2022-23 Season Predictions



[00:00:00] Dustin: All right, everybody. Welcome to the 307th edition of the Holy Backboard Podcast. I am Dustin here in Rip City, and I got my

[00:00:08] man

[00:00:09] Sage: Sage chilling Liven Direct already did one podcast this week talking about the upcoming season. So I’m actually warmed up and ready to talk about actual players and games in, in, in the podcast I was in with Tara.

[00:00:25] I forgot who killing Hayes was. I like, I had all these really important points. I was trying to talk about that. I just forget people’s names that I’m trying to like highlight. So it was a, it was a good warmup.

[00:00:37] Dustin: You’re, you’re being way too hard on yourself. You are. Saying you’re upset that you forgot about the Detroit Piston’s fourth or fifth guard, who probably will not get a second contract with that franchise?

[00:00:49] I, I, I don’t think the listeners will. They, they’ll be upset that you forgot about killing. No disrespect to killing. I, I’m sure he’s a very nice person.

[00:00:59] Sage: But it [00:01:00] was, it was about the rhythm of shooting. Cuz even in killing’s prime, he wasn’t hitting, catching shoots cuz he has bad rhythm. But he can pull up, he can do the pull up cuz he has the rhythm for pull up.

[00:01:13] So I was trying to talk about, you know, the different types of shooting and how that affects the rhythm. And I was like, who’s that? Detroit Piston’s backup point guard. Not C obviously not C Killian. And I’m like, Oh God, I’m rusty. I’m so rusty. It, it,

[00:01:28] Dustin: it’s, We took a nice break this summer. I’m

[00:01:32] Sage: not so good about it.

[00:01:33] Dustin: Believe we only did like two podcasts. We did the summer league recap, and then we had Tara on, uh, in September to kind of get. You know, you kinda, you know how you go back into the gym after a while you put up a couple jumpers. That’s kind of what that felt like. You know? Okay, like I see a basketball court, it’s a sunny day, let’s go put up some shots.

[00:01:52] And you’re like, Okay. A few of ’em went in, you know, you still got it. And so, um, I was walking today with Olga. We do our, [00:02:00] you know, we do a long walk every Sunday, and I was like, Really jazzed about recording this season preview episode. It is actually year number eight of the Holy Backboard. What with me and you?

[00:02:12] Oh. We started doing this on a regular basis, going into that 20 15, 20 16 season. We all remember Portland projected to win 2326 games. They win 40 plus, they go to the second round of the playoffs. Uh, that opening night was actually CJ McCollums coming out. Party dropped like 30 plus on your New Orleans Pelicans.

[00:02:35] Yeah, we were in the gym, as was I and I, I think I tweeted something like three beers deep. I’m ready to podcast, let’s get it. And that was my pinned tweet for like five years because it just personified the ev everything. And uh, so I was like, wow, we’ve really been, we’ve been here like eight years. I

[00:02:54] Sage: remember I said on this show, s Jim Cus gonna be Aaron McKee.

[00:02:59] I’m [00:03:00] like, damn, I was so wrong on the, the Future sixth Man of, you know, like Aaron McGee in 2001, sixth Man of the Year. He, he, he had a role on a contending team. I thought that was gonna be CJ and I was so wrong. And

[00:03:13] Dustin: me talking about if we wanna talk about being wrong, you gave me a choice to say, which Blazer not being gain could be an all star.

[00:03:20] And I was, uh, I was like, Oh, Myers for sure. Like, I, I had just, I thought he had it, He had a really good Memphis series like CJ did. I thought CJ would be good too, but I was like, I fell hook, line and singer for the big man who could choose the three. So we’re, we all have our faults, you know. No, no one is, uh, It’s perfect, but it’s fun to look back and see what you got right, what you got wrong, and, you know, never take it too seriously.

[00:03:44] Later on in this episode, we will actually break down the West one through 15. We will also say who we believe will meet in the Western Conference finals, as well as the Eastern Conference Finals, the NBA finals and Crown, Uh, a holy backboard [00:04:00] pre-season champion from myself as well as you. Uh, We’ll get into that, but I definitely spent quite a bit of time and it is difficult.

[00:04:09] I think it is a crapshoot this year, and I think there is a, I think that’s one of the reasons I have some optimism in terms of enjoying this season. I think one, one thing about being a Blazer fan or an Oregon sports fan in general is you do kind of get caught up in, uh, championship or bust mentality.

[00:04:30] Um mm-hmm. , you know, Oregon football has been almost to the top of the mountain twice. And the Blazers with, with, with Clyde and then with Rashid and Pippin like that, it’s so close and so you want to witness that championship and you kind of lose focus on why you watch sports. Like sometimes it’s just to sit there for three hours and just enjoy that moment.

[00:04:54] And so that’s what turn

[00:04:55] Sage: the brain off and wa watch the

[00:04:57] Dustin: game. Yeah, That’s what I’m trying to [00:05:00] recapture this year. It’s just, Did I have fun watching this game? Did they win? That’s awesome. Like, let’s just be happy for the night. Don’t worry too much, you know about, about the future because chances are the Blazers aren’t going to win the championship anytime soon.

[00:05:13] The ducks aren’t gonna win the championship anytime soon. But did I have fun watching that come back against Washington State? Absolutely. Right. So just enjoying the game and, and I think the Blazers, they did something different and, and I’m excited about what that different roster is going to look like.

[00:05:33] You know, we all knew that Neil Che left that covered pretty damn bear, both for the interim and the future in terms of assets. And there wasn’t some magic formula or equation that Joe Crowin could, could go out there and put on a whiteboard and suddenly say, Yes, this is championship material. That just wasn’t realistic.

[00:05:54] But what he could do is put together a nice mix of veterans and young [00:06:00] talent and something different than we’ve seen other than the past eight years. Right? Which we have the holy backboard era essentially. And you know, we’re gonna see what, what, what shakes out. Um, I think it’s also nice that we have certain expectations.

[00:06:16] Like I think just making the six seed and above would be a fantastic season for the Blazers, right? Like there, there’s no like, fuck, this team has to get outta the second round. They have to get to the finals. Like, there there is no, yeah, there is no just like burden of winning. It’s let’s play some fun basketball.

[00:06:36] Let’s do things a little bit differently. Let’s try and play some defense. Let’s throw some bobs, let’s get the crowd involved. Like let’s just switch it. and that that’s really what, what I am excited about. Um, Sage, did you do anything, uh, different the, this summer? Um, I know you took quite the long, quite a bit of a break away from, from basketball in general.[00:07:00]

[00:07:00] How did you spend your summer and, you know, are you looking forward to this season?

[00:07:04] Sage: So I organized the 29th, uh, multicultural fair in, in Medford and that took about all of my time and I, I learned a lot about, you know, working with people that are in a different age generation than me and the, the frustrations and how you have to really, really explain why what you’re trying to tell them is important.

[00:07:30] So it was really just like a work experience of just trying to communicate with. You know, other organizers, volunteers, people that in the community trying to raise awareness and get funds for the mid, for multicultural fair. And it was actually probably one of the biggest successes. Um, I was in charge of the entertainment in terms of like stage managing.

[00:07:53] And you know, when this, when you’re entertainer and especially doing like a community event where your [00:08:00] community goes to you, you expect there to be like people taking extra time. But because I was the stage manager, I ran that, I ran it so tight that we had 40 minutes of time to uh, you know, you know, if they wanna take five extra, if they wanna take 10 extra, it’s okay.

[00:08:18] Everybody’s gonna have their fair share of time. But when I was in charge, we ran a strict, strict time and then we ended early cuz we ran out of entertainers and I. You know what? That’s how you’re supposed to do entertainment. You’re supposed to stick to that time that everybody agreed to and we did it and it was very successful.

[00:08:38] And I think this was the first time that I ever got a sunburn in September cuz it was so damn hot in, in Medford, uh, a week ago. But it was a very big success. I’m very happy about it, but I’m very glad to not deal with organizing a community event cuz that is a lot of pressure on you and you’re not making enough money.

[00:08:59] You’re not, [00:09:00] don’t have the resources you need. It’s a very tough thing to do. But it’s my legacy now. I’ve been involved in it my entire life. I’ve organized it for the last four. So this is, this is what I’ve been doing. So the break from basketball was, was pretty great cuz I, I was busy but, you know, doing Terra podcast yesterday I was.

[00:09:20] Okay. I’m, I’m, I’m back in the swing of talking and thinking about basketball cuz that’s what I’m, what we do from October to, to hopefully July. But, so I’m excited about it. I have, I have expectations that we’re gonna be fun. I hope that we do certain things. But you brought up something just now that I brought up on Tara’s show, but I really wanted to save it for a discussion with you.

[00:09:46] You said there’s not a very good chance of us winning a championship this year with this current roster, right? Yes. Like so less than 1%,

[00:09:54] Dustin: I think like 5% max

[00:09:57] Sage: that we win a championship this year.

[00:09:59] Dustin: I mean, [00:10:00] five percent’s very low. Very

[00:10:01] Sage: low. Well, I, I did, Okay, so my question is, what is our percentage chance of shade Sharps reaches his.

[00:10:11] How much does that percent go up of us winning a championship? If shade and sharp is tr gets all the develop he needs, create has dribble moves where he can get to his own spot, he can run the offense because of his athleticism and his skill and his versatility. What is the percentage chance that we win a chip If shade sharp is the shade sharp that we dream about, How

[00:10:34] Dustin: long does it take him to get

[00:10:35] Sage: there?

[00:10:35] I mean, his entire career,

[00:10:38] Dustin: I mean again that that basketball team sport, right? Five on five and then you have to have a bench. You have to have depth, you have to have players that not only are are good on the court, they’re good off the court, they’ve got chemistry. Like it really just depends on the roster.

[00:10:55] Oh, totally. It does.

[00:10:56] Sage: I think hes the number one guy.

[00:10:58] Dustin: So championship is, [00:11:00] is hard to say because you need all of that now. You need of, Could we be the Boston Celtics with Jason Tatum? Could we be. The Clippers with Paul George. Could we be the Brooklyn Nets with, with Kevin Duran, that type of contending team.

[00:11:13] I think if he hits, you know, you’re looking greater than a coin flip, like mm-hmm. over 50%. Like those type of players, those archetypes that runs the current nba, like year 6, 6, 6, 7, can dribble past, shoot, defend, crazy athletic, uh, make it happen. Like you’re essentially Damien Lard plus height plus defense, right?

[00:11:37] Mm-hmm. , like, so think of how good Damien Willard is and what he’s meant. If, if Sharp is able to do that and then some, yeah. It’s, it’s going to be greater than 50%. And I think. If you’re Portland, and one of the reasons I, I love the, the pick of shade Sharp is it felt very San Antonio Spurs alike when they, David Robinson, and he had all of those great teams with [00:12:00] the, with Sean Elliot and Willie Anderson and Rod Strickland and, you know, then they kind of, he got injured and they, they ended up winning Strike and Gold.

[00:12:07] They get Tim Duncan and they start building that Tim Duncan era back up and, you know, obviously they win championships with Manu and Tony, but then they, they take this kid outta San Diego State, they trade a good piece in George Hill at the time and they get Kauai Leonard and then Kawaii Leonard starts to, you know, take that torch from Tim Duncan.

[00:12:25] So I don’t know what the percent is, but what I hope. Is that when Dame is ready to hang it up, that there is a willing and capable and able person to take that torch from Dame and, and, and hopefully it is shade and sharp because you, like, like Damien and Lard said, even when, when the draft was happening, I was the sixth pick, shade is the seventh pick.

[00:12:48] Like Portland doesn’t have a lot of lottery picks. There’s a lot of, uh, there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with being a high pick in this organization. So you would hope that whenever it’s [00:13:00] time, like he’s ready and hopefully we start to see glimpses of that. Um, but that, that’s really why I, I love that pick because you hopefully you could start to have that, that lineage that San Antonio was so successful in cultivating, uh, down in the Alamo.

[00:13:14] Yeah. Cause

[00:13:16] Sage: I guess championship is, you know, it’s a lot of luck. It’s a

[00:13:19] Dustin: lot of, it’s, it’s, so, I, I think luck plays more than 20% and it, any title,

[00:13:26] Sage: but I, I think that shade sharp, if he hits that peak, Is going to be like one of those transcendent wings.

[00:13:33] Dustin: Isn’t that why you draft him though,

[00:13:34] Sage: right? Yeah. Ex Well we could have gone safe there, but we, we took that risk.

