While the Magic are in full rebuild mode, Banchero — the No. 1 overall pick — is already giving them hope for the future.
“I couldn’t be happier for him or his family. I know how hard he works and how good of a person he is,” Tatum said, via Cody Taylor of USA Today. “(To be) that size and to be that height and that bulky, and essentially can do everything on the floor, he’s only obviously going to continue to get better. I was happy I finally got a chance to compete against him. Obviously, we’re going to have many more battles in the future.”
Banchero and Tatum have been close for a while, and Banchero has admitted to emulating the Celtics star. Tatum said he is flattered.
“It means a lot. It is funny, I guess,” Tatum said, via Taylor. “I’m in my sixth year now and guys are coming that are 19, so they’ve been watching me all of their high school career and first year in college — the tables have turned. I remember being in that position and playing against guys I really admired and looked up to. The best part about is the respect is always there.
“The way you show it is go out there and compete. No matter how much I like his game or like him as a person, I’m not going to take it easy on him at all. I think, even moreso, I’m trying to guard him and go at him to kind of let him know I respect his game and I know what he is capable of and things like that.”
“It felt like we were 0-82!” Harden said, laughing, via Ky Carlin of USA Today. “It felt good. It’s a work in progress. As most as you want things to happen overnight and us to be 4-0, we’re 1-3 so we just got to keep continuing to work, continue to build really good habits, and live with the results, but we got to hang our hats on a defensive man.”
Embiid added that the victory may calm down a fan base that was getting a bit fidgety, to say the least.
“I mean, from the fan’s perspective, they probably wanted me to be traded and the whole team to be sent down to the G League,” Embiid said, via Carlin. “To me, there was no pressure. 0-3, three games in, and, like I said, fairly new team. Everybody’s tried to find that way. I thought today was a big step offensively and defensively.”
Center Nic Claxton said he is determined to be the anchor for what the Nets hope is an improved defense.
“I really want to be the anchor of the defense,” Claxton said, via Josh Matthews of USA Today, “and be one of the best defenders in the league night-in and night-out.”
Coach Steve Nash indicated that is the very message he’s been sending.
“I’m not here to say, ‘OK, Nic, now you got to add a step-back [jump shot] to your game,” Nash said, via Matthews. “I’m more like, ‘Nic, captain us with [defensive] coverages.’ Talking about making sure you know what coverage we’re in, making sure you’re low man when you need to be making sure you’re protecting the rim.”
- Nets small forward T.J. Warren said he is making progress on knee injury that kept him out last season, as well as so far this season. “I’m just excited to get back out there,” Warren said, via Matthews. “It’s been so long. So this [is] definitely exciting to do what I love to do. And I just can’t wait. I could just feel that itch.”