In an exclusive interview, former NBA Dunk Contest champion Spud Webb told Basketball Insiders that he believes Minnesota Timberwolves’ guard Anthony Edwards is an up-and-coming superstar.
The Atlanta Hawks’ legend also predicted that Houston Rockets’ forward Kenyon Martin Jr. will win the 2023 Slam Dunk contest.
When asked about his alma mater, the former NC State star said that the Wolfpack have “surprised” him this year and that Kevin Keatts’ squad has what it takes to return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2015.
Webb also picked Orlando Magic star Paolo Banchero for NBA Rookie of the Year and named De’Aaron Fox among his biggest NBA All-Star snubs.
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- ‘Anthony Edwards is an up-and-coming superstar for me’
- Paolo Banchero is ‘hands down’ the NBA Rookie of the Year
- Kyrie Irving can help take the scoring pressure off of Luka Doncic
- Kenyon Martin Jr, will win 2023 NBA Dunk Contest
- Mike Brown has been more important to Kings’ success than Sabonis
- ‘I don’t think the Lakers can win a championship with that group they have now’
- Biggest NBA All-Star snubs: Pascal Siakam, De’Aaron Fox, and Jalen Brunson
- NC State is playing together, can make it to Sweet 16 in 2023
Other Stories From The Interview:
- Timberwolves gave up too much for Gobert — ‘I wouldn’t have done that’
- Atlanta is ‘definitely a playoff team’
- On a possible John Collins’ trade — ‘There’s a lot of teams that could probably use a John Collins’
- Mavericks need to trade for another wing player before deadline
- Lakers, Hawks are among the teams that could be busy at the trade deadline
Spud Webb: Well, we are always looking here for, I guess we can say a second man to help Luka out and take some of the pressure off. That is what Kyrie can hopefully bring to the Mavericks and help Luka be more fresh at the end of games- that’s one way I look at it. He’s on a winning team, not saying Brooklyn wasn’t a winning team but this team went to the Western Conference Finals last year minus Brunson, who’s gone to New York. I just don’t know how it doesn’t make them a better team.
Spud Webb: That’s another question that needs to be answered, you’ve got rid of some real good pieces, Dinwiddie kind of hurt, getting rid of him. But hopefully they have a couple more days before the trade deadline, maybe you can get a good wing player that can guard the wings, play defense and score baskets. If they think that’s players out there, I think the Mavericks will go out and get him.
Q: James Harden and Kyrie Irving have requested trades out of Brooklyn. Is it a sign that there is something going on in the franchise?
Spud Webb: I don’t watch them that close to know what’s going on that deep into that team. You were hoping that those guys would work out because that was a great combination when they had all three of those guys.
Spud Webb: Everybody is talking about the Lakers needing to do this and that, so that’s one of the teams. I’m pretty sure Atlanta, you know, is always talking about getting better. If these teams are going to compete, who knows where they are going to go. The NBA, everytime I pick something, it goes the opposite way.
Q: Can Trae Young and Dejounte Murray co-exist together in Atlanta?
Spud Webb: I think they have been, I just can’t figure out what piece they need. They have rebounding, they have defense. Murray coming in, I was pretty sure they were happy to have him. They are always throwing Collins’ name around to get traded, so I don’t know. I thought they played well together last year, Nate’s a great coach, so hopefully they work out.
Spud Webb: You never know, the East is kind of tough. Well the West is too, winning games in the NBA is tough. You just have to let it play out, I couldn’t say if they make the play-in game or not but they are definitely a playoff team.
Q: How should the front office for Atlanta construct the roster around Trae Young?
Spud Webb: I mean, they have a good team now. I don’t understand what they are looking for. I haven’t watched them like every game this year but they have a good team to me.
Q: Should Atlanta entertain a trade for Young?
Spud Webb: Only the coaches and the front office can answer that. I’m not in the locker with those guys or in meetings with those guys, so I don’t know what their plans are. I wouldn’t trade Trae Young.
Spud Webb: He could help a bunch of teams, John Collins is a good player. I just don’t know what team that, I mean there’s a lot of teams that probably could use a John Collins.
Q: When a superstar is unhappy, what kind of distraction can that cause, especially for a young team?
Spud Webb: That could mess the locker room up, that could mess what they always talk about “building a culture, a locker room, and a team”. The young guys look at that and it brings negativity in the locker room, you just don’t want that.
