In preparation for tonight’s Jazz-Spurs game on ESPN from the ESA, I went 5-on-5 with some fellow TrueHoop minds to give a subjective voice to Hollinger’s Playoff Odds. I also did a little give-and-go with Spurs TrueHoop gentleman Andrew McNeill.
It’s a late start for the national TV audience, so here’s a bit of an interview with Manu Ginobili at shootaround, featuring a question each from me and a RootSports producer:
RootSports: You met the Jazz four times in the Playoffs last year; how have the Jazz changed this year? Seems like they’ve added a lot of shooters.
Manu: Yeah, that was their biggest deficiency last year–they didn’t have anyone who could hit the big three. And now they added both Mo [Williams] and Randy Foye, that’re good shooters. So they did change. Always when you have good post players, you need three-point shooters–because otherwise everybody will just collapse in the paint and it makes everything hard for them. So now they added shooters–you know Mo had a terrific game against us. So they’ve become a little more solid overall.
SRH: Gordon Hayward wears #20 because he says he followed you growing up. What’s your assessment of his game?
Manu: I didn’t know that; that makes me feel good. He’s a very good, active, athletic wing player. He, of course, has a knack for scoring and getting things done both offensively and defensively. I don’t know what he’s shooting this year–we haven’t talked about it–but last year he didn’t make a lot of shots from deep–and for every slasher, that’s huge. Because when they start to more respect your shot, you have more room to use your explosiveness and to get to the rim. I’m talking about last year, not this year. That’s what he needs to improve. But yeah, he’s very active, gets his hands on a lot of balls, he’s very athletic. He’s a good player–and he’s going to get even better as he matures and gets used to the league.
SRH: How is it to see [Knicks rookie and fellow Argentine Pablo] Prigioni in the league after all these years?
Manu: Amazing. I’m very happy for him and I think it’s very fair–after the terrific career he had in Europe for so many years, being one of the best for seven seasons consecutively. So it’s a great recognition for him–and I really wanted to him to try it, at least. We know it’s not going to be a seven-year career–he’s 35. But, I think every player should at least taste the NBA and compare himself with the best players in the world. I’m very glad for him.