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September 27, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Kevin Pelton

Kevin Pelton
  (1:11 PM)

Hey everyone, we've just about made it through the offseason. By the time we next chat training camps will be in full swing. Exciting news this week. After being prompted by the latest round of Gordon Hayward-Paul George comparisons on Twitter, I've put together a chat FAQ: http://sonicscentral.com/chatfaq.html ... let me know what else needs to be added. With that, to your questions.

jason (comings)

why did the indiana pacers pay paul george so much for so little doin

Kevin Pelton
  (1:13 PM)

#trollhard

cw (madison)

It takes a top 10 guy (and at least another top 20) to compete for a title. What is this one guy doing that makes so much difference? I think it has to be something on offense, there are only a few mainly defensive players who led teams to finals (Russell, Ben Wallace, Howard... who else?). MY feeling is that the top 10 guys are basically unguardable and that create opportunities for their other teammates, creates synergy or flow or something. You know about stuff like this, right? Wise us up.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:15 PM)

There are a few answers here. One is that inevitably, the difference between the best player and the 11th-best player is much larger than, say, the 21st-best player and the 31st-best player. So in a sport where five players play at a time (and individuals play nearly all the time), it's always going to be important to have the best one.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:15 PM)

Then you have the modern CBA and limits on individual salaries, which make stars even more valuable from a cap perspective.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:16 PM)

Lastly, I agree that this is more about offense. What separates these superstars most of all is their ability to create shots in difficult situations, and that proves extra valuable late in close games and in the playoffs.

Chuck Smith (Woodbridge, VA)

Rasheed Wallace becomes a NBA coach. Is this the beginning of the The End of Times?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:18 PM)

This is the beginning of the Golden Age.

Phil (KC)

What do you make of Kelly Olynyk being ranked above Nerlens Noel?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:19 PM)

Given that NBArank is now explicitly designed to measure *value* this season instead of *ability*, it makes sense. Noel will probably miss a third of the season and is unlikely to be 100 percent when he returns based on the history of players coming back from ACL ruptures in the past. So I think Olynyk will be better this year.

Phil (KC)

Replacement level and All star fried chicken?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:20 PM)

Replacement level sorta has to be KFC, right? Or is it the fried chicken you get at supermarkets? I guess I'm going with the latter. All-Star is obviously Ezell's. Just ask Oprah.

Jim (Florence, Italy)

OK Kevin, I know you want to evade the shadow of Hollinger, but your last two player profiles on Stephen Curry are very divergent despite him having the exact PER the last two seasons. Hollinger gives him a good but "mixed" review in 11-12, you say "it is clear that he is one of the ten best players". Ankle injuries aside, what gives?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:21 PM)

I would say in this case it's impossible to put ankle injuries aside. Besides the questions about his availability/value, his 2011-12 performance was over relatively few minutes because of the time he missed, so it wasn't as clear that it was a sustainable level of play. Now he's done it for a full season and into the playoffs.

Derrick (Garden City)

Hi, do you think Mike Dunleavy will fit in with Chicago? He doesn't look capable of playing much D.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:22 PM)

He's a smart player and will work defensively, so I think he can fit in much like Kyle Korver did in Chicago. As we saw last year with Marco Belinelli, simply being in Thibs' system works wonders.

Devin (Indy)

I'm gonna have to say Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles' fried chicken is definitely All-Star material. Just ask Snoop Dogg

Kevin Pelton
  (1:23 PM)

Never had it, sadly, but I have no doubt about that.

Josh (Wilmington, NC)

I asked on Twitter but I want to ask here, too. Will there be a SCHOENE spreadsheet available this year?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:25 PM)

Not sure yet about the plans for incorporating SCHOENE into ESPN's fantasy content, but I wouldn't count on a spreadsheet.

Alex (Los Angeles)

By WARP, Minnesota is a better front court (Love, Pek, Bud) (22.8) than PDX's top 4 (22.6) - Minny doesn't even get honorable mention in Doolittle's rankings. What gives?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:27 PM)

Even though they're both using WARP, Bradford's rankings are using his ATH projection instead of my SCHOENE projections that are on the player profiles. I'm not sure without seeing all of his what the discrepancy is here, but it may be the number of games we've predicted for Love, who is the driving force behind that.

metlife (dc)

Why isnt the wnba that popular? The talent is real and the games are very entertaining. Are they not promoting it correctly? Do yoi have any ideas that would make it more popular. Im a hugh fan and it enrages me that we dont get post game playoff interviews and hardly any coverage.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:28 PM)

Unfortunately, there are a lot of fans who simply won't give women basketball the time of day. Since it's been marketed a variety of different ways, I'm not sure that's the explanation. But it's too bad because people are missing out on some great action in the WNBA Playoffs.

