With the NBA season coming up next month, I took the opportunity to interview former NBA All-Star and current San Antonio Spurs full-time color commentator and broadcaster for Fox Sports One, Sean Elliott. I had the pleasure of meeting Elliott in person following a Spurs game last December. He couldn’t be nicer, and I knew he’d offer great insight for Second Take With Spencer A. about the upcoming basketball season. Here are some highlights from our phone call:
Zied: What will be the biggest challenge for the Spurs in order to defend their championship crown?
Elliott: The biggest challenge will be that they have a target on their back. After winning a championship, every game you play the following season, you get other teams’ best shot and every team will circle “Spurs” on their schedule to see how they stack up against them.
Zied: If LeBron James, returning to Cleveland to play with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, wins more rings, will anything be taken away from his legacy?
Elliott: Nothing will be taken away, not at all. He’s cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players in the game. He can win more championships, and no player can win on his own without great teammates.
Zied: How many more years do you see the Spurs contending for a championship? With Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili on their ways out, how much do you think they have left in the tank?
Elliott: A lot surprisingly, with the way they train in the offseason. Greg Popovich is the best coach at managing players. He won’t play old guys like Duncan and Manu as much, he’ll be relying on his bench. I see another two years of title contention.
Zied: With Kawhi Leonard winning the finals MVP last season, how much potential does he have? All-Star? Superstar? Hall of Famer? How much better can he get?
Elliott: It’s his 3rd year in the league, and he came out as a sophomore in college. I like to stick to the four-year college rule, meaning I consider his rookie season last season. When I played, it took me three years to feel confident. My fourth year was my first All-Star Game. Leanard has a high superstar ceiling because he does something different from most players; he plays exceptional defense.
Zied: Who do you think will be the best NBA player coming out of this year’s draft?
Elliott: That’s truly a hard question to answer. I like sticking with the guys who show talent. Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins are good players with tremendous upside, but Joel Embiid (when healthy) could be the most dominant.
Zied: With the re-signing of Carmelo Anthony, an improved Amar’e Stoudemire, a new point guard, center, and coaching staff, how far will the New York Knicks be able to go this season?
Elliott: It all depends on the stars. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire have to play at an extremely high level on offense, but especially on defense. They need major improvement on D, but I think they will improve on the defensive end under Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson. They’ve won championships by defending. I believe the Knicks have a solid chance of making the playoffs this season, but don’t expect anything too crazy.
What’s your opinion?