Welcome to the new look Hoopscritic website and team. To catch everybody up to speed, let’s tell you about what you can look forward to at Hoopscritic for the 2017-2018 NBA season. We will be releasing our thoughts and writings on a simple blog, accompanied by the Hoopscritic Podcast and new video styled blogs and interviews. All of this couldn’t have come at a better time as the NBA saw arguably the single greatest off season ever. Unpredictable, shocking, confusion, passive aggressiveness, the Ball’s, trades, trades and some more trades is the best way to describe the off season. The most shocking thing that no one is really talking about is there were no coaches fired last season!
Did I mention that we will also bring back the Triple Double Tuesday column?! This is the first to kick off the season. This edition will be dedicated to the past offseason. Consider this a little guide to the offseason, in case you boycotted the internet for the summer. I expect to put this out every Thursday, recapping the week’s events and looking at the good, bad and triple doubles of the league all season long.
Three Positive Plays
Carmelo Anthony is no longer a Knick!
Well thank god this experiment is over. This was a tough marriage to watch throughout the seven years that Carmelo spent wearing the blue and orange. Seeing a franchise that continues to think backwards instead of forward almost rob the league of seeing Carmelo play in meaningful games should be a punishable crime. Everyone was punished in this situation except for the front office. Knicks fans were let down by their grandiose expectations when Carmelo came, and for good reason. Carmelo is an excellent scorer in a league that has shifted towards offense. His 24.7 points per game while shooting 47% from the field and 83% from the line with the size and frame that Carmelo has would make any coaches job easier. Not in New York apparently. I don’t want to get this fired up so let’s jump to the good on Carmelo, we will now get to see him play in the playoffs next season alongside two other NBA All Stars in Russell Westbrook and Paul George. The fans and league will be watching to see how these stars align in Oklahoma. Thankfully the season is right around the corner.
Warriors will have competition
I’m well aware I sit in the minority on this take but I do think the Warriors are beatable. This season there are at least 6 title contenders, in my opinion. Let’s get the two Eastern Conference teams who I think can beat the Warriors in a series, The Cavaliers and Celtics. (Side note: Just because I say I think a team can beat the Warriors in a series, doesn’t mean I am predicting this or saying it is a fact, just an opinion on match ups, coaching, depth, etc.). Cleveland has shown the ability already to beat the Warriors (thanks Draymond for kicking everybody in the…). The Celtics have always played the Warriors well. I know, the Celtics only have 4 players from last year’s roster returning. However, having a couple good perimeter defenders is the key to competing with the Warriors. Although Bradley and Crowder are no longer the team, players like Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier (sup Ainge?) and Hayward are skilled perimeter players. In the Western Conference, you always have to put the Spurs up on this list, especially with the addition of Rudy Gay for their bench. The obvious next two teams to complete the list of five teams who can beat the Warriors in a series (but probably won’t) are the Rockets and previously mentioned Thunder. The Rockets have added a future hall of famer in Chris Paul without giving up too much. The addition of PJ Tucker will help the Rockets too, a very underrated acquisition. We’ve already touched on the Thunder so let’s jump to the next positive play.
The NBA is trying to solve tanking
It may be a solution, it might not be. At least it’s trying something new. This fall, the NBA Board of Governors came to an agreement to change the NBA draft lottery odds. In a nutshell, this gives the bottom three teams the same odds to win the first overall pick. Here is the new change via NBA.com:
The new system will level the odds at the top of the NBA Draft Lottery so that the teams with the three worst regular-season records will each have a 14 percent chance of winning the lottery. In the current structure, the top seed has 25 percent of the lottery odds, the second seed has 19.9 percent and the third seed has 15.6 percent.
The odds for the remaining participants in the 14-team lottery will be reduced gradually after the top three. For instance, the difference in lottery odds between the first three seeds (14 percent) and the fourth seed (12.5 percent) will be 1.5 percent. The difference between the fourth seed and the fifth seed (10.5 percent) will be 2 percent, and the difference between the fifth seed and the sixth seed (9 percent) will be 1.5 percent.