Jimbo (Orlando)

As a Magic fan, who should I be more excited about: Oladipo, Vucevic, or Harris?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:29 PM)

Oladipo probably has the most upside and Vucevic the most current value, but I actually think I like Harris the most in terms of future value.

Daniel (Barcelona, but now in Berlin)

Hi Kevin. I have a suggestion for a column: projecting a expansion draft for a new NBA team in Seattle if it was done now. Which players could be selected and how many wins this team could have.About this: what do you think is better for Seattle? Moving a dysfunctional franchise but with some talent, or creating a new franchise without any rotten element but without any talent?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:30 PM)

Personally, I would rather have an expansion franchise simply because it wouldn't mean putting another city and fan base through what we experienced. Strictly from a basketball standpoint, it probably depends on the quality of the front office. If it's a progressive group, I think it might make more sense to start from scratch without any bad contracts weighing the team down.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:31 PM)

I do like the idea of a mock expansion draft. I've toyed with the idea of an "expansion week" looking at the size of the NBA talent pool, the history of expansion and wrapping up with a mock draft.

Felipe (Berkeley CA)

In last week's chat you were asked about a possible Joel Anthony trade for the Heat, and your answer was that it depends on what the Heat would be willing to give up. Does a first round pick sweetens that deal enough for a bad team to pull the trigger? Does it make sense for Miami to give away a first rounder to get rid of Anthony's contract (I think it does)? What team would do this trade with the Heat?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:33 PM)

Would a first-round pick be enough? Maybe. Because Anthony still has two years left on his contract, it would have to be to a team that doesn't plan to use all its cap space next summer, and Philadelphia is the obvious candidate. Does it make sense for the Heat? I think that depends primarily on how desperate Micky Arison is to cut his tax bill. From a basketball standpoint, there is a tiny bit of a risk if Greg Oden is unable to get on the court this season and the Heat needs Anthony as insurance for an injury up front.

Felipe (Berkeley CA)

In last week's chat you mentioned that the Clippers could be the front runners to land Gortat. I assume that this trade would involve DeAndre Jordan. Would it make sense for the Clippers to trade Jordan for Nene instead?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:34 PM)

I think Gortat is probably a better fit because of his length in the paint and Nene's ongoing issues with plantar fasciitis.

Ron (Denver)

The descriptions of Denver's players defensive failings seem to indicate that they'll be considerably worse than their PER would indicate. Thoughts?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:35 PM)

I would agree. The Nuggets were solid defensively last year, but the biggest reason was Andre Iguodala, who is gone. So I think this will look more like the 2011-12 team, and possibly worse defensively than that group.

Jay (MN)

Minnesota's season is off the another great start. Chase Budinger has another knee injury and is going to see Dr. Andrews. Here we go again...

Kevin Pelton
  (1:36 PM)

Yeah, that's brutal news right before training camp. With Kevin Martin as another shooter and Corey Brewer battling him for minutes, Budinger wouldn't be as big of a loss this season as last, but this is not a great start in terms of improved health this year.

Charles (San Jose)

But why would the Suns want to take on DeAndre Jordan's contract if Len looks like the real deal?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:38 PM)

That's a pretty big if.

Rich (Bellevue)

Curious if Vancouver is a possible expansion destination, after Seattle? I sure loved having the Portland, Seattle, Vancouver teams.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:39 PM)

They would surely be part of the discussion if the NBA elected to add two franchises in the event of expansion. The success of the MLS in the Northwest has shown how potent the I-5 rivalry can be when given time to flourish. The Grizzlies were never good enough in Vancouver to make it a real rivalry.

Mike (Chicago)

Why are players such as Deng expected to take "hometown discounts"? Does management ever (consciously and deliberately) pay people more than their market value? Classic double standard by owners and management.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:41 PM)

Do they ever? I would say yes. I'm not sure San Antonio had to pay Manu Ginobili quite as much as it did this summer, for example. But I think the big difference in fans' eyes is a player taking a hometown discount helps the team win, and a team giving a hometown bonus to an aging veteran does the opposite.

Andrew (Boulder)

Simple question: Assume full health for Miami's big 3 in June. Do they win the title?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:41 PM)

I'd put it this way: I don't think one of the three necessarily has to be at less than full health for the Heat to lose this year.

steve(bugysgod) (battle creek, mi)

Wow, Cousins even with the "knucklehead" gets max contract. So I would assume G. Money Monroe is getting max contract?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:42 PM)

I wouldn't necessarily assume that, but I would assume Monroe's agent has already made that point to Joe Dumars.

