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Coming up, Sunday's with Prisillo. We're back, baby. Next. We're also brought to by the Ringer podcast Network. New rewatchables coming on Monday night. It is the last episode of the Cold Weather Tour, Rounders, New York City, me and Sean and Van and Chris. After this week, we're moving to brand new podcast again. So stay tuned for that. You can hear me on Stick the Landing with Andy Greenwild on the Prestige TV podcast, his excellent podcast about series finale episodes, the last episode of great shows. I did the Larry Sanders podcast with him, and that is going to be running either this week or next week. Larry Sanders, one of my favorite Favorite, favorite, favorite shows of all time. It is almost 30 years removed from its peak. The peak is really season 4, season 5, season 6, which you can watch on the Max app. I absolutely love this show. I had so much fun talking about it. Speaking of fun, I went on Dana Carvie and David Spade's podcast, Fly on the Wall, last week, and we deep-dived SNL. I had an absolute blast. I got to talk 90 minutes with those guys. I love that podcast.


We had a really, really fun time. You can hear that as well if you love SNL. Coming up on this podcast, Rizel and I are going to deep dive NBA stuff. Oh, yeah. We did segments. We really planned this one out. It's First, our friends from ProJip.


All right, we're taping this a little past 6:30 Pacific Time.


Sunday night. Ryan Rusillo is here. Sunday is with Rusillo. We're back. I don't remember how many years it's been now. Five, six, seven, six, five?


It's not seven.




No. Five? Eighteen, but I was still working at both places.


I think it was 19 it started. Yeah, because you came over for the kawaii, the shot.




That's what we got going. All right, year six for us. We wanted to wait until after that Warriors Nuggets game. We're going to cover a lot of stuff. We actually did some prep. We have segments. I'm very excited. Warriors Nuggets, this will be fun. Nuggets will either prove they're the champs, and Jokuj will just dust the warriors like he always does, or the warriors who've been coming on lately. We're starting to look like a stealth. You don't want to see these guys in the playoff team. Maybe they'll throw a couple of haymakers. Then Joker comes out, and it's '61, '61 at halftime, and Clay's had 23 in the first half. This is a bad sign. Joker comes out in the second half and just eviscerates them. I don't know, man, you watch a game like that and you go, All right, road still goes through Denver. I don't know how many games the Celtics have to be up in the one seed. I'm not sure it matters. It still goes through Denver. That was my takeaway. What was yours?


I liked that 80 seconds into our first pot, I figured out how it impacted the Celtics.


Thank you. Eighty. It was like 40.


I was really confused when Golden State was up that big because the clay story has been a long story. He's coming off the bench now. I watched that Lakers game, and LeBron didn't play. Steph had a big night, and they ran away from him at the end. But there were still moments where I was like, God, I can't believe that's Klay. Look at Clay and you could see. Then he hit, I think, his fourth three in the first quarter where he got it on a curl, and you could just see how confident he had been. It was funny because he had a turnover on his first touch where he looked hesitant. Then he hits a couple of shots. And the fourth one, he hits this curl on the left side. It's out of his hands like old school clay. Yeah. And I'm thinking like, wait a minute. Because I guess I've certainly, between listening to you and others, I think I still hold out hope that he can be some asset in a rotation, depending on whatever they are. But when Denver goes on a 14-nothing run to close the first half, after all of that work they've done, it's like investing in a stock, and you're just looking at it, it's two years later, and And then the CEO tweets out a picture of his dick, and you're like, oh.


You wake up pre-market hours.


It's like, what did he do?


Like all of this.


He shit in his office?


Two years of these gains wiped out. And that's what it felt like. When that happened, I'm with you. Right when that happened, because I knew we were going to do this to lead the pod, it was a good thing to do. Draymon, since it's come back January 15th, they're 11 and five, I think, coming into this game. Number one scoring, number one assist, number one rebounding team, even though the late rebounding situation. And then you just watch the end, and it reminded me of why I wrote the Warriors off, which I felt unfair because this stretch prior to tonight's game, this stretch, it's like, Wait, just like you said, Wait, do we have to take them a little bit more seriously? But that offense in the fourth quarter- I'm not done with that, though, to be fair.


Go ahead. Last 15, they were second in net rating, and Denver was 21st. Denver just seems like they're on autopilot, waiting for the playoffs. But yet there's these little challenges along the way. They're like, All right, I guess we'll try for this one. They did it in Boston. The Boston game was very similar to this one, where it was halftime and it was like, Oh, man, should I have a bigger lead than this? Then Denver did what they do in the second half, and it was the same tonight. I thought it was, weirdly, a bigger game for Denver than Golden State. Golden State is not as good as them. They hung, they threw some punches, Jokuj beat them. But for Denver, I wanted to see them do this on a Sunday on ABC. Then you look at the Joker. Joker stats had it after the All-Star break, the three games. I think he had a 32, 16, and 16 tonight. I looked up, he hasn't had a game quite like that all year. The first game coming out of the break, he had a 21, 15, and 15, but went 10 for 10 for field goals.


So he's on this crazy post All-Star game pace to lock up the MVP, not that he cares. But I just think he owns the Warriors. Can we start there?


Well, they've won 10 of 11 now against him, so this isn't news.


Yeah, I think he looks at them and is like, This is great, man. Drayman thinks he's going to do Drayman. Good luck. I'm going to kill you guys. The Gordon Kamenga. Gordon, they just put him on Kamenga. That was that. Then they have a lot of tall, lengthy guys to throw a curry. There's always a 6'6, 6'7 or higher guy with a hand up. He was 1 for 10 from 3 tonight. It's a good match up for them. If I'm Golden State, Your goal is you're going to get the eighth seed or the seventh seed, depending on how all this shakes out. You have to win the playing games, at least one of them. Denver is the one team out of the four I don't want to see out of the top four. I take my chances to get OKC against Minnesota. Who's the other one I'm leaving out? Denver, OKC, Minnesota. Clippers. I'll take my chances against those other ones, but I don't want to see Denver.


I know we're going to do this a little bit later, so I need a little space. I don't want to do this early in our pod together and talking about watching Jokuj Live because the last three nights- No, we're segueing into that. Okay. Well, you don't need to do it right now because you're right, it's a bad match up for the Warriors. I mean, 10 of 11, what else do you need to know? And yet when they went together on this run and Pajemski has been better, Kaminga's month in January was fantastic. He's not shooting as well from three in February, but now it feels like, okay, at least it's something. There are even moments night where Wiggins, although their offense was so bad in the fourth quarter, turnovers, missed three, Sarich trying to create off dribble on the non-curry minutes, and they bring Curry back in. You can see Curry's just desperate, and they're just falling apart. But you add Chris Paul back in the mix at some point, too. You at least look at the rotation. And when I did, I did the five, not a surprise, four more teams out of respect, the nine teams where if they want a title, I think I did it a month ago on the pod where you wouldn't go, how the hell did that team...


How did that team? And it's really five. It's probably not nine. I didn't even put Golden State in a nine because I just felt like, hey, the endings are bad. The endings Because they're always bad. There's no good ending when you have this run. Do you still, despite today, look at the entire numbers for a month with Draymon back and how well Steph has played, which is another topic in itself and the top five guys in the league. But do you completely write them off? Because that's what I did a month ago, and I feel unfair about it, even though they got smoked in the fourth quarter today.


Well, you did it a month ago, but two things happened. Kaminga went to a level that I don't think any of us were expecting. Even today's game, I know he didn't play that great, but there's a lot of Sean Marion stuff with him now. There's a lot of around the rim stuff and cuts, and he's just so athletic. To me, it looks like he's starting to figure it out. Then Podzempski is the other one. What's the ceiling for him for you? Do you think he could make an All-Star game?


I don't know about that.


But I don't know. Starter on a real contender? How How high do you go? How many floors is your Petzimski building?


I feel like he's probably closer to his ceiling, even though he's a rookie, though, because of his game. The greatest thing about him is his rebound. If you go back to his college stats, when I was doing the draft stuff, I'm like, Are you kidding me? 17 rebound games. It's actually translated to the NBA, where granted, it's not to that level, but he rebounds like crazy at that position. He initiates a lot of their offense. He's been He's awesome for him, and he's a major piece of steadying prior to today. And yet when you ask me ceiling for him, is he a starting guard on a title contender? I don't know about that.


I think possibly, yeah. Because to me, there's a dragge piece to him. He gets a little droggey sometimes. He'll come down and he'll do that. He'll come to the foul line. You're not sure whether he's going to pull up and shoot a 15-footer, pass the guy in the corner corner. He starts passing the guy in the corner, and then he passes it to another guy. He just is in control in an unusual way for a rookie. I like that he can play a couple of positions. He just seems like from a high IQ standpoint, fits in with that team immediately. How many rookies have we seen try to come into that worst team and just seem like they're completely lost? Like their ninth grader is trying to go into Algebra 3 or something, and he's fit in. I just think they I found something with him and Kominga. Then when Chris comes back, they're going to have a real bench. They're going to have Clay and Gary Payton, Jackson Davis, Looney, Chris Paul, all his bench guys. Now they have a chance because they're five-man Curry and Komingo Wiggins, Jaymon, and Pods, have been, I think, good.


So now they have this bench that can extend some stuff. I wouldn't be crazy about seeing them in the playoffs, especially because of the Curry factor.


You think Curry, if we It's Jokuj, Yonis, Embiid. Luka is the top four, which I don't think can be debated. Is Curry, fifth?


I have SGA over him at this point.




I just think the consistency with SGA at some point, we're Almost at game 60, and the guy has a bad game once every three and a half weeks, maybe once every four weeks. Like today, he had 31. I would say him and Jokuj are the two most consistent guys in the league. Over Luka?


I wouldn't put him I don't know about over Luca.


Sga? Yeah. He's 31 to 34 every night. It never varies. It's crazy. I talked about this on my pod a couple of weeks ago. They had that game score thing on basketball reference. I don't even know how they figure it out. It might be just this arbitrary number. But his game score, all of them are super high. And then there's four bad ones. It's like, you've only had four bad games according to this game score. However, have you not had more stinkers? He just doesn't seem to have stinkers ever.


Yeah, the game score stuff is fun on the playoff game log for the superstars. Because you'll look at some guys that you go, This guy might not show up tonight. And you'd be like, how did he have a 12 game score? Then you had a 40. You're just like, How does that happen? Then the elite of the elite- I don't know how to figure it out. The elite of the elite just don't have those bad games.


But to answer your question, I think the problem with Curry compared to somebody like SGA, is he just has games like tonight, every once in a while. He wasn't good today. 20 points, one for 10, but never got going. It seems like certain teams, I don't think they think we can take Steph out, but I think they can bother him in ways that a couple of years ago, I don't think he was bothered in the same ways.


