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May 21, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (2:10 PM)

Hey everyone, sorry for the late start. Playoffs are leaving us a bit shorthanded in the excitement department so fire away with draft/free agency questions if you've got them.

Sammy (Los Angeles)

I'm surprised how well Daniel Orton rates out. Can you explain this one for me?

John Hollinger
  (2:11 PM)

his per-minute numbers were good, especially considering his age, and his size is a plus. He just didn't play as much as some of the other guys.

Ryan (Los Angeles)

John, where do you see LeBron playing next season and why? I personally think it will either be Chicago or Cleveland.

John Hollinger
  (2:12 PM)

I went with Miami in our previous poll, but people closer to the situation than I am are saying it will be someplace up north -- Cleveland, Chicago or New York. I think NY becomes a player if it can pull the LeBron-Bosh double, otherwise it's down to Cavs and Bulls.

Ron (RI)

Will Amare, Boozer, or Joe Johnson get max money this summer? I don't think any of them deserve it.

John Hollinger
  (2:14 PM)

Amare definitely will, the other two probably will. Johnson is the one who may have cost himself money with his playoff performance, but so many teams are flush with cash this summer that the $$ will find him, especially if Wade and LeBron stay put.

Mike (NY)

Jeremy Lin at 34? This makes him borderline 1st-rounder. Explain please.

John Hollinger
  (2:15 PM)

Really makes him a mid-second rounder once you add in all the Euros that get picks in the late first and early second. Remember, my list today was collegians only. I think that's a fair assessment of where he might land.

Chris Baker (England)

What do you make of Amare's defensive efforts in Game 2? Or was it Gentry constantly changing things up?

John Hollinger
  (2:16 PM)

It was terrible, Pau just completely worked him over. Amare has had bad defensive games like that in the past, the difference is that there's no place for him to hide against L.A. He did a much better job against Duncan last round, and will have to conjure up those performances again if the Suns are to have any chance of extending the series.

Justin (Portland, OR)

Cousins' rating is around the same as for Blake Griffin's. Only all-stars and Mike Conley are ahead of him, I believe. What's your take on his future?

John Hollinger
  (2:18 PM)

It certainly bodes well for him. I think what worries teams about him is not whether he'll be good but whether it will be more of a Zach Randolph-good rather than a Tim Duncan-good. In other words, if he's not the type of guy you want leading your team, do you want him to be your best player? At some point as you get down the draft the risk-reward justifies taking him, but with two other sure things at the top I think it's OK to pass on him til No. 3.

vk (dc)

Would the Wizards be better served signing Boozer to a max-ish deal this Summer, or waiting until 2011 to sign someone in that FA class instead?

John Hollinger
  (2:19 PM)

I can guarantee you the Wizards won't be players in free agency. Ted Leonsis' plan is to do the same thing with the 'Zards that he did with the Caps -- break it down and build it back up. Getting the No. 1 pick actually helps in this regard -- they can still sell tickets this year even though they won't be very good.

Joe (PA)

John, man up and admit your terrible picks!

John Hollinger
  (2:22 PM)

Getting lots of taunts about my Magic-Suns prediction, which apparently will only happen if the league holds a third-place game. But actually I'm having a fairly good playoffs -- had the entire first round right and only missed once in round two, so overall I'm still ahead of the curve.

Jason (Land of the Microbrews (PDX))

Will the Jazz have the chance to draft anyone who can make them feel better when Boozer signs elsewhere?

John Hollinger
  (2:23 PM)

I think there's a strong chance the Jazz will get something back for Booz in a sign-and-trade. Utah is probably hoping Monroe falls to No. 9, since he's about the closest thing to Booz in terms of a skilled 4, but I'm not sure he slips that far. Luke Babbitt would be another interesting one, finally give them a stretch 4.

Joe (NY)

Amare is getting blasted for his poor play in this series but what about Nash? Who or what is being blamed for his play (other than himself?)

John Hollinger
  (2:25 PM)

Nash hasn't dominated but he hasn't been bad either ... Amare is getting ripped for his D, not his offense, because that's been the Suns' major shortcoming this series. Phoenix has scored just as often as they did against San Antonio and Portland, they just aren't stopping L.A.

Aristotle (Honolulu, HI)

So your two picks to advance to the finals is down 0-2. What's the odds on them winning now and what do you think think will happen in the next two weeks. Also who you got going to the finals and who you got coming out on top now?

John Hollinger
  (2:26 PM)

Odds are overwhelming right now that we'll get Lakers-Celtics; I wrote the other day that based on historical data, only about a 0.6% chance of Magic-Suns meeting. I haven't decided yet who I would pick in Lakers-Celtics, but it may be the first Finals ever in which fans of both teams are begging me to pick their opponent.

