[Reader Mailbag]: Top-Rated Off-Season Consumables, 2023

I received a request from a reader last summer asking me to ‘distill’ some of the best things I’ve read, seen, or listened to during the off-season, and I got great feedback from the post, so I wanted to run it back again this summer. Here’s a running list of some of the most entertaining shows, pods, articles and other hoops content that will ramp you energy back up for the start of next season. Keep checking back each week for new content!

G League Ignite will start their preseason on September 6th against the Perth Wildcats in a pair of games (Sept. 6 and 8, 6 p.m. ET on NBA TV) that will potentially feature multiple 2024 NBA draft picks including Matas Buzelis, Ron Holland, Izan Almansa and Alexandre Sarr. The games will be replayed throughout the week on NBATV as well.

16-part A History of Basketball in Fifteen Sneakers podcast series from Russ Bengston and Lang Whitaker

JJ Reddick’s Old Man and the Three podcast with Rajon Rondo – some classic stories from Rondo on this one!

Destination NBA: A G League Odyssey documentary streaming on Amazon prime

Dwyane Wade Hall of Fame induction speech – I’ve been watching Hall of Fame ceremonies for decades and I think this was the best speech I’ve ever seen. Beautifully structured with heartfelt thank-yous to teammates and family, his path to the NBA, learning to play on the playgrounds of Chicago with his father, an epic tribute to Allen Iverson, and even some timeless life lessons to pass along

Thinking Basketball’s “Who Could Be the Goat” 3-part podcastpart 1, part 2, part 3

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (HBO) – Season 2 is out! A lot more about Larry Bird’s background in this one, contrasting his path to the NBA with Magic’s. And sadly the final season of this one, as HBO chose not to renew it

Bill Simmons Podcast does a highly entertaining Seattle/Vegas NBA Expansion Draft with Ryen Russillo and Bill Simmons

Feel like shopping? Check out the new designs in our Threadless shop. And remember, all profits go to charities that give opportunities for underprivileged youth to play team sports

Goliath – Documentary series examining the historic life, career and impact of Wilt Chamberlain. From his unparalleled athleticism to his pioneering achievements, Chamberlain changed the game of basketball, breaking records and racial barriers along the way. Streaming on Paramount+

and Thinking Basketball’s podcast on the making of Goliath with Directors Christopher Dillon and Rob Ford

If you don’t have any games saved on your DVR, you can always check out the NBA’s full game replays on YouTube

[Reader Mailbag]: Top-Rated Off-Season Consumables

@benwhite6 writes: Can you ‘distill’ some of the best things you’ve read, seen, or listened to this summer? This off-season has been dead boring ever since KD decided to threaten the Nets. And if I hear another variation of the Donovan Mitchell trade to the Knicks, I’m going to vomit.

Eric/HoopsDistillery: Absolutely! Happy to share. Here’s a list of some of the most entertaining shows, pods, and articles that will ramp you energy back up for the season to start.

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (HBO) – this series takes a minute to get going, but once its does, it’s hard to stop watching. They do a good job of putting you in the shoes of Dr. Buss, Magic, Kareem, Pat Riley and others as they are struggling with key life or career decisions.

NYC Point Gods documentary (Showtime) – A must see! Interviews and jaw-dropping, old school footage of Kenny Anderson, Pearl Washington, Steph Marbury, Rod Strickland, Rafer Alston, Kenny Smith, God Shammgod and others. If this doesn’t make you want to pick up a ball and work on your handle, then not sure what will.

Baron Davis Point God pods – once you watch NYC Point Gods doc and get fired up about the best and most important position in basketball, flip on these pods to hear Baron talking shop with some of the best point guards to ever play basketball. There’s an even an episode with Kobe telling stories about point guards.

Ryen Russillo podBob Ryan interview covering his perspective on different generations of NBA stars, his early days as a Celtics reporter, and some of the best Larry Bird stories

Jackie MacMullan Icon Club pods – after celebrating the NBA’s 75th, these pods hit the spot to dig a bit deeper into the best of the best.

Callin Shots pod with Seth Partnow:

CJ Moore/The Athletic articleHow an Ukrainian basketball trainer became a TikTok star, Kansas Jayhawks whisperer

Howard Beck/The Crossover pod:

Jonathan Wasserman/Bleacher Reportscouting report on preseason’s top 15 prospects

Jeremy Woo/Sports Illustratedthe first 2023 NBA Draft big board

Bill Simmons/The RingerNBA Trade Value List: Summer 2022 Edition

…and if you don’t have any games saved on your DVR, you can always check out the NBA’s full game replays on YouTube

[Reader Mail]: Introducing the 2021 NBA Addition by Subtraction Team

@stebettheo writes: What teams do you think would actually improve by getting rid of some of their current rotation players?

Eric/HoopsDistillery: Great question! Some teams are less than the sum of their parts due to a player or two who seem to drag themdown. This can sometimes be intentional in the case of James Harden’s tantrum to be traded out of Houston, and other times unintentional, like in the case of Nicolas Batum in Charlotte, where he was lulled to sleep by the ‘white-noise machine’ of constant losing, roster turnover, with huge paychecks rolling in.

