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 2 p.m. ET!
John Hollinger (2:25 PM)
Greetings everyone, and apologies for the delay. We'll make it up on the back end.
5-2 with six of their top 7 players out (and a game against CHA tonight). How close are the Wolves to being West contenders?
John Hollinger (2:27 PM)
Keep in mind that early in the season you want to be looking at quality as much as quantity. 5-2 sounds great; +3.1 against a softish schedule, not as much. That said, there's the potential to win 50 here with Love and Ricky. They've really upgraded the wings, although Roy remains a huge question mark and a bigger one now that Bud is out. By year-end this team could be a real force in a Memphis 2010 kind of way.
Damon (Santa Cruz, CA)
One thing that a lot of people seem to be ignoring is that a style similar to D'Antoni's (fast offense, little emphasis on defense) does not necessarily translate into post-season success. Thoughts?
John Hollinger (2:28 PM)
I'd ask the Dallas Mavericks for a second opinion. And I'm not convinced the Lakers will be playing particularly fast; D'Antoni's is mainly a halfcourt system, the Suns just played so fast because everybody on that team could run.
Anderson Varejao - 1st in rebounds, 5th in estimated wins added, 11th in PER, and absent from Hollinger's 12 "early season surprises". So you saw this coming. Any investment advice?
John Hollinger (2:29 PM)
I wrote the column before he went for 35-18 last night. If I'd had the foresight to include him, that indeed would have put me in the Nostradamus category.
Does Pau for Ryan Anderson/A. Rivers work for both sides and be beneficial to both
John Hollinger (2:31 PM)
It works amazingly well for the Lakers but I have no idea why the Hornets would want Pau. (The Anderson part, that is; you're not getting Rivers and he doesn't fit there anyway). Send Pau off to a third team, such as Houston perhaps, and send picks/kids back to the Hornets, and then we have some real possibilities.
Where do you rank the Monta Ellis/Brandon Jennings backcourt right now?
John Hollinger (2:32 PM)
Very low if I'm one of the other three guys. More seriously, I think Jennings has made some improvements in his game, but his history is that he plays awesome the first three weeks of the season and then cools off. Monta still seems pretty flammable on D, but he's a helpful offensive player despite his at-times shaky shot selection.
Can you think of a bigger lose-lose trade then the Perk/Jeff Green deal?
John Hollinger (2:34 PM)
I talked to a former coach right after that trade who told me that exact thing -- that it was a terrible trade for both teams. I didn't believe him at the time, but I'm coming around. Actually, the real problem is that both teams completely overpaid to keep them.
Who would you rather have, Damien Wilkins, or Corey Maggette?
John Hollinger (2:34 PM)
Not a great time to be a Pistons fan.
Should Bryan Colangelo trade Calderon when Lowry comes back with Jose increasing his value with his play so far?
John Hollinger (2:36 PM)
News flash: He's most definitely going to try to trade Calderon. But I don't think his recent performance has changed the league-wide impression of him much. It's not like he was an unknown quantity.
Do the Blazers have the worst bench you've ever seen?
John Hollinger (2:37 PM)
I feel like Cleveland and the Lakers are forcing me to consider that question more deeply than I otherwise might. Certainly the decision to have no real backup point guard has come back to haunt them, I think that's one of the reasons the overall second unit has been so bad.
Is Manu's play thus far more indicative of someone playing his way back into shape or someone whose more hurt than he is letting on?
John Hollinger (2:37 PM)
Great teaser for today's Per Diem, where I talk about some of the league's disappointments so far.
Should I be worried about the Nuggets yet?
John Hollinger (2:39 PM)
Yes. As I noted a week ago, their bizarre inability to get to the line after living there last season has dragged their overall offensive numbers way down, and even with Iguodala this is a team that has to be a top-5 offense to win big. Right now they're middle of the pack, because they're just 27th in free-throw rate.
Who would rather have as your GM..Ernie Grunfeld or Gallagher?
John Hollinger (2:39 PM)
Not a lot of happy campers in D.C. right now either. Washington didn't really address the backup point guard spot and it's really hurting them with Wall out. Also, as I felt at the time, Okafor is really duplicative of Seraphin.
Daryl Morey (Houston, TX)
What should we do with Royce White?
John Hollinger (2:40 PM)
I don't have a good answer for this because I feel like there's a lot of information we just don't have. Taking this public isn't going to work out well for Royce White, I can guarantee you that.
Is Utah going to move any of those bigs this year?
John Hollinger (2:41 PM)
One of the biggest questions facing the league this year. Both Jefferson and Millsap are UFAs after the season and I can't imagine Utah re-signing both.
