Brandin Podziemski: „I want to be an All-Star”

On February 29th, in Madison Square Garden, in the Golden State Warriors’ locker room, before the game against the New York Knicks, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brandin Podziemski. The 21-year-old rookie has Polish roots. We talked about this and many other topics. Our conversation was briefly interrupted by Klay Thompson.

All right Brandin, first things first. I can not start with anything different. What are your connections with Poland? Because obviously your last name, Podziemski, tells it all.

Yeah, I got family in Poland, some cousins. My great grandparents were the first to come over here do the US. I haven’t been to Poland yet, but definitely want to go over there at some point.

Do you guys speak any Polish?

I don’t. We don’t. My grandfather knows some, but my dad and me, nothing.

Absolutely nothing? Not a single word?


Are you guys in touch with your Polish relatives?

Yeah, my cousins text me. I know the time difference is like nine hours from San Francisco. So they try to watch my games, but it’s like 5 a.m. there.

Where do they live? Which part of Poland?

Not sure. Not quite sure to be honest with you. But they definitely watch my games because my cousins text me all the time. It’s pretty cool.

On multiple occasions, you mentioned that you wanted to play for the Polish national team.

Yeah, at some point, but I’m not sure when. I want to do that because that kind of is my country. To represent Poland would be pretty cool.

Have you already started the process of applying for Polish citizenship?

Not yet. Right now I’m just trying to get through my rookie year, see where it goes and then after that reevaluate everything and go from there.

So, realistically, when can we see you with the Polish national team? 2025 is the Eurobasket.

I’m not sure, like I said, just kind of getting through the rookie year first and then, after the season I’ll have to see where everything goes, what my second year looks like, and then I will go from there.

Has anyone from the Polish Basketball Association contacted you or your agent regarding this matte?

Not me directly. There’s been some people that have reached out to my family. But not to me directly.

Did you talk to Jeremy Sochan about it? The idea of playing together for the Polish national team?
Yeah, we talked about it at the Rising Stars game together. He’s always been good to me ever since I got drafted. I talked to him on draft day and played against him a couple times already. So, he’s been good. Obviously, just encouraging me to join him and stuff like that.

You’re leading the league right now in charges taken. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Yeah, to me it’s just another form of rim protection. And I feel like when I’m on the floor, guys know that I’m willing to take a charge. So sometimes it deters them from trying to go all the way to the basket. For me, it’s just trying to help the team win and that’s kind of what my job is.

Was there any specific charge you regret taking?

Nah. I think the way I take them, I’ve learned over time the right ways to take them, so I don’t feel it on my body that much. So when I get hit by like Jokic or Embiid I don’t really feel it.

You’re an exceptional rebounder for your position and for your size. It’s been like this in college and now it translates to the NBA. What makes you good at it?

Yeah, I think a lot of it comes down to the people I’m playing with, how good of shooters they are. Usually the better shooters, their ball always bounces somewhere in the paint. So it’s a combination of that, definitely effort. Effort is big in getting rebounds. And then, you know, boxing out. I feel like if you do a combination of all those things, a lot of the times the ball kind of finds you. And sometimes you gotta work for them. But for me I always wanted to be exceptional at rebounding just because it makes it easier for us to go in transition.


On time, in the pocket!” – suddenly, Klay Thompson interrupted our conversation.

That’s right. Just find Klay Thompson” – Podziemski replied.


Polish fans love you. Do you feel it? Does it get to you? Do you follow it somehow?

Yeah, my cousins tell me that a lot of people in Poland enjoy watching me play. They love my game because it’s very unique compared to what they’re used to seeing in the NBA. I just try to make my impact as much as I can.

From the DNPs (Did Not Play) to „garbage time” now to starting role for the Warriors. Can you take me through that process? Over the last three months, your transition is pretty much amazing.

