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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Jun. 3, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002 5-13-2002 5-20-2002
  • We start with more on the death of Davey Boy Smith, including a full-length super long obituary, because apparently 2002 is nothing but people dying. I feel like I've done nothing but recap obituaries since starting back with 2002. Anyway. in the wake of Smith's death, the reaction has sadly not been one of surprise. Anyone who saw Smith in the last 4-5 years pretty much saw it coming. The cause of death, pending toxicology results, was ruled a heart attack caused from prolonged steroid use. But until the toxicology results are back, the belief among his friends and family is that there was probably more to it. Dave talks about the staggering number of wrestlers who have died under age 40 in recent years, with upwards of 20 of them being due to drug issues.
  • Smith died while on vacation with his girlfriend Andrea Hart, estranged wife of Bruce Hart. Despite that, Smith was actually on good terms with most of the Hart family, although Andrea is not. The Hart family believes Andrea knows more than she's letting on about the circumstances of his death, but she's not talking to anybody. Andrea's children (that she had with Bruce) were also there and they each apparently have different accounts of how he died (he was sleeping! he was in the pool! he was eating!) but they all pretty much agree he collapsed doing whatever he was doing. Andrea told the press that she believed Smith had overdosed, but Smith's dad did his own interviews and denied it, saying his son had stopped using drugs and was clean when he died. Needless to say, most people aren't buying that given his track record. Smith's father decided against having the body cremated and instead ordered it sent back to England for examination to make sure he wasn't murdered. "I cannot believe his death was natural," he said. "If they find drugs in his body, then he didn't put them there. Davey was clean." (Eeeeeeehhhhh....) Shit got even messier when Andrea and Smith's ex-wife Diana Hart each tried to claim the body. Despite her book (in which she accused Smith of drugging, abusing, and raping her), Diana played grieving widow in the media even though they're divorced. It may not have been an act though. Some in the family believe Smith and Diana were trying to reconcile, and they were on good terms at the time of his death. Andrea claimed to be his common-law wife, even though she's still legally married to Bruce. She later claimed Smith had proposed to her 2 weeks before his death and said they were engaged, which was the first anyone had heard about that. Smith's father claims in their last conversation, Davey Boy had told him he was planning to break up with Andrea after their vacation. So who knows. Anyway, both Diana and Andrea planned their own separate memorial services, while Smith's dad is planning his own 3rd service. Smith's body wasn't at either of the Hart family memorial services because, as mentioned, it was sent back to England where authorities are launching an investigation at the behest of Smith's father.
  • Andrea's service was said to be small and simple, just a few dozen people, and she seemed sincere in her sorrow. Diana's service was larger and more public, with hundreds of attendees and press, along with several WWE names. Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart (who attended both services), Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Jim Ross, and others all attended and several of them spoke. Diana's eulogy featured a professionally produced video featuring Davey Boy footage from WWE that had never aired on television before. She thanked Vince for trying to help Davey with his addiction issues. She never acknowledged everything she wrote about him in her book last year. Smith's children as well as Stampede wrestler TJ Wilson gave speeches as well. 16-year-old Harry Smith was composed and gave a great speech about teaming with his father in his last matches. And then Ellie Hart got up there and....it went about how you'd expect. She started ranting about Andrea and blaming her for not giving the family the answers they wanted and it started to turn into some drama, but the minister gently interrupted her and got things back on track. And finally, Bret Hart gave a speech, directly addressing Smith's children and saying that Davey Boy and Owen would want the children of all these Hart family members to get along with each other better than the adults have. From here, Dave gets into the actual meat of the obituary, recapping Smith's life and career. As always, an excellent read but very long to recap.
  • WWE Confidential, the new show the company is producing, aired its debut episode this week, focusing on the Montreal Screwjob. Dave once again talks about how Vince McMahon tried to downplay the incident recently, giving an interview just a couple of months ago calling the Screwjob a minor incident that almost no one cares about. Vince went so far as to say he could count on one hand the number of people who even still care about that old news. Turns out one of those must be Vince because this week, they dedicated the premiere of this new show to the story and highlighted it as the most controversial night in the history of wrestling. The hook of the show was Shawn Michaels revealing publicly, for the first time, that yes, he was in on the screwjob and knew about it in advance. Dave says this isn't really a secret. Shawn denied having any knowledge of it that night but as soon as the day after Survivor Series 97, he was bragging to friends about it. Vince McMahon also later confided in Undertaker that Shawn knew ahead of time. So it was kind of an open "secret" that Shawn knew but this is the first time he's admitted it publicly. Triple H still denies knowing about it ahead of time, but Dave is pretty skeptical there too (and indeed, it's later revealed that yes indeed, Triple H also knew). Dave thinks lots of people had to know. Even the guy who cued the music had to know, because Shawn's music was queued up and ready to play the second Vince ordered the bell to be rung. Pat Patterson always claimed not to know and Bret has said he wants to believe it, because he likes Pat, but the way Pat interrupted the match-planning conversation and specifically suggested the sharpshooter spot to them makes Bret question it (I think Patterson still denies it to this day, but I have my doubts there too). Anyway, the show recapped the history of the Screwjob and if you know Dave, you know he's about to poke a whole bunch of holes in WWE's revisionist bullshit. Here we go...
  • The story of the episode was WWF was close to going out of business due to the WCW war and couldn't afford Bret anymore, so Vince nobly allowed Hart out of his contract so he could negotiate a better deal with WCW. Actually, Dave says, Vince first talked to Bret about deferring some of his contract to later on but that was a couple months earlier. At the time, WWF really was having some financial struggles, but it's an exaggeration to say they were almost driven out of business. They were never even close. But regardless, that's irrelevant because in Sept. 97, they raised the price of PPVs by $10. That added revenue, which was nearly $1 million per month in pure profit, was easily enough to get them out of financial trouble. By the time Survivor Series 97 rolled around, WWF was doing just fine, money-wise, and were only a couple months away from catching fire and getting nuclear hot. So no, they did not need to get rid of Bret's contract. And in fact, in October, a couple weeks before Survivor Series, Vince changed his mind and asked Bret to stay, saying that the financial situation had turned around. But by this point, Hart's negotiations with WCW were full speed ahead and Vince allowed Hart to continue negotiating. But after talking to both sides, it was clear Vince had no real plan for Bret and he didn't really seem like he wanted to keep him, so Bret took the WCW deal and the rest is history. But of course, none of that is mentioned in this show. The episode also claimed Hart refused to drop the title to anyone (again, not true. Only Shawn. Bret even offered to lose it to Brooklyn Brawler if they wanted. In fact, Dave breaks down all the different scenarios that were presented here, and Bret was willing to lose the title to anyone other than Shawn, anywhere other than that show in Montreal, at any date before or after the PPV. They had actually presented Bret with dozens of different scenarios, all of which he agreed to, only for Vince to keep coming back around to Shawn at Survivor Series, which was the one and only thing Bret wouldn't budge on). They also tried to paint the picture that Bret could have taken the title to WCW the night after Survivor Series. In fact, Bret's WWF contract didn't end until Dec. 1st, and he was booked on more than a dozen house shows after Survivor Series and had even agreed to work the early December PPV because Bischoff had given his blessing. There was zero chance Bret was going to show up with the belt on Nitro. There was concern that Bischoff would go on Nitro the next day and announce he had signed Bret, and Dave says it's true that Bischoff certainly was planning to do that. But Bret had also asked Bischoff to hold off on the announcement and Bischoff had agreed. Vince knew about that too, but in recorded conversations with Bret (from the Wrestling With Shadows documentary), Vince didn't seem concerned since the word was already out and everyone knew Bret was leaving already. This just goes on and on. We all know the story already. Anyway, TL;DR - interesting show, but WWE's version of the story is bullshit. But we all knew that.
  • At the latest NJPW show, Antonio Inoki came out and cut a promo. He talked about being in attendance recently at the World Cup and said wrestling needs something like that. Inoki claimed he had put together a deal with WWE for a joint NJPW/WWE show to take place later in the year. Dave doesn't know if there's any truth to that story, but this is the first he's heard of it and he doesn't think it makes any sense for WWE so he's skeptical.
  • Usually in Japan, TV-Asahi airs the finals of NJPW's G1 Climax tournament live. But this year that may not happen, as they're looking at airing one of Inoki's MMA shows instead. This is a direct result of the terrible rating the recent Tokyo Dome show drew when it aired live. This company is struggling mightily lately.
  • Random news and notes: Inoki recently recruited a 23-year old Brazillian MMA fighter named Lyoto Machida to come to NJPW (he never really does anything in NJPW other than train at the dojo, but he had a long career in UFC and still fights for Bellator to this day). Dusty Rhodes is the new co-host of Turner South's Atlanta Braves pre-game show called "Hey The Braves Are Next!" Scott Hall will be working Insane Clown Posse's upcoming Gathering of the Juggalos event. Former WCW wrestler Evan Karagis recently filmed a role on the soap opera "Passions."
  • In the main event of FOX's Celebrity Boxing show, Chyna lost by decision to Joey Buttafuoco. Chyna's mystique of being a woman who only wants to compete with men got pretty much obliterated here, as the larger Buttafuoco manhandled her with ease for much of the match, which probably makes all those big tough wrestlers who sold for her feel kinda silly. But Buttafuoco came in as a hated heel to the audience and despite how she got pummeled, many people felt Buttafuoco was fighting dirty and cheating, so Chyna wasn't too hurt by it. She talked about wanting a rematch and Dave says if PRIDE really wants to break into the U.S. market, they could throw it onto one of their cards. Hey, this show did a really strong TV rating, maybe a rematch would be just the kind of freak-show attraction needed for PRIDE to get attention in the U.S. Nothing else they've tried has worked. Dave also suggests NWA-TNA could book it, but a worked wrestling match between the two probably wouldn't get as much media attention.
WATCH: Chyna vs. Joey Buttafuoco - Celebrity Boxing Match (2002)
  • Big Dick Dudley's ex-wife, former ECW valet Elektra, did an interview talking about his death. She said he'd had stomach pains all week and couldn't urinate. But didn't go to the doctor because he didn't think it was a big deal. Then at one point he got up to go to the bathroom but collapsed on the floor and died there on the spot. Jeez. At the time of his death, he had lost over 100 pounds from his peak weight of 320 in ECW several years ago.
  • Vince Russo is going to be writing a book about his time in WWF. Due to legal reasons and the ongoing lawsuit, it won't include much about his WCW tenure (I think he's written a book or two, but I've never read them, so if anyone has any insight, feel free to share).
  • Shaun Assael's book "Sex, Lies, & Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation" will be published next month and is getting strong early reviews. Dave has talked to several of the people who spoke with Assael for the book and some of them expect it to be good while others feel that Assael fell victim to the cons and charms of wrestlers who were working him. We shall see, says Dave.
  • The debut NWA-TNA PPV will feature some sort of tournament to crown a new NWA champion. Dan Severn is no longer the champion after not agreeing to work the show (he already had a prior MMA booking for that date in New Mexico). As a result, the NWA (which is now working with TNA) just stripped him of the belt, which is convenient because they didn't really want to use Severn anyway, so now they can do whatever they originally planned to do with the belt without having to book an excuse to get it off him. The Jarretts and this new promotion now have full control over both the NWA world and tag team titles.
  • Mike Tenay has been named the lead announcer for the new NWA-TNA promotion. They're also trying to get Lex Luger to appear for the debut show, but Dave thinks its unlikely since Luger is financially set for life and has shown no interest in doing any wrestling since WCW folded.
  • Jeff Jarrett had talks with Bret Hart about coming in to do a Team Canada gimmick. Latest Dave heard is that Hart isn't interested, but they may bring in some of the new generation of Harts for it. There's been talk of bringing in TJ Wilson, Harry Smith, and Teddy Hart as a new version of the group. Smith is still only 16 and it's way too early to put him on the national stage yet and in a lot of states, he wouldn't even legally be allowed to perform. Wilson is also a teenager, from a bad home who pretty much grew up as an honorary Hart member in the Hart household. And Teddy Hart is a natural in-ring performer who would already be in WWE if not for the fact that during his two training camp tryouts, he had behavioral incidents both times. But they're all talented and will likely be big stars in the future. Last time WWE was in Calgary, Vince McMahon personally requested to meet with all 3 of them for a private tryout, but it didn't amount to anything.
  • Little bit of a change in the WWF writing teams. Brian Gewertz is now the official head writer for Raw, while Paul Heyman is the lead writer for Smackdown. Stephanie McMahon will continue to oversee creative for both shows and, of course, Vince still has final say on everything. Dave expects this to result in Raw being a more comedic show while Smackdown will be the more serious in-ring product (pretty much, yeah. And thus, we have the official beginning of Heyman-era Smackdown and soon we'll see the birth of the Smackdown Six).
  • Notes from Raw: show opened with Chris Benoit making his unannounced return to a huge pop. Dave still expects Benoit to eventually be managed by Arn Anderson, which has been the plan for months (and never happens). That was actually the original plan before the NWO was brought in. If Benoit was healthy in time (which, turned out he wasn't so it didn't matter anyway), the original idea was Benoit vs. Austin at Wrestlemania 18 with Anderson managing Benoit. But that obviously all changed. Anyway, what else? Dave once again mentions that Jeff Hardy looks physically awful. He seems to know about Hardy's drug issues and seems to be hinting about it without saying it. Tommy Dreamer continued his gross gimmick by drinking Undertaker's tobacco spit. Lesnar beat Bubba Ray Dudley but had to sell a ton in the match and Dave doesn't get it. For a guy that they so clearly want to turn into a Goldberg-like star, selling for midcarders every week isn't how Goldberg got over. Jim Ross went on and on about how Lesnar has never been pinned, which Dave says is an insult to all the fans who have seen Lesnar do jobs at house shows. RVD beat Eddie Guerrero in a 20+ minute ladder match and Dave says it's the longest match on Raw in at least a year. Dave gives it 4 stars and considering how messy and sloppy it was, that shows you how good it was. Lots of dangerous spots, some botched moves, and most notably a moment when a fan ran into the ring and knocked over the ladder while Eddie was climbing up. Eddie and Earl Hebner started stomping the fan until security dragged him out. Still an awesome match though. And finally, Benoit returned at the end of the show and turned heel on Austin. Dave says Benoit actually isn't ready yet and isn't supposed to be back in the ring until July, but the company is so desperate for anything to give them a shot in the arm that they may have pulled the trigger on this angle early.
WATCH: Fan shoves Eddie Guerrero off the ladder
  • Notes from Smackdown: the only thing Dave talks about is the Hulk Hogan retirement angle they did and he's got mixed feelings on it. First the positive: he gives Hogan credit for being an absolutely incredible performer when the heat is on. And Hogan gave a tremendous performance in this and Dave doesn't let it go unrecognized. But then the negative: in the promo, Hogan talked at length about when his dad was dying, he was basically expressionless except for Monday and Thursday nights when he'd watch WWF and his face would light up. So Hogan said his dad's last words were he wanted to see his son return to the WWF. So that's all sweet and nice, right? Weeeeeell....Hogan has told a different version of this story in the past. In previous interviews, Hogan said his dad was disgusted by what wrestling had become and he wanted Hogan to "clean it up." The idea that he was laying in the hospital and only coming to life when his beloved WWF was on doesn't exactly jibe with what Hogan has said before. And no matter what the truth is, Dave is uncomfortable Hogan using his dead dad as a way to get this storyline over, but hey, he ain't the first and won't be the last.
  • WWE's first show in Hawaii in probably 15 years is scheduled for later this month. Rock is scheduled to work the show and tickets sold out 2 hours after they went on sale. While we're at it, the Australia show in August also sold out the 47,000-seat Colonial Stadium in Melbourne in only 4 days. Once they scale the stadium for production, they plan to open up more seats.
  • It's "basically a sure thing" that Hogan vs. Vince McMahon will be one of the top matches at Summerslam. How they get there seems to change weekly. There's been talks of having Hogan take time off after King of the Ring and return for the Vince match at Summerslam. There's also been talk of him sticking around through the entire summer. So who knows? (Ended up being a mixture of both: Hogan stuck around the entire summer, but then he did an angle to get written off TV right before Summerslam. And he didn't come back until early 2003. And, of course, we got the Hogan/Vince match at Wrestlemania)
  • More info on the incident from a couple weeks ago where Kevin Nash and X-Pac reportedly threw a fit and got the script changed. They were told by writer Ed Koskey what the plans were for them on the show. Nash and X-Pac didn't like it, especially X-Pac since it involved him doing 2 jobs during the same show. X-Pac said he was quitting and told Nash he'd meet him in the car. Nash told Shane McMahon he'd go calm X-Pac down and straighten everything out. Nash and X-Pac came back, had meetings with Shane and Jim Ross, and then later with Koskey and Brian Gewertz (who wrote the show). They managed to convince the writers to change it more to their liking. Nash was also upset about how Ric Flair went on TV and said he'd fired Scott Hall. Nash didn't like the idea of Flair on TV being able to hire and fire people from their NWO, because that kinda takes away from the idea of the NWO as an autonomous, outsider group that doesn't play by WWE's rules. So that's why Nash was able to go out on TV on this night and cut the promo about how Flair doesn't control the NWO. Of course, Hall is still gone, so I guess he still does. Anyway, both Nash and X-Pac were pissed over all this and caused a scene, especially X-Pac, to the point others in the locker room wondered why they weren't disciplined instead of being given their way. But if you wonder that, you clearly ain't been paying attention to Nash over the years. Anyway, X-Pac still did the job in the Hardyz match, but not in the second match.
  • Random news: house shows in Alexandria and Baton Rouge, LA were both canceled this weekend due to low ticket sales. Shit's selling out in record time in Australia and Hawaii, but they can't give tickets away in Louisiana apparently. Undertakers hips were both banged up after the Hogan match at the PPV but he continued working, although he was limited (and years later, he'd have to get major surgery on both those hips). At Raw in Edmonton, Ric Flair was getting huge pops and "woo!" chants for him before the show started, so they filmed a backstage segment where he told Arn Anderson how much he hates Edmonton so they would boo him when he came out live. Lance Cade won the HWA title from Johnny the Bull down in developmental. WWF was pushing the city of Edmonton to present Benoit with the key to the city on Raw, but Edmonton wasn't so keen on the idea. And finally, during a bikini contest at the house show in Winnipeg, Ivory's top got pulled down, exposing her boob, much to the delight of many in the crowd.
  • Remember how MTV's The Osbournes was the only show routinely beating Raw in the cable ratings? That's changing. The Osbournes is over for the season, but this week, Raw fell to #4 behind the Lakers/Spurs NBA playoff game and 2 different episodes of SpongeBob. Patrick's a draw, brother.
  • Raven has been doing commentary on Sunday Night Heat, but he recently asked to be removed from it because he feels like it hurts his wrestling character. Dave thinks this is pretty risky. Raven as a wrestler is probably nearing the end of his shelf-life and lord knows WWE hasn't shown any desire to push him. And he was actually pretty fantastic at commentary. So giving up a safe job that he was excelling at for one that WWE doesn't really seem to see any value in him for seems like a good way to find yourself on the chopping block next time they decide to get rid of some people (yup, he'll be gone from the company in another 7 months or so). For what it's worth though, this isn't the first time Raven has been in this situation. Back in the 90s, he was a manager and commentator in WWF then too, under the name Johnny Polo. But when they weren't interested in using him as a wrestler, he quit the company and reinvented himself in ECW as Raven. Sometimes you gotta bet on yourself.
  • Jim Ross has a weekly WWE.com article where he usually just shares all the latest injuries everyone has. This leads Dave on a bit of a tangent when Ross wrote about how Triple H has a fractured patella. The injury was diagnosed by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham and Andrews told Triple H to be careful with it, but he could continue wrestling as long as he can take the pain. Basically one of the world's top sports doctors saying, "Yeah you've got a broken knee, but throw some dirt on it, you'll be fine." It's no wonder so many of these guys end up on pain pills rather than getting the medical treatment they need.
  • Also in his article, Jim Ross admitted that the WWE is not doing a good job lately of providing a product the fans want to see. Dave thinks that's just about as strong a statement he's heard on the current state of WWE from someone so high up within the company. Ross admitted they need to create new rivalries, elevate new young talent, and effectively introduce new stars. However, Ross also blamed the economy and the abnormally high number of injuries everyone is dealing with right now for part of the problems too. Dave says the economy may play a small role in the declining live event and PPV numbers, but usually when the economy is in the toilet, TV ratings go up because people are staying home more. Not the case here. Injuries, yes that's a problem for sure. But the core of all WWE's problems right now comes down to the simple fact that the show pretty much sucks. And at least someone high up in the office seems to finally be publicly admitting it.
  • Tough Enough 2 is down to the final four. Dave talks about how Jackie Gayda is now the sentimental favorite because she tore her ACL during the show but has still refused to quit, which opened a lot of eyes on her. Speaking of Tough Enough, in a WCW-like comedy of errors, they aired a promo for next week's episode before the current episode was finished, thus spoiling who the final 4 were going to be, before it was revealed on the show people were watching.
  • The WWF Forceable Entry album has sold around 364,000 copies total since its release. But it's actually considered a pretty huge failure because WWF had to pay so much money in fees and up front advances to the various artists on the album, and they're nowhere close to recouping that cost. (The album eventually sells over 500,000 and goes gold but still a flop).
NEXT WEDNESDAY: A look at the dismal state of WWE in 2002, Tough Enough II finale, Riki Choshu's departure from NJPW, Dave reviews several new wrestling books, and more...
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Portland, Blazing A Path Towards A Promising Future

