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March 17, 7:01 AM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (3:08 PM)

Greetings all ... a bit odd seeing the Rose Garden decked out in Portland State's blue, isn't it? Onto the questions ...

Michael (Dallas)

Is Barea the worse backup PG playing significant minutes on a playoff bound team?

John Hollinger
  (3:08 PM)

You seen Starbury lately?

Galway (San Francisco)

John, did you see that Lamarcus Aldridge trails only Chris Paul and Tony Parker in 82games.com's new "assist:bad pass turnover" stat? I love all of these new stat methods.

John Hollinger
  (3:09 PM)

Hadn't seen that, but it's great use of the information in the league's play-by-play sheets, and a good example of how the people at the scorer's table are the front line in any statistical revolution that may take place.

Mike (NC)

Bobcats make the playoffs yes or no? and if they do what do they do with Felton try signing him to just a one year deal?

John Hollinger
  (3:10 PM)

Looks unlikely for Charlotte -- their best bet is still probably to beat Philly twice and hope the rest of the Sixers schedule hammers them. They have games left against Detroit and Chicago too, which is helpful, but there's a lot of ground to make up on Detroit and Philly and the Bulls are playing really well.

John Hollinger
  (3:11 PM)

As far as Felton goes, I don't think it depends on whether they make the playoffs. They'll make a qualifying offer and match if he gets anything better (provided it's still sane) on the open market.

Brian (Boston)

Why do you think the Blazers have surpassed your pre-season expectations? If you told me before the season that Oden would miss so many games, and be generally mediocre (though with flashes of brilliance), I probably would have picked them for 42 wins too, which they've already surpassed.

John Hollinger
  (3:12 PM)

Roy, Blake and Przybilla have played far better than my projection, and nobody has been worse. It's really that simple.

Matt (Kansas City, MO)

Hey John, which scenario is more likely, KC getting an expansion team or the Kings moving to KC?

John Hollinger
  (3:13 PM)

Well, expansion isn't happening any time soon, and if it does it will be in another continent, so that pretty much narrows it down. Kings are the most vulnerable team right now as far as relocation goes, but hardly the only one.

Joey (Chapel Hill)

Felton was so good here at UNC why is it that his shot is still SO Bad after 4 years in the NBA?

John Hollinger
  (3:13 PM)

I think a bigger problem isn't his outside shot but rather his lack of a reliable floater -- he tries to take everything all the way to the basket and isn't a good enough finisher to pull it off.

Matt (Denver)

Without looking at your playoff odds, what is your gut feeling regarding how the 2-8 seeds in the West unfold?

John Hollinger
  (3:14 PM)

Gut feeling would be something like: No. 2 Spurs, No. 3 Rockets, No. 4 Jazz, No. 5 Hornets, No. 6 Blazers, No. 7 Nuggets, No. 8 Mavs. The fly in the ointment there is that Utah has to beat some good teams on the road to reach No. 4, and they've yet to prove they can do that.

Dils

After watching Rose stare down the barrel of losing his chance at ROY against Westbrook in the first half of last nights game to watching him put the team on his back, rain jumpers, and go perfect from the floor in the second half, while also improving the Bulls chances of making the playoffs, Isn't it safe to say Rose has locked up ROY now?

John Hollinger
  (3:16 PM)

Rose helped his odds greatly with that second half last night after he had five TOs in the first. I still think Brook Lopez has been better, but he hasn't been on many voters' radars.

Tim (Cleveland)

Why would Wade not play a game they could steal in Boston when they are fighting for the 4th spot? Did they give up on getting the 4th spot? And what does that say about his MVP chances when he doesn't suit up.

John Hollinger
  (3:17 PM)

I'm guessing because he was hurt ... in all seriousness, it's far more important for him to be healthy on April 20 than it is for the Heat to try to pass Atlanta, especially since they have very slim odds of doing so even if Wade plays every game.

Jojo (Bend)

Blazers w/o LaMarcus and Batum lose to Cleveland by..???

