Chat with Michael Wallace
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, NBA writer and blogger Michael Wallace stops by to chat about the latest news from around the league.
Send your questions now and join the chat Monday at 2 p.m. ET!
Michael Wallace (1:59 PM)
Great to be here on this March Madness Monday. There's a lot going on in the hoops game this time of year, which is always one of my favorite weeks of the sports calendar. Let's get right to your questions and takes. As always, thanks for joining me.
Michael, is Denver a top 5 basketball team right now?
Michael Wallace (2:04 PM)
I don't think there's any question about that. Denver is playing phenomenal basketball right now. They've won 11 in a row, and have done so against a few quality teams along the way. I'm not too big into week-to-week rankings, but you'd have to put the Nuggets right behind the Heat, Spurs and Thunder among the teams playing the best ball since the All-Star break. That said, I'm still not totally convinced their style will prevail in a seven-game rugged second or third-round playoff series, where each possession matters far more and you need a clear go-to option to score in the clutch. But I hope the Nuggets wave of depth ultimately proves me wrong.
JT Waugh (Indianapois)
What would it take as this point in the season for LBJ to NOT win his 4th MVP?
Michael Wallace (2:06 PM)
It'll take LeBron to face something he can do absolutely nothing about: Voter fatigue. I've said it all along. The man has three MVPs already in his back pocket, and he's having the best season he's ever had this season. Not to take anything away from the remarkable year Kevin Durant is having, but if there was ever no-brainer year for LeBron to win the MVP, it's this one.
Mo (Katy, TX)
5 years, the best player from the 2012 draft?
Michael Wallace (2:12 PM)
My quick answer is that it's the same player who's proved to be the best player already. And that's Damian Lillard out in Portland. Mike Kidd-Gilchrist was my favorite rookie coming into the season, and I certainly respect what Anthony Davis has done, among several others. But Lillard already looks and plays like a five-year veteran. Another rookie I wouldn't sleep on in this debate is Alexey Shved with the Timberwolves. He has a mix of Toni Kukoc and Drazen Petrovic in his game, from an upside perspective. He can really be special if he continues to develop.
EJ (Seattle, WA)
Here's a hypothetical for you. Say Miami's streak extends to 35-games, but they lose in the finals to the Spurs/OKC, will the 2012-13 Miami Heat go down as the greatest team to not win the title?
Michael Wallace (2:15 PM)
That's a tough question. If the Heat do get the record for most consecutive regular-season wins and fall short of the title, they would obviously qualify as one of the leaders in the house just because of the level of expectations that surround this team. Heck, you can even take the consecutive wins streak completely out of the equation, and the same title-or-bust standard would qualify.
Are the heat streaking too early? Don't they want to be peaking in June, not march?
Michael Wallace (2:18 PM)
I'm not sure the notion of peaking too early truly qualifies in the NBA. Especially when you've got the course of a seven-game series to right any wrongs and get yourself together to advance. What's key to this Heat streak is that they've done it with relative ease from the standpoint of placing a priority on getting rest and maintaining health. As long as they're physically and mentally healthy, there's no reason why they can't hit their peak and still maintain this stride right into the playoffs.
When are the detroit pistons gonna be good?
Michael Wallace (2:20 PM)
Outside of the Lakers, the Pistons are the next team that comes to my mind when I look at the roster they have and then wonder why in the heck their record doesn't better reflect their level of talent. I think they have some very good, productive pieces. What they lack is direction. They've been stuck somewhere between rebuilding and trying to maintain through free agency for about five years now. Joe Dumars has shown he has an eye for drafting, but he's been totally blind on some of the free-agent decisions he's made. If they continue to build around Brandon Knight and their two bigs - Drummond and Monroe - I think they can be a real factor in the East in two seasons.
Mr. Wallace, always appreciate your insights and up to date tweets on actions during the games. If SAS vs. Miami in June, Can Kawhi Leonard keep LBJ in check enough for them to win that series?