Devin (Indy)

Pelton this is a college question for you since used to work a Prospectus, you're competent w #'s/stats, and I haven't seen Gasaway doing any chats for ESPN yet. Does anybody do advanced stats like PER or WARP (only for college games) projections? Does/will ESPN do it? Is there anyone on the web or is there a magazine that does it? I know Ken Pom does player stats but I don't think he does projections. Thanks again, love your chats

Kevin Pelton
  (1:43 PM)

For whatever reason, in general there's less interest in all-in-one player ratings among college analysts than at the NBA level. Since PER/WARP-type stats aren't really valued much, there aren't projections for them. But Dan Hanner, whose projections will be on Insider, is projecting offensive ratings for individual players as part of his team projections this year.

mark (manila)

do you think the Nets have the tools for a top 10 defense this year?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:44 PM)

SCHOENE projects them at the edge of the top 10. I think the biggest factor in their eventual ranking will be how much KG can/will play. They should be pretty good defensively with him on the floor. You and I and two guys from this chat could be decent defensively with KG on the floor. Speaking of which ...

James (Colorado)

I don't disagree that George a better perimeter defender than Hayward. That said, how strongly does having Hibbert vs. Jefferson factor in your view (generally speaking, not just comparing George/Hayward)? Seems that strong interior defenders would help their wings look good.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:45 PM)

I think it's important to remember that this goes both ways. If Hibbert was constantly facing players who drove against him, foul trouble would be a much greater issue than it is now. It's interesting to note that Frank Vogel, who has a pretty important perspective on the issue, thought George and not Hibbert was more important to the Pacers' defense last year, at least during the regular season.

Brandon (Phoenix, AZ)

Geez not this Paul George/Gordon Hayward argument. How long has this been doing on for?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:46 PM)

How long have I been doing these chats?

Ryan (Dallas)

Do you feel James Harden is Better than D Wade?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:46 PM)

I do!

Matt (IL)

As far as Usage Rate, what determines if a player 'uses' a possession? Touching the ball? Taking a shot? Something else?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:47 PM)

It's ending a possession (actually a "play" since an offensive rebound starts a new "play" but not a new possession). So that means either taking a shot, going to the free throw line or turning the ball over.

Sean (Lansing)

Which would have a bigger impact: Andre Drummond developing one reliable post move or Andre Drummond upping his FT% to 50%?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:48 PM)

Definitely FT%. It's the biggest potential obstacle to his superstardom.

Erich (sf)

Hey kevin, Do you think we see Klay Thompson expand his game this year? Otherwise, does he not start to look like a better version of 3/D guy like Brandon Rush?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:49 PM)

I don't know about "start" since that was sort of the expectation when he was drafted. But it seems like it's going to be even more difficult for him to spend a lot of time creating with Andre Iguodala likely replacing Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup. That makes Thompson the Warriors' third-best ballhandler/playmaker/creator. So that opportunity would mostly seem to come if/when he's teamed with Douglas and Barnes on the perimeter.

Sunil (NYC)

it seems the pairing a superstar with another superstar strategy has caught on. What would it take for Houston to get Ryan Anderson? is he the ideal? can you think of the slightly poorer mans ryan anderson? and dont give me the homelessman's ryan, BJ mullens

Kevin Pelton
  (1:51 PM)

The slightly poorer man's Ryan Anderson would have to be Ersan Ilyasova. After that I think there's a pretty big dropoff. Not sure who's next in that tier ... Teletovic? Copeland?

Seth (SF)

Do WARP and win % include defense? Just steals and blocks, or "advanced" stats too?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:52 PM)

There's also rebounds, fouls and a team defensive factor. It's explained here: http://sonicscentral.com/warp.html

Patrick (Florida)

With the rise of younger analytics oriented team presidents and GMs around the league is their still/will there still be an arbitrage to be exploited when acquiring undervalued players already in the League? Or will we continue to see more of an emphasis placed on international talent (e.g. chris copeland, alexy shved, et al.) evaluation as we come to understand the context of output a bit more?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:55 PM)

I would say some teams are always going to be smarter than others. In baseball, for example, basically everyone uses analytics to some extent or another, but there are still clear differences across front offices. So I don't think that will ever totally go away.

Kevin Pelton
  (1:56 PM)

I do think we may see more emphasis on international free agents as part of a better understanding of replacement level and its importance. Copeland is a great example of why it's better to take a shot on an international player (even though, you know, he's American) rather than a player who's a proven NBA mediocrity.

Anish S. (Princeton, NJ)

Is it true that Pau Gasol doesn't shower from March until the Lakers are eliminated?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:57 PM)

Maybe?

Tom (Chicago)

According to your explanation, do you think trading Joakim Noah to the Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony would've made the Bulls better?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:58 PM)

I'm assuming this is going back to the top-10 players discussion? Basically what you have in those two players is the extreme of both archetypes: Noah is one of the most valuable low-usage players in the league and Anthony is one of the least valuable great scorers in the league. I somehow feel you'd make both teams worse by switching them.