Over the last 6 years, Portland has been nothing but consistent, it’s been in the playoffs year after year with little signs of slowing down till this year. In a season following a Western Conference Finals appearance many people, me included, had high expectations for this Blazers squad. With Dame at the helm and CJ, Nurk, and the rest of the squad to back him up a top-three finish in the wild western conference didn’t seem outrageous. Hell, maybe they’d catch a break with another team suffering an injury and make a run at the Finals. Instead, this season, the Blazers were the ones getting injured. Nurkic missed the whole season due to a gruesome leg injury that he experienced towards the end of last season. C.J. struggled to stay on the court consistently. Similarly, Collins missed extended time due to a shoulder injury that required him to have surgery, said surgery would sideline him for four months. These injuries, along with the loss of defensive stalwarts Mo Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu decimated any hopes Portland had of being a contender this season. Instead, Dame was forced to spend a majority of the season backpacking the whole team, in an attempt to blaze his way towards the playoff (see what I did there). Despite Dame going demigod mode and dropping averages of 28.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 8.9 assists on 45.7/39.4/88.8 splits it’s not looking like the Blazers will be making their seventh consecutive trip to the playoffs. But it’s not all bad for Blazers fans. Dame is signed through the 2024-2025 season, C.J. is locked up through the 2023-2024 season, and Nurkic is on a team-friendly deal for the next two years. But what I wanted to talk about is the young blazers. The youngsters that will shape this franchise's future and ultimately decide whether Portland will be in the race for the title in the coming years. So without further delay let's talk some Blazers!
Anfernee Simons:
Simons is perhaps the most hyped up of the young blazers. The 21-year olds game is reminiscent, funnily enough, of C.j.’s. He projects to be a three-level scorer, who can get you a bucket from anywhere. He uses his speed and crafty ball handling to break down defenders, creating separation so he can get his shots off. Simons, in limited minutes, has shown to be able to get to the basket with relative ease, his shots don’t always fall when he gets there but he shoots solidly enough at the hoop. He’s shown glimpses of an ability to finish through contact, giving Blazers fans hope that he could one day be something more as an interior scorer. His shooting from both the midrange is impressive for his age. He’s shooting 45.2% from 15-19 feet away from the basket. To get these buckets he uses his arsenal of stepbacks and fakes to create separation and get his shot off. Can’t get to the midrange, no problem. Simons has shown the ability to be a high-end three-point shooter despite his career 33.9% shooting from behind the arc, he just needs to be more consistent. There are nights like April 10, 2019, where Simons shot 7-11 from downtown, scoring 37 points when it was all said and done. But there are also nights like December 3, 2019, where he will 1-5 from three. His shot looks good and he looks confident taking them which gives me hope that he will figure it out. He is a career 78.7% free-throw shooter as well, which points to him being able to one day knock down threes at a high clip. If Simons can improve upon his finishing at the basket and improve from deep I could easily see him being a three-level scorer who puts up 20+ points a night at his peak.
How’s the passing? Well, his 1.5 assists a game this season may not stand out but in his limited minutes, he has shown to be at least an adequate passer. Similarly to his shooting he just needs to be more consistent. For every full course pass or perfectly placed lob pass, he makes there will be another moment where he misses the open cutter or shooter in the corner. It’s more of his pass perception that needs some work, not as much his passing fundamentals. Despite the stats, I have faith that Simons will develop into a 4-5 assist guy in his prime.
What about his defense? For now, it’s pretty poor, but I do have hope for Simons on the less glamorous end of the court. Simons is an elite athlete which points to defensive upside. He has the lateral quickness to guard the perimeter while still having the hops to get up and contest shots around the rim. He lacks the strength to be an effective interior defender but with some NBA weight lifting training, that problem could be solved in no time. Simons is yet to fully understand how to defend opposing offenses and isn’t too great and reading passing lanes which limits his ability to disrupt the other team's offense and come away with steals. If Simons can figure out how to read other team's offense and get more steals it could be huge for the Blazers as Simons is an absolute menace in transition. If he can get on a fast break with the ball few players can stop him as he uses his speed blow by defenders and throws down some rim rocking dunks. His biggest fault on defense is his inability to be reliable on that end. He lacks awareness on that end, often losing his man and forgetting to provide help defense for his teammates. In the long run, I think Simons could be a strong perimeter defender and a blah interior one. His strength will likely always hold him back on the inside but if he can figure it out on the perimeter he will at least be serviceable on that end.
So the Blazers have a potential star on their hands. If Simons realizes his potential I could see him putting up 20+ points, 4-5 assists, and 4-5 rebounds on strong efficiency. All while being a solid defender. Of course, there are a lot of questions with Simons, but if it all works out I believe the Blazers have a star on their hands.
Nassir Little:
Coming out of high school Nassir Little was one of the nation's top-rated prospects (#2 overall). He had an underwhelming season at UNC which led him to fall to the 25th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft where the Blazers snagged him up. His first season in the big leagues was a mixed bag. His stats were rather underwhelming and if you didn’t watch the games you’d think this guy is a bonafide scrub. After all, he did put up just 3.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 0.5 assists on some garbage efficiency (23% from three). But where some see a dumpster fire I see potential. So what does he have going for him? Let's talk about it!
Little's biggest draw as a prospect is his freakish athleticism. We're talking about a 6’5, 220lb small forward with some serious bounce. I mean pretty much every highlight of this guy is either a dunk or a put-back. He’s got the ability to quickly accelerate and then just like that, stop on a dime. That same acceleration allows him to rapidly reach top speeds, making him a potential force in transition. He’s also pretty strong considering his 6’5 frame, however, a few extra pounds may not hurt.
His athleticism alone has allowed Nassir to be an average defender thus far in his career but it’s clear he has room to improve. He’ll use his speed to keep up with most players on the perimeter and use his strength, agility, and bounce to get up to contest shots at the hoop. He’s even shown to be able to get up multiple times in short succession, allowing him to block multiple shots in quick succession. He’s adept at covering for his teammates and being in the right position to assist his teammates on defense. Like many rookies Little struggles to consistently give 100% on defense all the time but on most nights he manages to stay locked in for the most part. He will hustle for open balls and try to make plays on defense, even if it doesn’t always work out. He’s also not too great at reading opposing offenses. He’ll miss out on steal opportunities because he’s unable to predict what the offense will do next. Similar to Simons, it would be huge if Little could improve upon his defensive awareness as it would lead to more steals which would result in more transition buckets for Little. Little could be a really good defender given some time, he has all the physical tools to effectively guard other forwards, he just needs to learn the mental part of the game.
Offensively Little is pretty limited. He’s proven to be an effective lob and put back threat, he’s shooting 59% at the rim. He’s also been able to use his athleticism to help him burst past defenders and get shots up 5ft-9ft away from the basket where he shoots 66.7%. That's it, there's not much to his offensive game. His playmaking in both College and thus far in the NBA is non-existent. His shooting has been poor from three-point range and from the line. His handle is okay, but not good enough to reliably create space and get shots off. I see some potential with Little as a shooter simply because his form looks solid enough, but it’s not assuring that he’s shooting 63.6% at the charity stripe. Still, I wouldn’t be shocked if he managed to shoot something like 33% from three in his prime (he’s 20, he has time). I see Little as a player that will need his offense made for him, whether it’s through lobs, cuts to the basket, or put backs off the rim.
I seriously doubt Little is ever going to be a star. He’s got all the physical tools to be a proficient offensive player but it’s his skills that are keeping him back. I think Little, at his peak, will be a 10-12 point scorer who operates mostly down low for his points. As I said previously I don’t think his shot can’t improve, I'm just not sure it will ever be even average. I have faith in his ability to become an above-average defender due to his physical prowess however it’s the mental aspect of the game that will decide if he will be a good or great defender. Ultimately I think Little’s best-case scenario is a fourth or fifth starter on a good team. If the Blazers can turn this athlete into a basketball player, they could have a very solid player under their wings.
Zach Collins:
Coming out of college Collins was seen as a perfect player for where the league was going. His crazy 47.6% from three in College to go along with his high-end blocking ability had scouts drooling over the possibilities with this near 7-footer. But thus far in his career, only one of those skills has come to fruition. That would be his shot-blocking. In his two full seasons as the Blazers center Collins has routinely shown the ability to keep up with ball handlers on the interior and swat away their shots at the basket. This has been his hallmark skill so far in his career but if he ever wants to be the player people projected him as coming out of college he’s gotta start hitting from outside. Between his rookie and sophomore season Collins has shot just 32.1% from three, not bad for your average center but a far cry from his 47.6% in college. So his shooting isn’t there yet but is he likely to improve. Hell yeah, he is. For one his shot looks clean and he seems to be fairly comfortable taking them (both of which are good signs). His free throw percentage, while not great at 72%, is still solid enough to make you think that he just hasn’t hit his shooting stride yet. He’s also improved all his shooting percentages from his rookie year to his sophomore year, giving further hope that he will figure his shot out.
Collins scores most of his buckets on the interior. He’s very skilled at using fakes, turns, hook shots, and even the occasional fade away to score within ten feet of the basket. Collins also uses his 6’11 stature to his advantage, always cutting to the basket or positioning himself to throw down a well-placed lob pass. Collins doesn’t have a go-to move, rather he uses a wide variety of post moves to get his shot up around the rim. Despite not being the fastest player on the court Collins still manages to be a threat in transition as he uses his size and length to his advantage, throwing down dunks with little regard for the defenders in front of him.
As a ball-handler Collins is subpar. He lacks the acceleration/burst to blow by defenders and he doesn’t have a crafty enough handle to make up for it. I don’t think being a shot creator will ever be one of Collin's main skills. But I do see some hope for him being a playmaker out of the post. In games, Collins has shown the ability to see cutters and get them the ball for an easy bucket. He hasn’t shown to be a good outlet pass to the perimeter but any sort of playmaking from the center position is a positive (even if he’s never anything special as a playmaker).
Collins isn’t a great rebounder for a center. He has the length and athleticism to be a solid rebounder however it’s his strength that has held him up to this point. He’s not weak, he’s just not as large as many other centers. Like if it’s between Collins or Karl-Anthony Towns to grab a rebound you can bet nine times out of ten Towns is getting that rebound simply because of his size and strength. This leads me to my main concern with Collins. I’m not sure that he’s ever going to be big enough to hang defensively with the upper tier of bigs in this league. He gets bodied by the larger bigs in the post and it makes me wonder if he can play the five long term. Ideally, Collins puts on some muscle to address this problem (hopefully he does) but even then I’m skeptical that he will be able to hold his own against the Embiid’s, Jokic’s, and Giannis’s of the league (then again few big men can). On the perimeter, Collins can hold his own against most other bigs but I would by no means call him a lockdown perimeter defender at this point in the league.
So what do the Blazers have with Collins? Well if he figures it out I believe they will have an ideal modern NBA big man who can score from both the interior and stretch the floor while playing plus defense. He could be the type of player that any team could want, not because he’s a star, but because he does everything you want your center to do. If he doesn’t figure it out he has at least shown to be a solid bench big who can score a bit and play some solid defense in limited minutes. Collin’s future is in question, his potential is not.
Gary Trent Jr.:
Gary Trent Jr. showed out this season. He emerged as a bench scoring option when the Blazers needed it. With McCollum missing time in the middle of the season, Trent showed what he could do to the tune of 7.7 points on 38.8% three-point shooting on 3.8 threes a game. This shooting ability along with some semi-respectable defense made him an attractive option off the bench for the crippled Blazers squad. His shooting from the rest of the court also impressed, shooting 45.8% from 10-14ft and 56% at the basket and 83.3% at the line. His handles are nothing to brag about but it was good enough to occasionally break down his defender and get an open shot off. He’s also a threat in transition as his speed allows him to cruise down the floor and get open for attacks at the basket or transition threes. Other than his shooting, transition scoring, and occasional shot creation Trent didn’t bring much more to the offense. But I mean our boy was selected in the second round (37th overall) so let's cut him some slack. Him being a contributor at all is a dub. He lacks the passing vision and accuracy to be an effective playmaker and isn’t much of an offensive rebounder (or rebounder, in general, to be honest).
Defensively Trent is just okay. His perimeter defense is better than his interior defense, which is not surprising considering his 6’5 stature and 210lb weight. He’s light on his feet which allows him to keep up with most guards. The problem comes when bigs get switched onto him as he’s not exceptionally strong or lengthy, leading him to being pushed to the side like Will Smith in his relationship with Jada (poor Will). He seems to have a solid idea of how to read opposing offenses as he’s been pretty good at identifying where passes are going and accumulating steals.
Of all the young Blazers we’ve talked about Trent is probably the least interesting in terms of long term potential. I don’t know that he will be anything better than a solid bench shooter who provides a bit of defense but that's alright. Considering his draft position (37th overall) the Blazers getting Trent was absolutely a win. I think Trent will be a 9-10 point scorer on good efficiency for years to come. That’s not bad for a second-round pick.
The Young Blazers:
If we look at all the young Blazers it’s pretty impressive what Portland has been able to do with their late lottery and non-lottery picks. Simons is a young, athletic guard who has all the potential in the world as a scorer. Collins has the makings of the perfect modern NBA big man. Little has starter potential with his interior scoring and high-end defensive upside. Trent was a nice pick up in the second round a couple of years ago. The Blazers have done an impressive job not only competing in the present but setting themselves up for a promising future. Maybe one day these young players could blaze Portland towards their second championship.
submitted by SundaeSports to nba [link] [comments]

