NBA News Roundup: Top-tier analyst believes ESPN got it right while crowning Giannis Antetokounmpo as the NBA’s best player, LeBron James opens up on Kobe Bryant's mentality, and more - September 26th, 2022

Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets
Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets

NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was recently ranked as the best player in the NBA on ESPN’s annual "NBArank." Antetokounmpo surpasses fellow superstar Kevin Durant, who topped the rankings last year. A prominent ESPN analyst explained why he agreed with the decision.

In other news, NBA superstar LeBron James opened up about the late Kobe Bryant’s legendary mentality. The footage comes courtesy of an upcoming Netflix documentary centered on the 2008 US Men's Olympic basketball team, also known as “The Redeem Team.”

Here's the latest news from around the NBA as of Sept. 26th, 2022.

Top-tier analyst says ESPN got it right with their ranking of Giannis Antetokounmpo as the NBA’s best player

Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets
Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets

NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo recently claimed the top spot on ESPN’s annual "NBArank." Superstar Kevin Durant fell from first place in last year’s rankings down to eighth place in this year’s rankings. The change has sparked debate among fans about the best players in the league.

Antetokounmpo is widely considered to be the most dominant player in the league, leading many to crown him as the best overall player. However, Durant is still believed to be the more skilled player by a majority of fans.

On an episode of "NBA Today," a couple of ESPN analysts joined in on the discussion. The first was Zach Lowe, who left no doubt that he believed Antetokounmpo was the correct choice.

“Giannis is No. 1," Lowe said. "It’s over, the debate is over. After that, depending on my mood, what I had for dinner, if I’m hung over, you can put anyone at No. 2. You can put LeBron at No. 2, I can’t argue with that. Kevin Durant is eight. You can put Kevin Durant."

Former NBA player turned analyst Kendrick Perkins had a similar thought process.

“Absolutely and he’s been deserving of the No. 1 spot," Perkinds said. "In my opinion, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been the best player in the league for the last three years. If you start a team today and you can ask all 30 GMs who they’re taking No. 1, you’re taking Giannis. A walking 29 [points] and 12 [rebounds] a night."
.@KendrickPerkins list his top-five players in the NBA 👀 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo2. Stephen Curry3. LeBron James4. Nikola Jokic5. Joel Embiid

It’s certainly tough to argue that there’s a better pure scorer in the league than Kevin Durant. Durant averaged 29.9 points per game last season on a 51.8/38.3/91.0 shooting split. However, after the Brooklyn Nets got swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics, it made sense that he would fall in ESPN’s rankings.

Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to Game 7 of the second round and put up a much better fight against the Celtics. He played without his team’s second-best player, Khris Middleton. Antetokounmpo finished with averages of 33.9 points, 14.7 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.1 blocks per game.

“Redeem Team” documentary shows LeBron James opening up on Kobe Bryant's legendary mentality

Olympics Day 10 - Basketball
Olympics Day 10 - Basketball

NBA superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James played critical roles on the 2008 US Men's Olympic basketball team, also known as “The Redeem Team.” The team, comprised of many of the NBA’s top stars, set out to avenge their country after a bronze medal finish at the 2004 Olympics.

In particular, Bryant wanted to ensure his team was completely locked in and ready to win it all. He demonstrated his "mamba mentality" by singling out his LA Lakers teammate Pau Gasol as a primary adversary.

Gasol represented his home country, Spain, in the Olympics. In a clip from the soon-to-be-released Netflix documentary “The Redeem Team,” James’ recounts Bryant’s mindset.

"Kobe said he gonna set the tone at the start of the game. And he said, 'I'm running through Pau's f**king chest,'" James said.
In 2004, the US Olympic Men's Basketball team lost the gold and sought redemption in Beijing 2008. @KingJames, @DwyaneWade, and Kobe Bryant led The Redeem Team. This is that story. #TUDUM

Bryant and Gasol may have been as close as brothers, but Bryant followed through on his words. During the game's first play versus Spain, Bryant ran straight through Gasol as James set a screen.

"He just went right to the middle of my chest, tried to get through me to send a message, not just to me but to his teammates, saying, 'Hey, this might be my brother. I play with him, we're close. But I don't care about anything else but winning,'" Gasol said.
"We was like, 'Holy S**t,'" James said.

The full documentary will be released worldwide on Netflix on Oct. 7th.

Klay Thompson shares his thoughts on the Golden State Warriors' title chances entering 2023

2022 NBA Finals - Game Six
2022 NBA Finals - Game Six

Golden Warriors guard Klay Thompson's latest message will excite Warriors fans. During a recent Instagram Live, Thompson briefly spoke about the Warriors' upcoming season and their chances of winning back-to-back titles.

