Offseason Outlook: Philadelphia 76ers

Offseason Outlook: Philadelphia 76ers

In less than three weeks, the NBA playoffs will begin in earnest.  When they do, the focus, deservingly so, will be on the league’s playoff teams. However, up to five of those teams will be newcomers to the playoff scene who watched from the lottery last season.  And all playoff teams were once lottery teams themselves. So before we reach the playoffs, where do the league’s lottery teams stand, and what may they look to do this offseason to approach the playoff precipice?  Here’s a look at one of those lottery teams: the Sixers. Philadelphia 76ers Players Under Contract: Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, Richaun Holmes, Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry Free Agents: Robert Covington (Team Option), Jerami Grant (Team Option), Ish Smith, TJ McConnell (Team Option), Hollis Thompson (Team Option), Isaiah Canaan (Restricted), Kendall Marshall (Team Option), Sonny Weems (Team Option), Elton Brand Poised to potentially lose 70 games, the Sixers are not in a position to contend in 2016-2017.  For as important as the NBA Draft is, and as much as we hype high picks, the likelihood of drafting a top tier talent and immediately contending is slim.  Even the Timberwolves, with Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in house, are not close to a playoff team. Still, in hiring Jerry Colangelo to, at most, replace Sam Hinkie, or, at a minimum, work in tandem with him, it appears clear that the Sixers have decided to undertake a strategy shift, and be more aggressive in the free agent market this summer.  The Hinkie led regime would not have dumped a young Christian Wood or second round picks for...
Offseason Outlook: New York Knicks

Offseason Outlook: New York Knicks

In less than three weeks, the NBA playoffs will begin in earnest.  When they do, the focus, deservingly so, will be on the league’s playoff teams. However, up to five of those teams will be newcomers to the playoff scene who watched from the lottery last season.  And all playoff teams were once lottery teams themselves. So before we reach the playoffs, where do the league’s lottery teams stand, and what may they look to do this offseason to approach the playoff precipice?  Here’s a look at three of those lottery teams: the Knicks, Sixers, and Nets. New York Knicks Players Under Contract: Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon, Kyle O’Quinn Free Agents: Langston Galloway (Restricted) Arron Afflalo (Player Option), Lance Thomas, Kevin Seraphin, Derrick Williams (Player Option), Cleanthony Early (Restricted), Louis Amundson, Sasha Vujacic The Knicks face an enormous offseason.  They are currently in a better spot than many feel: a middling team near playoff level, and one that already has a very good lead player, a great young talent, as much as $35 million in cap space depending on player options, and the lure of a fun city to live in.  That is a good place to be, and Phil Jackson, while imperfect does deserve some credit for bringing the Knicks there. Alas, this summer represents a crossroads for the Knicks.  Carmelo will be 32, and Porzingis 21, when next season comes.  Both can form a nice foundation at the moment, but given the age gap, their talents likely will not intersect at a high level for more than 2-3 years.  That means...
Trade Deadline Redux: What Happened, and What Didn’t

Trade Deadline Redux: What Happened, and What Didn’t

The NBA trade deadline came and went.  While some saw it as underwhelming, several significant moves did occur, all of which showed the direction in which multiple teams seem to be headed.  The deadline, by virtue of its relative quiet (no superstars or elite players were moved) also may signal that we have a busy summer ahead.   Here is a look at the trades, and what they mean going forward.   Magic and Pistons Pistons Get: Tobias Harris Magic Get: Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova Why They Did It: For the Pistons, the rationale to this great trade for them is a simple one: if you are building a team, and you can add a core player without subtracting a core player or a noteworthy draft pick, you do it.  The Pistons clearly made their team better with this deal.  Jennings had no real place with the team (was he going to stick around as a change of pace reserve forever), while Ilyasova was in many ways a place holder upon Monroe leaving, playing the four because the Pistons felt he fit their spread the floor vision.  Harris is a way more talented piece to place in his stead. There are other takeaways here involving the Pistons. First, the argument that you cannot rebuild through the middle, despite so many recent contenders proving otherwise (the Rockets before this year; the Pacers before last year, are examples, among others) continues to be exploited by actual evidence that you indeed can.  There is nothing wrong with the middle of the standings, if you have flexibility: because that puts you in...
TRADE DEADLINE ADVICE: CELTICS, CLIPPERS, KINGS, & PELICANS

TRADE DEADLINE ADVICE: CELTICS, CLIPPERS, KINGS, & PELICANS

The best week of the NBA regular season is here – the NBA trade deadline.  History tells us that the deadline may be robust, and full of deals, or paltry, and full of rumors that do not come to fruition.  Regardless, there will be a lot of talk about rumored deals, roster shaping, and ideas teams have to pull of major heists. Inevitably, like any other year, some teams have more assets, and are in a better position to make a big trade than other teams.  However, whenever you have a ton of assets, there is always the danger that you will overpay in a trade,  So here is a word of caution to four teams — the Celtics, Clippers, Kings, and Pelicans — as they mull over their options Boston Celtics: Don’t Trade the Nets’ 2016 First Rounder for Al Horford              Sitting at third place in the East at the moment, excitement is building in Boston.  Their young core is coming together.  Isaiah Thomas was an all-star.  They won on the road in Cleveland, where LeBron’s Cavs are 22-4 on the year (with one of the losses coming to the Warriors).  And with as vulnerable as the East is, you can see reason for optimism. With that has come the idea that the Celtics, owners of Brooklyn’s 2016 first round draft pick (which will likely fall in the top 5), should deal that pick now, to help boost their 2016 run.  That school of thought has led to the belief that the Celtics should take advantage of the Atlanta Hawks’s sudden desire to rebuild, and should trade the...
Ranking all 30 NBA GM’s

