Aloha everyone. Thanks for coming to the chat today. We'll tackle NBA questions in the first half hour and then switch over to the NBA Draft in the second half. Let's roll ...
Hi, i understand that the lakers have the talent to win the title but why would you choose D'Antoni over the greatest of all time in coach history phil jackson
A couple of reasons. Phil Jackson was asking for the moon -- huge salary, ownership stake, personnel control, etc and Jim Buss didn't want to cede control of the franchise. But perhaps equally important, Phil was seen as a short term solution and the Lakers want to think long-term as well. As for D'Antoni? He's a great coach, gets along well with the players on the roster and is a better long-term fit. Phil would've been awesome and maybe even given the Lakers a better shot to win the next year or two. But long-term? I think D'Antoni was the right choice.
Hey Chad, great to have you back. Dwight Howard seems to have lost so much athleticism. Is this going to be an ongoing issue or one that will work itself out as he plays into game shape?
Lakers think it will be another month before Dwight Howard is back to full strength. Obviously having a 100 percent healthy Dwight will be a huge boon to the Lakers. While I do think this team has its flaws ... it's too early to judge them right now. I doubt they'll be playing like this in March. But are they the best team in the West? I was pretty sure they were before the season. Not nearly as convinced now. I think they're too old and there are some serious defensive liabilities on the team.
Any words of encouragement for a Piston fan?
Andre Drummond ranks 2nd among rookies in PER right now at 23.17. Some point down the road, he and Greg Monroe have the potential to be a dominant front line ... now if they could just get some production from that backcourt.
I would love to see Royce White succeed in the NBA, but the odds seem pretty stacked against that happening. Do you think White and the Rockets can work through this?
Odds have always been stacked against him. The Rockets gambled when they took White and so far, it's been rough on both parties. I really applaud White's openness and willingness to be an advocate for mental health. I also understand the Rockets dilemma. They are paying him to be a basketball player and to do a job on the floor. I still have hope that they can work through this. I believe both sides want that. But honestly, most players taken outside the lottery fall out of the league in a few years. With all that White is going through right now, it makes the road that much tougher.
As a Knicks fan, I know they will come back down to earth soon but given what we have seen and of course the addition of Amare and Shumpert, what are some realistic expectations for the postseason?
Second round of the playoffs. Maybe even Eastern Conferene Finals. They are a veteran team that is playing really well right now. There appears to be some chemistry and the talent they put out there every night is obvious. I'm not sure if Amare and Shumpert help the situation. They might. But chemistry is a funny thing. It's here one minute, change up one variable, and it's gone the next. I still don't see them as a serious contender to the Heat ... but after that they could compete with anyone else in the East. Pacers are struggling. Celtics are vulnerable. Don't really love any other team in the East.
Free Jimmer Fredette! He leads the league in PER!!!! Why won't the Kings play him?
Not anymore. He's now 4th behind Anthony Davis, Kyle Lowry and LeBron James. But ... yeah, he's playing well this year. The issue for the Kings is position and defense. I think they're getting more comfortable with him being a scoring sparkplug off the bench (though they sort of already have that guy in Marcus Thornton). The other problem is that Jimmer struggles to guard anyone. He has to be REALLY good on offense to warrant him being in the game. But with that said, he is playing MUCH better this year and proved last night that he can be solid in extended minutes. So what I'm saying, Jimmer fans, is ... there's still a chance.
Are you surprised by Anthony Davis's offensive production so far?
Not at all. The comps I was using for him in the draft was a hybrid between Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan ... two great defensive players that are also great offensive players. Davis is very skilled offensively ... he just didn't get to show it off a lot at Kentucky. People laughed at the Duncan/KG comps before the draft ... but I don't think they're laughing now. Kid is going to win a MVP award someday if he stays healthy.
If you had to redraft the top 5 at this point in the season. What would your top 5 be?
Don't think I'd change it much at all. Davis is the clear No. 1. MKG has absolutely ridiculous +/- stats right now. I still believe he's the second best player in the draft. Probably would have Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard next. Either Brad Beal or Dion Waiters fills out the Top 5.
What are your thoughts on the Hakim Warrick - Matt Carroll trade from yesterday?
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Seriously ... goes to show you how much owners and GMs overvalue players. Both guys got a lot of money on long-term guaranteed deals and now don't play at all. I think GMs should start crowd sourcing their free agent contracts. When the deal is being negotiated, they should leak it. If the overwhelming reaction from the internet is OVERPAID ... they should cut bait. How many of these deals every really workout for the team that signs them?
Do you think the Bucks will be able to sustain their 4-2 start? Is Brandon Jennings an all-star this year?
If Jennings plays like that ... maybe. Still have huge concerns about their front line, but they'll have one of the best backcourts in the NBA>
how does ernie grunfeld still have a job? could last night's debacle be the last straw? Vesely play 9 minutes, 0-0 from the floor, 0-4 from the line.
