Monday, 22 Jul 2024

NBA Mailbag: Candace Parker Answers Your Burning Questions

NBA Mailbag

Welcome to the NBA Mailbag, where your questions get answered by the experts! In this special edition for Women’s History Month 2024, three-time WNBA champion and NBA TV and TNT analyst, Candace Parker, takes over to provide insightful responses to your inquiries. Let’s dive right in!

Who Will Be the Next NBA Player to Reach 40,000 Points?

  • Travis from Vacaville, CA

Candace suggests that Luka Doncic and Anthony Edwards have the potential to reach this milestone, considering their scoring abilities and the current style of play in the NBA. However, she also mentions that it could be a long time before someone breaks LeBron James’ record, as the next record-breaking player may not have been born yet.

Can We Expect You to Play in the WNBA for 20 Seasons?

  • Nala from Las Vegas, NV

Candace doesn’t rule out the possibility of continuing her career in the WNBA for 20 seasons. However, she prefers to focus on the present and take it one day at a time. She believes that staying in the moment is crucial as she gauges when it’s time to step away from the game.

Which Teams Could Surprise and Make a Deep Playoff Run?

  • J. D. from Bennett, NC

In the Eastern Conference, Candace believes that the Cavaliers and the Knicks (before their recent injuries) have the potential to exceed expectations and make a deep playoff run. In the Western Conference, she points out that teams like the Warriors and the Lakers could have a Play-In game showdown and potentially replicate what the Miami Heat accomplished last year. However, she acknowledges that there are many great teams in both conferences, and it would take a bit of luck to overcome formidable opponents in a seven-game series.

What Can We Expect from the Philadelphia 76ers When Joel Embiid Returns?

  • James from Philadelphia, PA

Candace highlights that Embiid’s return itself is uncertain. If he does return, the 76ers will have a chance to make a playoff push because of his exceptional skills. However, given the injuries the team has faced this season, a second-round playoff exit would still be considered a positive outcome.

What Sets Jimmy Butler Apart as a Playoff Performer?

  • Jason from Fort Lauderdale, FL

Candace acknowledges that “Playoff Jimmy” is a real phenomenon. She attributes his success in the playoffs to his ability to maintain a consistent pace, find his spots on the court, and effectively use his post-up skills. His versatility and willingness to excel in different aspects of the game make him a valuable asset, particularly in the playoffs.

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How Do Young Playoff Teams Benefit from the Experience?

  • Joshua from Sacramento, CA

Candace explains that young playoff teams like the Thunder, Kings, and Timberwolves have the advantage of playing without much pressure since they are considered underdogs. This experience allows them to observe and learn from the differences in playoff basketball, while also identifying areas for improvement. Additionally, having the opportunity to compete in the playoffs enables these teams to evaluate their rosters and make necessary adjustments for future success.

What Do the Milwaukee Bucks Need to Improve for a Championship Run? Is Damian Lillard an MVP Contender?

  • Clayton from Memphis, TN

Candace believes that Damian Lillard, also known as “Dame Time,” has the ability to elevate his game when it matters most despite a relatively slower start to the season. Regarding the Milwaukee Bucks, she notes that their offensive consistency has never been an issue, but their improved defense under coach Doc Rivers is a positive sign. If the Bucks can continue to excel on both ends of the court, they have a legitimate chance to compete for a championship.

Is Victor Wembanyama a Strong Contender for Defensive Player of the Year?

  • Kelsey from Portland, OR

Candace recognizes Wembanyama’s defensive prowess and predicts that he has the potential to win both the Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards simultaneously in the future. She lauds his ability to anchor the defense, switch onto different opponents, and make impactful plays across the court. However, she also mentions that the San Antonio Spurs’ underwhelming record may hinder his chances this year, as team success often influences award considerations.

How Can the Phoenix Suns Secure Better Playoff Positioning and Who Will They Face in the First Round?

  • Karel from Phoenix, AZ

Candace explains that the Suns must improve their fourth-quarter performance, particularly in handling leads and avoiding turnovers. Additionally, the team’s overall health, including the return of key players like Devin Booker, will be crucial for their success. As for their playoff matchups, Candace suggests that it would be ideal for the Suns to avoid facing the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

Which NBA Teams Provide the Most Entertaining Style of Play?

  • Tina from Fillmore, CA

Candace shares her favorite teams to watch, including the Golden State Warriors, led by the electrifying Stephen Curry, and the talented Phoenix Suns. She also admires the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the up-and-coming Orlando Magic, particularly highlighting Paolo Banchero’s development.

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How Will Caitlin Clark’s Game Transition to the WNBA?

  • Braxton from Boise, ID

Candace has high expectations for Caitlin Clark, emphasizing her exceptional shooting skills and ability to elevate the performance of her teammates. She believes that Clark’s shooting and passing abilities will translate well to the professional level, enabling her to make a significant impact in the WNBA.