[00:13:40] Dustin: You got, if you were a small market like Portland, you have to go big or go home. Well,

[00:13:46] Sage: I think that it’s any team outside of that that isn’t like a top five media market needs to do, Like Indiana absolutely could have gone shade and sharp there and I wouldn’t have blamed them at all. Like, you gotta take that explosive talent.

[00:13:59] [00:14:00] Like we know who the third pick was. I don’t think that he has the ceiling that shade and Sharp does at all. Like Keegan Murray might be safer, but he ain’t gonna win the San, the Sacramento King’s a chip because he’s safe. They’re going to compete for the 10th spot cuz he’s safe. But if Shades sharp becomes that elite transcendent wing that he actually ha has the ability to.

[00:14:29] It’s gonna help our team quite a bit. If Justice Winslow’s taking shade Sharp’s minutes, I’m going to be extremely annoying on social media for, for a while. Like, this should be shade in the show. This should be shade in the show. What are we doing? Just, you know what justice is, you don’t know what shade is.

[00:14:45] You need to, you need to cultivate him, you need to develop ’em. I love him. I think his dribbling is bad. He needs to learn how to dribble and do playmaking stuff. He needs to have that. So if you’re trying to make him as good as possible, [00:15:00] you might have to take some Ls or have a negative rotation when he’s there.

[00:15:04] Cuz he is learning. He’s 19 years old, he’s learning how to play basketball at this level. But if he learns and goes from Clay Thompson dribbling to Paul George, man, we’re talking about something extremely, extremely special.

[00:15:21] Dustin: So not, who do you think, who would you if you were the coach, You know, Dame Aunt Jeremy Yusif, that those are your four starters.

[00:15:31] Who are you starting at small forward? Is

[00:15:35] Sage: everybody cool coming off the bench? There’s no ego issues. You’re the coach. I’m going scared just because he doesn’t need the ball and can create his own with his, his uh, his athleticism and his desire. He can create stuff. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands.

[00:15:54] I feel like Josh Hart is kind of too skilled for sitting in the corner and [00:16:00] playing your ass off defensively. And then if you get the open shot, you take it. I think Josh Hartt should probably be there in the second unit to help be that, that secondary playmaker, like if it’s Josh Hart shade sharp and, and aunt, you got three capable ball handlers or two capable ball handles, and a guy that you hope is so, I, I would go next year as a starter, but there might be times where it’s just like, You know what?

[00:16:27] No, I was gonna say there might be matchups where Josh Hart is better, but I I I, I think that in year, as long as we’re not depending on him to be a knockdown shooter, it’s gonna be the, the better guy. Cause the small forward position’s loaded, there’s not gonna be that many games where it’s like, uh, the small forwards just chilling in the corner.

[00:16:46] Nah, we need, we need, we need him to regard those. Jason Tatums and those Kevin Durans that we were talking about, and Andrew Wiggins and all those Wings Edwards, there’s a lot of those wings out there and not that many people that have the potential to defend him. [00:17:00] So I would go into Nester, it might get fired,

[00:17:04] Dustin: but I would start shade sharp.

[00:17:06] Oh my God, my god. , here’s why Name McMillan in the summer of 2000. Made a brilliant decision to start 18 year old Nicholas Platoon. He played in about five to seven minutes at the start of the first and the start of the third. Now, I would give shade a little bit more run in those second and fourth quarters, but I, we, we both agree it’s who finishes the game that that matters.

[00:17:32] And for all of your reasons, I think Josh Hart should come off the bench as well. I think he is someone you can get, get him the ball and say, Get us a bucket. You can get in the ball, make a play. Like he could lead that second unit in the back court. Na year little would be my, my one B, uh, because he plays so well off of Damien Lard and he does bring the energy and he, he does hustle his ass off.

[00:17:57] Um, the [00:18:00] shooting is where I would, Yeah.

[00:18:01] Sage: Oh yeah. Do I, I think I, I like your explanation more than mine. So go off King. So

[00:18:09] Dustin: if, if we truly want. For, for Shane to get there and he’s, he’s working in, working in practice. He’s proving that he deserves some minutes. I’m playing him, I’m developing him. There’s not gonna be the burden for him to come in and be the second unit scorer or even be the first, you know, two or three options in, in that first unit.

[00:18:31] He’s gonna play with Damon Aunt, who are going to draw a lot of attention from the defense. He’s going to play it with a willing passer and use of Nichi. Jeremy Grant likes to cut, so I just feel like there are a lot of movement in spacing and opportunities for shade, not just to sit in the corner, but I mean, we’re watching these training camp clips and he’s dunking everything and yes, I know it’s clips, but it’s nice to still see off ball movement.

[00:18:55] Something we saw from NA year, uh, especially his rookie year, he had that chemistry with Dame. [00:19:00] Like, I would love to see what shade can do. Just as an athlete, you know, it’s almost Remini when Jerome Cury got brought up to the Blazers and he was just drafted as an athlete. Now I know Sha has the skill set, but Cury developed that jump shot.

[00:19:15] He was a menace on the break. Like he got the crowd involved. Like one of the main reasons the Blazers were not good last year is they just could not protect home court like, and Portland just histo for a long time has not been an exciting team on the break. They haven’t really gave the, the fans a reason to get up out of their seats and defensively it, it seems like they haven’t been able to stop, you know, anything.

[00:19:40] Mm-hmm . So that obviously quiets the crowd in an instant. I think, you know, you mentioned it, I think on a couple of podcasts, it goes Shade and Sharp could be our second best wing defender right now. So, If it starts terribly, If he gets two quick fouls, no big deal. You’ve got Josh Hart, you’ve gotten a Sierra,

[00:19:57] Sage: like, I, I love this idea.

[00:19:58] I love it. I love [00:20:00] it. You know, when I posted about how I think Shannon Sharp’s great. I got ridiculed, but I didn’t know that You chilling, that chilling there in your home. It’s like, Oh no, I’m gonna show him something. Change our brush. Smart smalls forward. I love it. I think it’s great ideas.

[00:20:19] Dustin: That’s that.

[00:20:19] That’s my guy. Yeah, that’s,

[00:20:20] Sage: It’s great. No, I agree with you. You’re right, I’m wrong. So I Yeah, you’re you’re, you’re the one That’s correct. Do you like my new steps? So Sonic

[00:20:29] Dustin: T-shirt, I was like, I like, I like the Yeah. The first

[00:20:33] Sage: hip hop band, man, that just proves that I’m holding hell. But yeah. I love your.

[00:20:39] Dustin: Another reason that I’m excited to watch this team now, they may not win that they, they may lose, but I’m, I feel like we’re going to be entertained watching this team play. And I feel like for the past couple of years, we have not been entertained watching the same show on repeat, like, like a really bad rerun that we’ve seen a [00:21:00] million times.

[00:21:00] Like, we’re gonna see something different. So

[00:21:02] Sage: I just got an idea, I think that you’re talking about making the team more exciting, especially on the break, right? Do you think that there’s a chance that Terry shots didn’t do it and Chauncey Bs didn’t do it because Dian Willard struggles playing super fast like that, that, that transition game?

[00:21:21] Dustin: I don’t where, So, you know me, I’m, uh, I’m a nineties kid. I, I grew up with the nineties blazers. I watch a nineties blazers YouTube game at least once a month, more in, in the off season. The reason that team was so fantastic on the break is because of their defense and their rebounding. Buck Williams scrubbed every rebound and after they got the ball, their, their athletes on the wings, they just booked it and they knew the ball was coming to them.

[00:21:53] Being a Fast break team isn’t just like, Oh, we have athletes. Oh, we’re gonna do it here, we’re gonna do it there. It’s a, it’s a mentality, It [00:22:00] is a mindset, and for so long the Blazers did not have the ability to consistently get stops on the defensive end of the floor. In turn, you know, those, those points in the defense into offense and we, we would always talk about the fast break points, like Portland’s dead last and fast break points.

[00:22:21] They’re not taking any chances defensively. Now, I, I, I think. Terry Stat’s, defensive philosophy played into that. But that’s also because of the roster that he was dealt, that he decided to just be a competitive team. They had to play conservative drop coverage, you know, not take any chances type of defense and just pray that you can outscore them cuz you have Damien loaded in Jim McCollum and at times Little Marcus Aldridge.

[00:22:44] Now I think they started to, Joe Caran really kind of addressed that. And what I was really excited about was, was the addition of Gary Payton I second and, and it was why I was [00:23:00] excited about Derek Jones Jr as well. And that just that that didn’t work again. And I think you need more than just one player.

[00:23:05] But I think they’re starting to realize that, hey, our style of play over the past eight years, like yeah, we made one Western conference final. But for the most part, we have to kind of change the way we’re, we have to, we have to take defense seriously. We have to do some things a little bit differently.

[00:23:22] We went out, they got Jeremy Grant, who’s a, you know, athletic capable defender. Um, we don’t know what we’re gonna get right from Damon. Ant Dame’s been hammered by an oblique injury. Could bat played a role into it? Possibly. Could that have played a role in Dame wanting to slow the pace down a bit, Possibly.

[00:23:40] But Dame to me is a player who, and we saw it with cj, if CJ’s hot, he’ll let him cook. So if he sees something’s working, he’s gonna let it roll. And so hopefully the player that I’m been on beside is Gary Pay in the second. And, and I really want to see him get out there and be that perimeter defender.[00:24:00]

[00:24:00] Lock some guys down, get the crowd involved, you know, steal, I mean he had so many highlight dunks last season with Golden State. Like every, every game he was either doing a reverse, a windmill, catching the lo like, and I also think lo passes in the half court, like Dame has to get better with that. It can’t just be Ant or Josh Hart.

[00:24:18] Like Dame has to improve there because you do have these athletes now. And that’s one of the reasons Derek Jones Jr. Didn’t succeed in Portland is because nobody could throw him a lot. Nobody. Well

[00:24:27] Sage: I think that his, the, this Terry stat scheme was just, so, this is how you’re supposed to play. He still made,

[00:24:34] Dustin: I watched him like make cut and like you could see him just like, kind of get dejected cuz the players just, they either, they weren’t used to throwing a lo or used to looking for cutters because maybe that’s what the system was.

[00:24:43] But DJ moved and, and I

[00:24:45] Sage: know, no, I, I think that Neil Che and Terry South didn’t communicate about what their scheme and ideas were and it made DJ look foolish

[00:24:56] Dustin: was a mismatch in heaven.

[00:24:59] Sage: I think [00:25:00] that with, with uh, Dame, if we don’t push the pace is because Dame’s saying I’m not good. Let’s not do this.

[00:25:09] Cause I remember in New Orleans, one and Chris Paul to push pace, push pace and Monte Williams did it for like 10 games. And then we just saw Chris. Paul gets so tired doing this fast paced thing. So if, if we get to pushing the pace and attacking fast breaks that then we stop. It’s because Damian Lard, it’s too much.

[00:25:32] Doing that type of pace is too much on Dame. So, but I, I think that it makes sense with the players and athletes that we have to, to definitely be aggressive defensively to try and get those easy steals and mo momentum busting plays. But I think there’s, there’s gotta be those two

[00:25:51] Dustin: guards pushing. I think there’s also a difference between pushing pace and being, um, Finding your [00:26:00] opportunities to run.

[00:26:00] And I’m more in the finding your opportunities to run camp. Like you get a steal, let’s go. You, you get a deflection, you’re going down there. Like, I think you can kind of take your time after a made basket, uh, after a made basket. Like we’re not looking to be the seven seconds or less sons where you’re taking the ball out of net and you’re running up and down the court.

[00:26:17] Like I, I don’t think that’s necessary to that level. What I wanna see is hands and passing lanes, taking a couple chances, um, blocks and you know, going down, throwing those logs, um, just finishing at the rim, getting to the foul line, like getting easy

[00:26:33] Sage: buckets because we just never did that ever. It just was not part of the, in the damn era.

[00:26:37] I don’t think we’ve ever been good at free getting free throws because who, who generates it besides

[00:26:42] Dustin: Dame? Yeah. And I think Dame would benefit from playing a little bit quicker in the open court. Like who’s a better shooter really than maybe Steph, Right? Like Steph is so good at just like, Oh, you’re gonna play off me on the break.

[00:26:55] I’m just gonna pull up like that. That’s a good look for Dame. That’s something that you should want And, and, [00:27:00] and aunt, cause I think his

[00:27:02] Sage: pull up

[00:27:02] Dustin: abilities alluding to like, you’ve got your hundred million dollar man in Anthony Simons, like, I think it’s time for him to take a larger role on, on the team. I know Dame is gonna be healthier.

