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Zach Lowe Appears on J.J.’s New Pod

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J.J. continues gearing his listeners up for the regular season, talking to Zach Lowe about his writing and basketball.

J.J. Redick has recently gone through a laundry list of important Clipper figures, and now he takes on reputed and beloved Zach Lowe on his new podcast.

Redick’s pods have taken on so many cool figures that I’m going to ramble about some of his talking points so we can discuss them. Are you excited?!

These two talk about a variety of topics, ranging from Zach Lowe’s appeal in his writing, styles of play sacrificing certain weaknesses for other strengths, the process of rebuilding, the NBPA’s recent skew towards superstars in their leadership, Preseason basketball, and even a 4 on 4 regarding best mascots in sports.

A few of the more interesting topics included Lowe’s appeal in writing. This has been talked about, but I always like listening to why people are so drawn to Lowe, as he’s universally regarded as one of the most respected writers in sports. Redick referred to people “getting off” on Lowe’s description of technical jargon, and as the podcast continued, it was almost indisputable for me as a fan of Lowe’s. Lowe went on soon after to talk about the evolving basketball game, the effect of pick and roll basketball on a player like Redick, and the concept of a “team defender” and he did all of it so eloquently and in such an easy to access manner. I felt like it quickly proved Redick’s point: Lowe is excellent at breaking down plays for the interested basketball fan that doesn’t want to get entirely bogged down in technicalities. He’s done a wonderful job sort of bridging that gap between stats supernerds and passionate basketball fans who rely on the eye test. It’s really good for the game and for fans that he’s so popular, it skews us all towards more intelligent basketball conversations that don’t just rely on extremes of the spectrum. Lowe referenced Kevin Arnivotz, a writer not unfamiliar to Clipper fans, as an influence who is able to breakdown plays with a certain kind of “pop.” It’s funny to think that this sort of writing didn’t feel all that popular a few years ago. Bill Simmons, a writer who discovered Lowe to an extent, is undeniably knowledgable, but his way of conveying that knowledge seemed to do more with his charm, pop culture references, and intuitive breakdowns of basketball rather than actual breakdowns of basketball like Lowe is so good at doing. Simmons uses stats sure, but he’s almost sort of more like a player’s coach to Lowe’s Xs and Os. It’s an fun contrast and it’s also intriguing to see how the evolution of sports writing is leading to more technical explanations of basketball.

A few other points of interest include talking about how big names such as Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony are now leading the NBPA vs yesteryear where we had people like Derek Fisher holding leadership positions. Not something I have often thought about, and Lowe talked about what having such big names means for the max contract, and why these big names are even necessary. Redick spoke about their accessibility to owners being a reason, but with lockout scares looming, I wonder if basketball fans even think about this shift in executive positions in the NBPA. Lowe also mentioned his recent high ranking of the Clippers in his annual League Pass Rankings column.. He mentioned the Clippers being a sort of fine oiled machine, effective but sort of repetitive. He even compared them to a sort of high-flying version of the Grizzlies, something that seemed blasphemous on the surface but makes sense for what he was trying to say.

So, what do you think? Do you find Lowe interesting because of his ability to make technical jargon accessible, or is it some other reason, like his goofy sense of humor? Is it good that someone like Chris Paul, as charming as he is, is leading the NBPA despite the fact that on the court he represents a small minority of the top echelon of players? Do you sometimes feel like the brilliance of the Clippers passes you by because you’ve watched them so much? I need your hot takes!