Join HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy for his weekly NBA chat this Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET. Submit your questions early because this chat fills up fast!
Who’s your favorite team heading into this season, not named Miami or Los Angeles Lakers?
What’s up everyone? Thanks for submitting your questions. The NBA season is finally here so there’s plenty of things for us to talk about. Let’s jump right in.
My top-tier teams are the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. In my opinion, those are the elite teams entering the season. Teams like the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics are very good, but they’re a notch below the Heat, Lakers, Thunder and Spurs. Those teams have so much talent and I think one of them will end up hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy when all is said and done.
Do you think that the pacers can win more that 53 games in the regular season?
I think that this team has the best bench in the east. What’s your opinion?
It’s possible. The Pacers are a very talented group and I love their confidence. They have an us-against-the-world mentality and everyone in that locker room has bought in. I think they’re going to be better than they were last season because they have much more chemistry entering this year. At the beginning of last season, they were still trying to get new pieces like David West and George Hill acclimated, which wasn’t easy during the lockout-shortened season. Now, after a full year and a normal training camp, the Pacers should be even better.
Also, they’ve really improved their bench, as you mentioned. I’m not sure if they have the best bench in the East, but they’re certainly up there. I love the additions of D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green and Ian Mahinmi. Also, I’m a huge Orlando Johnson fan so I’m curious to see if he’ll get some minutes and emerge as a scorer off the bench. The Pacers are the second-best team in the East this season and they’ve done an excellent job building a team that’ll be competitive for years to come.
How Stunned are you that Harden got traded to the Rockets? And why would Presti pull this off now rather than later?
I was surprised. I really thought that James Harden would remain in Oklahoma City. I’ve spent some time with that group of guys and they were extremely close. They were like a family and they did everything together. I understand the move, but that didn’t make it any less shocking.
Sam Presti made this move now so that Harden’s contract situation wouldn’t be a distraction throughout the season. Also, the Houston Rockets’ offer likely would’ve gotten worse had Presti waited. The Rockets wanted to acquire Harden before October 31 so that they could sign him to a five-year extension.
Well so much for you experts picking James Harden to win sixth man the year for the second straight year in a row, since it’s likely he’ll be a starter in Houston. Now who’s the most likely candidate for that award?
Right now, I’d say that the top candidates to win Sixth Man of the Year are Kevin Martin, Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, Lou Williams and Nick Young. All of those guys are scorers who are capable of putting up huge numbers off of the bench. They are all on new teams and the award will go to whoever fits best with their new squad.
I think Rockets are going to be disappointed if they really think Harden is a “Franchise, foundational” player.
Unfortunately I think he’s good enough to decrease their chances of getting a top 3 pick by at least 40% (don’t focus too much on the number). Agreed?
You may be right. The Rockets may be a middle of the pack team, which is what they’ve been for several years now. That’s always tough because you’re not good enough to be competitive in the playoffs but you’re not bad enough to get a top pick that yields a franchise player. It’s almost better to be terrible for a year or two just so you can get a top draft pick and someone to build around. Lin, Harden, Parsons, Patterson and Asik may not be bad enough to win the lottery for Houston.
Who is better rondo or westbrook. i say westbrook because better scorer, quicker, he is a real pg who makes others around him better, coach trusts him with his offense, better shooter, three throw shooter. westbrook went to the finals last season. if you take away the stars and shooters surrounding rondo, he will become bad.
Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook are both excellent players. It really depends what pieces you have around them. On a team with a bunch of scorers, I’d take Rondo because he’s the perfect facilitator and he’ll make sure everyone gets their touches. On a team that needs help on offense, I’d take Westbrook because he’s capable of taking over games and scoring the ball. I’m taking Chris Paul over both of them though. Just saying.
Hi Alex, thanks for taking the time out to answer questions. As a Bulls fan I’m wondering what you think this season will bring for us?
