprises: “First of all, I am excited to be a part of the NBA TV family and even more so excited to have the NBA back. I still think Boston is a team that could really benefit from having a short season because of the veteran status of their roster. The Lamar Odom trade is a bit perplexing to me and a few other people. The Lakers are not necessarily the same team that had the chance to win it last year without a player like Odom. Dallas has a great chance of repeating because they are a team that has enough to get over the hump.”
Webber on this year’s potential contenders and surprises: “While it’s too early to tell who has the clear advantage, I will say that being a big fan of Dallas, I think they let the goods get away. I think that Tyson Chandler is a game-changer and he’s the only reason they won the championship last year.”
Anthony on who might have an advantage this season – older teams vs. younger teams: “The big advantage Boston is going to have is their core group of guys have gone through a lockout before. And I think Doc Rivers can do a really good job of resting his guys over the course of the regular season to prepare for the postseason.”
Webber on who has the advantage this season – older teams vs. younger teams – and whether or not injuries will be an issue: “I don’t think injuries are going to be an issue. You really can’t predict who is going to get hurt. The biggest difference on who will have the advantage is how well the teams know each other.”
Webber on playing for Rick Adelman and his thoughts as a coach and what to expect from the Timberwolves with him in charge: “He is going to empower players to be as good as you want or give you enough rope to hang yourself. He knows Minnesota isn’t going to win a championship anytime soon, so he is really going to build his team. He’s prepared for success and I think he is going to do great there.”
Webber on Adelman working with Ricky Rubio who is being compared to Jason Williams: “Rick is patient. He earned his patience degree working with Jason. Rubio hasn’t played in the League yet so he doesn’t need to think about being Jason Williams, he needs to think about getting through a game and defensively checking some people. I hope he doesn’t get caught up in being flashy.”
Webber on why players aren’t looking to come to Atlanta: “To be very honest, Atlanta doesn’t sell out games. You have to have die-hard fans, and Atlanta needs to ask itself ‘Does it have die-hard fans?’ That might answer the question as to why players don’t want to come here.”
Smith on why players aren’t looking to come to Atlanta: “When you look at the top free agents, there has been an uncertainty of ownership and management in Atlanta and if you are a franchise star player like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, you want to know who your ownership is. It’s been in-flux for several years.”
Anthony on the reaction from fans to LeBron James this year: “In these economic times, fans aren’t going to be as forgiving. But, your superstars of today are far more marketable and likeable and if they play at a high level, ultimately the fans will come back. But there will be a feeling out period.”
Webber on the reaction from fans to LeBron James this year: “I think LeBron is going to get booed more than ever before. He doesn’t have to accept the villain role, but that’s who he is. Hopefully, he knows it’s not personal, it’s basketball. I think fans will come back to supporting their teams and hopefully, it will take off with the momentum of last year.”
Smith on the acquisition of Chauncey Billups by the L.A. Clippers: “I said it last night on NBA TV, it’s just unfair for him as an individual. One thing you have to love about Chauncey Billups; he’s been professional even through these circumstances.”
Webber on the Nuggets hope for success this year: “If we have learned anything about George Karl it’s that he is a fighter and a survivor. Who knows; they might make it to the playoffs even though there is no way they should after losing the players that they had.”
Anthony on whether the lack of a pre-season will affect the quality of play during the regular season: “The product will still be high quality. Before our generation, you came to camp to get in shape. Today, you have to come to camp in shape in order to have a chance to play. The issue from a coaching standpoint will be when to push and when to pull back to make sure you don’t run your guys into the ground and create a situation that will hurt you in the long run.”
Smith on the Golden State Warriors offseason and the selection of Kwame Brown: “When you talk about the Warriors, there was an unbelievable hire in Mark Jackson. The Warriors have done a great job. The focus is on defense and to win championships that is what you have to do. He (Jackson) is bringing an element that has not been there in the past. When you start talking about winning in the playoffs – and winning a championship – you have to play a little defense. Maybe Kwame Brown is not Tyson Chandler but that is a good start for the Warriors to begin thinking with that (defensive) mindset.”
Webber: “Their best off-season acquisition is their coach – Mark Jackson. When you look at the Warriors over time, they have had great players, great fans and maybe it just has been a lack of identity for the team. I think Mark Jackson will establish that (identity). There will be more of a defensive presence.”
Anthony on what Kwame Brown will bring to the Warriors: “If you looked at Kwame Brown like Chris Webber as a No. 1 overall pick, then you don’t think of him as a solid basketball player. But if you look at Kwame Brown for what he is able and capable of doing, he’s a nice acquisition because he can defend the rim. He’s one of the best post-defenders in our league. That’s the biggest weakness that Golden State has. His game is not about statistics, it is about impact.”
Webber on the Minnesota Timberwolves coaching staff: “I trust Rick Adelman and his assessment of talent. I like the fact that they have a guy in Kevin Love that can do everything. He works hard, he can score. He’s going to get the best out of players. He finds players best for his system.”
Anthony on Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman’s coaching style: “There are two coaches in the NBA that are Hall of Fame great coaches when you get beyond the Pat Rileys and Phil Jacksons, it would be: Rick Adelman and George Karl. Adelman is one of the best offensive basketball minds in the game. If you look at all the teams he’s ever coached, he always gets more offensively out of those teams. He is a genius in that respect.”
Smith on how valuable Lamar Odom was for the Lakers: “If you start talking about the Lamar situation - he sacrificed for this team. He plugged in whatever holes he needed. When (Andrew) Bynum went down, he played power forward. He had a great year winning Sixth Man of the Year. He sacrificed so much.”
Webber on the void Lamar Odom will leave the Lakers: “Last season, he was filling in for the guys that couldn’t do it. That’s going to be missed in the (Lakers) locker room. That was a situation that he didn’t see coming and we didn’t see either.”
Webber on playing games on Christmas Day: “I love playing on Christmas day, it is an honor. As a player – for me personally – there was nothing like playing against the Lakers on Christmas Day. As a fan, I’m looking forward to watching every single game that day.”
Smith on the teams that play on Christmas Day: “You want to be playing on Christmas Day, because if you are playing on Christmas Day, your team is pretty good. If you are watching as an NBA player, your team is not good.”
Anthony on Christmas Day being the tip-off to the regular season: “It was a great honor if you got to play on Christmas Day, especially playing for the (New York) Knicks. A lot of casual fans are tuning-in on Christmas day too. In a lot of ways, it is a tip-off to the season. It’s going to be a little bit different this year in terms of it being the start of the season but it is still going to be an honor to play on that day. A vast majority of the guys in the League would love to play on Christmas Day.”
Webber on the Washington Wizards improving this season: I’m interested in seeing the development of the rookie point guard. It all starts with (John) Wall and how he goes. I just want to see where he has improved. Has he improved on his jump shot or his court vision?”
And that will do it.