Join Joel Brigham this Thursday at 3:00pm EST to chat about all things NBA, from the preseason to potential trades and remaining roster moves. Get your questions in early and be back here Thursday afternoon to take part in all the fun!
“Whose team is it?”
“Who is taking the last shot?”
Are my Lakers going to have to suffer through these silly questions all year? You never realize how annoying it is until it happens to your team…
Good afternoon, HOOPSWORLD Citizens, and welcome to another edition of my weekly chat! Bulls media day is under my belt, and now I’m just excited to start covering some games. There really is nothing quite like getting in these buildings and starting the process of getting involved in actual games again. Summer League is fun but decidedly not star-studded, and the draft is a cool event, but it’s all over and done with so quickly. The 82-game season and the postseason is what this thing is all about, and I’m very, very happy to be back in the swing. I’m sure you guys are all ready for some televised games, too, and we’ll try to quell that a bit today by answering some questions. Let’s start with the Lakers, because why not?
You know, the “Whose team is it?” argument is very different with the Lakers than it was with, say, the HEAT a couple of years ago. Back then you had a superior talent (LeBron) stepping into a situation in which the slightly worse-off player had maybe lost a step. Because one was tenured, and one was great, there was a debate. In this case, the best player on the team is also the longest-tenured player on the team, so anybody asking, “Who takes the last shot?” in L.A. is absolutely insane. Kobe takes the shot a million times out of a million, and if he doesn’t it’s because somebody broke the game plan.
I think Steve Nash and Dwight Howard can provide some leadership in their own rights, but it’s not like either player is anywhere near taking the reins away from Bryant. Tell the people asking these questions that they’re being dumb, and if they’re your friends, it might be time to start looking at making new friends.
My friend and me are arguing over the Celtics. He said that if the Celtics were switched in the west with the Kings, they would be a 12 seed because they can’t score and Rondo will choke. I say that they are a guaranteed top 4 seed. Who’s right?
Is the question what would happen if you just dropped the Celtics into the Western Conference? Well, they are decidedly not better than the Thunder or Lakers, and probably not better than the Clippers or Spurs. I’d see them competing in that Memphis-Denver-Dallas range for a 5-8 seed. To say they’d be the 12th team in the Western Conference is kind of outrageous considering how much talent they’ve still got on that roster, not to mention a great coach, so don’t undersell these guys. I’ve got them winning the Atlantic, so that means I consider them a top-four seed, but Miami and Indiana are better in my opinion, and New York and Brooklyn are right there. So to conclude, I don’t think it matters which conference they played in; either way, they’re sort of smack-dab in the middle of the playoff picture come April.
If the Lakers starting core was all at 25 years old, how would the rest of the teams in the league fair as is?
Does the rest of the league get to be 25, too? Because if so, the Celtics, Heat, Knicks, and Spurs would be NASTY. And of course the Lakers would be pretty darn good, too. I mean, they’re pretty darn good, anyway. But a younger Kobe, Nash, Pau, Jamison, and Artest would be pretty unstoppable. Not sure I’d put that up against LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Ray Allen, and Rashard, though. Even the Knicks with a 25-year-old Kidd, Carmelo, Amar’e, Rasheed, and Camby would knock some people’s blocks off. Interesting question, but there are a few teams out there that would look good younger.
honestly I think CHI bench is better than the one last year. what do you think? all players on the bench could and have started at some point or another(excluding butler and teague) and did a pretty decent job of it.
No. Worse. Part of what made the outgoing group so good was the fact that everyone was okay with his role and they all really bought into Thibodeau’s system and into each other. The chemistry with that group was out of sight. They loved each other, knew each other, and had figured out how to play really well with each other. Kirk is a step slower, Teague is too green, Nazr is barely serviceable, and God save us if Kyrylo Fesenko makes this roster. I do like Belinelli, though, and think he will help a great deal with scoring off the bench, and Taj Gibson should be starting in a year if (when?) the Bulls finally amnesty Boozer. Nate Robinson is interesting, too, and Jimmy Butler really does seem like he could be exceptional, especially defensively. I mean, there are pieces that I like here, but to call this group an upgrade over the Bench Mob is just wrong.
Of course, not a lot of people were excited about the Bench Mob when they were first assembled, either. As a Bulls fans, here’s hoping Thibs figures out how to squeeze 110% out of this group, too. And honestly, with Taj as a sixth man, you’ve already got one of the better bench players in the league right off the bat. It absolutely could be worse.
If Minnesota decides to trade either Ridnour or Barea once Rubio is back, who do you see as the interested teams?
It’s hard to know now, because a lot of that will depend on what teams face injuries and find themselves needing depth at point guard. Maybe Milwaukee? With Brandon Jennings on his way out the door, I could see them interested in something there. Utah, maybe? New Orleans really needs a true point guard right now and certainly has the kind of assets and flexibility needed to make some kind of deal. And Miami still needs a point guard, but I’m not sure either one of those guys is in their price range. We’ll have to see how Rubio does and which teams are hurting in January. We’ll get a better sense of things then.