Devin (Indy)

So I'm still a little confused after reading the 8 pt 9s article. Should I be rooting for PG to not be all-NBA this regualr season to avoid the 25% to 30% increase in his salary which affects the team cap?

Kevin Pelton
  (1:59 PM)

It's a weird situation. I think you're hoping for him the be the top "also receiving votes" guy after the All-NBA Teams? That 5% will make a considerable difference to the Pacers' standing vis-a-vis the luxury tax going forward.

rick (exton, pa)

Who would be the best big man to pair with Cousins? It seems like Cousins closest comp right now is Al jefferson so a big man like Taj Gibson or Nerlens Noel or Thad Young?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:01 PM)

There are two schools of thought here, as Zach Lowe wrote about a few weeks ago: Pair Cousins with a floor spacer or pair him with a shot blocker (his apparent preference). The ideal, obviously, would be to pair him with somebody who does *both* (Kevin Garnett, for example, would be perfect), but those players are extremely rare and valuable. I think, given how bad the Sacramento defense has been, the shot-blocking aspect is probably slightly more important than the floor spacing one.

Bill (Europe)

What about Channing Frye as the 'poor mans' Ryan Anderson? If he's healthy again he's much better than Copeland or Teletovic. I think he can really help some contending teams.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:02 PM)

Good call, if healthy. I still don't have a good feel for exactly what's going on with him and the Suns right now.

Tim (AZ)

Wade has 3 and Harden has ZERO. Did Harden even play in one? Can't remeber if he was there with the Thunder! It's like comparing Duncan to Howard.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:04 PM)

The question is who's better now, and Wade's past accomplishments aren't necessarily relevant to that question because he's a different player now.

Adam (Boston)

In your opinion which is a more likely predictor of success in the NBA: success in college or success in an international league?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:05 PM)

I'd say international league, but sometimes the non-basketball adjustment affects that for international players as opposed to Americans playing overseas.

Adam (Boston)

More likely to have an all star level season: Gordon Hayward, Ersan Ilyasova or Andre Drummond?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:06 PM)

Drummond, although, believe it or not, the depth of centers in the East (Hibbert, Noah, Chandler, Lopez, maybe Bosh) would make it difficult for him to actually make the game. Who would have imagined that 10 years ago?

Adrian (Canada)

Has the CBA destroyed the market for veteran rotation guys? It seems that there's always 8th-9th man available at around league min -- guys like Birdman, DHarris, WorldPeace, Mike Miller, DBlair, Jamison this offseason. Contending teams now basically expect to spend on 3 or 4 big salaries and fill out the rest of the roster with cheap labor (look at how many contenders didn't even spend their mid-level) Why anyone would spend big money on someone like Pachulia is unfathomable.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:07 PM)

I dunno. I think a lot of that is the function of the amnesty clause -- three of those six guys fall under that, and there have always been veterans like Jamison available. Where the comparison to Pachulia breaks down is those guys mostly aren't available to Milwaukee at the same price as they are to contenders.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:07 PM)

Which is not to say I like the Pachulia contract, because I don't.

Lorne (Canada)

PER question. I know that an "average player's" PER is 15 - is that the mean or the median ? If it's the mean, what's the PER of the median playter (or vice versa if it's the average).

Kevin Pelton
  (2:09 PM)

It's the mean. The league as a whole has a 15 PER the way it's set up (or, in my case, a .500 win percentage). The median win% is about .450, which would translate to a 13.5 PER.

Adam (Boston)

What do think the effect all of the Synergy cameras will have for: stat heads, front offices, fans?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:10 PM)

It's easiest to answer this for front offices, because we know they will have complete access to the data. It will help them understand the parts of the game that aren't tracked in the box score. We can quantify the "what" of these factors to some extent with plus-minus data, but the "why" has always been trickier, and SportVU will help answer those questions and give more precise ability to rate skills like off-ball movement or pick-and-roll defense.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:11 PM)

How much of that trickles down to statheads and fans is unclear at this point and will probably be up to the league. MLB has gone with a very open model for pitchF/X and other data, whereas the access to SportVU has been largely limited to academic studies and the occasional report for the benefit of analytical writers.

fan (denver)

Could you and Doolittle stop using the generic WARP to describe the results your two different systems? It gets confusing. Maybe call them Warped (WARP-D) and Warpy (WARP-P).

