The Crossover welcomes ESPN’s Zach Lowe to discuss trends at the NBA’s math midpoint, including the sudden explosion of high-scoring single games capped by Donovan Mitchell’s 71-point outing. They also reflect on what went wrong in the preseason, discuss the merits of a Lakers trade and ponder the merits of a midseason tournament. Plus: If you could go back in time and save one team from its worst offseason blunder, what would it be?
The following transcript is an extract from The crossover NBA podcast. Listen to the full episode podcast players everywhere or on SI.com.
Beck: I mentioned that we are at the mathematical midpoint. Just kind of looking back…we do all our stupid pre-predictions and forecasts and rankings and stuff. And I looked back at some of mine. I think the one that made me cringe the most was that I had Rudy Gobert as Defensive Player of the Year before the season. Um, probably not going to happen.
Lowe: I mean, that race is wide open.
Beck: I still feel OK with the Clips over the Bucks in the Finals, even though there are at least 17 possible Finals. And that, you know, we’ll see.
Something you’ve believed about a team, a run, a player, a preseason situation that you’re going into the offseason, like maybe I’ve been a little off?
Lowe: I was dramatically wrong about the Toronto Raptors. I thought the Raptors were going to be good. Whatever their over/under was – I can’t remember what it was – I was over, over, over. They are 16–22. Every possession is a blow and they start a home stand now that is going to make or break their season. And they started it with a near-miraculous-comeback-win-but-loss against Milwaukee last night in another game where their offense was terrible.
Their defense has not been as good as I expected. And you start to feel the downsides of the kind of style that they’ve chosen out of just about all lengths, all sizes, all versatility. Well, you know, guards are good, shooting is good, and they don’t have enough of those things. The centers are good. These disadvantages have come to settle. So that was the one I was most wrong about. …
I was probably a little too low on Portland, but they’re only one game over 500. It’s not like they’re blowing people’s doors off. And I guess, you know, for all the opposition I had to the Gobert trade, I still thought the Timberwolves would be a good regular season team. To date, they have been a not-so-good regular season team. And … Utah is the obvious one we got wrong, but those are the standouts.
Beck: I only had Utah, Portland and Indiana underrated on my quick hit list. All of these teams have been very fun and competitive. And yeah, in fairness, like they’re not, you know, neither of those teams are winning a playoff series. But it’s been fun to see us wrong.
I thought the Grizzlies would struggle to replicate the success of last season. And it wasn’t so much a judgment on them. It was more about the depth of the Western Conference and, you know, the guys coming back to Denver and the Clippers and everything. I just thought the situation would make it tougher. …
Lowe: Well, and Jaren Jackson Jr. starts the season injured. I thought their downside was potential “uh-oh, we’ve got to avoid the play-in”…and they’re really, really good, man. The Grizzlies are really good.
Beck: They are in first place in the West when we record this.
Lowe: I’ve said this before… it’s a team, they hold their assets near and dear; they play for the big fish. If I’m them, if I can trade one small asset, one pick and a young player or something for a mid-sized fish who might be my fifth to eighth best player but is a proven veteran with skills that help me, I think that the team is good enough to do it now. Which I think they should go for it now.
Listen to the full episode podcast players everywhere or on SI.com.