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October 17, 1:53 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (3:02 PM)

rejoice Blazer fans -- Boston cut Darius Miles today, meaning your cap space is safe for at least a little while longer. Now, onto the chat ...

Sam(Sacramento)

Hey John I see that you notice Al Jefferson's year to year improvement. What about Kevin Martin's? He outperforms your projections every year, and has been ridiculous this preseason. Again.

John Hollinger
  (3:03 PM)

I seriously thought about Kevin Martin, it's certainly possible he puts up an insanely high scoring average on that team. But I thought the guys I listed were better bets for year-to-year improvement from last season; Martin was already sixth in scoring.

R.N. Seattle

Big John, I'm going to the Blazers opener on Halloween. Is this the start of something very special? Mini Dynasty?

John Hollinger
  (3:04 PM)

I do think it's the start of something special, but please Blazer fans, I'm begging you, be patient. Yes, you might win 50-plus this year, but chances are you won't, and if so that shouldn't be viewed as a disappointment.

Mike (College Park, MD)

You mention Deron Williams in your breakout candidates story as a guy who could take a step up and pass other point guards like Nash and Billups. I realize those two may have higher PER ratings, but does that really make them both better than him? Is that all you take into account when judging how good a player is?

John Hollinger
  (3:05 PM)

I thought Billups and Nash were still slightly better a year ago, both subjectively and via PER, and obviously for any time frame longer than that they have the edge. This year that's likely to change though.

Mike (Ohio)

Hey John...any thoughts on the owner of that Greek team who is apparently planning on throwing cash at every NBA'er who becomes a free agent?

John Hollinger
  (3:07 PM)

I suspect it's much ado about nothing, and that he'll primarily be fishing in the midlevel waters as he did with Childress.

Coop(Detroit,MI)

Good afternoon...I see Jason Maxiell turned down the Pistons extension offer 3yrs $15 mil...Do you think this was a wise move?

John Hollinger
  (3:07 PM)

Yes, he'll be able to get more than that next year ... a lot of people I talk to really like him.

Andrew Bynum, CA

You don't think I'm going to break out this year?

John Hollinger
  (3:08 PM)

No, that was last year. The breakout this year would be if he played 82 games.

Chris, Detroit

With the Wolves getting wins in the preseason(2nd best record in the league 5-1) how does this translate to the regular season?

John Hollinger
  (3:10 PM)

It's actually a major positive when a bad team has a good preseason record, especially if they're right at the top of the preseason standings. Do not sleep on Minnesota, people, they look like they could stay in the playoff chase for a big chunk of the season.

Andy G: (Minneapolis, MN)

No Corey Brewer on the All-Breakout Team?

John Hollinger
  (3:10 PM)

No. Still way down on him -- not nearly enough offensive skill to justify where he was drafted.

jimmy (PDX)

why no blazers? Aldridge has been improving every year and will carry the scoring load for this team, roy leadership only becomes stronger and outlaw should have been 6th man of the year last year.

John Hollinger
  (3:11 PM)

You kind of hit in your post -- all three of those guys broke out last year. And all three are likely to lose touches to Oden this time around.

Chris , Detroit

Do you think the Wolves will have a chance at a playoff spot THIS YEAR?

John Hollinger
  (3:12 PM)

I can't seriously go that far ... I pegged them for 31 wins in my preview, and based on their preseason I might up that by a couple, but it's going to be awfully hard for them to crack the top eight out West.

Tre (Atlanta)

You were sippin' the ATL Hawks Kool-Aid last year before the season even started. Now you're discounting them because they refused to pay Josh Childress $10 Million a season? Their bench is weak, but you're argument is weaker.

John Hollinger
  (3:15 PM)

One thing I'll say for Atlanta -- the bench has looked better than expected in preseason. Taking Acie Law ahead of Stuckey was a horrible mistake, but he at least looks like an NBA player now that he's not terrified to shoot. Zaza looks like he might bounce back from last year's disaster, and Flip Murray's me-first tendencies aren't such a bad thing on a bench where nobody can score. That said, I still think they'll win fewer games than a year ago -- Childress was as underrated as any player in the league.

David (Chicago)

You say the Blazers core already had their breakout years but yet you have Amare Stoudemire on your Breakout Team for 08-09... He's been either All NBA first or second team 3 times now, how has he not 'broken out'?