Yeah, but the problem is everything else around him. You're watching Tenet against Denver, you, okay, the second best player for Denver is Jamal Murray, and Jamal Murray can initiate your offense. Once Steph has gone, who's initiating your offense? Pajemski. I'll give you this with Pajemski. There's moments where as a smaller player, I think it looks like he's going to get stuck deep in the paint, and he still figures out an angle. He has this step where he finishes with his left hand, which is really impressive. He has some of this veteran stuff already. But we're still talking about Pajemski as a rookie is going like, Hey, this is the guy that initiates your offense. I think the hard part for Klay is that when he was always sharing all those Curry minutes, even though they still stagger them, they closed them coming off the bench, there's going to be moments for him where it's just going to be than it's ever been before in those minutes where Curry's not out there the way they've always been in the past. What about when Chris comes back, though?


Isn't Chris going to help that?


That would. I'm just going with what it is right now because when I'm watching tonight's game, Aaron Gordon isn't going to wow you statistically all the time. That guy plays his ass off every night. He's out there. You look at who he is now with Jokić, he's a different player than he was with Orlando. But there was also such a long stretch of his career where you were like, Can this guy be a small forward ball handling guy, get his own offense? You're like, Not really. He's missed cast. And now he gets to play this power forward position with the best passer in the entire league, and his effort is never, ever a question. So when Steph was off the floor because they had matched the non-Yokech minutes, non-Step minutes to start the fourth quarter, and they both came in at the under-8 mark, and it was like, Okay, well, how's this going to look? But in the minutes when they both weren't out there, you're like, Dude, it's Murray, it's Gordon, it's Michael Porter Jr. Against what for Golden State? So it's not surprising. And on top of the Yokech numbers against Golden State, like Jereamont, it reminded me a bit of the way we talk about with Minnesota.


We'll say, Well, man, Minnesota has all this size. They can throw a Yokech. You're like, Okay, well, look at the Yokech splits against Minnesota and tell me where the bad numbers are. They're just not really there. I think there's one bad playoff game in the five-game series they had last year, and I'm not even sure if that's right because I went through and looked at it. Like, Jeremon meets him earlier, does his work early, maybe makes him... And then you still look at the numbers and go, Okay, cool. You would never look at this box score saying, Hey, great matchup, because over the long haul of however many minutes, it looked like they were resting Draymond to try to close a close game. When he came back in, he'd only played 21 minutes, maybe because they knew how hard it was going to be against Jokuj, but it's just a brutal matchup for Golden State. Like I said, I felt a little unfair writing them off like I did a month ago and then seeing research a little bit. But as we're talking it out, you really think they're winning the West? You really think Golden State has a chance to win the West?


I don't.


I think Denver is going to win the West.


So you're off the Clippers part of it.


It's never wavered. No, I just feel like I've never wavered from it being Boston and Denver in the finals. But I think the Clippers have a legit chance with the amount of offense they have. Some of the clutch stats with them are pretty crazy, the Clips. We've talked about it offline about just like, holy shit, every single possession, they get good shots, the Clippers. One thing on Gordon, because I agree with you, it It makes me wonder how many players just never ended up on the right team. There's this other version of Gordon's career where he's fine and he's on some playing teams and a couple of six seeds, but nothing ever really happens, and he makes some money in his career is over. But the way he clicks with- Yeah, he's that.


He's young.


The way he clicks with Jokuj. Then he's also one of those guys when people try to post him up, you're just watching on TV going, Come on, dude. Don't try to post up Gord. Don't try to think you're going to post on Aaron Gordon and get a good shot, which happened a couple of times today. The Celtics is the same thing with them. It's like, Don't attack Gordon. Just don't. Just stop. They also got some good Christian Brown minutes tonight, which I think if you're going to pick apart the nuggets, what makes you nervous, it's just all those young guys in big spots if they're down 2-1 in a series.


Yeah, but I think Christian Brown had enough moments in the playouts last that there were some bright spots with the downside of it being new for him. But yeah, I think you're really nitpicking because what Murray did against the Lakers, I don't love Michael Porter Jr. All the time. I think this is who he is. He's an incredible shot maker, but can be really frustrating because he gets a little one-dimensional with everything. But it doesn't matter because Jokić is just in control. You talk about the Clippers getting good looks every time, and it's true, but If you were to tell me, Okay, I want a great possession, there's no one I'm taking over Jokić. There always ends up being a good look. He controls the game. I know we'll get to this because I was in Denver. I was in Colorado for eight days and then stopped in Denver to watch him play the Wizards on the last night I was in town. But I just told him, I was like, Whatever, it's the Wizards. Who cares? I go, I'm only going to watch Jokuj. That's all I'm going to do. I don't care what the score is.


By the way, the scoreboard at the ball arena is the busiest scoreboard I've ever seen in my entire life, so I still couldn't figure it out. But we've all watched Jokuj for years, but when you're like, Hey, I'm determined to only see what he's doing, it just opens up all these other things that I think we're all aware of because he's so special. But it's just stupid. It's stupid how good he is when he isn't even shooting or touching the ball.


Well, you just segued into what we're going to do after the break. Our list, 2024. Best Guys to see in Person. Coming up next. All right. Best Guys to See in Person. This was inspired by you seeing Jokuj and Wimbanyama in back-to-back nights. Before we went to break, you talked about you can go see Jokuj in person and just watch Jokuj the entire time. It's like going to a concert where you're like, I'm just going to watch Van Halen in the early '80s. You're like, I'm just going to watch Eddie Van Halen and nobody else. I'm just going to stare at him for three hours and just see what he does and try to learn some stuff. Jokuj is the guy for that now. There's only been a couple, really a couple guys in the history of the league that I think hit that level where you're like, I'm not going to watch anybody else who's on the court except for this guy, and you're still going to have an incredible time. We're not doing a draft. We're just going to do our list. I made a list from... I did 1-10, actually. I told you to do 1-5, but you can add a couple if you want.


Right. Midseason form.


Yeah. I changed this segment without telling you, but I'm happy to stick with five. We're just going to alternate our number one, go down number two, all that. But your number one is Jokuj?


Yeah, it's Jokuj. Can you let me do this here? I won't do this as long as everybody else, I promise. I know how much you love when I go a little long, but I'm just going to tell you- Is this a Rasilla log? Yeah.


I'm just going to sit here. I got my Michael Jordan Dream Team Cup.


Is that near mint condition?


Oh, I have I have the whole set. I was going to break out some Christian Laitner today, but I think I'm going to wait until a later episode when we really need the energy. But I got my Michael Jordan. I got some water. You go. You do your thing.


A little surprise. It's almost like Christian Laitner's mom walked so Taylor Swift could run. Because if you are mad about Taylor Swift cut aways, if you were around for Laitner's mom during the tournament, you would have just blown your brains out. You wouldn't have been able to handle it if the Taylor Swift isos get you this upset. All right, so Jokich against the Wizards, who, by the way, I think may They have used all their timeouts in the first half. I mean, it was atrocious. It was funny, too, because Jokuj is like, These guys suck. I'm just going to do stuff.


But that's what Bird of Magic used to be like that, too, in the '80s. These guys suck. I'm going to just try some shit.


That's exactly how it felt. They were helpless.


Was this the game where he threw the 80-foot alley-up?


Yeah. I was at that basket that he threw it at. He caught it, he rebounded one hand, never touched the ball with his other hand, and just threw it, and it was perfect. He threw it. It was absolutely perfect.


Eighty feet in stride, Gordon gets a layup, and it was like a touch pass.


Here are the early possessions, and I promise you I'm not going to spend... I'll make this as quick as I can. All right, so he comes down. It's a pinned-down screen to the left side to free somebody up to get the ball. Then he goes block to block to come up, gets a post-touch in the paint, double-team, throws it at the end, Michael Porter Jr. For a corner three. All right, then he runs a two-man game with Michael Porter Jr. He screens, then re-screens, but it's more of him just getting in the way. And then he rolls off of that, gets it, and then hits the floater. Then he has a brush screen handoff. Then he gets it back in the same possession, kicks it out to a three, then he decides like, You know what? They're going to throw it back at me. He repost because he has Kulibali against him, and he looks around almost like, Are you seriously not going to double and let Kulibali defend me now with a paint touch? All right, fuck it. Hookshot goes in. He gets another post touch in the paint. Kcp kicks it out wide open three on a jump pass where he jumps in the air and anybody else, you're like, Oh, my God, that's going to be a turnover.


And he knew already where everybody was, it was fine. The next play, he's pointing the other saying, I don't want the ball. So he sets a back screen and then another pin down, and then Michael Porter Jr. Gets it. But Jokić decides to still move down, trailing the play. So the defender, having to deal with Michael Porter Jr, can't totally commit to Michael Porter Jr. Because he's worried about Jokić's movement on the left side. And then Michael Porter Jr. Hits the floater. Next possession, back screen for Murray, layup, never even touches the basketball. Then there's the one-handed pass that he throws to Aaron Gordon like a quarterback. Then on an inbound play, he's not inbounding. He's not the target for the inbound pass. He sets up screen. The Wizards are so stupid, they don't even know what's going on, but he already knows what's happening. And he looks to be like, I'm just going to get in the way here, wide open three, Michael Porter Jr. He hits it. That's the first six minutes of the game, Bill. That's my point. He leads the league in touches, 100 touches per game. That's how many times he touches a basketball in a game, all right?


But each touch is like a split second.


Okay, great point. Because if you look at the top touch guys, Sabonis is second in the NBA, Luka is third. Luka is third with 92 touches per game. Jokić, the 100 touches, leads the league. His average time he has the ball on those touches is 2.8 seconds. Luka is at 5.6 seconds. So here's Jokić. I would have got fired. Right. Here's Jokić with 100 touches a game, but he's 20th in usage. He screens, he re-screens, he doesn't even want to shoot. It feels like half the night. I can't get over how impressive it is that he's that talented. His hands are perfect. His feet are just amazing. I know he's not the most athletic guy. Even watching him scramble on defense, it actually looks worse than it actually is because he's working to be in position and show and recover. But the way he just moves, he already looks like he's out of breath and it's bad, but he's actually in better position than he gets credit for. For six minutes, all he wanted to do was get everybody involved, and it's the best way to play basketball.


That's why we ride with Jokuj. Yeah, I agree with everything you just said. I would add this. He solves stuff during the games while also seeming like he's trying to fuck with the other team, especially if it's an inferior team, which I think makes them during garbage time so much fun. I don't see how this gets worse as the season goes along, whatever is happening with them, because it feels like they'll go on a little run, they'll get ready. I'm just watching this hoping they play the Lakers in round one and the Clippers in round two or round three, so we get to have them come in to LA and go get to see them a bunch of times because I had an absolute blast going to the Nuggets Lakers games last year. He's my favorite player to watch in the league, and it's not even really close. So we have the same number one. I also want to mention when you see him in person, you realize how he busts his ass on some of those fast breaks. He's not like, I'm taking this play off, I'm taking that play. If there's a turnover or a transition, he runs and he fills the lane Lane, even though he's lumbered around that weird Jokin stride, but he really does put the time in, trying to fill lanes, being a trailer.