[00:27:13] He is 32 years old, going to be 33 next summer. Has a lot of mileage on those tires. He doesn’t need to be playing 36, 38 minutes a night. Like he, you really have to lean on Amny to, to be that player that he was last season when, when Dan was out. Like, you, you invested a lot. You believe in am Forny. So lean on him.

[00:27:36] Get, give him a little bit more responsibilities. Like if we want Dan to last, we need to not run him into the ground and if it costs us two or three wins, so be it. But if he’s able to play, you know, two or three more years, It’s worth it. Take Yeah. You take that trade off. And so that’s why I’m looking for, you know, Josh Hart to play a little bit more.

[00:27:56] You know, obviously Gary Payton’s gonna get up there. Um, Jeremy [00:28:00] Grant, like you’re probably not gonna get your 18 shots a night like you did in Detroit, but there’s gonna be nights where you’re gonna be the future piece, you know, use of as well. Like, I think you have to really lean in to this team concept.

[00:28:11] And I’m not saying Dame’s not a team player, that’s the, the opposite of it. But too many times we’ve been in games because it’s just dame’s bailing us out and, and that, that, if that is what we’re seeing early on, you know, we can, we can call it a wrap and just, you know, hit the fast forward button on the season because it’s not sustainable.

[00:28:27] Like, the key for this Blazer team to have success is for everyone to just to buy in, embrace their roles and, you know, just take a little bit of that burden off of Dame. Doesn’t have to be all of it, but he, he, he needs a lighter load. Yes,

[00:28:42] Sage: but I think that, If we are going to be good at all, Damien Lard needs to be the alpha of the team and his, the way that he bends the defense is going to be the reason that Jeremy Grant shines or use of, or aunt or shade and sharp who’s gonna [00:29:00] start, or, or Nair.

[00:29:02] It’s because of how dynamic of a player Damien Willard is that those players get those easy shots to be the best that we can be. We have to empower game and make it easiest for him. So if there’s games where he can just chill, let’s do that. Because he is caring. He’s gonna be carry a big ass load of the offense this year.

[00:29:24] I mean, that, that’s been the thing since he’s been the man in Portland, is he’s gonna be the one that does the, the breaking and bending of the defense. It’s not going to bery Simons who doesn’t go into the paint much. It’s not gonna be na year or shade right now because they’re not great triers like.

[00:29:42] The reason this offense is gonna be successful is because of Damien Lard. So let’s do our best to protect Damien Lard for the long run. I, I feel like Blazers fans right now are really short terming what they want from this team. Like we have to win games, we have to emphasize winning [00:30:00] games. I mean, is there really a difference between the seventh and the eight seed now?

[00:30:05] No. And there isn’t. If giving Dame a lighter load lets him be more productive in the playoffs, and if Shane and Sharp getting more Playmaking role this year helps him in the future to become that transcendent star, I’m willing to take some losses in order to get that. Cuz I think Shane Sharp in his potential is worth that, that investment of maybe when he’s in it’s a net negative because he’s learning how to break down the defense and he hasn’t played competitive ball in two plus years.

[00:30:39] But I, I mean, I, I think we both agree that everybody has to take that, that little extra bit of responsibility. But the person who’s stirring the drink, and I, I believe this is a, Dustin ha’s quote, Damian Little is the person that stirs the, uh, Portland Trailblazers drink. That was from like 10 years

[00:30:59] Dustin: [00:31:00] ago.

[00:31:00] He is, And speaking of Dame, uh, there was an article written by Chris Haynes where he interviewed Dame. And, and one of the reasons that he decided to not request a trade, uh, last summer or 2021 last summer, was he wanted, you know, he, he, he understood how close he was in, in the record books to being. Mr.

[00:31:23] Trailblazer, uh, to have his name atop all of the, the leader boards and the statistical categories, and, you know, just doing some, some rough math. He’s really close and he could achieve two major milestones this year. Uh, I believe he is what, four, 500 points away from passing Clyde Drexler, uh, as the all time leading score or in franchise history.

[00:31:43] Um, you know, Drexler had some really great quotes about Dame and also mentioned if the schedule’s lined up to be in attendance for that. And that would be really, that’d be awesome. That would be a nice touch, especially if it was a home game. But I also didn’t realize he’s only 800 assists away from, [00:32:00] uh, Terry Porter.

[00:32:01] And so that, that could happen this year. It could, or it’s six or 800. It’s one of those two, but it’s, it’s less than a thousand. So he has a chance to get there at the end of the season or even at the beginning of next season. So, um, there’s gonna be a lot of records that are going to, to fall that have stood for a long time and that Dame could maybe put out of reach for.

[00:32:22] Decades, generations, so, so to speak. And so, um, I do, it’s weird. I go back and forth between thinking this is an important season and it’s not as important as before. Uh, on one hand it’s really important because I don’t, I think if Dame breaks the records, but the team just maybe their ninth or 10th or they don’t even make the playoffs, they losing the plan and they just don’t show a lot of growth.

[00:32:47] I think the father time could be telling them, Okay, let’s know you got your records. You’re gonna be remembered forever here. Let’s, let’s go win somewhere else. I, I still think that’s a possibility. On the other hand, he did [00:33:00] sign that mega contract. I, he doesn’t seem like someone who wants to ask out. Like, I think he’s always gonna be looking like, how can we improve?

[00:33:07] What can we do next? And on the other hand, maybe if you get bumped in the first round, but you showed some improvement, you liked what you saw from, you know, na year and shade and you know, you basically got the whole crew coming back then, then I could see, you know, Dan being like, Yeah, well let’s run it back.

[00:33:22] I feel healthier than ever. Like, we’re gonna, we’re gonna be fantastic. You know, just give ourselves another year. So it’s an important season. Um, but I also think there is a, a realism in just how deep the Western conferences, um, and we will get into that in just a little bit, but it was, it was really difficult seating those teams because not, there’s only a handful of teams that I, I could guarantee aren’t gonna be contenders.

[00:33:48] The rest. I mean, you could really, the weby,

[00:33:50] Sage: the, the, the people thanking for Weby. What’s that? The people tanking for the first

[00:33:55] Dustin: pick overall. Yeah. There’s, there’s only a couple tankers out there. The rest are, are gonna go [00:34:00] and really try and, and and compete this year. But Sage, uh, I know we’re spending a lot of time on, on Dame, but did, have you seen the statement Jerseys The Blazers released that Dame supposedly, uh, designed.

[00:34:16] I

[00:34:16] Sage: told Tara this is, this looks like a jersey I can design on NBA two

[00:34:20] Dustin: K. Thank you. Thank you. I know it’s a sweet story that, you know, Dame Art Director designed it and all I can think about is, you know, teams are under too much pressure by Nike and the NBA to create New Jerseys When you’re having to start to tell these types of stories, like Love Dame, Bless his heart, Don’t quit your day job.

[00:34:40] Like the, the jerseys just, aren’t it? Like I, I saw so, so you hate ’em

[00:34:45] Sage: Cause I’m just on in the me I don’t care.

[00:34:48] Dustin: Think, think compared to our previous, I mean, the Blazers have. One of the best home in the way. Jerseys just the classic jerseys are fantastic and they’ve really hidden outta the park on some of the city [00:35:00] and some of the, the statement jerseys in the past.

[00:35:02] Um, so I have a very high standard, like you go back to the, the 2020 season when they had the, the classic 77 Red Jerseys. Those were beautiful. And they also had the city addition. The cream was, the cream was probably my favorite. Those were fire. And so then when you see just like, oh, it’s a pinwheel, and like, it just kind of looked like a practice jersey, uh, to, to, to be.

[00:35:24] How

[00:35:24] Sage: do you know how many games were required to wear those jerseys? I mean,

[00:35:28] Dustin: they’re gonna wear ’em on opening night. I know that for sure. Okay. Um, I, I

[00:35:32] Sage: mean, dude, it, it’s, it’s, it’s for me and I, I, I wear black gray and those are the two colors. Cuz I don’t wear white cuz I stain in it. But like, like it, it feels like something that.

[00:35:48] I could easily do in two K.

[00:35:50] Dustin: Yeah. I, I saw the design. I’m like, I’m not feeling it. I don’t, I don’t love it.

[00:35:56] Sage: Um, I think that they were doing the dame thing to [00:36:00] save face for producing me

[00:36:04] Dustin: jerseys and, and up in the Yeah. Like up in that revenue. Yeah. But it’s, it’s funny though, like, like, this is

[00:36:11] Sage: Damien Lard.

[00:36:12] You can’t hate this. Damien Lards a great guy. You love him. Here’s this me shitty jersey. Yeah. Like, they wouldn’t, they, they wouldn’t connect the story if it was dope. They, they just wouldn’t, They’d be like, Look at the, look at what we designed. And Damien approves obviously, but look at how dope this is.

[00:36:33] But that’s not what they did. They were like, Yo, your favorite player helped design it. It’s a, it’s a game. It’s a game. And it’s obviously a game. Ma’am, we’ve talked about this damned team for eight plus years, so we, we know it’s a game man. But I, I, I mean, like, I, I, I know Blazers fans in their, their desire and tastes for aesthetically [00:37:00] pleasing stuff.

[00:37:00] I knew that Dame wasn’t gonna be, that that dam ain’t saving them from people saying that this is meth to bad . I mean,

[00:37:08] Dustin: you’ve got Blazer fans who started an uproar because the, the radio broadcast and TV broadcast crews weren’t gonna travel. And all of a sudden back, I mean, so this is a passionate fan base.

[00:37:18] Like even the, the littlest thing, like no, no detail goes un uncover here in Portland. It’s, it’s, it’s one of the gifts in the curses of kind of being the only small market franchise where, you know, this, this is Portland, the, the trailblazer are. Are the city, they are the state, they are the region. It’s, it’s the only basketball franchise until you, you know, south to Sacramento and west to probably frigging Minneapolis or Salt Lake City.

[00:37:45] So yeah, it’s, you know, we’re, we’re out here, we are the upper left coast. All of the way out here in stage two. Bad roots sports

[00:37:52] Sage: won’t broadcast it to people that, uh, like streaming instead of cable, cuz who can afford cable these days? Anyway,

[00:37:59] Dustin: [00:38:00] there there is. So I’ve been contemplating, it’s called like Evoke TV and it’s like 30 bucks a month and it’s based off of an antenna and it’s just, it’s a little receiver and antenna and you get a bunch of channels.

[00:38:11] I’m thinking about testing it out, is it does. Appear on. Yeah, there’s, yeah, you get, you get the Thorns games, the Blazer games, uh, the Mariner Games. Um,

[00:38:20] Sage: dude, I haven’t watched a Mariner’s game in so long because of the blackout rules, and I’m on nba, no MLB

[00:38:26] Dustin: tv. I’m, I picked the Blue Jays this year as my team and I, I’m, I, first of all, I really like baseball.

[00:38:33] I, I forgot how much I enjoyed the sport. So it, it is really the most wonderful time of the year for me. Like just got done watching some phenomenal women’s basketball in the W N B A playoffs. Uh, so happy for the ACEs. Uh, Chelsea Grays just a magician. Uh, the women USA women just won, uh, the, the FBA Tournament, uh, defeating China.

[00:38:56] Believe it was Saturday night down in Sydney, [00:39:00] Australia. You obviously have post-season baseball kicking off, uh, this weekend. Uh, you have NBA pre-season, you’ve, if you’re into the nfl, the NFL starting. I like college football. College football’s already like in week four, week five, So like, this is.

[00:39:14] Everything like this is the best time of the year. So I’m incredibly, uh, happy that, you know, September and October are, the calendars have have shifted, you know, summer returns in the fall, and I am ready to go. Before we go into our predictions, I do wanna get to our fan questions that we have. Sage, this is from Haah at your boy, between Keon, Trendon and Jabari.

[00:39:41] Which young player not named Shade, do you expect to show the most nba Do you expect to show the most glimpses of NBA star potential this year? I don’t think

[00:39:54] Sage: any of ’em have star potential. You have to pick Sage. That’s the question. I, I [00:40:00] think Star is too high of a height for those three, but good player.

[00:40:07] Sure. I, I, I think that.

[00:40:13] I have faith that Keon it. I think Keon has improved a lot, but I would probably go as Jabari Walker showing the most as like a, I think Jabari has the best chance of being a good player out of those three, but I don’t think that Jabari Walker will ever be a star. I think he’ll be a good player, but star potential.

