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Old 07-16-2018, 03:11 PM
 
Location: Tokyo, Japan
6,634 posts, read 8,342,389 times
Reputation: 7594

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Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
Is LBJ in '19-20 going to be the same caliber as '17-18? We've seen star pairings need a full year in the past to gel. Is LBJ in '20-21 going to be good enough to contend? It's very risky to just punt this year, considering the NBA miles on LeBron.
Absolutely not.

LeBron's game has declined each year since 2013, which is when he was at his absolute peak. His best individual years were 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 with 2013 being the apex of his physical abilities. In that time LeBron could play all 5 positions at an All-Star level and guard all 5 positions at an All-Star level with the Center position obviously being the case in smallball lineups. He led the Miami Heat to a regular season 66-16 record (tying the one time he did so with the 2009 Cleveland team in his first stint there at 66-16), won the NBA Finals MVP, was clutch all of Game 7 against the Spurs to make up for his limitations that almost cost them Game 6, won the regular season MVP (his last MVP) as well, and finished strong in the Defensive Player of the Year ranking (Top 3 finish). He led that franchise to back-to-back titles in consecutive years. He was also above a 40% three-point shooter that season, the best of his career, and that was his age 28 season when he was at his absolute peak (NBA players have their best seasons at age 28 usually; see Curry (2016), Harden (2018), Westbrook (2017), Kobe (2008), so on and so forth). That year his field goal percentage was the second best of his career, only a tiny tick below his career best the year after, further exemplifying his best shooting season ever. 2013 was the year when everything broke right for LeBron, both individually as a player and his leadership in leading one of the best regular season teams of all time to a championship.

Ever since his fourth year in Miami (2014), his defense has regressed more and more each year, with it falling off the cliff the last 2 seasons. It bottomed out last year when he was a horrible defender, he was worse than James Harden and Stephen Curry on that end of the court. He's only going to get worse on that end of the court due to age. He also hasn't been able to lead a team to more than 60 wins since 2013, the last time when he did so, and he plays in the East where getting to 60 wins is easy given that you beat up on the NBA's trashiest teams 3-4 times a season.

He's ranked 306th in the NBA last season by Defensive Win Shares:

https://stats.nba.com/players/defens...=DEF_WS&dir=-1

That goes along his individual Defensive Rating ranking of 452nd in the NBA last season:

https://stats.nba.com/players/defens..._RATING&dir=-1

His defensive regression actually greatly reminds me of Dwyane Wade's defensive regression, how he went from elite to decent to bad to straight up horrible in the span of just 4 years.

LeBron hasn't been a consistent two-way player since back in his Miami days. The last 2 seasons, he hasn't been a defensive player at all, period, and he hasn't been able to "flip the switch" on that end of the court in the playoffs either. The Cavaliers spent 55% of the regular season tied with Phoenix and/or Sacramento as the worst defensive team in the NBA and finished in the bottom five for the season. Of course the blame goes well beyond just LeBron but he had a huge hand in that as well.

Couple that with his offensive limitations like not being a capable knock-down three point shooter, a mediocre mid-range shooter, a mediocre at best free throw shooter, not having developed a consistent range for his jumpshots and lacking confidence in his jumpshots for that matter, and with his back-to-the-basket game having disappeared and regressed significantly since his Miami days and you have yourself a messy situation. Oh yeah, before I forget, he's also a ball dominant player. He monopolizes control of the ball and in his 15 years, I cannot even recall one season where he demonstrated that he has the ability to play off the ball. I cannot even recall even 5 games in the span of his career where he has willingly played off the ball, hell I'm having difficulty even remembering 1 game where he's willingly played off the ball and let someone else run the point for the majority of the game without his interference. He's also turning 34 towards the beginning portion of this season, so I know for a fact that the Lakers (my team) will be paying LeBron in his age related decline years. That sucks, his salary will gobble up a whole 35% of our cap sheet. This is worse than the time Mitch Kupchak gave Kobe a maximum contract extension in his injury prone years because unlike Kobe, LeBron hasn't done jack freaking sh-- for the Lakers yet. LeBron's only consistently elite talent now is running the floor and setting up shots for others (by passing) and dominating in the restricted area due to his physicality and "drive to the basket" style of game (which by the way doesn't age well).

I feel like I may be in the minority but I HATE the LeBron signing. I especially hate it given how Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinca have built the roster around him since he signed. This is a really crappy as hell team that they'll be fielding next year. It will probably take them all 82 games to clinch a playoff spot and I still have trepidations if they even can. Anthony Davis has been in the NBA for 6 years and only managed to carry New Orleans into the playoffs twice, never once higher than a 6th seed. This is the Wild West, not the cesspit known as the East. One-man teams don't ever come out of the West in this day and age (or the last 20 years straight) but it can in the East. Lots of NBA stars and superstars try to get into the playoffs in the West as one-man led teams and majority of them fail at it, especially the years where the West is most especially brutal competition wise like 2015 when Westbrook led the Thunder to 43 wins but still missed the playoffs due to Durant missing all but 27 games that season (Westbrook himself missed a large chunk of that season and while Westbrook isn't LeBron, Westbrook also wasn't at such an advanced age as age 34 having to carry an entire team on his back either). That same 2015 season the 6th seed in the East got in by breaking just 0.500 (41-41) and the 7th and 8th seeds both got in with a losing record, that's the East though. This season that just ended, the Clippers had a winning record of 42-40 and that only landed them a 10th seed in the West. While almost all of the elite teams in the West stayed consistently good, all of the trash teams in the West (save for Sacramento) got better this off season. Phoenix got much better, Dallas improved radically, so on and so forth. When you play in the West, you have to play majority of the Western teams 4 times a season and some of them 3 times a season, which is a grind. Welcome to the West LeBron, let us see how good you really are.

