Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

November 19, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (12:04 PM)

What's up everyone? How about them Hawks eh? My dream of an Atlanta-Portland Finals now has gone from "completely ridiculous" to "somewhat unlikely." On to the questions ...

J (Milwaukee)

Who does Brandon Jennings remind you of? We can throw out the Louis Williams comparisons rights? Should the Bucks keep or trade Redd when he is healthy?

John Hollinger
  (12:05 PM)

Calvin Murphy? Tiny Archibald? Been a long time since we saw a small guard who not only had blazing quickness but also such a sweet stroke. That's the big difference I see between Jennings and the Iverson/Williams types.

drew (atlanta)

so how are you feeling about going to philips arena and actually watching good basketball?

John Hollinger
  (12:06 PM)

Just wish I had a little more company in that respect. Monday's crowd against Portland was pathetic for such a big game. Hopefully they start to draw better as word gets out.

Murph (New Market, MD)

Did Elton Brand turn the corner last night?

John Hollinger
  (12:07 PM)

I'm not quite ready to go there yet, but it did represent some progress. And with Speights out and Young unexectedly struggling, the Sixers really need Brand to bust out right now. The soft early schedule is propping them up, but they aren't going to play all 82 games against the Nets, Knicks and Bobcats.

LittleOzzy (toronto)

Hi John. Tortured Raps fan here. Who's more responsible for the Raptors' defensive woes: Calderon or Bargnani? And is Jay Triano a good coach?

John Hollinger
  (12:09 PM)

I was leaning Bargnani, but man, Calderon was awful last night. Triano has done some positive things in Toronto but he's got to get more effort from everybody on D. Like, WAY more effort. By the way, today's PER Diem is on Toronto's defensive woes, so I'll discuss it much more then.

Murph (New Market, MD)

How optimistic should I feel about Belinelli's recent string of good games? DeRozan is gawd-awful. Shouldn't Belinelli keep gettign solid minutes? Good long term prognosis?

John Hollinger
  (12:10 PM)

Strong batch of games from Belinelli, I agree. DeRozan hasn't been as good, but he hasn't been awful either. The two guys that have been killing them are Jack and Wright, and it looks like Weems might be taking Wright's minutes.

Chris (Daytona Beach, Fl)

when will Dwight Howard stop picking up 2 fouls in the first 6 minutes of every game? is it the refs or dwight?

John Hollinger
  (12:11 PM)

The refs change every night. Dwight is the one constant. So I think you know the answer to this one. For whatever reason, he's been a half-step slow a lot in the early going and is picking up cheap fouls as a result.

Doug (Houston)

"Been a long time since we saw a small guard who not only had blazing quickness but also such a sweet stroke."Um, ever heard of Aaron Brooks?

John Hollinger
  (12:12 PM)

Sorry, Brooks isn't in the same league as an outside shooter. He can make outside shots, but his differentiating skill is his speed. With Jennings, his shooting is as important a skill as his jets.

Aristotle (hoolulu)

Can we still blame Shaq for Clevelands losses after they got killed last night?

John Hollinger
  (12:15 PM)

Blaming Shaq is way too simplistic. What, they were gonig to stick it out with Ben Wallace and Ilgauskas? Z is showing some serious remission and Shaq is a far more potent weapon. They played very well with Shaq in the two Florida wins as well.

thom (atlanta)

will the world collapse in on itself if woodson is the east coach at the all star game?

John Hollinger
  (12:15 PM)

If Alvin Gentry is on the other sideline it might. Wonder what kind of odds you could have got on that two years ago.

Craig (Seattle)

John, when does the love affair between Steve Blake and the city of Portland end? He's our starting 2 guard, shooting 36%, and can't create his own shot. Wouldn't Portland be better off with a lineup of Miller, Roy, Webster, LA, and Oden?

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

I've wondered for a while if the three-guard lineup is a precursor to starting Miller, and Blake is making it an easy choice right now. He missed a ton of open looks that could have won the Atlanta game. I've always felt he's better in a backup role anyway.

Disco Stu (Chicago)

Should the Bulls trade for a 2 now or save $ and push for D. Wade this summer? Salmons is terrible

John Hollinger
  (12:18 PM)

Summer, all the way. They have a great shot at one of the three big fish because of the gravitational pull of Chicago. Unfortunately, at the start of the year they thought they had two real solid shooting guards, and so far they've had zero.

Matt (DC)

What moves would Generalisimmo Stern take to thwart your dream of a Hawks-Blazers Final?

John Hollinger
  (12:20 PM)

Let the conspiracy theories begin.