He also wants to get the ball up the court. So even when he clears out of the rebound or somebody throws him the first outlet, He'll throw up another pass. So if he decided, Hey, I'm bringing the ball up every single time I'm stopping, and I'm going to set up the offense. But it just makes me wonder, even though Denver is the four-seated, it's also bunched up. So there's not this huge, massive difference between, Man, you guys really like the four-seed here. If you look at where they were at going into last night, they were... Excuse me, into tonight, 38 and 19. Last year, they were 39 and 18. Their offensive numbers have dipped as far as where they rank, 12th this year, fifth last year, but it's the same output. It's just the entire league is up. The defense this year is actually the same number, but it's ranked higher because, again, the offense has gone up. But it makes everybody want to play. You know you can't really stop paying attention at any point because he might throw you the ball. And if you cut, you're going to be rewarded. If you screen for him, he might screen for you, and he'll set three screens.


I mean, he's fourth in screen assist in the NBA. And when you look at that number in comparison to who else is in those top 10, it's not guys winning an MVP. So when I look at him or Steph, and it gets back to my frustration with certain teams, and what am I going to let the regular season trick me into believing? I go, is the solution, is the common thread here with all those Warriors teams or whatever that Hey, it's constant movement. It's being tough for the guard. It's continuing to cut and scream for guys because there's some special, special players in this league that can get buckets whenever they want. But then I go, Yeah, but that guy will never set a screen. Once he's out of the play, that's it. My job is done. Jokuj never looks at the game that way.


Yeah, it's almost more like hockey. He also does things during the game that I've never seen before. He had to play today when he had Gordon on the left, and it was a fast break. He faked off like he was going to pass to Gordon and then did a two-step like he was going to do a floater. And he started doing the floater, and then at the last second, he actually did throw to Gordon. I was like, What just happened? Was that a travel? Was that legal?


How did he do that? Do you know how many times I think it's going to be an up and down? It never is.


It never is.


It's never going to be. You're right, because he knows where the pass is going. But the starting point, like watching him play defense live, he came out in blitz on the pick and roll, stayed with the ball handler, then retreated to the corner, but then there was somebody else there. So he had to run across the paint to close off the guy in the opposite baseline. And he threw his hands up in the air and just started waving him around. The only thing I could think of would be like, you're going out to dinner with a buddy who had been golfing all day, and you'd go, Hey, are you drunk? And he'd be like, No, I actually haven't had a drink. You're like, Oh, okay. Well, you're acting, you're not drunk. You're like, No, I just got to dinner. I didn't drink a golf today. What are you talking about? The way if you were to just watch, if you would never watch Jokuj before, now, granted, in the offensive stuff, you figure it out. But I also realized why this guy went in the second round. Because there's times where he moves around. You're like, What is he doing?


What's going on there? And you're like, Actually, He's in position.


Yeah, there's a method to the madness.


He visually doesn't look as special as all these other superior athletes that we have in the league.


Well, if he wins the MVP in the title this year, and I assume he'll be first-team All-MBA, which would give him four. Last six years, he'd have four first, two second All-MBAs, two MVPs, two finals, two titles, which is putting him on pace to go into that final group, the Pantheon.


What's your top pyramid again?


He's level five as the last level, and he's starting to sniff it a little bit. It's like, Wait, what's going on?


There's another door? How many How many people are on level 5 right now?


Fifteen, fifteen. Fifteen or 16, I can't remember.


Who was like 15 and 16?


Durant, I've had him. He was in level 5, and then we sent him back to level 4, and I don't know where he's going to end up. He's right there. He's in a door. Basically, he has a cot in level 5, but he has his apartments in level four. But he gets to go up and see everybody in level five every once in a while.


Which Which is rare, I imagine.


I told you I didn't want to shoot my wide with 17 segment ideas because we're going to be together every Sunday. But there's a best players of the last 10 years argument that Jokey Which is getting closer. We'll do it another time. All right. I'll go second with my second favorite guy to see in person. It's still Curry. I still like, if he's in town, I want to go. If I don't go, I'm like, Oh, man, I probably should have gone to see Curry. I don't know how many more years he has left at this level. It's like one of those. It's like, Oh, pick a favorite band. Oh, they're in town again. I saw him last year. I don't know. But then you don't go, and you're like, Oh, man, I probably should have gone. What if they break up? I don't know how many more Curry years are left, but he's another one where you can just watch him the entire game, watch how he moves, watch how his teammates try to do those little handoff thingies with them and just how he uses his body, how he uses his body in traffic.


I never get old. So never gets old for me. I have him second. Who do you have second? Steph. Okay. We don't need to talk about Steph. I feel like we spent 10,000 hours. So here's where it gets interesting. You just saw this guy in person. Is Wemby your number three?


Not yet, no.


Okay. Who's your number three?


It's Ant.


Oh, okay. Make the case.


Look, I know he sucked the other night against Milwaukee, but the miss Dunky had in the lane was probably one of my favorite highlights of the week. I hate to say it reminds me of somebody, but he does move like him a little. Let's just not even say his name. It's not even fair to Ant or the other guy that we're talking about. There's just some stuff in his passing on these deep drives is getting better and better. It's not out of nowhere. You could see some glimpses. And I do think sometimes these drive passes, we give them almost too much credit for it because it's like, hey, the guys are all stationed where they're supposed to be stationed. But there's times where he's getting a pass out to a corner or to the break, where I'm like, how did he even get that out there? So I think just the physical moments with him, just the top one % athleticism with him, and to tie it into that it's been one of the best teams in the league this year, that I would have Ant 3.


I know you don't want to mention him. We're not trying to put this on him. Kobe reminded everybody the most of Jordan, and in some ways was doing a really great Jordan impersonation, even mimicking how he shot. It was like...


Well, how about the way he talked? Like the cadence? That was almost weird.


Well, it was like when we did Creed in Philly for rewatchables, we did live thing. Creed has that scene When Donny is watching the second Balboa-Creed fight and he gets up in front of the TV and he starts mimicking all the Creed's punches and movements in it, and you see the TV behind him and he's doing exactly... That's the level Kobe was at with Jordan. He tried to mirror so many things that Jordan did. So he would be number one. Wade always, I thought, had some MJ in him before his knees started to go, the second Miami year. But if you watch, especially him in 2009 when he had nobody. But he was, I thought, the closest from all the stuff he did to Jordan because he didn't really shoot threes. He just tried to get to the rim. He had that pull-up game. And then Edwards, there is moments where you get a little deja MJ. Plus, he carries himself like the fucking alpha. I'm the best-looking person in this building. I'm the best athlete in this building. I am completely unafraid of the other team. Don't trash talk me. I'll get upset. There's just some elements.


Then after they had beaten the Clippers, and you can take all these top teams, be like, Hey, what about that outcome? What about that outcome? Because I thought that win for them was huge. The way the Clippers had just been beating on everybody for two straight months. But then the weird part about calling out the Clippers and them being old, and then when Kawhi was asked about it, Kawhi almost downplayed it. I don't know if that's just Kawhi who doesn't want to talk to anybody or if there was any element of it being like, I'll let Ant mess with us. I'll let that guy mess with us because he's him. I don't mean that in the mean way. Then the other funny thing from All Star Weekend was everyone can't... They cannot wait to show off their fits, and he's in a hoodie. I don't even care.


I actually was hoping he'd be the guy who's like, I'm going to be the one guy that cares about the All Star game, but he actually went the other way. He's like, I care the least. Actually, you think Luca Jokuj, care the least? It's actually me. I care the least. Okay. My number three is Wemby. Just because it's new. There's a new car smell to it.


But the stuff that- Did you go on Friday?


I didn't go on Friday, and I regret it because I had some parents' stuff. But I am excited to see him do his thing. Especially, it feels like he's starting to put together the off the stuff, the I'm not really involved in this play. Oh, wait, I am? You can see the other team is starting to really think about him profoundly when they're within 25 feet of the basket. All the stuff that was frustrating about him in summer league in the beginning of the year where it's like, Dude, you're 7'5. Just traffic cop the rim a little bit more. You're not a small forward. Stop with that. You're 7'5. It feels like he's figured out that part. Then there's so much in his game that's just terrible right now. His pull-up jumpers are awful. I think he might have the lowest pull-up jumper field goal percentage of the league. But then there's some fluid spin moves and stuff in traffic, and he's dunking, and you don't even realize he had a chance to dunk, and he's not even jumping. I just haven't seen enough of him yet. I wish I liked watching his team more, but I want to see him in person a couple more times this season.


Yeah, in person, it's a different experience. Yeah. What'd you see?


Tell us.


Well, you could see just there were different times when guys in the Lakers, Austin Reeves got caught on a screen once with him, and it was just like, What? Are you kidding me? I'm supposed to get through this?


Can you give me a broom?


Then Reeves thought he had him on the left side for a layup. I love that he tried, but it was like, Wemby, almost as he was going up, was like, Are you seriously going to try to do this? Okay, whatever. I'm taking this. He stripped LeBron in transition, which I couldn't believe. You're like, What? It's almost more fun watching the moments of everybody else that's on the court and the opponent.


Reacting to the experience of playing against Wemby.


Are you serious? And then in the second half, guys just aborting. They'll beat their man off the dribble. They go, whatever. I'm just going to curl. I'm going to curl back around. And when you add up all the blocks and the steels and all those numbers. And by the way, he went crazy in the first few minutes. It was funny just sitting in the stands because for so many people, it's the first time they've ever seen him. Then other people that aren't super into the NBA, they think they're watching an alien. You hear somebody asking the boyfriend being like, How old is this guy? What's his deal? He's this French kid. And then they're like, How old is he? Somebody else will be like, I think he's 25. They're like, Oh, wow, he's going to be good. Somebody else is like, No, he's 20.


No, he's going to be the best part of his generation.


So he lit it up. I think he had 11 points in his first rotation there of six minutes or something because he was hitting threes on top of everything else. But there's usually every few possessions, there's a moment where he's the only guy in the world that can do the stuff that he's doing. So him being fourth, I don't have a problem with it. Because the new part of it and wondering what it will be like that night. I can't imagine being a Spurs season ticket. The number of things that you've seen through this course of the season with him is just stuff you've never seen before.


So you have him fourth.


You know what? I'll put him down forth. I mean, I'm not trying to mirror you here, but it was- I had him first. Look, I landed in LA and had been gone for eight days. In a million, I'm not going to a basketball game that night. Instead, it was Wemby, and I was like, I'm in.


Right. You know one thing that I've been impressed by watching him a little more, where I was really having trouble watching them, but lately, they've been more fun to watch, he's less Clumsy is not the wrong word, but you know how Porzingas has three times a game where you're convinced his season's about to be over? Yeah. Like he jumps, he lands in traffic, or he hits knees with somebody, or he has a stumble, and you're like, Oh, no. Wemby doesn't have as many of those as I thought he would. I thought it would be a little clumsier, but he's really coordinated. I don't know how to explain it. It's almost like a ballet dancer. He knows where to land and where to go, and he avoids trouble more than I thought with that stuff because usually the tall guys, they're just a constant, some dumb, stupid, knocking knees into somebody's hip or stepping on a foot or whatever. He doesn't really have them. My number 4 is still Yannis. I still have Yannis in my top 4 for going to see in person just because I love how hard he plays. He is one of those that in person feels different than on TV.