John Hollinger
  (3:18 PM)

I'll say 17. Bad road team versus an invincible home team, not a good combo for the Blazers. For those who didn't hear, Aldridge suffered a concussion last night and Batum sprained an ankle. So it looks like Frye and Outlaw are your starting forwards tonight.

Chris (Sacramento)

Just read the article on the lottery teams with some upside. Can't say I was surprised to see the Kings not get a mention. Assuming they're still in Sac in a couple years...and yeah that's a big assumption...do you see any light at the end of the tunnel for Kings fan? Any?

John Hollinger
  (3:19 PM)

yes, there is. They have a bunch of cap space coming in 2010 and they'll have high picks the next two years, plus they have one reasonably high-level player to build around with Kevin Martin. But it's gonna take awhile ...

Derek (Atlanta, GA)

John, not to rip on your statistics, but did they predict the Hawks to be this good or was that just you who said they woudl be 13th in the east and their bench was like "fema" Rise up John!!!

John Hollinger
  (3:20 PM)

Yes, I was down on their bench, and it turns out that Flip Murray and Zaza have been big factors in their success. Both guys were near-worthless last year, so I don't feel too bad about missing on this one.

JT (Atlanta)

John, you've seen enough Hawks games. Are they really this much better with Marvin Williams out? Does Mo Evans change the dynamic of the team that much? I just don't get it. They are playing some good ball right now.

John Hollinger
  (3:21 PM)

Playing at home really helps. Also, Joe Johnson finally snapped out of his two-and-a-half-month long slump that nobody outside Atlanta ever talked about, and that's allowed them to overcome a torrent of three-point, one-rebound efforts from Evans.

JH (Orlando)

If Magic get to #2 can they win in a seven game series with a Healthy Boston team?

John Hollinger
  (3:22 PM)

I believe I would still pick Boston in that one, but I'd have to think a lot harder about the Magic if they had home court. To pull it off they'll need to win Wednesday in O-town.

Brian (Washington, IL)

Who do you think is going to get the NBA MVP? Lebron, Kobe, or Wade?

John Hollinger
  (3:23 PM)

LeBron over Wade is how I have it right now. There is really no rational reason at this point to put Kobe higher than third.

Quinton (Georgia)

Without D-Wade the Heat could not finish last night,Does that show you he is clearly the MVP?

John Hollinger
  (3:23 PM)

A) This doesn't prove that he's more valuable than every single other player in the entire league, and B) doesn't the fact that they took the defending champs to OT on the road kind of make the opposite point?

Matt (Iowa)

What was the last team you could remember with as many injuries as the current celtics? Do you think it's a good thing since it's getting Marbury and Moore more minutes to get adjusted faster.

John Hollinger
  (3:24 PM)

You mean besides the current Clippers or the current Wizards? Everyone thinks their injuries are unusual, but most of the time it isn't.

Jeremy (Los Angeles)

Any inside info on the Spurs actually being healthy for the playoffs? Right now it is looking bleak with Duncan struggling, Manu out and Gooden a bit questionable.

John Hollinger
  (3:26 PM)

No inside info, but I have to agree with your conclusion. Popovich is pulling them along by MacGuyvering lineups together with rubber bands and duct tape every night, but I don't see how that will work in a seven-game series.

Brendan (Pittsfield, MA)

What about Lopez has been better then Rose? I'm not hating on Lopez, I think he's great, but Rose has his team in the position to be in the post season. that works in the favor of the MVP race, why not the ROY vote?

John Hollinger
  (3:27 PM)

It'd be a more compelling case if Rose was their best player, but he's not -- in fact Vinny has played Hinrich in several fourth quarters. The announcers talk about Rose all game and he has the ball a lot because he's the point guard, but to say he's "leading" "his" team is just wrong ... Gordon and Salmons are the go-to guys.

Brad (PHX)

Any chance the Suns still make the playoffs? Dallas does have a much tougher schedule than Phoenix.