What’s the Significance of an NBA/WNBA Crossover Challenge?

  • Liron from Israel

Candace supports the idea of an NBA/WNBA crossover challenge becoming a staple in future All-Star weekends. Not only does it promote and raise awareness about women’s basketball, but it also contributes to the NBA’s viewership during this major event. Candace hopes to see multiple rounds of shooting showcase the incredible talent and competitiveness of WNBA players.

What Are the Most Important Aspects of Playing Lockdown Defense?

  • James from Fort Lauderdale, FL

Candace shares her love for playing lockdown defense, highlighting the satisfaction of frustrating opponents and forcing them out of their comfort zones. She also enjoys helping her teammates by providing helpside defense, whether it’s taking a charge, blocking shots, or getting deflections.

If You Could Compare Your Game to an NBA Player, Who Would It Be?

  • CJ from Brooklyn, NY

Candace likens her playing style to that of Kevin Garnett. She appreciates Garnett’s signature turnaround jump shot and shares his versatility in terms of facing up, ball-handling, and defensive capabilities.

What Is Your Favorite NBA Playoffs Matchup of All Time?

  • Dimeetrik from Bronx, NY

Candace recalls the intense series between the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers in 1998. This matchup, which featured epic battles between Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller, left a lasting impression on her.

Which NBA Rivalry Holds the Most Significance for You?

  • Kami from Atlanta, GA

Candace declares the Miami Heat versus the New York Knicks rivalry as her favorite. She reminisces about the heated matchups between Alonzo Mourning, Marcus Camby, and John Starks, showcasing the basketball intensity of the ’90s and early 2000s.

Who Makes It to Your All-Time NBA Starting Five?

  • Keonte from Los Angeles, CA

Candace selects Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Garnett as her all-time NBA starting five. She humorously mentions that leaving off Shaquille O’Neal might cause some backlash.

Who Makes It to Your All-Time WNBA Starting Five?

  • Thompson from Croatia

Candace forms her all-time WNBA starting five with Cynthia Cooper, Maya Moore, Lauren Jackson, Ticha Penicheiro, and includes herself among the elite players.

What Advice Would You Give to Caitlin Clark, the Next Steward of Women’s Basketball?

  • Joseph from Ventura, CA
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Candace advises Caitlin Clark to maintain her focus and embrace the pressure that comes with being in the spotlight. She encourages Clark to continue playing the game with the same passion and mindset that ignited her love for basketball from a young age.

Who Are Your Top Four All-Time Women Athletes?

  • Montae from Los Angeles, CA

Candace’s Mount Rushmore of Women’s Sports includes Billie Jean King, Serena Williams, Dominique Dawes, and Mia Hamm. She acknowledges the exceptional contributions these athletes have made to their respective sports.

What Are Your Impressions of the Basketball Africa League?

  • Abdoulaye from Mbour, Senegal

Candace expresses her admiration for the talent emerging from Africa, highlighting the recent success of teams like Nigeria in international competitions. She believes that showcasing this talent will not only provide opportunities but also elevate the overall perception of African basketball worldwide.

Besides Las Vegas, Which WNBA Arena Offers the Best Game-Day Atmosphere?

  • Elijah from Brooklyn, NY

Candace mentions that New York and Minnesota have particularly enjoyable game-day atmospheres. The passionate fans in these cities create an electric environment that adds to the excitement of the game.

How Can One Overcome Performance Anxiety and Stop Caring About Others’ Opinions?

  • Jesiah from Tampa, FL

Candace advises focusing on what is within your control and narrowing your attention to three key aspects of your game. By setting specific goals, such as rebounds, deflections, or energy level, you can alleviate performance anxiety. Additionally, she encourages athletes to remember that basketball is just a game and to enjoy it with a smile.

Do You Envision Coaching in the WNBA or NBA After Your Playing Career?

  • Wilson from Las Vegas

Candace firmly states that coaching is not in her future plans after retiring from playing basketball.

What Would You Have Chosen as Your Profession if Not for Basketball?

  • Kenoit from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Candace reveals her passion for history and envisions a career as a historian or history teacher. She also admits a desire to travel the world and experience different cultures, similar to the late Anthony Bourdain’s exploration of food and culture.

Among the Cities You’ve Played In, Which Has Been Your Favorite?

  • Danielle from Austin, TX

Candace shares that Los Angeles has been her favorite city to live in due to its vibrant atmosphere. However, she fondly remembers Istanbul, Turkey, where she played overseas early in her career, as a close second for its unique experiences.

With that, we conclude this edition of the NBA Mailbag, featuring the insightful responses of Candace Parker. Keep your questions coming, and stay tuned for more expert insights into the world of basketball!