"2023, I ain't making no promises, but I like our chances!" Thompson said.
Klay Thompson on Instagram live (from the boat) one day before Warriors training camp starts: “2023, I’m not making any promises but I like our chances.”Steve Kerr said yesterday that Klay is in a great place physically, mentally, spiritually right now. Watch out NBA #dubnation

After missing over two years due to injury, Thompson was able to return last season. He played a vital role during the Warriors' 2022 championship run. Their title marked the fourth for the Warriors' original big three of Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. However, this one was a little more special for the trio as they were seen as underdogs for the first time in a while.

The Warriors have since lost two key rotation pieces during free agency, forward Otto Porter Jr. and guard Gary Payton II. However, the Warriors recovered with the under-the-radar signings of guard Donte DiVincenzo and forward JaMychal Green.

The Warriors are also banking on the continued development of their young guys, Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman and Moses Moody. This young group, combined with their championship core, should give the Warriors a great shot at defending their title.

Shaquille O'Neal responds to Ben Simmons calling him out

2019 NBA Awards Presented By Kia On TNT - Red Carpet
2019 NBA Awards Presented By Kia On TNT - Red Carpet

NBA All-Star Ben Simmons recently called out fellow LSU alumni member Shaquille O’Neal for not reaching out to him during his mental health struggles. On "The Old Man & the Three" podcast, Simmons made the comments.

“I DM’d him (O'Neal) and I was like, why are you saying this if you don’t even know the story? 'Cause he always wants to say like ‘Yo, we’re LSU brothers, you’re my brother.’ All this, that," Simmons said.
"If you’re my LSU brother you would’ve reached out by now, and it’s been months since I’ve been dealing with this. You ain’t reached out once and said like, ‘Hey, you OK? Like, what’s going on?'"
“If you were my LSU brother you would have reached out by now.”- Ben Simmons on Shaq(via @OldManAndThree)

O'Neal had previously said that he had a conversation with Simmons after he refused to play for the Philadelphia 76ers early last season. O’Neal mentioned that Simmons told him about his mental health issues, and he agreed to stop taking shots at him. So Simmons’ recent comments surprised him.

On "The Big Podcast with Shaq," O'Neal responded to Simmons’ comments and clarified that he has no hard feelings towards him.

"If you're great, you can't be no hater," O'Neal said. "First of all, I'm just seeing what I see as a player. ... If you don't like what I say, that ain't my problem. There's never a personal attack on you. I just say what I saw. I saw in his eyes, he was scared.
"Everybody goes through struggles. We all do. But this is the game we play. This is the life we live. You're gonna take criticism. They pay us a lot of money. Somehow you have to deal with it, okay? Now I'm not gonna talk about mental health things. I know that's a real thing."
"Everybody goes through struggles. But this the game we play, this is the life we live. You're going to take criticism. They pay us a lot of money, somehow you have to deal with it."Shaq responds to Ben Simmons calling him a hater 😳

O’Neal also wished Simmons well moving forward.

"This is the first time he's talked in two years. So, I wish him well and hope he does what he does," O’Neal said.

This season, Simmons will look to overcome injury and mental health issues. He will make his first appearance on the court since the 2021 playoffs.

NBA analyst speculates on Draymond Green's future, naming Lakers and Pistons as potential destinations.

Golden State Warriors Media Day
Golden State Warriors Media Day

Former Defensive Player of the Year winner Draymond Green's upcoming contract extension has been looming over the Golden State Warriors all summer. On “The Hoop Collective” podcast, NBA analyst Brian Windhorst commented on Green’s contract situation.

"If there's no extension when the season starts which, again, I would educatedly guess that there won't be for Draymond or Wiggins, maybe for Poole, will Draymond have a little dip his toes in some water as the season goes along?" Windhorst said.

Windhorst also mentioned the LA Lakers and Detroit Pistons will have enough cap space to sign Green next summer.

“You know? 'Oh boy, the Lakers' future is so bright. They just need a veteran forward in here.' You know, 'Oh boy, the Detroit Pistons have a great-looking future.' You know, 'back in my home state it's just great to see that the Pistons have a great future.' Will he do a little tweaking?" Windhorst said.

Green has previously stated that he deserves a max contract extension and said he might leave the Warriors if he does not get one.

Warriors president and general manager Bob Myers recently gave his thoughts on the Warriors’ upcoming contract extensions. Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole's potential extensions are also approaching.

“We want all of those guys. Can we get them all? I don’t know,” Myers said.
“We want all of those guys. Can we get them all? I don’t know.”Bob Myers details the latest on potential Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green contract extensions.

The Warriors will remain poised to defend their title entering the 2023 season. It will be interesting to see how Draymond Green’s contract situation develops.

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Edited by Chad Marriott
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