Ranking all 30 NBA GM’s

The trade deadline is a few short weeks away.  And whether you’re the Warriors or the Nets, what comes with the trade deadline is an opportunity to make roster changes. Coming into the deadline, which teams are in the best hands as they face future changing decisions? The worst hands?  This article will rank all 30 NBA GM situations. In ranking the GM’s the following factors have been considered: Knowledge of the CBA: The critical nature of this factor is obvious.  Is your GM clearly well versed in the CBA, and is he finding loopholes and creative ways to make the team better? Or is his approach rather vanilla and standard? Talent Evaluation: This is unavoidably a factor.  Some tend to believe it is not fair to judge GM’s on draft hits and misses, but the bottom line is that as a GM it is your job to import good talent. When you choose worse talent over better talent, you have to be judged for that. How Modern Your Approach to the Game is: Is your GM innovative? Is he considering critical, new age metrics (or at least newer metrics, as none of this is brand new) like points per possession, net rating, the ability to shoot the corner 3, and other advanced metrics, or is he building based on the way the NBA was built in 1995. The Ability to Shift Gears: Sometimes the best laid plans go to waste. How good is your GM at shifting gears when a plan does not go well. Is he malleable? Or is he insistent on making things work with the...
Why the Warriors Success Starts With Owner Joe Lacob, and What Other Owners Can Learn

Why the Warriors Success Starts With Owner Joe Lacob, and What Other Owners Can Learn

The Golden State Warriors are continually presented as the team who got lucky. Whether we would like to admit it or not, that idea is a perpetuation of our preconceived notions. The idea exists that championships are won, and dynasties are born, by dominant defenses manned by behemoth bigs, and offenses built around the isolation play of a post player or large transcendent wings. The idea that size matters. The idea that offenses built around tiny guards penetrating into creases and sharing the ball only succeeds in the regular season. The idea, lastly, and the subject of this column, that brash, in your face ownership personalities like Joe Lacob, don’t preside over dynasties. The idea, we have been told, that the best owners are only those owners who remain quiet, in the shadows, as their management teams take all the credit for franchise success. It is true that many hands on, active in the conversation owners have floundered when building NBA teams, sometimes in epic fashion. James Dolan and Mikhail Prokhorov are legendary meddlers, and their constant involvement in their teams’ plans has submarined their respective franchises, at different points in time (Dolan in the early and mid 2000’s, and Prokhorov now). Vivek Ranadive has famously asked his Kings to incorporate tactics from young girls’ recreational basketball (cherrypicking!), demanded who his team draft despite doing a feature on “crowdsourcing” to show the masses the organization’s trust in the analytics process (“Stauskas!”), the firing of Mike Malone, and general dysfunction. Lacob’s success, further, defies the preconceived notions of many. Great owners, we thought, don’t fire their coach, and then embark...
Scott Skiles: The Right Man In Orlando

Scott Skiles: The Right Man In Orlando

Since trading Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic, prior to this season, had largely gone nowhere.  Their record in the three seasons after dealing Dwight: 20-62; 23-59; and 25-57.  Such marginal improvement, for a team so low in the standings, was indicative of a team going in circles, rather than forward.  And the reality with a young team is that you cannot keep it together forever unless you believe it can win, because extension years come eventually, and you cannot pay everyone if you’re not going to win with them. The Magic then made an excellent move to trigger development in their young talent absent prior to this season: they hired Scott Skiles.  And with Skiles and his Magic sitting at 12-10, it is clear that he has caused the roster to turn the corner.  Yet, Skiles has a reputation as a coach who is bad for young players because of his tough personality, and an apparent unwillingness to be patient with young players.  It led to his hire in Orlando being questioned in several circles.  As the school of thought goes, you cannot be too hard on young players, or they will go into their shells rather than developing.  And you should provide young players with 30-35 minutes per game when rebuilding, so that they can develop. The worry was Skiles would fail at both tasks in Orlando. To the contrary, if the goal when heading a young team is to turn young talents into young winners, Skiles has done a splendid job, and he has done so by doing things his way. He has shown that expecting young...
Why We Can’t Send Kobe to Rio

Why We Can’t Send Kobe to Rio

Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players and people to ever play basketball.  I had him ranked 10th all time in our #HCHot50, where we placed him 9th as a group, and I wondered if I placed him too low.  He is way more than just a scorer.  He is a warrior, one of the most fierce competitors the game has known.  5 NBA championships, one NBA MVP, 2 Olympic gold medals, and a consistent place among the game’s top 5 players from 1998-2012.   Nobody has to like Kobe: this is a free country.  But his career is an undoubted raging success, and he should be remembered as such.  The debate about retiring 8 or 24? Retire them both.  Kobe is one of the greatest players I or you will ever see, why think about it.   With all of that said, one thing also is true. Kobe Bryant should not be placed on the United States’ 2016 Olympic basketball team, for multiple reasons.   He is Clearly Not Good Enough At This Point   If the Olympic team is picked based purely on merit, the roster could look, approximately, as follows (note: I am not advocating for this specific 12, just suggesting this 12 could reasonably constitute the roster): -Point Guards: Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook -Wings: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden, Paul George -Bigs: Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Draymond Green, Andre Drummond   It is without argument that, at this moment in time, Kobe is no longer at or near the level of any of these players.  Kobe is shooting approximately...