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January 6, 6:35 AM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (3:08 PM)

Greetings from Hollinger HQ in Atlanta, where I saw the Magic attempt to give a game back to the Hawks last night and the Hawks politely refuse. Plenty going on around the league, so let's discuss.

jack (pasadena, texas)

do you think too much is being made of the spurs' good record? it seems like they've beaten a bunch of patsies and lost to any team of any quality.

John Hollinger
  (3:09 PM)

Yes and no. It's great for them to have such a good mark gien the injuries to Parker and Manu, but starting Sunday against Orlando their schedule gets much, much, MUCH tougher. San Anto has a history of playing better in the second half of the season, but they'll be hard-pressed to much their current win% the rest of the way given the massive increase in difficulty.

Dave (Dallas)

What do you think of Johan Petro? His PER numbers look pretty bad. Can he give the Nuggets some decent minutes off the bench?

John Hollinger
  (3:10 PM)

A few. Petro hasn't played much this year but his numbers the past couple years aren't terrible for a backup five. Denver didn't have anybody besides Nene who could defend the Shaqs, Bynums and Yaos of the world, and given the likelihood that they'd face one of those three in the playoffs it was important to secure a big. That said, tax considerations were also a big part of this trade.

james (Berlin)

Don't the Spurs always start slow, never really seem like they're on fire and then somehow at the end of the season find themselves among the leagues top seeds?

John Hollinger
  (3:12 PM)

Most years yes, although last year it was the opposite pattern -- they started 17-3 and then their offense went in the tank after the All-Star break. And much like this year, last season their schedule ramped up dramatically in difficulty in January.

Ethan (Austin)

How do you feel about what we are seeing from Kevin Durant? He's been beyond incredible, it's hard to imagine how good he'll be once he fills out.

John Hollinger
  (3:14 PM)

Beyond incredible is a bit strong -- he's 38th in PER and still has shown zero capacity to create a shot for somebody besides himself. But for a guy who should be a junior in college, he's having a heck of a season.

Galway (San Francisco)

Given that it looks like TMac will hold on to the starting guard spot in the All-Star game, what deserving Western guard misses out?

John Hollinger
  (3:16 PM)

It's more likely to be a forward than a guard -- remember, there are two floater spots at the end of the roster for the coaches to add either guards, forwards or centers. Kobe, CP, Brandon Roy, Tony Parker and Chauncey Billups will make it no matter what, so Tracy's really taking a spot from somebody like Paul Millsap or Amare Stoudemire.

Ryan (Tampa, Florida)

What do you think about the start of the Orlando Magic this season? They keep winning against good teams and it seems they don't get much respect.

John Hollinger
  (3:18 PM)

It's true nobody quite takes the Magic seriously as a title contender, despite their undeniably impressive results so far. Part of it is because one item you said isn't quite true -- Orlando hasn't played many good teams. That changes in a hurry the next two weeks (San Anto, Boston, Cleveland), so if they hold up well in those games they might get more national attention.

Matt (Norwalk, CT)

Love the chats...steph curry or james harden as the better pro?

John Hollinger
  (3:19 PM)

Harden, mostly because I have a lot of trouble getting on the Curry bandwagon given his physical limitations.

Rodney (Detroit)

If Rondo keeps playing this erratically, can I take his All-star spot?

John Hollinger
  (3:20 PM)

Jameer Nelson called first.

John (Dallas)

John, how is it that the Lakers have a better L10 and SOS percentages, same record as Cleveland but second to them?

John Hollinger
  (3:22 PM)

i have three or four questions like this in the queue, where people ask me a question like this and leave out the one glaring, obvious data point that's not in their team's (or player's) favor. The Cavs' victory margin is among the best figures of all time, and that's why they're No. 1.

Zekyl (Cleveland)

With Boston crumbling, Ilgauskas hurting, and putting a royal beatdown on the Magic without Rip, are the Pistons the 'sleeping giant' team in the East?

John Hollinger
  (3:25 PM)

You've got the sleeping part right. Sorry, but the win streak was smoke and mirrors -- beating the Clippers, Kings and Thunder by a combined nine points does not suggest impending world domination. Unless Joe has something big cooked up for the deadline I don't think this team will even host a playoff series.