Again, this is at least doing something! We will see what the impact is over the next couple of seasons.
Two Negative Plays
The Atlantic Eastern Division Conference
All the stars went West! The smart ones came over to the Eastern Conference for individual accolades and the chance to play the game at the biggest stage (easier playoff route). Seriously, look at all the players who went from East to West in one offseason:
Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Brook Lopez, Paul Millsap
That is a list of 5 players who have decent shots at making the Eastern Conference All Star Team this February if they were still playing in the East. How many from the West came over to the East you ask? One. Gordon Hayward. In fact, play this game with your friends next time everyone is around playing 2k. Try naming the 12 All Star members selected to the All Star Game to represent the East in the draft… wait, let’s jump to my next negative play.
The League messed with the All-Star Game!
If you were paying attention in March during the now famous MIT Sloan conference, commissioner Adam Silver mentioned that the NBA all star game will change by 2018. In his quote, he says “It shouldn’t be playoff intensity, but the guys should be playing.”
We now have the details of the change in the game.
The All Star Game will have two captains being the two top vote getters, one per conference. These two captains will get to draft their team based on the 14 reserves (Voted by the coaches. No change here) and 8 other starters (10 starters voted by the fans, media and players system. No change here). What changes here is that the two captains will can draft from either conference. The only question that I have not seen addressed yet is what happens if one team doesn’t consist of 5 of the top 10 vote getters? Who starts? Does the starter who is the 6th man on the team with 6 starters come off the bench or do they force him to the other team? There are clearly some minor details to work out but we will see how this experiment works out.
The game will also be played for charity. The exact process for the draft and how the charities play in to the game have yet to be determined but if there is one thing I know about the NBA, it’s that they sure know how to make everything they touch entertaining.
What an inside NBA Draft. The Boston Celtics received the first overall pick and hyped it up over the course of a week. Then they traded it. To be honest, with all of the other news, I am shocked anyone can still remember all this drama prior to the draft. The Celtics and 76ers made a swap of picks, leaving both fan bases very happy. I do have to stop and mention Lonzo Ball because we have gone this far in the Rookie Watch without naming him and I don’t want to upset the Ball Camp. The rookie watch is interesting because there are 3 potential rookie of the year candidates on the 76ers in Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons (missed 2016-17 season due to injury) and Joel Embiid (not really eligible, I am making a joke). We also have some other sleepers who will get plenty of minutes like Lonzo, Josh Jackson (Suns), De’Aaron Fox (Kings) and Dennis Smith Jr (Mavericks). This list doesn’t include potential guys who won’t get the minutes but could force their teams to play them more like Jayson Tatum (Celtics) and some surprise possibilities in Jordan Bell (Warriors) or Luke Kennard (Pistons). It will be interested to see who takes it but my initial odds for Rookie of the Year are below:
Lonzo Ball 5-1
Dennis Smith 6-1
Ben Simmons 10-1
Markelle Fultz 10-1
De’Aaron Fox 15-1
Josh Jackson 15-1
Jayson Tatum 20-1
Malik Monk 20-1
Triple Double Watch
Last season we witnessed 100 triple doubles, including the playoffs. Our lord and savior, Mr. MVP Russell Westbrook brought our first triple double average for a season to a reality. He led all players with 41 triple doubles. James Harden finished with 22 triple doubles and Lebron James came in third with 15. We had some notable performances last year. Some names that jump out on our list below are Nikola Jokic (4 times), Marc Gasol (2) and DeMarcus Cousins (2), surprising seeing centers obtain traditional triple doubles but this is a tell as to where the league is shifting with the big men. One name that may leave you scratching your head on this list is Ty Lawson, I don’t have much of an explanation on this one. Other notables include Chef Curry, KD, Blake, Butler, Giannis and Chris Paul. I am excited to see who dominates the list this year with two of the top three guys (Russ and Harden) getting more help (Paul George, Carmelo and CP3).