[OC] The Chicago Bulls rebuild imploded again this year. How can they pick up the pieces and make it better next time?

As we continue to wait for real basketball to happen (or not?), it may be a good time to monitor teams that will definitely be missing out on all the playoff bubble hijinks.
Here's a look at the CHICAGO BULLS, with a special shoutout to true Bulls' fans like celsius_two_3_two for helping me review the content.
PART ONE: From Playoff Challenger to Challenger space shuttle
Like any proper degenerate, I like to make a few Las Vegas "oveunder" bets before the season (note: don't try it at home, it's usually a waste of time and money.)
Still, a few win totals jumped out at me. Among them: the Chicago Bulls, oveunder 33.5 wins.
Now, the logical move may have been to pound the "under" here. After all, this was a team coming off two seasons with 27-55 and 22-60 records. However, I couldn't help but overthink this one. Sure, the Bulls had a very bad 2018-19 season (highlighted by Fred Hoiberg getting fired and Drill Sergeant Jim Boylen taking over). At the same time, they played better in the second half of the season. Boylen (douche or not) would presumably keep improving their defense. Moreover, Boylen and the front office were on shaky ground in terms of their job security, which usually motivates an organization to push forward and win as much as possible.
The front office clearly had that in mind as well, signing Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young to sizable $10M+ contracts. Neither are great players, or perhaps even good players, but they're solid and reliable veterans whom the team could immediately plug into a rotation. These Bulls felt deep, balanced, and perhaps ready to strike. After all, star Zach LaVine would be set to enter Year 6 in the league. Otto Porter would be entering Year 7. Some of their other "young" pieces weren't that young; for example, Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine are both 26 right now.
Overall, this felt like a recipe for success. Or at least, semi-success. The Bulls were ready to take a jump. Making the playoffs may have been unrealistic, but 35-38 wins felt doable. "OVER" it is!
Flash forward nearly a year later, and I've got so much egg on my face that vegans won't even talk to me anymore. Turns out, these "new Bulls" were the "same ol' Bulls." They'll end the season with a 22-43 record, which would have put them on pace for 27.8 wins over 82 games, well under the 33.5 set by Vegas.
So what went wrong? How did this potential darkhorse run so far off the rails that it needed to get shot and turned to glue? Let's take a closer look.
PART TWO: Missing Otto Porter III + D
One of the major reasons the Chicago Bulls disappointed in 2019-20 was injuries. Center Wendell Carter missed time, and Otto Porter III barely played due to lingering hip injuries. He appeared in 14 games, and only drew 9 starts (averaging 23 minutes per game.)
On the surface, Porter shouldn't feel like a huge loss. After all, this is a player who's never averaged as much as 15 PPG in any season in his career and has never sniffed an All-Star team.
That said, the loss of Porter had a trickle down effect that hurt the team in numerous ways.
Offensively, Porter is a low-usage player who's about as efficient as anyone in the league. For his career, he shoots over 40% from three (40.4%). Better yet, he's only averaged 0.8 turnovers per game (1.1 TO per 36 minutes.) He's what you'd call a role player / assassin. He gets in, hits his target, and slips out without being noticed. Porter actually has a little more versatility to his offensive game than the average catch-and-shoot player (he can take you down on the block, for example), but most often, he's used as a spacer and he thrives in that regard. Without Porter's shooting, the Chicago Bulls' offense looked even more sluggish than usual. Their offensive rating ranked 27th out of the 30 teams in the league.
Porter's loss also showed up in other ways. Porter's not a great defender -- he's probably "above average" -- but that's still an asset to have in your lineup. He's a savvy player who's usually locked in defensively, despite one infamous Shaqtin' A Fool moment. He also has good size and length for his position at 6'8" with a 7'1" wingspan.
That size is a key element to this discussion. Porter has "plus" size as a small forward. In his absence, the Bulls struggled to fill that void with the same. They ended up shifting Zach LaVine (6'6", 6'8" wingspan) over to small forward quite a bit. LaVine played 67% of his minutes at SF this past season according to basketball-reference. You can take those positional play-by-plays with a grain of salt because it's not easy to track and label, but that's still a notable difference in terms of the roster composition. The Bulls were smaller than average at SF, and smaller than average at SG with rookie Coby White (6'4", 6'5" wingspan) playing the majority of his minutes there.
The natural follow up to this may be: so what? Even with those size limitations, Jim Boylen's Bulls still finished with the 14th best defense (up from 25 last year.) However, the lack of size on the wings helped contribute to the Bulls' problems on the glass. They finished 30th (out of 30 teams) in total defensive rebounds, and 28th in rebounding differential (-3.6 per game). Using rebounding totals isn't always the best metric to use because bad teams miss more shots (and thus allow their opponents more rebounds). However, if you dig deeper, the numbers still aren't pretty. The Bulls' grabbed 75.6% of their potential defensive rebounds -- 5th worst in the league. Overall, they grabbed 47.9% of all potential rebounds -- 2nd worst in the league. "Rebounds" may be not be an en vogue stat in general, but it's a weakness that still hurt the team at the margins. When you're a mid-level team, those extra few possessions per game could mean the difference between a win and a loss.
The good news? Porter will likely be back and healthy next season. The bad news? He's not cheap. He'll almost certainly pick up his oversized $28M player option. In another circumstance, he may try to rip it up and renegotiate a long-term deal with the Bulls or another team instead, but the murkiness around the cap and around his health makes that too difficult to imagine. Barring a trade, he'll be back with the Bulls next year, and will help the team win a few more games.
PART THREE: Misusing their offensive weapons
The Chicago Bulls are a young team, built around young stars like Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Both LaVine and Markkanen have some limitations overall, but they're both gifted offensive players. So given that, how is it that the team only finished 27th in offensive efficiency?
In terms of the national media, a lot of the blame tends to fall on Zach LaVine. After some inefficient play early on in his career, the narrative has stuck that LaVine is an "empty calorie" or "volume" scorer. However, the results on the court don't really justify that anymore. Sure, LaVine shoots a lot, but he doesn't take as many bad shots as you may expect. He takes 8.1 threes per game (and makes an above-average 38%). He takes 5.6 free throw attempts per game (making 82% for his career.) Overall, that's a winning formula. LaVine's efficiency and true shooting is above league-average, no small feat for a player averaging 25.5 points per game this year. You'd like to see him hammer his way to the line even more, but he's not the problem for this team (offensively.)
Meanwhile, Markkanen has some work to do. For a 7-footer, he's a gifted shooter. He shot 42.3% from three in college (and even flirted with 50% early in the season.) He carried that success over to the NBA for his first two years, netting over 36% from three each year. His results at the free throw line (84% then 87% as a second-year player) illustrated his potential to keep improving from there. 7-footers tend to get labeled as "stretch bigs" if they can get anywhere over 30% from three; Markkanen has the potential to get closer to 40%.
However, that leap didn't happen in Year 3. Markkanen sagged to 34.4% from three, and "only" 82.4% from the free-throw line. But those percentages aren't what bothers me. Percentages will go up and down over smaller sample sizes like that. What's more concerning is how Markkanen's role shrunk offensively. After averaging 15.3 field goal attempts last season, he slipped down to 11.8 attempts this season per game. Even if you account for a few less minutes, he dropped from 17 FGA to 14 FGA in terms of "per 36" numbers.
As mentioned, Markkanen is an offensive player. He's a shooter. I'm no coaching genius (and neither is Jim Boylen apparently), but I'd encourage a shooter to SHOOT. Because if Markkanen isn't a focal point of your offensive attack, then he's not doing much good for your team. He's not a good defender -- he's not a good rebounder. This is like the Justice League sending Aquaman off to the find evil aliens in the desert; we're misusing his talents here, people.
Practically speaking, the next Bulls' coach needs to rethink the approach with Markkanen. Personally, I believe he has more in the tank offensively than he's been allowed to show so far. Maybe he's not Dirk Nowtizki, but he's still an extraordinary talent as a shooter for his size; I'd make a point of funneling him the ball. And if the problem is that he's getting marginalized by ball-dominant LaVine, then Markkanen should come off the bench as a 6th man scorer instead. He needs to be an offensive priority whenever he's in the game. And consequently, a better offensive philosophy and system needs to be installed in order to allow that to happen.
PART FOUR: Natural growing pains
When the Chicago Bulls' playoff chances slipped away, Jim Boylen and the front office finally unleashed their rookie, Coby White.
White took advantage of that greenlight and turned up the gas as a scorer. He'll end the season with a modest 13.2 points per game, but that undersells his impact as a scorer. Per 36 minutes, he averaged 18.5 points per game. That trended upwards over the course of the season as well. White averaged over 20 points per game in February and March (albeit over a limited 14 game size.) If White can do that as a 20-year-old rookie, then it's fair to suggest that he could be routinely scoring over 20 PPG in his prime.
While Coby White has some obvious virtues -- highlighted by his quickness and his cool hair -- there are some natural concerns and growing pains that he showed. He scored, but he didn't necessarily do that with efficiency. He shot only 39.4% from the field, and netted only a 50.6 true shooting percentage that's well below the league average.
Defensively, White also struggled. Playing "up" at SG for 71% of his minutes (and even at SF for 17%!), White's limited size and limited experience showed. ESPN's real/plus minus metric graded him as -1.9 impact per 100 possessions. If you wanted to count White as a point guard, that would rank 89th best (out of 94 qualifiers.) If you envision him as a shooting guard, that would rank 134th (out of 137 qualifiers.)
That debate -- is Coby White a point guard or shooting guard? -- is an important one. Sure, we're in an era of "position-less" basketball to some extent, but players still have certain roles offensively and certain assignments defensively. White's limited size and length (6'5" wingspan) projects best as a point guard. However, he's more of a scorer than a natural distributor. He only averaged 3.8 assists per 36 minutes this season, not far removed from the 5.2 assists per 36 minutes he averaged back in college at UNC. His playmaking can improve, but he's more of an attack dog by nature.
This combination of strengths and weaknesses makes you wonder about the long-term fit next to Zach LaVine. If the Bulls' long-term plan is to play White at SG and LaVine at SF, then they're always going to be behind the eight-ball in terms of length and rebounding (especially with Lauri Markkanen at the 4.) If their plan is to start White as a point guard, then they're going to have to rely on LaVine to be more of a lead facilitator, or on the entire team to adopt more of a ball-moving offense 1-5.
Most realistically, White projects best as a super-scorer off the bench, a la Lou Williams. To excel in that role, he'll need to continue to draw more free throws (he was at only 2.0 FTA per game as a rookie), but the potential is there to improve his shot selection and become a big-time scorer. Staggering White and LaVine would also allow them to be aggressive as scorers without stepping on each other's toes.
PART FIVE: Done with Dunn?
The other reason that it'll be important for the new Bulls' coach and front office to devise a long-term plan for Coby White is because it will affect other decisions on the roster. Among them: the fate of Kris Dunn.
Like Coby White, Dunn has some extreme strengths and weaknesses -- they just happen to be in opposite order. He EXCELS defensively. He has a big frame (6'9" wingspan) and natural instincts on that end. He nabbed 2.0 steals this season in only 24.9 minutes of action. A lot of times, "steals" can be misleading because they amount to gambling. For Dunn, it's more reflective of his actual talent. He has extremely quick hands; he could have made a lot of money as a gunslinger back in the Old West. In some ways, he reminds you of Andre Iguodala on the ball defensively, combining length, strength, and savvy.
The rest of Dunn's game is a mixed bag. He's not a bad distributor (averaging 6.0 assists in both 2017-18 and 2018-19), but he's a poor shooter. He's also had injury issues flare up over the course of his career. As mentioned, he's already 26 years old, so it's unrealistic to expect him to become a wholly different player in the next few years. With Kris Dunn, you mostly know what you're getting to get. So the question is: do you want it or not?
The Bulls will have to make that choice this offseason, as Dunn enters his (restricted) free agency. There's a chance that COVID will infect the cap and allow them to retain him on his one-year qualified offer of $7M. Alternatively, there's a chance that another team will swoop him and sign him to an offer sheet. He'd make some sense for a team like the Detroit Pistons, who could invest in him as an heir apparent to Derrick Rose at PG. If a team like that offers Dunn a deal in the 3 year, $8-10M per year range, will the Bulls match it? TBD.
