NBA A to Z with Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt

NBA A to Z with Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt

United States

The NBA desk from USA TODAY Sports, Sam Amick, Jeff Zillgitt and Kevin Spain talk league news, trades, personalities, playoffs and the draft. We interview players, coaches and insiders to talk all things NBA. Who's the MVP? Who are the best teams? What are top players saying about the news of the day? Check out condensed versions of our show at @nbaatozslamdunks


Taking the early pulse of the NBA season  

NBA A to Z guys Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt chat about the bogus rumor that Klay Thompson was going to be traded by the Golden State Warriors to the Boston Celtics. They talk about how important Thompson is to the team and why they have no plans to trade him. They also talk about the streaking Los Angeles Clippers and why things are going well early on for them, but can this team advance in the playoffs? That’s the big question for them. Sam and Jeff also talk about DeMar DeRozan who is off to a start that puts him into company of legends. He and the Toronto Raptors are playing well and if he continues to play the way he is, they could be a serious threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers. They also talk about how the New York Knicks are struggling early on, especially on defense.

Luke Walton joins to talk about the exciting young Lakers  

One of the surprise teams early on in the NBA season is the Los Angeles Lakers. USA TODAY's Sam Amick caught up with first-year coach Luke Walton about the good start and the outlook. Walton talks about how the team has belief that they can compete, something they haven't done in a few seasons. One of the reasons, they discuss, is how he relates to a young group of players. They talk about the energy at Staples Center as Lakers fans are excited for this team.

Early season observations: Are Spurs the real super team? Westbrook on fire  

NBA A to Z guys Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt give their analysis of the early days of the NBA season. Are the Golden State Warriors overrated? Are the San Antonio Spurs underrated? What to make about the furious start to Russell Westbrook’s season? For the first time in a long time, there is a reason to watch the Philadelphia 76ers. Then, the Chicago Bulls, are they for real? They talk about everyone from LeBron James to Dwight Howard and what we could expect from some of the top players in the league moving forward.

Tom Thibodeau has mellowed?  

Minnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau joins Sam Amick to talk about his new team. They discuss how talented the young T'Wolves are, led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins and the outlook for their development. The coach tells Sam that he has mapped out the entire season's worth of practices and days off. A notorious workaholic and hard-driving coach, Thibodeau has apparently mellowed since his days in Chicago. They talk about what the coach did in his year off and how that helped him in this new season.

Mike Conley on being the highest paid player and virtual reality comes to the NBA  

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley joins USA TODAY's Sam Amick at a recent workout to talk about being the highest paid player in the NBA. They also talk about how strong the Western Conference has become and the changes in the Grizzlies for this season. Sam then chats with Brad Allen, executive chair of Next VR, a company that will be working with the NBA to show games in virtual reality this season.

Who will win the NBA's individual awards?  

The NBA A to Z guys Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt break down who they think will win the individual awards. Names like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard are out there for most valuable player going into the season, and the guys give their pick on who takes it. They break down who wins coach of the year, there are a lot of good candidates for this award as well -- Brad Stevens, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Ty Lue ... but who wins? They also chat about defensive player of the year, sixth man and rookie of the year. Let us know if you agree.

Who should you take in your fantasy basketball draft?  

You've done your homework, studied all the analytics and are ready for your fantasy basketball draft. But all things being equal, who should you take No. 1? Josh Lloyd from Basketball Monster and the Locked on Fantasy Basketball podcast joins USA TODAY's Kevin Spain to tell you. They break down the top five players, go over some positions, give you the sleepers and where you take them, and tell you some guys to avoid.

Who goes to the NBA Finals? Picking conference, division winners  

The NBA A to Z guys Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt break down each conference, looking at what teams win the divisions and who emerges to make it to the Finals. The guys then pick who they think will win the NBA Finals. Before they get into that, they discuss Jeff's upcoming cancer surgery, something he has talked about on a personal blog and one that folks around the NBA have heard about.

Are the Warriors unbeatable?  

The A to Z guys Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt look ahead to some of the issues that could define the 2016-17 season, starting off with the dominance of the Golden State Warriors in a preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers. They talk about how the NBA will be involved in some of the social issues and Sam’s interview with Andre Iguodala. They also hit some of the early injuries to Ben Simmons and the sad situation that is Chris Bosh and his blood clots.

Stephen Curry hasn't gotten over Game 7 loss  

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry sits down with USA TODAY’s Sam Amick to discuss how that Game 7 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals will drive him this season. He recalls what it was like after losing that final game and how he tries to keep from taking it home. He talks about what he thinks of his team’s signing of Kevin Durant.

What's next for DeMarcus Cousins, Carmelo Anthony?  

Now that the Olympics are over, where do guys who have been successful in international play but not in the NBA go from here? USA TODAY's Sam Amick, who covered the games, discusses what's next for DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings and Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks with USA TODAY's Kevin Spain. They talk about how USA Basketball performed in the run up to the gold medal. They also discuss how Kevin Durant got some quality time with new teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

USA Basketball got game they needed; Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan conversation  

With the Olympics underway, USA TODAY NBA reporters Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt take a look at USA Basketball and how they were pushed to the limit by Australia. The guys discuss how that game will be important to the Americans as they try to win another gold medal. They discuss the situation in Rio, trying to get to the various events and practices. They talk a little about the Olympics experience and the USA TODAY coverage of the games. Then they talk about some of the other sports they’ve been able to check out while they’re in Rio and how the USA Basketball team is just as star struck with some of the other super athletes as folks are to them. Sam and Jeff pull back the curtain a little and talk about what it’s like to cover these games, from the accommodations to the food. The guys then share a conversation with Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan.