Kevin Pelton
  (2:12 PM)

Well, the thing is the underlying WARP concept is the same. I also generate a PPG and he could as well and it would still be PPG for both systems. Does that make sense?

rick (exton, pa)

What is the incentive to keep Thad Young around?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:13 PM)

He's a good enough player, and young enough, to potentially be part of the next contending Sixers team. I don't think there's a need to sell off everyone.

a.j. (dallas)

you mentioned Ilyasova as the next tier below Ryan Anderson. Would an Asik and Motiejunas for Ilyasova and Udoh trade fit well for both teams?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:13 PM)

I think you'd probably have to do some kind of a three-team deal since Asik isn't as valuable to a team that already has Larry Sanders.

Charles (San Jose)

How many foreign leagues other than the ACB are better than the D League?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:15 PM)

The difference between the D-League and EuroCup/Euroleague isn't immense, so it might not be any. To really analyze it I'd need to do cross-league translations that don't just look at guys going to the NBA and back, since that happens relatively rarely from domestic leagues besides the ACB.

rick (exton, pa)

How much more valuable would a guy like Rasheed Wallace be in todays game with the increased emphasis on spacing and defending pick and roll?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:16 PM)

I think he's one of the more underrated players in NBA history for this reason. He's another guy who fits in the archetype I just mentioned of defensive anchor + floor spacer. And these things were extremely important before (especially after the 2004 rules re-interpretations); it just took us a while to recognize the value.

fan (denver)

Your WARP projections have the Nuggets winning 50 games and the Warriors 40. The summer forecast has the Warriors winning 50 and the Nuggets 43. Do you believe in the numbers or do you think the crowd has a better prediction?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:18 PM)

My projections for teams aren't based simply on totaling the WARP. Those have a tendency to to underrate defensive-minded teams and overrate offensive ones, a group that as mentioned earlier includes the Nuggets. So hold off until the team projections come out with next month's team previews.

Chris (Kingston)

In terms of pizza, is pepperoni replacement level? Where would Hawaiian fit?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:19 PM)

If we're looking strictly at toppings I think we have to consider cheese replacement level and anything added has to be better than that, right?

Tim (AZ)

In 2014, I take Wade all day long to win a title over Harden. Wade is who is better NOW.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:19 PM)

And I disagree.

Erik (Durham, NC)

I'm assuming the ESPN Forecast for team wins is an average of the 215 responses it got. Has anyone looked at those projections in ways other than a simple average? I'm particularly interested in the spread (or range) of wins projected for each team.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:20 PM)

That would be an interesting way to estimate the potential variability. Can't say I've seen anyone do it, however.

rick (exton, pa)

So is Serge Ibaka the closest guy we have in todays game to Rasheed Wallace not counting Garnett since he is so close to retiring?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:21 PM)

He's probably the head of the class. You could put Bosh and Aldridge in that group as well.

Brad (AL)

Does Shawn Kemp belong in the HOF?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:22 PM)

Probably not, but he's closer than most people think.

Brian (NJ)

Hey Kevin, love the chats. What do you make of the Front Office shakeup for the Knicks? My fellow Knick fans are going nuts, mostly due to the Knicks bringing anything associated with the Isiah era back, but I have heard Mills is respected around the league.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:23 PM)

Lots of people asking, and honestly, I dunno. Steve Mills doesn't have a basketball background, so the question is whether he will actually have a say there or existing non-Grunwald executives like Allan Houston and Mark Warkentien will really be running the show.

fan (denver)

I get what you are saying about WARP just being the output of the system, but in Baseball they designate the system too, and it is nice. You have rWAR, bWAR, and fWAR, for example, so you can immediately tell what system produced the stat.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:24 PM)

I think that's possible when NBA fans are more familiar with the concept of WARP in general. For now, I think it's probably more important that we do a good job explaining the genesis of the projection in the text.

Brian (NJ)

I'm not totally sure why, but the WNBA doesn't draw me in . I watch other womens sports (tennis and soccer in particular), so I'm not exactly sure what it is. Maybe its the below the rim play? This might be an intersting one to open up to the rest of the chat.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:25 PM)

There have been a couple of responses like this. Personally, it doesn't bother me, and I think the notion of lowering the rim is abhorrent. I think part of the issue is whether you're able to view women's basketball in its own terms or are comparing it to the men's game. And some people understandably can't get away from that comparison.

Devin (Indy)

Still waiting for you to create that "insta-answer" link for every Paul George/Gordon Hayward question...

Kevin Pelton
  (2:26 PM)

It's in the FAQ: http://sonicscentral.com/chatfaq.html

Matt (DC)

I know people find this taboo, buit if the WNBA lowered the rim to foster more above the rim action, I'd be more intrigued.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:27 PM)

To me it would be saying women's basketball is lesser and would cheapen the game. One of the nice things about basketball to me is how relatively constant the general setup is regardless of age/gender.