[00:40:36] But there’s not that many stars, so I don’t think tho, tho those three players have star potential. But if Jabari Walker has the best chance of being a good NBA

[00:40:45] Dustin: player, I have levels to my answer. Keon Johnson is the best player of the bunch, but because of Portland’s guards death guards depth, he’s not gonna get a chance to show it this year for this team.

[00:40:59] I [00:41:00] think Jabari Walker long term is probably the best role player of the bunch. I, I just think he’s gonna be solid. I don’t know how much playing time he’s gonna get this year. I, Portland, is he our fifth big? I, I, I don’t maybe, but the player I’m picking for this, I think Trendon Watford is the one who’s going to show the most this year because Portland has zero height.

[00:41:23] It’s Nerc and that’s it. So if Watford can beat out Drew UBank, he’s the backup center, and he just is coming off of winning Summer League mvp, he’s gonna get an opportunity. That’s the reason for my answer. It’s like this year, it’s trending long term. I think it’s Jabari, but I, I still think the best basketball player of the bunch is Keyon Johnson.

[00:41:43] I, I think unfortunately for him, I think this is a bad situation for him to be in because what Portland has. Already exists. Yeah. So, um, I I think he could be a mini Gary Payton the

[00:41:55] Sage: second. Yeah. I think that Gary Payton, the second is the most, like if we’re talking about top end [00:42:00] Keon Johnson, outcome, Bruce Brown mittens, it’s one of those two.

[00:42:04] It’s, they’re the same archetype. But I think Keon Johnson has something that Gary Payton struggles with and that’s dribbling, I think that Ken Johnson has the ability to be a play maker, cuz he sure as how did it in Tennessee with that God awful spacing. So he, I I, I’ve seen him do it. I’ve seen him be that I’m driving to the hoop if somebody helps the ball’s going there and I’m not getting an assist cuz my teammates suck, but I’m gonna pass it.

[00:42:31] So, yeah, I think he, I think Keon is the best player now. I think Jabari could be the best player later. I, I, you know, I don’t, I have a love hate trend in with watching him in lsu.

[00:42:44] Dustin: I, I get it. He ain’t my. He just played really well in the summer. I was really impressed.

[00:42:50] Sage: But there were games where you were talking to me about how not good he was

[00:42:55] Yeah,

[00:42:55] Dustin: he got it. He put it together at the end. Uh, I give him like [00:43:00] there’s time, but also he’s not gonna have free reign to try and take away. Oh, absolutely. He is reigned

[00:43:06] Sage: back. Yeah. So

[00:43:07] Dustin: reel him back in.

[00:43:09] Sage: But when I saw it will be good reign back in. That’s the

[00:43:13] Dustin: question. I, Yes. Yeah, that’s, you’re gonna be in the league or you’re not gonna be in the league.

[00:43:17] Not everybody gets the rock. Like you have to be able to when you get the rock. The 10th

[00:43:21] Sage: option on

[00:43:24] Dustin: I Question from Pete underscore normal on Twitter. Even our GM believes this team is not ready to contend for a championship. What conceivably available player or players do you think could get us to that tier?

[00:43:40] And who are you willing to give up to get them?

[00:43:44] Sage: Availability is the key on this one because right, right now there isn’t a dearth of upset superstars. Kevin Duran agreed. You

[00:43:54] Dustin: gotta wait a couple of, I I think he also is like, the question is like, at a deadline. Like who, who are you going after [00:44:00] or in the off season?

[00:44:03] Do we have

[00:44:04] Sage: money to offer him?

[00:44:05] Dustin: I, I mean, I know that No, we have no money. No, I think we, we, This is our team. This, this is, Yeah. Neil Che made us, This is our team. If you make the playoffs, you’re losing that draft pick to Chicago. But then we have it, right? If we make, Yeah, but then you have it. But you don’t want to do a Billy King and just give up your

[00:44:22] Sage: No, no, no, no, no.

[00:44:23] But we would have it next. In two years, right? If we give

[00:44:27] Dustin: 25 is technically the, so if we give it up, 2025 is the earliest pick we can trade. We have to make that pick and turn. Oh, I’m not talking

[00:44:34] Sage: about trading buddy. Boy. I’m talking about drafting . I’m not trying to trade first round draft capital, like it’s nothing.

[00:44:42] Dustin: Uh, I think it’s through 2028. God, if we don’t make the

[00:44:45] Sage: playoffs, But if we make the playoffs, then it’s, it’s gone.

[00:44:49] Dustin: Ours free and we have ours forever

[00:44:52] Sage: until, so we do something done until we, God, it, Robert Covington,

[00:44:59] Dustin: [00:45:00] Larry

[00:45:03] Sage: did so much more work for Gary, uh, Robert Covington. That’s why. But to answer this question, I don’t think that that person’s available.

[00:45:12] I think that if we had the assets, it would probably be be a wing player. But you know, it, it, it, it all depends on how things shake out in the gear to target someone. But I think that our best chance of getting a superstar is developing our young wings and guards in ants, Nair, and the, the shin char. Yep.

[00:45:37] Dustin: That, that’s, that’s the answer. I, I don’t know if anybody’s gonna like that answer, but that is the answer. The answer is internal development. It has to be that, uh, you have to get that develop, you have to get that, that boost from aunt that he can go Allstar here. You gotta get that boost from this year that he can be starters here and say healthy.

[00:45:55] Yeah. And you gotta get that boost from shade that he shows that superstar potential. [00:46:00] Like you have to have assets to be out to, to be able to go out there and get somebody who’s ready to play. Right. If you’re another gm, you’d be like, Well, na year keeps getting hurt. And obviously you’re not trading an forny, obviously you’re probably not gonna be trading shade and sharp.

[00:46:17] I mean, why would you just tank a season and then just say, No, we’re gonna move you. Like Kevin Duran’s not on the market. Jason Tatum’s not on the market. Like you have to wait and see. So like

[00:46:29] Sage: this goes back to what’s called, Would you move Shane, Sheriff for Pascal? The outcome? No.

[00:46:34] Dustin: Okay. No Pa Pascal doesn’t move the needle now, cuz.

[00:46:37] Jason, Jason k Kevin. Yes. Yeah, they, they move the needle. So like we

[00:46:41] Sage: had this, but those guys are probably worth eight first round picks that we don’t have access to

[00:46:46] Dustin: it. You know, we talked about this in the summer when, when, uh, during the draft, like when they were talking about like OG and an Obi and I was like, OG and Obi right now was the difference between maybe like the seventh seed and the fifth seed.

[00:46:58] Like it’s not [00:47:00] worth the price to pay to move up to, and he gets hurt

[00:47:02] Sage: often too. So we might be rocking. Ronda Hollis, Jefferson at the three while OGs recovering from whatever s him.

[00:47:12] Dustin: So Portland is, is banking on. I also think this, this can’t be a one year thing. We can’t panic and say Dame’s 32, we have to do everything to just like win now.

[00:47:24] Like that’s a bad philosophy. You have to believe. Obviously the organization does to some extent. That Damien Lard has five more prime years left in him. Four, four to five. You give him all that money there, there has to be a belief that he’s got that much left in the tank. You don’t need to go out and just blow everything in year one.

[00:47:46] What you want to see now is gradual progress. You want to see how does Jeremy Grant fit in with this roster? Does use of NE have another tier? Can he go to Allstar tier? Can he just be consistent? Can he be that beast? He was in the bubble. Josh Hart is a [00:48:00] fabulous player. How does he accept his role? How does he fit in with this team?

[00:48:03] How does GP Two fit in with this team? Right?

[00:48:05] Sage: Like you Little is a lot more tradeable. If he plays 82 games at

[00:48:09] Dustin: a high level, you know Jabari Walker, who you kind of stole it in that draft, can he become a valuable role player off of the bench? Like that’s found?

[00:48:17] Sage: If, if Jabari Walker becomes what we expect him to become, that’s found gold that we’re not really even thinking of.

[00:48:25] If a guy getting paid, what was this? Pick 50th

[00:48:29] Dustin: 50. Eight there. The teams got their picks removed from it. He was the second to last pick the draft. So yeah. So like he was a 56th, right? 56 or 57.

[00:48:39] Sage: Yeah. So he’s not getting paid a lot. If he becomes a $7 million player, we’re paying him pennies for the service that he provides us.

[00:48:54] So the, I think eternal development is where we find that star. There’s just, we, the cupboard is [00:49:00] super beer, like teams like New Orleans and teams like Oklahoma City and San Antonio, or like teams that are trying to improve San Antonio shouldn’t be on that list, but they can overpay on draft fix because they have a large supply.

[00:49:15] We don’t have that, that, that ability to do so because we are so poor. You also

[00:49:22] Dustin: have to look at it. Do you wanna pay that? Like NBA trade assets are. I think suffering, uh, at the expense of inflation, just like we are at, at the gas pump right now. Right? The price is high. Did you see what it costs to get Donovan?

[00:49:35] Mm-hmm. . Did you see what it costs to get Rudy? Go Bear Dete Murray. You don’t wanna be paying top of the market prices like we did with Robert Covington, so you have to just wait for the price to come down for, for a bit too.

[00:49:48] Sage: So, and we have to have the assets in order to make the, We aren’t beating anybody’s godfather offer nobody.

[00:49:55] Like if O K C says Screw it, we’re done thanking, [00:50:00] Is anybody beating their Godfather offer? Nah. If New Orleans says, You know what, Zion, CJ branding or made enough, let’s get us a superstar to go with him. We hate beating that offer. So

[00:50:12] Dustin: that, that’s why my philosophy is just enjoy each game. Like it’s this, this is the roster, like hope.

[00:50:18] Hopefully it’s fun. Like just have fun. That that is the goal. Like I know that sounds cheesy and just. Maybe not what people want to hear, but I, after the past couple years, like, let, let’s have some fun. Okay. Like 2020 was a, a nightmare, especially outside of basketball. But on the court, clearly injuries just ruined that.

[00:50:42] Post Western conference, finals run 2021. The, the team just did not gel. The roster was not what we thought it was and couldn’t even be the depleted Denver Nuggets team in the first round. And then 2022, um, it was a carbon copy except for injuries took over and it [00:51:00] was a tank vest tank. It was a dumpster fire for the second half of the season.

[00:51:03] Like, I don’t know about usage. I just wanna watch some, some fun basketball.

[00:51:07] Sage: I would like to watch Blazers basketball where I’m not incentivized to play two K while I watch Blazers basketball because the Blazers basketball. I don’t wanna watch Brandon Williams ever play basketball again. Like ,

[00:51:22] Dustin: like, not like the offense, but yeah.

[00:51:24] We don’t wanna be watching Kagen Blevin. Like,

[00:51:26] Sage: Yeah, like I, I, I don’t expect us to, I think the tanking experiment is done now and we’re gonna play some competitive, I wanna see us play with heart, cuz I don’t think we played with heart for a very long time. Do we have any more question

[00:51:44] Dustin: predictions? Nope.

[00:51:45] All right.

[00:51:46] Sage: Are we’re going, we’re going 15

[00:51:47] Dustin: one. What is 15 to one? 15 to one Western conference. I will let you do us the honors. Who do you think will be bringing up that rear dragon, that wagon in the west?

[00:51:59] Sage: So [00:52:00] I feel like the Spurs are the worst team because they don’t have, they only have one point guard and they have no adults.

[00:52:08] They have no

[00:52:08] Dustin: adults. This is how many adults they have. Pop,

[00:52:10] Sage: Pop. Popovich is, Popovich is really, really, really Transcendently. Good.

[00:52:16] Dustin: Do you forget how bad he was? He was okay with being for that Duncan Draft. Sure. Robinson, David Robinson went out, they won like 17 games, bro. Not even the, the Juan Dixon, Steve, Blake Ser, Serge Mania, Victor cpa Trailblazers won 17 games.

[00:52:33] They, I, I

[00:52:33] Sage: guess pop might be with pop. I mean, they had to let pop know, Hey, we’re gonna trade your superstar. I I, I can’t put them at 15. So I put the Houston Rockets. But here, here, here’s what the I was looking at after I did my list, I put Vegas totals. So Vegas totals has the rockets at 23.5 games, uh, 23.5 games.

[00:52:58] One. Do [00:53:00] you think that that is an appropriate, uh, amount of games? Would you go high, lower? Is that just perfect?

[00:53:07] Dustin: How many did they win last

[00:53:08] Sage: year? Very good question.