Spud Webb: I thought he’s always trying to move them in the right direction. I think the biggest direction that they made, not only getting Sabonis and now already having Fox but Mike Brown has been almost excellent for what their team needed. Some kind of direction coaching, I think that Mike Brown was more a big pick up as far as coaching than anything that they’ve done. De’Aaron Fox has been unbelievable, Sabonis has been great so are the young guys coming along. They keep going in that right direction and whatever pieces they need to get over, you know it’s tough. You’re talking about beating Golden State and those teams but they are at least moving in the right direction.
Q: Domantas Sabonis has been a perfect fit alongshit De’Aaron Fox. When you’re playing with a big man that can pass the ball like Sabonis, what does that bring to an offense?
Spud Webb: Yeah, it’s like in Joker in Denver. Sabonis plays hard every night, you can tell that he likes playing basketball and he likes playing with the guys he’s with because over the years I’ve never seen him smile so much and have so much fun playing in Sacramento.
Q: Kevin Huerter said that the Kings don’t get the same types of calls as other teams. Is that something you felt when you played in Sacramento?
Spud Webb: Absolutely, it’s funny but they talk about these superstar calls but it’s funny that teams like that don’t get calls like other teams of superstars.
Spud Webb: That’s a good question. Anthony Edwards is a coming-along superstar for me. KAT, Towns has been consistent his whole career. I just want to see all of them work together with Rudy Gobert standing in the lane because a lot of teams like the lane open so they can drive down and drive to the basket. You know, like Anthony Edwards, you want to see how he works with Rudy standing in the lane because he likes to put it on the floor and go to the basket.
Rudy, you know to say that, he covers for all those guys with his defense. So I don’t understand why they aren’t winning with the team they have, they have a lot of good pieces. They gave up a lot to get Rudy and I wouldn’t have done that but you know hopefully, the young team will come around. I like them because they play hard.
Q: Should the Wolves keep D’Angelo Russell at the trade deadline?
Spud Webb: I don’t understand why they are trying to trade him, he’s been playing point guard for them, which you need with all those guys there. So I don’t know what they are looking for, maybe a spot up guy but he hits. I don’t understand why they are trying to trade him unless they are trying to unload money or get draft picks. But if you’re trading for Rudy Gobert, you’re trying to win now.
Q: Can the Timberwolves compete for an NBA Title as currently constructed?
Spud Webb: Well, they should. After all they’ve given up, they should think that they are right there. I look at a team like that then some nights and say “why is a team like this not winning and losing to Houston”. You’re not supposed to lose to Houston but then you look at them play a top team like Memphis and they win. You just don’t know but injuries have killed their chemistry a lot this year though.
Q: What are your thoughts on how No. 1 Pick Paolo Banchero has played as a rookie?
Spud Webb: He’s been unbelievable. The guy acts like he’s already been in the league and it’s amazing, the maturity. I guess that’s what college does to you, they play with so much fundamentals when they come out of college that the NBA games come a little easier and more wide open. This guy could easily average more points than that but you can tell he’s a team basketball player. You love watching him play, he’s not a hotdog, you know I like guys like that, they make other teammates better.
I watched him in college because he was in the ACC and he does the same thing. He was that guy in college, you know why’d he’d get the first round pick, now you see.
Q: How has Banchero changed the culture in Orlando?
Spud Webb: A whole lot because they see how he plays, he’s going to bring more spotlight on them, the other guys are going to have to play well. They had a lot of injuries over the years but they are kind of getting them back, that’s why they’ve surprisingly beaten a lot of people.
Young teams, some of them could be playing for position because they are so young, all of them can’t stay there. That could be part of the reason why they could be playing so well.
Spud Webb: Hands down! I don’t know who else’s name you could put in there. The guy has played unbelievable all year. Every stat that he’s averaging as a rookie, you’re talking about LeBron numbers and maybe Carmelo averaged that many points.
Spud Webb: A healthy Steph Curry is hard to beat. I mean, you’ll like to see Joker because of the way he plays and Murray. But Giannis, man he plays so hard every night, so you just love watching him play. You look at Philadelphia and the team they have, that’s a pretty hard team to beat. If the Lakers were healthy, they wouldn’t be bad – I don’t think they can win a championship with the crew that they got now. It’s tough to count them out when they have Anthony Davis. But it’s hard to say which team would win, it’s hard.
Boston has been playing good all year, that coach, I don’t know why they haven’t given him a new deal with the way he’s coaching that team. Boston is going to be hard to beat but I think Milwaukee, the way Giannis plays, he just doesn’t jack threes and he gets those two points. He plays defense, that’s why his team is always in the game.