If you're the Blazers do you try to trade/sign to get better bench production and take a shot at the 8th spot in the West? Or do you let it flounder and hope for a high draft pick?
John Hollinger (2:42 PM)
Hate to tell you but the horse has already left the barn on this one ... Blazers don't have a lot of cards left to play in their deck right now. Enjoy Secaucus.
Thomas (LA) [via mobile]
Are you buying Blake and Deandre's defensive provements as enough to make the Clippers a top-15 defense? Top-10?
John Hollinger (2:43 PM)
Keep in mind that before their recent impressive stretch, they gave us amateur hour against Cleveland and Golden State. I'm encouraged, but let's see the Clips do this for more than a couple games before we start planning parade routes.
Chris (Los Angeles)
Do you see Lamar Odom getting back into shape as the season continues?
John Hollinger (2:45 PM)
Not really, no. Maybe he'll surprise me, but I think the Clips really got burned on that deal.
What happened to the confident Pacers that had the Heat on their heels in the playoffs last year?
John Hollinger (2:46 PM)
Roy Hibbert turned into Aaron Gray, Danny Granger got hurt, Darren Collison was traded for flotsam and Paul George failed to progress. That's the story so far. David West and George Hill are the only ones to maintain their level of play thus far.
Any validity to the argument that the Thunder should have kept Harden and traded Westbrook?
John Hollinger (2:47 PM)
Is there validity to it? Yes. Is it an open-and-shut case? No. The best argument for keeping the NBA's "other" JH is that they could have paid him, played out this season, and then traded Westbrook after the season. But playing KD and Harden together did create more problems for them defensively than the KD-Russ pairing.
Is it too soon for the Hawks to give up on the idea of CP3/Howard in ATL next year? Should they entertain the Pau for Smoove and Korver rumors?
John Hollinger (2:50 PM)
I have yet to come up with a good reason why the Lakers would want Smith for Pau. So *HE'S* your floor-spacing 4? Yikes. Also, I don't think ATL just willy-nilly throws its only real small forward into the deal. Much more plausible that it's Josh-Petro or Josh-Morrow if something like this were to happen.
When will you be able to assess how good (or not) the NYK's are? At the AS break?
John Hollinger (2:50 PM)
Will probably be writing about them on Friday, ahead of the Finals preview in Memphis. (I kid, but ...)
Should I assume the reason J.R. Smith didn't appear in your "Surprises" column is because you expected him to be this good?
John Hollinger (2:52 PM)
Smith's entire "surprising" body of work to this point is a completely unsustainable 3-point conversion rate. If he keeps his percentage in the 60s all season I'll probably be forced to mention it.
DENG + GIBSON Trade For Rudy Gay?
John Hollinger (2:53 PM)
Horrible trade for both teams. Makes Memphis even more unsustainably expensive, robs Bulls of a key player for no real reason. Try again.
Josh (Knoxville, TN)
Are you aware that LeBatard is lying to you and all their radio guests don't actually yell Rebenga? You're the only one.
John Hollinger (2:54 PM)
Ha! I should probably eavesdrop on his show for a while before I come on next time.
What up with Demar Derozan this year? he actually looks like a legit 2 guard in this league. I wouldnt have said that before the season started.
John Hollinger (2:55 PM)
I'm as surprised as you are. Also, did you know that he played 100 minutes in about 27 hours the past two nights? I'm amazed Casey played him 40 minutes in Indy the night after he played 60 (!) against Utah.
What is Evan Turner's future? Other than rebounding well i'm not sure what he does.
John Hollinger (2:56 PM)
I've been arguing this for eons. He's just not that good. He creates a lot of low-percentage shots, but he can neither space the floor nor get to the rim. He's a solid defender and an amazing defensive rebounder for his size, but he's a major negative offensively and nobody seems to realize it.
Bargnani for Gallinari--who says no???
John Hollinger (2:58 PM)
That's an intriguing trade, as it would give the Nuggets some more spacing and give Toronto a real small forward. Only problem is how crowded it would make Denver's frontcourt. Still think if there's a Nuggets deal to be made it probably involves Wilson Chandler.
You didnt list Jeremy Lin as a disappointment. Did you expect him to be this bad?
John Hollinger (3:00 PM)
His PER is still above the league average. He hasn't made shots, but otherwise he's been pretty good. How high were you setting the bar for him?
Is there any statistical validity to the notion that some players are more injury prone than others? Or is this just a commonly misguided opinion?