Again, a lot depends on their views regarding Coby White. If they envision White as a future starter at PG, then there's less of a need for Kris Dunn. The Bulls would be able to start White at PG as soon as next year, with Tomas Satoransky as a combo guard off the bench and Ryan Arcidiacono serving as a third point guard and insurance policy. If the team envisions Coby White as a SG (or combo guard off the bench) then there's more of a need for Kris Dunn to platoon with Satoransky as a lead guard.
This game of musical chairs may be getting more crowded, because there's also another element at play: yet-another lottery pick.
PART SIX: Drafting some Help
Currently, the Chicago Bulls are slated in the # 7 position in terms of the NBA Draft order. They have a 9% chance of moving up to # 1, and a 32% chance of moving into the top 4. If they can make that leap, then that would mean adding another potential star to the fold. It's not a strong draft by any stretch, but SG Anthony Edwards (Georgia) and C James Wiseman (Memphis) have the potential to be good starters. If they can land someone like that, you ignore "fit", take the potential stud, and work out the rest later.
More likely, the Bulls will be picking in that 7-8 range. That's still a good pick, of course, but not one that should cause you to throw the baby out with the bath water and ignore the composition and needs of your team.
Again, this is why the "Do the Bulls need a PG?" question becomes so critical. This is a poor draft, but it's strongest in terms of its point guard depth. According to ESPN's draft experts, 5 of the top 13 prospects are point guards (LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, Killian Hayes, R.J. Hampton, Cole Anthony). A few of those -- namely Hayes and Anthony -- are "pure" point guards who don't have enough size to switch around and play minutes at the 2.
Among the crop that's likely to be available around pick 7, here are some potential fits.
PG TYRESE HALIBURTON, IOWA STATE (# 8 on espn). Haliburton is one of the easiest "fits" for the Bulls and for basically every team, because he offers a versatile set of skills. He's technically a point guard (averaging 15.2 points and 6.5 assists last year) and can capably fill that role. Better still, he can be effectively off the ball. His three-point shot looks a little wonky, but he converts it well, hitting 42.6% of his threes in college. Defensively he's got good size (6'5" with a 6'10" wingspan) and instincts (2.5 steals, 1.3 fouls last year). In a sense, Haliburton can be a "3 + D" point guard that plays alongside a ball-dominant player, be it Zach LaVine or Coby White. If the team drafts him, you figure it'd be with the intention of using him as an upgrade on Dunn (slightly worse defense but better offense.)
SG DEVIN VASSELL, FLORIDA STATE (# 16 on espn). Like Haliburton, Devin Vassell is another player who could fit well on virtually every team because of his 3+D potential. He's hit 41.7% of his threes in his two years at FSU with a good-looking form that's aided by good size for his position and a higher release than Haliburton. Right now, Vassell is listed around 6'6" with an estimated 6'10" wingspan, but he looks bigger than that to my eye. That's crucial because it would allow him to play both SG and SF and draw some different assignments defensively. I also like Vassell's personality off the court; he seems like a good kid that should continue to improve. Like Haliburton, Vassell is the type of player that should easily into a lineup with LaVine and/or White.
SF DENI AVDIJA, ISRAEL (# 5 on espn). I'm not going to pretend to have as much confidence in my projection of Avdija, who's played in the international youth circuit and has been a rising star with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Based on what I do know, he could be an intriguing boom/bust pick around # 7. He's a big forward (6'9") who can convert inside, and better yet, has a real knack for playmaking. The Bulls' young stars -- Zach LaVine, Coby White, Lauri Markkanen -- are all better scorers than passers right now, so perhaps Avdija can operate as a de facto point forward and help the offense click into place. Right now, his shooting results have been shaky though, so he's not someone you can just throw out there and tell to stand in the corner as a 3+D option. If you take him, you need an actual plan to highlight his skill set. The Bulls' top exec Arturas Karnisovas is from Lithuania originally, so you presume that he'd have no qualms about selecting an European like Avdija (whose dad is Serbian) if need be. Of course, that logic didn't quite work out for Sacramento GM Vlade Divac and Luka Doncic.
SHAKIER FITS. Alternatively, there are some players in the Bulls' draft range that may not be ideal fits. As mentioned, Killian Hayes and Cole Anthony are more of traditional ball-dominant point guards; I don't love the idea of that next to Coby White and Zach LaVine. I'd also be wary of Dayton's PF Obi Toppin. Toppin has strong scoring potential with a decent shot and good athleticism inside. That said, he's a little stiff in the hips defensively, and may duplicate Lauri Markkanen in that regard.
PART SEVEN: Buh-Buh Boylen
One of the Chicago Bulls' biggest decisions will be among their first. Technically, the new front office has not fired coach Jim Boylen yet, but it appears that his clock is ticking on that decision. It's only a matter of time.
Candidly, Boylen gets too harsh of a rap from national media and fans. He's not a complete asshat. He's had success as a defensive assistant in the past, and did help the Bulls' defense improve some over the past few years. He'd be a fine assistant coach somewhere in that limited capacity.
However, he does seem woefully out of his depth as a head coach. He's never had success in that role before, and he didn't have any now. His offensive system is virtually nonexistent, and his attitude is boarish. Usually those "Drill Sergeant" coaches get a short-term year or two of improvement from a young team, but he couldn't even do that. We need to pull him out of there before there's a full-on Full Metal Jacket rebellion here.
Looking ahead, the Bulls need to pick a coach that can get the team back on track, especially in terms of their offensive philosophy. That said, the Bulls have to be careful not to "zigzag" too much in their coaching hires. They went from Tom Thibodeau (the gruff, defensive-heavy coach) to the Anti-Thibodeau in Fred Hoiberg (likable, low-key former player), and then jumped on the seesaw again with the complete opposite in Boylen. There's always a tendency to go for the opposite of your last coach, but presumably there's a happy medium in between these two poles. Goldilocks was happy to find something "just right," so Karnisovas should be as well.
According to media reports, Ime Udoka is a top candidate, and would be a natural fit. While Udoka doesn't have head coaching experience yet, he's about as "ready" as any first-time coach would be. He's a former player, and a long-time assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio (and now has worked the last year in Philadelphia.) The Spurs' philosophy is an ideal template for the Bulls to use, both in terms of their offensive ball movement and their locker room culture.
I'd also recommend Kenny Atkinson as a viable candidate. He didn't mesh with the new superstars in Brooklyn, but he'd done a great job prior to that in terms of rebuilding a broken Brooklyn team. He specializes in pace and space offense, and player development. That sounds ideal for this team right now.
There are a few other candidates out there that would be worth interviews (Chris Finch, Wes Unseld Jr., Chris Fleming, Nate Tibbetts, Alex Jensen, Dave Joerger, etc) but Udoka and Atkinson represent a very solid top two. Hiring either of them would be a great first step for this new administration.
The Chicago Bulls' "breakout" didn't happen; instead, they broke down. However, the foundation isn't bad here. If the new front office wants to push for the playoffs next year (manifested by keeping Otto Porter and continuing to play veterans) then it's not unrealistic that they can get up to 35-40 wins with better health and a better offensive system. Conversely, the team may decide they're further away than that, and take a step back to collect their bearings.
submitted by ZandrickEllison to nbadiscussion [link] [comments]

[OC] 8 hypothetical James Harden trades if the Rockets blow it up this summer

I made up some hypothetical trades involving James Harden (and some of their other players if necessary) so the Rockets can start fresh.


Before going in further detail, I remember that the Rockets do not own their 2021 1st (traded to OKC in the CP3 deal), so their goal should not be to tank or bottom out in the next season. The future seasons, maybe, but for next season, I'd imagine they would want to stay afloat (and that will make them look like an attractive destination to any 2021 free agents, too).
First, let's take a look at what they have.
These are very heavy contracts, and it will probably be hard to match salary for any trade involving them. Nonetheless, the Rockets have other options they can use along them to potentially make trading easier.
Everyone else is making less than $4M, and the only one of those guys with guarantees beyond 2021 is Danuel House Jr. ($4M in 2022). Most of them aren't really players that I see as part of their future aside from House (age 26) and maybe Hartenstein (age 21). The rest of the guys are either washed (Chandler, Sefolosha, Carroll, Green), scrubs (Caboclo, Clemons, maybe Hartenstein), or at the age when they should seek either more money or a better team (Rivers, BMac), rather than making pennies on a rebuilding team.
Now, what kind of trades can we make?
I already ran through each player's contract. Let's see (what I think) their value is.
The other guys, I don't think they are worth trading except for salary matching purposes.
I won't specifically think about trades for the non-Harden players but it's worth mentioning what the Rockets can do.

Potential Trade Partners for Harden

Let's see who would both want and be able to trade for these players. Teams in interest (well, all of them, but realistic interest) would be contenders or playoff teams. I don't see lottery teams making a huge push to acquire these guys as no one here is that young, but who knows, something could go down. Maybe some lottery teams on the bubble of the playoffs could swing something up, but my concern is that it would gut too much of their team (while surrounding Harden with players that aren't exactly ready to win now). They would also need to have (1) available draft assets, (2) available player assets, and (3) various contracts to be able to salary match. It would be easier for Houston if these large contracts were spread out amongst multiple players (rather than, say, trading for a max to match) since I would guess they want to clear space for the following years, but then again, the other team would also prefer to trade one large contract vs several medium contracts to maintain their depth. It's up to the two teams to find a suitable balance. I'm mostly thinking of James Harden when making up trade ideas, but I may bring up the other guys eventually.
Let's run through the current playoff teams and see what they can do. Also keep in mind that I doubt Houston will want a trade within the west, and if they do, it might take more to get them to trade Harden.
There are also a couple of lottery teams that will be competing next year. These teams are usually either having a down year due to injuries (Portland, Golden State) or are on the bubble this year (New Orleans). Other teams are probably more focused on an organic rebuild (i.e. not gutting their team for a player that won't make them a contender with the state of their roster).
Now for the east:
I don't think any of the eastern lottery teams would either be able to put together a competitive trade offer (Knicks) or want to part with the players needed to do so (Hawks).
Of all the teams I've discussed, these are the ones that I think would actually be plausible.

Possible Trades

I'll go one by one on that list of 8 teams above with a possible trade.


Houston gets some building blocks for their future with Harris (25), Porter (21), and Morris (24). Barton is there for salary matching purposes. If Jerami Grant opts into his player option, Denver could instead send him while keeping (or increasing protections on) one of those 1sts.
Denver adds Harden to their core of Murray and Jokic and with this level of star power at the top, they become surefire contenders. Whether they can knock off one of the Lakers or Clippers will remain to be seen, and they will need to find some more depth somewhere, but this increases their chances at a championship for sure.


Mitchell is such a strong asset on his own as a 3rd year All-Star that Utah would not have to give up picks. With most of Utah's core not being too young, this trade pushes them into contention so they can compete for a title. I doubt that Utah would do this trade in all honestly even though on paper, it kind of makes sense (see the above section). It's up to them whether they weigh Donovan's chance to become a future superstar higher than James Harden being a current superstar.
For Houston, they get a star to build around. He may not become as good as Harden was, but it will be interesting either way. Mike Conley is used as salary filler that also happens to expire in the loaded 2021 offseason, in which Houston can pursue a second star to pair with Mitchell to start contending again.

New Orleans

Houston gets a great young prospect and a decent one. Redick is salary filler but can be used as a trade chip expiring at the 2021 deadline, and Miller is non-guaranteed (pure salary filler). They also get a nice horde of picks to go with that, giving them future assets to go at a rebuild.
New Orleans gets an outstanding core: Zion Williamson, James Harden, Jrue Holiday, and Brandon Ingram that is balanced between veterans and youth. This can be a contender next year if Zion has a 2nd year jump like Luka and Trae. NOLA also can retain Favors, NAW, Melli, Hart, and Moore for some depth. This trade would set them up very well to win a title in the next few years, and personally, this is the one I want to see the most.