Jimmy (Syracuse, NY)

Any chance of Andy Rautins getting his name called? Is he more JJ Redick or Nick Calathes?

John Hollinger
  (2:27 PM)

More Eric Devendorf actually. See ya in France.

TONY (SAN DIEGO)

wow, you picked the first round right, congratulations, thats the easy part

John Hollinger
  (2:27 PM)

Nobody else did. Had Utah and San Anto winning as lower seeds.

Rory (Blue Bell, PA)

Evan Turner's ceiling... Solid starter? 1-2 all star apprearances? all-NBA caliber? HOF?

John Hollinger
  (2:28 PM)

I'd say the Brandon Roy comparisons make a pretty good delineation -- skilled enough to be one of ten best players in league, but probably not athletic enough to get into top five.

Joe (NJ)

Do you think we would be talking Boston three peat if Garnett was healthy last year?

John Hollinger
  (2:30 PM)

It's a worthwhile topic to discuss given the Celtics' late-season renaissance. But last year's team didn't match up well at all against Cleveland, so I think that might have tripped them up.

Rich (NY)

How do the Lakers' and Celtics' ability to seemingly "turn it on" affect your statistical work? Equations predicated on regular season stats have to me much less effective, no?

John Hollinger
  (2:32 PM)

Actually I think there's another factor that I undersold at the start of the playoffs - teams with weak benches tend to see a performance spike in the postseason because their lesser reserves play a lot less.

chad (mi)

What did you mean by, "it may be the first Finals ever in which fans of both teams are begging me to pick their opponent"?

John Hollinger
  (2:34 PM)

Getting lots of the typical blather from both sides about not picking them in last round (or in previous round, in Boston's case). Which in the Boston case is particularly silly since three weeks ago even their own fans were not only throwing the team under the bus, but basically asking me to drive over the carcas a few more times for good measure.

Eric (Redlands)

John,I like your unique objective way of looking a players and teams to predict future success. However, do you ever use any subjectivity in your evaluations and/or predictions. I'm not the biggest Kobe defender, but you can't possibly think he is only the 14th best player in the playoffs as your PER suggests. thanks.

John Hollinger
  (2:37 PM)

Mostly it's the small sample size -- several players ahead of him played 200 minutes or fewer and put up outsized numbers. Also, Kobe had three bad games in the OKC series, which is a big chunk of the 12-game "season" we're evaluating here.

D (Chicago)

Don't you think that LBJ and possibly Bosh will sign their deals with an opt out after 3 years? Wouldn't that be the smartest thing to do? We know Amare and Joe Johnson are going to lock in max year deals.

John Hollinger
  (2:38 PM)

Bosh won't but LeBron could. The wild card here is the collective bargaining agreement -- if a new CBA restricts maximum salaries, as seems possible, he'd be better off signing a long-term deal under the current guidelines.

J (Milwaukee)

You mean we should be talking about a Laker 3peat if Bynum and Ariza weren't hurt for the playoffs, right? Its funny everyone gives the Celtics the benefit of the doubt regarding their injuries but not anyone else. (see Nelson Jameer last year)

John Hollinger
  (2:39 PM)

Equally legit point of view. And I'm glad you mentioned Nelson -- I think Orlando very easily could have won the title last year if he hadn't hurt his shoulder.

Ethan (Philly)

Are you a fan of the Doug Collins hire?

John Hollinger
  (2:41 PM)

I am. I think he's a better fit in Philly than he would have been in Chicago, which is why I was down on the Bulls' potentially hiring him two year ago. Collins to me is a poor man's Larry Brown -- you can't have him coaching young guys and in two years everyone will be sick of him, but in between he'll get everybody straightened out and max out the team's potential. Philly's 'young' guys are old enough now that they can deal with it, so as long as he doesn't crush Turner's confidence it should work.

Rob (Baltimore)

Boozer, Amare, or David Lee? I'm taking Lee because he is younger, typically healthier, much cheaper, and similar in production.

John Hollinger
  (2:43 PM)

There are worries that Lee is a product of D'Antoni's system; oddly, nobody says this about Amare even though it's the same system. But he'd be a 4 on most teams rather than a 5, which may curtail his production a bit. Lee is also an abominable defensive player, even compared to those other two guys. For those two reasons I think he's third in the queue.

D (Chicago)

Do the Celtics sweep this series? If they do, is VanGundy out of there? Screamers normally only make a few years if their teams don't win (exception, Jerry Sloan).

John Hollinger
  (2:45 PM)

I would be SHOCKED if SVG went, even if Boston wins in 4 ... unless Orlando just completely quit and lost both games by 30. But even then I'd be surprised. I think he still has their ear and the players believe in what he's doing. Also, one thing to file away -- Orlando has been very good on the road the past two years and Boston has been very beatable at home, and Magic have won their last three games in Boston. Odds of O-town winning this series aren't good, but odds of extending to at least five games remain fairly solid.

wizfan (DC)

You mentioned Leonsis rebuilding the Wiz the way he rebuilt the Caps. Do the Caps' recent playoff collapses suggest he's doing something wrong, perhaps relying too much on young leadership?