Q: Who is going to win the NBA MVP when the season is over?
Spud Webb: I was heavy on Tatum earlier but it looks like Joker got back on top of everybody. Then I had Luka, so it’s hard to say right now. I think it’s going to come down to who’s team wins.
Spud Webb: Siakam in Toronto and De’Aaron Fox, those two were two biggest snubs. Now Brunson, Brunson still may be able to get in with all the injuries. Those three, that I can think of off the top of my head, were bad snubs.
Spud Webb: I’m going to go with Junior. Hopefully these young guys have crazy stuff that we’d only dream about dunking. He seems like one of those guys that dunk in the game a lot, so he might be very creative in the dunk contest.
Q: How far can the Wolfpack go in the Big Dance?
Spud Webb: With the injuries he had, I’m surprised. Coach has been there and he knows what kind of players he wants. He always gets players that play in his system. The games that they are winning, you’re like man they’re sticking together, they are hanging in there and that’s what good teams do. Even with teams that play them hard, fight to the end like the other day against Georgia Tech.
Burns has been unbelievable. I just don’t understand, he’s barely getting off the floor and he’s just scoring at will. I think they did a great coaching job, for a guy that has that much pressure on him playing in the ACC. Nobody counted him to win games, they’ve been winning games, consistently winning games. That’s a sign of a good team. So hopefully we go far in the tournament. You know, most veteran teams go far in the tournament. If we get some of the guys back that are hurt, the big men then we’ll make a good run.
Spud Webb: I don’t see why not, they seem to be playing really well. They are playing together too. You can tell that it’s not just one guy out there just trying to get his stats. You know you like a team like that because they play team defense too. You just don’t score on them easily.
Q: Can the Wolfpack pull off the upset on the road in Charlottesville?
Spud Webb: Virginia is a good team, you have to have it together when you go up there because that coach teaches so much half court defense, it’s going to be tough. It’s not going to be no shoot out when you play Virginia. You can’t be turning the ball over and all that stuff because Virginia plays fundamentally sound basketball. You have to be really good to beat them, especially at their place.
Q: What are NBA teams getting if they draft the NC State guard, Terquavion Smith?
Spud Webb: Well, he has NBA talent, Derek Whittenbergh is there. I always talk to him and he’s always talking about “this kid, he’s ready” and all that. Well hopefully, you know he has a good showing in the offseason and makes the decision if he’s going to go pro. He’s got the pro game. Anytime you get a guy, especially if they think he’s not ready, you have the G-League to get guys ready in a year or two.
Q: What was it like competing against Michael Jordan in college?
Spud Webb: Yeah, my years at NC State were very stacked. They look at one team and they’d go, “man, this team here all got NBA first round, lottery picks on it.” Every game was tough, so when you played teams like that you wanted to play your best. Maryland had the super team with Len Bias and Michael and them was in North Carolina, Price, Salley, and them in Georgia Tech, Mugsy and them at Wake Forest. Every night was a battle with Johnny Dawkins and them at Duke. It’s crazy. That’s what you live for to play against those guys.
Q: Was there a moment that you knew Michael Jordan was going to be Michael Jordan ?
Spud Webb: Yeah, they say that the only person that held Michael Jordan down was Dean Smith. Once he got to the NBA, he just blew up. We knew how good he was, everyone around the conference was talking about how good he was. You know, he probably would have never played college if it was like today. Here so many guys just stay in college and go to college, but he probably would have never played in college if it was like today. Everybody knew he was the best player in the country. So you would try to go out and try not to get embarrassed.
Q: How can the NBA incentivize the best dunkers to compete on All-Star Weekend?
Spud Webb: I don’t know. When I first used to watch it, all the best players in the whole NBA used to compete in it. First, they probably had more pride and wanted to compete or wanted to make the NBA better. Now the guys get paid so much money, they probably don’t care about the dunk contest. Probably don’t want to lose, that’s what I think. I don’t want it that much because it’s getting big with the props. I like the natural dunks, you do a good dunk, you only have to do a good dunk. Some of the props have been very funny though.
Q: The NBA has allowed G League guard Mac Maclung to compete in the dunk contest. Do you think the NBA should open up the dunk contest to contestants from outside the league?
Spud Webb: No. No. No. It’s the NBA Dunk Contest. If you’re not in the NBA or G-League, I don’t think you belong in the dunk contest.
