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June 13, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Kevin Pelton

Kevin Pelton
  (3:05 PM)

Hello from San Antonio, where we're hours away from Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Thanks for joining me to chat for a couple hours before I head on over to the AT&T Center.

Dave (Boston)

You are having 2 chats at 3PM? Wow you are dedicated!

Kevin Pelton
  (3:06 PM)

Heh, not quite that good at chatting!

domino (La, california)

why is lebron held to a different standard then other greats. kobe got swept by the mavericks, but lebron got blamed for losing to them in 6 games. kobe lost to okc who lebron beat in the finals. i could go on and on. why is lebron held to a completely different standard. he cant even lose one game, otherwise the sky is falling?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:07 PM)

Well, I think LeBron's greater ceiling explains a lot of this. To those whom much is given, much is expected. But I think part of the answer is in your question -- there's so much going on before the Finals that it's harder for "what's wrong?" stories to get as much traction. Right now, LeBron is the primary topic of discussion.

Josh (Sacramento)

Crush my dreams Kevin... The Kings can potentially clear significant cap space. Scale of 1 to 10, how likely is it Josh Smith would come to Sacramento?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:09 PM)

I don't think it's impossible. Maybe a 3 or a 4? I'm just not sure you want Josh Smith as your veteran mentor for DeMarcus Cousins, or another non-shooter on a team full of them.

Josh (Chicago, IL)

I know you've talked about how much coaching actually matters in detail before, but in your subjective view, how many extra wins does an elite coach count for as opposed to a Replacement Level Coach? I can't imagine it is more than one or two. Although then there is that issue of defining what exactly a "replacement level coach" looks like...

Kevin Pelton
  (3:10 PM)

I would say probably somewhere around 4-5. Similar to a fairly average starter.

Flavio (Brazil)

if M.Miller starts the game, do you think lebron could handle duncan down low? I dont think so

Kevin Pelton
  (3:10 PM)

I think we'd probably see James on Splitter, not Duncan, and that's a doable matchup -- but it won't leave LeBron any fresher.

MICHAEL (NYC)

Reported that Mike Miller may start. Can you see Pop "unleashing" T Mac possibly some point guard time?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:11 PM)

Not sure how B follows A here.

Mike (Dallas)

What can the Mavs expect to get for Marion and the No 13 pick? There's no way they are getting more than 2 second-round picks, if that, is there?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:11 PM)

They can expect to get rid of Marion, maybe. If anyone's throwing in second-round picks, it will probably be the Mavericks.

I should be a GM (madison)

Since the Jazz aren't close to contending, does it make sense to reach for a point guard in this draft. If they can't get Burke, MCW, or McColum (who might not even be a point guard) shouldn't they go for the highest potential rotation players and projects--Adams, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mitchell, Franklin, Ledo?--and hope one of them pans out.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:12 PM)

There are certain teams in position to make risky picks because if they don't get any contributions from the pick, it's not a disaster. I don't think the Jazz are in that position, no matter how far they may or may not be for contending. The roster is just too empty right now.

Josh (Chicago, IL)

Does all of the recent stuff coming out about Noel's injury history muddy the waters for him being the number 1 overall pick? Chad Ford said yesterday the Cavs are considering Porter, Len, and Oladipo. Does this change your calculus at all?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:13 PM)

I'd have to know more about growth-plate surgery than I do to really answer, but I think the gap between Noel and anyone else in this draft is big enough that the only way I see Cleveland going elsewhere is a trade down.

tbucky34 (Boston)

Kevin, will you or one of your colleagues continue to do Projected NBA PER for this year's top draft prospects?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:15 PM)

Yeah, we'll have a new incarnation of the Draft Rater sometime over the next two weeks. My system projects WARP, naturally, instead of PER.

@drew_madison (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)

Does it surprise you that Spurs little 3 (Neal, Kawhi, Danny) have a total of 130 finals points? Considering Miamis big 3 has the exact same, also a 40+ million dollar salary difference, or is it all Coach Pop?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:16 PM)

If there's anyone outside of Spurs fans who isn't surprised by that, they should go to Vegas immediately. Odds are things will regress somewhat to the mean, but already San Antonio's role players have made a difference in the series.

JC (NYC)

Popovich taking out his starters for the last 6 minutes of a Finals game. What a farce he's made of the NBA. Stern should fine him for that.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:18 PM)

During the press conference where Bill Fitch was presented with the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, David Stern offered to repay Fitch's fines. What do you think are the odds of a press conference like that with Pop in 20 years? Can we make the denominator big enough?

