Aloha everyone. We're off to a great start of the NBA season and with college basketball now in full swing, lots to talk about on the draft side of things too. Let's roll.
Aloha Chad. You use to kill the Warriors, then a truce was called, then they got good. I think you should start killing them again, especially Nellie and Rowell. They are killing this team. Nellie is the absolute wrong coach for this Warrior team. He was the right coach when Baron was here, but Baron is not walking through that door anytime soon. He refuses to play young guys, in particular big ones, therefore he is doing 2 things to Wright and Randolph, killing their confidence and making them mad. He continues to play small ball although he does not have a dominant pg which is critical to its success. Defense? I don't think he has ever heard of the word. Rowell, extending Nellie and Jax was just plain stupid and done on a power trip. Thoughts?
You're right Zac. Truce is over. Warriors are terrible again. Rowell seems to be the major culprit in all of this ... showing once again the Chris Cohan is one of the two or three worst owners in the NBA. When he lets Mully go this year, I fully expect him to land on the Knicks and be part of the resurgance of New York. Meanwhile, the Warriors can watch Corey Maggette, Jamal Crawford and Monta Ellis get in a knife fight each night for the team scoring title.
What are your thoughts on the firing of Sam Mitchell? Apparently they will let Jay Triano coach for the season. Who would be a good replacement after Jay Triano?
I think Sam Mitchell is a good coach. But I don't think he was the right coach for Bryan Colangelo and the team he put together. In fairness, Colangelo inherited Mitchell as a coach and never seemed totally comfortable with his defense first, second and third philosophy. Colangelo wants to play more up-tempo. Remember he's the guy who orchestrated the whole Steve Nash-Mike D'Antoni marriage. However, I wonder if he has the personnel to do it? As for Triano, I really like him. I've known him for years. His philosophy will be more compatible with Colangelo. Ultimately I think it's the right move for the Raptors and we'll see long term if Triano is the answer. He might be.
How good are the Cavs right now? They are crushing teams which is giving Lebron plenty of time to rest. They also have JJ Hickson who is improving every game and should be a big part of the Cavs future dynasty
They're really good. Not quite Boston good, but close. Right now I feel like there's Boston and Cleveland and everyone else in the East is a distant third place. Detroit is having chemistry issues with the addition of Iverson. Orlando is winning, but hasn't played the toughest schedule. Philly and Toronto have been disappointing. I see a very tough Cavs-Celtics Eastern Conference Finals in the future.
Never bring a knife to a GUNFIGHT!
Stephen Jackson has spoken.
What did the Pacers do to the schedule maker to deserve this?
Great point. When people complain about the Pacers ... I have to step back and say ... really? It's a miracle this team is 7-11. Their second best player has been out all year, they've played the toughest schedule in the league and many of their losses have been extremely close. Meanwhile they've beat the Celtics, Lakers and Rockets. Their ugly schedule continues through this month. But after that, it gets easier. This team will be battle tested and I think will go on a major run in the second half of the season. I'm sticking with my pre-season prediction that the Pacers are a playoff team this year. Love their chemistry. Love their style of play. And Danny Granger is one of the more underrated players in the league.
Hey Chad! How good is Portland? This place will be mayhem after they beat the Celtics tomorrow!
I'm not sure they're that good, but good. I pegged them as a sixth seed in the pre-season and that seems about right. Maybe fifth seed. They have a great coach, first of all. I'm not sure why Nate McMillan doesn't get more love. Second, they are so loaded with talent at every position. The only knock on them is their youth. But even that seems to be a positive because the Blazers don't seem to understand that young teams can't consistently win in the NBA. If Pritchard can make a move by the trade deadline to bring in a very good veteran, they could be dangerous in the post season this year. If not, the future of the West is clearly between the Blazers, Lakers and maybe the Hornets.
If Jr. plays well enough, maybe I can trade him for Chris Kaman.
If he's healthy, that would be a good trade for both teams. Pacers desperately need a big man who can score. Clippers need more help at the two and three with Marcus Camby and Zach Randolph in the paint.
Chad, do you think the Cavs would sell the farm by including Hickson in a trade at the deadline if it gives them a better shot at winning a title in the next two years?
No. What they need are more guys like Hickson. The challenge Cleveland faces isn't winning LeBron a title this year. It's convincing him that staying in Cleveland long-term gives him the best chance to win multiple titles. To do that, they need to have young players who can play with Bron for years. Hickson, from the early indications, looks like he could be one of those guys. Look for them to use expiring contracts to get more players like that in place. I don't think the Cavs will try to go under the salary cap in 2010 like the Knicks. A better strategy for them will be to use their expiring contracts to fill this team with young talent now. It's their best shot of keeping LeBron in my opinion.