[00:53:15] Dustin: Like when you get in the low, that that is a, you have to be like, not only bad, but wanting to be bad. Like you have to absolute just

[00:53:25] Sage: hot guard. Cause wicke they were 20 and 62, so they would be a

[00:53:30] Dustin: five game improvement. I mean, I don’t wanna spend too much time on the Houston rocket, so, But would you go

[00:53:35] Sage: highly or low push.

[00:53:37] Okay. And I got these from, uh, Draft King Sports book and they’re really difficult for any edge. So who is your 15th

[00:53:50] Dustin: rank team? I have, so I, I think earlier I said that there’s four teams that will not make the playoffs. I think there’s almost a hundred percent chance that four of these teams will not be Yeah, the, the, [00:54:00] the, the tanking tier.

[00:54:01] So it doesn’t really matter where I have them ranked. Mm-hmm. , we’re gonna kind of just run through them. Pretty quickly, but I, I put the Spurs at 15 just because they traded Dete and they don’t really have much to show for it. Like Devon Skeldon Johnson, like I, at least the Houston Rockets have a guy like Jalen Green.

[00:54:20] Mm-hmm. , Kevin, Port Jr. That could maybe Carrie to them to a couple of wins. And they also have j uh, Jabari Smith. So like, they, they’re trying to build a little bit. I don’t know if they’re gonna fully just tank, like, I think the four, bottom

[00:54:33] Sage: four. It wouldn’t surprise

[00:54:34] Dustin: me any. Yeah, it’s interchangeable. But I, I have dispersed, I, I mean, Trey Jones as you’re starting Yeah.

[00:54:39] It’s real bad that, that, that’s, that’s really, really bad. They’re clearly trying to do something different in San Antonio hitting the reset button. Uh, I have them 15. Who do you have at 14?

[00:54:50] Sage: And Vegas has them at 23.5 wins as well. So I have the Spurs at

[00:54:55] Dustin: 14. Okay. Yeah, that, that’s, that’s totally fair. Um,

[00:54:59] Sage: 14.

[00:54:59] They’re gonna [00:55:00] suck. They’re going to be garbage water. Even though Dev and sells a future superstar. They’re gonna be hog. Whoa.

[00:55:07] Dustin: Super. I would take out of that, that, that description.

[00:55:10] Sage: I like l I think he’s a good player, but he misses much

[00:55:14] Dustin: on that is a gap larger than the Grand Canyon. He was my number three

[00:55:18] Sage: guy in the draft that we did an exhaustive amount of, uh,

[00:55:22] Dustin: research on.

[00:55:23] Uh, number 14. I have the Utah Jazz. I almost put them 15. They may have more talent on paper than, uh, the San Antonio first, but I have a feeling that culture is gonna be garbage. Um, I, I think it’s a little bit. You know what Danny Ain wants to do there? They, they want to just completely blow it up. They’ve gotten, they’ve already gotten rid of Bo Donk.

[00:55:45] They, they got rid of Donna Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Roy, Roy O’Neal. I mean, it’s only a matter of time before Jordan Clark Clarkson gets moved. Uh, Mike Conley Jr. Gets moved. Like I envision there’s gonna be games for Clarkson, probably shoots of all like 30 or 35 times. Like him [00:56:00]

[00:56:00] Sage: and Co sexton are gonna be the best, worst combo guard pairing ever where they can be hot as hell one day and then miss the easiest pass ever.

[00:56:09] Dustin: I forgot they got co sex and yeah, that, that’s going to be just like poor Ochi

[00:56:13] Sage: Baji.

[00:56:16] Dustin: Yeah, it’s just a weird mix. Match Lowry marketing’s on that team. I mean, Walker Kesler, I mean, talk about at least the Spurs. I’m almost talking myself into flip flopping and, but I already have it written

[00:56:27] Sage: down in my, I have it written down.

[00:56:28] But yeah, like we’re doing an excellent job of convincing ourselves that these teams are

[00:56:32] Dustin: Yeah, the jazz, they’re, they’re going to be just discombobulated as is how I would describe them. Who you have at 13. I have the jazz. Yeah. Yeah. It, it’s,

[00:56:43] Sage: they’re, that’s bad. I think that Colin Sexton, if you’re into yearly or daily fantasy, he could be exclusively good in a late round pair.

[00:56:53] All he’s gonna do is score. He can’t, he, his vision is

[00:56:56] Dustin: almost as bad as aunts. At 13, I [00:57:00] have the Houston Rockets. Mm-hmm. , um, Hopefully they’re actually ready to play basketball. I mean, I still believe in Steven Silas to be Yeah, they, they kind of did John Wall dirty there just by not letting him play at all.

[00:57:13] Even he’s like, I just wanna, I just wanna play basketball guys. And they’re like, No, you’re gonna be too good. Like, kinda like, who did for Eric Blood? So, but they did that to John Waller, our entire series. You’re gonna be too good . Yeah. Please, please don’t play. Um, I like what they’re doing in Houston. I like sh uh, they got rid of Christian Wood.

[00:57:30] Um, they went out and obviously they, they drafted, they killed Bar Draft. Yeah. They got Hi Smith and Tar Eon. Mm-hmm. . And they got, um, Tie Thai, Tie Tie Washington. Like they’re gonna be bad, but they’re gonna be young. They’re gonna be fun. I think you’re gonna wanna tune in to watch them play. They’re a good league pass.

[00:57:46] I think this is the, the season to see like Jalen Green. Are you able to put the team on your back in stretches and get a couple of wins, or are you just gonna be kind of like a highlight real fun player to watch? Like where is Jalen Green going? Like [00:58:00] what direction is he going to lean towards? That’s what I’ll be looking forward when I’m thinking of the Houston Rockets.

[00:58:04] Sage: Okay. Off topic, but this is what we do. I remember I asked, would you rather Cole Anthony, or Jalen Green, who would you rather have to start your franchise with?

[00:58:13] Dustin: Uh, I think Jalen Green, it just has more star potential. Yeah, I think so too. Right.

[00:58:16] Sage: But I think Cole Anthony’s got, um, I have Oklahoma City at, uh, at uh, 12.

[00:58:22] I do too. Well, I, I, it was going to be in those four slots. Eventually we’re gonna pick someone that that’s the same.

[00:58:30] Dustin: I just really like Shay Gilders Alexander and Josh Gid. For Shay’s sake, I hope they just actually let him play basketball and stop shutting him down after the Allstar break every single season.

[00:58:42] I think that’s, that’s disgraceful to do that every single year. And they, they

[00:58:45] Sage: have Trey Mann, who’s also a good point guard. They have, they have some good players that’s just, they haven’t been,

[00:58:53] Dustin: Jaylen Williams is mm-hmm. , unfortunately, chat Holmgren is out for the year. That would’ve been fun to watch him play in, in the [00:59:00] limited action we got.

[00:59:00] He, he showed why he was the number two pick, but,

[00:59:03] Sage: um, still so much time for him to be that superstar that I know he can be. So, yeah, that,

[00:59:10] Dustin: that’s a tough, tough injury to be, to be dealt with. Either he can come back like Joel Bead or he could come back like Greg, like, you just don’t know whether this is or going to, to linger.

[00:59:19] So that’s a bit of a bummer for that, that franchise. But now we kind of get into the teams that I think have a legitimate chance at one through 11. Could make, the playoffs could be almost separated by, you know, if we’re talking about certain teams, just the variance for these 11 teams is off of the charts.

[00:59:41] Um, but who do you have, like 11?

[00:59:43] Sage: I have the Sacramento Kings who are projected for a 33 win season. I think that they’re obviously the worst of the playing type teams. They, I mean, so bonus at the center is going to give you a set of problems. I don’t think it’s [01:00:00] possible to fix unless you have Miles Turner.

[01:00:03] Like I, I don’t know how that you can play off him in his, his deficiencies as the center and as a defender. I think that the Sacramento Kings are gonna run a really fast pace, be a fun offensive team, but they’re gonna be like the Blazers where they just allow points in every single possession. Cuz it, it’s, it, it’s free.

[01:00:24] It’s free to the room. You can just take all the paint points that you want with

[01:00:28] Dustin: Savona at center. So after the Seattle Mariners clenched a wild card berth on a pinch hit, walk off home, run on, on Friday night. The Sacramento Kings are now in the hot seat for the longest active playoff drought over the four major sports.

[01:00:46] The Mariners had been in there at since 2001. Kings have not made the playoffs since 2000.

[01:00:52] Sage: Wait, and was that the Mariner? When is that? The Each row year, The last year that when he

[01:00:56] Dustin: was a rookie. Well, each row was on that team. I think that was Each’s first, [01:01:00] second, or third year.

[01:01:00] Sage: Yeah, he was, it was a very young, Each hero.

[01:01:03] Yeah. And

[01:01:04] Dustin: then a lot of shitty deer. It was a long time ago. So what I’m saying is I really hope the kings make the playoffs and I wanted to put them in the top 10. I just don’t, unless significant injuries happen to a couple of teams, I don’t see it happening. I do like what they did this off season. I think Kegan Murray is going to be good for them.

[01:01:25] He showed the type of player he is capable of by winning Summer League mvp. You also have the, the addition of Kevin Herder. Um, they still have hairs and barns like. That they have Fox, Dia, Mitchell can, can bring in there that perimeter defense, like they have a good team, they’re starting to go in the right direction.

[01:01:45] I just, I look at the top 10 and I just, I can’t put them in there quite yet. Yeah, it’s tough.

[01:01:50] Sage: I, I agree with the 33 win, uh, Vegas total. Like I, they there better than the tho those four shitters, but they are [01:02:00] not competing with some of

[01:02:01] Dustin: those teams in the west. See, I think they’re gonna win more than 33. I think.

[01:02:05] So you would, you would go

[01:02:06] Sage: the over on that one? I would too, but

[01:02:08] Dustin: I think it’s gonna be like, I think it was 2007, 2008 when it took almost 50 wins just to make back when it was the top eight to make the playoffs. Like you had to win a lot to get in the Western conference playoffs, Uh, Portland was a surprise team and went 41 and 41 and missed the playoffs by a few spots.

[01:02:26] So I think you’re gonna have to sniff 500 to make even the top 10. But now that we are talking left top 10, who do you have at number 10 this year’s age?

[01:02:36] Sage: So this is where I disagree with the Vegas totals a lot. I have the Minnesota Timber Wolves because I truly don’t, I don’t know how Rudy Gober and Cat are gonna work as the four five, and you gave up a lot of assets to get Rudy Gober, and I’m not sure about the fit, so I put them at, at a, at 10, but Vegas seems to love them at [01:03:00] 48.5 wins.

[01:03:00] So maybe I’m just wrong here, but I, I just don’t understand the fit. Like you have Delo, you have aunt, you have, I don’t know who the three’s gonna be, but that pairing of four and five is just so weird where like, I, I just don’t know if it’s in work. So that’s why I put them at 10.

[01:03:19] Dustin: At I I’ve, when I get to the timber ropes, I, I have similar thoughts as, as well.

[01:03:24] Uh, at 10 I have the Dallas Mavericks. Ooh. Um, I feel like the Mavericks are. A team that really took a step backwards this off season when they really needed to go forward. You know, after making the, the conference finals, that historic game seven, taking down the, the mighty Phoenix Suns, you know, Luca becoming basically the next face of the, the mba and you add Christian Wood, which I like.

[01:03:56] They only gave up a first one at gender though. I still think he’s [01:04:00] gonna be marvelous with like, Luca is going

[01:04:02] Sage: offensively, he is gonna be fucking

[01:04:03] Dustin: awesome. Yeah, yeah. Losing their second best player in Jalen Brunson for absolutely nothing. Not doing any other additions. Yes you do. Get Tim Hardaway, Jr. I have a feeling Luca is on that same early Cleveland Cavalier path as LeBron James, where he’s just not gonna have any help.

[01:04:23] And I just don’t think he’s as good of a defender as LeBron. Like he’s, he’s up there offensively Playmaking

[01:04:29] Sage: as he’s Spencer did what he’s gonna do, provide a lot of what, uh, Ronson’s

[01:04:34] Dustin: gonna do. But the problem was they were so good together. Yeah. Full three. So it’s not enough. Like I think they’re gonna, I think they guy to

[01:04:42] Sage: rely on Josh Green to be a good basketball player, and I

[01:04:46] Dustin: don’t know.

[01:04:46] That’s, Yeah. If you’re relying on Josh Green, I like my number 10 pick for the Dallas Mavericks. Yeah. I just don’t know defensively where they’re gonna get their stops. Um, you can’t let Luca dribble the ball into oblivion, which has caused a [01:05:00] rift between his teammates in the past. Mm-hmm. , Um, I, losing Jaylen Lorenzen, I think was a, a massive blow for the Mavericks who had so much momentum.

