Nate Duncan is an NBA analyst and attorney, and writes a weekly feature for HOOPSWORLD. Nate’s chats get started at 11 a.m. Eastern on Wednesdays.
If there are 3 basketball analysts on TV and there is one who is short, bald, and has glasses (ala Jeff Van Gundy). I’ve always said, “listen to their opinions, as they didn’t make it on TV based on their good looks.” Given your scruffiness and unbuttoned shirt in the photo op, can I assume the same??
Ha, outstanding. New photo coming in a couple weeks. Maybe I’ll forward your comments to my barber prior to that.
Hello Nate and welcome to Hoopsworld! Great to have you on board. I am a bit confused by the Bledsoe deal. Phoenix now has another PG (why?), and LAC gave up their best asset to acquire a player in Redick that they could have gotten in free agency. Meaning LAC essentially gave away Bledose for the privilege to swap Dudley for Butler. Am I missing something?
The key to the J.J. deal was that they were able to acquire him via sign and trade, thus preserving their mid-level exception for a backup big man. But it does trouble me that the Clippers did not particularly improve defensively on the wing, and defense was their biggest problem last year.
Also, I am not a huge fan of the rumored Landry signing for the same reason. Unless Doc can get Jordan and Griffin to improve their defense (and he may, as they have the physical tools) and is willing to play them in crunchtime, the Clippers may not be a ton better than last year. This is especially so since Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford (especially, although Redick mitigates that) are now on the downside of the aging curve and may not quite be able to duplicate what they did last year.
What trade/acquisition combo do you think gives the Rockets the best shot at a late playoff run next season?
Dwight Howard and Josh Smith would seem to be the dream combo for Morey. That would be an absolutely elite defensive frontcourt. The key to your question though is the words “next season.” Smith in particular is a risky signing in my view given the max or near max dollars involved. While I believe Smith’s contributions have long been underrated and he might well be worth that money next season, his game does not project to age well due to his reliance on athleticism. He has already seen a noticeable decline in athleticism, as his dunks and shot-blocking are down. Subjectively his body seems to have gotten a little doughier over the last few years as well. So while Smith may be worth the money next year (and a Smith/Howard combo would transform the Rockets into instant contenders along with Harden if Dwight is healthy) he could become an albatross contract down the road.
That said, Morey has always been adamant in talks at the Sloan Conference and elsewhere that because only one team of 30 wins the championship each year, risks are required. He may be willing to bite the bullet on the back end of Smith’s deal if he believes it will a) get Howard to come and b) put the Rox in the mix the next few seasons.
What do you think of Orlando’s designs to play Oladipo at the point? Is this more of a plan to just develop his ball handling skills for the 2 Position, or do they really think he has potential to translate into a R. Westbrook prototype?
I thought Oladipo was a reach at number 2 due to his low usage rate at Indiana and sudden improvement last year. He also didn’t show much ability to drive with his left hand on the film I watched. So I do not think playing him at PG will workout long term. But for summer league, why not play him there and try to develop his skills?
That’s all the time I have this week. Thanks for all the great questions and we’ll do this again soon.
With the K-Mart signing will Minnesota be able to stop anybody on D?
I tweeted last night that Martin/Budinger/Love/Pek(if re-signed) would be an awful defensive 2-5. Here is how I would describe the job Flip Saunders is doing so far: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQh56geU0X8
Ok, maybe it isn’t THAT bad. But with Love and Pek as a frontcourt they needed to upgrade the defense on the wings to have a prayer of stopping anybody. Instead, they will have a below-average defensive small forward and a really bad defensive shooting guard. While the offense may be good, it puts a ceiling on their improvement if the defense is going to be bad, and they’ll have spent big money to lock in that bad defense.
Do you see OJ Mayo signing with the Jazz? I think he would be a perfect piece to spread the floor for Kanter, Favors.
I hope that he does not, frankly. The Jazz now have solid young prospects at every position. Corbin has proved far too eager to play low-ceiling veterans over the young guys. The Jazz aren’t winning the title next year, so why not let those players develop, potentially contend for the playoffs in a feel-good story, and pick up another draft pick in 2014 while you see which of those young players are any good. If the Jazz roll over their cap space to 2014 they will have a better idea of what their long-term needs are and who of Burke/Burks/Hayward/Favors/Kanter can play.
Hi Nate, welcome to Hoopsworld! Quick question..