Drom John (Macon, GA)

1977-1978 Washington Bullets, led (IMO) by the defense first Wes Unseld, had Elvin Hayes 20th in WS. They beat the SuperSonics with Marvin Webster as the top player, 17th in WS, and only . Is this the counter argument to needing a top 10 and a top 20 player. Disclaimer: Bullets were 3rd seed in the east and SuperSonics were 4th seed in the west.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:28 PM)

If you have to go back 35 years to find it, it's probably not a great counterargument!

Kevin Pelton
  (2:29 PM)

But yes, the '78 Bullets/'79 Sonics are the outliers along with potentially the '04 Pistons depending on how highly you rate Ben Wallace. They also came from an unusual era where the league had abnormal parity after the merger (and Bill Walton's injury). Then Magic and Larry came in and the rest is history.

Chris (LA)

Why are Bogut's and Harrison Barnes' projeceted WARPs so low? Bogut, if you prorated his WARP over 82 games, would be around 2.5 . Do you really think Al Horford will have 3-4 times the impact that Bogut will? And Barnes will hurt his team that much? I get the knock on his middling efficiency and other peripheral stats, but -0.7 WARP sounds more like Michael Beasley. It seems like WARP doesn't really seem to take defense into consideration at all.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:31 PM)

Like all box-score stats, it's limited in terms of valuing defense to what's in the box score. Barnes has rated so poorly historically in part because he comes up with few steals and blocks by comparison to small forwards. But Bogut's defensive rating is perfectly good; he's just been a poor offensive player when he's been on the floor the last few seasons aside from the 2013 playoffs.

Daniel (DC)

Kevin, do you think DWade is a top 3 shooting guard of all time? even ahead of Jerry West (Since he only won once)? Obviously behind Kobe and MJ... If the Heat threepeat, would wade then become top 3, or is he already there?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:32 PM)

I don't think I would put him ahead of Jerry West, although that's a gut feeling and not based on any close reading of the limited numbers we have for West.

Damon (Merced, CA)

It's not that the women's game is worse or more boring per se, it's that it represents a paradigm shift for the average NBA fan. So much of the WNBA is below-the-rim, fundamentally sound, and slower than what is anticipated/standard for the NBA. Again, not worse, just different. Thoughts?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:33 PM)

Yeah, and that's why I think you have to think of it as its own thing.

Dan (WI)

Volleyball has different net heights for men and women and I don't think it cheapens the women's version at all. I think the women's volleyball is more entertaining than men's. For basketball, people just need to watch the Lynx more. They're plenty entertaining as it is.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:33 PM)

Agreed on the Lynx.

Matt (DC)

How does that fly? By saying that you say women's tennis is cheapened compared to men's because in Majors they play best of 3 and not 5, and Women's Lacross is cheaper because they don't allow the checking and don't wear the face masks.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:34 PM)

It's hard for me to really evaluate that because I'm not a tennis fan, but I think part of what feels cheap about it to me is that it's a change once the game is already established as opposed to something that occurred during its development.

Chris (LA)

Just curious, how does WARP take into consideration defense? Is it somewhat similar to PER in that way?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:36 PM)

You can check out the explanation linked above, but there are some differences. PER does not include any adjustment for team defense, while WARP gives partial credit. (By contrast, Win Shares on Basketball-Reference.com award full credit for team defense.) Also by calculating separate offensive and defensive ratings, WARP puts more value on the defensive stats that are tracked in the box score than PER does.

Brandon (Phoenix, AZ)

How much money does the WNBA cost the NBA each year?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:37 PM)

It's a drop in the bucket in terms of the NBA's expenses.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:38 PM)

My column on this week's Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins extensions is now up: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9731644/nba-max-deal-demarcus-cousins-makes-little-sense ($)

Tim (Cali)

Are there any statistics on injury types for NBA players (e.g. ACL, or otherwise) in terms of # of players/year or %'s and recovery (how long, etc.)? I'm wondering if there is a specific injury-adjustment that can be made to WARP/PER (or if there already is one)?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:39 PM)

I included an adjustment for players coming back from ACL ruptures as part of this year's SCHOENE based on the research I did here: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/PerDiem-130327/nba-happens-derrick-rose-returns

Marc / Desperate NY fans (NY)

Can Bargnani play 3? He plays like one anyway. And he has a decent handle, decent passer, etc. It's a pet peeve of mine: just because a dude is tall doesn't mean he's a "Big" Maybe he's Toni Kukoc. Isn't that the best solution for NY?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:40 PM)

When he plays with Carmelo Anthony, it won't really matter so much which of them is nominally the three and which is the four. And I think we'll see a lot of that.

Devin (Indy)

Pelton what would be your nickname if you played for the Nets or Heat? Please don't say "He Hate Me"

Kevin Pelton
  (2:40 PM)

KP2.