Scott (Indy)

Come on Hollinger! You mean to tell me all this time spent on the formula wasn't just to stick it to Team X?!!! I don't buy that for a second!!

Paul(Lithuania)

You think Kobe Bryant is capable of shooting 50 % FG for the whole season? And why is LeBron's True shooting percentage that much better than Kobe's?

John Hollinger
  (3:29 PM)

It's very difficult for a guard to shoot over 50% for a full season, especially one who takes as many 3s as Kobe does. The reason Lebron's TS% is higher is because he shoots a ridiculously high percentage around the basket, and because he gets to the line a bit more.

Eric, Houston

With Minnesota's recent surge, does Al Jefferson get into the mix for the all star game?

John Hollinger
  (3:31 PM)

If the Wolves can get somewhere near .500 at the All-Star break I think it will be tough to keep him out ... especially if Shaq or Yao is hurt, which isn't exactly a remote possibility. But short of that, he has no chance.

Lawrence Frank (NJ)

I'm Coach of the Year so far, right? Juggling B players, developing young guys, and the team's over-achieving.

John Hollinger
  (3:32 PM)

Frank's done a nice job but the Nets are highly unlikely to stay at .500 all year given their upcoming schedule. And even if they do, it won't matter because Stan Van Gundy is about 99.9% likely to get the award if the Magic keep playing like this.

Samson (Toronto)

Loved your "2009 predictions" article, but have major beef with part of #3 (Rooks beating Sophs at All-Star Weekend). You named the likely rosters without including either Jason Thompson (Rook) or Spencer Hawes (Soph)? Why the Sactown hate? Seems Lakers are the only Cali team good enough to send players? Reminds me of Al Thornton's epic snub from the Rookie team last year.

John Hollinger
  (3:34 PM)

They only take the best nine rookies and the best nine sophs. They're voted in by assistant coaches, and if you look at past trends the voting has been heavily (almost comically) dependent on playing time. I believe if you look you'll find those two players aren't in the top nine in their class in either minutes or PER, so it's tough to call it much of a snub.

Randy Foye (MN)

If I keep my level of play up the rest of the year am I at least in the talk for MIP?

John Hollinger
  (3:35 PM)

In the talk, yes, but unlikely to win unless something horrible happens to Devin Harris.

Eric, Houston

Will Kevin Love be invited to the all star weekend to play in the rookie game?

John Hollinger
  (3:37 PM)

I was vacillating between Love and Mbah a Moute as the ninth player on my roster when I was comparing the teams for my predictions column. But if he plays like he has over the past week he'll make it.

Derrick Rose (Chicago)

I'm not normally concerned about these things, but how can anyone with a brain put Jameer Nelson or Rondo in the All-Star game over me? Or even my teammate Ben Gordon.

John Hollinger
  (3:38 PM)

Besides the fact they have better PERs and have won twice as many games? Rose is going to be a fantastic player and is having a strong rookie season, but let's get real -- he isn't having a better year than Andre Miller or Jose Calderon, much less Rondo or Nelson.

Garry, Irvine, CA

Ok, Jon, so the Bucks have a better margin than the Spurs or Suns, but their record is a full 9 or 10 games worse. This seems to me that too much emphasis is placed on the victory margin.

John Hollinger
  (3:41 PM)

It's not just victory margin, it's also schedule -- Milwaukee has played most of their tough opponents and more than half its road games, and that must be taken into account.

Jack (Tempe)

I agree with Gary, especially considering that Pop throws games that are over 10 going into the 4th quarter. That screws up the whole margin thingy.

John Hollinger
  (3:42 PM)

This is rich with irony -- the biggest Power Rankings controversy ever was two years ago when I had 58-win San Antonio ranked ahead of 67-win Dallas because of their superior scoring margin.

Matt (Cardon, OH)

Who do you have for the Boston v. Cleveland game on Friday night. Boston is slipping, but the Cavs are playing without their big man, Z.

John Hollinger
  (3:43 PM)

Cavs are 17-0 in their building. Gotta like the odds on that one. But I agree they're more vulnerable without Big Z, as the Washington game proved.