Last year I was psyched about the Kidd-Gilchrist selection, but it’s looking like my Bobcats’ lack of talent is veering him off course, since they’re asking him to do things that aren’t his strengths of his game. In hind-sight do you think Charlotte should have drafted with H Barnes or Drummond instead, and will Kidd-Gilchrist ever live up to his potential in Charlotte? Thanks!
Welcome all to my first Hoopsworld chat. Please note that shameless pandering will not improve your odds of getting a question answered, unless of course it includes a reference to Seinfeld, the Simpsons, or the Wire.
I thought at the time of the 2012 draft that Drummond should have been the 2nd pick. While many thought him high-risk, I actually though he was low-floor due to the fact that big men with his remarkable combination of length, strength, height, and quickness are extremely rare and have basically never failed in the league. MKG, on the other hand, seemed like a bit of a reach due to his lack of skill level. I would be loathe to take a wing in the top 5 who is not an elite scorer or shooter, and I think that describes MKG. There were comparisons between he and Scottie Pippen or even former Bobcat Gerald Wallace, but he lacks the elite elite athleticism of both players. And while I have a healthy respect for his intangibles, it is hard to “change the culture” of a losing team if you are not also an elite player. It’s also really hard to play wings who can’t shoot at all in todays NBA due to the spacing problems that engenders. He was one of the youngest players in the draft last year, so perhaps there is hope he can turn it around if he can fix that broken shot.
What can the cavs do this offseason to make the playoffs? Also what do you think of the bennet pick? I’m hoping that he can play the 3 because i think tristain thompson is awesome. Thanks!
Playing Bennett at the 3 would be an enormous mistake in my view. I was fine with the pick because I believe he could well prove to be the elite offensive talent of this draft and would make a great P&R combo with Kyrie due to his shooting, ability to put the ball on the floor off closeouts, and elite finishing ability. But many a power forward with elite ball skills like Bennett’s has been ruined by playing the 3, with D. Williams and Beasley the most salient examples. Bennett’s offensive advantages lie in being able to blow by opposing 4s or stretch the floor to draw them away from the basket. At the 3, the only way Bennett is scoring will be by posting up, which is a less efficient option in today’s NBA. This is particularly so if he has relative non-shooters Thompson and Varejao on the floor with him.
Finally, the Cavs’ biggest problem the last few years has been defense, as they’ve ranked in the bottom 5 of late. Can you imagine Bennett trying to guard elite wings?
Is pulling back Izzy’s 65 mil offer unprecedented? Will it cause players to not trust the team going forward?
I assume you’re referring to Iguodala’s reported offer from the Kings, although reports last night varied from 4/52 to 4/56 on the offer.
That aside, I don’t think it hurts them. A prime example of “offer and acceptance” for all you law school students out there–a team is within its rights to pull back an offer if it hasn’t been accepted yet. Of course, the legal aspect isn’t what we’re concerned with here; what matters is what the Kings told Iggy and his representatives. If they gave him time to think about it and then pulled the offer, he may well be miffed and rightfully so. But I would assume they were smart enough to put a deadline on it with the idea that they needed to move on to other targets if he didn’t accept and/or wasn’t ridiculously enthused enough about coming there to sign immediately. That is not unprecedented in free agency.
Why aren’t tax paying teams like NJ/Miami/LA angry that they’re subsidizing teams like Charlotte?
I had a note in my article posting today that tangentially relates to this. Rather than “level the playing field,” the new CBA seems to have chilled additional spending by small markets as big markets (plus Miami) seem the only teams willing to brave the new more severe tax. And you’ll recall during the lockout there were rumblings that Mickey Arison especially wasn’t happy with the owners’ draconian stance on “system issues.” That said, the large markets would much rather be the large markets due to the far superior local TV deals they can glean. They are still doing just fine.
Miami’s won back to back. Why aren’t guys lining up to play for them cheap?
They may well do so. A very interesting test for the new CBA will be whether the Heat open up the purse strings and use their MMLE this year, which could end up costing them close to 8 figures all told. The Heat should have a MUCH tougher go of it next year with Chicago healthy and surprisingly using their MMLE on Dunleavy, the Nets’ heart transplant (“these things happen $180 million”), and the Knicks’ import of Bargnani. (One of these things is not like the other…) If they want to import some new blood in the frontcourt they likely will have to, but given their ultracontender status they will likely be able to lure an excellent player with that money and even the veterans’ minimum.
Ernie Grunfeld – GM of the Wizards – has been routinely savaged by fans and the media. What is your thought about the roster he has put together in Washington and what their upside this year could be?