[01:05:08] And I think they just kind of ran into a brick wall right there. Uh, who do you have at number nine? The

[01:05:13] Sage: Portland Trailblazers. I, I have questions. I, I, I feel like if we run the sim a sim of the laser season, I think nine is gonna be a very popular spot that we land in. There’s a lot of good teams in the league, man.

[01:05:27] Um, and I think that we haven’t addressed the spacing issue. So I think that that’s gonna be a, uh, a thing that haunts us the entire year. Is it? We’re going to, as of right this second, we’re gonna make Damien Lil’s life harder than it, than those other superstars in the league. Like I, Trey Young, I gets supported so much better than Damien Willard has in his entire career of making his life easier.

[01:05:54] So this is just another year of we have talented players. Yes. Do they fit with [01:06:00] Damien? I’m not convinced of that. And the Vegas have. The Blazer’s that 39.5 wins. So what do you think of that win total? You’re muted. Uh, I would

[01:06:14] Dustin: take the over. Okay. I, I would too. Um, and you’re not wrong. I, I had a really hard time placing the trailblazers as well.

[01:06:22] Um, really six through 10. What was difficult for me. I feel like 13, The West is kind of in tears a little bit. Um, but the team I have at, at number nine, maybe outside of the Blazers or even including Blazers, has the highest variance of where I could see them landing. And it’s the Los Angeles

[01:06:44] Sage: Lakers. Oh, I would, I agree with you.

[01:06:48] Well, honestly, I had 14 teams for the longest time on my list. I was like, Who the fuck is that 15 team that, Oh, it’s LA Lakers. I forgot where they, I, I should put them. I forgot they exist. [01:07:00]

[01:07:00] Dustin: If you’re playing two K Yeah. The Lakers are gonna be good. What, what? It’s not two K, it’s real life. It’s a 82 game grind.

[01:07:08] Yes. Real personalities exist in real life. You still have LeBron James, but LeBron James is turning 38 years old in like two months.

[01:07:17] Sage: Anthony Davis has never been a healthy

[01:07:20] Dustin: participant. Anthony Davis, I, I don’t think is capable of carrying a franchise. Um, this three point guard deal they’re doing with Schroder, Pat, Bev, Russell Westbrook, like that’s just

[01:07:33] Sage: a whole bunch of mid, and I, I hate saying that Russell Westbrook is mid, but in this point of his career, he’s mid, I mean, Russell Westbrook has made me money for years.

[01:07:44] I love Russell Westbrook. But on this team with this lack of shooter, like. Who’s shooting the ball well on this team.

[01:07:55] Dustin: And that’s where I say the variance pops up because I think if the Lakers were [01:08:00] smart and they would move a couple of picks, you have, you still have LeBron in ad like that. That’s why if you could go out, well

[01:08:06] Sage: they don’t have picks cuz they traded

[01:08:08] Dustin: the mall for h they could trade the 27 and 29 picks.

[01:08:11] And they were in talks with Indiana, like, get yourself healed, get yourself a miles turner. Now you’ve got yourself a fucking squad that I think is probably the best team in the west. So that that’s, they’re very close to being upper echelon. But as it’s currently construc on October 2nd, I, I don’t like this team.

[01:08:31] I don’t like how, how they are construct. I don’t like the spacing, the lack of shooting. I still think LeBron’s gonna have to do everything. Like they have lost a lot from that championship team when whether you’re talking about Contavious, Calwell, Pope Cal, Kuzma, Alex Caruso, like. They, they, they, they, two years of LeBron, like Anthony Davis played the best he’s ever played, and now he kind of really, he just has completely regressed Well,

[01:08:55] Sage: that the degenerative Achilles injuries, like it’s [01:09:00] not being talked about enough.

[01:09:01] Yeah. But it’s, I think Darvan Ham’s a legitimately good coach. Did you? I I was on TikTok and somehow Blake, uh, a Lakers TikTok appeared on my feed. Guess what? His favorite album of a time is? Reasonable Doubt Paid In Full Bar Being Rahe. All right. Okay. So I dar I believe in Dar Ham because of that, and I, I, my, I didn’t want The Blazers to get Dar because I, he’s going to use the strategies that work.

[01:09:32] He’s not gonna be creative and build the scheme out with the players at hand. He’s just gonna use what’s out there that works and use it. Charles Lee would’ve made things so much better, but

[01:09:44] Dustin: who do you have at number eight? The New Orleans

[01:09:47] Sage: Pelicans. Okay. Be, I think, I think that, I don’t know how’s agreement, I don’t know how it’s gonna work with Zion, BI and cj, like beautifully.[01:10:00]

[01:10:00] Dustin: Maybe It could be. It’s gonna be you’re, you were in for some gorgeous basketball this year. That’s, that’s what I’ll say.

[01:10:06] Sage: That’s all I will say. I, I worry about our spacing because who shoots threes besides cj? So it, it, it’s good.

[01:10:17] Dustin: I think there are different ways to win in the nba if you have the right players though.

[01:10:21] That’s all. I have never seen it.

[01:10:24] Sage: I, I’m, I, I’m, I’m putting us the date. It’s fine. Like I’m gonna watch as many games as I possibly can. I think it’s gonna be fun basketball, but I think that I might be bitching about spacing.

[01:10:35] Dustin: Okay. Um, at the eighth spot, um, I think this team is in line for a let down this year.

[01:10:44] Um, think of it maybe the Blazers post Western conference finals, um, teams that have kind of maybe made surprise runs in the past, Utah with Darren Williams and Boozer. Um, the Memphis Grizzlies I have at number eight, I, they won last [01:11:00] year with John Morant injured quite a bit, but that’s because they Atti Jones and they still pick really strong defense.

[01:11:06] They, they surprised a lot of folks. Jareds hurt. They are really going to Miss Jar Jackson, Jr. Who was out for at least the first two months of the season. That just means

[01:11:15] Sage: Xavier Tillman’s gonna rock the spot.

[01:11:19] Dustin: Yeah, that’s, it’s not what the, the Grizzlies are looking to do, uh, at all. They, they gave Steven Adams just a big extension in Oh, big old extension.

[01:11:27] If you watch the playoffs against Golden State, he wasn’t even starting. It was Brandon, right? Yeah. Or at Tillman. Like they, they completely played Stephen Adams out of the, the playoffs and so I think he’s a regular season guy. He’s a regular, seasoned guy. I love, so I, I really do. I I love the Memphis Grizzlies.

[01:11:45] I love watching them play. I think there are a few grownups away from, from really contending, uh, I love the back court of John Moran and Desmond Bain. Um, I like Zaire Williams. Um, I

[01:11:59] Sage: hope he [01:12:00] takes Dylan. My names sakes spot.

[01:12:04] Dustin: I think I like, I like Dylan Brooks. I, he gives him that attitude, which, what they, which, which, what they play on.

[01:12:10] But I don’t know if he’s willing to accept a, a lesser role, bro. Did you see how he played basketball with,

[01:12:16] Sage: on the God court? He thinks he is the best player on the team, which is a great mentality to have. But he takes shots away from j John Moran and, and all of those good ass players. Yeah. Cause he thinks he’s that good.

[01:12:30] So I think, I think there’s a, a double edged sword with Dylan Brooks, where he’s got the mentality. He also has the mentality that can shoot them out of

[01:12:39] Dustin: games. Yeah. I really wonder about their, um, interior defense and their ability to, Well, especially without jj. Yeah. I think they’re gonna get exposed from the defensive end.

[01:12:49] I think it’s going to be an uphill climb. They’re start off,

[01:12:52] Sage: I think they start slow. Do you think that uh, j Jackson Jr. Can be that center? Cuz I, I think that [01:13:00] he’s, he has some issues dealing with legitimate size. That’s why they paid Steven Adams all that money. But I think when they’re actually, when they’re competing, it’s Triple J being the

[01:13:12] Dustin: center.

[01:13:13] I don’t think him at center was the reason they didn’t beat the warriors. Like they, they needed just another wing. They Oh, totally. Totally.

[01:13:20] Sage: Yeah. I think that there’s issue like, I mean

[01:13:22] Dustin: he’s first team defense, you just, he’s got the

[01:13:24] Sage: Chapari Smith syndrome where he is a little too small to be the five and you know.

[01:13:31] All right. So what number are we on next? Seven? I have the LA Lake. Okay. Um, it, it, it’s, it is really hard to say LeBron James doesn’t make the playoffs, but we’ve seen it a few times this year in the last few years. So it’s like the evidence says that they’re not, but it’s so hard to count LeBron 80 and what’s left for Russell Westbrook out.

[01:13:56] So put ’em at seven. I mean, I forgot [01:14:00] that they existed on my board. They were my last place team. So like the last team that I placed, not my last, Yeah. But, so I, I don’t know, seven

[01:14:10] Dustin: again, I’m, I’m making a change here right on the fly. I haven’t got to it, so I am going to change it. Seven. I’m gonna go Minnesota.

[01:14:17] Um, had them at six. Really hard team to place. I absolutely hate how much they gave up. Vegas

[01:14:23] Sage: has them at six or seven. So

[01:14:25] Dustin: yeah, I Vegas really dislike how much they gave up for Rudy Cober. He is a regular season guy. He will improve their defense. I, I, I think that team is just gonna get exposed in the postseason.

[01:14:40] Um, I know we’re talking about regular season and where, where teams land, but I think Dean Angela Russell’s the wrong point guard for that team. Um, he gonna takes usage away from Anne. Yeah. Is Ru Eagle Bear gonna, are you gonna run offense for Ru Eagle Bear? Uh, how

[01:14:56] Sage: is Carl Anthony Towns gonna guard those fleet footed [01:15:00] fours that are in the league?

[01:15:01] Like I can, I could imagine Jeremy Grant dropping 25 on him relative, like it’s just gonna be, get the edge and fucking attack, and then

[01:15:11] Dustin: is not able to punish teams by going inside. It’s gonna be lights out. We know town wants to stretch the floor shooting the three. And we know Ru Gober traditionally has not been able to take advantage of post ups against smaller defenders.

[01:15:25] So why not just go small, spread them out and just attack. Mm-hmm. , I feel

[01:15:31] Sage: like a, a smaller athletic for would make Ka incredibly frustrated. Yeah. I just remember Lamar, like a Lamar Oum build would fucking destroy Ka because of his, the, the length and the athleticism. Like I remember Lamar Odom would annoy the absolute shit out of David West.

[01:15:53] I feel like Ka has those issues in his game where he is not, he doesn’t move as well as you really think he [01:16:00] does. Like NBA two K would have you think that he’s a, he moved really well. I don’t think he pre particularly moves well for a five, let alone a four.

[01:16:11] Dustin: And then I think they lost a lot of intangibles.

[01:16:12] Uh, Jared, Daniel absolutely did a lot of dirty work for them. And Pat Bev was the, Who’s their starting three? Jayden McDaniels. Yeah. That doesn’t sound sexy. No. So the reason I have them at, you know, seven ahead of, of Memphis Jar and Jackson Jr. We obviously don’t know what the lake is gonna do quite yet, but I think they’ll be good enough.

[01:16:34] I think they’re gonna be energized. I think Ru Goberg gives them at least a jolt. I just don’t know if that’s gonna be enough. Uh, who do you have at six?

[01:16:41] Sage: I have the Dallas Mavericks with 48.5 wins projected. Mm-hmm. , I mean, like we, we talked about Luca. He, he, I mean, I think that he’s gonna, he’s a generational talent.

[01:16:51] You can’t really keep generally useful talents that are that big, that strong and know themselves that well out of the playoffs. So I, I [01:17:00] think that there’s a chance that anyone from nine to to to four can finish anywhere. I mean, I, I have faith in Luca to be that all world basketball player, so I have them at six and uh, I mean, Vegas loves ’em.

[01:17:17] I think Luca’s amazing. So I feel, I feel good about that one.

[01:17:22] Dustin: If I’m an opposing coach, I basically double Luca the entire game. I just say if you, you, you’re gonna lose some nights with Tim Hardaway Jr. Getting hot or Spencer Ty. But like, I don’t let Luca dictate how the game is playing. Are you boxing warning him at the entire game?

[01:17:37] Boxing one. You’re basically doing what the New Orleans Pelicans did to Dame. Yeah, but even higher, like you’re doubling him at half court and just you’re taking him completely out of the offense because I don’t think they have another player. They don’t have a CJ to help

[01:17:49] Sage: them out.