Houston gets a potential star in Brown, an okayish prospect in Romeo, several picks, and significant cap relief through Hayward's expiring, being able to dump Eric Gordon's contract in the process. Note that the financials of this trade are a little tricky because of Jaylen Brown's extension. Using ESPN's trade machine, which accounts for the poison pill provision (basically trading for an extended player increases what their current contract is worth in trade), this trade works as of now, but if the trade is done, say, early next season, when the extension is already going, this may change. Nonetheless, Houston gets a solid haul here.
Boston gets to create a team of Kemba, Harden, Gordon, Tatum, Smart, Theis, and whoever else they can put together, which is a definite contender and could rival the Bucks in next year's east while being able to remain competitive in years beyond as well. Their issue is size, as if Kanter leaves, they are down to Theis and Timelord as their centers, which isn't looking so great for them. Nonetheless, the roster has plenty of talent regardless and is an upgrade over their current team.


Right now, I cannot put together any trade on ESPN's trade machine that doesn't involve Jimmy Butler. The below assumes Olynyk opts into his player option. If he doesn't, Miami can't realistically trade for Harden.
I'm not really sure if this is good enough to match salary, but I think it's very close if not.
The Rockets get 2021 expirings (Olynyk and Iguodala) plus several intruiging prospects. This gives them a solid core to work with while rebuilding. The 2027 pick is also able to be traded as the trade needs to happen after the draft (falling within the 7 years out rule) as Olynyk needs to opt in.
Miami gets a great core of Butler, Harden, Dragic, Bam, Leonard, Crowder, Haslem, and DJJ to work with (assuming the free agents re-sign, otherwise I might not do this deal as it would gut Miami's team) that can get out of the east and potentially win a championship.
This is one of the teams where trading for Russ works as well.
Houston doesn't get the same kind of haul they can get for Harden, but they get Herro and Nunn as a great prospect, cap relief, and a decent pick. Silva and KZ are there to match salary, but they could turn into something decent too. Maybe the Rockets push for Robinson but that might be too much for Westbrook.
Miami has a core of Butler, Westbrook, Dragic, Bam, Leonard, Robinson, Crowder, Haslem, and DJJ which is not as good as it would be with Harden but still great and contending nonetheless.


Houston gets a solid star in Oladipo to begin retooling around, some decent players that are either young or not expensive, and some picks. This will be good for Houston if their goal isn't a full teardown but rather a "retooling while remaining competitive" type thing. I have concerns about Oladipo's play this season (he's been... pretty rusty, I know he came off the injury but still) and it will be right for Houston to be skeptical about making this trade. If Dipo doesn't look better by the yoffs, I would push for more picks/players from Indiana, or rather reworking the trade around Sabonis or Turner.


Philadelphia doesn't give up any picks here, Simmons' value and future upside being enough to offset that. Houston gets a potential superstar if Simmons gets a 3-point shot eventually plus some solid young guys to keep as building blocks.
Philadelphia improves greatly on the offensive side by bringing in James Harden as their primary facilitator; the Harden/Richardson/Harris/Horford/Embiid lineup would be more well-rounded than the current one with Ben, and I think they would be a force in the playoffs. I am skeptical about the Sixers' depth after this trade, and if this were to happen in real life, I suspect the team would rather include multiple future 1sts than Korkmaz or Thybulle, so you can do this either way. It just depends on the Sixers' ability to acquire more depth later on.


Houston gets a potential young star, a great role player, a couple of meh young prospects (salary fillers), and another salary filler plus several picks. LeVert is locked up long term (through 2023) and Dinwiddie has a player option in 2021 which he may decline if he can get a larger contract elsewhere, giving Houston plenty of cap space along with Temple's expiring.
Brooklyn reunites KD and Harden, with Kyrie serving as the Third Eye. If KD comes back even close to what he was, this is a title favorite. This will probably work out better for them than the last time they traded 3 first round picks since the guy they are trading for is actually in his prime instead of washed up.


That's a lot of potential trades! And wow, I spent 3 hours writing this...
Comment below if you can come up with any more plausible trades.
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[OC] Annual Reddit NBA Celebrity Game Preview - 2020

Welcome back to the annual event where one Redditor who clearly needs his boss to assign him more work write over 3,000 words on the most meaningless game of basketball that will be nationally televised this year. Once again, this game will highlight low quality basketball, large stretches of time where the camera focusing on things not happening on the court and a surprise celebrity entrant or two. The commentators will talk about the actual game for less then 30% of the time that they are on air. This year will also introduce the Ruffles Celebrity Game Lounge “an exclusive new courtside area that will host celebrities and influencers, who can lounge on couches for an up-close view of the game or get in on the action themselves with activities like pop-a-shot or cornhole.” (NBA.com). This is another way of saying that the TV broadcast will waste large amounts of time interviewing Instagram influencers who are less famous than the celebrities playing in the game, instead of showing the actual game. Unfortunately, the 4-point line was not mentioned and may not be back for this year’s game. I was hoping that they would go in the opposite direction and add a 5-point line. We are back to using “home” and “away” for team names and the hometown heroes have been eliminated from this game. I guess NBA marketing didn’t want to spend 5-minutes thinking of ways to tie the game into Chicago. Notably, the celebrities this year are slightly more famous than last year’s list – only two don’t have Wikipedia pages! There are 2 less player listed for this game than last year, meaning that the NBA/ESPN will have surprise entrants that will make my predictions completely worthless.
If you want to check my credentials, lasts year’s breakdown located here. I feel comfortable declaring myself to be the world’s foremost expert on the shit post of All-Star Weekend. Once again, not able to find data/footage of many of the celebrities that will be playing in this year’s game. I ended up having to make judgements on player’s skills without as much evidence to base it on.
*Game Info:* Friday, February 14, 2020, 7:00PM, ESPN, Wintrust Arena.
\Betting Odds:** Away Team -8
\Over Under:** 155
Break downs of the rosters for each team are below.
**Home Team*\*
This is a very bad team. Whoever set these rosters should have put more effort into watching YouTube clips to keep the teams balanced. The team is old and lacks size, talent and athleticism. I have a hard time seeing how they can keep up with the Away Team. This team is called the Home Team, yet the Away Team has more Chicago based celebrities. I wish the NBA cared about this game as much as I do. Quentin Richardson and Chelsea Gray are going to need to put some effort in for this team to win.
The roster has eight guards and three forwards – not very much height. The starting line-up should be Richardson, Green, Famous Los, Jidenna and Common. I am not expecting huge efforts from Richardson and Green, but Los and Jidenna should provide some athleticism and scoring for the first unit. Common is interchangeable with the rest of the roster. The bench provides nothing and there is no second unit, hopefully the starters are still in shape. This game may not end up being competitive.
**Jose Andres*\* (Celebrity Chef)
Age: 50 Height: 6’0” Weight: 240 lbs.
High school: None
College: None
This will be Andres’ first appearance in the Celebrity Game. Andres has no known history of playing basketball and I cannot find a record of him appearing in any other celebrity games. A google search tells me that he spends most of his free time fighting with the Trump family. He has OK size, but 50-year olds don’t see a lot of minutes in this game. I will be surprised if he scores any points.
**Jon Batiste*\* (Musician)
Age: 33 Height: Unknown Weight: Unknown
High school: St. Augustine High School
College: Juilliard
This will be the first NBA celebrity game appearance for Batiste – though it is a bit of a stretch to call him a celebrity. All I know about Batiste’s basketball history is that he played as a kid and that him and Colbert challenged Obama and Biden to a game of 2v2 that was never accepted. Batiste is on the younger side for players in this game and looks athletic. He might be able to help on D an score single digit points.
**Kane Brown*\* (Recording Artist)
Age: 26 Height: 6’2” Weight: 174 lbs.
High school: Three different ones somehow (played varisty)
College: None
Kane will be making his NBA Celebrity debut in 2020. Kane shoots a weird face level, push jumper that hits well in an empty gym, but I can’t see it translating into a game, although there won’t be a lot of defense in this game. I also watched him shoot 5/11 from the free-throw line and did not feel inspired. He has good height, youth and looks fit, so I think he will see upwards of 15 minutes. He has the potential to score 6 points.
**Famous Los*\* (Influencer)
Age: 30 Height: 5’11” Weight: 165 lbs.
High school: Riverside-Durham (Played Varsity)
College: Union (Played Varsity)
This will be Famous Los’ second consecutive appearance in the Celebrity Game. Los has the pedigree of having averaged 37 points per game in High School and Playing in the NCAA Division II. He had a hard time getting on the court in college, but that background makes him one of the best players in this game. He is a quick, scoring guard, who struggles defensively, but there won’t be many players in this game who are difficult to guard. I can see him being a star for this team and an MVP candidate. In 2019 Los started and played 20 minutes scoring 22 points on 10/16 shooting along with 2 rebound, 3 assists and a steal while winning the game MVP. He is one of the three best players on this team and likely will lead the team in scoring.
**Hannibal Buress*\* (Comedian)
Age: 37 Height: 5’ 10” Weight: 190 lbs.
High school: Steinmetz College Prep
College: Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Buress has never played in the NBA Celebrity game before. I also was unable to unearth any footage of his game on the YouTube scouting service. He isn’t very tall or young, I don’t expect too much from him.
**Chelsea Gray*\* (WNBA Player)
Age: 27 Height: 5’11” Weight: 170 lbs.
High school: St. Mary’s (Played Varsity)
College: Duke (Played Varsity)
Chelsea Gray is a 3-time WNBA All Start and 1-time WNBA Champion. She has averaged 11.4 points, 4.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game over her career. She is a good ball distributer and 3-point shooter. WNBA and NBA players usually don’t try very hard in this game, but the Home team is going to need output from its professionals if this game is going to be competitive.
**Jidenna*\* (Recording Artist)
Age: 34 Height: 6’ 1” Weight: 175 lbs.
High school: Milton Academy
College: Stanford
Am I supposed to know who Jidenna is? This will be his first celebrity game appearance. I watched a 30 second clip of him playing pick-up and I think he might be able to ball. He has a nice-looking jumper and good handles. He should start for this team and may be able to put up double-digit points.
**Alex Moffat*\* (ActoComedian)
Age: 37 Height: 5’8” Weight: Unknown
High school: North Shore Country Day
College: Denison University
Moffat is another rookie to the Celebrity Game. Moffat’s basketball pedigree includes being a member of the Chicago Bulls acrobatic dunk team. At 5’ 8” it is pretty unlikely that he can dunk without a trampoline. Being short, white and kinda old, I would be surprised if he scored more than 2 points.
**Common*\* (RappeActor)
Age: 47 Height: 6’0” Weight: 185 lbs
High school: Luther High School
College: Florida A&M University
This will be Common’s eighth appearance in the Celebrity Game. He really has nothing to show for his vast playing experience in this game. He was on the roster in 2018 but did not appear in the game. Common’s father was an ABA player and he has an athletic build, so I supposed the potential is there. Common is an above average ball handler and defender but is only an OK shooter by Celebrity Game standards. I think he will function as a back-up wing for this team.
**Bad Bunny*\* (Singer)
Age: 25 Height: 6’0” Weight: 175lbs
High school: Unknown
College: Puerto Rico at Arecibo
This will be Bad Bunny’s second consecutive NBA Celebrity Game appearance. I had low expectations for him last year and he largely delivered on them failing to score in 12 minutes while pulling down 2 rebounds. He is probably in better shape than some of the players in this game, allowing him to put up some hustle points. I would expect low minutes and low production.
**Quentin Richardson*\* (NBA Legend)
Age: 39 Height: 6’6” Weight: 228 lbs
High school: Whitney Young (Played Varsity)
College: DePaul (Conference Player of the Year)
Using the term “NBA Legend” to describe Quentin Richardson is really a stretch. Quavo might actually be a better player than him at this point. In his NBA career, Richardson averaged 10.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game. He led the league in 3-point shots attempted in 2004-2005, real bummer for him that the 4-point line may not be part of this year’s game. As with all former NBA players in this game, he could be effort in and be one the best players on the floor, or he might just mail it in.
Michael Wilbon (Pardon the Interruption)
ESPN went back to using their own personalities to coach the game, instead of actual coaches. Wilbon will be sure to let you know that he has talked to Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson and Coach K about how to coach this game. Coaches really don’t matter, but I don’t see Wilbon adding anything more than some name drops or humblebrags.
Player Skill Ranking:
  1. Quentin Richardson
  2. Chelsea Gray
  3. Famous Los
  4. Jidenna
  5. Common
  6. Jean Batiste
  7. Bad Bunny
  8. Kane Brown
  9. Hannibal Buress
  10. Alex Moffat
  11. Jose Andres
**Away Team*\*
The Away Team is comprised of four veterans and seven rookies to the celebrity game. The roster has five guards and six forwards. This is a large line-up for a Celebrity game (if you don’t count Ohashi in the average) and will lead to dominating the glass. This team also has a good mix of skills on the team including ball handlers, shooters and post players and has a go-to scorer. The starting line-up is more talented than the Home Team, although the bench doesn’t really have any talent either. I think Quavo will likely dominate the game again. I would start Quavo, Wilson, 2K, Miles and Hawkins. I think that the Away Team has a better roster and should win this game by 6 to 10 points.
**A’ja Wilson*\* (WNBA Player)
Age: 23 Height: 6’4” Weight: 195 lbs.
High school: Heathwood Hall Episcopal (2014 High School Player of the Year)
College: South Carolina (2018 National Player of the Year)
Wilson will be making her seconds appearance in the NBA Celebrity Game. Wilson has everything that the rest of this game doesn’t: height, skills, youth and athleticism. The only thing she can’t do is well shoot from range. She has averaged 18 points and 7 rebounds per game in the WNBA. Wilson will be the best player on this team, but the WNBA players have a long history of putting no effort into this game. In 2019 she scored 11 points in 20 minutes to go along with 2 rebounds and assist, a steal and a block – which is a great stat line for a WNBA player in this game. She will be a big part of this team.
**Ronnie 2K*\* (marketing)
Age: 37 Height: 6’5” Weight: Unknown
High school: Redwood
College: California – San Diego
Ronnie 2K had an extremely disappointing Celebrity game debut last year. He scored 4 points in 15 minutes with a plus/minus of -12. He also grabbed 6 boards, had an assist and blocked 2 shots. He is basically going to be a garbage man for this team and do the little things that most people don’t care about in a celebrity game.
**Anthony “Spice” Adams*\* (former NFL player, TV Host)
Age: 39 Height: 6’0” Weight: 310 lbs.
High school: Martin Luther King
College: Penn State
Anthony Adams aka Spice aka Cream E. Biggums will be making his first NBA Celebrity appearance. From an entertainment perspective, he is going to be a massive hit. His uniform will struggle to contain the quadriceps meat and he has the best rec specs in the business. Spice is a SIZABLE man and could push people all over the post. However, he prefers to shoot from distance despite shooting approximately 5% in an empty gym. He shoots free throws granny style for an added bonus. Biggums will play minutes to entertain the people and will probably shoot 1/13 from the field with 3 fouls. Adams will not have the best cardio in this game.
**Taylor Bennet*\* (Rapper)
Age: 24 Height: Unknown Weight: Unknown
High school: Urban Prep
College: None
I was not aware that Chance the Rapper had a brother, apparently, he has one who will be making his first and likely only appearance in the Celebrity Game. There is not footage of his game available online, so I will assume that based on his age, he can at least hustle. I don’t foresee Bennet getting big minutes.
**Chance the Rapper*\* (Rapper)
Age: 26 Height: 5’10” Weight: 182 lbs.
High school: Jones College Prep
College: None
Chance is the more famous of The Rapper brothers and is likely the most famous person in this game, as well as a Chicago icon. For that reason he will get to play as much as he wants to. Chance has AWFUL form on his jumper (watch him miss 11-straight in an empty gym). I think that the internet has been scrubbed of all other Chance hoops footage because it is offensive to life. I am excited to see him chuck multiple airballs.
**Mark Lasry*\* (Milwaukee Bucks owner)
Age: 59 Height: Unknown Weight: Unknown
High school: Unknown
College: Clark
Lasry has played in the past four Celebrity Games. His most impressive achievement was putting up a game low -20 in plus/minus in 2016, while putting up 8 points and 6 rebounds in 18 minutes. He played less in 2017 and was mainly used to guard fellow owner Mark Cuban. In 2018, he was on the court for 9 minutes and scored 3 points while grabbing 2 rebounds. In 2019 he managed to not score a single point in 16 minutes but did manage a steal and 2 rebounds. Lasry is old, slow and short, but has sneaky old man game. He is good at back door cuts, being in good spots on the floor and has a good mid-range jumper. He is a liability on the defensive end, being an old man and everything. Lasry is once again the oldest player in the game. It would be a mistake for him to play more than 5 minutes.
**LaRoyce Hawkins*\* (Actor)
Age: 31 Height: 6’3” Weight: 176 lbs.
High school: Thornton
College: Illinois State
Hawkins is yet another Celebrity Game rookie. He has a record of playing some level of youth basketball, but that was all that I was able to determine of his pedigree. 6’ 3” is decent height for this game, maybe he can post up.
**Quavo*\* (Rapper)
Age: 28 Height: 5’10” Weight: 163lbs
High school: Berkmar
College: None
Quavo previously appeared as a surprise entrant in in the 2018 game, posting 19 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting 7 of 10 from the floor and playing a game high 36-minutes. He was voted as the game’s MVP. He returned last year to put up 27 points and 9 rebounds in 26 minutes and should have been the MVP again even though his team lost. Quavo is quick, can shoot and can handle the ball and most importantly, puts effort into this game. He is going to lead this team and scoring and could repeat as MVP. He might be a better player than the NBA legends at this point in time.
**Lil Rey Howery*\* (Actor / Comedian)
Age: 40 Height: 5’6” Weight: 164 lbs.
High school: Crane Highschool (Played Varsity)
College: None
Lil Rey has never appeared in this game before. He did appear in Uncle Drew and played high school ball, which means he has an outstanding resume for this game. I have no idea if he is good or not, but he is one of the shortest players to appear in this game.
**Darius Miles*\* (NBA Legend)
Age: 39 Height: 6’9” Weight: 235 lbs.
High school: East St. Louis (All American)
College: None
I guess they just call all former players “Legends” in 2020. Miles had an 8-year NBA career averaging 10.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in 26 minutes – a Hall of Famer if you ask me. Miles shot 16% from three and 59% from the free throw line in the NBA, thus he will fit in well in this game. At 6’ 9” (nice) there is no one in this game that could guard him down low. The level of effort that former players (sorry legends) will put in is always unknown.
**Katelyn Ohashi*\* (Gymnast)
Age: 22 Height: 5’1” Weight: 105 lbs.
High school: Plano Senior Highschool
College: UCLA
Gymnasts are great athletes, but they don’t make good basketball players – see the height and weight issues. I don’t think Ohashi can dribble, shoot or make a layup. Short people getting stuffed always makes the people happy.
Stephen A. Smith (ESPN Personality)
The combination of Stephen A. with his assistant coach Guy Fieri is one of the best ideas that ESPN has had in a while. I think it is a disgrace that Guy Fieri is not playing in the game instead of coaching. Stephen A. seems like someone who has the ability to destroy locker room chemistry, if he can keep his mouth shut and just keep Quavo on the floor, this team should win.
Player Skill Ranking:
  1. Quavo
  2. Darius Miles
  3. A’ja Wilson
  4. LaRoyce Hawkins
  5. Ronnie 2K
  6. Lil Rey Howery
  7. Mark Lasry
  8. Spice Adams
  9. Taylor Bennet
  10. Chance the Rapper
  11. Katelyn Ohashi
Quavo 3:2
Famous Los 5:1
Spice Adams 8:1
Jidenna 10:1
LaRoyce Hawkins 10:1
WNBA 20:1
NBA Legend 20:1
Field 20:1
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(OC Megapost) the 2020 NBA Draft, Free Agency, and How the Warriors Can Play Their Cards to Set up Another Decade of Contention

