Top quotes from Steve Aschburner’s interviews with NBA head coaches Wes Unseld Jr. (Washington Wizards), Taylor Jenkins (Memphis Grizzlies), and Mark Daigneault (Oklahoma City Thunder).
NBA.com: Which of your players do you anticipate taking the biggest leap this season?
Unseld: Corey Kispert is a guy to keep an eye on. Deni is another one. Two guys who’ve been with me for a couple years. Have had great summers. Hopefully, they’ll stay healthy but both those two should take a giant leap.
NBA.com: Your team faces some challenges this season, from Ja Morant’s suspension and the losses of Dillon Brooks and Tyus Jones to lingering injuries and having to blend in some new faces. How do you assess the Grizzlies’ offseason and where things stand heading into camp?
Jenkins: There are so many things we can take away from this offseason. Obviously, some roster moves that we made – super-thrilled to be welcoming Marcus Smart to the group. Elite player, elite leader, elite competitor. Adding him, I think, is going to take our group to the next level. Excited to get him acclimated and up to speed, but he’s been fully engaged with his teammates throughout the summer, which has been cool to see, building those relationships.
Adding Derrick Rose, a guy that, I mean, just look at that resume. The impact he’s made in the game, what he’s going to do in the locker room and on the floor for us.
We had to make tough decisions, and not having Dillon and Tyus with us were very tough calls. They’re going to get opportunities elsewhere, but adding Marcus and Derrick will be a big boost. And then, just our overall development. We [had] Jaren [Jackson Jr.] playing overseas with Team USA, Santi [Aldama] with the Spanish national team, and other guys have taken advantage of this offseason.
NBA.com: Jalen Williams, a steal out of Santa Clara with the 12th pick a year ago, finished second for Kia Rookie of the Year and seemed to improve by the day. What is his next step?
Daigneault: Well, he’s worked really hard. Physically and skill-wise, he’s had a really productive summer. He was with the Team USA Select team. … It’s hard to place specific expectations on what will change, but I know he’s improved. I give him a lot of credit for the way he’s gone about it. He understands the importance of the little things in the game. He understands cutting, he understands spacing, he understands running, he understands simple ball movement. He’s a great defender because he really competes at his size.
So he’s someone who has built a really strong foundation for his game. In the games where he doesn’t have his best output or get the most usage, he’s still highly effective because he’s doing all those other things.