With the NBA season right around the corner, I caught up with three former players-turned-anaylsts from NBA TV today to preview the upcoming season. Chris Webber, Steve Smith and Greg Anthony broke down questions for an hour on everything from Kwame Brown‘s signing to the effect the lockout will have on young egos. While they disagreed on a number of things, they all seemed to be convinced that Boston’s old vets will actually be helped by the lockout.
Why? Anthony said he thought because most of their core has already been through a lockout in 1999, they’ll know how to pace themselves and will know what to expect. As far as the other veteran contenders, everyone was perplexed by the Lamar Odom trade with Anthony saying it’s not justified unless it creates a domino effect to a bigger trade. Meanwhile, Webber believes Dallas let the goods get away, saying about Tyson Chandler, “He’s the only reason they won the championship last year” before calling the new Knick the most important defensive player in the league.
As for the rest of the conversation, here are some of the highlights:
On how the lockout will affect veteran teams:
Anthony: “The big advantage Boston’s going to have, they have a lot of players from their core who have gone through a lockout before. While they might be older, I think they’re going to be able to recall from their experience on it. I think Doc Rivers can do a really good job of resting his guys over the course of the regular season.”
“Sometimes you can push younger guys too hard. It’s like with kids. Kids don’t know when they’re tired. They’ll just try to fight through it and play through it. Older guys have the experience – less than an ego – and they’ll know when their bodies are not ready, and coaches are more willing to trust them.”
On Rick Adelman and Minnesota:
Webber: “He’s going to empower players to be as good as you want and he’s going to give you enough rope to hang yourself. As a player you need to have personal responsibility. You are gonna have to work on your game because he’s gonna say, “If you’re open and don’t shoot it you’re gonna have to come out of the game.” He builds that trust within players.
“When I was in Sacramento, we had a lot of young guys and a lot of foreigners who weren’t accustomed to playing in the NBA and he made sure they were comfortable. He made sure he explained things to them so they weren’t as intimidated.”
“Kevin Love, he’s definitely going to love not being in that triangle. The triangle is only for Shaq and Kobe and the Lakers. He’s going to love to have the freedom to play his game.”
Anthony: “There’s two coaches in the NBA that I think are Hall of Fame, great coaches when you get beyond the Pat Riley, the Phil Jackson and the Gregg Popovich. To me, it’s Rick Adelman and George Karl. I think Rick Adelman is one of the best offensive minds in our game. When you look at all of the teams he’s ever coached, they always get more offensively out of their team than anybody else. He’s a genius in that respect.”
On Ricky Rubio and Jason Williams comparisons:
Webber: “Rick (Adelman) is patient and he earned it coaching Jason. Jason definitely tested him. Rubio hasn’t played in the league yet so he doesn’t need to be thinking about being Jason Williams.”
“I hope he doesn’t get caught up in being flashy because you gotta be real good man, and very frankly, I know I might catch some flak for this but this is not international ball. This is the league. Hopefully he’ll average more assists than turnovers. That should be goal No. 1. The magic and all that, you gotta learn that down the road.”
On Atlanta as an NBA destination:
Webber: “Atlanta is a different animal. I wouldn’t suggest as a player that you live in Atlanta. If you want to be honest, you don’t sell out games. I always get killed in Atlanta for saying this, but if you don’t have a home base then don’t come. I feel sorry for Joe Johnson when Derrick Rose comes to town or when New York comes to town.”
“Being a young player, I just think it’s tough to live in any major city. I won’t just say Atlanta.”
Steve Smith: “You see people in Atlanta who aren’t based in Atlanta and they cheer for different teams and players.”
“If you are a franchise-type player like Chris Paul or Dwight Howard, you want to know who your ownership is, and it’s been in flux.”