In person, you get the size, you get his crazy length with his arms. He does have those moments where you're like, Fucking A, how does anybody stay in front of this guy. I'd still enjoy seeing him, and I would have him forth.


Basically, everything we just said about Wemby, it's not like Yannis. It's pretty close to the same experience. It's sitting there for the in-season tournament games and seeing it live and having those seats, it's the same thing. Where you're like, I can't believe the guy picks up his dribble from there and is at the rim. There's just moments where you're helpless. The opponent, you're absolutely helpless against them because he's going to find a way.


When he's really trying, you're always like, Man, how are they going to beat this guy when he's trying like this? It's always surprising. All right, who do you have for number five?


Probably Ben Simmons because it's such a treat.


Just to watch somebody dribble the ball up the court?


No, because he's playing. So you're like, Hey, he's back.


And then run under the basket?


I've set my notifications the next offseason for the Ben Simmons is back, summer. I'll probably go with You know what? I'm just going to go with it. I wrote it down. I think Zion in person, even though the time we saw him in person, it was terrible. You can't quit Zion. I can't.


He had a great block down the stretch today.


Yeah, they lost, though. They lost. I can't figure that team out. They have the guys back, and then they lose.


Well, they didn't have a point guard tonight. They didn't have McCollum, and then Alvarado got suspended. So it was Herb Jones and Ingram, and Zion bringing the ball off.


Yeah, but they get smoked by Miami. At one point, I think late in the second quarter, they were 8% from three, and Miami was 64%. Every time I want to get excited about them. But I'll just tell you, as far as watching it, Point Zion is still one of my favorite things to watch in the league.


I have SGA number 5. I really had an absolute ball watching him in person earlier this season against the Clippers, and I want to see him again. It's fun because both LA teams are on play for playoff series, and I really hope OKC is going to be one of them. But his herky-jerky stuff that he does, I'm not tired of it yet. I had Durant 6, and I had Edwards 7, so I gave than that.


You'd rather watch SGA than Ant?


Yeah. Listen, top seven is solid. It's not like I kicked him in the curve.


He's the better player, which no sane person would debate, but I don't know about that.


I like watching how cool and calm and efficient he is, how he runs that team that's just this young team that should have no business being on pace to have 58 wins. Then in crunch time, he takes over everything. But also, I have a little bit of a personal connection because I watched him as a rookie. When I see him now, I love basketball and I talk about it and used to write about it for a living, and I did not see any sign that this was going to happen? When I'm watching, I'm like, How did I not know this? I'm going back almost to that 2018 season. Man, I just thought this guy was going to be a really good defender and knock down some open threes. How Why did I miss this? But I think everybody feels that way, although Doc's now taking credit for seeing it the whole time, which he did on my podcast. I do think Doc tried to talk them out of throwing him in that trait. I do think that's legitimate.


Twitter doesn't like Doc. I think even if Doc had a point to make it just was going to turn into the same thing like when LeBron says... But LeBron has some bad ones on his resume as far as pointing it. I don't think Doc is-He's the lead leader in the club.


Doc is in that in the club. Yeah, Doc's up there, though.


We didn't pick Luca. Are we so conditioned to how absurd he is that we're taking it for granted and we're not? You didn't even put him in your top seven.


I had him eight. It's the monoball that I just... You and I are aligned on that. The heliocentric. I don't like watching. I thought about putting Kyrie him from the standpoint of when you see Kyrie in person and he actually cares, it's always amazing. You just see things like, Oh, nobody else in the league can do that. Oh, he just went into the lane and just did a running lefty layup that he lofted Off the shot clock and it went in. But I don't like when one guy has the ball all the time. I felt that way with Harden. I felt that way with Westbrook. I feel that way with Luca. I know it's working. I know he's unbelievable, but it's just not for me. It's not my Where is Luca on your MVP ballot? Let me look because I actually did it. I had a little MVP list. I'm top five.


So is that SGA, too, behind Jokuj?


I have Jokuj, SGA, Luca, Yannis, and Tatum, a distant fifth. And then people are trying to get some Tateum MVP stuff going. It's like, come on. I love the Celtics. I would never in a million years make the case for him.


Yeah, the Tatum push has been weird. It's a ridiculous argument. The last couple, I don't know. Is it a week or something? Look, he said he was the best. That's fine. That's what you're supposed to do. I think the weird part for Tatum is that I went on a cowhert show and he was knocking a little bit. I was like, Look, if you wanted to be one of the top four guys, I'll tell you that you're right. But where he's at is pretty good. If the Celtics find a way to pull it out this summer, then the shows that next morning will say, Hey, is he actually the best player in the world? There's no way a full season from Jokić I could ever fathom voting for Tatum over Jokić. I don't even think I'd vote for Tatum over Donchik.


If you're doing that as a segment on your show, then that means it was a boring week. We're going to take a break and come back with another segment. All right, this segment is called Which Playoff Team is going to Trick Me? This was your idea. It's inspired by the Cleveland Cavaliers of last year who everybody got excited about as, Man, I know they're young, but who knows? And then the Knicks just punched them right in the mouth and knocked them out of the playoffs. And that was that. So we have just an unusually high slew of candidates for this this year. I'll read all the candidates after, but I'll just ask you, which team do you think, out of all the obvious suspects, which one is going to trick you? Who do you have your guard up with right now?


Okay. Well, are we talking real contenders? Because we could just pivot this into Cleveland right now. All right?


Listen, it could be whatever you want. Which playoff team is going to trick you? Is either, Oh, I think they'll win a couple of rounds and they fall in their face in round one, or, Oh, I think that team, like the Clippers, Oh, I think they could actually win the finals, and then they're down three-one in round one You're like, Oh, my God, I can't believe I fucking fell for this.


I had a stretch. This is a pretty classic for me, where as soon as I point something out, the opposite happens. And yet I always feel better about the long play of the thing I said. It's like my Tua looks like a backup. Tua looks like a backup, and the next thing you know, I think he threw for 500 yards against Baltimore the next week or something. And long term, it was a far more reasonable approach, even though, look, he's probably going to be started for a while. So you get my point. So when I did a big Oklahoma City ran about how amazing they were, then they lost some games. And then I did a big love fest for the Knicks. Granted, they're still missing Randall and OG, so it's a little different, but they had gone on this tear. The Clippers, I don't look at them. I look at them finally losing a couple of games after having that, what were they, 27 and 6? When they beat the shit out of Boston the way they did, I thought that was the most impressive single game ask game of any game that we saw this season, especially when you factor in schedule and everything that happened in time off before.


So I felt guilty Also, to use the word again, about not really doing any deep dive 10-minute monolog on the Cavs. They went from 18 and 15 to 35 and 16, 17 and 1 from January third to February 10th. I I watched a bunch of those games. Garland Mowbley only played seven games out of those 18. Mitchell, who I wanted to vote an All-Star starter, but he had played 30 games in comparison to where Brunson and Maxi were at, so I just couldn't do it, even though I thought his numbers were better. The entire time that I watched them, I went, I know I'm supposed to say, Hey, look out for the Cavs, or we need to talk about the Cavs more, but I just couldn't get there. I don't know if it's because of being tricked by them in the playoffs last year, thinking they have this back. You heard? Yeah. I don't know what they could do for me to go, Yeah, I could see them in the Easter Conference finals, although, considering they went 17 and one. But the other thing that happens, too, and this is a pretty common thing, is you go fill in the blank fan base has a nice two or three weeks.


They get pissed that none of the national guys are talking.


Their chest are out. Chests get puffed.


Right. They get real chesty for two or three weeks. And then I'll dig in and go, Yeah, I don't know. It might just be the schedule. You might just be home a lot. And Cleveland over that stretch.


Oh, my God. Cleveland had seven or eight cream puff games. Didn't they play Washington three times?


Of the 18 games, they played 10 non-playing teams in the standings as of today.


They played. It was a who's who of shitty teams for one stretch there. And then they lost that Philly game right after the Buddy Heel trade, which was like, I think it was a Monday night. It was on NBA TV. They were due.


They were probably due to lose to somebody at some point because 17 and one is still 17 and one. But I feel like because of last year, I was like, it doesn't matter. And the weirdest part, too, that Mowbley and Garland missed 11 of those games during that streak. So then it's like, wait, is something else baked into this? Or was it them finding a way to get a bunch of these wins and not the toughest part of the schedule. But see, then when I bring up the strength of schedule part of it, it's like, dude, they still went 17 and one back off. But I guess I never did that segment.


They caught Milwaukee three times right as Milwaukee's coach thing was unfolding. They might be the two seed, ironically. They're number one in net rating in the last 20 games.


Milwaukee is going to catch them, right?


They have to. I said might. They have a chance. They have a chance to hold off Milwaukee. Milwaukee has had a really good weekend. The weird thing to me, and I don't know if this is going to change now that all these guys are back, but you would think their best lineup, Cleveland, is Mitchell and Garland with Struce with Mowbley and Allen, right? That's like their crunch time. Those are the five guys heading into this year. Those were the five. They're plus four net rating and not even close to being one of their best lineups. I don't really know. I was on their site in mba. Com, and I was doing two-man and three-man and four-man. I was like, If we take out this guy, what happens? If we take out this guy, what happens? For whatever reason, those five guys haven't played well together. If they're not going to play well together the rest of the year, I don't know how they're going to win two playoff series because I think that's their best lineup. There's a world where Moby is not in the best lineup.


Yeah, that was the other realization, though, that we had last year. You go, I wonder if in the playoffs were this whole two-headed monster with the bigs and these amazing defensive numbers that they had over that just goes. Over the stretch of those 18 games, they were the number three offense. They were the number one defense. Their net rating was number one. They were plus 17 in net rating when they went 17 and one. New York was number two with plus 11. That's a massive, massive gap in a net rating I go back to some of the times where it looked like they got so stuck on offense. It's like, Wait, if you have two bigs that no one's afraid of defending, does that ruin what should be- You replace Mowbley with Wade.


Or Levert. That doesn't make any sense. That doesn't make any sense. You could shoot.


Yeah. Right. But it might be true.


It's two guards with Allen and two shooters, and maybe that's their best lineup. Which if Mowbley is not going to be in their best lineup when we get to the playoffs and all that, then that opens the door for like, Hey, we're going to give this guy $250 million? He couldn't even be out there at crunch time. I'm still a believer. I'm not selling my Mobile stock. But to me, it's more of a question of, Can you play Mobile and Allen together? We're still not positive that that could be a play-off successful thing.


I'm going to give- Right, but Mobile is definitely an adjusted ceiling guy, okay?


If he's not going to be able to shoot, then that's a game changer because if he's just an around the rim, offensive rebounds, defense guy, that's not what I signed up for.


I know people will throw his February numbers at us, the shooting numbers, because he's 57% from three. That's on one and a half attempts per game. Okay, that's really cool that that number looks good, but it's not actually something that's happening.