Steiny (NYC)

The Los Angeles Clippers today waived guard/forward Hassan Adams. Where can you see Adams ending up?

John Hollinger
  (3:44 PM)

Let's just say I hope his passport is up to date.

Disco (Chicago)

Is Westbrook going to shock everyone and win ROY?

John Hollinger
  (3:45 PM)

Not sure, he might have too much ground to make up on the per-game averages, which is how this thing will end up being decided since very few of the people doing the voting will have seen Rose, Mayo or Westbrook play more than once or twice.

Kevin (OC)

Other than the development of Eric Gordon, is there any reason I should continue watching the Clippers this season? Waterboarding seems humane compared to this torture.

John Hollinger
  (3:46 PM)

Is this Kevin Arnovitz? It must be ... I'd watch to see if Marcus Camby can make the All-Star team. He's completely off the radar because his team is so bad, which stacks the odds against him, but he's been amazing.

Matt (Cleveland)

I love your statistical based rankings- and everyone is having problems with where you have the Bucks- so... Do you see them as having any chance of making noise in the playoffs (potentially against Bos, Cle, or Orl)? If so, I have to make a quick trip to Vegas and get some nice odds now.

John Hollinger
  (3:47 PM)

No, none. I see them as a classic Scott Skiles overachieving regular season team and expect their playoff stay to be brief.

Vince (NY)

Is there a logical reason why Luke Ridnour has close to 400,000 votes for the All-Star game? And when will Stein change the voting procedures?

John Hollinger
  (3:48 PM)

It will take something that makes a mockery of the system, and we might be close -- if T-Mac and Yi Jianlian both get voted in as starters, I think the league will be too red-faced NOT to take some kind of action.

Brian (Simi Valley, CA)

John... for someone who uses statistics as much as you do, I'm sometimes astounded at the amount of hyperbole in your articles. Cleveland winning the championship without playing a game 7? Ridiculous. Not to mention your statistical analysis of "what if" Lebron played all 48 in the playoffs.

John Hollinger
  (3:50 PM)

Look at the past few playoffs -- LeBron played 46, 47 and 48 minutes routinely. As for winning a title without a Game 7, that's hardly unique. San Antonio won three different times without playing a single one, and Miami didn't play one either.

AC Green and BJ Armstrong

Our All-Star starts didn't spur any changes.

John Hollinger
  (3:52 PM)

This would be different, because so much of it would clearly be driven by an overseas vote, as opposed to the usual run-of-the-mill stupidity that afflicts All-Star voting in every sport.

Gareth, Rockford, Ill.

Will Scott Skiles ever give Charlie Villanueva the minutes he deserves in Milwaukee? Right now flaky rookie Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is averaging more minutes. There are times where Villa won't break 20 minutes on the court.

John Hollinger
  (3:52 PM)

Watch Mbah a Moute on D -- he is amazing. That's why he's starting and Charlie's coming off the bench, and it seems to be working for both of them.

Brook Lopez (NJ)

Don't forget about me in the ROY conversation or else I'll block your next article from being posted.

John Hollinger
  (3:54 PM)

Sorry, too much inconsistency to rival the top three -- like that bomb against Sacramento this week. He should have killed that team and he was so bad they sat him in crunch time.

Ray (San Antonio)

Do you think someone will pick up Miles specifically to screw with the Blazers cap for this summer? Do you see anything wrong with that?

John Hollinger
  (3:56 PM)

For those who haven't been reading PER Diem, screwing Portland's cap isn't the main reason to sign Miles -- the main reason is to get a piece of the $9 million tax payment the Blazers would have to make to every other team in the league. Split 29 ways that's a little over $300K, and signing Miles to a 10-day and playing him the two required games (apparently the six exhibition games counted) would cost a fraction of that. So whomever signs him is basically turning a profit.

Matt (Vermillion)

What do you make of Randy Foye's recent performances and could he start at the 2 with Telfair at the one to make up a good backcourt?

John Hollinger
  (3:57 PM)

It is impossible to make a sentence with "Telfair", "starting" and "good backcourt." But Foye at the 2 appears to be part of the solution in 'Sota, yes.