The only thing that can fix this situation for me is if the Lakers successfully trade for Kawhi Leonard, because then it would maximize and capitalize on LeBron's last 1-2 seasons left of elite play. LeBron screwed up coming to the Lakers, he should have joined Boston, Houston, or stayed in Cleveland to best maximize his last elite years of play and actually compete on teams that can put a scare into Golden State. In addition to that play with people who are in his generation, his age group, his peers, and closer to his intellectual level to actually compete for something worthwhile like a championship. I understand that this move was about his off court business, expanding his image and brand, and for his family's comfort but man this is a "waving the white flag" moment for LeBron with respect to competing against the Warriors and other elite teams in the West. Instead he joined a bunch of 20-something year old kids that are 1-2 years removed from college with no playoff experience and untested basketball acumen and a bunch of characters that are either washed up or just total jokes (i.e. JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, so on). This is a horribly constructed team. God awful. It looks like the type of roster constructed by someone on hella drugs. They play in the West and barely have anyone that can shoot from long distance, flimsy defensive players, and several untested players that have never been in the crunch moments before. That would be fine and all if you played in the East but you don't, you're in the West where the real NBA teams are.

Don't get me wrong, I like LeBron, love his game and to me he's one of the 5 best of all time. I just hate our situation though, as a Laker fan. Miami got him in his peak years, even Cleveland had him when he still had quite a lot left in the tank and they were able to quickly assemble a Big 3 to compete right away. Our situation just sucks, no getting around that. If we don't get Kawhi by February this will be a failed season. Those Vegas oddsmakers are smoking some crack to think this is a Top 3 team in the NBA. Colin Cowherd is such a delusional piece of trash, he's actually set himself up for uber disappointment next season with his delusions of grandeur and I suspect that he might smoke some crack too. He's the talkshow host on FS1 that believes the Lakers, of all teams, actually have a legitimate shot at the NBA title and believes they are one of the Top 3 teams in the NBA. He went as far as comparing this Lakers team, the roster RIGHT NOW to the 2015 Golden State Warriors, the team that went 67-15 and wrecked shopped its way to a title. How much crack do you have to smoke to end up this stupid?

The only bright side to this is that of the 4 players that I consider the Top 4 in the NBA as individual talents, they all play in the West now. So we literally get to see which of those 4 truly are the best next year as they will all likely have to go through one another to go the distance. The 4 I am referring to are LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis. That's the only silverlining, we get to see if LeBron still is the best next year now that he is playing in the West and will have to carry a load through basketball's most hellish path to the NBA Finals.

Of course, I would feel differently about the Lakers situation if they landed Kawhi Leonard. Landing Leonard will legitimize the Lakers as a true title threat and would give LeBron a chance to compete in likely his last 1-2 last seasons of elite and effective level of play. Without Kawhi, this team is deadbeat in the water.

Last edited by Trafalgar Law; 07-16-2018 at 04:23 PM..
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Old 07-16-2018, 04:18 PM
 
3,565 posts, read 1,879,512 times
Reputation: 2263
Quote:
Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Absolutely not.

LeBron's game has declined each year since 2013, which is when he was at his absolute peak. His best years were 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 with 2013 being the apex of his physical abilities. In that time LeBron could play all 5 positions at an All-Star level and guard all 5 positions at an All-Star level. He led the Miami Heat to a regular season 66-16 record (tying the one time he did so with the 2009 Cleveland team in his first stint there at 66-16), won the NBA Finals MVP, was clutch all of Game 7 against the Spurs to make up for his limitations that almost cost them Game 6, won the regular season MVP (his last MVP) as well, and finished strong in the Defensive Player of the Year ranking (Top 3 finish). He was also above a 40% three-point shooter that season, the best of his career, and that was his age 28 season when he was at his absolute peak (NBA players have their best seasons at age 28 usually; see Curry, Harden, Westbrook, Kobe, so on and so forth). 2013 was the year when everything broke right for LeBron, both individually as a player and his leadership in leading one of the best regular season teams of all time to a championship.

Ever since his fourth year in Miami (2014), his defense has regressed more and more each year. It bottomed out last year when he was a horrible defender, he was worse than James Harden and Stephen Curry on that end of the court. He's only going to get worse on that end of the court due to age. He also hasn't been able to lead a team to more than 60 wins since 2013, the last time when he did so, and he plays in the East where getting to 60 wins is easy given that you beat up on the NBA's trashiest teams 3-4 times a season.