Tony (Richmond, CA)

How fearful are you that the Tony Parker hamstring injury evolves into a Magic Johnson-Detroit type injury that ruins the entire series?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:18 PM)

The Lakers were without both Magic and Byron Scott, right? So I doubt it would have that big of an effect at worst -- probably closer to the opposite, Isiah's sprained ankle the year before.

Rizo (Miami)

Putting these playoffs into perspective, whether Miami wins or loses, does this post-season hurt D-Wade's legacy? Just from a basketball standpoint, where would he rank among the Shooting Guards of all time? It's just strange, I've never seen a Superstar of Wade's caliber fall off like he's had.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:19 PM)

I don't think so. If he continues to be so limited going forward, maybe, but for now I'm assuming this is a bump in the gradual decline phase.

MARI IL [via mobile]

Do the bulls have the space to get good shooting guard like oj mayo

Kevin Pelton
  (3:19 PM)

Mayo will probably get more than the mid-level, but not impossible.

Zulfi (Simi Valley, CA)

What do the analytics say about Kawhi Leonard as a top tier defender? Is there an advanced stat or a way to quantify which players allow the least amount of dribble penetration?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:21 PM)

He got an honorable mention in my All-Defensive Teams, which puts him among the top 10 wing defenders. I'm not sure if SportVU would allow us to look at containing dribble penetration. There are some companies working on tracking such things via video.

Tyler (SF)

Moving to WA for work, and my job is going to be in Kirkland. Possible to commute from some of the more eclectic neighborhoods in Seattle, or is that commute going to be too burdensome? In basketball news, best guess for the Warriors off-season?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:22 PM)

Traffic shouldn't be terrible since you're going the opposite direction of the primary flow in and out of Seattle, but be prepared for tolling on 520.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:23 PM)

I think the Warriors let Landry walk and Jack is about 50/50.

Danny (Cleveland)

Looks like Mike Miller may start tonight... How many times have we seen a coach change his lineup mid series from what got them to where they are, and ended up losing?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:24 PM)

Well, the obvious counterpoint is 2011, when the series turned in the Mavericks favor after lineup changes. But I think Miami would quibble to some extent with the notion that this lineup got them here; the Heat have been most dangerous with smallball all year -- just with Battier and not Miller.

Brian (NJ)

Lebron was a really good permiter shooter this year. What made Pop think this lay off him strategy would work? Why does Pop get to be so much smarter than the rest of us?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:25 PM)

I think one of the things that makes Pop so smart is he's willing to consider outside-the-box thinking like this. I think the Spurs believed they could keep James out of the paint and make him less aggressive with a soften defense. I think the missed shots have exceeded their wildest expectations.

Rejean (Montreal)

If you are coach Spo : Do you consider benching Wade at some point or you live/die with your star players?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:25 PM)

Discussed this a little bit at lunch with the great Zach Lowe. I think that's probably too extreme of a change. I could see losing Wade mentally.

ian (tampa)

why is the scoring between the two teams' big three surprising? Game one was very close while games 2 and 3 were blowouts for either team. Stands to reason that scoring would be similar

Kevin Pelton
  (3:26 PM)

I thought the question was Green/Neal/Leonard vs. Miami's big 3. I may have misread it. Or you may be joking and it might not translate on the Internet.

Josh (Chicago, IL)

How does it work when composing the PER DIEM articles? Do you and Haberstroh agree on certain days and articles or do the editors and/or someone else call down from the heavens and divvy up different articles/topics?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:27 PM)

It's a collaborative process between us and our editor. Lots of good brainstorming that results in what you see on the ESPN NBA page.

Rob N. (Potrland)

Hello Kevin Pelton,If TP does not play who will run the point for San Antonio? Do you think TP's minimized minutes in Game 3 are what allowed the Spurs to route the Heat so, with better shooters on the floor for better floor spacing?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:29 PM)

No, I wouldn't say that. I think the threat Parker creates does a great job of opening up space for shooters. The Spurs were +8 in the third quarter with him on the floor.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:29 PM)

If he doesn't go, I'd expect a lot of Manu as a de facto point guard.

Tomas (Vilnius, Lithuania)

With Spurs playing team ball and having success vs Miami's isolation offences, do you think next year coaches will consider playing Spurs style more? To me, the whole LeBron issue that is escalated by the media, is not really about him continuing to struggle; instead, it's about Miami as the team not able to adjust to Spurs TEAM defence and offence. Your thoughts?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:29 PM)

I don't know. Dallas did something similar to Miami in the 2011 Finals, and I wouldn't say it changed things much stylistically.

Daniel (San Antonio)

Where did you and Zach Lowe have lunch?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:30 PM)

Boudro's, and I could have that guacamole many more times this week.

