TNT analyst Steve Kerr discussed the NBA season and All-Star Game weekend in an interview this week. A former NBA guard and Phoenix Suns general manager, he will coach Team Shaq in the Rising Stars game at 8 p.m. Friday. His players include Clippers star Blake Griffin, Knicks guard Jeremy Lin and Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio. Kerr also will be analyst for the All-Star Game at 5 p.m. Sunday.
How does the Thunder rate in the Western Conference?
They are the best team in the West. I think the interesting thing is, come playoff time, will that translate all the way through? They have done very well in the playoffs, getting to the conference finals last year. Progress this season means getting to the NBA Finals. So there's a lot more pressure, a lot more expectations. It will be really interesting to see how they handle that stuff.
What are the team's weaknesses?
Their biggest weakness is half-court execution when the game bogs down. Their offense really is about attacking and beating you off the dribble with (Russell) Westbrook, (James) Harden and (Kevin) Durant, and they are really, really good at it. But if they play a team that can figure out how to keep them in front, and if they're not making their threes, can they execute? They don't get the ball much inside at all. I think they're vulnerable if a team can really defend them well. They can end up getting very stagnant offensively in the half-court of a pressure-filled game.
What advice do you have for Scott Brooks in coaching the All-Star Game?
I've got to coach the Rising Stars game Friday night. I need advice from Scotty. I have talked to the coaches, guys who have done it before. They all say it's about managing the minutes. That's what your staff is there for, making sure you're getting everybody in and getting everybody their due. Then in the fourth quarter, you play whoever is hot and you try to win the game.
Is there a conference favorite?
Not ever in an All-Star game. They are all great players. Whoever gets hot that night.
What's your impression of Lin, who you're coaching Friday night?