John Hollinger
  (3:16 PM)

Even compared to his recent seasons, I think Stoudemire could have a monstrous campaign this year. So I put him in there anyway.

Sean (MIA)

Do you think Shaun Livingston can make a full comeback for the Heat?

John Hollinger
  (3:17 PM)

No, but I understand why they're taking the chance.

David Fairborn, OH

What are your thoughts on Rondo, since he wasnt' listed on "breakout"?

John Hollinger
  (3:18 PM)

He was on my original short list; I went back and forth on him, ended up liking a couple other guys a little better. It's always hard narrowing it down to 20, because you start with a ton of guys you can make a case for. I'm still wondering if I screwed up leaving him off ....

Clark (Durham, NC)

Who do you think is the worst player in the NBA? Collins twin? Scalabrine?

John Hollinger
  (3:19 PM)

Jerome James, beyond a shadow of a doubt. At least Scal and Collins try.

Derrick(Toronto)

"I'll avoid highly touted European 7-footers on this year's squad." Bargnani had a rough sophmore season but I don't understand how you could completely discount his chances of having a breakout year.. He's put in the work this offseason and it shows..

John Hollinger
  (3:20 PM)

It's certainly possible, but I want to see more evidence that he can shoot his jumper over the rim rather than directly into the front of it. Also, he's certain to lose minutes with JO in town.

Marcos

I know is preseason but his firts start in his carrer Goran Dragic have 6 pts, 7 asist, 5 reb, 3 stl, 2 blk. That have to be inmresive without Amare and Shaq. Do you still think he'll be a bust?

John Hollinger
  (3:22 PM)

I saw Dragic in Atlanta last week and wasn't that impressed. He's a decent athlete and he'll be decent on D once he learns it, but he has a weird, line-drive delivery off the side of his head and he didn't seem terribly elusive off the dribble.

eric sf

What are your thoughts on B. Wright I think he could have been a candidate for your soph breakout team do you agree?

John Hollinger
  (3:22 PM)

I might have listed him if not for that egg I watched him lay in the game in New Orleans. Also, I think Nelly is more comfortably with Big Al at the 4.

Chris , Detroit

You didnt mention Randy Foye for your Most Improved Player? I think hes got a shot to win that one....

John Hollinger
  (3:23 PM)

Another one that cause me to tear out my few remaining hairs, especially after that 15-assist game this weekend. I think Foye will be very solid; I'm just not sure he'll do anything beyond that, which is why I ended up not listing him.

Matt (Connecticut)

boozer for marion... it makes sense, doesn't it?

John Hollinger
  (3:25 PM)

It's intriguing, but I'm not sure the Jazz pull the trigger on that -- just to get another guy who is out the door after the season. And Marion isn't a guy I'd want to extend at anything near his current dollars.

Koby (Portland)

Who would win in a street fight Manu or Rudy?

John Hollinger
  (3:25 PM)

Manu would beat the living tar out of him. Dude's tougher than he looks.

Carl Landry, Houston

I have a mid-range game now, you don't think I'm gonna break out this year?

John Hollinger
  (3:26 PM)

Not with a 36-man frontcourt rotation in Houston, no, and I'll believe you on the midrange game when I see it.

Tab, Toronto

Hi John, Who do you like out the three to make the all star game, Calderon, TJ Ford or Devon Harris?

John Hollinger
  (3:27 PM)

I'll go with Ford. I think Indy will surprise a lot of people this year, and anytime that happens the new guy gets a disproportionate amount of credit.

Tim (Detroit)

Why no Stuckey on the break-out list? Is he not going to get enough minutes or did he already break out in last years playoffs?

John Hollinger
  (3:28 PM)

He is ... there's a separate item on second-year breakout players in the Insider section.

Chris , Detroit

Will David Harrison actually be able to do anything to help the wolves?

John Hollinger
  (3:30 PM)

I'm dubious, but we'll see if the usual training camp "he's got a new attitude!" stories are actually true. Watch how many illegal screens he sets, it's truly amazing. I mean, it's a screen -- all you have to do is stand there. For some reason, he has incredible difficulty with this concept.

DaBet (Miami)

You need to answer more questions from Chris in Detroit because so many people care about the Timberwolves.