Brad (Milwaukee, WI)

If Mbah a Moute develops his offensive game, is a Scottie Pippen comparison out of the question?

John Hollinger
  (3:58 PM)

Utterly, completely and totally. He's a defensive stopper and a pretty good one, but I see little chance of his moving beyond that role.

Brad (Texas)

Dallas is the second best team in the West over the past 25 games? The numbers agree, but you don't?

John Hollinger
  (4:00 PM)

in other words -- if you just ignore their worst stretch of the season, they look great! Sorry, I have trouble getting really stoked about this team. I can imagine a scenario for every other Western contender where they go on a tear and win 55; I really have a hard time on that with Dallas. Maybe they'll sneak in at 7 or 8.

Tony (Virginia)

Who would be your rookie of the year right now? Rose or Mayo or both?

John Hollinger
  (4:02 PM)

If I voted today it would be Mayo, because to date he's had the best rookie season when you combine production and minutes. By year-end I have a feeling it will be Rose, Westbrook or darkhorse Marc Gasol.

DD (Washington, DC)

Can the Wizards qualify for a federal bailout? The team's infrastructure is clearly ailing, with heavy investments in troubled assets.

John Hollinger
  (4:04 PM)

Good one. I didn't like Grunfeld's decision to re-sign Jamison and Arenas at the time, but I couldn't have imagined it turning it this badly.

Doug (Cincinnati)

Danny Granger an All Star this year?

John Hollinger
  (4:06 PM)

That was impressive last night, and he's starting to really cement his case. But Indy is going to have to move closer to the No. 8 spot in the East for him to be a lock -- historically, players on sub-.500 teams tend to get screwed.

Kevin Durant (OKC)

Am I really not an All-Star? Can you see all the scrubs I play with? Oh and your thoughts about how much better than Greg Oden I am and how a nucleus of Me-Jeff Green-Westbrook-Blake Griffin is gonna look in 3 years.

John Hollinger
  (4:08 PM)

No, you're not. You're gonna take him ahead of Amare Stoudemire or Chauncey Billups when his team has won five games? I don't think so. Kudos to Durant for stating that himself point-blank in the papers this week. Thunder fans will have to be content with having three guys playing the Friday night game.

Brad Warren, Michigan

Do you think Rodney Stuckey should get some MVP discussions? The Pistons are 13-4 when he starts for them.

John Hollinger
  (4:09 PM)

I know folks can get a little myopic when it comes to the home team, but I think this might take the cake.

Brett (ATL)

The Hawks starting 5 can play with anyone, and reserves Mo Evans and Flip Murray have more than made up for traitor Chill. That being said, they seem to need another big body (Solomon Jones is not the answer). Is there anybody out there for them to target?

John Hollinger
  (4:10 PM)

The problem isn't targets, it's assets -- what are the Hawks going to put into a trade to persuade somebody like OKC to give them a Joe Smith? They don't have large expiring deals or multiple first-rounders, and I don't see much interest in Acie Law.

HSH(PR)

Given that it looks like iverson will hold on to the starting guard spot in the All-Star game, what deserving eastern guard or foward will misses out?

John Hollinger
  (4:11 PM)

Pretty much kills any hopes for Stuckey, and likely takes down one of the Celtics guards (Allen or Rondo).

Paul (Trenton, NJ)

With the recent play of Ratliff/Speights and Dalembert's dwindling minutes, do you think Philly is trying to trade him for shooting help?

John Hollinger
  (4:14 PM)

Philly is trying to trade him for darn near anything, but his contract prevents it. I remain at a loss why Speights isn't playing more -- he was a major reason they pulled out that game in Brewtown last night.

JKL(Boston, MA)

Which plus 500% team out west misses the playoffs this year?

John Hollinger
  (4:16 PM)

Check out my piece on my 2009 predictions -- I'm guessing it's the Mavs. They have the slimmest talent base and the fewest assets available to trade for an upgrade, so unless one of the other eight is bushwhacked by injuries I think they'll end up about two wins short.

John Hollinger
  (4:16 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have, but come back next week at this time and we can talk some more.