(OC Megapost) the 2020 NBA Draft, Free Agency, and How the Warriors Can Play Their Cards to Set up Another Decade of Contention
Media members and the NBA subreddit will tell you our dynasty is over, however if you take a closer look, this franchise has one of the brightest futures in the NBA. I’ve had some free time on my hands so I decided to do some investigation on what moves Bob Myers & Co might make to keep us in contention. After all, they have been vocal about keeping our championship window open as long as possible.

This post is long so feel free to jump around. I broke it up into three sections with a TLDR at the end
  1. Current Roster Construction
  2. How we should use our 2020 draft pick
  3. Free Agency and the TPE

First, Roster Construction: Looking Ahead

G: Stephen Curry- Age 31 (Almost 32)
Curry is our franchise linchpin and until proven otherwise, the best point guard in the league. With that being said….......fuck…….... Steph is getting older. Injuries, wear and tear, and playoff minutes will all be factors in his eventual decline. Curry is under contract for two more years and the front office will probably extend him with another max deal.
The Future: There is a good chance these next two seasons are Curry’s last as a superstar, although his skill set will translate well into his mid 30’s. I’m praying we get 3-4 more years of MVP level Steph. We probably see regular season load management for the rest of his career.

G: Klay Thompson- Age 30
  • Max Contract Through 2024 (will be 34)
  • Bird Rights
  • 2020 Minutes Prediction: 75 games @ 32 mpg
Klay is locked up under contract and in the middle/late stage of his prime. He is in the sweet spot of mental & physical development and we should see peak Klay for at least a couple more seasons. ACL tears are almost always 100% recoverable with current medical technology, so I’m not worried about a production decrease until the 2022-23 season.
The Future: Standard Klay for the next 2-3 years.
F: Andrew Wiggins, Age 24 (almost 25)
  • Max Contract Through 2023 (will be 28)
  • Bird Rights
  • 78 Games @ 34 mpg
Andrew has been a hot and controversial topic since he was traded last week. Take a look at our official trade thread.Emotions have now settled, and it looks like he can be a contributing factor on a championship team. He is durable, unselfish, our best athlete, a great on-ball defender, and a much more natural scorer compared to someone like Barnes. He’s also just entering his “prime”. Most NBA players have their best seasons age 26-31 so there is potential (the magic word!) we see Wiggins improve here.
There are, however, negatives to Andrew’s game. He is not a great facilitator (although he is getting better), PnR ball handler, iso player, leader, and lacks the “dog” of a superstar #1 pick. I wouldn’t call him malaise, but he is an emotionless player. Luckily for us we will play to his strengths and through three games we can already see how he fits our system: cutting, hard drives, moving the ball, smart threes, and running the floor. Andrew is taking less shots & scoring more efficiently than he did with the Wolves, and I see this continuing as the third option.
Luckily we have leadership and emotional players so Wiggins can just come out and ball. Check out Athletic Alchemy's video on winning culture and accountability
The Future: Being incredibly conservative, I have him averaging 18/5/3 shooting 48/36/75 next year with good defense. This production is almost twice what Barnes averaged in the Bay and would solidify Andrew as a top 7-10 SF. His ceiling however is higher, and star potential is still there.

F: Draymond Green, Age 29 (almost 30)
  • Contract Through 2024, Player Option (will be 34)
  • Bird Rights
  • 70 Games @ 33mpg
Draymond might be the worst scorer in the league, but our fanbase know he does everything else at a good-to-elite level. He’s our general, our defensive anchor, and the father figure of this G-league roster.
Offensively he orchestrates the team, handles the ball, and is our best facilitator. Defensively he's top a help/PnR defender, and when he locks-in he is still elite on-ball. With Dlo gone he can run more of the offense and won't get as frustrated on the other end. Physically we aren’t in 2015 anymore, but Dray can still turn on the burners and push it when he needs to. He is the vocal leader of this team, a great motivator, and keeps everyone accountable while being one of the winning-est players of this generation.
The Future: With a rejuvenated and well rested Green I think we see at least another 2 seasons of high level production. I’m curious to see how his declining athleticism impacts his game, although I don’t think we notice a big difference for a few years.

C: Kevon Looney, Age 24
  • Contract Through 2022, Player Option (will be 26)
  • Bird Rights
  • 68 games @ 14 minutes a night
Looney was a key piece to our finals roster last year and has a role when this team is healthy. This year's production has been a wash with injuries and I hope he can get his mojo back for next season.
At his best Looney is a small center who has good lateral quickness and can switch 1-5 competently. He has decent offensive IQ and can finish around the rim. Hopefully he can continue to develop and be a rotation piece in the future. He’s only 24 years old.
Next Year: We probably see Looney with similar effectiveness to the 2018-2019 season, playing in match-up dependent stretches.

PG/SG: Jordan Poole, Age 20 (Rookie)
  • Contract Through 2023, Team Option (will be 23)
  • Bird Rights
  • 75 games @ 12 minutes a night
Jordan has been one of our most polarizing players. He almost played himself out of the league in December putting up 10 points on 29/26/84 efficiency. Thankfully his production has picked up since moving to point guard averaging 11/3/3 on 42/27/100 in February. He has a crafty handle and flashes of vision with a decent jump shot. His ceiling is a scoring 6th man, we just need to see continued improvement into the future.
Next Year: Poole shares the backup PG spot with Bowman and is inserted based on who’s hot.

PF/SF: Eric Paschall, Age 23 (Rookie)
  • Contract through 2022, Team Option (will be 25)
  • Bird Rights
  • 75 Games @ 24 minutes a night
Eric is a strong, physically imposing forward who has good bounce for his build. He had an incredible start in November and looked like a starting caliber player, but his production has since dropped off. Teams are learning his tendencies as our best scorer and have exploited him accordingly. Hopefully he has a strong end of the year to get a head start on improving this off-season. He needs to work on his jump shot, ball handling, defense, and overall IQ if he wants heavy minutes on our contending roster. Once again, the potential is there.
Next Year: I think Paschall improves and logs time at the 3 and 4 next season. Spacing will be much better and Eric will be able to play to his strengths on the offensive end. If he develops an average jumper + defense he is a league starter.

SG/SF: Damion Lee, Age 27
  • Contract through 2022 (will be 29)
  • Bird Rights
  • 75 games at 12 minutes a night
I don't have too much to say about Damion Lee. He is a decent scoreshooter who has had a good February. He moves without the ball and has bought into our system. He hustles and usually applies good effort. That being said he lacks the bball iq to be a good player on either end. He is who he is as a player.
Next Year: In a dry forward free agency/draft class Lee will still get playing time. Some nights he will make shots and others he will get played off the floor.

C: Marquese Chriss, Age 22
  • Contract through 2021 (will be 23)
  • No Bird Rights :’(
  • 80 Games at 26 minutes a night
I fucking love Marquese Chriss. He is an emotional player with good finishing, size, and a great vertical. He has shown some playmaking ability and can move the ball within the flow of the offense. Chriss is already a more cerebral player over centers like Javale, Dwight, and Capela. February has been a great month for him: he's averaging 15/8/1 with 2.5 bpg in 27 minutes. He’s also 22 years old.
Chriss can be a starter in this league if he improves in a few areas. Defensively his PnR game needs work: he has moments where he loses focus and can end up in the wrong spot, although his shot blocking has been excellent. Offensively he needs to polish his game and develop his jumper. If he shows even a 10% improvement overall we should be ecstatic. The Warriors will end up having to use our MLE in 2021 to keep him, although he might be offered more by other teams.
The Future: I see Chriss continuing to improve and being a solid piece, if not a starter, on this roster.

PG: Ky Bowman, Age 22
  • Contract Through 2022 (will be 24)
  • Bird Rights
  • 75 Games at 12 minutes a night
Bowman is a hustle player and our only facilitator other than Draymond. He has good chemistry with Chriss and is our “best” ball handler. He’s not someone you can count on to give you a bucket which lowers his value on this talent-dry team. He might have more success next year when we are healthy and he can focus on passing and defense. Speaking of defense, he’s good on that end.
Next Year: Ky will probably be competing with Poole next year for backup PG minutes on a game-by-game basis.

G-League + 10 Day’ers
Alen Smailagic
  • Probably the only player who is on the team next year. He is a pure project, but has shown signs he might make it in the league.
  • A good defender and that's about it. We might keep him,

The 2020 NBA Draft

The Warriors have two high draft picks, our own in 2020, and a top three protected in 2021 from Minnesota.

Why We Should Keep our (High) Draft Picks
  • Our core is heading into next year at 32 (Steph), 30 (Klay), 30 (Draymond), and 25 (Wiggins). Bringing in young players to develop and take regular season minutes from our stars makes sense.
  • High level rookies are on cheap, 4 year contracts w/ bird rights and turn into restricted free agents. We can also extend our core players while they develop.
  • It is financially impossible for this team to bring in free agents outside our MLE, TPE, and minimum contracts.
  • Drafting high-level rookies into the best culture, system, and team in the league??? Sign me up.
  • It is the only way to keep our championship window open in the short and long-term. We can still field an elite roster next year, the year after, and 5-6 years down the line if we get good development from our players.
  • That being said we shouldn’t be opposed to trading down into the 6-10 range this year if able.