He's ranked 306th in the NBA last season by Defensive Win Shares:

https://stats.nba.com/players/defens...=DEF_WS&dir=-1

That goes along his individual Defensive Rating ranking of 452nd in the NBA last season:

https://stats.nba.com/players/defens..._RATING&dir=-1

His defensive regression actually greatly reminds me of Dwyane Wade's defensive regression, how he went from elite to decent to bad to straight up horrible in the span of just 4 years.

LeBron hasn't been a consistent two-way player since back in his Miami days. The last 2 seasons, he hasn't been a defensive player at all, period, and he hasn't been able to "flip the switch" on that end of the court in the playoffs either. The Cavaliers spent 55% of the regular season tied with Phoenix and/or Sacramento as the worst defensive team in the NBA and finished in the bottom five for the season. Of course the blame goes well beyond just LeBron but he had a huge hand in that as well.

Couple that with his offensive limitations like not being a capable knock-down three point shooter, a mediocre mid-range shooter, a mediocre at best free throw shooter, not having developed a consistent range for his jumpshots and lacking confidence in his jumpshots for that matter, and with his back-to-the basket game having disappeared and regressed significantly since his Miami days and you have yourself a messy situation. Oh yeah, before I forget, he's also a ball dominant player. He monopolizes control of the ball and in his 15 years, I cannot even recall one season where he demonstrated that he has the ability to play off the ball. I cannot even recall even 5 games in the span of his career where he has willingly played off the ball, hell I'm having difficulty even remembering 1 game where he's willingly played off the ball and let someone else run the point for the majority of the game without his interference. He's also turning 34 towards the beginning portion of this season, so I know for a fact that the Lakers (my team) will be paying LeBron in his age related decline years. That sucks, his salary will gobble up a whole 35% of our cap sheet. This is worse than the time Mitch Kupchak gave Kobe a maximum contract extension in his injury prone years because unlike Kobe, LeBron hasn't done jack freaking sh-- for the Lakers yet. LeBron's only consistently elite talent now is running the floor and setting up shots for others (by passing) and dominating in the restricted area due to his physicality and "drive to the basket" style of game (which by the way doesn't age well).

I feel like I may be in the minority but I HATE the LeBron signing. I especially hate it given how Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinca have built the roster around him since he signed. This is a really crappy as hell team that they'll be fielding next year. It will probably take them all 82 games to clinch a playoff spot and I still have trepidations if they even can. Anthony Davis has been in the NBA for 6 years and only managed to carry New Orleans into the playoffs twice, never once higher than a 6th seed. This is the Wild West, not the cesspit known as the East. One-man teams don't ever come out of the West in this day and age (or the last 20 years straight) but it can in the East.

The only thing that can fix this situation for me is if the Lakers successfully trade for Kawhi Leonard, because then it would maximize and capitalize on LeBron's last 1-2 seasons left of elite play. LeBron screwed up coming to the Lakers, he should have joined Boston, Houston, or stayed in Cleveland to best maximize his last elite years of play and actually compete on teams that can put a scare into Golden State. In addition to that play with people who are in his generation, his age group, his peers, and closer to his intellectual level to actually compete for something worthwhile like a championship. I understand that this move was about his off court business, expanding his image and brand, and for his family's comfort but man this is a "waving the white flag" moment for LeBron with respect to competing against the Warriors and other elite teams in the West. Instead he joined a bunch of 20-something year old kids that are 1-2 years removed from college with no playoff experience and untested basketball acumen and a bunch of characters that are either washed up or just total jokes (i.e. JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, so on). This is a horribly constructed team. God awful. It looks like the type of roster constructed by someone on hella drugs. They play in the West and barely have anyone that can shoot from long distance, flimsy defensive players, and several untested players that have never been in the crunch moments before. That would be fine and all if you played in the East but you don't, you're in the West where the real NBA teams are.

Don't get me wrong, I like LeBron, love his game and to me he's one of the 5 best of all time. I just hate our situation though, as a Laker fan. Miami got him in his peak years, even Cleveland had him when he still had quite a lot left in the tank and they were able to quickly assemble a Big 3 to compete right away. Our situation just sucks, no getting around that. If we don't get Kawhi by February this will be a failed season. Those Vegas oddsmakers are smoking some crack to think this is a Top 3 team in the NBA. Colin Cowherd is such a delusional piece of trash, he's actually set himself up for uber disappointment next season with his delusions of grandeur and I suspect that he might smoke some crack too. He's the talkshow host on FS1 that believes the Lakers, of all teams, actually have a legitimate shot at the NBA title and believes they are one of the Top 3 teams in the NBA. He went as far as comparing this Lakers team, the roster RIGHT NOW to the 2015 Golden State Warriors, the team that went 67-15 and wrecked shopped its way to a title. How much crack do you have to smoke to end up this stupid?

The only bright side to this is that of the 4 players that I consider the Top 4 in the NBA as individual talents, they all play in the West now. So we literally get to see which of those 4 truly are the best next year as they will all likely have to go through one another to go the distance. The 4 I am referring to are LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis. That's the only silverlining, we get to see if LeBron still is the best next year now that he is playing in the West and will have to carry a load through basketball's most hellish path to the NBA Finals.

