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What is more important, offense or defense?

Steve Jones Jr. joins the weekly podcast to discuss the evolution of the big man, the future of the mid range game, and how the new players can make Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum’s jobs easier.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

We talked to Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20), former video coordinator for the Memphis Grizzlies, assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets and son of legendary Blazers broadcaster Steve “Snapper” Jones. We talked about how he thinks the game has changed, in particular the evolution of the big man and the rise and fall (and continuing relevance) of the mid range.

Then we talk about the potential of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum as a duo. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How could the Blazers’ off-season moves make Lillard and McCollum better?

Finally we wrap it up by talking about how the big men can support the guards. With Meyers Leonard and Al-Farouq Aminu gone and Jusuf Nurkic out for a good portion of the season, who will be the players who set screens and help the guards get space? Not just who will be the role guy, but how will they adapt to setting multiple screens knowing they may never get the ball back to take a shot? Jones has ideas for how Collins and Simons can grow into their bigger roles, but playing consistently and within themselves.

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Highlights

1:00 Growing up Steve “Snapper” Jones’ son. He learned to pay attention to more than the outcome, but watch the process and which decisions got made.

2:30 When your dad is a legend in the city, you want to be your own person.

3:30 Rasheed Wallace was his favorite player and the one that he wanted to be like.

4:00 What are the ways the game have changed over the years? The game on the court. Post-ups were meat for bigs who could score. Now bigs can shoot and come off the dribble. Basketball is a cyclical and a copy-cat league so if something works for one team, the other teams are likely to try out some version.

6:00 Are teams looking to go big again? Are we going to see a reemergence of the big men? There have been teams playing two bigs. There probably won’t ever be a return the the big man only in the post, but someone will always need to post up, especially if they get a miss-match.

7:30 Is the game evolving faster than ever, or is it just that people are talking about it more? Combination of more data, and teams are playing different styles and winning. More teams are having success in different ways.

9:30 Is the mid range dead? The mid-range jump shot is alive, its just not the same mid-range shot as the one in 2005. Shot quality is different and players should still take good shots. They are just going to think more about getting the high-quality shot rather than launching with abandon.

12:00 What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Lillard/McCollum duo? Their strength is their versatility, and the offense is not predictable. Their weakness is not necessarily them, it is the team around them. They are going to be the focus of the defense and if the right team is not around them they will not be able to thrive.

14:00 How much more valuable is it to be able to get a bucket than it is to stop someone else from scoring? It’s more important to be able to get a bucket. For example, against the Warriors, the Blazers were never able to stop Steph Curry in the pick and roll and were probably not really going to be able to, but the Blazers couldn’t score either. If more players had been able to score, that would have helped that problem. Two-way players are still valuable. You can’t be a liability on either end. Denver and Oklahoma City did not guard Harkless and Aminu and got to send all that attention to Lillard and McCollum.

18:00 How will the off season moves impact the team? It will provide more versatility, offense anyway. A really nice move offensively.

20:00 What is Zach Collins going to need to do to be successful as a starter? Be consistent. He doesn’t have to do a lot offensively, he just has to do enough. Roll, screen, hit a few open shots, just do it consistently. His box scores might not pop as much as if he was coming off the bench.

23:00 How hard will it be to replace the screen setting that Jusuf Nurkic, Meyers Leonard and others who are now gone provided for the guards? Hassan Whiteside will be good on the pick and roll--he’s a really good roll man. When Whiteside said “We’ve got shooters” he was probably thinking that meant that he could roll. Anthony Tolliver is a pick and pop guy, it will be interesting to see if they will use him.

27:00 How can Zach Collins improve in screening and avoid getting called for illegal screens? Footwork, refinement.

30:00 What does success look like for Anfernee Simons? More consistency, getting into the sets, knowing the plays, able to make quick decisions.

32:00 The Kevin Love question. What do you think might be the next move? What would be a good one for the Blazers at the deadline? What could they do to solidify their spot in the next version of themselves. A really good wing or a good big man (power forward).

34:00 How important is it for the big men to shoot threes? Good rollers should not worry about that. It does provide more versatility, but bigs who can’t shoot threes can still be effective. Its a luxury, not a necessity.

Follow us on Twitter: @blazersedge, @tcbbiggs, @dmarang, @SteveJones20

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