Seems like injuries have already hurt some teams playoff chances for this year. Which team do you think will feel this impact the most – Washington with John Wall and Nene Hilario, Minnesota with Ricky Rubio, or Memphis with Haddidi, Darrell Aurthur, and Zach Randolph
Chicago and Derrick Rose. There’s no bigger star out there hurt coming into the season, and Derrick is going to miss a significant chunk of this season. Rubio hurts Minnesota by being out, too. Essentially, the bigger the name and the longer duration missed, the more it affects the team. No one’s got it worse in this respect than the Bulls right now.
Is John Wall having surgery or simple rest and rehab for 8 weeks. And if you were a Wizards fan, would you be concerned this knee injury will linger for the rest of the 70 games of the season. Seems like an awful lot of pounding for his knee to put up with. How many games would you predict him playing this upcoming year?
From what I understand it’s the beginnings of a stress fracture in his knee cap, and all that requires is significant rest. If eight weeks is what he needs to be 100% healed, then I’m going to be done worrying about the knee. Assuming he’s fully healthy the rest of the way, 70 games is what we’re hearing as a best-case scenario. Let’s set the number at 62 and hope that we’re so lucky. I’ve been really looking forward to watching this Wizards team this year, so fingers crossed that Wall gets back quickly and is able to stay well the rest of the season (and into the playoffs, if applicable.)
Do you think Will Conroy will make the Wolves squad? If not, do you think any training camp invitee will?
Assuming good health, what do you see the Wolves’ floor and ceiling in the West this year?
I count only 13 guaranteed deals on this roster right now, so I suppose there’s room, though I would think of any of the camp guys has a shot at a bigger deal it’d be Lou Amundson. Most of these guys just get the two-week tryout and pray for ten-day contracts later in the year. I wouldn’t count on it, but he’s still got to play the games. That’s what they’re for, right?
Who do you think is the primary back-up to Michael Kidd-Gilchrest this year in Charlotte. Team seems thin at the 3.
Yeah, they’re thin there, but you can get away with either Gerald Henderson or Tyrus Thomas sliding over to the three if you had to, and rookie Jeff Taylor (the first pick from the second round of this most recent draft) is actually better than many people realize. He’s the next true SF in line, so I imagine he’ll see a few minutes, too. It ain’t pretty, Mac, but at least we’re moving in the right direction out there, right?
I actually have to put some of this flopping problem on the refs. I only say it because I dont think I have ever seen a charge called unless the defender falls to the floor even when it is obvious the offense is charging. Maybe if they would call it when the defender is standing their ground then they wouldnt flop. Also is the flopping rule going to be called on offense also? I am pretty tired of Lebron throwing his hands up in the air and then put that stupid face on when he barely gets touched.
Maybe that’s part of it, I guess, but this is a trend that really got going when a lot of the Euros headed to the NBA. With soccer being so much more popular overseas (and you want to talk about a flopping epidemic? Watch a little footy), there’s kind of a cultural thing there that made its way to basketball somehow. The more it worked (and it’s easier to pull off in real time than we’d all like to admit), the more it was used. Now things have just gotten silly. I understand the union grievance, but I like the rule. Hoping it works.
Hey. Will the Bucks play Ekpe Udoh much? If they do, do you think he could be a star?
Ekpe Udoh is never going to be star, so a big fat no to the second part of your question, but I’d have him as the second-best center on that team if he’s healthy, so that should get him a decent amount of playing time behind a starter (Sam Dalembert) who is in no way good enough or spry enough to play 35 minutes a game anymore. It’ll just depend on whether Udoh or Larry Sanders comes forth as the more logical backup this season. Should Udoh prove himself worthy of that (and having watched Sanders for a few years, I think that’s entirely possible) minutes should be there for him.
George Hill averaged a mere 9.6 ppg and 2.9 apg last year (albeit behind Darren Collision). But this didn’t stop Indiana with rewarding Hill with a 5 year / 40 million dollar contract. Having not watched many reg. season games, did George’s impact on the floor outweigh his boxscore. Seems like an awful lot for those numbers and am skeptical the Hill/Augustine combo will work half as well as the Collison/Hill combo last year? What do you think of Hill as a player and what type of statline do you project him having this year? Should his low assist numbers (even in the playoffs) be a concern?
He was a better leader than Collison, which is whey he ended up starting at point guard down the stretch and into the playoffs, and that I think played a significant role in his getting rewarded with those fat stacks of cash. He’s absolutely not a true point guard, so I’m hoping Augustin can bring enough of that to the table to keep backcourt defenders honest. Hill can certainly average more points than that, but the Pacers were one of the worst teams in the league last year in terms of team assists. Not sure we’ll see those numbers rise as much as we’d like them to. I’d say something like 13 ppg and 4 apg is about right. And that, to me, isn’t a $40 million stat line, but what do I know? He’s a great, hard-working kid and I’m looking forward to seeing how he responds to his first full-time starting gig.