Michael Wallace (2:27 PM)
The short answer is No. No one in the league can keep LeBron in check. It hasn't since that JJ Barea/Shawn Marion episode in Dallas a couple of seasons ago. But can Kawhi, playing at this level, make LeBron work extremely hard on both ends - sort of the way Paul George, Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony have? Absolutely. I keep saying that the Spurs combination of perimeter depth, quality play at the point and at center, their ability to hit 3-pointers and their great coaching make them the ultimate challenge for the Heat. There simply isn't another team right now that has the experience and confidence to walk on the court entering a 7-game series and feel they have enough to beat the Heat at their best than the Spurs. I'm not saying no one else can actually pull it off and beat the Heat. But I don't think anyone presents as great a challenge for Miami as San Antonio. And I've been saying it from Day 1.
Will (Miami, FL)
Assuming Wade continues to play at a high level until the end of the season as he has been during the past two months, What do you think of his chances are on being apart of the All-NBA 1st team? Sure Kobe averages more ppg but his team may make the playoffs by the skin of their teeth and Wade has a PER, FG% and fills up the stat sheet more..You could've argued for Tony Parker but he's hurt..and you also have CP3 and Westbrook out there but I think he deserves it over all of them if he keeps this type of play up..am I wrong?
Michael Wallace (2:30 PM)
You present a great argument on Wade's behalf there. I can see them going with a Kobe-Wade backcourt, especially if Wade continues to play at this level for the final month of the regular season. With Parker missing so much time, I can see Chris Paul squeezing in there and knocking Wade out. But I think Kobe is basically a lock for one of the First-team guard spots if the Lakers make the playoffs.
Mr. Wallace, thanks for taking the time to read & hopefully answer this question for me. Which feat is more impressive (though they are both impressive) the Bulls 72-10 record or a 33 game win streak in a season that hopefully the Heat could accomplish?
Michael Wallace (2:35 PM)
I was asked this very same question during our ESPN 5-on-5 debate today right here: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/5-on-5-130318/miami-heat-winning-streak The way I rank the significance of those feats are simple. 1. Title. 2. 72-win season. 3. 33-game win streak. I can understand the argument that someone wins the title every season, but only team has accomplished each of the other two feats. But if you don't cap those other two seasons with titles, I'm don't think they're as significant. Sure, we're splitting hairs, and any team that can accomplish any of the three have to be uniquely special.
Over/Under: 5 MVP's for Lebron.
Michael Wallace (2:35 PM)
Deven (Miami, FL)
Are the Knicks in serious trouble, Michael or will they be just fine?
Michael Wallace (2:39 PM)
Serious trouble. You can overcome chemistry issues and lineup adjustments. You can eventually get past shooting/defensive slumps. But you can't do a thing about health, especially when you're already the oldest team in the league. The most disturbing thing about the Knicks this season is that their "younger" guys have been the ones getting injured and missing key stretches, too. Carmelo, Amare and Felton just haven't been able to get right and on the same page much at all this season. JR Smith and Tyson Chandler have been the glue this season. At this stage, it wouldn't surprise me either way if you told me the Knicks would be eliminated in the first round - or that they would make it to the East Finals. You just don't know what you'll get from them.
Pat (Cedar Rapids)
Looking beyond this season, and possibly the next and assuming LeBron keeps his talents in South Beach: who will be some of the veteran names the Heat will attract to help replace the likes of a Shane Battier, Ray Allen, etc as they retire?
Michael Wallace (2:42 PM)
No disrespect to your question - and I assume a lot of folks like to look that far ahead - but there's no way of knowing the dynamic of this team after next season, because so many variables are in play. LeBron's pending decision, or leanings, will dictate the fate of this franchise for the next half a dozen years once 2014 gets here. I'm with the players a bit on this subject. Let's see how this season and next season play out before the focus shifts too deeply into that hypothetical discussion.
Joseph (Seattle, WA)
Do you agree with me that Aldridge is overlooked as a top or the top PF because of Griffin's flashiness and Love's rebounding? They both can't defend, and Aldridge is a top three interior defender (by % within five feet). I have to think that one of the reasons he doesn't rebound as well as Griffin and Love is because he's actually playing defense. Thoughts?