My playoff trick team is the Dallas Mavericks. Me and Sal and house and Hinch, we put a little We did a little division bet on them. I got excited about them. Then I watched Indiana just spread them out and violate them today with multiple guards. Luca and Kyrie together are at almost 60 points a game when they both play, which is a lot, even in this adjusted weird world we live of basketball stats. But just thinking about them in a playoff series and X-ums out there, Josh Green, and a rookie center playing in the seventh, eighth month of his year. Gaffer has never been in a big series before. P. J. Washington, who I don't really like. I wonder if maybe I overreacted to some of their February stuff because the One game. Now, granted, one game, but I just wonder about them defensively against the wrong team. With that said, I do like watching them more than I ever did, but this feels like a trick team because I think they're going to catch and win the division. They're probably going to be a five seed, would be my guess. I think they'll get some buzz as a sleeper.


It's like, Oh, if you don't want to take anyone in the top four, what about Dallas? They got Luca. He's the top five player in the world. Now they have two guys who can rim roll, and they have some shooting, and Kyrie, watch out for him in the playoffs. I could just see myself getting sucked in, is my point.


Yeah, it's a good pick. They went from 8:02 to 11-8 to 26-23 to now 33-23 before the Pacers' loss, where the Pacers just smoked them in the fourth quarter today. Kyrie really got it going early in the fourth, and it didn't really matter. Defense It's just not good enough, even though when you look at their numbers since January first, across the board, they're not crazy impressive. They're 11th on offense, 13th on defense. Kyrie's shooting numbers have been terrific. I mean, Donch, there's just no There's no part of any breakdown of him where you're not like, he's incredible. And I like Gaffard a lot. And their lack of depth, they could probably use a P. J. Washington, even if you don't really love them. But the problem for them is when you start really digging into how well they've done, they've played more home games than any top eight team in either conference.




All right. And they're also at 15 and 19, that's the worst record against 500 above teams in the West. So of the top eight teams in the West, we know it's 10 with the play-in, they have the worst record against the best teams. And that usually tells me, Okay.


Never a good son.




And they had some... They beat the Knicks after Randall got hurt. They got to play the Wizards, they got to play the Spurs.


They're 17 and 6 in clutch games, too, which Which is okay. Is that because Luka gets you the best single look at a bucket, which I think is right.


That's the case for them, though. The case for them is two guys who can score at the end of games. If they could just keep it close in the last four minutes, now you're matching baskets with Luka and Kyrie, which is a problem.


And by the way, in a playing game, I'd be scared to death of Luka. I'd be more scared of Luka than Phoenix in a playing game. Agree.


So which play-off team is going to trick me going the other way? I'm just down on New Orleans and Phoenix, and I feel like I might be reverse tricked. I just don't believe in Phoenix. I know they won tonight. Nerkuj was really good. Nerkich also sucked two nights ago. Bill has been hurt three different times. I just don't totally see it. I know they have two potential All-MBA guys, but I just don't see it. Then New Orleans is the other one. Just New Orleans in close games, I can't do it. I've just watched it too many times. I'm not going to trust them. I might get burned by both of those teams is my point, because I don't trust either team.


You're more down on New Orleans than I am, but I think the argument is stronger in your favor. Because like I said, they They've missed guys in certain points. Sometimes I'll be like, Are they better when they don't have all their guys? And you're right, missing both guards tonight after the fight against Miami. You never know with Chicago. Chicago is in tight games, literally all season long. It's a joke how many close games they've been in the last couple of weeks. But it started to feel like Phoenix had turned the corner. When they beat Milwaukee, they lose a Golden State on the Curry shot. They beat Sacramento. And then this last week wasn't great until the win against LA today. But I don't know what to do with any of their numbers. To me, they're all irrelevant. They're 14 and 8 into the 22 games with Katie, Booker, and Beal. So if 22 games is what I have to go on, I haven't seen enough. So I cannot write them off because I think Roy Sunil was terrific today. He's like a real guy for them with their rotation. And there's times where I think they can get a little too mismatched, Hunt with it.


But I thought they were missing good shots when it looked like Lakers were going to get back into this game tonight, where it was like, Okay, try to get Dianesl Russell into anything with Durant, try to get Austin Reeves on Booker. But ultimately, it comes down to, can those guys win their mismatch without Beal? And then the shooting of Neil and Allen, and Allen's knocking down everything, and then it's just up to Nerkich to try to keep the other guy honest, even though it felt like Anthony Dibbs. I did not see the Grace and Alan turning into the best shooter in the league thing happening.


He's been awesome. I feel like every time he He makes a shot, I think it's going in, though. Today, I thought every shot he took, I thought he was making it. It makes you wonder, like some of these... You don't want to call him late bloomers because he was a first-round pick. He was in some games. He had some success. It's not like he came out of nowhere. But these shooters who have a scoring background in college, they get to the pros, they get pigeonholed a little bit. But then something different will happen with them in their late 20s, and It happened at JJ, too, right? Remember JJ was on Orlando forever. We were waiting for him to get going.


I think that was more- Yeah. I don't know the coach did him any favors then because he didn't want to play him.


Yeah, that's true. But to me, I I couldn't shake the Celtic series out of my head where I was like, Please keep Grayson Allen out there. Every minute he plays is good for the Celtics. I think he's been a real asset for Phoenix. I still don't trust... I don't trust Nuckert to stay healthy. I think he passed his career game high of the last six years, either today or in the next game. I don't see it with them. It feels like something's missing, and I know that that's terrible analysis, but when I watch them, I just don't see them in the Western Finals. I don't really know what I'd change. The fact that they don't have a point guard, I don't love. But a point guard would get in the way of what they're doing.


I get it. Booker's so good, and Booker had to play point guard in the past. I think that's one of Booker's great strengths is when they were bad. Remember when they went from three point guards to none in a couple of months?


Is that good for him, though?


I think it was good for his development of who he is now.


But I'm saying right now at this point in his career, I'd rather have somebody set me up than having to run the offense for me. I don't know.


I just think he's so good at coming off the screen and keeping somebody on his hip and then finding a way to pull up, and it's just unstable. His footwork, getting into his mid-range jumpers and the way he figures out space and all that stuff. Sometimes I wonder if a point guard would get in the way, all those things. I think the whole point was that Beal initiates, Durand initiates, Booker initiates. So why would you have a point guard unless he was somebody that was just an incredible shooter? But I get it. I So you could, A, there's this number in the fourth quarter numbers, which is super alarming with them. So it was nice to see them hole off the Lakers today, considering the history they've had in these fourth quarters. But when the version of them has only played 22 games, the numbers of where they rank now, they're just irrelevant to me because it's not a fair representation of who they've been because that's not what we're expecting. Although Biel, and to the point of the contract and in the transaction, he misses a lot of games. He just misses a lot of games.


And now this is his fourth injury, even though it looks like he's going to be back Thursday. So that was what they were saying.


Well, that's why they might trick me because I don't see it, but I don't really have a rational reason other than I'm not a huge fan of a team that has no real point guard and then Nerkage as their center, even though he's great tonight against the Lakers. Any other trick teams for you?


Are the Clippers going to trick us?


I think they already did.


Were you already off?


No, I'm just saying I still have them on the short list of teams I could see in the finals. It would just be funny if they lose in round one and Harden goes six for 28 in game six, they get pounced and we're like, Whoa, how did I see this?


But Harden won't take 20. There's no scenario now, if everybody's healthy, where he'll have to carry a team. So he can have an awful hardened playoff game, and it's not going to matter as much as it did in the past, where if he was the two with Philly or the one with Houston. So that's part of it. Now, if you're telling me they have full health, this Kawhi season, and what he's been... I was looking at the hustle stats the other day. I think he has the most total loose balls recovered. This guy at this stage of his life, even though it was a little scary, this guy's in a minute's restriction during the All-Star game. What's going on here? Him and Paul George. So if you're telling me it's a bad health bet, I agree. And if you're telling me, Hey, you're the guys that bring up hard in the playoff stuff all the time, and now you're buying back into them. So that's why when I did that whole segment of going, I think I'm there with it. But it was so incredible for two months. I know they've split a bunch of games here recently, but they were due to have some downturn.


They were going to keep up that pace.


I had Kawhi. I turned in a Ringer top 100 last week, or a week and a half ago. I had Kawhi is the sixth best player in the league, which I felt really good about.


So you had him ahead of Curry?


No, I had him right behind Curry. I had Jokaj, Giannis, Luca, Shay, Curry, fifth, Kawhi, sixth.


Okay. Can I throw one more into the mix here?


For a trick team?


Just because the reason everybody's gone, Yeah, nice record, but whatever, and that's Oklahoma City. Because as you know this, I went through the top 10 youngest teams that ever win a title, and you've got the 15 warriors. So there is something in the modern era where you can go, It's not impossible.


You need a lot of luck with the rest of the league is what needs to happen. And they're not going to get that luck this year with some of the teams.


Because I think when you look at the West this year, you look back to last year, you're, okay, Memphis falls apart, New Orleans falls apart. Sacramento was like, Hey, cool story, but they're a specific It's a perfect matchup team. You have Golden State get them in the first round, and then the Lakers deal with this Memphis disaster. Denver is, I don't know if you'd say they're challenged against Phoenix, because Phoenix is trying to figure it out all at the last minute, and you had to have those two absurd Durant-Booker games to even make that series competitive at one point. But I never really felt like Denver was... Once it played out, I was like, Hey, Denver is going to win this thing. So then you have Denver going through a Lakers team that had a great matchup in the first round, a great matchup in the second round, and then Denver just gets through it all, and then they smoke a Miami team that was one of the most surprising final team of my NBA watching history. And now you go, Well, where's the easy path? It doesn't feel like there's the easy path. In Oklahoma City, they've got all these great numbers.


The one alarming one with them is why I was a little surprised there wasn't somebody to add at the deadline is their 29th, I think, in rebounding rate, which would check out with the eye test because of just not having enough depth or enough beef up front as great as Chet has been.


And Chet Insurance, we talked about that when we did the Trade Deadline pod. I can't believe that got outbid for Gaffard. I would love to know the explanation for that. It just feels like whatever Dallas gave up, OKC could have thrown in an extra 20 cents on the dollar and just gotten them. But it seems like they're really sold on this whole everybody on their team can have the ball and move and cut and handle, and they don't really have guys like that on the team. It's just a philosophy.


But here's the thing. You look at them against Minnesota, they split the four games. They're two and one against the Lakers. Kawhi didn't miss one of those. They're three and one against Denver. Jokuj missed one, Gordon missed one. Whenever I'm doing that season series stuff, it gets really frustrating now, even though guys have been playing more games. I know.


It's not even worth it.


Well, here's what I know, is that against the other top teams in the West, they've held up really well. So you can go, All right, well, the age thing, at least there's a warrior's example, and the rebounding number is scary, but look how they've done against these other big teams, and maybe they can spread a team out and win four or seven and all this stuff. But the other thing that I look at with them is they go, Their guys play. Their guys play all the time. Because they're young. The five to nine starters, right. Those guys have only missed 10 games.


All right? This is part of my case for them going 50 plus wins. Young guys play.


