Sorry, I'm late everyone. Let's roll. We'll talk end of season awards, playoffs and NBA Draft.
And the MVP this year is.....
LeBron James. I personally don't think there's much to debate here. Best player on the best team in the league. Dwyane Wade is the league's best scorer now. Dwight Howard is the most dominant defensive player. Chris Paul may be the best distributor. But LeBron has it all.
How far does Portland go in the playoffs, in your opinion?
It's unfortunate that it looks like they'll hit the Lakers in Round 2. I think they're rounding into the second or third best team in the West. I love their talent, I just don't think they have the experience to beat the Lakers. But ... wow ... once these kids grow up a little more ... is anyone going to stop them?
How worried should us boston fans be about the celtics right now?
I think they can beat either Chicago or Philly (most likely Philly) in the first round. And I still think their commitment to defense gets them by Orlando in Round 2. But I don't see them beating Cleveland right now.
Do the Pistons have any chance whatsoever against Cleveland? It is a rivalry after all
Maybe Pistons win a game. Maybe. They are playing terribly right now. They can't point the finger at Iverson anymore. Got to wonder how patient Joe D will be with Michael Curry. My guess is he'll have another chance. Joe D will shake up this team in a big way this summer. Will give Curry another chance to see if he connects with some new faces.
On First Take Skip said he thinks Orlando would beat the Cavs in a 7 game series, thoughts?
Nope. Remember, defense plays a much bigger role in the playoffs and the Cavs are a better defensive team.
How do you think an Orlando/Chicago matchup will play out...keeping in mind Orlando's injuries and Rose's ability to take over games...
I think Orlando is the most vulnerable of the top East teams, however, I don't think Chicago gets by them. They are playing much better basketball, but I don't think they are in Orlando's league just yet. I'd say the series goes 6 or 7 games, but Orlando wins it.
Does the Heat/Atl match up boil down to a great player against a good team? Which team prevails?
Pretty much. But I like Miami here. I think we've all seen what a healthy DWade can do to a team in the playoffs. Just ask the Mavs. I think he'll be able to pull off the upset in 7 games.
Can you remember a larger gap in talent in any conference going into the playoffs like the one we have in the West. I can't recall the last time one team was so far ahead of everyone else in their coference
Seems like we hear this every year. But in 2006 and 2008, the East wins the title. I do think the Lakers are the favorite and yes, 2-9 is better than 4-8 in the East. But at the top, there are some pretty formidable teams in both conferences.
Do you think Utah can beat the Lakers?
No. They are playing terribly at the wrong time. Utah is tough at home and I think will take a game or 2. But I doubt this goes past 6 games.
What do you think about the Wizards hiring Flip Saunders? Can they be a playoff team next year with Arenas and Haywood healthy? What kind of impact would Blake Griffin have on this team?
He's a good offensive coach on a team with a lot of offensive weapons. I think he'll help the Wizards, but realistically, the best case scenario for the Wizards is what? A fourth seed? I don't see Saunders making the Wizards a serious title contender, even with a potential Top 3 pick in the draft coming. Maybe I'll feel differently if they land Blake Griffin.
Chad, should I be worried about Melo's 4-20 career playoff record in a potential matchup against a veteran Mavs squad, or is the Billups for AI trade going to put the Nuggets over the top?
Yeah, I think the Nuggets are a better team than the Mavs. I think Billups, Anthony and Nene are all having terrific years, they have a great coach and the home court advantage in Denver will be big. I think they are getting out of the first round and it's possible they meet the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
I am about to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, my team is first in defensive efficiency, and you really think Cleveland is a better defensive team?
You've got a point. I overstated that the Cavs and Celtics were far better. I'm retracting the statement. However, I still think, when push comes to shove, the Cavs beat the Magic in a seven game series. I think the Celtics do too.
And the NBA champs are......
Lakers over Cavs in 6
Do you think Rose wins the ROY award hands down?
I'm not sure about hands down. Statistically you can make a strong case for Brook Lopez. However, Rose's role on a surging playoff team I think really puts him over the top. He has my vote.
Kevin Martin or Danny Granger?
Granger. To me he is the Most Improved Player in the league. I think you can make a great argument for Devin Harris and Brandon Roy.
Have the fans and media grown accustomed to Kobe's stellar play? Seems like he has to drop 40-50 points to get any recognition now a days.
Ummmm .... last time I checked he's the reigning MVP. Talk about lack of recognition.
Durant, Westbrook, Green. If the thunder land blake griffin how scary does this team look in the future?
Scary! If they land Griffin, in 3 years they'll be fighting the Blazers in every Western Conference Finals.
Nate McMillan COY!!! why not?
He was my second choice. My top vote goes to Mike Brown. LeBron gets all the credit, but to me, Brown has evolved into one of the elite coaches in the league.
Chad: I like the Rockets a lot this year. Western Conference finals....
I'm not feeling that. I do think Rick Adelman has done a great job and they are all playing well together. But I think there's just more talent in the West from teams like the Lakers, Blazers and Nuggets. But sure ... they have a shot. There really isn't a huge difference between seeds 2 and 8 in the West. The possible exception is the Spurs who, without Ginobili, are going to struggle.
In your estimation Chad, are the Pacers headed in the right direction? Do you see both Ford and Jack on the team next year?
