HoopSpeak Live 59: The Full Utah

Lots of important things were discussed by Zach, Beckley, Ethan and their two guests — Danny Nowell and Jessica Camerato — on today’s show. A partial list: Beckley going to court, Carmelo Anthony, rooting against Team USA, players being friends off the court, UNC rookies, Nicolas Batum, Jared Sullinger, the Celtics’ future and Star Trek.

Here’s the whole show:

Here’s how it breaks down:

:00 – :05 – Intro [Beckley going to court, Ethan's green screen, etc.]

:05 – :17 – Olympics Talk [Carmelo, 'The Full Utah', Rooting against Team USA]

:18 – :36 – Person of Interest: Danny Nowell [Portland, Batum, UNC rookies, Dwight, etc.]

:36 – :43 – Audience Questions [Video game characters, Team USA's starting five, players 'good for the international game']

:43 – :58 – Person of Interest: Jessica Camerato [Jeff Green, Boston optimism, Rondo/Ray, Sully, etc.]

:58 – 1:02 – Dagger/Smash/Noted [ACL 'schedules', Star Trek, players being friends off the court]

Note: You can find the audio-only version of HoopSpeak Live on iTunes. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that Danny will watch a UNC game with you in Portland.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Thursday right here on HoopSpeak.com. You can follow the show with the #hoopspeaklive hashtag, and you can follow our guests at @dmnowell and @JCameratoNBA.

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HoopSpeak Live 59: Danny Nowell and Jessica Camerato

Today’s guests:

Danny Nowell of Portland Roundball Society and Magic Basketball

Jessica Camerato of CSNNE

To submit text questions or hang out in the chat: just click “join event” and fire away!

To video chat with us and our guests: Find a spot without too much background noise, sign in, fire up the web cam, and be sure to have your headphones (to eliminate echo)!

If you’re having trouble viewing HoopSpeak Live here, try it on Vokle’s site.

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LeBron and Durant care more about basketball than competition

Perhaps you remember those 2011 LeBron and Durant workout videos. Back then, the videos were intriguing. A year later, the videos are hypnotizing.

This was pre-season prep, James was trying to bounce back from an inauspicious Finals. We say “bounce back” for sports recoveries, but the term doesn’t always fit temporally. LeBron’s Finals humiliation was sudden, but the journey to get there was drawn out over 82 regular season games and 21 playoff battles. Maintaining offseason motivation should be especially difficult for NBA superstars because those playoff battles usually mock the notion that the preceding regular season games count. The rule: If your team is good enough to matter, the regular season games don’t matter. Players still have to go through with the tiring charade, though.

How do you “bounce back” slowly? How do you invest so much time in an arduous climb when the fall comes so much quicker? Your run can end on one stupid play. It could all be over before national TV audiences receive the images on the seven second Janet Jackson delay. And how do you build yourself back up, lego-by-lego on the off chance that owners and players might end the 2011 lockout? LeBron and KD were doing this just in case, just so they could start the tiring charade at full tilt.

I’m curious about this motivation because these workouts do not look fun. There is squatting, sprinting, and situps. Broadcasted enjoyment can be contagious. We like to rent it from those we watch, laughing along with their laughter. These videos are different. The footage is so enjoyable because this is such joint-rubbering drudgery. LeBron James and Kevin Durant could be betting on camel polo from an invisible helicopter hovering over Dubai, and yet here they are, running windsprints. It’s

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Dwight’s game is fine, it just looks terrible

Basketball is the most beautiful game I’ve seen yet, but it’s so often analyzed in terms of functionality. “Who is the best?” matters more to fans than “Who plays beautifully?” What works often corresponds with beauty, as it’s transfixing to watch success at the highest level. The correlation isn’t perfect, though, which itself can lead to some faulty analysis.

If our underlying assumption is that beauty equals success, then it is easy to confuse the former for the latter. As I watch replays of Dwight Howard’s best on court performances, I become increasingly convinced that his play is nearly unimpeachable, in terms of what works. There is wisdom to his approach, he did not become the game’s best center simply due to physical prowess. We play this cruel joke on big men where everything they accomplish is either attributed to their height or strength. Bigs are never allowed to fulfill their potential. The game is rigged so that potential is always beating them.