Okay, 50. The over-under is perfect. But does that mean they're playing at a maximum level? That's like, are they closer to their ceiling now In a way, a Denver isn't or the Clippers aren't, or whatever you think of Minnesota, or maybe Milwaukee is a great example of this. In that regular season, as we know how different it is, tricking us.


So you mentioned the 2015 Warriors. You go back and look at the League that year, the final eight. In the East, Atlanta defeated Washington, four games to two to advance to the East Finals. Washington was a final eight team. Then Cleveland beat the Chicago Bulls, four to two. The Chicago Bulls who had in that playoff series, Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose coming off of knee surgery, Noah, Mike Dunlevy, Old Pal Gasol, Taj Gibson, and Nikola Maritich. That was their top seven. Then in the West, Golden State beat Memphis 4-2 in that series. Remember, Memphis went up 2-1, and then they started just leaving Tony Allen wide open, and the series fell apart.


Print the shirt. Remember it well.


The other series was the Houston Clippers, the Josh Smith, Cory Brewer game, when the Clippers were about to advance to the West Finals, and then it didn't happen. My point is the league was, I think, significantly weaker than it is this year. It's no contest. I don't know how many of those teams you would even say could crack the top eight now. Maybe Golden State. I was looking at that Kipper team because I was trying to, after all the JJ first take stuff when Pat Bev was going at him, and I was like, Who was on that Kipper team? It was Blake, CP, Jordan, Reddick, Barnes, Crawford, Austin Reeves. Can you name their eighth man?




In the playoffs, it was Glenn Big Baby Davis was their eighth man, and Spencer Hawes coming in to give them some minutes.


Was it Rivers?


Rivers was their seventh man. They had Hito Turcalou played. He touched 11 games that year for them.


When Turcalou was done, he was- None of these teams had depth. He was done. You brought up that Noah series against the Cavs. I thought he was going to die in that series. Not like Dela Vadova. Dela Vadova almost died in the '15 Finals. Just hustling, which is an incredible stat. But yeah, Noah Noah never played. Noah turned out, he went from, I can't stand this guy to, I want him on my team forever. At that point with Tibbs, he was like, I might want to end his career because I just I remember Noah trying to run back, and that was it. He never played in the playouts. He played 48 seconds.


Pretty weak time.


The rest of his career.


Let's take one more break. We're going to do Hottest Takes, and we're going to talk about the Celtics. All right, so we're going to start a new segment, at least for some of these Sundays, where we do Hottest Take modeled after the Hottest Take podcast that we did. You can go find them. They're really fun. It's basically you're arguing a take. You don't have to necessarily believe it, but as you're making it, maybe you do believe it, maybe you believe 50% of it, maybe you believe 30% of it, maybe you believe 100% of it. We thought it'd be fun to do this, say these takes, and then the next day or two days later, it gets aggregated like they were a real take that didn't have this set up. That's what it feels like.


I don't think you even want to do the segment as much as you want to see somebody aggregate this.


It's just the aggregation culture in 2024, I don't know if it's ever been stupider, so I'm excited for that part. Anyway, do you want to go first No, I want you to go first. Okay. Mark Cuban, 2006. The Mavs blow that heat series, and the officiating had a big part of it, and Mark Cuban went on basically a Jihad to fix the officiating culture and more accountability, bring in a head of officiate. That was, I think, the biggest impact he had in the league for better and worse. Now, as I watch basketball 18 years later, I wonder if the Mavs had just won that fucking series, would we have to deal with all the fucking terrible officiating shit that we have to deal with day after day? There was a game today, the Lakers game, beginning in third quarter. There were three challenges/reviews in the span of a minute. The game just stopped for like 11 minutes. So I don't know if it's social media's fault or Mark Cuban's fault. I'm going to blame Mark Cuban because I think if they win In that series, none of this stuff happens. The game is just simpler to watch and there's better flow, and we're not getting two-minute reports.


It's not just us being constantly frustrated by how overthought all the officiating is, and I stem it back to '06.


I don't even think this is a take. I think this is a well-researched opinion piece.


Well, maybe next week it'll be hotter.


You break out the word processor.


When shit happens with officials, I just think of that finals. I'm like, God damn, I wish the Mavs had just won that. If it's just a basketball, it would just be a better place. All right, you go.


All right, here's what I think will happen.




I think the Pistons ownership could petition a league and say, We want Pistons Wizards best of seven, and if we can't beat them, we get to avoid Monty Williams' contract. Now, I know this will turn into a management employee dispute, but should there be some structure in any hiring process where it's like a Lemon law, but with people, where 60 days in, you go, Hey, all this was... We totally fucked it up.


Almost like a mulligan?


Yeah, we don't have to pay the 70 million. Because I just can't believe... I don't know that he watched any tape of last year's Pistons? For certain things to dawn on him that late that most people would league past to be able to figure out why are you... You were starting in closing games with Kylian Hayes, and then you waived him. The Kylian thing was insane. And unfortunately, I think the Pistons, what happens when you're bad that long and you've had a bunch of lottery picks and you start to talk yourself into some weird stuff Hey, we can maybe be competitive this year. And it felt like they wanted to get where they were supposed to get a year ahead of time. And granted, with Cade missing time, that didn't help either. But it just was such a bad fit of all of it. I keep track of it. The Pistons are now a half game behind the Wizards. Granted, post-Gafford. But watching the Wizards in person and thinking the Pistons have a worse record than they do, when there's players on the Pistons I actually like, and I still hold out hope for, it's got to be one of the worst coaching jobs in a long time.


Sal and Hous and Hinch and I bet on the pistons over at the All-Star break. The over on Fandil was 13 and a half. They had eight wins, so they had to go 6 and 22. I'm with you. I've been watching some Piston stuff. I'm like, This team's not bad. They're literally not bad. Now that they're actually, Monty's actually playing the right guys. I was like, I actually don't think they're going to roll over. I think the Wizards are going to roll over, but I I think Detroit is. I was watching last night and they're hanging with Orlando, and then Palo hits this crazy game winner against them. We're texting on the thread like, Oh, my God, tough Pistons lost. I'm like, How did I end up with money on the Pistons? Why did I do this? Why did I willingly make a Pistons overbet? But the point is, they actually have some talent. And just not playing Kylian, they're better. They're not giving him his 20 to 25 minutes and redistributing that stuff. I'll tell you this with the money thing. There's Spolster, what did he get? 15 million a year. Curr just signed the extension for two for 35.


It was one of the greatest things that happened to the coaches in the They're like, Thank you, money.


They changed it. They changed everything.


That's the new baseline for a coach now. It's like 15 million to get one of the really good ones. I don't know what Popovich signed for it. All right, let's do a little mini deep dive on the- Do you have more takes or you just have one?




It's just one? It's one each. Yeah. Okay. All right. All right. Celtics, 45 and 12, eight-game lead in the East, five games over anyone in the West. Their first and offensive rating, third and defensive rating. Their plus 10 and a half net rating, which has them tied for ninth all time. They're on a list that includes- Wait, say that again? Yeah, their ninth all time net rating right now. The list includes the 96 Bulls, 13.4, highest one. The 97 Bulls, the 2017 Warriors, the best team in the century. The 16 Spurs did not win the title. The '08 Celtics, the 92 Bulls, the '71 Bucks, the '16 Warriors did not win the title. And then they're tied with the '72 Lakers who did win the title. This is by net rating, the best team in the last seven years. I asked Sean Grande for this because I know he keeps track of weird shit like this. So thanks to Sean. They've had 35 games this year where they've been up by 15 points or more. They've had 24 games where they've been up by 20 or more. The '08 Celtics said 35. They're number one in rebounds.


They're number one in three points attempted. Their net rating stuff, their best five-man lineup, that's Best two-man lineup, Tatum and White, that's second, plus 12.6. Their best three-man lineup, Porzingas, Tatum and White or Porzingas, Brown and White, both of those are the best three-man lineups in the league. All the Porzingas numbers are amazing. The advanced stats say that this team actually could get a little better. I think there's a world... I think the Celtics feel this, too, that they might actually have another level to go to, and the only hindrance would be the fact that they have this huge lead for the one seed, and they don't really have a shitload of urgency. They're in an incredible spot right now, at least to win the East. With Denver staring at them, they know they could play with Denver. This is the most optimistic I've been as a Celtic fan since '08.


Okay, what do you think of the hesitation? Because there seems to be real national hesitation on them. I get text from people and be Can you really think they're that good? I was like, I think they're that good, but I understand your concerns.


Yeah, because I have the same concerns because it does feel like the right street fighting team, the type of team the heat had last year, The type of team the Knicks on paper could have when all their guys come back. Just a gritty, physical team that turns into an ugly game that's decided in the last five minutes, I guess, would be the hesitation. Then Porzingas would be the the other thing. What am I getting from him? Even yesterday, Joe Maz has him out there against the Knicks. There's two and a half minutes left. They're up 16, and Porzingas is running around. I'm like, Just take him out. Just every minute that this guy is healthy as we get toward April, especially with this giant lead. I don't want to see him in any danger ever. He's too important. Then Joe Maz, just the fact that he hasn't been there. Joe Maz right now, for any coach over 100 games, has the highest winning percentage in the history of the league by almost half a point. It's tough to nitpick. I think the best thing you can say about the Celtics is you're really nitpicking if you're looking for stuff.


They have a lot of answers in a lot of different directions. If the reasons you're going to ding them are, Tateum is too young, I don't love their bench, is Porzinga is going to stay healthy? You're nitpicking. That would be the case for them.


Lowest corner three percentage? I try to find stuff. I try to find stuff about, okay, when it's late, and we know they have the highest three-point frequency of any team, they take the most for their possessions. I did this, I think, a couple of weeks ago where I talked about Tatum on the isolation drives and that his free throw rate is way below all the other guys. People in Minnesota think, Ant doesn't get calls, and a lot of that becomes like, Ant doesn't try for the call the way Aluka does. Tatum doesn't try for the calls the way some of these other guys do. And clearly, the last couple of years, like Tatum's drives and his aggressiveness. When I think about the street fighting part of it, I I agree, but then I think back and then like, Hey, 27 other teams would take their playoff failures. And if they were really soft, don't they lose to Philly last year when they're down 3-2?


Or Milwaukee game 6.


Yeah, or go back to the Milwaukee. Think What about some of the Tatum resume games that he has for his playoff career already? You're going to tell me that guy can't get it done.


By the way, Tatum, still 25 years old right now.


Yeah. By the way, the other part when you start packaging it all in together because I saw somebody the other day in one of the shows say, Hey, this group has been together a long time. It's like, Well, not this version of the group. Two of the guys said. If you're knocking Tatum and Brown for 18 and not beating LeBron in game seven, They were just ahead of schedule with some of this stuff. You want to talk about a bad top of a conference, go back and look at that 18 East.


It was a joke. They probably should have lost to Washington.