John Hollinger
  (3:31 PM)

Sorry, haven't been reading names, just questions. I happen to think the T'wolves are a very interesting team to watch the first couple weeks, so that's why I'm talking a lot about them.

Marcos

Nash said that if they had a player like Robin Lopez in the last few years things would have been difert, do you agree? I really love the heart that kid have on the court.

John Hollinger
  (3:33 PM)

I'm in between -- somewhat preseason hyperbole, somewhat valid assessment of team's recent frontcourt needs. But I'll tell you one thing that would have been different -- I never, ever would have nicknamed Anderson Varejao "Sideshow Bob" if I knew this guy was waiting in the wings. How can somebody be a dead ringer for a cartoon character?

John Paxson (Chicago)

So I guess the Bulls must be boring? Do you think Tyrus Thomas is ready to move to the next level?

John Hollinger
  (3:35 PM)

Lots of Thomas questions in here, haven't seen the Bulls in preseason yet but apparently he's looked strong. still not sure how the minutes are going to shake out on that team, but he could put up some solid numbers if he plays 30+ -- nobody questions his talent, just how he's applied it.

Tom D (Austin)

Category VIII- "Finally getting minutes and making the most of them"- JJ Redick

John Hollinger
  (3:36 PM)

I didn't have room for "preseason breakouts who will go back to the bench once the real games start." Otherwise Redick totally would have made it. In all seriousness, he can play if he's traded to a team that needs shooting and can cover for his D. I don't think Orlando's personnel allows it to do the latter.

Cody, Cleveland

How do you think Mo Williams playing with the cavs will effect his game? All Star?

John Hollinger
  (3:38 PM)

No, there won't be enough shots or assists for him to be an all-Star. Plus, he isn't good enough. He'll shoot a decent percentage and hit a bunch of 3s thanks to LBJ, but the big question is what he'll do on D -- he has the ability to defend, but was an absolute sieve in Milwaukee last year.

Ahmed (Boston)

Geez John, you took 5 questions from Chris in Detroit, but have no time for my one question. Why did the Celtics waive D-Miles? They were pretty high on him, weren't they? I mean, there was Scalabrine to cut, right?

John Hollinger
  (3:38 PM)

I'm not sure why they cut him; I guess in the end screwing up the Blazers' cap space just wasn't that big a deal for them. Certainly they had other options with guys like Scal and Pruitt.

Raja, Boise

Do you think this is the year when Nellie finally lets rookies play? Talking specifially about ARandolph and diamond in the rough possibility DeMarcus Nelson.

John Hollinger
  (3:40 PM)

Nelson is a nice story making the roster undrafted (and it appears Rob Kurz may join him) .. but don't get ahead of yourself, he probably won't play much once the real games start. Randolph has been a turnover machine in preseason and when I talked to Nelly he was very frank that Randolph was unlikely to help much this year. I doubt he'll play unless they white-flag the season.

Josh (Boston)

Do you think Tony Allen will have a semi breakout season and replace Posey's production?

John Hollinger
  (3:41 PM)

I could see that, yes. Actually replacing Posey's production won't be hard, he didn't put up numbers -- it's replacing his defense at the 3 that will be the challenge.

max webberly, Miami

Are the heat a lock for the plyoffs if healthy, and is Michael Beasley a lock for the ROY?

John Hollinger
  (3:43 PM)

Beasley isn't even a favorite for ROY -- remember, Mr. Oden counts as a rookie. As for playoffs, Miami isn't a lock by any stretch -- too many questions about the rest of the roster, not to mention the questions about how much Marion and Beasley can contribute.

Joe (Phx, AZ)

Hey John, love the chats! What team do you feel has the best bench in the league. My vote goes to the Lakers. What are your feelings?

John Hollinger
  (3:44 PM)

Could be L.A., but the Lakers, Utah, Houston, Boston, Detroit are all in that conversation. Coincidentally, they're probably the five best teams in the league.

Jon (Rockville, MD)

With Haywood going down for the Wizards for basically the entire season - Who do you think will end up starting the most games at center this year? Etan, Blatch or the rook, McGee?

John Hollinger
  (3:45 PM)

I imagine Etan will start and Blatche will play most of the game, or at least until he fouls out. I think McGee will see spot duty only.