Of course, I would feel differently about the Lakers situation if they landed Kawhi Leonard. Landing Leonard will legitimize the Lakers as a true title threat and would give LeBron a chance to compete in likely his last 1-2 last seasons of elite and effective level of play. Without Kawhi, this team is deadbeat in the water.
I agree with most of what you have written. My biggest contrary view is that I think LeBron is playing better on the offensive end than the Heatles days, but I think his defensive decline has already overtaken his flourishing offense.

As it stands, this just isn't a sensible roster. There isn't much shooting. Ingram, KCP, and Kuzma are all decent-to-good shooters, but not comparable to Love-Korver, much less Love-Korver-Irving. This is not a team of defensive talent at this point. Ball & Ingram show promise on that end. Lance can be a very good defender. Rondo is good for stretches, but is not the defender he once was. Rondo, Lance, and Ball can't shoot.

The 5 position looks pretty rough.

This team clearly needs to make moves this year. As it stands, this roster will be fighting for a playoff spot, in my opinion.

We have at least the top 6 in the West--Curry/LBJ/Harden/Durant/Kawhi/AD. I think 9 of the top 10, with CP3, Jimmy Butler, and Draymond are in the West (Giannis preventing the clean sweep, imo).

The Rockets are taking a step back this offseason, though. 2-8 in the West are all wide open, with the Rockets, Thunder, Jazz, Lakers, Nuggets, Pelicans, Blazers, TWolves, Clippers, and Spurs all in the playoff hunt. Two of those teams will miss the postseason. My early bets: Lakers & Blazers.
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:26 PM
 
Location: Tokyo, Japan
6,634 posts, read 8,342,389 times
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Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post

This team clearly needs to make moves this year. As it stands, this roster will be fighting for a playoff spot, in my opinion.

We have at least the top 6 in the West--Curry/LBJ/Harden/Durant/Kawhi/AD. I think 9 of the top 10, with CP3, Jimmy Butler, and Draymond are in the West (Giannis preventing the clean sweep, imo).

The Rockets are taking a step back this offseason, though. 2-8 in the West are all wide open, with the Rockets, Thunder, Jazz, Lakers, Nuggets, Pelicans, Blazers, TWolves, Clippers, and Spurs all in the playoff hunt. Two of those teams will miss the postseason. My early bets: Lakers & Blazers.
Actually the West is even more competitive than that.

One team everyone has forgotten about because they had a down year is the Memphis Grizzlies. They actually didn't take a step back but their season was derailed because Mike Conley only played in the first 11 games of the season, in which Memphis went 7-4 with three very impressive wins; one against the Golden State Warriors and two against the Houston Rockets. Conley went down with an injury in the 12th game of the season and that game started an 11 game losing streak for Memphis. They also lost Marc Gasol for 19 games last season, including in that losing streak.

That team will have a fresh bill of health going into training camp in the upcoming season and more structure and stability in the coaching department since they had in-season issues with that last year. They will be right back in the mix as a competitive team, likely with more than 41 wins and in the mix for a playoff spot. They have two stars (not superstars but still stars nonetheless) in Mike Conley and Marc Gasol and a decent supporting cast around them.

I also think Houston is still the same as it was last year. Signing James Ennis replaces everything Luc Mbah a Moute gave them, both are basically the same player on offense and defense with the same 3 & D advantages as one another and both had eerily similar scoring outputs at 7.5 points per game apiece. That's a complete wash, in my opinion. The Rockets will also switch out defensive minded Arizona for offensive minded Carmelo, which is also a wash because Paul, Capela, Ennis, Tucker, and one of either Harden or Carmelo on the court is still a two way lineup for the most part (the other four can cover for the defensive limitations Harden or Carmelo have). Even with Carmelo's crappy defense, they have enough depth to cover for it while still scheming the best possible lineups to create mismatches. They also added a playmaker and defender in Carter-Williams to come off the bench, someone other than Paul or Harden that can facilitate. I think this team is the same caliber as last season for sure and health allowing they are definitely one of the two best teams in the West and Top 3 in the NBA (the third team being the Boston Celtics). Plus Chris Paul will start off the season healthy, he missed like 18 games or something right after the first game of the season last season, that entire team had massive injury issues and still won 65 games. I see them winning 60+ games again this next season barring any injuries. Them and the Warriors are both 60+ game winners next season for sure, barring injuries of course. I see them as a complete lock to make the playoffs with at a minimum of a Top 3 seed in the West. Same with the Warriors whom have improved in the offseason (the Jarebko signing was huge, he's superior to every center the Warriors had last year and Boogie represents a wildcard in upside depending on how he comes back).

So that is in any given order off of the top of my head; Golden State (1), Houston (2), Minnesota (3), Oklahoma City (4), Portland (5), San Antonio (6), Utah (7), New Orleans (8), Memphis (9), Los Angeles Lakers (10), Los Angeles Clippers (11), and Denver (12).