Michael Wallace (2:47 PM)
I've always liked LaMarcus Aldridge's game. Yes, he's overlooked a bit because he plays in Portland and the Blazers haven't been a strong playoff team the past few seasons. But I just saw a distinction a few days ago that he's alongside LeBron James and Kevin Durant as the only three players in the league this season to reach, I think, 1,300 points and 500 rebounds so far. It's just a shame that Portland's core from a few seasons ago - Oden, Aldridge and Roy - completely fell apart around him. Otherwise, we might be hearing a lot more about him being considered the top power forward in the league right now.
Do you think the Blazers will go to the playoff this year? If not this year, when?
Michael Wallace (2:49 PM)
They're still a dominant wing scorer away from really contending in the West. I like Lillard, Batum, Aldridge and even Hickson, if the can keep him. But they need a SF/SG who can get you 20 a night. Basically, they're missing a healthy Brandon Roy-type in his prime. That's a lot to wish for in this league, but that's clearly the missing piece.
Manny (Miami, Fl)
Have you ever seen a team that when turns the switch on can explode and pull away so easily and quickly from any opponent?
Michael Wallace (2:51 PM)
That 72-win Bulls team was the last one I see do it with such ease. Perhaps those early Kobe-Shaq championship teams, too.
David (San Antonio)
Michael: Do you believe that the collecting bargaining rules for free agency are too difficult for a competing team? It seems to me that if a player is totally a free agent (not restricted), every team should have the right to offer the player an equal dollar and year contract, not just the player's current team. Your thoughts?
Michael Wallace (2:54 PM)
I disagree. Obviously, this is a preference situation here. But I have no problem with the league weighing free agency in the so-called "home team's" favor. Free agency is obviously a great thing for the players, but I think it hurt fan loyalty a bit because guys jump around so much. Once Kobe, Duncan and, maybe Durant, cycle out of the league, I'm not sure we'll see another marquee player start - and finish - his career in the same city. On some level, it's a shame. But that's the game these days.
Shouldn't the Raptors be another team that is better than they're record? they've been playing 500 ball since the dreadful 4-19 start.
Michael Wallace (2:56 PM)
It's difficult to judge Toronto because of the major trade they made with Rudy Gay. They should challenge for a playoff spot next season. If not, then they'll make that list I had Detroit on several questions back.
How unfair is it that Miami's winning streak has recent games in which as a team they have been called for ZERO fouls in the 4th quarters of close games? Like the one in which they were losing to Philly. It almost seems like the NBA is helping Miami's win streak because it helps out the sport when the fans have a memorable win streak like this to talk about.
Michael Wallace (3:00 PM)
I've seen Miami benefit from a number of favorable calls over the course of a few games during this streak. But the fact is this team is good enough to create its own breaks. The one game where I thought it was completely obvious that the Heat got a couple of gift calls was the game against Orlando a week or so ago when the Magic's three most effective players fouled out within minutes of one another before LeBron made the game-winning driving layup. But the Heat also are really good, folks. Really, really good. And they attack the basket late in games, which generates contact and creates opportunities for officials to make judgement calls. The Heat have also blown through the competition on a lot of those nights during the streak, too.
Jonathan (San Antonio)
5 40 win teams in the WEST, 1 in the EAST. Why does this never come up when talking about how GREAT the Heat are??? Spurs are 1 game down from the Heat and have played in the Incredibly strong WEST and without superstars for much of the year......p.s. The Spurs had a 20 game winning streak last year that included 2 1/2 rounds of PLAYOFFS!!
Michael Wallace (3:03 PM)
And, what, 14 straight 50-win seasons. Real basketball fans and followers know what the Spurs are all about. The cameras and national audience haven't always been force-fed the Spurs, which reflects the national interest in that team. This is a business. But when it comes to basketball, no team has been more consistent and accomplished than San Antonio over the past two decades.
Michael Wallace (3:04 PM)
That's my time for this week, folks. Thanks so much for joining me and always making this an engaging an fun part of my weekly coverage of the NBA. Let's hook up again right here next week. Until then, peace and blessings - MW