Throughout the week, I do these short radio interviews with hosts in cities like Huntsville, Alabama and Waco, Texas. Sports talk plays to a general audience, so these guys aren’t so immersed in just why Dwight Howard is better than Andrew Bynum. In a recent such interview, the host emphatically stated his preference for the latter. He’s a smart enough guy, certainly not one to toss out opinions just for the reaction. Andrew Bynum simply fit his notion of a center a little bit better. There is nothing notable about this story, save for how awkwardly I handled his position.

What can you say? D12′s just statistically better, and that’s even before you account for the wide gulf between the two in terms of defense. I fumbled between condescending to the man and listening to his

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Jerryd Bayless’s big chance

If you were to make a list of the most promising young guards in the NBA, chances new Memphis Grizzly Jerryd Bayless isn’t on it. Perhaps because he will be playing for his fourth NBA team as he enters his fifth season, Bayless feels more like an irrelevant NBA nomad than a talented prospect.

Nonetheless, the Arizona product makes a rather impressive list with his productive play last year. Bayless was one of only 12 guards still shy of their 24th birthday to post a PER above 17. While general evaluation stats like PER are less than perfect, they do still create a reasonable baseline for assessing production. Despite being a castoff from Toronto, there’s Bayless alongside Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the top young  guards in the NBA.

But while NBA franchises are building their futures around the other players on that list, Bayless landing on the Memphis roster drew a collective yawn from the basketball community.

Perhaps the indifference can be attributed to the inefficient manner in which Bayless often plays. Stats tell us that the most efficient scorers either finish at the rim, get to the free throw line and/or make a high a percentage of their 3-point attempts. Before last season, Bayless was hardly great at any of those things.

A promising development

But during the lockout shortened season, Bayless reversed career-long trends by shooting a scintillating 42 percent shooting from 3. While it is unlikely that he ever tops the 40 percent mark again, there is still plenty of hope for Bayless to become a consistent threat from beyond the arc. On top of shooting an impressive 82 percent from the free line for his career (a number that translates well to future 3-pt success), Bayless has no glaring mechanical

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Things looking up for Golden State

The Lakers acquired aging stars. The Rockets snagged the Knicks wunderkind. The Nets spent lavishly to ensure a competitive first season in their new digs. While most of the NBA ripped up and rebuilt their rosters this offseason, the Warriors have remained relatively quiet. In fact, Golden State’s biggest acquisition was Jarrett Jack, who arrives in the Bay Area as a footnote in a multi-team deal.

The Jack trade stands in stark contrast to ones that went down in March when the Warriors controversially ended any hopes of a competitive campaign by sending Monta Ellis out of town for Andrew Bogut, then injured. In combination with another moved that saddled them with Richard Jefferson’s bloated contract, the team opened itself to a healthy barrage of criticism.

The Bogut deal, however, was the initial move toward assembling a squad that may be capable of upsetting the established hierarchy in the Western Conference. That possible outcome exists not because of a sudden influx of outrageous talent, but because the front office adhered to the most underappreciated rule of NBA roster construction — fit.

As Dallas proved in 2011, a collection of complementary skill-sets around one driving force can allow a team to compete, and win, against a collection of superstars. Golden State is in the midst of building a roster that will operate much like those Mavericks.  If questions about health and coaching are answered, the Warriors will enter the upper realm of the West by coalescing to become more than the sum of their parts.

It all centers around the oft-injured Bogut. Throughout his career, Bogut has been typecast as the traditional low post center. A plodding big man meant to control games by playing with his back to the basket.

Ironically, that is the most inefficient part of

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HoopSpeak Live 58: The Apron

Summer League is happening, there are offseason moves to talk about, and the Olympics are right around the corner. It’s a packed show. Find out what Dan Devine thinks about the Knicks, what Rob Mahoney thinks about the Mavs and hear Beckley do the Batman voice:

Here’s how it breaks down:

:00 – :02 – Intro (Expertly discussing international ball.)