Basically 12 teams that have playoff caliber rosters competing for just 8 spots in the Western Conference. Also throw in Dallas and Phoenix into the mix as wild card candidates since both improved radically this off season and you have 14 teams out West that could theorhetically be in the mix for a playoff spot. Dallas improved by signing DeAndre Jordan and drafting NBA ready sweet shooter and playmaker Luka Doncic to go with a young core of Harrison Barnes, Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Mathews, and even a washed up but still respectable Dirk Nowitzki. Phoenix drafted DeAndre Ayton, to form a super solid young core with Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, and the rest of their nucleus. I'm not saying Dallas and Phoenix will make the playoffs, but they have the talent to realistically make that push and keep playoff contenders in the West on their toes all season long.

That just leaves Sacramento as the lone Western team with zero chance at the playoffs.

Over in the East you have Orlando as still trash, Atlanta as still trash, Charlotte as still trash, Chicago as still trash, Brooklyn as still trash, New York as still trash (Porzingis will miss the majority of next season), Detroit as still trash (they have the talent to make the playoffs; their talent just doesn't mesh or synchronize with each other though). Basically the East has 7 Sacramentos. So a team like Boston, I wouldn't be surprised if they end up with 60-70 wins next season given that you beat up on straight trash East teams 3-4 teams a season with only having to play 2 games against each Western team.

This upcoming season represents the most talent by individual players that the Western Conference has ever had in its entire history and arguably one of the most competitive years in its history with regards to the number of quality and competitive teams all vying for 8 playoff spots. The NBA needs to do something about this. Not really fair for good teams to miss the playoffs with winning records when trash in the East still get in. Also not fair with the All-Star Game, the West will have so many snubs. The top snubs in the West could probably form a better starting lineup than the best starting 5 lineup of the East, in my opinion. NBA needs to fix this.

LeBron chose a horrendous time to join a Western team, this is the most loaded it has ever been arguably. He is going to have to work insanely hard to keep the Lakers afloat and he better hope that they don't deal with injuries, that can derail an entire team in the West. Their entire season, just as Memphis from 2018 and Oklahoma City in 2015 and New Orleans in 2016 and 2017, so on and so forth. It'll be a tough ride as a lone superstar at age 34 carrying that massive of a load through the West. Very tough.

Last edited by Trafalgar Law; 07-16-2018 at 07:34 PM..
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Old 07-17-2018, 08:42 AM
 
4,492 posts, read 3,162,603 times
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Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
I agree with most of what you have written. My biggest contrary view is that I think LeBron is playing better on the offensive end than the Heatles days, but I think his defensive decline has already overtaken his flourishing offense.

As it stands, this just isn't a sensible roster. There isn't much shooting. Ingram, KCP, and Kuzma are all decent-to-good shooters, but not comparable to Love-Korver, much less Love-Korver-Irving. This is not a team of defensive talent at this point. Ball & Ingram show promise on that end. Lance can be a very good defender. Rondo is good for stretches, but is not the defender he once was. Rondo, Lance, and Ball can't shoot.

The 5 position looks pretty rough.

This team clearly needs to make moves this year. As it stands, this roster will be fighting for a playoff spot, in my opinion.

We have at least the top 6 in the West--Curry/LBJ/Harden/Durant/Kawhi/AD. I think 9 of the top 10, with CP3, Jimmy Butler, and Draymond are in the West (Giannis preventing the clean sweep, imo).

The Rockets are taking a step back this offseason, though. 2-8 in the West are all wide open, with the Rockets, Thunder, Jazz, Lakers, Nuggets, Pelicans, Blazers, TWolves, Clippers, and Spurs all in the playoff hunt. Two of those teams will miss the postseason. My early bets: Lakers & Blazers.
Am I the only person that views this signing as being good for all parties involved? I mean the Ball signing is dead. The theatrics are over with that now, so now LA has to look at actually putting out decent to good basketball. Lebron will bring that to the table. I think Lebron knows, and the public knows, chasing the Jordan rings is done. He's experiencing what New York, Indiana, Suns, Portland, and Utah experienced. The road to another ring continues to go through Golden State, and the last 2 seasons he wasn't even close to that ring. At the same time, playing against Kevin Durant, on the deadliest team in the NBA, isn't helping anyone either. Also, Golden State has had some good fortune fall their way to win 3 championships in 4 years and instill themselves as a dynasty.


I think Lebron is trying to build something totally different by going to LA. I think chasing rings for that matter is over. Getting that ring in Cleveland and taking down the best regular season team in history, as well as having a 1-3 deficit comeback to win that championship, carries some TREMENDOUS value. It may not compare to 6 rings, but there's no denying that that championship was not only special to Cleveland, but to Lebron as well. Hence why there's no hard feelings on him going to LA. He brought them a championship and even though the roster was gutted to do so, and they lost Kyrie in the process, Kyrie wasn't taking them to the championship on his own anyways. Lebron coming back to Cleveland was business and Lebron leaving Cleveland was business.


Lebron is looking to set up his future now. So this move is about getting his family situated and preparing for life after basketball. He can do that when he's playing and living in the same city. Now, they can really focus on his older son's progression to Ball is Life status and get him prepared for his future at a D1 college.