Who We Should Draft

1) James Wiseman, C, Memphis, Freshman

  • 7’1” 235, 7’5” Wingspan
  • Age 18 (3/31/01)
  • 20/10/3 blocks on 77/NA/70 splits
  • Pick Prediction: We take him if he is on the board
  • James is arguably the best center prospect since Karl Anthony-Towns. But the changing NBA landscape and his shortened season might give us an opportunity to draft him as high as 5. He's an athlete, has a build that will allow him to add muscle, and was already an elite shot blocker in Memphis. He’s a physical specimen with measurables only matched by Rudy Gobert. He has shown the potential to build a jump shot and has good awareness around the rim. He shot 70% on 9FTA per game this season. It will take him time to develop into a star but he should produce at least Javale-like numbers year one. Historically we have never had a great center so it’s hard to imagine this team with a dominant big. The league is trending smaller but I still think Wiseman is a must-draft prospect with superstar potential

2) Anthony Edwards, G Georgia, Freshman

  • 6’5” 225, 6’10” Wingspan
  • Age 18 (8/05/01)
  • 20/5/3 on 41/30/76 splits (7.5 3PA/G)
  • Pick Prediction: We take him if Wiseman is off the board
  • I’m not as high on Edwards as others but once again he has potential we can't pass up on. He’s one of the youngest players in the draft and already has an incredible NBA body. He can score and get his shot off anywhere plus has the makeup to be a lockdown defender. He already does everything on both ends of the floor well. He’s the most complete player in the draft and a top 2 pick.
  • Edwards’ biggest negative is his shot selection: Step back twos, contested jumpers, isolation fade-aways, etc. Luckily It seems it's more a product of his system/green light rather than an attitude issue (see Carmelo Anthony). It's still the biggest knock on him as a prospect and his ego would take a hit on this Warriors team.
After Wiseman & Edwards are selected I could see us trading down into the 5-11 range as star potential drops-off (except for LaMelo, who I’m not high on). Other teams will try to trade down as well, so we might end up having to keep the pick.

3a) Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State, Sophomore

  • 6’5” 185, Good Wingspan
  • Age 19 (2/29/00)
  • 15/6/7 on 50/42/82 splits (3 3PA/G)
  • Pick Prediction: 4-8
  • Tyrese is my favorite player in this draft. I’m arguably higher on Haliburton than Edwards, especially fit-wise for this team. Tyrese is a natural passer, team player, and a more efficient scorer as a sophomore at Iowa State. He acts as the floor general in a pass-and-move system and is already an elite facilitator. He's a great shooter with a funky jumpshot (KAT and Kevin Martin mixed), but I don’t think it will be an issue in the league. He has NBA range ++ and Tyrese will space the floor immediately as a catch-and-shoot player. Defensively he needs work on-ball, but his team defense is excellent. He is a vocal defender with crisp rotations, and frequently blocks shots & attacks the passing lanes. He’s out for the season with a broken wrist so he could fall to us in the 7-10 range.

3b) Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn, Freshman

  • 6’6”, 225, 6”9” Wingspan
  • Age 19 (1/26/01)
  • 13/5/2 on 51/27/66 (2.5 3PA/G)
  • Pick Prediction: 4-6
  • Okoro is rising up big-boards as one of this draft’s most intriguing prospects. He has great athleticism and will make an immediate impact on an NBA defense: switching 1-5, locking-up the opponents best scorer, harassing off-ball, and demoralizing teams on a nightly basis. Offensively he's very raw but has come into his own since the start of the year, playing his most consistent stretch of basketball in February. He isn’t your typical 3&D wing: he's at his best when he can use his body and physicality to score. He racks up second chance points as a great offensive rebounder and thrives in transition. In the halfcourt he’s most effective when attacking the basket or cutting backdoor. His 3 ball is also improving: shooting 32% in his last 8 games (with decent form). Okoro makes us an elite defense right away and has a good ceiling offensively.

3c) Obi Toppin, F, Dayton, Sophomore

  • 6’9”, 220, Good Wingspan
  • Age 21 (3/4/1998)
  • 20/8/2 on 63/36/72 splits (3 3PA/G)
  • Pick Prediction: Trade down, 6-10
  • Obi is a physically developed 6’9” athlete who is an incredibly powerful dunker. He can play the post, set screens, run the floor, block shots, and is a great fit in today’s game. He’s also shown NBA range with good form in his sophomore season. Being almost 22 years old he doesn’t have the ceiling of other prospects, but he's a sure bet to be a productive player. Toppin will work as a small ball centePF and can play 3-5. His on-ball defense is a question mark against playmaking forwards but he still should be an asset on that end.

6) Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv

  • 6’8”, 200
  • Age 19
  • 4/3/1 on 47/33/58 (14 mpg)
  • Pick Prediction: Trade down, 7-11
  • Deni is a prospect who hasn’t played many minutes this year. He is a point-forward who can score, pass, dribble and play within the offense. In the minutes he's actually received he's been a pretty impressive player! (Think of a better facilitating Gallinari as his ceiling). He’s a decent finisher at the rim and has NBA size.
  • He does have some clear negatives: He’s limited athletically, so there is a ceiling on his defense and physical abilities. He has also been a terrible free throw shooter and his jump shot is inconsistent. That being said he is a great plug and play guy in our system with good offensive upside. He’s the last player I would be excited to draft.

Players that Don’t Make Sense

1) LaMelo Ball, G , Illawarra

  • 6’7”, 180
  • Age 18 (8/22/2001)
  • 17/8/7 on 37/25/72 (Seven 3PA/G)
  • The Good: Melo is a tall point forward and a triple double threat every night. He is a smoother overall player than Lonzo, has a MUCH better handle, and has some crazy finishes at the rim (high-level 2k layup package). He has a star ceiling and is the youngest out of all the prospects.
  • The Bad: Melo is a reality TV and Instagram star. I question if he has the drive & desire to compete with guys like Jimmy Butler or Russel Westbrook on a nightly basis. I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s cocky but he celebrates and stares people down more than he should on the worst team in the NBL (5-22 record this year). He’s a bad on-ball defender and doesn’t put in effort off-ball. What will be most detrimental to his NBA career, however, is his efficiency. Melo has the dream combo of bad mechanics + poor shot selection and it translates to his shooting percentages. He’ll have to make some drastic changes to be a high-level starter. I don’t abhor him as a prospect, I just hate his fit on this team and want nothing to do with the Lavar circus.

2) Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC, Freshman

  • 6’8”, 235
  • Age 19 (12/11/2000)
  • 16/9/3 blocks on 61/NA/75
  • Onyeka and LaMelo will be the second and third lottery picks from Chino Hills’ 2016 roster, joining Lonzo Ball in this year's draft. Okongwu is an imposing player that fills the lob threat/rim protector role better than anyone this class sans Wiseman. His ceiling will fluctuate based on the development of his jumpshot. I don’t see him as a fit- Chriss already takes up our undersized center role.

3) Everyone Else
  • There are an abundance of decent point guard prospects and none of them fit the roster (except Haliburton). RJ Hampton is too much of a project, Killian Hayes plays like Dlo, Cole Anthony is inefficient, and other guards will land outside of the lottery.

Free Agency and the TPE

This team has a few big holes and Warriors only have the Mid-Level Exception and Minimum contract options to use at our disposal: our biggest need is a bruising center, followed by wing depth, a backup point guard, and shooting. I’ve organized an MLE tier list and focused on our obtainable options. There are also minimum contract ideas to round out our roster. You can find current and future free agents here.

MLE Targets

First Tier, Pipe Dreams: Marc Gasol, Goran Dragic, Serge Ibaka , Danillo Gallinari
Second Tier, Realistic Options: Tristan Thompson, Aron Baynes, Dwight Howard, Paul Milsap, Jae Crowder, Jeff Teague

1) Tristan Thompson, C, Cleveland Cavs, Age 28
  • $18.6 mil current salary
  • 12/10/2 and 1 block on 51/NA/64, 30mpg
  • Full MLE
  • Tristan has the best mixture of age, physicality, defense, and rebounding out of our center options. He is also the youngest on this list at 28 years old. He can bang with other bruisers and switch 1-5 when locked in (as we have experienced first hand). He’s going to be a commodity with other contenders this summer.
2) Aron Baynes, C, Phoenix Suns, Age 33
  • $5.3 mil
  • 11/6/2 with 2 blocks on 49/33/72 (4 3PA/G), 22mpg
  • Partial MLE
  • Aron Baynes is a big center who can shoot and stretch the floor. He’s a fantastic pairing with our starters and might be signable for a portion of the MLE. He will match up against centers like Gobert, Jokic, and Adams. He fills a role this team has never had before as a stretch 5 who can hit free throws.
3) Dwight Howard, C, Los Angeles Lakers, Age 34
  • $2.6 mil current salary
  • 8/8/1 and 1.4 blocks on 74/NA/60, 20mpg
  • Partial MLE
  • Dwight finally let go of his ego and has been excellent this year in a clogged rotation. At 34 he’s still an elite athlete on the court and the best rebounder on the Lakers. He would immediately give our team size and power and brings good energy to the locker room.
4) Paul Milsap, PF, Denver Nuggets, Age 35
  • $30.1 mil
  • 12/6/2 on 48/44/85 (2.4 3PA/G), 24mpg
  • Full MLE
  • Paul has been playing at an effective level for 14 years. He’s a strong, versatile defender who can score efficiently in the flow of the offense. He’s arguably the best player on this list but he doesn’t fill our biggest needs. He will, however, be an incredible backup to Draymond and can play the 4 or small ball 5. Paul will be a highly desired asset.
5) Jae Crowder, SF, Miami Heat, Age 29
  • $7.8 mil
  • 10/6/3 on 37/29/79 (6 3PA/G) 27mpg
  • Partial MLE target
  • Crowder is our best wing option in 2020. I have him over the Morris twins because of his attitude and bball IQ. Watching Jae he’s a great teammate, hustle player, and willing passer. His efficiency is horrible this season, but it seems to be more of an outlier than normal: his career shooting splits are 42/34/78 (although fg% has been down after his stint in Boston). He’s a strong, physical defender who can guard 1-4 and always plays with effort.
6) Jeff Teague, PG, Atlanta, Age 31
  • $19.0 Mil
  • 13/6/3 on 45/38/87 splits (2.5 3PA/G) 28mpg
  • Partial MLE
  • Jeff hasn’t been a starting caliber pg since his Atlanta days, but he could be decent as a backup for Steph. I’m not a huge fan of his game, as he just edges out the Morris brothers for my last pick.

Third Tier, Honorable Mentions: Mason Plumlee, Nerlens Noel, Enes Kanter, Alex Len, Javale McGee, Robin Lopez, Morris Twins, Derrick Favors

Minimum Contract Ideas

Top 5: Wes Matthews, DJ Augustin, GR3, Marvin Williams, Patrick Patterson

Wes Mathews, G, 33
  • 8/3/1 on 41/37/77 splits (4 3PA/G), 25mpg
  • Wes is still producing on a Bucks team on pace to win 70 games. He is a good defender, spaces the floor, and can start if we need him too. He has a player option this year so we will have to offer him more than the vet minimum to pull him out of Milwaukee.
DJ Augustin, G, 32
  • 11/2/5 on 39/35/88 splits (3.5 3PA/G) 26mpg
  • DJ is not an exciting pickup by any means but he adds shooting and playmaking to the bench. As of right now he's a better overall PG than Poole and Bowman. He’s in the midst of a down year statistically and might be a good buy-low option.
Glen Robinson III, G, 26
  • 12/4/2 on 48/40/85 splits (3.5 3PA/G), 30mpg
  • GR3 got great experience on our team and developed into an efficient scorer. He understands our system and would be ideal as a backup wing. Unfortunately teams will offer him the full MLE, and I’m not sure it makes sense to pay him that on our roster.
Marvin Williams, F, 33
  • 7/3/1 on 45/37/86 splits (3 3PA/G), 20mpg
  • Marvin is not the stretch 4 he used to be but could still be a piece in our rotation.
Patrick Patterson
  • 5/3/0 on 40/37/79
  • Literally just a body at this point.

The Traded Player Exception

The warriors have a TPE valued at $17.1 mil from the Igoudala trade. I only see us trading down this year or using our personal 2021 pick as assets, so the players we can get back in return are limited. Here are three players we should consider.

Terrence Ross, G, 29
  • 13/3/1 on 39/32/83 Splits (7 3PA/G), 27mpg
  • $13.5 mil/year through 2023
  • Terrence is a decent wing player who’s having a bit of a down year percentage wise. He makes less than our full TPE and gives us more cap flexibility than someone like Evan Fornier. He is a scorer who’s best as a catch-and-shoot 2 guard and is a match in our system.
Jonas Valanciunas, C, 27
  • 15/11/2 and 1 block on 59/37/72 splits (1.5 3PA/G), 26mpg
  • $15.0 mil/year through 2022
  • Jonas fits our center rotation like a glove with his size and strength. He dominates in matchup dependent stretches against weaker bigs. The Grizzlies will want a better asset than our 2021 pick so he might be an unrealistic target.
Thaddeus Young, F, 31
  • 10/4/1 on 44/34/59 splits (3 3PA/G), 24mpg
  • $14.5 mil/year through 2022
  • Thad is highly coveted by this sub and could be a decent rotation forward, however his athleticism is declining. This year he’s been an average bench player on a bad Bulls team. His only assets are defense, hustle, and instincts. He ‘s an old option and will be 33 at the end of his contract.

The Warriors are in hibernation mode but have done a great job pooling assets together for another 5 year ++ run. It was a blessing in disguise that everyone got injured at the same time. Our stars are aging, so it's logical to draft rookies that will grow into our system. The talent pool isn’t elite this year, but there are a few prospects we can’t pass up on. In free agency we have the MLE, TPE, and Minimum contract options to sign players. We have a wide-variety of ways to fill out our roster. I think we maintain championship contention for at least 3 more years.
Statistics, Sources, and Salary Cap Information
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Team draft analysis (non-Orioles, Part 1)