In college, my freshman year at Illinois, I didn’t play many games at all. And if I did, it was kind of garbage minutes, didn’t really matter for much. And then I transferred and went to Santa Clara, they gave me the opportunity. And I just took advantage of it. And then obviously coming into the NBA, knowing that I got three Hall of Fame guys right around me. I knew it would be a little difficult for me to crack the rotation at first. I wasn’t expecting much, but obviously you want a lot as a competitor, but also you have to realise who’s in front of you. And I think, for me, just kind of going in with the mindset of „okay, what did they not do as well” and what’s something I can add value to. And for me, I think it was the rebounding, the charges, making the simple play, doing all the little things. I think that’s kind of what It’s got me on the floor and it’s made me get into the starting lineup.

Speaking of your great teammates, Steph, Klay, Draymond, Coach Kerr, Hall of Famers obviously. How did it feel coming to first practice and seeing all of them?

Yeah, it was amazing but also pretty easy just because those guys all reached out to me prior to training camp and throughout the summer. We had a lot of team stuff that we did together, so getting to know them just on a personal level, not including basketball was super cool. But in terms of being on the court with them, just learning. Where they like to get their shots from, how they play, because they’ve played together for over a decade. Just learning all of that in a short amount of time, is something that I try to do. So it seems effortless when we’re out there together.

It seems like Steph took you under his wings right off the bat. Can you talk about it?

Yeah, he did a great job. The day after I got drafted, he just called me and we talked for a good 15-20 minutes. Just about that he’s here for me. If I need anything, just let him know. And throughout the summer, he invited me to some of his camps, some of his workouts, just to be around that and to see his habits and what he does on a daily basis. And I think it’s paid dividends in my performance. Obviously, nobody’s going to shoot the ball as well as he does, but just being able to take the little things that he does each and every day at the age he does it. It’s something that you want to replicate for sure.

Speaking of the little details, what was is isspecifically with you Steph? Something with your footwork, shooting mechanics, something else?

Not so much on the shooting side, but more on how he prepares, what kind of goes into that. Because you know, he is 35 years old. To keep your body in the amount of miles he runs in a game, just running around the court it takes a toll on your body. So just little things like that, things that can help me preserve my body and help me in the long run.

What was your „welcome to the league” moment?

I would say probably just guarding Steph at training camp, just to see his shot making. You know, the crazy shots he takes, they go in most of the time. Obviously no one is like him. So I’ve never had any experience of guarding a guy like that. It was definitely eye opening. Him and Klay, just guarding them and seeing how difficult it really is.

Before you came to the NBA, you obviously had an image of the league. How does it look like, how does it function. And now that you’re in it, what surprised you the most?

I don’t know if it’s the rules or anything like that, but it’s not a lot of defense that’s played. And the guys who are really good on defense can kind of get away with stuff, but if you’re not known as a defender, you get a little cheap fouls and 'ticky tack’ stuff like that. So, for me, coming into the league knowing that I wanted to make it known that I could play defense. I got that reputation right away. They knew 'okay, he can play defense’. So now when push comes to shove and calls come down, maybe some will lean in my favor. I think for the most part I’ve done that. I don’t foul much, I can kind of get away with some stuff. Draymond Green is obviously the king of that. He does a lot of good things defensively and his reputation is he is a defender. Same thing with Gary Payton II. I just try to take little things I can away from them and I think it’s helped me well so far.

Speaking of Draymond, we all know what he brings to the table. What is he like off the court?

Oh, man, he’s great. One of the best teammates I’ve ever had. No matter the situation, he always has your back. Regardless of if you’re in the right or the wrong. He always has each and every one of us back. I couldn’t be more thankful for that because, as a rookie, it’s not that you’re timid or scared, but you don’t know how this kind of game works in the NBA. For a guy that’s been in the league for so long, it’s comforting knowing that he’s got your back even though you’re so new.

Where do you see yourself, let’s say, in 3-4 years from now? Where do you set the bar? Where is your ceiling?