I’m not sure what to expect from the Bulls this season. I wasn’t a big fan of their offseason moves. I think they would’ve been better off bringing back guys like C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver rather than bringing in new faces like Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and Kirk Hinrich. With that said, Tom Thibodeau is an excellent coach and the Bulls still have plenty of talent in their starting lineup, so I think they’ll manage to stay afloat until Derrick Rose comes back. I predicted that they would finish second in the Central Division and I think they’ll end up as the fifth of sixth seed in the East. By the time the playoffs come around, they should be completely healthy so they’ll be better than their record indicates and they’ll be a tough out. At the end of the day, they’re still a contender, even if nobody is giving them much of a shot entering the season.
who are you picking tonight between the clippers and grizzlies and why?
I’ll go with the Clippers. I think they’re going to surprise people this season. They had a great offseason and they’re one of the deepest teams in the league. Chris Paul is now healthy and has chemistry with the starters, Blake Griffin should continue to make strides and DeAndre Jordon looked excellent during the preseason. This isn’t a young, up-and-coming team anymore. With a supporting cast of Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Lamar Odom, Eric Bledsoe, Matt Barnes, Willie Green and Ronny Turiaf, they’re in win-now mode. I’m excited to see what this team can do. Let’s hope Vinny Del Negro stays out of the way.
I know its only one game but the Mavs looked good considering their without Dirk and Kaman. When fully healthy a deep bench and great coach I can see this Mavs team being very dangerous your thoughts?
The Mavericks looked great last night. I was very impressed with Darren Collison, Elton Brand and Jae Crowder. They really played well and their jobs will only get easier when Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman come back. This is a very deep team with a lot of veteran contributors. Teams aren’t going to want to run into Dallas in the postseason.
What do you think what could be the role and stats for Klay Thompson and Brandon Roy. Could be Brandon the player that used to be?
Thanks from Barcelona!
The Warriors are counting on Klay Thompson to take the next step in his development this season. He showed glimpses of brilliance toward the end of last season, averaging 18.6 points in the final month of the season. They need him to consistently play at that level, and I think he’s capable of doing it. He was outstanding during summer league, easily one of the best players on the court. This could be a big year for Thompson.
I don’t think Brandon Roy will be the player that he used to be, but I do think he’ll be a solid contributor for the Timberwolves. I don’t see Roy returning to All-Star form, but I think he can still be better than a lot of shooting guards in this league. He looked good during the preseason. He was pain-free and his minutes weren’t limited, which are great signs for Minnesota. Roy will make the Wolves better and put up solid numbers, but expecting him to be the star that he was with the Portland Trail Blazers is unrealistic given everything he’s been through.
How do you think the Rockets will do this year?
I think Jeremy Lin is going to be voted into the All-Star game because of his worldwide popularity. I think James Harden is going to put up huge numbers now that his minutes and touches will increase. I think Omer Asik will surprise people and prove that he’s a solid starting center. With that said, I don’t think Houston will make the playoffs. The Western Conference is just too competitive this season. I think they’ll finish behind other up-and-coming teams like Utah and Minnesota, which means they’ll be back in the lottery. Then, it’ll be on Daryl Morey to use their cap space and make a splashy move next summer like, say, signing Josh Smith.
Do you think Kosta Koufos can win the MIP? Karl has designated him the starter and in preseason he showed he can more than double his 5point 5 rebound average from last year.
If his preseason numbers are any indication, he’ll definitely be in the mix. With that said, I can’t see him holding onto that starting job for long. The Nuggets are paying JaVale McGee too much money to sit him on the bench. I’m expecting big years from Nikola Pekovic, Omer Asik and DeAndre Jordan so I think they could be in the mix as well.
What do you rate the raptors team out of 10 and do you see them being a top 4 team in the east in the coming years?
I like the Raptors and I think they’ll be in the playoff hunt this season. With that said, they play in arguably the toughest division in the NBA, which will make things difficult for them. They had a great offseason – I love the additions of Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross – and I think they’re heading in the right direction. I don’t think they’ll be a top four team in the East, though, because I don’t see teams like the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks or Chicago Bulls falling off anytime soon.
How much do you see Rasheed Wallace helping the Knicks? Personally I don’t think he has much left in the tank to be a true contributor.
Also, do you see the Raptors making JV their starter for the entire season barring injury? Or could someone else take his spot?