Ben (DC)

I think the Spurs will still drop off Wade and James from 10-20 feet, but not give the Heat many threes. Why not make them shoot well from mid-range, and not risk as much foul trouble and free throws? Even if they shoot 50 percent from mid-range 1 point per shot is a tolerable number.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:31 PM)

I would agree, but I think in James' case in particular they're also giving up the 3-pointer. That's what makes this slightly different from Indiana's strategy. It's just that 3s off the dribble are a somewhat different proposition than catch-and-shoot attempts.

Les (East Windsor, NJ)

LeBron has a HOF'er playing along side him.......MJ had one as well. So, even playing field there, right? How would you rate the rest of the Heat team vs those Bulls complementary players?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:31 PM)

Certainly none of the other Heat players are playing at a Hall of Fame level *right now*.

Lauren Zamora (San Antonio)

What's your prediction for the Finals Series? Has it changed since the series began?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:32 PM)

At this point I think San Antonio has to be the favorites. What makes things interesting in the Finals is there is still some pressure on the Spurs to close out at home in 5 and not let this series get back to Miami. If the series is 3-2 after five games, I think things shift back to favoring the Heat slightly.

Gabe (Boulder)

Curious about Wade's legacy when all is said and done. The analytics seem to suggest Wade has been as impactful as Kobe has, but of course, the durability will be a concern. Think Wade goes down as #3 SG of all time behind MJ and Kobe?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:33 PM)

Jerry West?

matt (miami, fl)

Is Bosh's lack of points due to the "extra" effort he is (supposedly) putting forth to handle the center duties?!

Kevin Pelton
  (3:33 PM)

No, I don't think there's been a big change in those terms from the regular season. I think he's just in a slump, and was limited a bit by his ankle injury against Indiana.

JimBeau (Left Coast)

Hi Kevin, thanks for the chat! By position (PG/SG/SF/PW/C) who do you see as the best defenders coming out in the draft and again in FA? Thanks.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:35 PM)

In the draft ... PG: Peyton Siva / SG: Oladipo / SF: D.J. Stephens / PF: Andre Roberson / C: Noel

Kevin Pelton
  (3:37 PM)

Free agents ... PG: Paul / SG: Tony Allen / SF: Iguodala / PF: David West / C: Howard

Steve (Phoenix, AZ)

What is Andre Drummond's ceiling? His athleticism, and defensive presence reminds me of a young dwight.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:38 PM)

That's the most obvious comparison. One question for which I don't really have an answer: How good can you be shooting free throws as poorly as Drummond does? There's not really anyone quite like him in that regard, I don't think.

Wayne (Vancouver)

Does underperforming in a finals hurt a person's legacy more than if he didn't even make it? As an example, by winning and advancing to the finals in 07/11/13, he is drawing more critics than if he had just lost to Pistons/Bulls/Pacers those years.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:39 PM)

I think it depends a bit on expectations. Losing short of the Finals this year would have been such a disappointment that I think the response would have been similar. In 2007 in particular, probably true. Although he wasn't really criticized in the moment for 2007; that's a retroactive addition to the legacy.

Ben (DC)

You really think Miami going 2 for 2 at home is a better chance than the Spurs going 1 for 2? Even if you figure the Heat have a 60% chance of winning each game 6 and 7, that extrapolates to a 36% chance of winning both.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:40 PM)

I would say they're probably closer to 70% at home, which would make it a tossup.

The Troof (Somewhere Other Than Miami)

I am a Pacers fan (actually I don't care much for the NBA, but this team made me love them this year). However, I don't think the Pacers could have handled San Antonio is these finals. SA would have won easily - you agree?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:41 PM)

I don't think some of the matchup advantages the Pacers had against Miami would have translated against San Antonio. I'm not sure I would go so far as to say the Spurs would have won easily -- I don't think playing Indiana is ever going to be easy given the No. 1 defense in the league.

Malik (Philly)

Kevin, There appears to be a war going on between traditional basketball men and basketball statisticians in regards to building and in some case coaching a team, why can't these two sides work together? Why is there so much tension between the two? Who do you see winning out moving forward?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:43 PM)

I don't think almost anybody inside the game sees it as a "war" -- not a great term to use even if it was that confrontational. There are many organizations where both approaches sit together and work well. The obvious flashpoint right now in Memphis, but I think what happened is as much about power and who holds it than stats vs. traditional thinking. Unfortunately, that's not as interesting copy.

Kevin (Maryland)

So Miami is REALLY starting LeBron as CENTER?!