Don't forget about us this year...B-B-B-Billups is my man!
No one is forgetting about Denver right now. Billups has given the team focus and a winning pedigree for the younger players on the team to follow. I'm not sure he can play like this forever, but he's made the Nuggets relevant again. I'm a little worried about the Nuggets depth up front given the history of injuries for both Nene and Kenyon Martin, but they're dangerous.
Is it time for Rajon Rondo to be considered an All-Star? I think his outstanding defense, speed, quickness, and passing more than make up for his poor jump shot.
I think Devin Harris has been the best point guard in the East so far this year. But Rondo and rookie Derrick Rose seem to be the next in line. Rondo brings so many intangibles to the table that I'd give him the slight nod over Rose for the moment. But in the long run, Rose is poised to be the best point guard in the East for a long, long time.
That Michael Beasley - Derrick Rose debate looks pretty one sided now, huh?
It's too early to call the debate ... but it's a great reminder why teams factor in character and leadership so much. While Beasley was a great scorer and rebounder, Rose brought with him a winning mentality and leadership. You can see, in the early going, why that makes a huge difference. I still think Beasley is a great talent and I think his numbers are a little off in part because of the team he's on ... but Rose is amazing.
Mo Cheeks was a terrible coach when he left Portland, but the fans love him in Philly because he was a great PLAYER here. Shouldn't he get some blame for not getting the team to feed Brand in the post?
Brand is actually averaging roughly the same amount of shot attempts he always has. The difference is that his field goal percentage has tanked. I think so of this is still just rust after missing almost all of last year. Chemistry is also a major issue. This team was better, last year, without Brand. I think they're still trying to figure out how to do it with him. Ultimately that's the coaches job so ... I think Mo Cheek's could be in trouble .. but not for the reason you stated. To me they are the biggest disappointment of the first month of the season.
How good is OJ Mayo going to be? He seems like he might have a brighter future than anyone outside of Rose.
Yes and no. Mayo is a terrific shooter. But if he's going to be dominant, he's going to have to get to the line more and do more to get others involved. Right now I'm not sure O.J. is making any of his teammates better out there. Long term I think the Grizzlies will trade Mike Conley and try to move Mayo to the point. I still think he's ultimately a scoring point guard in the Gilbert Arenas mode.
The more I hear about the Marbury situation, the more I wonder why anyone would take a chance on him. Loads of talent there, but can he really be a productive part of winning team?
History says no. Marbury is a good individual talent who, for whatever reason, doesn't seem able to make his team better when he's on the floor. I wouldn't touch him if I was Miami or some other team looking for a boost. With that said, I can't totally blame Marbury for being upset. He wants to play. From all accounts he worked hard this summer to get ready and was led to believe he had a shot. If we were in his position, we'd be frustrated too. I actually think Marbury's best play is to head to Europe next year. He'll make a ton of money, fans will love him and he can be the man. As for the Knicks, I think they're sending the right message to players and fans. Marbury, for better and for worse, is the symbol of the Isiah Thomas era. Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni are working overtime to get rid of any evidence that Isiah was there.
Are the Lakers going to try to not "rock the boat" or if a decent deal comes along, they'll send away Odom? How much time would it take for even a talented player to learn the triangle?
I think they only make a move if it can help them both this year and in the long term. Anything else doesn't make sense ... they'd be better off keeping Odom.
There were rumors recently about Portland having interest in Conley. Would Conley be a good long-term fit for the Blazers?
I'm not sure. Brandon Roy is so good with the ball in his hands, I'm not sure they need a guy like Conley. He honestly is having the same problem in Memphis. Mayo is so good with the ball that Conley can be a bit irrelevant because he can't shoot. I love Conley as a player, but I'm not sold he's the right guy for Portland, especially with the way Rudy Fernandez is developing.
Why isn't there more talk of Amare going to the Knicks in 2010. Obviously Lebron is 1st choice, but Amare isn't being mentioned much at all and clearly he isn't happy in Phoenix while he would love the big stage in NY and I hear he doesn't mind the coach either. If they can't get Lebron would't the Knicks still be serious contenders with their current core, Amare and say Dwane Wade and maybe even a swan song of Steve Nash?
