Ben Golliver and Michael Pina open with a look back at Shaquille O'Neal's controversial postgame interview of Donovan Mitchell on TNT. What did Shaq get right and what did he get wrong in his dismissal of Mitchell? What's the real story about Mitchell and the surging Jazz? Should Inside The NBA alter its approach or should other media avenues step up in the analysis department? From there, Ben and Michael shift gears to discuss Giannis Antetokounmpo's uneven opening month, the Milwaukee Bucks' lineup holes, and whether they can get back to an elite level on defense. At the end, the guys process a bunch of Kyrie Irving fake trades sent in by the Open Floor Globe. Kyrie to Orlando? Kyrie to Chicago? Kyrie to Washington? Kyrie to New York? Kyrie to Toronto?
Ben Golliver: So I guess what I'm trying to say is, look, let's clean up this mess. It was awkward television, but we can say, look, the story of the Jazz is not Donovan Mitchell isn't good enough or he is not doing enough or he needs to do more individually. The story of this particular Utah Jazz team is they're doing it from all spots. They've got four shooters on the court at all times.
This is an organization going all the way back to Jerry Sloan, which year after year would rank bottom five, sometimes even dead last, but rarely above 15, in terms of three-point attempts per game. This was just not part of what they did and you go back to when they hired Quin Snyder, that started to change.
When they drafted Donovan Mitchell, that really started to change. And now they've constructed this team that's so modern they're jacking more threes at a higher efficiency than just about anyone in league history. And so it's like the dinosaur just modernized right in front of our eyes in these last couple of years. They were late to the three-point revolution. But now the Jazz are here and they are partying and they are having a great time with it and everyone's getting up shots.
This is a team that lost to Steph Curry's Warriors in the playoffs, that lost to James Harden's Rockets in the playoffs. And they were getting sniped from outside and they didn't have enough shooting to keep up in those series. And now they're in a situation where it's just a different team. And Mitchell's willingness to keep the basketball moving so that he's not dominating and not going one-on-one all the time. He's picking his spots, maintaining high efficiency without disrupting the flow of their offense which is why they're having this level of success.
So if you're looking around the West right now in terms of which of these teams actually have the potential to knock off the superstar driven powers, I don't want to quit the Denver Nuggets, because Jokić has just been so much fun to watch night after night. He's just an unbelievable talent and he should be viewed as one of those elite superstar level talents in those particular matchups. Like if you had to win a playoff series right now and you gave me the choice of Jokić or Kawhi I'm taking Jokić. And I don't know if that's a controversial take.
Michael Pina: Oh my gosh, Jesus!
Golliver: He has been ridiculous, Michael. Kawhi is actually playing pretty well, too.
Pina: Very well.
Golliver: So I'm going to keep Denver in that conversation. But I think Utah needs to be in this conversation too. They just do it differently, it's this collective activity. It's almost like the '04 Pistons or the '14 Spurs, a team that doesn't have like a major superstar level scorer, but they've got a rock-solid defense. They've got an unselfish offense. And that could be in certain circumstances, a path to a title. A lot will have to break their way. I'm not picking them necessarily to upset either one of those teams in the playoffs, but it's a nice formula with an all-veteran team. And I think even Steve Kerr said over the weekend, look, these guys want to win a title and I think they're capable. And that's high praise coming from a guy who's won a bunch.
Pina: Do you know who I feel bad for in all of this? Is Shaquille Harrison, the Utah Jazz Guard. I'm sure that Donovan Mitchell has just been punishing him relentlessly in practice because of this. And so prayers up to Shaquille Harris and I hope that he's recovered fine from Shaquille O'Neal's discretions.
Golliver: So he's going to come out and announce a name change. Just be like, look, I'm on principled grounds. I can't hold this up.