Rasheed Wallace didn’t bring much to the table for the Celtics back in the 2009-10 season, so it’s hard to imagine him being a significant contributor now. I understand why the Knicks signed him, he’s a low-risk, high-reward addition at this point and it’s worth a shot to see what he has left. I wouldn’t get my hopes up though. I’m expecting the Sheed we saw in Boston, which was hard to watch at times.
I think Jonas Valanciunas should be the starter. It seems like he’s ready to contribute right away and I think throwing him in there will only help his development.
what is your opinions about Enes Kanter and Omer Asik? Greetings from Turkey, Istanbul.
Enes Kanter is still very raw, but he’s shown glimpses of how good he could be. He was a monster in the preseason and he’s clearly a big part of Utah’s long-term plan. It’s only a matter of time before he’s starting for the Jazz, just like Derrick Favors. If I’m Utah, I’m moving Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to hand the reins over to Kanter and Favors. Give them more minutes and touches, and let them develop.
I’m a big Omer Asik fan. In our Sunday Topic article two weeks ago, I predicted a breakout year for Asik. Here’s what I wrote:
“After coming off the bench for the Chicago Bulls during the first two years of his career, Asik will take on a bigger role as a starter for the Houston Rockets. Asik signed a three-year, $25.1 million deal over the offseason and now all eyes will be on the 26-year-old to see what he can do with increased minutes.
Asik is one of the best defenders in the league and he’ll finally get the recognition he deserves. Not only is he a great shot blocker and rebounder, he can singlehandedly turn Houston into an elite defensive team. Last season, the Bulls gave up 7.6 points per 100 possessions less when Asik was on the floor. The numbers show that few players impact a game defensively like Asik. Of all NBA players to defend at least 250 plays last year, Asik ranked No. 1 in the league, allowing just 0.653 points per play. The Rockets, a team that loves advanced analytics, saw this and made an offer that Chicago couldn’t match.
Offensively, Asik still has some developing to do, but this season he’ll get more touches than ever before. Last season, Asik averaged just 3.1 points in 14.7 minutes, so averaging a career-high in scoring shouldn’t be difficult, especially since Jeremy Lin likes to find his big men for easy baskets. With that said, anything that Asik contributes on the offensive end is just a bonus; his true impact is seen on the defensive end and on the boards. This could be a big year for the center, who remains extremely underrated.”
Hi Alex, 1st- Do you like it when you’re ‘right’ in an article? Reference: Eddy Curry being ‘taken’ so quickly by DAL, already has played ‘OK’ versus LAL, after waive by SAS. 2nd- Where are you ‘based’ and are you a fan of a particular team? As in: Joel/CHI, Bill/Dallas/HOU, Susan/OKC and Lang/ATL.
Bring right is much more fun than being wrong. I’m always confident in what I write because I talk to a lot of people around the league that guide me in the right direction and let me know what’s going on behind the scenes. Most of the things that I write or tweet come from sources who are directly involved and have firsthand knowledge of the situation, especially when it comes to breaking news like personnel moves.
I’m based in Orlando, but I’m not a fan of a particular team. On most nights, I’m rooting for specific players to do well, either because I’m friends with them or because I need to interview them after the game and I need them to be in a good (talkative) mood.
Dwight 3 for 14 from the free throw line? Killed my fantasy team the first week….. Not really a question just pend up frustration….. thanx
Get used to it. I’ve covered Dwight since his rookie year and I’ve seen him work with countless shooting coaches and make tons of adjustments to his shooting form/process. Nothing has helped.
Varejao looked very good last night. i think the Cavs should sell high, what do you think they could get for him?
The Cavaliers aren’t going to trade Varejao just to trade him. They’ll only move him if they’re able to acquire a draft pick or a player that makes them better. Plenty of teams called the Cavs over the offseason about Varejao, but they decided to hold onto him because they view him as an important piece on and off the court. He’s able to contribute in a variety of ways (as we saw last night) and he’s a great leader/veteran to have around the young guys. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cavs traded him before the deadline, but they won’t part ways with him unless they’re getting a nice piece back in return.
That’s all for now! Thanks for submitting your questions. If I missed you, hit me up on Twitter or stop by next Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET. Have a great week!
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Select a Team
Golden State Warriors
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San Antonio Spurs
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