So without further ado, my 2021 NBA Addition by Subtraction team:

  • Eric Bledsoe, New Orleans Pelicans- *This years 2021 Jeff Green ‘Fooled You Once, and I’ll Fool You AgainTM‘ Award Winner*
  • Will Barton, Denver Nuggets
  • Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
  • Marvin Bagley, Sacramento Kings
  • Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Devonte Graham, Charlotte Hornets
(photo courtesy of https://www.thebirdwrites.com/)

When thinking about why some players would help their teams by getting out of town, I would break it into these categories:

  1. Team cancer/Team Distraction/Chemistry Disruptor (the Dwight Howard category): Marvin Bagley’s Dad
  2. Irrational confidence causing them to avoid deferring to the actual stars on the team: Will Barton
  3. Needs a Change of Scenery (due to lack of PT, bad chemistry with team or maybe bad luck with never-ending injuries): Kevin Love, Marvin Bagley, Aaron Gordon
  4. A logjam at one position makes them expendable and if you don’t trade them, they can turn into a Category 1 player: Devonte Graham
  5. Something may be wrong mentally, after failing so many times that the player lost their mojo and can no longer contribute consistently: Eric Bledsoe

Jeff Green ‘Fooled You Once, and I’ll Fool You Again’ Award WinnerTM: Eric Bledsoe

Will Barton – Will Barton scores. Will Barton seems like a good teammate. Will Barton tries. But in the end, he may be too confident for his own good, always very happy to take more shots in a game than Michael Porter Jr., Nikola Jokic, or Jamal Murray–each of whom are capable of scoring 40-50 points on a given night-and at a high percentage. And to his credit, the Nug’s Biggish 3 seem totally fine with him taking on the load on offense at times, maybe out of respect for his veteran presence and Coach Mike Malone’s democratic offense. Whatever the reason, its not good and takes its toll on the Nuggets because the result on some nights is losing. Yet, due to their lack of depth this year they’ve had to go with it even though they’re clearly better when a stingy defender who is complimentary on offense, like Gary Harris plays SG. When he scores 25 on a high shooting percentage, everyone is happy, but then there are all the games where he takes too many shots, but just keeps on chucking and they lose. Note: This may be called the Lou Will award in the future. Barton, at least, was better coming off the bench as an offensive sparkplug, but even then, I’m not sure I consider him a 16-game player due to his very average defense and irrational confidence that blocks his on-court awareness. He would look better on a losing team, firing away, and putting up big stats like Houston or Detroit in my opinion.

Aaron Gordon – Gordon has now asked for a trade, after getting fed up with the carousel of roster moves and coaches in Orlando–not to mention the never-ending trade rumors. He still views himself as one of the top players in the league. He’s not, of course, but he is certainly valuable with his decent shooting and versatility on offense and defense which teams drool over as they think about building up their roster up to withstand the eventual wars that will be fought against LeBron, Kawhi, KD, and Giannis. His game should jump up a level with a change of scenery a la Gordon Hayward in Charlotte this year, and Portland, Miami, and Dallas should probably take a hard look. But assuming he does play well at his next destination, it seems almost inevitable that he’ll be asking for a near max contract which may scare off some teams. At least he’s not a Klutch client…yet.

Kevin Love – As one of the last remaining Cavalier from the 2016 championship run, Love has had a never-ending flow of injuries, frustration with the youth movement (see over-shooting of SexLand), and complaints about his inflated contract. Yet, he has much more to contribute than being a glorified cheerleader, with his high percentage shooting stroke and his elite rebounding gene. His game could come back alive for a Toronto, Dallas, or Boston.

Devonte Graham – Sadly, Mr. Graham happened to be on a team with LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, both of which are better than he is and fit better together as a starting due in the Hornets backcourt. He has a great contract, but will be a restricted free agent this offseason and we’ve all seen this type of situation before where a surplus of solid players at one position put them in a tough position where they either have to pay up in order to keep the asset, then figure out what to do with them later or trade them away immediately to avoid any chance of them becoming a team cancer when they become bitter due to the lack of playing time. In the Hornets case, needing help at center, now is the perfect time to package Graham with a veteran (and/or draft pick) to grab a Myles Turner type player.

Marvin Bagley – What seems like a never-ending streak of bad luck with injuries seems to be the one of the few consistent things in Bagley’s career, along with the ongoing dysfunction, roster and front-office turnover of the Kings. And now all his the love from the fans (and Sacramento car dealership endorsements) are going to De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. He desperately needs a change of scenery to get a fresh start and be in a place where the front office, team, and fans believe in him enough to pump up his confidence once again, so he can fully utilize the advanced skill set he showed at Duke, and in small blips during his time in Sacto. Charlotte, OKC and Cleveland all seem like interesting options where he can stay out of the spotlight and get a lot of reps.

Do you have questions that need to be answered? Feel free to send them to hoopsdistillery@gmail.com