John Hollinger
  (2:46 PM)

I wouldn't read much into it. Have always felt the NHL playoffs are highly random anyway -- much moreso than the NBA's.

Lee (Fargo)

When you come out with European player rater, will you adjust the model when analyzing point guards. It seems that the things Euro point guards are asked to do is so different from the NBA that the translation may be different than other positions.

John Hollinger
  (2:47 PM)

Seems like it, but it hasn't really worked out that way. My Euro translater has done remarkably well at determining year 1 productivity; it's development afterward that it fails to see. For example, it correctly projected that both Dragic and Ukic would struggle mightily last year, but couldn't see that one had great potential and the other was a dud.

chad (mi)

True or True: Rondo will wreak HAVOC on the Lakers?

John Hollinger
  (2:48 PM)

Do you have a tape of Game 6 of the 2008 Finals handly? That's probably the biggest reason to pick Boston.

Mike (LA)

Somebody has to take the Clippers money this off-season right? Who are some potential free agents they could sign?

John Hollinger
  (2:49 PM)

The only good excuse to sign with the Clippers is "I was young and I needed the money." Which is why I think they'll end up with Rudy Gay.

Nick (CB)

Do you think Duke (Sheyer/Zoubek/Thomas) will go without having a player drafted this year?

John Hollinger
  (2:51 PM)

I think Zoubek will be drafted, probably early second round, but I'm not sure about Scheyer. Would be very surprised if Thomas was picked.

Cole (KS)

How many years before the Thunder are serious playoff contenders?

John Hollinger
  (2:51 PM)

Zero. They were less than a second away from taking the Lakers to a seventh game. If that doesn't say serious I'm not sure what does.

Lee (Fargo)

In your analysis of Lebron's side kick you focused only on 'stars', but how would Kevin Love grade out? He seems to hit every check mark: shooting, high off rebound rate, low usage.

John Hollinger
  (2:53 PM)

You're right, he'd be great with LeBron, especially if he starts converting the 3 ball. Too bad there's zero chance LeBron goes to 'Sota.

Matt (Irvine)

Hi John,Do you think Magic would have match up better against the Celtics had they kept Hedo? He can drive, pass, lob, play decent D, and make key FT's.

John Hollinger
  (2:53 PM)

A) Apparently you didn't see Hedo this year, B) Carter did pretty well in the first two games, it's Rashard Lewis and the bench that have let them down.

Greg (DC)

Do you see any scenario in which Greivis Vazquez becomes a starting point guard for a playoff team in the NBA?

John Hollinger
  (2:56 PM)

No, actually. I think his more likely position is the 2 because he won't be able to guard opposing 1s, but he can operate as a de-facto point man from that spot.

Bryan (Grant pass, OR)

Why do the expert think Dwight Howrd is a star. He is no superman and his weakness on the offensive end is killing his team.

John Hollinger
  (2:59 PM)

Well, he's the main reason the Celtics aren't scoring more frequently, and he had 30 points in Game 2. Howard is hit-and-miss on low-post catches, but he dominates the glass and is the best defender in the league. Classic example of fans/media evaluating a guy by what he does with the ball 1-on-1 and missing all the other stuff.

Bill (DC)

John, what do you think of the Wizards going after Carmelo next year? Hes from the area and they'll have just as much money as this year, but a more seasoned Wall. I think the chance is high, especially if Denver comes up short again.

John Hollinger
  (3:00 PM)

I'm sure they'd look into it, but I think Melo would look a lot more closely at New York because they'd likely be in better position to win immediately. He's not signing up for a rebuilding project.

Stefan (Alameda)

What do the Warriors need to do to start heading in the right direction? Any possibility they trade Ellis or Maggette?

John Hollinger
  (3:01 PM)

Clean house in the front office. Anything else is merely rearranging deck chairs.

adam (VA)

Wait, wait, wait... you think Orlando could have EASILY won last year's Finals if Jameer Nelson wasn't hurt?? you believe he's THAT much of a difference maker? Orlando was DESTROYED last year...

John Hollinger
  (3:03 PM)

I meant that they easily could have won, not that they would have won easily ... gotta love all the Laker fans parsing my words for the worst possible intentions. Weirdly sensitive bunch for a team with so many rings. Incidentally, look at what Nelson did to L.A. in the two regular season games last year. He would have been a real problem for them.

John Hollinger
  (3:03 PM)

Folks that's all the time I have but thanks again for the questions. Check out my missives from Beantown this weekend and we'll do this again next week.