Kenny (Houston)

Assuming Shaq doesn't spoil the fun by getting voted into the ASG, who deserves to be the backup center more: Noah or Horford?

John Hollinger
  (12:21 PM)

Horford, hands down. He's better on offense and better on defense. Noah is a better rebounder, but that's his lone advantage. I think Atlanta's record will put him in anyway, given past history of All-Star votes. If so, Hawks may get three -- Josh Smith is a shoo-in the way he's playing, and I don't see how they leave Joe Johnson off.

Jeff (Chicago, IL)

Not being on the ballot, realistically what type of chance do you see Brandon Jennings having in making the Eastern Conference squad if he keeps up his present numbers?

John Hollinger
  (12:23 PM)

He'll make it as a reserve, since reserves are chosen by the coaches. not being on the ballot shouldn't affect him at all.

Ian (Fort Worth)

Barea PER of 11.85, Beaubois PER of 20.37, should Roddy be getting more minutes, or is PER missing something?

John Hollinger
  (12:23 PM)

Roddy has been getting more minutes, and I think it's been a reflection of the difference in performance that you're noting. But I still think the Mavs trust Barea more to run the offense -- most of Roddy's action is coming at the 2.

Dan (Atlantic City)

Are the Sixers going to be mired in mediocrity for the next few years given their contracts and the mid first-round picks they seem to land each year?

John Hollinger
  (12:24 PM)

Quite possibly. I really like their young guys, but it's going to be tough to do more than tread water with the Brand millstone around their necks and the team's inability to go into the tax.

Travis Outlaw (Portland, OR)

Hey John,How big of an impact will my injury make on the team's win total this season? Some say little. Some say lots.

John Hollinger
  (12:26 PM)

I think the effect is cumulative. Because Batum is out too, the Blazers are really shorthanded at 3. Additionally, they can't do that smallball lineup with Aldridge at center that they love to use at the end of games. And they don't totally trust Webster, so they're playing small a ton and wearing down Roy. None of that happens with a healthy Outlaw or a healthy Batum, but with both out it's gouged a hole in the roster.

Yatin (LA)

Is there any long-term hope for the Hornets other than to tank this season and get a top-5 pick to finally get some young, cheap talent around CP3?

John Hollinger
  (12:27 PM)

Well, they beat the Clippers largely because their young guys played well, and Bower certainly seems more willing to use them than Scott was. So that's a positive. Unfortunately, I think CP will return too soon for them to get a really high pick but too late for them to make a playoff run.

Zac (Phoenix)

What team has the most to gripe about concerning their injuries so far this season? New Orleans (Paul)? San Antonio? Portland? Orlando? L.A.?

John Hollinger
  (12:28 PM)

New Jersey, by far. And I feel bad for them, because they've been playing hard and still losing.

Andrew Bogut (Milwaukee)

How can you not talk about me when considering the backup center position in the east?

John Hollinger
  (12:29 PM)

Bogut has played well enough to get honorable mention here, but Noah and Horford clearly are a cut above so far. Also, Bogut has to stay ambulatory until February, which may put a rather large fly in the ointment.

Lawrence Frank (NJ)

Am I the next coach to be fired?

John Hollinger
  (12:30 PM)

One of my spies thinks its unlikely because a) there are no assistants qualified to take over since Brian Hill left, and b) everybody wants to see what happens with the Prokhorov thing before making any major decisions. So he may get to finish out the season.

Rooster (San Francisco, CA)

Re: Noah vs. Horford....Noah didn't make the All Star Ballot so it's a moot point....

John Hollinger
  (12:31 PM)

Wrong -- we're talking about the backup to Dwight Howard, not the starter. The coaches choose the backups and being on the ballot has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Alex (Chicago)

Whats wrong with Spencer Hawes, did he overperform last year, or is he underperforming this year?

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

You must watch basketball in some kind of alternate universe; I have no recollection of anyone, anywhere, ever suggesting that Hawes overperformed last year. And he did finish three assists from a triple-double against Memphis, so there have been some strong performances this year. Basically, though, it's the same story -- he's a soft big guy who likes to shoot 20 footers. Sometimes they go in and it looks great. Other nights, not so much.

Disco Stu (Chicago)

Why does Sheed only get 15-20 min a game? Thought he was a HUGE signing

John Hollinger
  (12:34 PM)

Two reasons -- first, Celtics are pacing themselves, and second, if Perk and KG are playing 30+ it's hard for Wallace to get more than 15-20 unless Doc staggers his substitutions and deletes Shelden from the rotation entirely.

