Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Roudtable: Who Is The Best NBA Analyst on TV

Is one of the guys from TNT's NBA broadcast the best NBA analyst on TV? (

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among three of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: We move away from the play on the court and look to the broadcast booth with the question of who is the best NBA analyst on TV?

Kyle Davis:
A friend and I have discussed a theory in regards to NBA analysts that the better player the analyst was, the more likely you are to think they are right. A hypothetical example: Jalen Rose makes a comment about how Derrick Rose will react to coming back from a knee injury and Magic Johnson argues, taking a different approach saying he will be fine and back to All-Star status. Nothing against Jalen Rose, because he was a very good player, but because Magic is one of the greatest of all time, we automatically value his word and opinion more than others. He's a hall of famer, he knows what he's talking about, right? It's the same reason why if doctors and health experts come out and say red meat will kill you, people panic. If anyone knows, it's them. The problem with this is sometimes the weight of the opinion can overlook whether the opinion actually makes sense.

My point is several factors are in play when considering the "best" NBA analyst. Obviously the analyst, usually a former player, must be knowledgeable, so that's already a given. The NBA really doesn't have any Bob Knights who are clearly too old and just ramble nonsense on air.

Having your opinion garner respect is clearly a large factor because if viewers don't trust the analyst's opinion, there's no reason to watch. Humor and likeability are nearly has important because in 2013, just the facts isn't quite good enough. You want to laugh and be entertained while you soak up the knowledge on your couch at halftime during your game. This is where Sir Charles Barkley clearly steals the show. Whether you agree with what he is saying or not, it's difficult to not find the banter entertaining. He's my clear choice for "most entertaining analyst" but I have trouble listing him as the "best" because part of what people love about him is his humor and him saying ridiculous statements. I've always thought Kenny Smith was very good at his job, but I wonder how much of his success is due to his partnership with Barkley. That's why I would have to give the title to Magic. He garners respect, knows the game from both the player and front office perspective and while his personality isn't over the top like Barkley, that seems to allow him to be more universally liked because he is never too out-there. 

Alex Skov:
You know him, you love him: he's Hubie Brown. Former players benefit from the name recognition that Brown mostly lacks. He never played in the NBA and he last coached an Association team in 2004-05, when he resigned as Memphis Grizzlies HC before the season's halfway mark. Brown's credentials aren't obvious, but look a little further and his biggest accomplishment(s) sneak up on you. He inherited the coaching reins of three losing franchises — the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks plus the Grizz — and turned them all into playoff teams. None of this inherently translates to being a good broadcaster. However, it is indicative of his knowledge of basketball. Brown has made basketball tutorial videos, maybe even on Beta tapes given his ripe age of 79. He knows the game better than most if not all commentators and can tell the audience preemptively how a coach will direct his team on any particular play because he intuitively knows the flow of the game. His age also causes the occasional mishap — calling players by their teammates' names, for example — and, gosh darn it, that just makes Hubie loveable.

There are a lot of good commentators in the world of basketball (many of whom I don’t know by name but just by their voice), so instead of just narrowing it down to one I’ll choose the duo of Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy. Breen has been around for years and always brings a professional atmosphere to the games he announces while still being exciting. Van Gundy is a great addition because he has a lot of insights as a former head coach so he not only knows how the business works, but he also know a lot of the players playing.  Van Gundy has also never been afraid to voice an opinion on something which, for right or wrong, is still refreshing.

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1 comment:

  1. Likes: Hubie, Fratello, Breen, JVG, Harlan, Jim Peterson, Kerr

    Dislikes: Sean Elliott (the worst), Stacey King, Reggie Miller, the entire Nuggets broadcast team