I've been asking that for 3 years. I think it's time for Ted Leonsis to answer that question on his blog ... You can submit it here: http://www.tedstake.com
Even with the Big Fundamental's age, as well as Ginobili, do you think the Spurs are still as dangerous as a few years ago with the way Leonard is playing? Possibly represent the West for the championship?
I'd go a step further. Right now I think they are the favorites. I mentally downgrade them every year because I just keep thinking their age will catch up with them. Maybe over 82 games that happens. But right now? They are the best team in the NBA and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
The Timberwolves are 5-2 with their top 6 players out. Are they contenders with a healthy squad?
Again ... chemistry is a very trick thing. But gotta believe that adding Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio will be a major improvement. Contenders? Not yet. But down the road ... yes. Pretty amazing when you consider how poorly the Wolves have been drafting the past few years. Derrick Williams looks like the next high lottery bust for David Kahn.
HEAT look even better than last year, especially with Ray playing well and LBJ being even better than before. Another title coming?
Right now? I think the Heat would steamroll every team with the possible exception of the Spurs in a 7 game series. But in June ... when the Spurs are worn down ... think they might plow them too.
If Shabazz is ruled ineligible to play the entire season this year, what does his draft stock look like as is?
I've spoken with a number of NBA GMs and scouts about this. Every single person I spoke with believes he'd be a Top 3 pick. He could still be No. 1. Nerlens Noel is so raw and I think some GMs aren't convinced that Cody Zeller has the upside to be the No. 1 pick. So I wonder if he's not just better off hiring a personal trainer and shrugging off the NCAA. Wish more players would do it frankly. I think the NCAA is out of control ...
It's obviously a (very) small sample size, but what did you garner from the improved play of Noel/Goodwin/Poythress vs. Duke? And, more importantly - how did Jarrod Polson's no-show last night affect his draft stock?
Noel and Poythress were obviously much better against Duke. You have to give both of those players time. Neither has quite the talent or confidence that Anthony Davis or MKG had. But both are really awesome prospects. I don't think we'll be able to accurately project either until March. I'm a pretty big believer in Calapari. I think you'll see them improve all year. Goodwin is the most talented right now ... once he gets his game under control, I think the Russell Westbrook comps are apt. As for Polson? He's not getting drafted.
Out of the players from Duke, UK, KU and MSU who played in the Champions Classic: Did anyone jump out as possible lottery picks?
Obviously the three UK freshmen -- Noel, Poythress and Goodwin are. If Mason Plumlee keeps playing like this all year, he'll be a late lottery pick. Gary Harris and Ben McLemore both have the talent to crack the lottery at some point ... but it might be next year, not this one.
Where does James Michael McAdoo get drafted if he keeps playing like he has started off the year?
Better pro, C.Zeller or N.Noel?
Today? Zeller. But scouts project and down the road Noel just has more physical abilities. His skill level isn't close to Zeller's right now. But long-term, if he works hard and gets it ... that's the dilemma of every scout. Both are Top 3 picks if the draft were held today. Zeller could contribute right now. Noel would be a project. But if you're watching Andre Drummond right now in Detroit, you understand why you could discount Noel. Drummond is playing better than he did at UConn and has the potential to be a monster in a few years.
I know you were pretty skeptical of the quality of this draft class. Has anything changed your opinion thus far? Any surprises?
Not really. But it's way too early for that. Only player that I've made some major revisions on is Alex Len of Maryland. Just think he took a major leap over the summer and at 7-1 with his skill set, he's going to be a Top 5 pick. Reminds me a little bit of a young Ilgauskas.
Have you had a chance to watch any Michigan games yet? If so what are your thoughts on Burke, Hardaway, and Robinson III, specifically Robinson who has been pretty impressive thus far?
Robinson's athletic abilities make him, on paper, perhaps the best prospect of the group. Not sure he's a first rounder this year, but down the road that's a possibility. The rest -- Burke, Hardaway, McGary -- look like solid second round picks.
So it sounds like the top 5 is Zeller, Noel, Muhammad, Len and McAdoo?
That's my Top 5 ... though not exactly in that order.
Any other college freshmen really stand out to you this week?
I really like UNLV's Anthony Bennett. He had 22 points in 20 minutes on opening night for the Running Rebels. Baylor's Isaiah Austin also had a strong opening game. I'm also really intrigued by NC State's Rodney Purvis, Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski and OK State's Marcus Smart.
Cauley Stein! Top ten pick. book it. 7 feet tall and super athletic. Gms love that stuff.
Oh yeah, can't forget about him. Only played 6 minutes versus Duke but serious talent there. Wrote on Monday in my column with Jay Bilas that I wouldn't be shocked if he's a lottery pick by the end of the year.
any chance Steven Adams gets into the top 5 with a strong freshman year at Pitt?
Yes. Should've had Adams on my list of freshman that impressed. He's been very good the past two games. Has the potential to be a dominant defensive presence in the NBA.
Gotta run everyone ... thanks for coming to the chat today. Next week I'll be in Maui covering the Maui Invitational for ESPN. North Carolina-Texas-Illinois-USC-Marquette headline. Will be sending reports from there all week.