Maybe ... but Amare seems to be suffering from Shawn Marion illness. He seems more concerned about being THE MAN than doing what's best for the team. Not sure how he'd react to having Dwyane Wade steal his thunder every night. More importantly ... I know it's been fun doing the 2010 speculation thing. I love that stuff ... but it's getting old ... right? I mean, lots can happen in the next two years.
If you were the Suns g.m., what would you do with the roster?
The Suns look like a team ready to implode: full of really unhappy players, a coach who has lost them, a front office making bizarre decisions (Shaq, Dragic, trading KT and 2 first rounders, etc...) and a fan base that's rapidly losing interest. Will there be a shake up, and in what form?
The Suns still have a lot of talent. But you're right, they are in danger of becoming one of those teams that just implodes. I love Steve Kerr and always will, but his mistakes have been costly for the Suns. They need to make a move now while some of their players still have value and start to reload. And whether Suns fans like it or not, the guy they have to build around in the long-term is Amare ... not Nash or Shaq. Amare is the future. If he's unhappy, they have to fix that. The problem is, the Suns have kind of painted themselves into a corner. Shaq's contract is a killer. Boris Diaw doesn't have any real value. They really should try to hold onto Leandro Barbosa. That leaves them possibly trading Nash which ... really seems like blasphemy. He's the heart of this team. But he's also the only guy (other than Amare) that they could trade and get some real value for in return.
Chad your thoughts on the upside of Hasheem Thabeet? We know he can contribute right away defensively in the pros but how much offensive upside does he have? Can he be a more complete player than an Okafor that plays PF?
He's 7-foot-3 and can run the floor and block shots. However, I'm still not sold he's the next Mutombo or Okafor. Offensively he's still VERY raw. He's done the right thing by staying in school for three years, but a big part of me feels like he needs to stay all four years if he wants to ever be a special player in the pros. He's got great upside, but he still has a long ways to go. With that said, I wouldn't be shocked if he was a Top 5, maybe even Top 3 pick in the 2009 Draft. The Draft is pretty weak this upcoming year.
When's your next draft column coming?? I have a feeling we'll be seeing Chase Budinger, Jonny Flynn, Darren Collison in the stock up section, and B.J. Mullens, DeMarr DeRozan in stock down.
It's coming ... today I think. You're right about the stock down column .. Mullens and DeRozan have been big disappointments early on. In the stock up category ... Blake Griffin, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Hasheem Thabeet, Gani Lawal and Ty Lawson make the cut. Though i agree that Budinger and Flynn in particular are off to great starts.
If you are going to take a draft question, answer who is better and why: Rubio or Jennings.
Rubio. More experience and a better feel for the game. Jennings is a more explosive scorer and athlete, but Rubio has the intangibles to be a great pass first point guard. Jennings is going to fit more of a scoring Gilbert Arenas type of mold. With that said, neither is off to a great start this year. Rubio has been out all season with a wrist injury and Jennings 4.9 ppg on below 30 percent shooting isn't exactly wowing anyone.
Blake Griffin has to be #1 right? OKC needs a big
Yes. He's the consensus No. 1 pick right now and if he keeps playing this way, no one is going to catch him. He's dominating on both ends of the ball. He's tough, he's physically ready for the NBA, he's a great athlete. The only real question is the long term health of his knees.
What do you make of the disappointing starts by DeMar DeRozan and B.J. Mullens? Do you think that it will ultimately affect their draft stock or is it just because they are freshmen?
I just think the last two freshman classes have dramatically increased our expectations. Those two classes were ELITE. This year is much more mediocre. So ... when freshman aren't dominating the way that Beasley or Durant did ... we're disappointed. Mullens we could've expected. It always takes big guys longer. But DeRozan is a bit of a surprise. I thought he was one of the most ready, from a physical and tools standpoint, to dominate. Their stock is dropping, but both are still int he Top 10 ... for now.
Chad, Stephan Curry has looked dominant, but has played in college for 4 whole years. Is he going to suffer from over exposure and thus drop in the draft?
First of all, Curry is a junior this year. And no ... I don't think he suffers from overexposure. He moved to a new position this year which has allowed scouts to finally see him play the position he'd have to play in the pros .. point guard. So far he's passed the test with flying colors, which is why he's really rocketed up our Top 100. We have him ranked as the 5th best prospect in the draft right now. He's been that good.
Thanks everyone for your questions. We'll do it again on Tuesday next week and look for my latest Draft Stock Watch later today.