Chat with John Hollinger
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, NBA columnist John Hollinger will stop by to share his thoughts on all of the NBA news.
Send your questions now and join Hollinger Thursday at noon ET!
John Hollinger (12:11 PM)
Greetings everyone. Sorry we're a little late but there was an incident here -- a hungry Boris Diaw came in from the wild and raided my fridge. Forgot the Bobcats were in town tonight.
How much stock can we put in these early PER ratings? Some unlikely names near the top early on.
John Hollinger (12:12 PM)
Look at the minutes and adjust proportionately. The guys who have played less than 100 minutes? That's basically three games. I think you can figure out yourselves how much stock to put in that. Once you start getting into hundreds you can begin attaching some seriousness to it.
John (New Jersey)
How much longer can Deron play at such a poor level? If he out of shape? Does he hate NJ? Just going through the motions for Dwight?
John Hollinger (12:14 PM)
I was shocked by how mediocre Williams looked when I was up in Jersey at the start of the season, and his play hasn't improved much. He just doesn't seem to have that same burst when he attacks off the dribble, so he's running into a lot more traffic. Very interesting for what it portends for free agency -- hard to sell him as a max guy if he keeps playing like this.
James P (Tucson AZ)
What do you think of the Knicks rise in defensive efficiency? Do you think this is a trend, or a statistical aberration?
John Hollinger (12:15 PM)
I think it's a result of playing a bunch of bad offensive teams, but as you point out the sample is still small enough that it could be from any number of factors. Knicks's schedule increases markedly in quality soon and I think we'll start getting better answers then.
Casey (Indianapolis, IN)
Can the Pacers win a first round playoff series? Is last night's game vs. an injured Hawks lineup any indication of their talent level?
John Hollinger (12:16 PM)
My inclination is that they're more likely a one-and-done with this group; I don't like how much the ball sticks offensively. Then again, I have a hard time coming up with four teams I'd guarantee would beat them. And the wild card for Indy is that they can still make dramatic roster upgrades because they're so far under the cap and have assets to put into a trade.
Does Kobe need to take less shots for the Lakers to improve offensively or is it more of the team needing to time get used to the new offense?
John Hollinger (12:19 PM)
I thought his shooting so much hurt them in a couple games, but in several it's been a major positive. Look, L.A. basically only has three players who can put the ball in the basket, so a lot of this is being done out of necessity. And remember, he's getting his share of assists too. As long as he keeps shooting with his current efficiency, it's not hurting them.
Reality Check (SLC)
Hollinger, the buzz around SLC after the Jazz's loss to the Lakers last night is the Jazz might be a playoff team this year. Can you please help SLC come back down to reality?
John Hollinger (12:21 PM)
Might? I can go with "might." On the other hand, they might not, and that's still the way to bet. Basically they'd have to stay ahead of Memphis and keep the other hopefuls off their tail, and I still have trouble seeing that happening.
Hollinger, will LeBron ever get out of this 4th quarter slump?
John Hollinger (12:23 PM)
You mean this two-game long slump? Yes, I have a feeling it will prove temporary. By the way, I'm waiting for Henry Abbott to chime in and point out that Kobe took another hero shot at the end of regulation that missed badly.
Looking at last night's loss to the Magic; yet still shooting a good FG%; does the Blazers win that series if it were 7 games with the same defensive game plan?
John Hollinger (12:25 PM)
You mean the plan to let them keep shooting wide-open 3s? Go back and watch the tape -- Portland's bigs were so scared of Howard they never rotated, so the Magic got anything they wanted. Blazers wanted Orlando's secondary players to beat them and man, did they ever.
Convince me the Sixers don't win the Atlantic. Boston looks painfully old and the Knicks are banking on Baron Davis being the answer.
John Hollinger (12:26 PM)
Sixers look like a pretty heavy favorite right now. I watched the first half of Boston-Dallas last night and it was painful; even against an old, slow team they looked old and slow, with the glaring exception of Rondo. Celtics might be on a much sharper downswing than I'd suspected.
Sunny (New York)
Why does it seem as if Memphis has regressed from last year's playoff version?
John Hollinger (12:27 PM)
You mean besides the fact that their best player is hurt and their sixth man is out for the season? Nobody caught on to how valuable Darrell Arthur was for them last season because he didn't play that well in the playoffs, which was the only time most people watched the Grizzlies. But losing him left a mark.
John Smith (Chicago)
Asik-Noah-Deng for Turkoglu and Howard..... Works for both teams....
John Hollinger (12:28 PM)
Thanks for stopping by. Rashard Lewis for Kobe works for both teams too. Doesn't mean it has any chance of happening.
DWill's play has improved as of late but his supporting cast is by far the biggest detriment he has. No one else to pay any attention to.
John Hollinger (12:29 PM)
That argument might be more convincing if MarShon Brooks hadn't basically supplanted him as their go-to guy for points.