I certainly do not understand spending the full 4 year MLE on Martell Webster. He is a great candidate to regress after what was admittedly a very effective 2012-13, and he will be in his age-31 season by the time the deal ends. Mediocre wings typically do not age well, especially those with the injury history Webster has. The deal is even worse considering the Wiz now have their wings of the future in Porter and Beal. If they didn’t think Porter is ready to play big minutes yet (and he’d better be if he was picked #3 with a relatively low upside) they still have Ariza this year and could have picked up someone else on the cheap. Long-term, they are still going to need a quality 4 man. With John Wall requiring a near-max extension in the future, the Wizards could rue spending this money if it prevents improvement at the big man positions later on.
Do you think the Bulls will pick up another center during free agency? Any chance J. Oneal goes for the minimum and splits backup minutes with Nazr?
The Bulls are very likely limited to the veterans’ minimum at this point. While they still possess the Korver TPE of $5 million for another few days, a) using it would cost the organization about $15 million in salary this year and b) it would be unwise to take on money beyond 2014, when the team hopes to reload depending on what happens this year. That leaves a limited number of players who are big men, whose contracts expire in 2014, and whose teams are willing to part with them. In fact, no one who would be worth the money comes to mind–Vince Carter could have been a target with the TPE with Dallas looking to clear cap space, but the Bulls already got a superior player (for them at least) in Dunleavy.
O’Neal may well be willing to sign for the veterans’ minimum, but taking him from the Phoenix training staff to the Bulls would not be the best recipe for maintaining his improved health. That said, the Bulls should be able to get a contributing 4th big man in this market for the veterans’ minimum. Even if they can’t, the Dunleavy signing will provide flexibility for Deng to play more 4 next year and help mitigate the lack of another good backup big.
Hi Congrats on your new gig. How did you get started and end up with Hoopsworld?
I had always watched and just as importantly read as much NBA as any person with a real job could. My friends got tired of me talking their ears off as we watched game, so I decided to start my own site about a year ago. Hoopsworld decided they liked my work, and I’m extremely flattered and excited to be on board.
Thomas Robinson to the Blazers tells me that Aldridge is definitely going to be traded. I dont want to give up Noah or Rose, but couldnt the Bulls put a package together that brings Aldridge to Chicago?
I wouldn’t say that Robinson’s acquisition necessarily portends the departure of LMA. The Blazers saw a chance to pick up a player who was the #5 pick a year ago for what they deemed to be relatively little. The Blazers’ bench was perhaps the worst in the league last year and frankly Robinson was not an effective player last year in any event, so expecting him to become the new starter at PF is way over his head at this point.
If LMA were to be traded, the Bulls could put together the best package among contenders (and teams LMA is theoretically willing to re-sign with in 2 years). The Bulls are unique among contenders because they have two assets that would be very attractive to contending teams, namely the Charlotte pick that becomes completely unprotected in 2016 and the rights to Nikola Mirotic, who a number of scouts and GMs told me at the EuroCamp would have been a top 5 pick in this year’s draft. I don’t see any other team beating a package built around those two assets if LMA wants out.
If the Blazers are demanding Noah in return, I would wait out the Blazers were I the Bulls and see if they’d accept the above package. But ultimately, Aldridge is probably a better player than Noah, is slightly younger, and will age better due to his shooting ability and his somewhat less troublesome injury history. Subjectively Noah has seen a decline in athleticism these last 2 years (do you see him making that Game 6 in 2009 steal and dunk vs. the Celtics anymore?). It’s a tough call, but if push came to shove I’d give up Noah for Aldridge.
Robinson by the way is a great example of one of the new frontiers for analytics. What really holds Robinson back is his low-percentage finishing at the basket despite his physical tools. Have players of this ilk been able to improve that skill? I have yet to see a study on it, but the answer may hold the key for how much money to pay Robinson going forward since he has the athleticism to defend and is a great rebounder.
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Golden State Warriors
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San Antonio Spurs
Stephen Curry struggled mightily in the clutch last year. Nate Duncan examines why, and whether it can be fixed. Plus, Harrison Barnes' ceiling and more advice for teams in late game situations.
10:30am - Steve Kyler
3:00pm - Yannis Koutroupis
8:00pm - Jessica Camerato
11:00am - Nate Duncan
8:00pm - Bill Ingram
12:00pm - Travis Heath***
8:00pm - Lang Greene
1:00pm - Joel Brigham
3:00pm - Jabari Davis
1:00pm - Moke Hamilton
3:00pm - Larry Coon
8:00pm - Alex Kennedy
11:00am - Susan Bible ***
*** denotes chats that are held bi-weekly