Yes. They've gotten rid of the riff raff. They play very hard every night. Danny Granger has emerged as a star. Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert have looked strong down the end stretch. They'll have a lottery pick in the upcoming draft. Larry Bird and David Morway have done a terrific job rebuilding this team on the fly. They almost made the playoffs despite losing Dunleavy for most of the season (and probably most of next season too). As for Ford and Jack, I wonder if they'll re-sign Jack. Depends on what he gets offered.
If the Suns can use Nash to move up in the lottery, should they do it?
Yes. I know it's blasphemy, but they need to get younger and Nash is by far their best trading chip. For example, would the Wizards, who really think they have the talent to compete now ... move their high lottery pick, plus a young player or two for Nash? I think it will be a mistake to trade Stoudemire.
who stays and who goes from this years Knicks roster?
I think Gallinari is safe. So is Wilson Chandler. Who knows about anyone else .... honestly the Knicks are going to have to make some tough choices on David Lee and Nate Robinson. With more rumbling that LeBron is staying in Cleveland ... who are they chasing? Chris Bosh?
Can you think of any plausible reason why *anyone*, especially a college program with impressionable kids, would hire Thomas as their head coach? I mean... they've certainly heard what he's been up to since his Pistons days. What part of that resume screamed "must have coach"?
I actually think Isiah is a good coach. That's not the issue. It's everything else that doomed him. I think he'll have a good rapport with his players at FIU and bring some excitement to the program. I actually think it was good for both the school and Isiah. He's not getting a job in the NBA and could really help his rep if he can turn around that college program.
Is there any team that wouldn't take me #1 overall?
Out of the current freshman who look like they will declare, who will have the best NBA career: Derozan, Aminu, Holiday or Evans? And who do you like better long term, Harden or Derozan?
DeRozan has the most NBA upside. Then Aminu. Holiday. Then Evans. However, of the four, Evans is the most NBA ready now.
any updates on Rubio?
Sure. While Rubio hasn't made an official announcement and doesn't plan to until closer to the deadline to declare, sources close to the situation say that Rubio will declare for the draft and try to workout a more reasonable buyout with his club from Spain. If Rubio can get them to come to a manageable number (try something in the $3 million USD range) then he'll stay in the draft. Rubio is widely considered the second best prospect in the draft and shouldn't slip out of the Top 3 on Draft Night.
Chad, two part question. One who's your sleeper pick in the draft and two who is your sleeper team for next year?
Sleeper pick? Eric Maynor of VCU. I think he should be a lottery pick. Sleeper team in the NBA? I think Portland could be a 60 win team next year and a potential NBA Finals team.
Chad, PG seems to be the bright spot in this years draft. Out of Rubio, Jennings, Maynor, Lawson and all the rest, pick one to make the all star team before the rest (if any)
Rubio is the clear choice. After that it get's a little sketchy. Willie Warren is probably No. 2. I personally would put Maynor No. 3.
Chad, Do you think Jonny Flynn is ready to start for an NBA team right now?
Probably not. Very few PGs are. He's got to improve his jumpshot. His lack of size won't help either. However, there's a lot of buzz with him right now and I think from the Knicks on down, teams will take a close look at him.
Jrue Holiday was considered a top 5 prospect last year at this time... Did his passive demeanor and their lack of success hurt his draft stock?
Yes, but he still has lottery talent and it won't surprise me if he lands in the lottery on draft night. Upside. Upside. Upside.
Better class - 2000 or 2009? This looks A LOT like 2000 to me.
This is better because 2000 didn't have a star. At least Griffin (and Rubio if he declares) could be stars. But you may be right about the rest of the class.
What is the latest on Greg Monroe?
I hear different things from different people. Some say he's staying in school. However one prominent agent told me yesterday he thinks he has Monroe locked up. We'll see. Agents say those types of things this time of year. I will say this. Even though Monroe wasn't great in the second half of the season, I bet he still goes Top 6 if he declares.
What is Stephen Curry going to do?
He's got to come out ... right? The most head scratching decision of all ... he's dominant on his team and in the league. His stock could slide if he stays in school another year.
As a writer/analyst, do you prefer covering a draft class that shows potential to be historically great (2003), or would you rather cover a draft like this one when there is such uncertainty?
The good ones. With weak classes like this, I think you start trying to hard to like players. It starts to sound like all these guys will be All-Stars as you try to justify putting them so high on your draft board. But the truth is, after Griffin and Rubio, there aren't many guarantees in this year's draft.
Is John Wall the No. 1 pick in 2010 Draft. He was awesome at the Hoop Summit game.
He was awesome and he'll compete with Ed Davis and a few other freshmen for that. However, there is some buzz that Wall believes he might be eligible for THIS year's draft. I've been doing some digging and will be filing a story later today. The short rub is this: Wall is a 5th year senior and depending on how you read the collective bargaining agreement, 5th year seniors are eligible for the draft as long as the turn 19 in the calander year (Wall does). The league is taking a wait and see approach. If he declares, they'll research and make a ruling. If he does declare and is ruled eligible (two big ifs) he's a Top 5 pick in this draft. Maybe Top 3.
Better NBA career Rubio or Derek Rose?
Rose because I think the athleticism gives him a higher ceiling.
Last year's draft was widely perceived as one of the weakest in recent years leading up to the draft, but look at how great this class looks so far. I think this class is underrated and will have more impact players than people think.
No it wasn't. Everyone thought the draft was great and it was. The last 2 years have been historically good.
Gotta run everyone. Sorry we got off to a late start. I'll be on time next week.