John Hollinger
  (3:28 PM)

I estimate the Suns have about a 30% chance right now, based mostly on the fact that their schedule is way easier than that of Dallas or Utah. To pull it off, they have to either win at Dallas or sweep the two remaining games against Utah.

Jovan (Phoenix, az)

how about this rational John, kobe is the best player in the league?

John Hollinger
  (3:29 PM)

Anyone can state it ... but how would you go about proving it?

bob(chi)

Looks like the Bulls may have gotten a steal in Salmons. Who is most likely not to return next season? Gordon or Deng?

John Hollinger
  (3:30 PM)

Salmons is really good as long as he's getting minutes and shots. If either of those things changes he's difficult, so it may be problematic when Deng comes back next year if there's no place for Salmons to play.

Matt (Oakland)

So are Gordon and Salmons better than Devin Harris and Vince Carter? Because the Bulls are better than the Nets, with Rose being a major reason why.

John Hollinger
  (3:30 PM)

The Bulls, 4 through 8, are so much better than the Nets it's not even funny. That's why they have a better record.

Lane (Cleveland)

The proof is undeniable that Lebron is the MVP this year: he has more points, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, and a higher fg% than Kobe. His team's record is better. His supporting cast is weaker. And he took a 45 win team and put them on pace for 60+. How can you possibly argue with that?

John Hollinger
  (3:32 PM)

Kobe fans get upset when I point out things like that. LeBron also has better numbers in the clutch and his team is better defensively. At this point, it's basically just whether you choose to believe what you want to regardless of the facts.

Matthew (NYC)

What are the chances the Mavs can hit 50 wins again. Considering they play the majority of their games at home from now on, will it be enough to secure at least the 6th seed?

John Hollinger
  (3:33 PM)

I'm still showing them most likely as the No. 8, as they're likely to end up with 48 wins and will need at least 50 (more likely 51) to get up to 7th or higher.

TJ (Tuscaloosa)

If Lebron and Wade are 1,2 because of your PER..shouldn't Marreese Speights and Kevin Love be 1,2 for ROY??

John Hollinger
  (3:34 PM)

Speights and Love haven't played as many minutes and have had some defensive shortcomings that aren't reflected in PER, which is why I'm more comfortable putting Lopez and Gasol 1 and 2 on my ballot.

Kobe (LA)

Lebron can have the MVP trophy. I want the ring!

John Hollinger
  (3:36 PM)

A LeBron vs. Kobe Finals would pretty much be the league office's dream. Wouldn't be bad for the rest of us either.

Jay (TX)

Who is the team in the western conference, besides the Lakers and Spurs, that teams definately don't want to be see in the second round?

John Hollinger
  (3:36 PM)

I think Utah still scares people because they're so deep and because that front line can wear you down over the course of seven games. I don't hear people talking that way about the other teams out West.

JB (PDX)

Blue? Portland State's colors are green, black and white.

John Hollinger
  (3:38 PM)

I really should know this ... looks like UP must be the host team. On second examination (looking at TV), they're using the same colors in Greensboro, so it must be an NCAA mandated thing. Which is weird because the colors are terrible.

John (SF, CA)

Game on the line...Kobe or LeBron?

John Hollinger
  (3:39 PM)

I'm sure lots of people will say Kobe -- but all the numbers say LeBron. He's been far more deadly than Bryant has in these situations over the past two years.

Dirst (Dirstland)

To hell with putting Kobe third for MVP voting...what about Chris Paul? They would be a lottery team without him, and with him they have an excellent record. Thoughts?

John Hollinger
  (3:39 PM)

I can easily justify putting Paul third, or Dwight Howard for that matter. All I said was that I can't justify putting Kobe higher than third. I left open the option of putting him lower.

Evan (Oakland, CA)

What do you think of playing Randolph, Wright, and Biedrins at the same time? Flying, non-shooting, skinny man attack?