Grant Hill on being an owner and Hawks trying something new in offseason  

Grant Hill and Melissa Proctor of the Atlanta Hawks join AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA TODAY to talk about a project the team is doing to better connect with the community. Hill chats about what he has always thought being an owner would be and what is reality. With all the big money available, Neuharth-Keusch asks Hill if theres any chance of a comeback.

What Klay Thompson thinks of KD affecting his game  

As much as any of the Golden State Warriors, Klay Thompson could feel the effect of Kevin Durant joining the team. USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick and Kevin Spain discuss how those two players' games can co-exist. Amick caught up with Thompson at a recent Team USA practice to get his thoughts on Durant joining the Warriors, how his game will be affected and how Durant's agent grilled guys before the signing.

Jerry Colangelo on Olympics and NBA players  

Jerry Colangelo, director of USA Basketball joins A to Z guys Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick in Las Vegas to talk about the U.S. team as we get closer to the Rio Olympics. Colangelo breaks down the team, discussing the defensive ability and scoring. They talk about Carmelo Anthony’s decision to rejoin the team and how important it was to him. They talk about what it’s like trying to put the team together as some of the players dropped out. They discuss the Zika virus and other issues that Olympians have had to face and Colangelo talks about some issues they’ve faced in the past and how that was dealt with. They then break down the competition, looking at what countries might challenge USA in the tournament. They talk about how Draymond Green talked to the team about his incident in Michigan. They talk about how important it is for high profile athletes speaking out on social issues.

Anthony Davis on Pelicans, Team USA and NBA players' influence  

Nancy Armour, USA TODAY columnist, guest hosts and sits down with New Orleans Pelicans player Anthony Davis. They're at a Red Bull tournament and dunk contest event and Davis talks about how NBA players have the power to make a difference in their communities. He said it’s important for him to come back to his hometown of Chicago to work with some kids. They talk about the New Orleans Pelicans signing Terrence Jones during free agency that Davis had a hand in bringing in. They talk about the Pelicans’ first-round draft pick Buddy Hield, who Davis said that once he saw play at Oklahoma, told team officials they needed to draft Hield. They discuss the outlook for a Pelicans team that missed the playoffs a year after getting there in 2015. Davis talks about what he thinks of New Orleans. They discuss the Olympic team — a team Davis will miss because of injury — about how several guys have dropped off. He talks about how good the team can be.

What's next for Russell Wesbrook and the Thunder without Kevin Durant?  

Now that Kevin Durant has left Oklahoma City and joined the Golden State Warriors, where does that leave his former running mate Russell Westbrook? USA TODAY Sports Sam Amick breaks it all down with Anthony Slater, Thunder beat reporter for the Oklahoman. They discuss how Westbrook's role with the team might change and how Westbrook has told kids at a camp that he plans to be back next season. They discuss if the Thunder might decide to make a trade or if they're with him long term.

Why Kevin Durant is going to the Warriors  

How did the Golden State Warriors land Kevin Durant in free agency? Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY NBA reporters walk you through the behind the scenes and discuss the meetings that were had that led to his decision. They also discuss what backlash Durant might experience for leaving the Thunder, comparing it to what LeBron James went through when he left Cleveland to join the Miami Heat. They then talk about how the Warriors with Durant will play. They also discuss how things will be different for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season and how they will have some decisions to make for the future as well.

Jamal Crawford breaks down this year's free agency class  

Los Angeles Clippers' Jamal Crawford joins NBA A to Z guy Sam Amick to break down free agency. As a player, Crawford has a unique perspective on where guys might go and what the market is for other players. They discuss Kevin Durant’s situation and how Durant will be talking to Crawford’s team. They break down some of the younger players and Crawford gives his list of guys he’d pursue if he was a general manager. Then they talk about how Crawford, a free agent himself, stays in playing shape even in his late 30s. They also talk about other guys, in particular Dwyane Wade, who is in Crawford’s age bracket and how he might fit in with the Miami Heat’s plans.

What will Kevin Durant do and other free agency talk  

The Kevin Durant sweepstakes is on. Where will this summer's top free agent going to sign? The NBA A to Z guys Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt take a deep dive into what the Oklahoma City Thunder star’s options are and when he might do. A team that could lose some players is the Toronto Raptors. What will they do? The guys discuss players like DeMar DeRozan and Bismarck Biyombo and what they might do. The discussion turns to some restricted free agents like Andre Drummond and Bradley Beal. What will Mike Conley do? He has been a perfect fit in Memphis, he helped create the style of play and the culture there with the Grizzlies, but does he like what he is seeing in terms of the future? Will Charlotte keep Nic Batum, a sneaky good player they picked up in a trade with Portland before last season. They get around to Miami to talk about Dwyane Wade and the businessman Hassan Whiteside. They break down how the Derrick Rose trade could help the New York Knicks in free agency. The chat about J.R. Smith and the fact that he is now, in fact, wearing a shirt.

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