John Hollinger (3:01 PM)
There is some validity to it, but the correlation isn't nearly as high as a lot of people suspect. Unless there's a real, known defect, I wouldn't worry too much about past injury history as a predictor of future problems.
John Hollinger (3:01 PM)
Exception: Greg Oden.
What is this Kyrie-Hollinger defense Twitter quarrel about?
John Hollinger (3:02 PM)
There's no quarrel. I wrote in Irving's player comment that he was terrible on defense last year. Henry Abbott had him on Skype a couple days ago and asked him about it, and Irving admitted he was bad and said he was going to prove me wrong this season.
Thoughts on the craziness that is the Sacto Sleepytime Kings?
John Hollinger (3:04 PM)
I actually like some things that are happening there -- against all odds, it does appear Keith Smart has convinced them to play defense. But I didn't expect Aaron Brooks to turn into Anthony Carter, and overall that offense is just a complete mess. It's basically a bunch of ball-stoppers who aren't good enough to play that way.
Do Nolan Smith or Luke Babbitt have any value left? haha maybe Houston wants another combo forward....
John Hollinger (3:05 PM)
Expiring contracts. That's it. Otherwise, both of them should probably make sure their passports are up to date.
Any thoughts in Kemba Walker's development
John Hollinger (3:06 PM)
Watched him last night and was pretty pleased -- it's slowed down enough for him that he's figured out how to get his offense, and as a shoot-first PG that's what he needs. Long-term he still might be better off as a sixth man than a starter, but either way he's definitely a core guy, a keeper. You couldn't say that a year ago.
O.J. Mayo: well-rounded player? Elaborate please.
John Hollinger (3:08 PM)
As with JR Smith, a lot of Mayo's uptick to date has been unsustainably good 3-point shooting. Bu the other factor in his favor has been the sheer quantity of 3s he's taking; I had always though this was how he should play in Memphis, but for whatever reason he fancied himself a slasher.
It's going to be funny when David Kahn wins executive of the year after wasting 3 top picks on Wes Johnson, Johnny Flynn, and Derrick Williams.
John Hollinger (3:09 PM)
This is where we remind people that McHale got both Love and Pekovic. However, Kahn legitimately deserves credit for picking up Kirilenko, Shved and Cunningham, those three have really been key in this 5-2 start.
Will Darrell Arthur mess up the Grizzlies' rotation down-low?
John Hollinger (3:10 PM)
No, he'll prevent them from killing Marc Gasol. You can't get through an entire season with just three bigs; they need Arthur in that rotation to get Z-Bo and Gasol some more rest.
Is there a NBA equivalent of the Miami Marlins?
John Hollinger (3:11 PM)
Sacramento is the closest thing, but because the league has a minimum salary and less revenue sharing, it isn't really possible to do what the Marlins have done.
The warriors are 5th in defensive FG%. Real or fluke?
John Hollinger (3:12 PM)
A little of both. Real because Andrew Bogut can have that kind of impact, but they also had some lightweight opposition early on.
Steve Blake to Portland, Wilson Chandler to Lakers, expiring deals of Earl Clark, Babbitt and Nolan Smith to Denver. Who says no?
John Hollinger (3:13 PM)
Laker fans are the best.
John (Los Angeles, CA)
Is there any team even remotely close to Miami right now and how realistic is Memphis chances as getting to finals? Looks like they're the only team that gives Miami serious matchup problems
John Hollinger (3:15 PM)
Given that they've been blown off the floor twice in their first eight games and needed late theatrics to win two others, I'd say that yes, a couple of teams are at least remotely close to Miami. I do like how Memphis matches up against the Heat -- they're 3-1 against them in the LeBron era -- but it's way too early to be talking about that stuff.
based on his contract, is Boozer the worst value in the league right now?
John Hollinger (3:15 PM)
Clearly you haven't seen Lamar Odom this year. Boozer is overpaid for what he is, but there are far more dramatic differentials than his.
John Hollinger (3:16 PM)
Such as this guy ....
Brian (New York, NY)
How do you feel about the Knicks as title contenders? They can match up big or small and the defense has been suffocating, even as their shots aren't falling at the same rate.
John Hollinger (3:17 PM)
I'm very interested to see if the Knicks willfully screw everything up once Amare comes back. They also have a couple tough tests coming this week that will tell us a lot more about them. But it's safe to say they've been the biggest positive surprise from the first two weeks.
John Hollinger (3:19 PM)
Folks, that's all the time I have, but thanks again for all the great questions. No chat next week with the holiday, but I'll be back in two weeks at my regular Thursday time.