Kevin Pelton
  (3:44 PM)

Not sure where people are getting this idea. Chris Bosh will start at center. This is a lineup that has already played the third-most minutes for Miami in this series, so it's not an enormous change.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

True, but the Lakers wouldn't have gotten swept if Magic was there because they still had Cooper coming off the bench to shoot from the outside. Without Magic, the Lakers had no orchestrator of the offense, to set up players, especially the jumpshooters like Green, for example. The same would be the case if Parker reaggravates and is out an extended period of time JMO.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:45 PM)

I hear you. I don't think the Spurs can win the series without Parker if that was the original question. I just also don't think his injury is likely to be that bad.

I should be a GM (madison)

Good answer re the Jazz. What is Larkins upside? Good change of pace guard? I can't see him as an effective starter.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:46 PM)

I think he can be a starter in the league. He's an excellent pick-and-roll player and at this point that's the first criteria for any point guard.

Daniel (Maine)

Would you credit the Spurs' defensive success more to good personnel who can match up with LeBron physically (Leonard) or to good scheme/discipline as a group?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:46 PM)

I think the overall scheme has been more important. That starts with not getting beat off the dribble, and Leonard's length has been a problem for LeBron when he has driven the paint. But I don't know that I would say that Leonard has given him more trouble than Paul George did individually.

Brandon (Phoenix, AZ)

What would be the reason that in the last 12 hours or so San Antonio was a -2 favorite and now Miami is -1? Parker injury more reason? People believe Lebron going in F.U. mode?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:47 PM)

I would guess that a lot of people are revisiting Miami's history when trailing. In any scenario, there's lots of faith in the zig-zag theory (bet on the loser of the last game). It is somewhat surprising they're now favored on the road, though.

Wayne (Vancouver)

True or false -- had Heat determined that Wade was out for the season sometime before the finals, the team would be in better shape? Premise is that he's been bad for their defense and spacing, and needing to accommodate Wade has probably led to Lebron's funk. Lebron's biggest scoring binges have been with Wade on the bench.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:48 PM)

Interesting question to discuss. I think the extra minutes for Ray Allen and Mike Miller would be problematic by this point of the playoffs, though.

Jeff (Boulder)

What do you think happens with Splitter and Manu?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:49 PM)

This summer? I'd be stunned if either player went elsewhere. I think the Spurs will deal with them quickly, and Manu will take a paycut that will leave them some cap space to shop in free agency.

The Troof (Somewhere Other Than Miami)

Tim Duncan had a quiet 12 points, but he helped his team tremendously in hustle plays, tipped rebounds, etc. This is exactly what we never see from any of the "Big Three" - great heart and hustle when things aren't going well individually. And that's going to be the difference.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:49 PM)

I think that's unfair to LeBron James' play in the first two games of the series.

Danny (Cleveland)

The more I watch of Alex Len the more I like. Any reason the Cavs shouldn't take him? as we have seen this post season low post scorers are still effective, i.e. Duncan tonight.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:50 PM)

His college numbers overall were not particularly strong. He had his moments -- the win over Kentucky -- and has played well internationally, and there are some explanations as far as his teammates. But that's still a pretty big red flag to overcome. I don't have him in the top 10 on my personal draft board.

Drey (Berkeley)

Is it just me, or does Lebron seem to be trying to hard on his jumpshots? There doesn't seem to be any fluidity and the misses often end up as long rebounds...

Kevin Pelton
  (3:51 PM)

There definitely seems to be some overthinking there.

Mike (Detroit)

What do you advanced stats tell you about Martell Webster? I think he'd be an excellent addition in Detroit but I don't have a good sense of his defensive prowess.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:51 PM)

I would call him average to slightly above defensively. Webster's 3/D skills are a nice complement to a quality team. I don't think Detroit is there yet, so he probably makes more sense elsewhere.

Eric Rosenthal (Thousand Oaks, CA)

Has Mike Miller saved himself from getting amnestied by making all these 3's in the finals?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:52 PM)

Possibly. Would the Heat amnesty Joel Anthony instead? But Miller saves them a lot more money.

Ben (DC)

Why don't the Pelicans trade Eric Gordon for Danny Granger? The Hornets can get rid of that contract, and get a useful SF, which they need, who becomes an expiring contract at the exact right time.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:53 PM)

I don't know that the Pacers would do that trade right now. Gordon would create some long-term issues with the luxury tax, and he's far from a sure thing.

jason (dc)

what are the chances the wizards could trade everything not named wall, beal, or porter to the bobcats and end up w/ porter AND bennett this draft? wall/beal/porter/bennett for the next 10 years sound pretty nice to me

Kevin Pelton
  (3:54 PM)

Historically, take all my spare parts for your valuable player only works in video games.