[01:17:49] Dustin: No. Nope. Um, at six I’ve got the Trailblazers.

[01:17:54] Um, it’s interesting. [01:18:00] It’s kind of tying back to the podcast started in 2015. I was actually really excited about that season. I was, you know, really looking forward to not watching Willmar Aldridge take a bunch of turnarounds. And I know he left, but I was like, I, I wanna see Dame lead this team. I think they’re gonna be scrappy.

[01:18:16] I think they’re gonna be gritty. And, you know, I was excited what CJ brought after that, that Memphis series. And we brought in some, some good pieces and I was like, Okay, like let, let’s, let’s see what we, I was really excited and they, they completely blew the expectations out of the water. Like I think the expectations are a little low right now.

[01:18:35] Important. Like, I think people kind of forgot that Damian little. Can, can ball like, and he’s now, he’s fully healthy and like he’s one of those players. Like he just kind of sits there and listens and takes it in. And he is just like, Just wait until I get on the court and then I will do my talking. Like I, you know, you see some of these player ranks and you see some guys ahead of him.

[01:18:54] Like, I, I don’t think Dame’s the best player in the league, but I think he’s better than some of the dudes that are being ranked ahead of him. [01:19:00] Just like I know he had a down year, but I, I think he is going to be that straw that we didn’t

[01:19:06] Sage: Damien Lard play one time last year, bro. He was not, He had like

[01:19:11] Dustin: one game against the clips when he had like 40, but that was it.

[01:19:14] But that

[01:19:15] Sage: one game out of however many he played, like Damien Lard took an off here last year. Like remember when Step did it like that, that could be what it is for Dame. Like you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t use last year as a, uh, a measuring stick for what he can and cannot do on the basketball court.

[01:19:33] Dustin: Like you talk about Luca being able to kind of.

[01:19:37] Propel teams healthy. Damien and Lard gets the Blazers into the playoffs every single year. Mm-hmm. healthy, Damien Lard has them fighting for home court advantage every single year. Um, I, I, I just like some of the players that they have added. I, I like Josh Hart quite a bit. Um, I’m interested to see how they work with, with Jeremy Grant.

[01:19:58] Um, just even just a [01:20:00] respectable power forward, which Portland just hasn’t had for the longest time. We’ve either had to deal with Robert Covington, who almost refused to shoot the basketball, or Alka meu who was basically begged by the opposition to shoot the basketball during sometimes. But Sarah Love him, so he was fantastic for us.

[01:20:17] But Jeremy Grant’s the best power forward we’ve had since Lamar Aldrich. So, you know, I’m interested to see. Obviously a lot hinges on health. Like nerk has to stay healthy and a lot hinges on his performance as well. But like, I’m really excited to see this year little, I think this is gonna be his breakthrough year.

[01:20:36] You know, knock on wood that he stays healthy. And then I wanna see Gary Payton the second get out there. Like, I loved what he did for Golden State. He can play one through five if Golden State can make it work with two non shooters on the floor. The, the blueprints there, the Portland coaching staff needs to make it work too.

[01:20:52] Like I, I like Gary, Gary hit from

[01:20:54] Sage: corner threes. Yeah. So it wasn’t like he was a dream on you just let shoot. But if Gary Payton was chilling [01:21:00] in the corner, I I, I had faith that he, when Gary Payton was good, Gary Payton hit that corner

[01:21:04] Dustin: three at a good, If it’s Portland ends number six, like I think that’s a huge,

[01:21:08] Sage: Oh that’s such a, that’s such a Dobbs ski.

[01:21:10] Dustin: So that’s, that’s who I have um, at six. Who do you have at five? I have the Memphis Grizzlies,

[01:21:15] Sage: but I didn’t really think about the Jar Jackson injury being such a negative for

[01:21:21] Dustin: em. He’s first team all defense. He was, he’s a humongous part of that team. I think he was the blocks leader too. Mm.

[01:21:28] Sage: He was probably the foul leaders per minute too.

[01:21:29] But he is, he’s a great player. And even though I love Xavier Tillman and I drive the Xavier Tillman, uh, fan bus going from j Jackson Jr. To Xavier or Brandon Clark, huge downgrade. So if I, you know, I wasn’t really on my MBA stuff when I wrote this four days ago. I am now. I don’t feel great about the four seed, but I have it written down, or the five seed, so I [01:22:00] have it written down and it was written like na boom.

[01:22:04] Dustin: So if we were doing this, I had these predictions written out quite a bit ago, and this team I had, number one, I dropped ’em down to five. The vibes are bad. Phoenix Sense. Okay. No, totally, totally understandable. You’ve got Deandre Aon who said he hasn’t spoken to Mon Williams since game seven. You had Deandre Aon who was in countless trade groomers.

[01:22:26] Were they getting Kevin Grant? Were they not getting Kevin Grant? You’ve got Jay Crowder, who, who was a big part of their finals run and nba, uh, regular season record, le leading team, basically saying, I’m out. Like I, there’s rumors that said they were gonna start Cam Johnson. He’s like, Nope, I, I wanna start.

[01:22:43] And now he is holding out, or the two sides have said, You can, you know, don’t report to training camp. We’ll find you another spot. I mean, Jake Crowder is a heart and soul type of basketball player. Like Marquette just breeds those players. Mm-hmm. Like, look no further than Jimmy Butler and Wesley Matthews.

[01:22:58] And you’ve got another year of Chris [01:23:00] Paul getting up there. And I, you also have all of these, you know, Robert Sarver, um, reports. Oh, it’s total bad vibe. Yeah. And then you have sponsors saying, I’m out unless Robert Sarver resigns. And it’s just you. Everything in Phoenix just feels like their window just shut.

[01:23:18] Like they had that two, two year opening and it’s just, it’s gone and they don’t really have the assets to go out and, and get who, who they were, but they, Yeah. And I, I think it’s a, a team that’s kind of cursed, you know, when you’re a really good team, but you just can’t quite get over the hump. Like, you kind of start to get, get annoyed with some players, or you just, you just mm-hmm.

[01:23:44] it just doesn’t seem like it’s gonna happen. Like they just can’t quite get there. And you start with the James Harden Rockets, you know, you, you’ve seen it with, with a few teams in the past and they just, they just break up. Um, I, I think this is the last year of Phoenix being [01:24:00] in contention. I don’t know how much Chris Paul, honestly has left in, in the tank.

[01:24:04] I mean, we, you’ve just, you’ve just seen it time and time again like. It’s unfortunate because I do like that core they have, but the, their management really. And then you have James Jones saying he doesn’t really even give a shit about the draft, which is just stupid, Insanely stupid. Um, Devin Booker was a low late lottery pick.

[01:24:23] Sage: Late lottery pick. Like, come on, br You built your team through Savvy drafting.

[01:24:28] Dustin: And so I, I just, I feel like their window shut, that they missed out an opportunity to draft Ty Halliburton, who would’ve been a perfect successor to, to Chris Paul. They didn’t offer Jaylen Smith the, the tender. So they lost him for absolutely nothing that they just, they haven’t brought anybody.

[01:24:43] It’s the same corn. It’s, it’s, it’s not good enough. Luco wrecked them. One, one person wrecked him. I have never seen a team play that shitty in an elimination game. It was on the line. It was one of the worst all time performances. I [01:25:00] just don’t know how you rebound from that after you blew a two oh lead against the bucks the year prior on the finals.

[01:25:06] Like that is a lot. To come back from speaking as a Blazer fan. I know that 91 Heartbreak to the Lakers, it took a lot out of them. Yeah, they made it back to the finals in 92, but that’s all they had left. Like it takes so much out of you to make these runs. And I think, you know, the, the, the Cinderella, you know, time times kind of running out on, on Phoenix, so I have them at five, um, especially after the media day vibes.

[01:25:31] Sage: I have them met four. I I mean it, the, you’re gonna see in my predictions that if you don’t have good vibes in the locker room, you’re not gonna make it to the, the ultimate goal. So that’s why I don’t have Celtics or Brooklyn making it to the finals. So, um, yeah, I, I like you like all the things that you said.

[01:25:57] There’s a lot of [01:26:00] benefits to having the son’s team. They’re well coached, they have great players, Chris Paul’s. Provided me the most joy out of any player I’ve ever watched play basketball. But he’s getting up there. He’s a small guard in a league that just absolutely abuses small guards. Now that is that the, like that, that is, he’s getting targeted by teams now on defense and I never thought that would happen.

[01:26:29] The, the vibes are bad. I, I, it would not surprise me if they were higher than four, but it wouldn’t surprise me if theyre worse than four

[01:26:39] Dustin: At four. I have uh, the Golden State Warriors. Is it cuz

[01:26:44] Sage: they don’t give a shit about regular season?

[01:26:46] Dustin: That’s one of the reasons. Yeah, I think they’re definitely are. I think they’re a top three team in the west.

[01:26:50] But you know, I think they’re definitely gonna pace Steph. They’re gonna pace, uh, Clay, They obviously pace Dre on green and again, it’s, they’re [01:27:00] not the warriors. Of the middle part of the decade. Like I think they had a really great rebound year, but they lost some pieces. You know, Gary Payton the second was, was one of them.

[01:27:10] And I, I don’t, it’s like I said, it’s really hard to repeat. So now you’ve got teams that are even more hungry. Are they gonna be as hungry as, as they were? Um, it’s, it’s kind of a tough read for me, but it, it’s so hard to, to, to repeat. And they didn’t obviously add Kevin Duran this time around. They actually had to lose a, a couple of players, like Big Aala is basically just there for, you know, just to be a moral support.

[01:27:40] Yeah, exactly. Um, like how much does Dream on, have, have left in, in, in that tank? Like he’s,

[01:27:46] Sage: do you believe in the rookies or the young players? Uh, camming Andy, I was to say his nickname. Buting and Moody

[01:27:56] Dustin: and James Wiseman. Wiseman. Yeah. There’s just a lot of questions. Like, I [01:28:00] think, I think they, they could be really good.

[01:28:02] Sage: Um, I think that people assume that James Wiseman is what Jalen is. No, like I think Wiseman’s just big D’s, like special athlete . So yeah, Penny has a type Penny Hardaway has a type of big, so there’s a chance that James Wiseman’s good. I don’t believe it, but I think, I believe in Moses Moody to be good. I believe in Ryan Raws to be good.

[01:28:30] I believe in Pat Ball wouldn’t be like, there’s players that are coming up that could take on some roles for ’em. That’s why I have ’em higher. But I absolutely could see your point in how it happens.

[01:28:44] Dustin: Uh, who do you have? A three?

[01:28:46] Sage: I have the Denver Nuggets. , Um, they’re finally getting Jamal Murray back.

[01:28:52] They’re finally getting healthy players coming in. They’ve done so, like, Yoic has carried that team so much from, like, them being [01:29:00] a competitive team when he was on the court to being the absolute worst team ever when he’s off the court to have his star point guard coming back to have, uh, m PJ coming back.

[01:29:12] I, I mean, I, I believe that those core pieces, if healthy, can help that team and propel that team to a higher height. So if, if everybody’s good and healthy and ready to come back and compete, I, I have ’em, I have them there. What about you?

[01:29:29] Dustin: The three, I have the Clippers now. I think the Clippers are the best team in the Western conference, but the Clippers are also notorious for not playing all the games.

[01:29:37] Mm-hmm. . Um, and again, you are gonna have to take it slow with Kawhi Leonard. Um, they’re gonna be cautious with. Um, Paul George, but man, I think that I have them at one to, it’s, it’s now or never for the Clippers. Like the, the roster’s never gonna be better. You have, you know, Norman Powell and Robert Covington and John Wall, Uh, you know, z Botch, like

[01:29:59] Sage: [01:30:00] that’s, uh, uh, no, uh, shit.

[01:30:03] Who’s the small point guard from Boston Colleges? That is good.

[01:30:07] Dustin: Reggie Jackson, Reggie Jackson. I forgot he went. Yeah, he did go to Boston. Yeah, they got Reggie Jackson. Like they, I forget names.

[01:30:14] Sage: I remember weird statistics

[01:30:16] Dustin: and things about that. They have probably the best coach in the Western conference.

[01:30:19] Sage: I think their staff is the best, uh, coach team

[01:30:21] Dustin: that’s, this is the team.