Q: Who are the best dunk contest dunkers ever?
Spud Webb: Gordon and he never won. The guy got all 50s and didn’t win. And he did the best dunk ever. Dominique is the best dunk I’ve ever seen. He’d do the most powerful dunks but more creative and dunk like that, Gordon man. You’d never seen a guy do a dunk like that, he did behind his legs, something he did.
Q: The evolution of the G-League and how it’s become another avenue for players to get to the NBA.
Spud Webb: Yeah, when I came out, I don’t know how many rounds there were, maybe eight. It’s been so long ago, I don’t remember but I got drafted in the fourth round. Now I like it with the two rounds because most teams get what they want in two rounds and then guys that don’t get drafted can go to places that they think they can make it and go to free agency.
Then you got the G-League, so you can have two way players in the G-League, which has been great for us. Anytime a guy that was supposed to go first or second round, he can sign a two way deal with the NBA team and he doesn’t have to play that year, he can play in the G-League to hone his skills and then go back-and-forth.
The G-League revolutionized the NBA, it has been great. It’s been getting bigger and bigger because there are a lot of guys now that used to go overseas. Now they can just go to the G-League and the NBA teams can see them every night and they can get picked up. I know the G-League is working because we’ve had a lot of guys that have come through the Texas Legends to go to the NBA, we had a lot of guys that stayed down there, honed their skills and then went overseas. I think it’s working, I think they should keep it. A lot of teams are using it like Houston, San Antonio, all these teams are using D-League players and that’s pretty good.
Q: What do you think about players going to the G-League instead of the NCAA?
Spud Webb: Well I like players going to college because you learn fundamentals. But if you think you don’t want to go to college, a young guy like that going to the G-League, he’s still in the States, around his family and supporting cast to try to make that change to playing with grown men and traveling and things like that than going to staying in a hotel in a foreign country. I think that it’s great that the G-League is opening its pockets and giving money to those guys that don’t want to go to college to come play in the G-League. They’ll be able to hone their skills, they have coaches, assistant coaches and interns that will help those guys out with working out and making adjustments to grown men’s life.
Q: McKinley Wright and Jaden Hardy, what do they bring to the Mavericks?
Spud Webb: I think Hardy is one of those players that play like Dinwiddie. He’s just a bucket waiting to happen, as we say because he can score with the best of them. I think that what’s helped him so much was getting that confidence and staying in shape in the G-League with the Legends. You see when he gets in games, he has so much confidence, that’s good he has confidence that he can score on anybody who plays in the NBA, that’s half the battle. The way he works at it and works on his game, you know that one day he’s going to catch on with a team.
Q: Who Are The Fastest Players In The NBA?
Spud Webb: That’s a good question. Donavon Mitchell, Morant. I don’t know Morant, Kyrie, Steph, Donavon, those guys push the ball up and down the floor pretty well.
Q: Best Dunking Guards of All-Time in the NBA?
Spud Webb: Donavon Mitchell dunks a whole lot of people. Morant, I mean Morant has made a highlight film that takes some guys 10 years to get in one year. So you love watching him play, Morant and Donavon. But I watch Lillard a lot, I like Dame Lillard a lot so I watch Portland. I know they come late for us but I still watch them when I can.
Q: Top-5 NC State players ever?
Spud Webb: David Thompson is number 1, all by himself. I’ve never thought about the top-5 . You have Burelson, Towe, Monte Towe, a team that won it in ‘74, [Connie Hawkins] was unbelievable when he played, I know I’m leaving out somebody right now. But I mean if you’re going to go with the backcourt with Sidney and Whittenburgh was great, then Corchiani came along and was a great point guard to play all those years. I can’t think of my main jump shooter but I played with him. That’s a lot guys, it’s tough to pick the top 5 but David Thompson by himself. Chuck Nevitt was there for a lot of years.
One year when I was a senior, Lorzeno Charles was pretty good on our team. God rest his soul. Chris Washburn should have been the best player that ever came through there, the most highly recruited player. I’m leaving out somebody, I can’t even think about him right now but Thompson is the best player. He might be one of the best college players ever.
Q: Final question Spud, Can you still dunk?
Spud Webb: I never play basketball, I’m around it every day too with the Texas Legends. The last time I played basketball, it had to be 2004 or 2003. The only time I get out there to shoot free throws or jump shots is with the kids at the camps, I never play. I don’t want to get hurt and come play golf.
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