Markus (Germany)

Will Miami's defense suffer even more with extended minutes for Mike Miller? If that is possible. Their problems are as much on the defensive as on the offensive end.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:54 PM)

Zach Lowe has done a nice job of hammering this home. And yes, it probably will get worse because there isn't the same kind of chemistry with Miller on the floor -- and less defensive rebounding.

Gabe (NJ)

Can you tell me why all of the Sixers' big acquisitions have turned out to be busts in the past 10+ years? I'm talkin' CWebb, Big Dog, Bynum, etc. Why do players dislike playing in Philly so much? Bad management? Bad training staff (hard to imagine w/ so many good docs in Philly)?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:55 PM)

You forgot Elton Brand. But for all the reasons you've mentioned, the Sixers have had to take some gambles on players with serious questions. Unfortunately, they've largely gone wrong.

Mike (Detroit)

Hi Kevin, should Detroit "overpay" for Iguodola in an attempt to shore up their perimeter defense?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:56 PM)

An Iguodala/Monroe/Drummond front line could be pretty good defensively, but I'd worry a bit about the spacing on offense. So I would say it's worth considering but not worth overpaying.

Ben (Manhattan KS)

If Miami is serious about inserting Mike Miller into the starting lineup, should San Antonio refigure theirs? Is it wiser to remove Splitter entirely from their starting 5, or have Splitter defend Wade in the cross matchups?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:57 PM)

I think the Spurs probably have the luxury of seeing how things go the first few minutes of the game before making that decision. I would wait to see before reacting to Miami.

justin (san francisco)

thoughts on the kidd hiring for the nets?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:58 PM)

It's hard to say much beyond "I don't know." There is no real track record to go on. ESPN Stats & Info has pointed out the last player to coach the year after retirement was Mike Dunleavy, but that was a different scenario -- Dunleavy was an assistant coach who briefly suited up due to injuries, not a full-time player with no experience as a head coach.

Tom (Chicago)

Kevin, NBA 2K13 would never allow such a trade. The latest games make trades too hard nowadays!

Kevin Pelton
  (3:58 PM)

True, true.

jason (dc)

nene/okafor/seraphin/ariza are better than spare parts aren't they?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:58 PM)

Nene is, but not to a team deep in the throes of rebuilding.

Mike (Detroit)

Nate Wolters - Stud or Dud?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:59 PM)

Big fan as a second-round pick. Have been on board ever since he tore up my beloved Huskies (including two first-round picks) in Seattle in December 2011.

Phil (Denver)

If Doc Rivers becomes available, do you think the Nets will kick themselves for picking Jason Kidd and not waiting a bit more?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:00 PM)

Well, I suppose Kidd wasn't going anywhere else, but nobody knows how long it could take for this Rivers situation to play out -- or what kind of compensation the Celtics might demand in return for him.

Victor (Buffalo NY)

How much of an impact have Lebron James' "flops" had on his career? Have this damaged his reputation or is it just people being picky?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:02 PM)

In the case of a polarizing player, people are always going to pick up on things, and eyes are always on LeBron. I don't think he sells contact that much more than league average. No comment on Dwyane Wade.

Brandon (Phoenix, AZ)

Does the media realize that Coach Pop is 3 steps ahead of everyone? With all articles written about what the changes the Heat need to make, doesn't Pop already know the changes and is going to counter with something the Spurs haven't done yet? Spurs aren't just going to stand pat, they probably have a good idea of what changes the Heat are going to make.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:03 PM)

I think it's less that and more that the Spurs probably won't need to change very much. For the most part, besides their defensive strategy, they're just doing what they do and tweaking the execution.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:04 PM)

Although I suppose their decision to crash the offensive glass more frequently in this series is another exception.

Brian (NJ)

Has there been any research done on the different levels of difficulty based on how you get a 3 point jumpshot (i.e. off the dribble, kickout or pass from wing). Kickout would obviously seem to be the easiest.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:05 PM)

A little. I'd suggest this on corner 3s which shows that the real reason they're so much higher percentage is because they're almost always taken in a catch-and-shoot situation: http://blog.cacvantage.com/2013/02/How-Easy-Is-the-Corner-Three-Pointer-NBA-Defense.html

Marco (Uruguay)

Is the real problem Lebron in heats struggles, or is how they defend three pointers? Because in 2011 finals, and in this particular Finals, both 3PG % (Mavs and Spurs) have bumped up in relation with the playoffs

Kevin Pelton
  (4:06 PM)

It can be both. The aggressive way they defend the pick-and-roll has always left Miami vulnerable beyond the arc. I had a good chat with Mike Budenholzer about the Spurs' philosophy yesterday, and he mentioned their interest in the corner 3 first grew out of wanting to prevent it defensively. It's interesting to see Miami value 3s so much on offense, but also permit them on defense.