I don't think LA's vision is to win a championship, until those pieces are assembled, and they've yet to be assembled. Their play will either be Kawhi this year or next or another free agent superstar, while still seeing what they can continue to squeeze from Ball, Ingram, and Kuzma. An LA second round exit is a good spot for them in the 2018-2019 season, and just having Lebron on their team allows them that luxury. I think they'll be like the LA Clippers. Really fun and exciting team in the regular season, win 50+ games, but flame out in the 2nd round. They need another piece, and they know they need another piece, but Ball, Kuzma, Randle, and Ingram weren't going to get there.


Look what Lebron did with Nance, Hood, and Clarkson in a mid-season trade. Took them to the NBA Finals! That's what LA wants. Can you get us into the playoffs with our current roster, because we're currently swimming in circles with our current roster, and our franchise no longer has the patience to wait on 2-3 more years of development with Ball, Kuzma, and Ingram. We saw how quick the organization moved on from Randle and he was becoming a double double machine, but the team had already moved on from him.
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Old 07-17-2018, 10:26 AM
 
3,565 posts, read 1,879,512 times
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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Actually the West is even more competitive than that.

One team everyone has forgotten about because they had a down year is the Memphis Grizzlies. They actually didn't take a step back but their season was derailed because Mike Conley only played in the first 11 games of the season, in which Memphis went 7-4 with three very impressive wins; one against the Golden State Warriors and two against the Houston Rockets. Conley went down with an injury in the 12th game of the season and that game started an 11 game losing streak for Memphis. They also lost Marc Gasol for 19 games last season, including in that losing streak.

That team will have a fresh bill of health going into training camp in the upcoming season and more structure and stability in the coaching department since they had in-season issues with that last year. They will be right back in the mix as a competitive team, likely with more than 41 wins and in the mix for a playoff spot. They have two stars (not superstars but still stars nonetheless) in Mike Conley and Marc Gasol and a decent supporting cast around them.

I also think Houston is still the same as it was last year. Signing James Ennis replaces everything Luc Mbah a Moute gave them, both are basically the same player on offense and defense with the same 3 & D advantages as one another and both had eerily similar scoring outputs at 7.5 points per game apiece. That's a complete wash, in my opinion. The Rockets will also switch out defensive minded Arizona for offensive minded Carmelo, which is also a wash because Paul, Capela, Ennis, Tucker, and one of either Harden or Carmelo on the court is still a two way lineup for the most part (the other four can cover for the defensive limitations Harden or Carmelo have). Even with Carmelo's crappy defense, they have enough depth to cover for it while still scheming the best possible lineups to create mismatches. They also added a playmaker and defender in Carter-Williams to come off the bench, someone other than Paul or Harden that can facilitate. I think this team is the same caliber as last season for sure and health allowing they are definitely one of the two best teams in the West and Top 3 in the NBA (the third team being the Boston Celtics). Plus Chris Paul will start off the season healthy, he missed like 18 games or something right after the first game of the season last season, that entire team had massive injury issues and still won 65 games. I see them winning 60+ games again this next season barring any injuries. Them and the Warriors are both 60+ game winners next season for sure, barring injuries of course. I see them as a complete lock to make the playoffs with at a minimum of a Top 3 seed in the West. Same with the Warriors whom have improved in the offseason (the Jarebko signing was huge, he's superior to every center the Warriors had last year and Boogie represents a wildcard in upside depending on how he comes back).

So that is in any given order off of the top of my head; Golden State (1), Houston (2), Minnesota (3), Oklahoma City (4), Portland (5), San Antonio (6), Utah (7), New Orleans (8), Memphis (9), Los Angeles Lakers (10), Los Angeles Clippers (11), and Denver (12).

Basically 12 teams that have playoff caliber rosters competing for just 8 spots in the Western Conference. Also throw in Dallas and Phoenix into the mix as wild card candidates since both improved radically this off season and you have 14 teams out West that could theorhetically be in the mix for a playoff spot. Dallas improved by signing DeAndre Jordan and drafting NBA ready sweet shooter and playmaker Luka Doncic to go with a young core of Harrison Barnes, Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Mathews, and even a washed up but still respectable Dirk Nowitzki. Phoenix drafted DeAndre Ayton, to form a super solid young core with Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, and the rest of their nucleus. I'm not saying Dallas and Phoenix will make the playoffs, but they have the talent to realistically make that push and keep playoff contenders in the West on their toes all season long.

That just leaves Sacramento as the lone Western team with zero chance at the playoffs.

Over in the East you have Orlando as still trash, Atlanta as still trash, Charlotte as still trash, Chicago as still trash, Brooklyn as still trash, New York as still trash (Porzingis will miss the majority of next season), Detroit as still trash (they have the talent to make the playoffs; their talent just doesn't mesh or synchronize with each other though). Basically the East has 7 Sacramentos. So a team like Boston, I wouldn't be surprised if they end up with 60-70 wins next season given that you beat up on straight trash East teams 3-4 teams a season with only having to play 2 games against each Western team.