Couldn't the Bulls just amnesty Boozer at the end of the season and flat out sign Howard w/ a max deal?
John Hollinger (12:30 PM)
No, they wouldn't be under the cap even after amnestying Boozer.
Are Blatche/Lewis so much of a sieve that starting Booker/Singleton actually makes the Wiz a little more formidable?
John Hollinger (12:31 PM)
I think so. Booker was the one positive from those first eight games; he's a combo forward and his match-ups can get tricky sometimes but he's a very effective garbage man around the basket. As for Singleton, I really like his defensive mentality and really hope playing for the Wizards doesn't crush it. Dude is huge for a wing defender; he has All-Defense type talent at that end.
Can Houston sneak into the playoffs or still on the outside looking in aka 9th seed/14th pick again? Thanks
John Hollinger (12:33 PM)
I think it's more likely they're on the outside, but Memphis's injuries have left the door open for a usurper to take that eighth playoff spot. Houston is better than its record but has probably the league's toughest schedule this season, plus the frontcourt defense remains a huge concern.
Jeremy H (Minneapolis)
Adelman needs to start Rubio, he has earned it! By the way Luke Ridnour is awful!
John Hollinger (12:35 PM)
Wouldn't be surprised if both Rubio and Williams are starting fairly soon, as they've both outplayed the guys ahead of them. But imagine this -- why not replace Ellington with Rubio instead of benching Ridnour?
Ryan (New York)
What's your revised comparison for Rubio at this point? Rondo? Kidd? Pistol? Can't be Darrell Walker.
John Hollinger (12:36 PM)
Apparently I should have saved my Darrell Walker comment for John Wall; they even play for the same franchise. It appears Wall's jumper is going to sidetrack his career the way I thought Rubio's would. Instead, Ricky is nailing Js left and right. I suspect he'll cool off, but right now he looks like a Spanish Jason Kidd.
Did you see Demarcus Cousins' line last night? Good timing on the surprising performance article you did yesterday.
John Hollinger (12:38 PM)
Here's the thing with Cousins: He's a plodder and has a lot of trouble keeping up with the pace of the game. He's the last one upcourt on nearly every trip; long-term he's really got to keep up his conditioning or he'll turn into Eddy Curry. But in the halfcourt? He was just beasting Toronto's bigs on the glass. Granted its not saying much to overpower Amir Johnson or Ed Davis, but Cousins is a dominating rebounder.
How bout some love for Al Harrington? PS How long is he going to hold up?
John Hollinger (12:39 PM)
I had folks in Denver telling me he looked great in preseason, that he'd lost weight and was playing excellent. Wasn't sure whether it was preseason hyperbole or not, but clearly he made good use of all the free time he had during the lockout.
Harout (San Diego)
What do you expect the Bulls to do with this situation in Chicago where Noah and Boozer don't play in the fourth?
John Hollinger (12:41 PM)
Yes, it's getting to be an issue. Boozer and Noah, for whatever reason, have never meshed as a frontcourt tandem. On paper it looks good; on the court it's a mess. Thibs may need to start Gibson, use Boozer as a sixth man and get Booz and Noah the bulk of their minutes away from each other. Using Boozer this way might have the secondary effect of preventing him from killing him Luol Deng by playing him with the both the starters and the second unit and resting him for 20 seconds each half.
so far the hawks bench seems to be improved over the last couple years. do you see this continuing? which of the mcgrady/vlad/green/pargo group do you see as the best bet?
John Hollinger (12:43 PM)
The backcourt still worries me; Pargo hasn't been good and Green's history is that he's either replacement level or a half-notch above. It's the two forwards spots that are doing most of the damage, with T-Mac often doubling as a guard. As long his knees stay intact he can keep doing that. By the way, fingers crossed in the ATL today while they await results on Horford's shoulder.
Robert (Los Angeles)
Tyler Hansbrough has 2 assists through 10 games and 1 block...do you think he will end up with more assists or blocks at the season's end?
John Hollinger (12:46 PM)
I saw both his assists! A heartwarming, two-dime flurry in the second quarter of the Philly game. That was exciting stuff. Then against Atlanta last night he turned baseline and tried to dribble through a triple-team. Ugh. I'd still bet on assists, but it's gonna be close.
You seem to be a little less than fond of the Knicks, but what do you see out of Shumpert so far
John Hollinger (12:49 PM)
I don't know what to make of him yet. An alluring mix of pluses and minuses, in the big picture. Iffy shooter and decision-maker, but athletic and an obvious plus defensively. I'm not sure he's a point guard, but on this team he'll have to suffice for the moment. As for the Knicks in general, I still see them in the playoffs and would rate them higher than the Power Rankings do, but it's hard to be overly impressed with their start.
Greg (San Francisco)
Is it just me, or have their been an inordinate number of injuries to significant players this year?
John Hollinger (12:49 PM)
I get this question every year. It's just you.