Brandon (Phoenix, AZ)

Cody Zeller - similiar to Tyler Hansbrough as he had the great college career but the lack of athletic ability will doom him. I've never seen a seven footer with that many layups.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:07 PM)

I don't think you can rely so much on a single-player comparison. Zeller is much younger than Hansbrough was coming into the league and has more time to develop other skills, like a midrange jumper.

Dallas (Calgary, Alberta)

People are really disrespecting the Spurs. All the focus is on Lebron and the Heat, and when San Antonio wins not much is made of what they did right, people just harp on what Miami didn't do. When the Spurs are left hoisting the trophy, maybe then they'll get the respect they deserve.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:08 PM)

No, probably not. Unfortunately, the Heat are always going to be the more interesting story to more of the audience. But keep in mind the fawning stories about Tim Duncan (myself included), Pop, Manu and Parker before going on too much about disrespect.

Flavio (Brazil)

If Danny Green go nuts again tonight can he be the MVP of the final? what a good story would be!

Kevin Pelton
  (4:09 PM)

I think he'd need a big game in the final win, which probably carries more weight. But so far I think he is the MVP of the Finals, as Tom Haberstroh wrote today: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2013/story/_/page/PerDiem-130613/danny-green-finals-mvp-far

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

Who should the Spurs go after in free agency. Personally, I think Dwight Howard should take whatever they can offer and go learn from Duncan and Popovich, but I'm guessing that's unlikely.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:10 PM)

David West seems like an intriguing target. Failing him, not really sure.

Corey (Tucson)

In regards to Lebron's Flopping, can you name one other guy who was considered the "GREATEST PLAYER ON THE PLANET" who flopped like he does???

Kevin Pelton
  (4:10 PM)

That's kind of a small sample size, and people are paying more attention to contact now than they did a decade ago. So it's not really a fair comparison.

joe (farmington)

What would you say about the cavs picking mclemore

Kevin Pelton
  (4:11 PM)

I think that going No. 1 overall would set up McLemore for disappointment. Already, I think he may struggle with the expectations placed on him as a top-five pick. He's a good player, but not necessarily an elite one.

Lorden (Tianjin)

What do you think of the league making charge/block reviewable in late game situations? I think it's great but how would they implement it? Could a non-call be reviewed? How would it get triggered?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:12 PM)

My understanding is it would be incorporated into existing reviews of whether the player is in the circle or not. The shortcoming that's being addressed is right now the referees could look at the video for the other issue, see that they obviously blew the call, and not have the power to correct it.

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

If Duncan isn't the best defender since Russell, who is? The advanced metrics (e.g., defensive rating and win shares) really seem to favor him.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:12 PM)

Dikembe Mutombo.

Victor (Florida)

I know that the Heat droped the ball big time in game 3, but do you feel that everyone is overreacting to the loss? I mean it was a big loss but Spurs had their bad game and rebounded from it, and the heat have shown time and time again that they play best when they are underdogs...they just seem to love from behind and be counted out to play their best. Your thoughts?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:13 PM)

At this point of the year, everybody is overreacting to everything. So yes, but not necessarily more so than the overreaction to Game 2.

Bob (Seattle)

How much of an injury history is needed before Noel = Oden?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:13 PM)

I don't think we can ever put him in that kind of box. Each player's legacy is his own.

Roman (Dallas)

In regards to your question on Shawn Marion: what teams with cap space would even consider taking on that salary?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:14 PM)

Cleveland will have cap room and interest in a rental small forward. The pick is less valuable to them than most teams, however. Beyond them, not sure.

Drom John (Macon, GA)

My take of the Memphis stat-head ownership versus the traditional coach was that the key stat was how much of a raise Hollins wanted. If Hollins would have taken a 10% raise he'd still be there. What's your take.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:15 PM)

Tough to tell without being in the room, but the ownership has publicly reiterated that the issue wasn't about money.

Wayne (Vancouver)

Seeing Haberstroh's piece about Wade being a bad wingman for Lebron got me thinking. You'd think the luxury of having a great teammate on offense would enable someone to save energy and be better with rebounding, defense, etc. With Miami's big 3 it seems to be the opposite. Work on the defensive end seems to suffer when each of them are less involved on offense.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:17 PM)

I think that's fairly common with star players, though. Even Kendrick Perkins supposedly has to get his post-up early in the game so he'll be content to play defense thereafter.

