New Season, New Trends: What Have We Learned?

New Season, New Trends: What Have We Learned?

We are now over 1.5 months into the NBA season, and it has been an incredible one  Each team in the league is between 24 and 29 games into their season.  Now, 29 games do not allow for definitive conclusions.  Some teams take longer to come together, others fizzle, and a few more make roster changes that affect performance.  Nevertheless, we have seen enough of the NBA this year to make some observations that will likely hold.  Here are three observations in the earlygoing   Kevin Durant made the right decision We seem to go through this every time a superstar makes a big free agency decision to leave the team that drafted him.  The player is judged, lambasted, and accused of making a bad decision for his legacy.  Nevertheless, LeBron James’ career outcome should be reinforcement that when push comes to shove, players will be judged not for unpopular free agency choices, but by a combination of hardware and stellar individual play: the more of each, the merrier. With an stellar 113.5 offensive rating, and a top seven defense, the Warriors start has been excellent; the adjustment period to integrate Durant was short.  The new death lineup has an unconscious 123.2 offensive rating and 96.3 defensive rating, and is just crushing opposing teams. To anyone who understands how and why the Warriors rose before Durant, his successful integration is no surprise.  After surging to become a mid tier playoff team in 2013 at 47 wins and a second round exit, the Warriors, stifled by Mark Jackson’s limited ceiling isolation offense, plateaud in 2014 at 51 wins and a...
The Plight of the Magic: Do Some Teams Stay With Their Young Core For Too Long?

The Plight of the Magic: Do Some Teams Stay With Their Young Core For Too Long?

August 11, 2012.  That was a long time ago, right? That was the day the Orlando Magic, after upwards of one year of drama, traded Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers.  The take at the time: Nikola Vucevic, Arron Afflalo, Moe Harkless, Josh McRoberts, Al Harrington, and Christian Eyenga.  The Magic also received a first round pick that ultimately became Elfrid Payton, a second round pick that became Romero Osby, and a $17.8 trade exception that expired, unused.  Fast forward from there: Afflalo was traded for Evan Fournier and Devyn Marble, and McRoberts, Harrington, Eyenga, and Osby were shuffled off the roster for various reasons, leaving Vucevic, Fournier, Harkless, Payton, and Marble the take from the trade, essentially. From there, the Magic did what we say every franchise is supposed to do to build a winner: they patiently worked through the draft, trade market, and scrap heap market to build a young core.  Over the years, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, Mario Hezonja, and Andrew Nicholson were added through the draft; JJ Redick was shipped to import a young Tobias Harris; and Dewayne Dedmon was a free agent find on the cheap. The Magic were not impulsive, and always kept the future vision in mind as opposed to gunning for the short term (until the 2016 deadline: more on that later).  They did not seek the big “ticket sale” move in lieu of patient building.  And, it is easy to forget now, but the Magic core was one many were found of, in multiple circles.  Rob Hennigan, particularly after the Dwight trade, was praised as a shrewd planner who...
Early Season Review: the Thunder, Hawks, and Timberwolves

Early Season Review: the Thunder, Hawks, and Timberwolves

We are nearly two weeks into the NBA season, and it is shaping up to be an entertaining one.  Everyone but the Sixers, Mavericks, and Pelicans has put one win in the books, while the Cavs are the only team to not yet feel the agony of defeat. In a word of caution about all 30 teams, it is simply too early in the year to form drastic conclusions that any team will be substantially better or worse than everyone thought during the preseason.  Strong or weak starts may be blips on the radar.  First, teams play through hot and cold streaks throughout the year, and the beginning of the season is no different.  A team that started better or worse than expected may simply be on a hot or cold streak.  Second, as teams play more games, differences in strength of schedule inevitably become less significant.  Some teams are benefiting at this stage, more than others, from a soft opening schedule. Third, multiple teams will be better or worse than we thought to enter the season.  That is simply inevitable.  As a result, it is difficult, at this juncture, to assess the quality of teams’ wins, or how bad their losses are. Nevertheless, the young season has provided some trends to monitor, and allows for appropriate evaluation of several teams as they compete for a championship, or a playoff berth. Three teams to keep an eye on: the Thunder, Hawks, and Timberwolves. Prediction: The Thunder will not be the contender their 5-1 start would have you believe             Everyone wants the Thunder to succeed in 2016-2017.  Whenever superstars...
The NBA does not have a big market problem