Are the Clippers a first or second round playoff team? Seems like the talent is there to go further if they can gel and improve their defense.
John Hollinger (12:50 PM)
I'd like their odds of winning a round better if they made a coaching change. But with all that front-line talent they'll be a tough out even if they're not a top-four seed.
Are the Suns a decent defensive team?
John Hollinger (12:51 PM)
Shockingly, it appears they may be. I'm going to be seeing a lot of them the next couple weeks and will be able to tell you more.
What is Utah doing with Favors, Kanter and Burks? Shouldn't they being playing them 20+ minutes a night to see what they can do and getting a sense of who among Milsap, Jefferson, Bell, Howard and Miles should be traded after the all-star break?
John Hollinger (12:53 PM)
I understand a bit why Favors and Kanter don't play more; they have two really good starters at those positions. The Burks thing slays me though; Raja Bell is a helpful defender but he'd need to be Bruce Bowen to justify his total lack of production in any other category. I can't believe I live in a world in which both he and Rasual Butler are starting in the NBA.
The buzz around here is that Bargnani and Calderon are going to be all stars this year. Despite Calderon's insane assist/turnover and Bargnani having the best year of his career, i disagree that either of them make it this year. What do you think?
John Hollinger (12:55 PM)
Easy, Romeo. The Raptors are still well outside the East's top eight, and normally teams in that stratosphere don't get any All-Stars. Bargnani shot very well to start the year but couldn't make a thing last night -- a regression to the mean that should have been expected -- and neither has any pedigree to suggest they'll play at a high enough level to make it.
Any thoughts on the John Lucas shot brigade last night?
John Hollinger (12:55 PM)
Slack-jawed wonder. I didn't see the game and did a double take when that stat line shot across the ticker.
Is Linas Kleiza the spark Toronto needs to get some offence going from someone other than Bargnani? Dude can shoot it!
John Hollinger (12:56 PM)
I suspect he'll be starting at the 3 once he gets his legs. By the way, Kleiza got his first points on a left-handed drive last night, and his first field goal on a left-handed shot. What are the odds of that? 1 in a million? 1 in 10 million? I fried my calculator trying to figure this out ...
Can Ryan Anderson make the all-star team?
John Hollinger (12:57 PM)
I'd file this one under, "unlikely, but stranger things have happened." He still doesn't have the name recognition, and a lot of coaches still don't understand how valuable it is to have a guy that can generate points without turnovers.
How 'bout a Bucks question!! Do you like Jon Leuer's future and should the Bucks give Stephen Jackson an extension?
John Hollinger (12:59 PM)
I'll answer the second one first: Of course not. As for Leuer, I was really impressed with his play in the San Antonio game. He's big, can hit the mid-range J and makes very few mistakes; I don't think there's much of a ceiling, but he can be an effective role player for a long time. Also, my Draft Rater is gloating right now.
what do you make of ric buchers theory on sportscenter that kobe is playing this good to prove to dwight thats hes still got it?
John Hollinger (1:00 PM)
I saw that. Personally, I think the "he's really good when his knee is working" theory probably has more credence. All he's proving to Dwight right now is that he'll never get the ball.
Do the Sixers have any shot at acquiring a star? And do they need to?
John Hollinger (1:02 PM)
If they keep winning like this they improve their odds significantly via free agency, because players will start to look at them as a destination. That's their best hope for being a true contender -- play like gangbusters this year, amnesty Brand in the summer, and use the cap space to sign a star.
john (saint louis)
what do you think the spurs record will be by the time manu comes back? around .500 or closer to .600 (their current pace)?
John Hollinger (1:04 PM)
Can I split the difference and say .550? San Antonio is holding down the fort very well right now, but inevitably somebody else will get hurt too, and without Manu that will create real problems.
So far league scoring is down more than five points. Is that a function of the lockout, a small sample size, or some other factor?
John Hollinger (1:05 PM)
It's the lockout, and the fact that early-season scoring usually is lower than the full-season total. In other words, scoring and offensive efficiency tend to increase steadily as the year goes on before dropping again in the playoffs.
Do you think Dwight really cares about winning? His situation in Orlando isn't great but are the Nets really an upgrade? If he truly cares about winning why arent the Bulls on his list?
John Hollinger (1:06 PM)
I don't think Dwight truly knows what he wants, and that's the most vexing part of this puzzle. It's why the Magic are tempted to play the season out with him as well; there's a real chance he decides to stay, especially if the year goes well.
What do you think of Kyrie Irving and does he stand a chance at beating out Ricky Rubio for ROTY?
John Hollinger (1:07 PM)
Perfect way to close: I discuss this exact topic at length in today's Per Diem, which should be up soon. That's all the time I have today, but I'll be back next week at the same time to do this again. In the meantime, Ricky comes to the ATL on Saturday so I'm excited to get an up-close look at him.