Josh (Sacramento)

Cousins gets paid, but not the five-year designation. Is this Sacramento trying to protect itself or Cousins knowing he may be able to cash in a year sooner this way?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:41 PM)

I'm guessing the Kings protecting themselves and hoping that McLemore may eventually be worth the designated player spot.

JJ (Duluth,GA)

Who is better right now? Kyrie or Steph?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:42 PM)

Steph.

Matt (DC)

In your hypothetical world where Vancouver and Seattle become expansion NBA teams, which team would make the subsequent move East? I guess Memphis makes the most sense logistically.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:43 PM)

Minnesota would move, because the Timberwolves are much closer to East teams than they are to anyone in the West. Memphis at least has regional West opponents in Texas and OKC.

Brandon (Phoenix, AZ)

Do you tend to think Hibbert this season will play more towards the tail end of the regular season/playoffs or back to how he was in the beginning?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:43 PM)

Somewhere in between. I think his wrist injury was a major factor in how poorly he shot the ball early in the season, but he's not quite as dominant as he looked in the playoffs.

Sean (Newcastle U.K)

What's your take on the idea of moving the 3 point line further out? I think it could be pretty interesting on the defensive end. Harder to pack the paint, help and recover etc. Worth a debate no?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:44 PM)

3-point attempts keep rising inexorably, a trend that may get even steeper as teams recognize their value. So at some point we may have to do something, although it would be difficult in the corners.

Chris (UT)

It amazes me how far Utah fell in the ESPN Future Power Rankings after Utah fully embraced the future. Do you feel that ranking Utah 14th was appropriate?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:45 PM)

What you have to keep in mind is the Future Power Rankings are "Who will win the most games over the next three seasons" rather than "Who will be the best team in three seasons." So by reducing their win total this year substantially, the Jazz drop even though they score better on the second question. Does that make sense?

Ryan (Dallas)

Pelton I personally feel that teams are striving to lock players into contracts because of the salary cap space the Lakers have this summer and the 1st round draft pic. It seems they rather get done early than watch the Lakers persuade there franchise player away. Any thoughts??

Kevin Pelton
  (2:46 PM)

The players who are signing extensions right now would be restricted free agents next summer, so their teams could simply have matched any offer made by the Lakers.

david (Toledo)

Kevin, what is your favorite statistic to track shooting? eFG? TS?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:47 PM)

Depends on the context. If we're talking specifically about shooting, eFG% is better. But if we're talking about scoring, TS% is superior.

Patrick (Florida)

What advice would you give to someone pursuing a career as a professional evaluator of basketball talent?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:49 PM)

It's an extremely difficult field to break into, so be sure to know that. It's easier to go the analytics route, since it's possible to demonstrate your skills online and teams are often looking for help in that area. As far as traditional scouting, if you don't have a playing background your best chance is probably finding some kind of an in -- a veteran scout who can mentor you and help you get started.

Darryl (Buffalo, NY)

With Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry at our core, can the Raptors get to the playoffs?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:49 PM)

Sure!

Tom (Chicago)

Is that why you don't mind the smaller basketball for WNBA, because the WNBA developed itself using that type of ball?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:50 PM)

It's also not really a noticeable difference unless you're actually playing with one yourself. And even then I adapt pretty easily.

Jordan (NYC)

To your point about Rasheed Wallace being under-rated. I think his temper gets in the way for some people, but it'd be a mistake to let that get in the way of recognizing his contributions and his basketball intelligence, which is also under-rated. I hope I'm not one the few who thinks he'll make a great contribution as a coach....

Kevin Pelton
  (2:52 PM)

Usually I find players who pick up a lot of technicals fairly abhorrent. It bugs me when players get distracted by officiating. But in Sheed's case the Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac found evidence he actually played better after getting T'd up!

Jeff (SLC)

Cousins getting paid more than Horford, Noah and Love? Would you have paid that man that kind of money?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:53 PM)

No, but I don't think Horford and Noah set the market. Those deals were signed in part out of fear of an onerous CBA that never really materialized and are good ones for their team rather than players making more being bad ones.

Charles (San Jose)

Should the NBA be subsidizing a league that can't stand on its own financially? The WNBA has had almost two decades to find a way to break even.

Kevin Pelton
  (2:54 PM)

The D-League would also qualify under that ...

Tom (Chicago)

How many wins would a team of replacement level players achieve according to WARP? i.e. if there is a team of 15 players with a WARP = 0. What is the expected win total. It doesn't seem very reasonable to say that they would win 0, so I am wondering what the offset is

Kevin Pelton
  (2:54 PM)

The system is designed so replacement level is 10 wins.

Gary (Minneapolis)

Is Alexey Shved due for a breakout year or another year as an average 6th man?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:55 PM)

Depending what happens with Budinger's knee, I can't see him getting nearly enough minutes to be a sixth man. He seems to be 11th in the rotation when healthy.