:02 – :10 – Lin talk (Where Beckley compares him to George Costanza.)

:10 – :26 – Person of Interest: Dan Devine (“I’m damaged goods. I’m done.” – Dan, speaking for Knicks fans)

:26 – 54 – Person of Interest: Rob Mahoney (Barnes, Ross, Crowder, Beaubois, etc.)

:54 – 1:01 – Audience Questions (The apron, Vlad Rad, Grant Hill, Antawn Jamison)

1:01 – 1:02 – Ethan smashes Batman

Note: You can find the audio-only version of HoopSpeak Live on iTunes. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that Beckley will leave you a voicemail in his best Batman voice.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Thursday right here on HoopSpeak.com. You can follow the show with the #hoopspeaklive hashtag, and you can follow our guests at @YourManDevine and @RobMahoney.

 

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HoopSpeak Live 58: Dan Devine and Rob Mahoney

Today’s guests:

Rob Mahoney of The New York Times, The Two Man Game, Court Vision and NBC’s roBasketballTalk

Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie

To submit text questions or hang out in the chat: just click “join event” and fire away!

To video chat with us and our guests: Find a spot without too much background noise, sign in, fire up the web cam, and be sure to have your headphones (to eliminate echo)!

If you’re having trouble viewing HoopSpeak Live here, try it on Vokle’s site.

 

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A comment on the 1992 Dream Team vs. 2012 Dream Team debate

If you’ve already tired of the Dream Team 1992 versus Dream Team 2012 debate, apologies for tossing my non-opinion into the fray.

To be direct: I have no idea who would win. In a single game, inferior teams win all the time.

But the reason this debate is so fun, and maddening, is, of course, that these two teams come from different eras, a fact that reflects how the original Dream Team indelibly changed the league.

For all the talk of matchups — who would guard David Robinson?! Could Magic Johnson defend anyone on the 2012 team? — the whole Dream Team argument seems to be wrapped up in what we mythologize about that team, best exemplified by the singular Michael Jordan.

Specifically, that Jordan was more competitive, worked harder and cared more than anyone else playing the game then or since. Hard to prove, but fine. But let’s look at what he actually did that differentiated him at the time (not from everyone, but from many): supreme athleticism, a real commitment to defense, lifting weights seriously, working with a personal skills trainer to add new weapons, such as his killer post game, each year.

Jordan represented an evolutionary step forward in a time when basketball was becoming the modern game as it’s largely played today. The end of the 1980s was when the league started to look into developing active help defenses and offenses that focus more on getting good shots than getting as many shots as possible. That transition was brewing during the Bird-Magic decade (1980-1991), and Jordan was basically the thing that emerged from all that primordial NBA ooze.

Having defined the modern NBA, someone is going to come along and mighty special to be an obvious evolutionary step forward to achieve

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HoopSpeak Live 57: The Summer Of YOLO (With Jack McCallum And Howard Beck)

I’m biased, but I happen to think this week’s HoopSpeak Live was a real treat. Two greats, Jack McCallum and Howard Beck, joined the show to discuss Jack’s Dream Team book, what’s going on with the Nets and Knicks, Steve Nash and the Lakers, Karl Malone’s likability and more. Also, Ethan argues that Dwyane Wade is better than Dwight Howard and Zach bids farewell to Darko Milicic on behalf of Wolves fans everywhere.

Here’s the whole show:

Here’s how it breaks down:

:00 – :05 – Intro + Zach’s Wolves update

:05 – :15 - Take The Bacon [How good is Dwight Howard?]

:15 – :18 – Bad Contract Talk

:18 – : 41 - Person of Interest – Jack McCallum

:41 – 1:03 - Person of Interest: Howard Beck

1:03 – 1:06 – Zach eulogizes the Darko Milicic era

Note: You can find the audio-only version of HoopSpeak Live on iTunes. If you subscribe and/or write us a review, I promise that Zach will call you and have a brief conversation about Darko Milicic.

HoopSpeak Live airs every Thursday right here on HoopSpeak.com. You can follow the show with the #hoopspeaklive hashtag, and you can follow our guests at @McCallum12 and @HowardBeckNYT.

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