This upcoming season represents the most talent by individual players that the Western Conference has ever had in its entire history and arguably one of the most competitive years in its history with regards to the number of quality and competitive teams all vying for 8 playoff spots. The NBA needs to do something about this. Not really fair for good teams to miss the playoffs with winning records when trash in the East still get in. Also not fair with the All-Star Game, the West will have so many snubs. The top snubs in the West could probably form a better starting lineup than the best starting 5 lineup of the East, in my opinion. NBA needs to fix this.

LeBron chose a horrendous time to join a Western team, this is the most loaded it has ever been arguably. He is going to have to work insanely hard to keep the Lakers afloat and he better hope that they don't deal with injuries, that can derail an entire team in the West. Their entire season, just as Memphis from 2018 and Oklahoma City in 2015 and New Orleans in 2016 and 2017, so on and so forth. It'll be a tough ride as a lone superstar at age 34 carrying that massive of a load through the West. Very tough.
You are right that Memphis may be in the hunt, too. It's been a long time since we've seen them as a 50+ win tough out in the playoffs. I'm not sure that age & injury will treat Conley & Gasol well enough to keep this team in the hunt--and they sorely need shooting.

I think you are irrationally high on Houston's offseason. Ennis is not comparable to LRMAM. Ennis is, at 27, a 3&D player without the D and kind of without the 3, too. The Rockets had an ultra-elite offense last year. Melo is not going to improve it. The Rockets had a great defense last year. Replacing Ariza & LRMAM w/ Green, Melo & Ennis will diminish it. CP3 has already fallen off defensively, and he's not getting younger. Harden's defensive shortcomings are well documented. Tucker and Capela are the only defensive pieces left in Houston. MCW is not a very good defender and he's only a good playmaker for a wing. He is a serviceable wing in spot minutes--basically a bargain-basement version of Shaun Livingston. These Rockets are falling firmly to the field in the West. They flew too close to the sun last year and melted their wings.

The gap between the Warriors and everyone else has increased. The Rockets got worse, and the young Lakers are worse than the LBJ Cavs. The Warriors likely moved sideways, unless Boogie comes back healthy--in which case there are a lot of open questions about playstyle, but no questions about talent.

Dallas and Phoenix will both be bad. Phoenix is too young. Dallas just doesn't have a good team.

The West has been better than the East for quite some time. The East has some of the worst front offices in the league. The only good front offices in the East are Miami and Boston. Chicago, the two New York teams, and Charlotte are impressively bad: Sacramento-level bad. The Spurs, Warriors, Houston (usually), Utah, New Orleans, and now the Clippers are among the better managed NBA teams. The East can get better if they hire better front offices & ownership spends to attract and retain talent. There is nothing for the NBA to do but let competition run its course.

The Lakers have to be planning a big move at the trade deadline. This roster is nonsensical. The contracts and timelines are favorable, but this is not a championship basketball team--it may not be a western playoff team. One of Rondo or Ball will be gone before the season ends.

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Originally Posted by weezerfan84 View Post
Am I the only person that views this signing as being good for all parties involved? I mean the Ball signing is dead. The theatrics are over with that now, so now LA has to look at actually putting out decent to good basketball. Lebron will bring that to the table. I think Lebron knows, and the public knows, chasing the Jordan rings is done. He's experiencing what New York, Indiana, Suns, Portland, and Utah experienced. The road to another ring continues to go through Golden State, and the last 2 seasons he wasn't even close to that ring. At the same time, playing against Kevin Durant, on the deadliest team in the NBA, isn't helping anyone either. Also, Golden State has had some good fortune fall their way to win 3 championships in 4 years and instill themselves as a dynasty.

I think Lebron is trying to build something totally different by going to LA. I think chasing rings for that matter is over. Getting that ring in Cleveland and taking down the best regular season team in history, as well as having a 1-3 deficit comeback to win that championship, carries some TREMENDOUS value. It may not compare to 6 rings, but there's no denying that that championship was not only special to Cleveland, but to Lebron as well. Hence why there's no hard feelings on him going to LA. He brought them a championship and even though the roster was gutted to do so, and they lost Kyrie in the process, Kyrie wasn't taking them to the championship on his own anyways. Lebron coming back to Cleveland was business and Lebron leaving Cleveland was business.

Lebron is looking to set up his future now. So this move is about getting his family situated and preparing for life after basketball. He can do that when he's playing and living in the same city. Now, they can really focus on his older son's progression to Ball is Life status and get him prepared for his future at a D1 college.

I don't think LA's vision is to win a championship, until those pieces are assembled, and they've yet to be assembled. Their play will either be Kawhi this year or next or another free agent superstar, while still seeing what they can continue to squeeze from Ball, Ingram, and Kuzma. An LA second round exit is a good spot for them in the 2018-2019 season, and just having Lebron on their team allows them that luxury. I think they'll be like the LA Clippers. Really fun and exciting team in the regular season, win 50+ games, but flame out in the 2nd round. They need another piece, and they know they need another piece, but Ball, Kuzma, Randle, and Ingram weren't going to get there.