The NBA does not have a big market problem

It was July 2011. NBA fans were anxious. Will we see any basketball next year? Will we get to enjoy this beautiful sport, this sport that we all wait for every summer. The answer was obviously no, at least not until Christmas. The NBA locked out, as the owners and players failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement. The league, fresh off LeBron James joining the Miami Heat, sold to fans two primary reasons for which the lockout — and all the resulting lost jobs and lost economic benefits basketball teams provide — was necessary. Reason #1: the league was not making enough money, and did need players to give a chunk of basketball related income back to rectify this. Reason #2: the league needed to restore competitive balance so that all 30 teams could compete if well managed. The reality: reason #2 was nothing more than spin, to convince fans and those whose jobs were lost that the lockout was worth it to them. All the NBA truly cared about was reason #1: the lockout’s purpose was to make more money. Sadly for NBA fans, the NBA is publicly sewing the seeds to repeat history and justify another lockout to its fans. Except, the NBA is too smart to come out and say, in light of the billions it is receiving in the new TV deal, that a lockout is a financial necessity. So instead, the NBA wants to pitch a need for “competitive balance,” by getting people to play into their fears that their teams cannot compete due to flaws in the system. And so Adam Silver spoke...
Problem With Free Agent Contracts? Blame the CBA.

Problem With Free Agent Contracts? Blame the CBA.

Kevin Durant is a Golden State Warrior.  He is there on a $26.5 million salary in 2016-2017.  Think about this: with all due respect to their fantastic play, that is the same number at which the Celtics and Grizzlies inked Al Horford and Mike Conley. The NBA has a max contract problem. Regarding salaries themselves, one common theme has emerged early in free agency.  Player salaries, due to the substantial rise in the salary cap, are correspondingly larger than ever before.  Many casual NBA fans, unaware of the reason for these salary increases, have been outraged at the amount of money players have gotten.  Members of the media have taken to respond to fans on the subject, clarifying the reason for the increases and explaining why salaries should not cause fan frustration with players. On the subject, it must be said: unlike many businesses, where the bosses are the brains behind the operation producing revenue, the NBA is unique in that its employees, or players, are its supreme revenue generators . . . and there is an abundance of revenue right now.  With that revenue existing, nobody should have a problem with NBA players being rewarded for that which they generate, through their salaries. Another point justifying what players make is obvious.  If we assumed, hypothetically, that at this moment, NBA owners could cut all player salaries in half, they would.  They would then place the recovered money in their pockets.  The money would not go back to fans, to charities, the homeless, or any other noble cause.  Should more money be skimmed from basketball related revenue, away from...
Hoopscritic Free Agency Round table

Hoopscritic Free Agency Round table

  Where will Kevin Durant take his talents this offseason? Where should Kevin Durant take his talents this offseason? Brian Geltzeiler Durant will stay right where he is in OKC.  The financial benefits are too great and OKC represents his best chance to win a title next season.  He’ll sign a 2 year deal with a one year opt out so he can be a free agent with 10 years of service time and get a max contract in the summer of 17 at 35% of a much higher cap…. Oliver Maroney I think he just wants to go through the process. Players like to be wanted and I don’t think Durant is much different from other players in that regard. I think he knows where he wants to be, but wants to be “sure” of it. Similar to car shopping, you go in knowing what you’d like but want to test drive the options, just to know that you’re not “‘missing out”. 1B. I think it would be wise of Durant to stay for a one year deal, with another year as a player option. Not only will this allow him the freedom, but will ensure he doesn’t get stuck if Westbrook were to leave. Kevin Durant will become this generations’ Kobe Bryant if he were to stay with one team his entire career. Will he? I don’t know. But he’s got a top-five player to play alongside, a coach that was in his first NBA season, and a city that he completely immersed himself in. Based on the options and what’s available, I don’t see much of...