Yeah, I want to be an All-Star. As quick as I can. Obviously, I don’t want to rush the process. I want to win as well. I want to have one or two championships by the time I’m in year three, four. I just want to win every game I play and I think by winning and knowing my work ethic, knowing what I put into it in the summers, I think I can get there.

What are the biggest weaknesses in your right now? And the aspects of the game you want to improve?
Just being more efficient. I think I can be a 40-45% guy from three. My free throw shooting is pretty bad right now. I think I can shoot 85% and above every year. So just improving that area. And then defensively, being able to be the point of attack defender. Taking that challenge of guarding the best guard, while being able to perform on offense too. I think that’s the kind of level I want to get to. So far, obviously, my offensive role isn’t as much because I have Hall of Famers around me, which is fine, but I like to take that challenge defensively of guarding whoever they need me to guard.

Do you already have some routines on the road trips?

Yeah, I usually have an optional shoot around. I always go to that, come back, then we have a team meeting, I eat some food, take a nap after that and then I come to the arena. I prepare to go out in the court, I do my warm up, I do my lifting after and then I get my ankles taped and kind of get mentally ready. Then I go watch Steph and Klay shoot out there when it’s their time.

And what do you do in your spare time? Video games, books?

Nah, not on the road. I leave my video games at home. I try to go out in different cities and see what they have to offer. What kind of shops they have. What kind of scenery they have. I like to do that because a lot of these places I haven’t been before. So I like to go out and just kind of see what they have to offer.

What’s your favorite city so far?

Favorite city? Milwaukee! Back home! When I get to go back home in January that was really cool for me. Got to play in front of my family. That city is always going to be number one.

Every now and then, there’s footage of Steph making crazy shots. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen that hasn’t been recorded?

Never been recorded? Well, I think the one that’s actually been recorded is the one he shot from the tunnel. I think two weeks ago or a week ago. I tried to do that, and it wasn’t too good. The accuracy and everything. Even just physically, it’s really hard. But yeah, I think he has so much touch, and so much I don’t even know what it is, it feels like a superpower. He finds a way to put the ball in the basket.



Before coming to the NBA, who were the players you’ve tried to model your game after?

Manu Ginobili for sure, Jalen Brunson, Goran Dragic a little bit…

All lefties

Yeah, lefties, for sure. But also Luka, just kind of, you know, not the most athletic guys in terms of verticality, but super high IQ players that play for their teammates and play to win and can score the ball also.



Polskie tumaczenie TUTAJ

3 comments on “Brandin Podziemski: „I want to be an All-Star”

  1. Anonim

    Dziadek coś tam mówił ale on już ani słowa. Jest w kontakcie z rodziną w Polsce ale w sumie to kuzyni piszą do niego podczas gdy on nawet nie wie gdzie żyje jego rodzina. Rozważa grę dla Polski ale w sumie to nic w tym kierunku nie zrobił…
    To już chyba Slaughter miał więcej wspólnego z Polską dzięki grze w reprezentacji niż ten dzieciaczek xd
    Yyyyyyyy a przepraszam. Wchodząca gwiazda i być może przyszło all star…
    Dzięki za ten wywiad. Dużo wyjaśnił.
    Chyba jeszcze bardziej doceniam Jeremiego. Nawet nieznajdującego czasu dla kadry.

  2. Anonim

    A czemu on ma cos zrobic zeby grac w kadrze polski? To chyba polska powinna sie postarac, to ma byc naturalizowany zawodnik. Ma milionwe kontrakty przez najblizsze lata za granie w NBA.. Nie sadze zeby u nas pograł, za dobry jest XD

    1. Anonim

      Chyba niezbyt zrozumiałeś ocb.
      Ma milionowe kontrakty…
      No to w sumie tłumaczy wszystko więc w dyskusję wchodził nie będę.
      Masz rację. Ważne, że kasa się zgadza i jest kimś


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