#IMHO: Hot Grizz Summer, Whither the Warriors, and the Zion Show

Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace have been covering the NBA since shorts were short and socks were long, but their opinions about the League don’t always mesh. #IMHO is their weekly chance to weigh in on the most pertinent news from around the NBA. What’s lit? What’s lame? Find out each week right here.

 

From: Lang Whitaker

Date: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 12:24 PM

To: Michael Wallace

Subject: IMHO

And we’re back. Been covering the NBA for like half my life now, and it feels like the offseason just keeps getting shorter and shorter. It also doesn’t help that I now spend my summers flying back and forth to New York to coach kids playing a video game. But either way, summer is officially dunzo and the NBA season is juuuust around the corner.

Which means training camps are now in session. And here in Memphis, after a Hot Grizz Summer, we’re getting our first looks at the new coaching staff and roster. The Grizz are embracing a five-out offense, playing some read-and-react and letting it fly from behind the stripe. It’s early, but which Grizzlies player do you think will be the best fit for this style of play? (I think Kyle Anderson will be a natural, with his ability to stuff the stat sheet.)

 

–lang

 

Bruno Caboclo Open Practice

From: Michael Wallace

Sent: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 2:56 PM

To: Lang Whitaker

Subject: Re: IMHO

The easy choices are, of course, point guard Ja Morant and power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. because of their length, athleticism, speed and versatility. But I’ll go beyond the easy answers and offer Bruno Caboclo. At 6-9 with an insane wingspan, Bruno’s natural gifts are perfect for a position-less brand of basketball. He can shoot the three, play some off the dribble and defend four positions with his ability to recover quickly.

And finishing at the rim or from the top of the key are all the same for Caboclo. The question is whether he can make the mental reads and get to the right spots, which require the cerebral adjustments on the fly to be effective in coach Taylor Jenkins’ system. If so, this is a tailor-made fit for Bruno. See what I did there?

Lang, with preseason games under way, what’s been the most intriguing development you’ve seen so far? Mine came on Media Days, when Kevin Durant showed up in that Brooklyn Nets uniform. Although Durant is still probably a year away from suiting up for the Nets in a game, it’s still awkward for me to see him with that team. He seems happy, for the first time in a while. But it’s still tough for me to process that move, of all moves.

 


From: Lang Whitaker

Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2019 4:50 PM

To: Michael Wallace

Subject: Re: IMHO

I also thought it was hilarious that Durant finally got officially measured and he is officially… not seven feet tall? For years everyone said KD was actually a seven-footer who was ashamed of being a seven-footer, and that he implored teams to not list him as a seven-footer. But it turns out he’s actually just 6-10. Still two inches shy of the seven foot plateau!

As for an intriguing camp situation, I’ve got a sharp eye on KD’s former team, the Warriors. They were a juggernaut the last few years, but with the departure of Durant and the injury to Klay Thompson, I wonder just how good this team is going to be this season. Picking up D’Angelo Russell seems to give them another scorer in an offense that can find all kinds of ways to exploit points, but after Steph Curry, Russell and Draymond Green, who are the best players on this team? Kevon Looney? Eric Paschall? Alfonzo McKinnie? It feels like more than any other year, the drop off from the stars to the others in Golden State is quite pronounced. I know, I know, Curry is one of the all-time greats, but is that plus Russell and Draymond enough to get these Warriors back to the postseason?

Speaking of the postseason, Golden State’s Finals opponent is also dealing with some roster churn. With Kawhi Leonard gone to the west coast, what do you make of Toronto this season? They inked Kyle Lowry to an extension, but with our old amigo Marc Gasol’s contract expiring in a few months, will the Raptors hit the reset button? Or do they have enough left in the tank to make a run at the Finals again?

 

Warriors star players

From: Michael Wallace

Sent: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 8:43 PM

To: Lang Whitaker

Subject: Re: IMHO

The Warriors’ greatest challenge will be to bide their time through the first several months of the season until Klay Thompson returns from ACL surgery. But there’s a silver lining to the entire situation. Even if the Warriors take a bit of a stumble in the regular season standings, as they should, who’s going to want to face them as the No. 6, 7 or 8 seed in the West? Which title contending team will have worked hard all season long to position themselves for homecourt advantage in the first round, enter the playoffs feeling great about themselves, and then face a motivated Steph and a rejuvenated Klay in the first round?

As for the team that actually won the Finals last season, I believe the Raptors are as well positioned as could be expected when it comes to recovering from the departure of postseason MVP Kawhi Leonard. Pascal Siakam should be ready to take the next step toward potential stardom and OG Anunoby is back from what was essentially a redshirt injury season. Plus, the East is again up for grabs if the Raptors can avoid a sluggish start from a championship hangover. I like Toronto as a top-four team in the East.

Lang, we’ll wrap up on this: Setting our Grizzlies’ job duties aside for a moment, if you had your pick of any arena in the NBA you could visit for an opening night game this season, where would it be? With so much player movement, and so many intriguing storylines, the choice isn’t easy. To me, it’s New Orleans for the Pelicans home opener Oct. 25 against Dallas. Zion Williamson and the new-look Pels drew 10,000 for their fan fest open practice. The Big Easy doesn’t need an excuse to party. So imagine how nuts that environment is going to be for the debut of the Zion era when the games actually count!

 

Zion Williamson pre-game

From: Lang Whitaker

Sent: Wednesday, October 9, 2019 4:43 PM

To: Michael Wallace

Subject: Re: IMHO

New Orleans is a solid choice. Zion’s already baptizing guys in the preseason, and Lonzo Ball has looked great as well. I am an avowed Saints-hater, but I love N’awlins and that should be a wild ride. Not as wild as midnight madness at Kansas, but still.

If I had to go somewhere for one game, I’d like to see the opener for the new Chase Center in San Francisco. After covering umpteen Finals games in Oakland the last few years, it’ll be weird to not have to take the BART to the Bay to see the Warriors play.

Another team that seems like they’ve taken another step forward is Philly, who were good a year ago and now have Ben Simmons knocking down threes and a veteran Al Horford to keep things steady. As long as they stay healthy, I think the Sixers are the cream of the crop in the East this season.

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