Brad (NYC)

How long until basketball develops the stats to create a VORP-like stat? I like PER, but it doesn't account for the actual time spent on the court (you can score highly with low playing time [Landry]), and there still isn't a great way to quantify good D.

John Hollinger
  (3:46 PM)

Stay tuned -- we're working on providing exactly what you just mentioned. Still won't have the defense part, but it will account for playing time.

Kevin (Evanston, IL)

John, is NJ's excess of young bigs in the rotation a benefit, as the cream will hopefully rise, or will they just clutter things and impede each other's development? Are any of them attractive enough for Rod to trade for bench depth on the wing?

John Hollinger
  (3:47 PM)

They're potentially an impediment, yes ... it all depends on how Frank juggles their minutes and whether Yi can steal some minutes at the 3 so the other guys get more time.

Mike, chicago

What kind of year can i expect from marc gasol or o.j. mayo

John Hollinger
  (3:48 PM)

Seems like they intend to play Mayo a lot, so he'll have halfway decent numbers, but I really don't know if he'll productive in a PER sense. Gasol should be solid right away, certainly an upgrade on Darko.

Thabo Sefalosha (chicago)

ive got some skills and if i get the minutes i can break out this year dont you think John?

John Hollinger
  (3:49 PM)

Sefolosha would have made my list if I could have been more certain about his minutes -- I don't think he'll be any great shakes offensively but he has defensive stopper potential and could have a Doug Christie-type career (on the court, anyway).

Jimmy (Minneapolis)

Hi John, is Rashad McCants a sleeper this year? He has so much offensive potential

John Hollinger
  (3:50 PM)

Not sure ... has a very low rate of free throws and played very little D last year. How much of that was him recovering from the microfracture and how much was just him being mediocre, we won't know until this year.

Brian (Chicago)

How are you going to take a question like this, "What kind of year can i expect from marc gasol or o.j. mayo" and not one question on DRose, the #1 pick. I can't wait till you are all over him in about a year.

John Hollinger
  (3:52 PM)

I haven't seen Rose yet, but the reports I've heard have been very, very good. Rookie point guards normally struggle, so it's much more likely he blows up a year from now, but he's certainly a player I'll be watching closely.

Jimbo (Chootiya, IL)

In your opinion, what will be the greatest /most notable story to develop in the NBA this season?

John Hollinger
  (3:54 PM)

Hasn't happened yet. The big stories are always the ones that takes us all by surprise. Some formerly bad team is going to win WAY more than we expected, and some formerly good team is going to lose WAY more than we thought, and some previously unheralded scrub is going to have a year we never imagined. Those will be the big stories.

Vince Carter, NJ

Why is everyone counting us out this year? We are still decent.

John Hollinger
  (3:55 PM)

I beg to differ. Jarvis Hayes and Bobby Simmons at small forward? Ecch. There's little offense up front and Vince is fading as a go-to option.

Rick (Denver)

Story of the year is the dominance of the Denver Nuggets.

John Hollinger
  (3:56 PM)

If it happened, that would be the story of the year, yes.

Vince Carter, NJ

Better questions, what can Rod get for me in a Trade this season?

John Hollinger
  (3:57 PM)

Yep, he'll be one of the big names we're watching this year. Lamar Odom, Allen Iverson, Carlos Boozer and Shawn Marion are other players whose names are likely to come up on the swap market.

Ryan (Los Angeles)

You take 5 questions about the Wolves but none about the Clippers? What gives? Do you still think Eric Gordon will be a complete bust?

John Hollinger
  (3:59 PM)

Gordon has had a strong preseason, as has Mike Taylor. I'm interested to see what he does once the real games start, and in particular if he can keep getting to the line as much as he has.

Shane Battier (Houston)

Am I going to come back from my foot surgery to find that my starting position is gone and that in my absence, the team has turned into a chemistry nightmare?

John Hollinger
  (4:00 PM)

Yes on the first, no on the second. Rockets needed another creator to ease the strain on T-Mac, so Ron's I'm-The-Man-itis shouldn't be a problem.

Biology

Why all the love for Chemistry - I'm pretty important too!

John Hollinger
  (4:01 PM)

Best post of the day. And with that, I will quit while I'm ahead. Thanks again for all the great questions, and we'll do this again next week -- also, please note that I'm changing days this year, so the Monday chat will be a regular gig all season.