They definitely should have lost to Washington. I couldn't believe at the time that they did beat Washington. There's these arguments that I'll hear, but then I think, think of all these other guys that have nothing on their resume, nothing like Tatum's game against Milwaukee that you up or the game 751 points last year. Yeah, I thought they lost to a better team in Golden State two years ago in the finals, and the offense got clunky and everything. But when I look at, hey, do they settle too much here? What are some of the clutch numbers saying? A lot of the numbers still look really good. So this fatal flaw of the settling three when they're closing out a game, I don't know how you're 45 and 12 if it's as big of a problem as the way it gets talked about. And you bring up the Knicks and going, okay, maybe when Ogie is back and whatever ends up happening with Randall, and I know they had him working out in street clothes the other day, but that's still a TBD with Randall, O'Gee seems far more optimistic about when he comes back. And some of these Knick numbers, you can say with two different players, is similar to Phoenix.


But run through the top eight in both conferences, if you go to the expanded standings, the Knicks are 12 and 21 against teams over 500. It's the worst record of any top eight seating either conference. And I know what a Knicks fan would say is, Well, we're not that team anymore. Okay.


Can we see it for three weeks?


Yeah, that's all. Can you just see put together a really good month with a bunch of nice win? And by the way, New York had their incredible stretch, even missing some of those people, which is just a credit to Brunson and how good he's been. But I don't know if it's fear or intelligence that tells you they can't beat a Knicks team in the playoffs.


There's two things that are just so people know that aren't really focused or watching them that much. There's two There are things that are just completely different about them now from last year. One is that they're more malleable than they were last year. They can go a little smaller, they can go a little bigger. The Porzingas thing, there's just games when the other team has no guy to defend him. If they try to do that fluky bullshit, put a smaller guy in them, the Celtics just immediately punish them. I think Joe Maz has been really good about that this season. We're not letting you guard Porzingas that way. We're going to immediately take advantage of that. The other piece is Tatum, where there's been subtle differences with him. We were watching, I was watching my old college roommate, John Richard was in town. We were watching the Knicks last night, and we were just talking about... Jay Ritz. Tatum, Fitchberg's own John Richard. We were talking about how Tatum bullies people a couple of times a game in a way that he just didn't do last I was thinking about him as a power forward in the 2020s.


You don't think of Tatum as a power forward. What is he? He's just a forward, right? We don't really have positions anymore. We basically have guards, wings.


He could play two guard if you wanted to, if it was a weird lineup. But yeah, you're right, he's a forward.


So he hits threes, he gets to the line, he can post up, he can pass out of double teams, he can rebound, he can switch on defense, and he's durable. But he also can play basically four positions for them because they could even play him at small ball center. They don't really do it that much, but I do think there's a world in the place where they could. But I was thinking about the power forwards we grew up with. So you go back to the early 2000s. Duncan, KG, Ceeweb, Dirk, Rasheed, Elton Brand, Pal Gasol, Jermaine O'Neill, Antoine Walker, Kenya Martin, Juan Howard. It was a real position with guys who they could post up, they Rebounded. They usually had 10 plus rebounds a game. They could protect the basket. Now you're going to 2020s, who are the power forwards? It's like, Giannis is definitely a power forward, even though he's probably really a center. Tatum, LeBron, I guess, a power forward now, or he's a power point guard. I don't know what the fuck he is. Randall, Lory Markinen, Towns, Palo, Aaron Gordon, Jibari Smith, maybe Jalen Johnson. But how many forwards do you think are averaging eight rebounds a game right now?


If you had to guess. I don't know off the top of my head. Go ahead.


Seven. Yannis, Randall, Tatum, Marconin, Jalen Johnson, John Collins, and Jabbari Smith. John Collins, so four. John Collins, so four. John Collins, randomly made it. But my point is, Tatum is this stealth asset as this 2020s power for it. I think we're going to see it in Team USA, too, because you need those forwards who can rebound but also shoot threes. He's a really unique asset. If you're going to make the MVP case for him, which I would not because I think there's better players, part of the reason this team is special is because how malleable he is now. The fact that he can rebound, he can defend, he can jump out, he's a two-way guy. I think his little gross in all these different spots, the stats don't really sum it up. The stats are pretty similar to where they were last year, but I test it's different. That's my little tatum rant.


Per is the same. Win shares for 48, almost to the dot, the box score plus minus stuff is the same.


Percentages shooting, all pretty much similar.


He's awesome. The only problem is that he's not ever somebody that people would say is the best player in the league. Because he's not. For Boston or for whatever. But if he ends up being the fifth or sixth or whatever, like, hell, I used to have a hard time when people put him ahead of Booker. But this year, I think you probably have to, even though I wish maybe Tatum had a little of that Booker, whatever goes on in Booker's head, that would be maybe the perfect version of Tatum. But then it just goes too far with like, Oh, he's not this. I just hear from my buddies, I'm like, You guys are a little spoiled with him.


He's 25. Just has to be mentioned. He's not the guy he's going to be yet.


I don't know. Whatever this is, this is incredible. My bigger issue was the Jalen Brown stuff. Okay. It dawned on me this year.


Should I refill my Michael Jordan Dream Team Cup before you go into this? How long is this going to go?


It's not going to go long because I'm going to pivot it back to you because you watch it more intently than I do. But Jalen has smashed through any ceiling I've ever had for him. I've said that before. Like in the draft, early on, okay, he's pretty good, but whatever. And then it just keeps going up and up. I voted him all NBA last year, and I didn't really... I know there's some of the analytics community would say that he actually wasn't as good or whatever, and that's fine. But I really try to pay attention to him more this year because I figured with Porzingas coming in, you just knew he's going to have less opportunities. And so some of the numbers across the board are down because he just has less shots. He is as good as anybody of making something out of something where I'm like, what? Oh, it went in again? There are so many positions with him where I'm like, he's just going to pull and turn around and hit a jumper from there.


If you freeze-framed it as he's midway through the move, you'd be like, Oh, my God, this is going to hit the backboard.


Right. Then if you're being honest, you're just like, It went in again.


He's a no, no, yes guy.


But I don't know that he does a lot of... He may take the pressure off of everybody else because he can find ways to score when everything's broken down. But I think he's really doing his own thing. We're this many years into I wonder if they get stopped again in the East, if that's the real... Because it was happening before Eme and the team had turned around. Remember how miserable it was watching them a couple of years ago? They had one of the all-time turnarounds, end up in the NBA Finals. Nobody's talking about breaking up Jalen and Tateam anymore. And that's not necessarily what I'm even presenting here, but I look at him and I'm consistently confused by this incredibly productive, talented player in a way where I'm like, is it as good as the scoring is? By the way, they're winning a million games, so it's not like there's this piece that's screwing them up and they're flirting with just being over 500, being a four seed. I don't know. I'm asking you, what do you think it is that I'm seeing? Because it just feels a little different, or maybe it's always been this way, and I'm just finally admitting, Yeah, he's an awesome player, but I don't know.


I can't tell if you're making the case for him or against him.


Exactly. Then you listen because that's what it feels like.


Here's the best thing I'll say about him. You probably knew some girl in college or after college who carried herself in a way that made her more attractive. There's something about the demeanor that was part of the package.


Perfect segue. Just in Aspen for a few days. You're Are you serious? Or is it the outfit?


He carries himself like he's one of the best guys on a team that's won five titles.


You're right.


He has the confidence and a little bit of a swaggerer of somebody who's actually done more than he's probably done. On the other hand, he's done a lot. I think he's played 100 playoff games already. Let's see, it's 109?


I have it up here. I'll grab it.


Yeah, he's been in a lot of big games. He's played against a lot of great players. He's held his own a few times. In the '22 finals, he was probably the best guy in the Celtics. How many playoff games?


We are at 112.


A hundred and twelve playoff games. Guys, guy has been in all kinds of situations generations. He plays in front of one of the best home crowds, and we know what his thoughts are. To me, he's another 90/10 guy where 90% of it's great and the 10% is really glaring. He'll have these moments where there would be a takeaway The ball is going the other way and he's dribbling and you just like, he's going to get caught from behind and they're going to poke it out of bounds. I know it's going to happen. Then it does. You're like, oh, man, Jalen. The 10% is really glaring with him. Everybody's got the 10%, though. My thing is he's definitely- Not his 10%, Because his 10% is like- It's a pulsating 10% of fully admitted. Is he overpaid? Of course. Is LeBron overpaid? Would you want to pay LeBron $50 million this year? You probably wouldn't. I think most guys, when you get over 40, they're probably going to be overpaid unless it's one of the five best guys in the league. I still think him and Tatum together, the fact that those guys really like playing with each other and care about each other, that's a really important piece of this.


Because even there's got to be that little twinge sometimes where it's like, Why isn't it me? Why isn't this my team? I don't think he thinks that way. I think those guys look out for each other. I was told a story, the All-Star Game when everybody was going for the MVP, it hit that point. I was barely watching the All-Star Game, but the East was up 20. So Dame was in there and Halliburton and Jalen Brown was going for it. And Tateam went to Doc Rivers and he said, Give Jalen in my minutes. I want to see him get MVP. I think those guys like each other. To me, that's a real dynamic. Those guys have grown up together, and I think they look out for each other.


That was talked about when they weren't playing well, right? It was those guys. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter. I think it's a really good point there. Although, as an aside, is it actually uncool to pursue the All-Star Game MVP now?


Well, maybe it is. I don't know. It goes in the records. Yeah, that's true. I don't want to pursue it.


I want to Definitive Bill Simmons line in the sand of basketball history where an All-Star MVP no longer means anything. Just give me the year. Tell me when it starts, because I do not want to hear- I think it started this year. No, it's already started previous years. I'm just saying I need you to be the judge and jury on this one. I'll go back and look. Go back and look, because when somebody's debating somebody, same thing as the gold medal thing, which is my least favorite, the sooner you have to bring up somebody's Olympic gold medal for their Hall of Fame case, the worst their case is. But if you're going to tell me it's not the numbers, it's not the titles, but he won All-Star MVP in 2028.


All-star MVP should not be used ever.


Well, there was a time when it did matter. You had to have They didn't have to.


In the 20th century.


Yeah, exactly. I like the theory.


A couple of people were saying how when Kobe, when his career was running to an end and he stopped making the All-Star Game, that's when the All-Star Game turned into something else because he really cared about it and it made other guys care because of how much he cared. Then Westbrook always really cared about it. There's always at least two guys that were like, I care, trying to win. Then other guys are trying. Now, it's like we don't have those guys anymore.


By the way, I'll give Westbrook this. He can't be on a court and not want to bust everybody's ass.


He's always going to be like, I'm going to try to get 20 rebounds. Yeah, I'm going to try to. Can I get 50 points?


He can't. There's no off button for him. So the All-Star game is made for him. If he gets back in one, which is probably not going to happen, he would win MVP. But yeah, it's back to the Jalen thing. Would you rather have Jalen Brown or two Derek Whites?


Two Derek Whites. I love Derek White. The bigger question to me is, is Derek White, does Derek White mean more to this team than Jalen Brown does. I think you could make the case he does, and there's a lot of advanced metrics that support it. But I still really value the Tate and Brown as a combo, and I like rooting for it. I like that we're in year seven or eight. We've been I've been talking about in this podcast for a while. I'm with you. I think if they blow it this year, if this year is disappointing in some way, and they're looking at having to pay White, having to pay Drew holiday, also having to pay Jalen 50 million, I don't see how all three of those guys come back if they don't win. Because they're going to pay White. I don't know what Drew's market is, and he sacrificed the most.