Neema (Atlanta)

I just moved to Atlanta from San Francisco, been a Warriors fan. Give me one good reason not to switch allegiance to the Hawks, at least until the Warriors get a new owner.

John Hollinger
  (12:34 PM)

The traffic?

Doug (Washington, DC)

Can Denver compete for a championship with their current line-up, given the lack of depth in the front court?

John Hollinger
  (12:35 PM)

Yes, with one huge asterisk -- they need those three guys to stay healthy, and they've never stayed healthy. Already Birdman is battling a knee problem, and Martin and Nene are bound to pop or pull something between now and April.

SteelMohawk (DC)

Why does a guy like Farmar not get better defensively in the offseason, besides being lazy? Are the people around him to blame? It seems as if he is most need by the Lakers to get in front of speedy PGs.

John Hollinger
  (12:36 PM)

I share your frustration with Farmar. I think he's a huge talent, but his inability to wrest minutes from Fisher or Brown speaks volumes about his erratic play.

Noam (Israel)

Do you feel the East now has a big 4, or will Atlanta calm down come playoff time? The Hawks have been amazing, but they still have some glaring weaknesses (backup PG, starting 3, size)

John Hollinger
  (12:38 PM)

My one caveat about the Hawks isn't any of those things (Crawford can play PG, Johnson effectively plays 3 much of the game, Zaza provides the beef). It's this: They've had zero adversity so far. Everyone has been 100% healthy, absolutely pristine, so they're pretty much maxed out at the moment. Inevitably, somebody will turn an ankle or tweak a hammy, and then we'll get to see if this year's bench is really any better than last year's.

Brendan (DC)

IS the Southeast the toughest division in the league currently?

John Hollinger
  (12:39 PM)

I would say so. Washington is only 3-7 but has had injuries and faced an extremely difficult schedule. And the one bad team, Charlotte, isn't that bad by the standards of bad teams.

Jim (Boston)

No questions about why you hate the Lakers yet? They were 11th in the power rankings if I remember correctly, and obviously that due to your extreme bias...

John Hollinger
  (12:40 PM)

Actually, I was on radio in L.A. yesterday and they were giving it to the Lakers worse than I could. Standards are pretty high over there and they were rather disappointed about the Houston game.

Dougles-Roberts (New Jersey)

Am I as good as I've been playing?

John Hollinger
  (12:42 PM)

I've always liked CD-R, had him rated as a first-rounder in the '08 draft and thought he'd make a splash this season. That said, you can't take what are basically the two best games of a guy's career and expect that to be the new normal. He can score, but he has limitations too.

Ben (NYC)

Best player no one is talking about?

John Hollinger
  (12:44 PM)

I'd go with Will Bynum. He led the Pistons in PER last year -- not Iverson, not Hamilton, not Stuckey, but Will Bynum -- and Detroit basically acted like it never happened and use their FA money on Gordon. Now Bynum's carrying the offense with Rip out, and I think once he comes back the Pistons have some very difficult decisions to make.

Nick (Bethesda, MD)

Am I the only one who still sees the East as a Big 3, but including Atlanta? I see absolutely no reason to include a Cavaliers team that is significantly worse with a depleted shaq, a depleted Z, and really not much other than lebron.

John Hollinger
  (12:46 PM)

I disagree with your Cavs assessment. They really impressed me on the Florida trip with how they played through Shaq but still found shots for Mo and LeBron. He'll only play 60 games or so, but if they can work West back in the Cavs should still have enough offensive punch to stay in the East's elite.

VanWilder (New York, NY)

are the Rockets & Bucks really going to make the playoffs?? this is crazy!

John Hollinger
  (12:47 PM)

It's interesting because fans of both teams have been conditioned to wait for the inevitable rash of injuries to destroy their season. If it doesn't happen, we could very well see each of them in the postseason.

henry (spain)

let me disagree shouldnt be marc gasol de best player no one talks about

John Hollinger
  (12:48 PM)

He was the next name I was going to mention. It's criminal how little the Grizzlies get him the ball on the block.

Snyde (Jville)

John, the Cavs "Florida Trip" you keep referencing included a game in Orlando where the Magic dressed 9 players. No Rashard and no Ryan Anderson. Not really that impressive if you ask me.

John Hollinger
  (12:49 PM)

They still had Dwight Howard, Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson, however, and it wasn't close. And remember, this was the team that befuddled them with matchups the previous spring.

Matt (College of Dupage)

Carl Landry another player who has been playing out of his mind that no one talks about

John Hollinger
  (12:50 PM)

I'll second that, but I've been raving about Landry for so long that a lot of people in here are probably sick of it.