Hey Joel, I think you’re the most honest out of the writers in these chats. you don’t sugar coat it. DO you think the nuggets will be a top 4 seed in the west? Will Ty Lawson make his first All star game with nash’s stats likely going down in decreased scoring role of LA?
Thanks, Frank. You know, I’m one of the most (okay, the most) open fans on staff here, but I don’t like to let my love for the Bulls get in the way of talking about basketball in an honest way. I’ll never like LeBron James, but I can’t deny that he’s the greatest player alive. As long as I keep my head on straight, I can root for a team and still say credible in the eyes of the fans. Just have to make sure I don’t over-love Chicago, and anybody’s who read enough of my stuff know that I absolutely don’t.
As for your question, I think the Nuggets are right around where you’re suggesting. I’ve got the West in tiers:
1. Lakers and Thunder
2. Spurs and Clippers
3. Nuggets, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Minnesota
And I like the Nuggets the best in tier three. So I suppose mark them down as a 5 seed for me. For now. I reserve the right to change my mind if they look better or worse than I expect.
As for Ty Lawson as an All-Star, you’re talking about Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and Tony Parker as sure-thing guys, and you know Nash is going to get a sniff, too, however his stats look. There’s a real possibility he even ends up being the guy voted in as a starter, in which case Lawson would have no shot. I think he plays good enough to be talked about, but there is just too much star power ahead of him to get considered.
Everyone keeps mentioning the Lakers heat or the thunder as the three teams that will win the title this year. Who would be your eastern conference and western conference dark horse to knock off these three teams and take the title.
I don’t know that they’re a dark horse, but the Spurs are always really good. They’ve been on top of their conference the past two regular seasons and the roster doesn’t look any worse than it has in that span. Lots of great role players there, well-coached, and still some star power with Tony Parker leading the charge. Don’t want to count them out completely, and I’d say they’ve got the best shot.
Beyond that, everybody else just isn’t in the same class. I can not buy into the Clippers as title contenders with Vinny Del Negro at the helm. The Pacers are still too young for that deep a run. The Celtics are too old. The Bulls, maybe, if Rose comes back better than ever and Chicago gets a favorable first-round match-up (assuming they won’t have home court advantage), but there will be a lot of issues to work out very quickly when Derrick gets back. Not sure they can get it all together in the month of regular season games I think they’ll all have together.
In reality though, let’s face it. It’s Miami, OKC, or the Lakers. One of those three teams is winning the championship this year. Hard to go against the HEAT right now. LeBron is about to enter a serious phase of dominance right now, and with Ray Allen knocking down wide-open threes in the corner? Who the hell is going to stop that?
Speaking of injured players. Which Luol Deng should we expect to see this year? The one who was a legit top-5 SF allstar or the guy gutting it out who couldn’t go left for much of the season. He didn’t look all that good for GB in Olympics.
He swears his wrist is doing fine, so if he struggles that won’t be the reason why. He was asked at media day if he planned on stepping up his role offensively while Derrick was out, and his response was that making a conscious effort to do that would be a mistake. He’s always been a “let the game come to me” kind of guy, and I imagine that’s how he’ll play again this year. I see his ppg jumping up a couple ticks to around 17 ppg, but not because he’ll be markedly better; it’s because last year’s scoring average was the lowest he’s seen in quite a few years. He’ll be fine, but he’s not an alpha dog. Fans expecting him to transform into that are going to be disappointed.
That said, Luol is my guy, one of my favorite people in the entire league, and I hope he absolutely kills it in Derrick’s absence. If Chicago outplays themselves again and ends up with a way better record than anyone expects, they’ll get an All-Star. Deng would be a great bet if that were the case. I just don’t personally think that will be the case.
Kenyon Martin, T Mac, Josh Howard, Derek Fisher. Does anyone sign them within the next week?
What about Leandro Barbosa? Michael Redd? These are guys with gas still in the tank, but I get teams’ desire to go with cheaper, unproven guys rather than veterans used to bigger roles and bigger paychecks. Lots of good talent is spilling forth from the D-League these days, so taking risks on some of those guys is more cost-effective and provides a higher ceiling for potential incoming talent. We know what Kenyon Martin and Tracy McGrady are giving us at this point. Either you want that, or you don’t, and apparently right now nobody particularly wants that. Seems crazy to fans, but to execs, I kind of get it.
Folks, that’s my hour. Thanks for all the great questions, and I look forward to more of the same next Thursday. Until then, enjoy your weekends, and go Bulls!
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Select a Team
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
New Orleans Pelicans
New York Knicks
Portland Trail Blazers
San Antonio Spurs
The Indiana Pacers will appear in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in nine years, but can their postseason run continue?
11:00am - Bill Ingram
3:00pm - Stephen Brotherston
3:00pm - Alex Kennedy
8:00pm - Lang Greene
10:30am - Steve Kyler
1:30pm - Joel Brigham
11:00am - Yannis Koutroupis
3:00pm - Larry Coon
11:00am - Susan Bible
5:00pm - Derek Page