Adam (Boston)

taking the over or under on Technicals Sheed gets as an asst coach if the line is at 1.5?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:55 PM)

Over for sure.

AJ (MI)

lowering the rim in the WNBA follows the same logic as using a smaller ball, does it not?

Kevin Pelton
  (2:58 PM)

C'mon, this is a bigger change. We're talking about having to have adjustable heights for every basket at basically every court in the country, not to mention that women couldn't properly practice shooting by going to the park. This would be a big deal, and it would not outweigh the benefits of WNBA players dunking.

Jeff (SLC)

How important is tempo? Jeff Hornecek said that he wants to get a shot up in 7 seconds in to the shot clock. The knicks Golden State get a lot of shots up. Do you see this as a trend going forward, similar to the NFL and their attempts at pace?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:00 PM)

Not really. I don't think it conveys as many benefits in basketball, and I think its magnitude is overrated in football.

Ryan (Utah)

How does the Cosuin's max deal(and to a lesser extent George's) affect the Jazz's negotiations with Favors and Hayward?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:01 PM)

Could have an effect on Favors by setting a high market for big men with as yet unrealized potential (for entirely different reasons, certainly). But I don't see either affecting Hayward; his market has been set in the past by players like Nic Batum and Danilo Gallinari.

Demonta (NC)

Do you think the Cavs have a chance to get Leborn back after this year?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:01 PM)

It's the "a chance" rule: Sure! But I wouldn't count on it.

matt (brooklyn)

are the Knicks the favorite in the east, I feel like we are with melo and our good guards

Kevin Pelton
  (3:02 PM)

Yeah, no.

Aaron (Duluth, MN)

Who starts at the 3 for the Wolves this year? Muhammad, Budinger, Williams?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:02 PM)

Right now the smart money would be on Corey Brewer.

Mike (CT)

It's clear by reading your responses that you are not a big Wade fan..I get it..But the constant Wade disrespect is crazy to me..When Harden was 2nd fiddle behind Durant he was not putting the numbers he is now..Wade is playing 2nd fiddle and is averaging only about 3-4 ppg behind Harden when he's the #1 guy for HOU. Wade has a better FG% (about 10% higher), PER,he's a better Defender, Rebounder and passer..One good year shouldnt put Harden ahead, IT'S NOT ENOUGH. Like in boxing you have to go for the Knockout if you're beating the CHAMP.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:03 PM)

It's not boxing?

Jeremy (Chicago)

Stein made the comment in his Power Rankings about the Bulls that Vegas sees them as the 3rd or 4th best chance of winning the title however most every ESPN analyst I've read recently sees them more in the 8th - 12th range. What does Vegas see?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:04 PM)

You'll have to wait for a gambling chat to get that answer. But I would say that A.) 12th is far too low for Chicago and B.) the difference between 3rd or 4th and 8th may not be very noticeable this season.

Marc (Sacramento, Home of the Kings)

Doesn't it seem like the Kings were able to sign Cousins to a relatively reasonable max contract? If he gets his head together and matures into the player he can be, it seems like a bargin contract. If he still can't get it and remains a talents knucklhead, the contract isn't so bad for a team to absord and take a risk on.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:06 PM)

What makes it more reasonable than another max contract? Simply not giving the fifth year?

Tom (Chicago)

What team do you think would win a 7 game series: Team A: A line-up of 2 superstars and 3 bench warmers VS.Team B: A line-up of 5 all-stars?

Kevin Pelton
  (3:07 PM)

Five All-Stars are probably going to be tough to beat, though it would depend on who they are and who the superstars are.

Greg (Minneapolis)

How many average or better defenders do the Wolves have (Rubio, Brewer, DC, Pek, Turiaf, Dieng)? I just wonder why some assume they'll be awful, though I doubt they're top 15 either.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:08 PM)

Problem is that of the six guys you listed three will be on the floor together at most nearly all the time. But I don't think they'll be *awful* defensively, just worse than last season.

Tom (Chicago)

A problem I have with advanced statistics is that many public figures don't acknowledge the variance that occurs in statistics. Two players of equal talent and skill will most likely not have the same WARP, PER, Adjusted +/- etc. just like two coins being flipped 10,000 times will most likely not land heads an equal number of times.Couldn't we classify tiers for players rather than rankings? I feel like it would be more accurate to what the statistics are achieving.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:10 PM)

Sure. I mean that's true independent of statistical analysis; for example, it's the way I approached NBArank as opposed to the inconceivable task of individually ranking players 1 through 500.

Kevin Pelton
  (3:12 PM)

Alright, everyone, I think I'm going to call it a day. Keep checking out the Insider Player Profiles and I'll see you next week when we'll be on the verge of preseason hoops.