Mike (Toledo)

Who would be a good get for the Hawks at the trade deadline to push them over the top?

John Hollinger
  (12:52 PM)

Andre Miller, if he became available, would be spectacular with all these open-court weapons. Not sure that the Hawks have a lot of great trade pieces though -- they want to keep their core guys and there isn't much else with trade value.

Chad (Sacramento)

Your thoughts on Eric Maynor... I am puzzled why the team works better together with him in the lineup instead of D-Will.

John Hollinger
  (12:53 PM)

Probably because they were playing Philadelphia and Toronto. I like Maynor and think he'll be a productive backup behind Williams, but going any further than that is madness.

Pedro (IL)

Despite your slanderous numerical degradation, Dahntay Jones has been a good signing for the Pacers. Admit it. Or is it libelous?

John Hollinger
  (12:54 PM)

So far Jones has played better than I expected -- mainly because he's ramped up his scoring without any decline in his TS% or his TO Rate. His TO Rate is still terrible and his FT% is probably a fluke, but if he can create shots at this rate and still shoot a decent percentage he'll have more offensive value than I -- or any of his former employers -- would have thought.

Rob (Los Angeles)

Whats wrong with Marvin Williams? I thought they were going to try and get him more involved this season. He's having the worst season of his career so far.

John Hollinger
  (12:55 PM)

Yep, he's a little lost in the shuffle so far, partly because he really doesn't get many touches. They ran back to back side pick and rolls for him in one game and he scored on them, but I haven't seen them go back to it.

Nellie (GS)

do you think that I will get fired? like soon? fans are really upset...

John Hollinger
  (12:56 PM)

Well, you're certainly trying. But with a big load of money owed this year and next, I think the W's owner wants you to "earn" it by starting feuds with a few more players.

Jrue Holliday (philly)

I'm better than willie green and royal ivey at both ends of the court right now and I'm supposed to be the future point guard of the sixers. Why am I not getting more playing time than willie and royal?

John Hollinger
  (12:58 PM)

I thought we discussed this already -- Willie Green has compromising photos of the Sixers owners. It's the only explanation. Coaches and management changes, but somehow he always ends up with a prominent role in the rotation for no apparent reason. Now they're even using him as the backup point guard.

Eddie (Sac)

What's your take on the young Kings?

John Hollinger
  (12:59 PM)

I still think they will now that Jamison is back and their other guys are getting back in the mix. I'm very disappointed with Butler's season but Agent Zero isn't too far off what I expected. Remember, the early schedule was very difficult and will get easier. Still think Flip can win 40+ with this crew when all is said and done.

Brenton (Phoenix)

Why does your power rankings have the Rockets so high?

John Hollinger
  (1:01 PM)

Strength of schedule, basically. Houston played a lot of good teams in the early going (Lakers and Blazers twice, for instance) and came out of it standing. It doesn't get any easier tomorrow -- they play at Atlanta, where I'll get another look at them -- but so far they've been an even bigger surprise than their record would indicate.

François (Paris, France)

Mixing your kings and wizards, doc?

John Hollinger
  (1:04 PM)

Apparently, yes. Sorry, the caffeine isn't kicking in for some reason. Will have to brew a stronger batch next time. As for the Kings, I don't think Evans is the only story. Thompson has been excellent, Casspi seems to be a good find late in the first round, and they're getting good production from Donte' Greene, in stark contrast to the unrelenting awfulness of his rookie season. The one red flag is that Udrih has played really well, and I doubt that lasts.

Chris (California)

Speaking of the Rockets -- Trevor Ariza reminds me of Pippen: rangy, long, graceful, wily defender, and now that he's developing his shot... what do you think? Apt comparison or not?

John Hollinger
  (1:05 PM)

Huge, huge difference: Ballhandling. Scottie was basically a point guard in a small forward's body. Ariza is a small forward in a small forward's body.

Connie (Philadelphia)

Brand had great numbers last night, but a lot of that was off hustle/putbacks. Would it really be so hard to at times post him while surrounding him with Iguodala/Kapono/Smith/whichever point guards shoots the least poorly?

John Hollinger
  (1:06 PM)

Two things: 1) Brand has always got a lot of his points that way; 2) The post-ups I've seen them run for him have ended in disaster. It doesn't matter who you put around him if he's not enough of a scoring threat to command a double team, and right now he doesn't. For the Sixers' sake, let's hope that changes.

John Hollinger
  (1:07 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have. Won't be chatting next week due to Turkey Day but I will be back here in two weeks. Thanks again for all the great questions.