Because there are 29 teams and I can't just make it really short, I'll put it into two parts so it's not too long. I'll go in the draft order, so in part 1, the Tigers will start things and the Cubs will end it. Part 2 will start with the Red Sox and end with the Astros. As with the Orioles, I'll even post a grade more for humor purposes than anything.
1) Detroit Tigers: Going all bats was completely understandable for a team with three strong arms atop their farm system (Mize, Manning, Skubal) and their strongest positional prospect being a 19-year-old Riley Greene. Spencer Torkelson and his strong bat is the obvious prize of the draft class, but let's go over the rest of Detroit's class. The Tigers went with Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler atop Round 2. He's always been thought of as a strong defender, but with the way his bat came around to start 2020, his draft stock soared. And I thought it was a nice value considering he easily could have fit into the first round. LSU outfielder Daniel Cabrera could have easily fit atop Round 2 or even in the competitive balance A picks, so getting him in the competitive balance B picks was excellently done. He may not do anything at a super standout level, but he does everything very well. He'll be a nice fit in the 2 hole or in the middle of a big league lineup (5 through 7). Trei Cruz was probably a money saving pick, and the Rice shortstop did hit well in his college career and on the Cape Cod League. But he may fit better at 2nd base as a professional. Torkelson's college teammate Gage Workman was a solid buy low move in Round 4. He had a strong season as a 19-year-old sophomore and then in the Cape Cod League last summer. At only age 20 now, he could bounce back. Colt Keith was a strong Round 5 pick assuming he can be bought out of his Arizona State commitment. A two-way player in high school, it sounds like the Tigers plan on developing him as a hitter with the possibility he could go back to pitching if he's unable to cut it with the bat. Grade: A+ (Great draft for Al Avila and the Tigers)
2) Miami Marlins: Doing the exact opposite of the Tigers, the Fish went with all pitchers. It started with Max Meyer, who I fully expected would be the #2 pitcher off the board after Asa Lacy. However, perhaps Lacy's price drove them to Meyer, who was reportedly willing to accept a slightly under slot deal. Some of the MLB Network guys think his smaller frame could force a move to the bullpen, but I don't think so. Smaller pitchers have held up just fine as starters before. After Mad Max, the Marlins went with Oklahoma high school lefty Dax Fulton, Ball State righty Kyle Nicolas, Coastal Carolina righty Zach McCambley, Vandy lefty Jake Eder and finally USC righty Kyle Hurt. Fulton underwent Tommy John surgery in September, but we've seen that's not the big deal it once was. I think he'll be fine. IDK how projectable he is when he's already 6'6" and 225 pounds, but you could also argue he doesn't need much more of it at that size. He's already got a plus fastball/curveball combination with a developing change. Nicolas has a great fastball that can reach triple digits, a strong slider when it's on and a good enough curve. He doesn't have a long track record of consistently throwing strikes, which he'll need to do in order to be a starter in pro ball. McCambley has thrown strikes more often and showed better in the Cape Cod League than Nicolas last summer, but he only has two reliable pitches (fastball/curve) at the moment. If he can't develop a third, the bullpen may be his destination as well. Eder has enough pitches to start, but he'll need to become more consistent with his command/control. Otherwise, he, too, will likely be a bullpen guy. Hurt was a talented prospect coming out of high school and has enough pitches to start, but inconsistency has been a problem for him as well. Grade: B+ (Meyer and Fulton were good starts, but the latter four picks may or may not pan out as starters (if they do at all). That drives the grade down from the A range for me)
3) Kansas City Royals: Asa Lacy still could develop more from a control standpoint, but the well built Texas A&M lefty could have four plus offerings at his peak. I think he's got Chris Sale type of potential. Nick Loftin out of Baylor may not be a star, but he's a good bet to stick as a major leaguer for a while as at least a utility player. Ben Hernandez is a projectable righty from Chicago who goes to school just minutes from Guaranteed Rate Field. His changeup is maybe the best amongst all pitchers in the draft class. He impressed last summer at the Pipeline Developmental League and the Under Armour Game. Alabama outfielder Tyler Gentry quietly put together a strong resume in Tuscaloosa, has no major holes in his game and can play all three OF spots. Oregon State lefty Christian Chamberlain and Eastern Illinois righty Will Klein started for their teams, but both have had trouble throwing strikes in college. Both are more likely relievers to me. Klein shined in a relief role in the Cape Cod League. Grade: A (I thought the Royals nailed it with their first four picks. Chamberlain and Klein I'm not as high on since my guess is they'll be relievers, but the first four picks carry this draft class)
4) Toronto Blue Jays: They had to be thrilled to have Vandy's Austin Martin fall into their laps at 5. The Jays are already rich with young and strong position players and got even richer. Florida State's CJ Van Eyk has a quality three-pitch arsenal needed to start, but if he remains inconsistent with his control, I could see him eventually becoming a reliever. Jacksonville righty Trent Palmer threw a lot more strikes in a shortened 2020, but doesn't have a strong track record of doing so prior to that. I see him as a smaller Florida school version of Van Eyk. There's a strong enough arsenal to start, but will he have consistent enough command to do it? Nick Frasso out of Loyola Marymount is someone I think they'll try as a starter while knowing he could move back to the bullpen since he's done good work at Loyola out of the pen. Louisville outfielder Zach Britton is not related to the former Oriole and current Yankee, but I imagine he was a money savings pick to ensure they could sign Martin and Van Eyk. He's flashed some as a hitter, so maybe something's there. I can't speak about his defense since I hadn't really heard of him prior to the Jays selecting him. Grade: A (Getting Austin Martin at 5 pretty much assured them of a very good draft grade, and they got some quality arms and an under the radar bat after that)
5) Seattle Mariners: Emerson Hancock was once thought of as the potential #1 pick in the draft class, but an inconsistent shortened 2020 and analytics pushed him down some. The Georgia righty was a strong value pick for the M's at 6. Texas A&M outfielder Zach DeLoach didn't show much his first two seasons, but then raked in the Cape Cod League and was continuing to do that during the shortened 2020 season. Connor Phillips is a young junior college product with a lot of natural talent, but needs to become more of a pitcher than a thrower. He could be a boom or bust type of pick. Kaden Polcovich hit on the Cape and then at Oklahoma State in a shortened season. Ole Miss' Tyler Keenan will derive all his value from his bat. Cal Poly righy Taylor Dollard has pretty average stuff, but he commands it well and could profile as a #4 or 5 starter. Grade: B+ (Dollard seems like an underrated pick in Round 5, and I like mixing a higher risk/higher reward arm like Phillips in with him. The hitters aren't terrible, but not particularly anything special in my eyes)
6) Pittsburgh Pirates: 2nd baseman Nick Gonzales and South Carolina righty Carmen Mlodzinski were a good mix of high floohigh ceiling picks on Day 1. La Mirada HS pitcher Jared Jones is someone I thought could easily go higher, so solid value with him. Nick Garcia needs more experience having just begun pitching, but he impressed at D-III Chapman and did solidly on the Cape for an inexperienced pitcher. Jack Hartman and Logan Hofmann strike me as easy to sign guys. The former is a reliever from Appalachian State, the latter impressed in four outings as a starter at small school Northwestern State. Grade: A- (Gonzales should be a solid regular, and while the three pitchers taken after come with some risk, there's some high reward with them as well. Of the final two picks, Hofmann is way more intriguing to me)
7) San Diego Padres: Robert Hassell was an interesting pick with Zac Veen still available, but I love his hit tool and can respect them for sticking with their guy. Justin Lange is a very projectable righty who throws really hard, but he'll require patience. Owen Caissie has good raw power, speed and a plus throwing arm. He may even be able to handle center. We'll see how much he hits. Georgia righty Cole Wilcox didn't see his draft stock go as high as I and probably he expected it. There's definite reliever risk with him, but he's got as much upside as just about any of the second tier college arms in the class. Troy righty Levi Thomas is likely a cheap signing. He impressed in four starts this spring. High school pitcher Jagger Haynes is a North Carolina commit who I couldn't tell you anything about, but I could see needing to go over slot to sign him away from UNC and the Padres never shy away from high school players. Grade: A- (I was kind of torn between an A- and an A since I really liked the Wilcox value in Round 3, but not knowing enough about Haynes, I feel a bit more comfortable sticking with the lower mark. Strong haul for the Friars, though)
8) Colorado Rockies: Zac Veen was unbelievable value at 9 and has the potential to be a five tool player. Drew Romo is a very strong defensive catcher. High school catchers don't have the best track record, and we'll have to see how much he hits. Chris McMahon was an excellent Round 2 pick. He's a high floor guy who could be a 3rd or 4th starter. Sam Weatherly has excellent stuff, but I'm not convinced he has enough command/control to be a starting pitcher. Case Williams, I couldn't tell you anything about, but he's from Colorado, so he's got some experience pitching in altitude. Jack Blomgren was fine in Round 5. He can play shortstop, but I'm not sure he'll hit enough to be more than a backup or utility player. Grade: A (The Veen, Romo and McMahon picks really made this draft class stick out for me)
9) Los Angeles Angels: Reid Detmers was the easy part. David Calabrese was a strong 3rd round pick. He's got top of the line speed, can hit a bit and should have no problem playing centerfield defensively. Adam Seminaris is basically a poor man's Reid Detmers. The Long Beach lefty won't blow anyone away, but he's got very good command and could be a backend starter. Werner Blakely is an athletic, projectable high school shortstop from Detroit. He's committed to Auburn, but I'm guessing the Angels will be able to sign him away from that. Grade: A (IDK if this is the highest upside class, but Detmers is maybe the safest pitcher in the draft class and I feel like Calabrese is less risky than a lot of high schoolers. His plus speed and solid CF defense should play. Seminaris should at least be minor league pitching depth and could be more. I like adding a high risk/high reward pick like Blakely in with three higher floor guys)
10) Chicago White Sox: Garrett Crochet is a bit of a high risk/high reward college lefty. He's got as much pure stuff as any college pitcher in the draft, but he doesn't have the track record of the guys who went before him. Jared Kelley has the Emerson Hancock syndrome of analytics knocking him down draft boards, but he's a hard throwing righty (aren't they all that way from Texas?) who was a great value in Round 2. Adisyn Coffey can throw mid-90s, started his career at ASU and was slated to play for Louisville next year. Beyond that, I've got nothing. Kade Mechals had strong numbers in two seasons at Grand Canyon and was comp'd to Mike Leake on the draft broadcast. So basically, a durable innings eater. Auburn lefty Bailey Horn had a strong four game showing in 2020. Nobody seems sure if he's a starter or reliever long term. Grade: B (Jared Kelley is the one propping this grade up a lot. The final three picks are easy to sign guys who should help pay for him and Garrett Crochet. Mechals and Horn have had Tommy John Surgery before, something to keep an eye on with them)
11) Cincinnati Reds: Austin Hendrick could end up being a bit like Jay Bruce was for the Reds. You have to live with some swing-and-miss, but he can launch the ball when he gets the bat on it. Christian Roa has four pitches in his arsenal and solid control to go with it, but didn't put it together at Texas A&M. Jackson Miller is a high school catcher who doesn't necessarily stand out with any one tool, but is a solid all-around player. Mac Wainwright is a projectable high school outfielder who I didn't know much about. Bryce Bonnin has a four pitch mix, but he's been largely ineffective in college. He does have a plus fastball/slider combination that could play up in relief. Joe Boyle is strictly a reliever who can throw 100 MPH, but often times really struggles with his command. Grade: B- (I could go for a B since I do like their high school picks enough, but because none of these pitchers have really proven themselves even in college, I'm bumping it down a notch)
12) San Francisco Giants: It'll be interesting to see how the Giants try fitting two catchers, Patrick Bailey and Joey Bart, together. I imagine one or both of them see time at other positions. Casey Schmitt fits the power hitting 3rd base profile, although the 49th pick felt a bit early for him. He also pitched in relief for San Diego State and could fall back on that if he doesn't hit enough in the minors. Nick Swiney was used largely in relief his first two seasons at NC State, but impressed in four starts in 2020 to really enhance his draft stock. Jimmy Glowenke played shortstop at Dallas Baptist, but will likely move to 2nd as a professional. He hit very well in Dallas and will have to continue to be a big league regular since no other tool really stands out. Kyle Harrison isn't a super projectable high school lefty, but he is pretty polished for a young pitcher. ASU righty R.J. Dabovich has enough pitches to start, but has done better as a reliever thus far due to a lack of control. The Giants could try and let him start and move him back to the pen if he can't start. Ryan Murphy is a smaller framed right-handed pitcher out of tiny Le Moyne College in Syracuse. He's likely a signablility selection in Round 5. Grade: B- (Bailey was a bit of a strange selection to me given what the Giants have in the minors, but he did fit the draft range. Harrison had a bit of value to me as a mid-3rd round pick. The rest of their picks, I don't really hate, but nothing stands out, either)
13) Texas Rangers: Texas Rangers: Justin Foscue doesn't have loud tools, but does everything at a relatively solid level. Evan Carter in Round 2 may have been the shock of the whole draft. He's tall at 6'4" and seemed to have helium leading up to the draft. He could have projectable power and I imagine he won't be going to Duke now. Tekoah Roby is a HS righty with a strong fastball/curve combo with a developing changeup. Dylan MacLean is the second best high school guy in Oregon after Mick Abel. He's not as projectable, but the 6'3" lefty does have three average/solid pitches at his disposal. California high school shortstop Thomas Saggese is another one who had helium leading up to the draft. It sounds like the Rangers really like his bat. Grade: C (This draft class was interesting if nothing else. The MLB Network guys sounded befuddled over it. Because I think it's much more difficult to try grading MLB Draft classes than NFL or NBA Draft classes initially, I try not to go below a C or a C- with my grades even though others may grade the Rangers in the D range themselves)
14) Philadelphia Phillies: Mick Abel was a strong selection at 15. The Oregon high school righty has four pitches that could be above average or better. He could be a future ace. Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin has very loud tools, including top of the scale speed, but he strikes out a ton and his best season was as a freshman. Carson Ragsdale out of USF did well in four starts in 2020, but has a limited track record of starting and needs to develop his changeup if he hopes to stick as a starter as a pro. Baron Radcliff strikes out a ton and hasn't hit a ton at Georgia Tech. I imagine he and Ragsdale are signability picks to save money for Abel and Martin. Grade: A- (I'd go for an A if I were convinced Martin would hit enough to offset his very high K rate, but buying low on him in the middle of Round 3 was something I could get behind and I did love the Abel pick)
15) Chicago Cubs: Ed Howard is a high school shortstop who can stick there and be a strong defender. I think he's a high floor guy who still has more left in the tank as a hitter. Jordan Nwogu is like a left field version of Casey Martin with a strong powespeed combo, but you wonder if he'll hit enough. Luke Little can throw the ball 100+ MPH, but like Joe Boyle, has little control/command. He does have maybe an average slidecurve combo as well. The Baseball America guy on the Draft broadcast really liked Koen Moreno, a projectable high school right-handed pitcher from North Carolina. Others will probably like the Burl Carraway pick way more than I do. I strongly dislike it. The Dallas Baptist lefty has a strong fastball/curve combo. He's a reliever only, which would be fine to me late in the draft. But I don't really like using essentially a top 50 pick on a reliever only. Relief pitchers are generally very volatile and if he fails as a reliever, he's got nothing to fall back on. Grade: B+ (Maybe being a tad generous I really liked the Ed Howard pick, will adhere to the Baseball America guy on Moreno and was at least fine with the other two picks. I'm not saying Carraway can't/won't be good, but I don't like using a premium pick on a relief pitcher profile only for the reasons I stated above)
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NBA All-Star Weekend is underway in Chicago, so let’s look at some 2020 NBA All-Star Game predictions. NBA odds are courtesy of FanDuel and PointsBet. The NBA All-Star Game is set to tip-off at 8 p.m. ET on TNT on Sunday night to close out the weekend in Chicago. As is true for most All-Star formats, it’s difficult to get a gauge on how to approach betting on the spread, moneyline and over/under total. NBA Season Record: 13-16-1. Team LeBron 2020 NBA All-Star Game Starters . James Harden, Houston Rockets (35.3 PPG) Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (28.9 PPG) Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers (27 2020 NBA All-Star Game Betting Odds, Preview, and Prediction. February 14, 2020. Team Giannis +5 (-101) Over/Under Odds: Over 299.5 -110, Under 299.5 -110 Odds from BetOnline as of 2/14/20; Betting on the Total. For charity, there will be a winner after each of the three 12-minute quarters. The winner will be the team with the higher score This trend continued over the next three All-Star weekends, reaching its peak

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