John Hollinger
  (3:41 PM)

Can't sign off on that one, sorry. I actually wonder if they'd be better off starting Turiaf with Biedrins, because they need some beef up front to go with all those lean guys, and then bringing Randolph off the pine.

Rick (LA)

Do you see Kobe as a Top 15 Player of All Time?

John Hollinger
  (3:42 PM)

He's making a strong argument ... of course the next generation (LeBron/Wade/Howard) may boot him right back out.

Chris (Hacienda Heights, CA)

Who's your sleeper in this year's NCAA Tourney?

John Hollinger
  (3:43 PM)

West Virginia. Six seeds historically have overachieved, and their season stats suggest they got massively underseeded. Also, Gonzaga if Lawson's toe doesn't heal -- two quasi-home games to start, then they get NC.

Lee (Fargo)

Who is hated more? You by Laker fans or Simmons by Utah fans?

John Hollinger
  (3:44 PM)

Bucher by Utah fans. That one was low-hanging fruit.

dana (berkeley, ca)

do you know of any teams that track the 'assist that leads to the assist' stat? do you think this would be relevant in basketball?

John Hollinger
  (3:46 PM)

There are a couple teams that keep track of "hockey assists" -- I saw the leaders once but I forget who was on it. I just remember thinking it was less valuable than I'd thought it would be.

Kath (Manahattan)

With the passing of two great owners this year, I was wondering who you think are the best owners in the NBA, and you can count utah and detroit.

John Hollinger
  (3:49 PM)

I think you have to put Peter Holt in San Antonio right near the top, but there are several good ones -- Grousbeck in Boston, Jerry Buss in L.A., Leslie Alexander in Houston, Mark Cuban in Dallas, and of course the late Larry Miller in Utah and Bill Davidson in Detroit. I probably left a couple good ones out too ...

Steve (Chicago, IL)

Hey John. Could Kobe be in danger of not making the All NBA First Team? Paul, Wade, Bron, Duncan, Howard. Right??

John Hollinger
  (3:49 PM)

We talk about this every week -- the All-NBA voters have to push Duncan down to second team if they're going to include the five best players. If not, then I think Kobe is the one who moves down to second team.

jason (NY)

so howard is top 15 of all time but not kobe? what a joke man.

John Hollinger
  (3:50 PM)

Howard is nowhere close right now. I'm saying when the book closes on his career 15 years from now he very well might be.

Lee (Fargo)

You forgot Donald Sterling

Dan, NY

Knicks fans hate you more than Lakers fans, John. Just sayin'

John Hollinger
  (3:51 PM)

After all those rip jobs on Isiah I wrote for the Sun, this is how you treat me? I was just the messenger, people.

Jon (Mad-town)

D-Rose= Tony Parker? Stever Francis? Isaiah Thomas, or D-Wade?

John Hollinger
  (3:53 PM)

He's trending more toward the Parker-Francis trajectory right now as a high-scoring, low-assist guy who doesn't make a lot of 3s. But we have to remember how young he is -- it's extremely rare for such a young guard to play this effectively, and he may grow considerably from this point forward.

Chris (Hacienda Heights, CA)

In 5 years...Beasley > Rose > Lopez > Gordon...agreed?

John Hollinger
  (3:54 PM)

I could easily see that. Rose will probably be better than Lopez five years from now, and ditto for Beasley and Westbrook ... but as rookies, Lopez has clearly been more valuable.

Matt (Santa Barbara)

Eric Gordon. Could he be the pick of the litter for this year's deep and talented rookie class? Yes or no and why?

John Hollinger
  (3:57 PM)

Pick of the litter? No. Several players have better numbers and about the same number appear to have more upside. But that's only because this year's rookie class is so good. Instead, focus a little more on what matters to the Clips -- namely, they found a solution at the 2 guard for the next decade and quite possibly a future star.

John Hollinger
  (3:58 PM)

Folks, I have to cut out of here to go to the arena for Hawks vs. Mavs in a rare Thursday night game in the ATL. Thanks again for all the great questions and we'll do this again at the same time next week.