[01:30:23] I, I think they’ll finish third because they don’t give a shit about their regular season. But this is, this is the best team in, in the

[01:30:29] Sage: west. So they have a 52.5, uh, win total. Do you think that’s right online with what, Or do you It’s

[01:30:37] Dustin: really low for the third seed in my opinion. Like

[01:30:40] Sage: that’s, Vegas has them number one in the

[01:30:42] Dustin: west, but it’s, it’s so hard because like, Teams in the nba, they just don’t value their regular season

[01:30:47] Sage: anymore.

[01:30:47] So they, Well, so Timberwolves are 48.5 win total. The Clippers are the best with a 52.5. If 50,

[01:30:55] Dustin: it’s, it’d be disgusting if 52 wins, wins the Western Conference. Like, that’s just [01:31:00] disgusting. Like, let’s try and play players, folks. Um, who do you have at number two? I have the

[01:31:05] Sage: Golden State Warriors. I mean, I, I think that, that they’re just a very well coached, very efficient organization that utilizes their players to benefit them the most.

[01:31:23] I think they’re fantastic. I, I, to spoil it, I think they’re gonna be the Western conference. Uh, Team in the finals. I think they’re really well coached, so having them at two, I think there’s gonna be games where they’re just like, You know what, Ryan, you know what? Jordan pulling Ryan Rolls. You’re running the show this game.

[01:31:41] Because we don’t necessarily care about winning these games, but we’re probably gonna win them because we’re so good.

[01:31:49] Dustin: You ready for this age?

[01:31:51] Sage: Yeah. I’ve noticed that

[01:31:52] Dustin: one is team I’ve been leaving off. I know at number two I have your New Orleans Pelicans. I, [01:32:00] I, this is the Memphis Grizzlies of 2022. 2023.

[01:32:05] I’ve been hurt so much dust. I,

[01:32:07] Sage: I, I just don’t believe

[01:32:08] Dustin: it. There’s gonna be a team that is going to surprise me. Memphis did it last year. Like it just, it’s just what it is. It’s gonna be the New Orleans Pelicans. They have a floor leader in CJ McCollum. Yes, he is a shooting guard, but he is going to, he’s the point guard, bro.

[01:32:24] He is the only ball handler. That’s going to get them in the offense. Yes, Brandon can handle the ball, but he’s going to accept

[01:32:32] Sage: B’S getting his own. He ain’t, he isn’t setting up as much as CJ

[01:32:36] Dustin: will. Brandon Ingram, I think is, is ready for another all star caliber season. You have defense in Herb Jones, which I think is so key with all of the fantastic wings in the nba and then Zion coming in, in shape.

[01:32:51] Like yes, you have, I, I understand all of your questions was spacing. I understand all of them with potentially rebounding as as well [01:33:00] and how does he look defensively, but, and Zion’s engaged and engaged. Zion Williamson is something the NBA has no answer for. Yes. And that’s, that’s the bottom line. And I think getting CJ McCollum added some stability to that franchise and that him signing a contract.

[01:33:19] Got him an extension and I think he kind of got Zion in into shape as well as like, Hey, we’re not fucking around here. Like, do you wanna make more money? Like, do you want to? Like, and I, I think Doug, I

[01:33:29] Sage: don’t know how the hell he got that extension. He doesn’t deserve that extension because he didn’t play.

[01:33:35] I don’t know how he got it.

[01:33:37] Dustin: Well probably talk to CJ and you, cj you need to start doing this

[01:33:41] Sage: because he did remember the year he got the Allstar bid, he didn’t get third team. All NBA Julius Randall did that should have negatively affected his ability to make money at that super max level. Don’t know how he did it, but whatever.

[01:33:55] I’m not complaining.

[01:33:57] Dustin: I think the Pelicans are going to be [01:34:00] an absolute force this year. I think coaching, Are they your League

[01:34:03] Sage: Pass

[01:34:03] Dustin: team this year? If I had League Pass? Yeah. Like I, I, the, if, if we’re looking just Western conference, like Watchability, um, Memphis, New Orleans. You know what? Sacramento, outside of Portland, those are the three teams I would be excited to watch.

[01:34:26] Um, I, yeah. I, I am all aboard, uh, New Orleans. I, I think what they present on the offensive end, the floor is gonna keep coaches up at night like this. Isn’t this a playoff series where you have days of prep and planning? It’s, you’re on the fourth game of in seven nights and you’ve gotta deal with Zion bi and cj.

[01:34:43] Yeah. Good fucking luck. Like it’s, I think Trey

[01:34:45] Sage: Murphy could be a real, real impact

[01:34:49] Dustin: player. Yes. Absolutely. That’s why I was upset. He wasn’t included in the mc McCallum trade. I really wanted Trey Murphy. I think he can stretch before. Um, yeah, I really like, uh, New Orleans. Um, you [01:35:00] have the Clippers at one.

[01:35:01] Mm-hmm. I mean, I think they’re the best team. So you’re, I think they’re the best team. Yeah. Any qualms for me? I have the Denver Nuggets at one. I totally understand it. Totally. They are a team. Clearly they have yoic the back to back, uh, reigning mvp, but they’re getting some of their horses back. They want that home court advantage.

[01:35:19] They want you to have to come to, um, Denver, Denver for game seven. I mean, you’re not, you might not be able to be like Portland and silenced that crowd, which we did a couple of years ago, but they’re gonna, And it just showed

[01:35:31] Sage: how in shape Damons

[01:35:32] Dustin: CJ were. Yeah, I mean, exactly. Like you, you still want that advantage.

[01:35:37] Um, a healthy Michael Porter Jr. Is a problem offensively. Jamal Murray, if he can regain his, his form is a potential all star. I don’t love giving up Monte Morris and Wil Barton for a cont continuous Caldwell Pope and Is Smith. It is what it is. It’s more of Yoko actually getting some pieces back that’s like, okay.

[01:35:57] Sage: I mean they, there’s so much more improved than the last [01:36:00] year’s. Poopy ass team outside of yo.

[01:36:03] Dustin: Who do you have in the West Western Conference? Finals. And who do you have in the Eastern Conference? Finals

[01:36:09] Sage: I have to make up. I think it’s gonna be the Bucks. Golden State Warriors and the finals.

[01:36:14] Dustin: But who do you have in the conference?

[01:36:15] Finals. Ah, I have to make it up

[01:36:17] Sage: right now. Um, I think Clippers, warriors in the west. Uh, I didn’t really think about the east as much, so I think the Bucks verse, I don’t want to, I don’t wanna, uh, I don’t wanna forget about the negative vibes of Brooklyn or Celtics. So it’s tough. Like, I think it’s Milwaukee versus Brooklyn or Milwaukee wins.

[01:36:47] What about

[01:36:48] Dustin: you? You have Milwaukee winning the championship?

[01:36:51] Sage: I, I think, yeah, I think Drew and, and Hannis and Chris get one more.

[01:36:56] Dustin: In the East, I have Milwaukee as [01:37:00] well. Have them facing Cleveland. I, I So it, here’s why.

[01:37:07] Sage: Cause you didn’t wanna reward Brooklyn for the shit they pulled this summer.

[01:37:10] Dustin: Well, one Brooklyn’s not good enough.

[01:37:11] Like I just, I and I yeah, we talk about bad vibes. Like I think Kyrie is gonna drive everyone freaking crazy, um, by basically Thanksgiving. Um, who knows? Ben Simmons hasn’t played basketball in like two years. Like where are they getting there? Um, it just seems like just a shit show in Brooklyn, Chicago.

[01:37:31] Lonzo can’t stand. He is coming back for a while. Um, Boston, just again, talk about central bro. Bad vibe Central like that. Robert Williams is gonna be sidelined for four to six weeks. I think

[01:37:43] Sage: people underestimate how fa fabulous he is as well.

[01:37:46] Dustin: He’s very, he’s very valuable. Um, I am never gonna pick Philly until they actually

[01:37:51] Sage: prove it.

[01:37:51] Like, Oh, that should have been what I choose.

[01:37:54] Dustin: Talk about a team trying to get over the hump and just can’t do it. I. Don’t like the makeup of that [01:38:00] team whatsoever. Um, I love what Cleveland is doing. They have size, they have defense, they have scoring, they have guards, They have forwards. I mean, you, they, they, they have a, What Cleveland has is they have a core that is young, but they also know, I think the pecking order like it, it may be Donovan this year, but he knows Evan Mobley is coming for that.

[01:38:24] And they also found, so when Colin Sexton went down, Darius Scarlin went, went up like his production, like they, they knew those two wouldn’t work. So, so they went out and got someone,

[01:38:37] Sage: the Donovan Mitchell to, to upgrade from college.

[01:38:41] Dustin: That is a nice, And Donovan gets to play with probably the best supporting cast that he, that he has.

[01:38:47] He doesn’t have to do everything. Like obviously I, I love Evan Mobley. I, I really love what, um,

[01:38:52] Sage: Evan Mobley is the reason that. He’s changing

[01:38:57] Dustin: basketball. Yeah. And Jared [01:39:00] Allen is, he actually can play.

[01:39:02] Sage: Yeah. That’s why I was excited about she, he can play with the real center and it was all because of, uh, Evan Mobley breaking the mold of seven foot.

[01:39:11] Dude that doesn’t need to be center is skilled enough to be the four or the five. So yeah, I, I, I, Evan Mobley is the best prospects in Anthony Davis as, as a big Yeah. That, that, that, that draft was absolutely insane with the, uh, top tier

[01:39:30] Dustin: talent in the West. I have the Clippers versus the Nuggets, and I have, I have, um, it’s, I have the Clippers going in the finals.

[01:39:42] I have them meeting the books. I got Milwaukee. I’m not,

[01:39:46] Sage: I’ll take, I, I just don’t, I, I, I, I recognize that the Clippers are fucking excellent. I also recognize that they’ve blown a lot of opportunities in there

[01:39:57] Dustin: They have. I, I think we’ll get there. I [01:40:00] just, I, I love Giannis. Giannis is

[01:40:02] Sage: just so special. Yeah. I couldn’t, I couldn’t, in my mind, wrap my head around them winning a championship with how they’ve faltered in clutch moments.

[01:40:16] Yeah. And I know that this is the perfect opportunity for them to prove that they, they are winners, but it is

[01:40:24] Dustin: what it is. All right, Sage, we’ve been at this for, for quite a long time. This is the two hour beast mode. This is a beast. Holy Backboard is back. Um, preseason is underway. It kicks off, uh, tomorrow in Seattle against the Los Angeles Clippers.

[01:40:40] It’ll be the first of five preseason games. Is it televised? I not on the Blazer broadcast, but I think the Clippers are broadcasting it. So if you’re a a sleuth online, you’ll be able to figure out which, where to, Yeah. That’s all to view that, uh, basketball game. Then they play the jazz on the fourth. They play, [01:41:00] um, not an NBA team on the sixth, which is Thursday.

[01:41:05] Then they go to the Bay Area, Sunday, the ninth at the Kings and Tuesday the 11th at the Warriors. And then before you know what Sage it will be? Um, we’ll have basketball. We’ll have real basketball in a couple of weeks. And so it’ll be interesting to see, uh, how the Blazers looking preseason, how much they,

[01:41:23] Sage: they’ve been, they’re like super duper vanilla,

[01:41:25] Dustin: right.

[01:41:27] Probably, you know, Gary Payton the second will be ready for the regular season. He will not play preseason. More shade sharp. What I’m really looking for. Yeah, I wanna see shade. I wanna see na year her, I wanna see Keon Johnson. Like I just wanna see Jabari Walker, get some run Jabari Walker. I wanna see, you know, get, get some sweat and just see how they look together.

[01:41:46] Like you could go five and oh, you could go oh and five. That doesn’t really bother me. Does matter. Like let’s just stay healthy. Does D love play? Yes, you have to play preseason, but not

[01:41:59] Sage: real [01:42:00] rotate. He’s just getting that a nice light.

[01:42:03] Dustin: I think what coaches have done in the past is the second to last preseason game.

[01:42:07] They’ll do a real rotation, but you

[01:42:10] Sage: shouldn’t expect anything. Those first

[01:42:12] Dustin: few games. Probably just a little bit, but not I, I would minimize it.

[01:42:18] Sage: All right. Are we wrapping this bad? Boy? Let’s wrap this one up. S we are available on iTunes, Stitcher, Himalaya podcast, and anywhere else that you get your podcast that I did not mention, we are there.

[01:42:28] So tell a friend to tell a friend that the Holy Backboard is back. 308 episodes, eight years of our live has been dedicated to this podcast, and we’re not going anywhere, wherever you may be.


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