Yeah, I mean, his But look at the free agent list.


That's what I mean.


Could it be a Van Biet situation where somebody's like, Here's 120 million for three years.


Our team option, year three.


I have a monolog ready to go where I'm at the point after this trade deadline because we had already gone for three hours or four hours. I don't know if there's a bad contract anymore in the NBA. I mean, yes, there is Jordan Pool. Jordan Pool. But it's not about the existing contracts. It's, Hey, we're a bad team and we have cap space and we have to spend it on somebody. So even though you can't look at Drew holidays' production and go, This guy's slowing down. To your point, he's made the Ray Allen sacrifice.


He's so much fun to watch on defense, both him and White, just some of the team defense stuff they do. I would encourage people to watch the two guards when the Celts really have it dialed up. He's such a smart, jumping off people, jumping back, jumping in a passing lane, coming back out, coming down for a double team. His instincts, I never really watched him this carefully night after night after night, but his instincts on what to do. Then the way he protects the rim, him and White, I've never seen two guards protect the rim like this. They're two of the best shop walking guards of the past 10 years, and they're both on the same team. Anyway, there's a lot of pressure on this season, I think, because of the price tag that's coming. Teams are going to come after Jalen if they don't win the title, because there's not a lot of guys like him who have the experience he has in the production. He's still really good. He's still really good. It's like Rando. When the Knicks fans complain about Rando, it's like, Do you miss the 24-9 every night now that he's not playing?


And you're watching pressure Shetua airballing 11 footers from the foul line. Do you miss Randall now? It's nice to have the 24-9 every single night. Any other Celtics things you want to hit?


No. I think we'll get to it this season.


Porzingas, Tatum, and White, together, plus 15.2. Porzingis, Brown, and Wright, plus 14.9. Porzingis and White, together, really good. Any media stuff you want to do before we go? What'd you think about JJ against that first take, that whole media cycle? To me, it felt like there was no basketball on and people had nothing to do. So it was like, Hey, something happened. I have a lot of thoughts on it.


Maybe we do the Media Corner every week.


Media Corner, sponsored by something.


I don't know. We'll just end up getting everybody pissed at us because I just I don't really care anymore. I don't care anymore either. Here's the thing. I don't like First Take. It's not my show. It does well for a daytime sports show that... I mean, I guess the only other competition would be skipped, and watches that show anymore. The whole function of it, it was never a fit. If you've listened to me, you know I would be bad on the show. I'm not even saying it's anything personal about the show. I just know. Like, broadly enough, when I see JJ on it, I'm like, that's what I would be like on that show, but without the resume. And that's why I would never be on that show, even though, whatever, I stopped by a few times. They were like, Hey, do you want to defend them keeping the sign Yawky way? I was like, no. They were like, shit. He's okay with them changing it.


Are you sure?


It'd be great if you were like, no, it needs to stay Yaki Way.


Yeah, it's history, man.


Right. I think I still went on, and then I still somehow somebody turned it into like, because I was like, Who gives a shit? Let me just get that out of the way. It's not my thing. But I get JJ's point, but I also get the debate format. Hey, you can't come on and tell us all our topics are stupid. But sometimes I see something break out, And it's like, we're a debate show. We ask why Westbrook was criticized for triple doubles, and Jokić wasn't. We're a debate show. Hey, we're a debate show. We ask if Spolster's on the hot seat when they blow a 3-0 lead to the Celtics going into game seven. And you're like, what? So it doesn't mean, hey, we're a debate show. We just ask whatever the fuck we want all the time. But as somebody that worked on a talk show every single day, and Van Pelt and I used to get arguments about this, if somebody win a game and he'd go, all right, we got to talk about them. And I'd be like, well, do we? Do we owe them credit? Is there a topic behind it?


Because if there's not a topic where you and I can carry it for 7 to 10 then why are we doing it? And that's actually something I give first take a lot of credit on, is that even if you don't love the mechanism or where they get to is the question-asking point. It gets to the jumping off point. So it's funny in that I understood JJ's pain and how frustrated he was. But people also weren't wrong to go, Hey, what do you think we do around here?


He just shouldn't go on the show.


You really think that, huh?


He obviously doesn't like doing it. He gets to do basketball games. He has his own podcast. Who's making him go on first take? Just don't go on the show. If you don't like the format, don't do it. I wouldn't go on the show. I never went on it when I worked there.


Were you invited, Bill?


I went on once at the 2012 finals, and I did five minutes, and I had a good time. But in general, it's not the show I would want to do. I wouldn't want to exchange three-minute monologs and do the thing. I personally wouldn't want to do it. Because then when I saw- My question is, why is JJ doing it if he doesn't like it?


I think you do it because it's, Hey, you're going to come by once basketball season starts up and we get rid of all the football guys, and we need some more basketball people.


When I was watching him- But he's doing games now. He's on the number one broadcast team. Like, Van Gundi didn't go on that show. He doesn't need to go on it. Just don't do it.


I think When you're starting off and you get the opportunity to go do the show, you're like, Oh, my God, I get to do this show. But JJ, sure, fine. He's more accomplished. He's got plenty of money in the bank. Maybe he doesn't need to do it. I imagine there's some part of him that thought it like, Hey, this will be fun. Come on once a week and debate these guys. But I thought a lot of the arguments became a little self-serving like they always do in almost every single topic, in that if you're on a debate show, you are anti JJ. It's like, All right. And then I guess you'd be pro-Jay-Jay if you hate the shows. But look, you sit there in the pre-show and you go through all of these topics and you try to figure out a way to work yourself into the conversation you think is going to work on television Hey, what do you think of this? Okay, well, I've got a couple of minutes on that. And then the other guy goes, Oh, wait. I did the show enough. I don't know. I mean, my history with it is pretty funny, but I did it and I sat in those pre-show meetings enough.


And I actually think what they tried to do in the pre-show meetings was get the best stuff out of all the people that would be on the air and figure out the best way to the conversation. Now, sometimes it can feel a little like, Hey, I used to always make the blame pie joke. If you were just desperate, it's like a team lost a big game, and you were like, What's the topic?


And then does LeBron need to leave LA?


Then it would be like, Blame pie? Somebody would just sit in the room.


By the way, Blame pie is a great name for a sports debate show. Blame Just every show starts with a pie, and it's like, boom, grabbing a slice.


This feels like another Ringer spinoff where you could just have guys at the debate desk, and it's just called Blame pie. Then you just the first guy in the jib, he's like, offensive line, 17%.


Just random percentages.


Advanced Scout, 12.5%..


Offensive line, two slices. Oh, slices. You only get eight slices. Yeah, you only get eight slices to hand out. I'm making this a two slice choice.


Oh, my God. You could have a graphic with and then it gets filled up like a Trivia Pursuit piece. Yeah.


Actually- Half a slice.


Kyle, edit this out. Wait, what do you think, though? You have to have more depth than JJ just shouldn't do it.


No, I really don't because I don't really like those shows in general. I would much rather listen to the podcast.


Okay, see, most of us needed the opportunity. Most of us have asked, You didn't need it, and JJ It certainly doesn't either.


I'm talking about myself as a viewer, I just don't really consume the content. It's hard for me to imagine JJ going on there when it's a show that a year ago, somebody was wondering if Jokuj was stat padding. To me, that just seems like that would be fundamentally offensive to JJ to be on the show in the first place. But listen, that show has been, especially during football season, I think they just had the most successful season they've had. It's not like they're doing anything wrong. It's not a show for everybody. Like Zack Lo, I can't imagine on first take either.


It would have been hilarious if they were like, JJ, it's a debate show. He's like, But is it a stupid show?


I think one of the issues with him on that show is he really gets upset.




Yeah. You'll see him in the screen. He's just seeing.


Actually, when I see a clip of him getting pissed, it's one of my favorite things ever.


His steam is coming out of his ears. His thing about the ecosystem and about how way more people are going to care that he said what he said about Doc Rivers versus his breakdown of Zion. I think that's been the case since the early 2010s. It goes back further than that. I don't think anything has changed. But ever since we had Grantland, at least, I felt like that was the way it was.


That's an audience thing. The audience has told us more and more they actually want that. They want the breakout piece. They want the thing... We were making fun of the hottest take thing we were doing earlier in the pod. But when you went on SportsCenter, and it's not specific even to ESPN, it's specific to the industry in that, they'd be like, Do you have anything? And you'd be like, What do you want me to say? So you want me to go out there and say something like, Hey, remember they used to do this thing with McShea, where they were like, Do you have a bold prediction for this Saturday? And it was basically like, Pick something that's definitely not going to happen. Pick it. I don't know that it's because every producer doesn't know what they're doing. That wouldn't make any sense. They've been doing this a really long time. I don't think it means the host don't know what they're doing. I think it means the audience, whether they want to admit it or not, they actually are attracted to these things.


They are attracted to these- You could see it on the website. Of course. It'll be like the videos and the headlines will be like, Stephen A. Lays in the Carl Anthony talents. Then the next clip will be like, Perkins has had it with Dame Lillard. And then the next clip. And it's just, that's what they're selling now.


That's what- That's been going on for a while. But it's true. If you go on the site, you'll see the headline and it's just somebody's Had It with somebody.


And it's a freeze frame picture of somebody in mid-rant, like their head's going to come off their body.




Yeah, that's what they're doing these days.


Okay, but are they doing it wrong? I don't think they're doing it wrong. I think they're doing it right.


We already said we need to hold Josh Allen accountable.


That's my favorite. My favorite is when a guy throws for 300 yards, three touch towns, they lose 35, 27, and then Monday is like, Is this guy a winner?


One of the things I was thinking about adding to the Sunday shows is we just add 10 more people in the Zoom, and then about an hour, 20 minutes into the podcast, one of them just has a character assassination of somebody, and we go, Whoa, where'd that come from? Whoa. Kyle, Jesus. Hey, whoa. Then we don't push back on it.




We don't push back. It's wink-wink. We think it's funny.


Randy Scott hit on your wife, Cerruti. Jesus.


Whoa, where'd that come from? That's some of my favorite TV radio stuff. They'll let 17th highest paid guy in the show say the most controversial thing, and then you go, Oh. Rasella, when are you doing your podcast this week?


I'm taking another week off.


Okay. Back Sunday?


Tuesdays and Thursdays. We got Iguidala this week, so I'm excited about that. Iguidala. Yeah. We got the author of Napoleon coming on soon.


Did you like the movie?


I didn't watch it.


A lot of people were down on it.


Yeah, I'm sure, as a historian, at least in the last 200 years, I'm a hard marker.


Rosillo, good to see you. I'm glad we're back on Sunday. This was produced by Kyle Creighton and Steve Cerruti and Bob, who just shouted out a couple of horrible things that we had to edit out about people in the media. Bob. Maybe that's what we'll call the Bob just comes in. Just has these character assassinations. We go, Oh. Roussel, good to see you. I'll see you in a week.


I forgot to hit record. Just kidding.


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