Matt (St. Paul)

IMO, if the Spurs win, it's because Pops is the absolute best at resting his veteran players during the season. Miami ran their top guys into the ground, in comparison to what S.A. did. When will coaches and franchises learn this lesson?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:18 PM)

I think we have to be careful to avoid drawing too clear a line between correlation and causation. The minutes Miami's starters played during the regular season were by no means excessive, and they rested a great deal down the stretch. And San Antonio used the same strategy the last two years with playoff results that were to some extent or another disappointing. I think Pop's strategy is ideal, but the benefits are more subtle than concrete.

Cory (East, TX)

Can you rate Spoelstra as a coach? Is he one of the top 5 in the league right now?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:19 PM)

Without going through the actual exercise, probably in the top 10 but not the top 5.

Zeke (Missouri)

Simple question (I think): Why do inefficient players not play more efficiently. Monta Ellis for example - why does he keep shooting so many three pointers? Do the bucks need you on their staff to tell him to stop?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:20 PM)

That sounds like a fun conversation! It's important to understand that most American players grow up as far and away the best player on their team, so the best strategy for them is generally to shoot all the time. When you've seen that be so successful for so long, it's hard to adjust your mindset. And it's probably never going to happen if coaches reinforce it.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:21 PM)

Sidenote: That's what makes Chris Bosh's path, as detailed by Jonathan Abrams on Grantland last week (http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9345828/the-career-chris-bosh-miami-heat-third-banana), so interesting. Bosh wasn't the star of his team until at least college.

Ramzi (D.C.)

After the barrage of 3-pointers in Game 3 from Green and Neal, what adjustments do you see Miami making in order to limit the Spurs' 3-point shooting tonight?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:22 PM)

I don't know that they'll make adjustments so much as try to execute better and frankly try harder on defense. If that doesn't work, then we might see them pull back their trapping a bit. But that goes very much against Miami's overall philosophy.

Hank (Santa Cruz)

How do you think Pop stacks up against other all-time great coaches such as Auerbach and Phil?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:23 PM)

Tough to compare Pop with Auerbach because the situations are so different. Auerbach managed the roster and the business operations with limited assistance. Totally different era. If I had to pick any modern coach to run my team, it would probably be Pop.

Ben (DC)

Didn't Cody Zeller grade very well athletically? I don't see a Hansbrough comparison, he seems more like Patrick Ewing to me.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:24 PM)

I don't know about Ewing. LaMarcus Aldridge has come up a lot. I see some Nick Collison. And he is similar to Hansbrough in terms of his short arms and inability to get off the ground quickly inside, which makes both vulnerable to shot blockers.

Lorden (Tianjin)

So did New Orleans got a better deal by getting Eric Gordon and his max contract or instead of the vetoed Kevin Martin package? Remember that Kevin Martin turned into Harden for the Rockets.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:25 PM)

I would say Martin was at best the third most important part of that package after Lamb and the Toronto pick. Really, the best move for the Hornets might have been signing-and-trading Gordon to Phoenix last summer, which is what he wanted.

Sean (Washington DC)

Kevin! There's another graduation at Freeman Coliseum tonight. Don't get caught in traffic...Get moving!

Kevin Pelton
  (4:25 PM)

Seriously? Like nobody realized the Spurs might be in the Finals?

Chris (DC)

Danny Granger for the Cav's #19th pick with the obvious being the reduction to cap being more important than the actual pick for Pacers?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:27 PM)

I think Cleveland will have enough options with that spot that they probably would not offer a first-round pick, but merely to take Granger off the Pacers' hands. I could be talked into that deal from both sides.

Izzy (Princeton, NJ)

Some have suggested that the Heat's rebounding woes don't matter because they create their possessions other ways (i.e., turnovers). Is it fair to make that "excuse" for the Heat or do you think their lack of rebounding is a real problem, regardless of how well they force TOs? (FWIW, the Heat gave up 15 Oreb in G2 and 19 in G3)

Kevin Pelton
  (4:28 PM)

Yes. I don't think it's an excuse because I don't think bad rebounding is something you need to excuse. It's just a strategic choice. But against Indiana and San Antonio, it's not clear that strategic choice is working.

Coop (Orlando)

If you are the Orlando Magic front office, who do you want to draft with the #2 pick?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:29 PM)

I would be looking hard at moving up or moving back. I don't think the differences among the McLemore/Burke/Oladipo group are big enough to have a strong feeling among those three, and if you could move down a couple picks and get another asset, that would be great.

Jason (Houston)

Does your answer on how many wins a coach add include the impact on player development? I think Pop's true greatness isn't in how he manages a game, but how he develops his players.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:29 PM)

I would say yes, although that's obviously more difficult to measure over a single season.

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

Duncan has a better defensive rating and almost way more defensive win shares. He also has a slightly higher defensive rebound rate and steal rate. Mutombo only leads in block rate. Is this just a failure of the numbers? Thanks.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:30 PM)

Well, those are two numbers that are calculated together. Both rely heavily on team defensive performance. Duncan has played on better defenses, but he's also played for a coach I just called the best of the modern era, and alongside multiple other 7-footers. Dikembe Mutombo did not have those luxuries.

JJ (NY)

Who says no M.Brooks, Teletovic, Humpries & #22 = Josh Smith?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:31 PM)

The Hawks don't even take Brooklyn's call on that one.

Al (DC)

Re: Marion - what about Detroit? Marion would help them improve next year, they'd get another pick, and then Marion would come off the books with CV and Stuckey, so that Detroit could sign someone in 2014.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:31 PM)

That would make some sense, yeah.

Stephen (Edna Texas)

David West to San Antonio, Kevin? Wow, I got a bit excited LOL. That'd be awesome.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:32 PM)

That's a long shot. I think West is happy in Indiana and will probably stay there. But he would be my top target.

Jonathan (Puerto Rico)

Do you think there will ever come a time where LeBron rids himself of all the comparisons to MJ? Kobe KINDA has been able to build his own career and isn't compared THAT MUCH to Jordan now, but then again he has 5 rings. Do you think LeBron will have to win more and more rings in order to rid himself of the comparisons, or is he stuck with them forever?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:32 PM)

Pretty sure he's stuck with them forever.

John (Nashville)

Did Brandon in Phoenix look at the athletic numbers on Cody Zeller. At the combine he the fastest player over 6 feet

Kevin Pelton
  (4:33 PM)

A lot has been written about how Zeller trained for the combine. But I think the real important takeaway here is that athleticism is a very nebulous thing. There are some areas (lateral quickness) in which Zeller is very athletic, and others (quick jumping) in which he is limited athletically.

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

Thanks for the response. Are there any other numbers that we can look at to make these kinds of comparisons? Or are we just not there yet with defense?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:34 PM)

The problem with Mutomobo is he was already in decline by the time we started to get reliable plus-minus, Synergy and the like. But he still rated well defensively into his late 30s; he just wasn't a good enough offensive player or durable enough by that point to justify long minutes.

Gates (DC)

I used to post as Jason (with a capital J), but there is a lowercase j guy out there, and so as not to confuse things, I will now be "Gates" from DC. What would you say a reasonable number is for Martell Webster? $3 mil a year? Do you think it would be unwise for Washington to spend their entire mid-level on him?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:35 PM)

Full mid-level is pushing it, but if he plays like he did last year he's worth it. A lot comes down to whether his newfound back health will be lasting or not.

Josh (Chicago, IL)

If Westbrook doesn't go down, is OKC in the finals?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:37 PM)

Spurs-Thunder would have been a heck of a series. I don't know if anyone beats San Antonio playing as the Spurs currently are.

Miko Bouza (Miami)

Is someone typing for you, or are you doing all this typing. You must be getting tired, sir

Kevin Pelton
  (4:38 PM)

Someone is new to my chats.

Justin (Portland, OR)

Did you help with the draft metric numbers? Was height just considered or standing reach/wingspan? Because Zeller's height is deceptive. He has the wingspan of a small forward.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:38 PM)

That's all done by the league. I haven't done much with combine results. Kevin Hetrick had a series about them on Hardwood Paroxysm.

Flavio (Brazil)

You said that ginobili will get a paycut, 25m 3 years sounds good?

Kevin Pelton
  (4:39 PM)

I think even less than that, most likely. Duncan only took $10 million a year.

Ben (DC)

In response to the floppers question(s): CP3, Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and Steve Nash are All-NBA types, or were, and have been known to flop like a fish.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:39 PM)

CP3 in particular.

Izzy (Princeton, NJ)

You projected Porter as the most likely candidate from this draft to become an All-Star one day in a recent 5-on-5. If he were to become an All-Star caliber player, what All-Star's style/game might Porter's resemble? (current or retired players both work for this, to be clear)

Kevin Pelton
  (4:40 PM)

Maybe a more efficient Danny Granger? But for the record, I don't see him as the most likely; I still think that's Noel. The question just asked to predict someone who would be an All-Star and I wanted to make a point about Porter's perceived upside.

Kevin Pelton
  (4:41 PM)

Alright, folks, I have to shave and iron before I head over to the AT&T Center, so I'm going to wrap things up. Thanks for chatting today and see you at my regular Friday spot a week from tomorrow -- when, one way or another, we will have an NBA champion.