Look what Lebron did with Nance, Hood, and Clarkson in a mid-season trade. Took them to the NBA Finals! That's what LA wants. Can you get us into the playoffs with our current roster, because we're currently swimming in circles with our current roster, and our franchise no longer has the patience to wait on 2-3 more years of development with Ball, Kuzma, and Ingram. We saw how quick the organization moved on from Randle and he was becoming a double double machine, but the team had already moved on from him.
What this offseason has produced is not a good basketball fit for LBJ. I don't think this was the plan. I suspect the Lakers planned to sign LBJ & PG13, then trade young talent for Love or Kawhi. Paul George opted to stay in OKC, which disrupted the plan. It does not make sense to put this team around LBJ at this stage of his career. I can't imagine the Lakers or LBJ envision something other than competing for titles. LBJ & Love took Nance, Hood, and Clarkson to the Finals with Hill, Korver, Thompson, and JR Smith providing quality minutes. These Lakers don't have a star like Love. They don't have a big to bang in the paint for 30 minutes like Thompson. Rondo is the only proven vet they have like Hill and Korver. Lance and Javale are firmly in the JR Smith camp--useful players, sometimes giving you a burst, but put too much responsibility in their hands and you are asking for disaster. Kuzma, Ingram, and Ball are young. Kuzma looks like he will be very good. Ingram looks promising. Ball is an enigma. I don't see any of them shouldering a heavy load against the Warriors in the playoffs at this stage of their careers.

In 2-3 years, what does LBJ look like?
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Old 07-17-2018, 06:09 PM
 
Location: Tokyo, Japan
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Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
You are right that Memphis may be in the hunt, too. It's been a long time since we've seen them as a 50+ win tough out in the playoffs. I'm not sure that age & injury will treat Conley & Gasol well enough to keep this team in the hunt--and they sorely need shooting.
Gasol is 33, the same age as LeBron. Obviously Gasol is not LeBron nor plays the same position but his game is predicated by finesse style of play rather than physicality and athleticism like LeBron's. It should naturally age well, much like his elder brother Pau.

Mike Conley just turned 30 years old, so he's the same age as Stephen Curry with far less mileage on his body than Stephen Curry, who has been deep into the playoffs four seasons straight.

Needless to say I am not as concerned about either of their age either due to their style of play or because I don't view age 30 as a huge drop off point in Conley's career. Tony Parker was still a productive player all the way until age 33 when he aided his team in winning the title and Conley has as great of a conditioning process or even better.

Regarding the 50 games thing. That's true, Memphis stopped being a 50+ win team a while ago but that's not what makes their existence a pain in the Lakers' foot. It is the fact that until injuries screwed up their season last year, this team was a perennial playoff team. Meaning they were still slotting into one of the 8 available playoff seeds and keeping other teams, often with winning records, from getting into the Western Conference playoff picture. This team's ceiling if they make the playoffs is likely taking a series to 5 games, maybe 6 if Conley and Gasol really ball out, but most likely getting swept right out of the first round. Their value as a rugged defensive minded Western team may just be by preventing 3 other teams that also have playoff "capable" rosters from making the playoffs.
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Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
Dallas and Phoenix will both be bad. Phoenix is too young. Dallas just doesn't have a good team.
I don't have either team pegged to make the playoffs. I just think both teams are going to serve as thorns to the sides of at least 6 out of 12 of the Western teams that are trying to make the playoffs.

I also believe both teams improved this off season.

Dallas, for instance, signed DeAndre Jordan, not only did that signing weaken the Clippers but it also improved Dallas. Dallas also drafted Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. is now going to enter is sophomore season. All he needs to do is make a jump in his game as compared to last year and they're improved. I don't think Dallas is playoff ready, they are still many years away from taking that step but I also do believe that this is a team that will compete every night and keep at least half of the Western Conference teams trying to make the playoffs honest all season long. I don't think they'll be laying down and playing possum this season the way they have the previous two seasons. I think from entering training camp that making the playoffs will likely be this team's aspiration at a bare minimum and a core of Yogi Ferrell, Harrison Barnes, Wesley Mathews, to go along with DeAndre Jordan, Luka Doncic, Dennis Smith Jr., and even a really washed up Dirk Nowitzki will likely have a say in ruining some other Western team's chance at making the playoffs even if they themselves don't make it.

Likewise, Phoenix improved dramatically this off season. All Phoenix needs is another year of a leap in decision making and playmaking from Devin Booker and Josh Jackson. If this DeAndre Ayton kid is even 50% of what he is advertised as, then Phoenix still improved. Plus adding Ariza to the wing gives them solid depth, he's not an elite player but he's a pretty good rotational piece to have on the roster since he can defend multiple positions and stretch the floor.

So while I don't think either Phoenix or Dallas are making the playoffs, they're not like Sacramento to where they are hopelessly bad with no end in sight to how bad they are. These two teams will serve as instruments that will keep the Western Conference grind machine chugging all season long as they are very real threats to the lower half of the conference's playoff aspirational teams. As a Laker fan, this is not an ideal situation for us given how our roster is currently constructed to have so many teams that have talent and can do damage. Dallas and Phoenix don't have to make the playoffs to hurt someone else that is trying to make the playoffs. That is likely what their respective roles will be next season as young teams that are still a few years away from making the jump.

Magic Johnson needs to make sure he makes moves by the February deadline, otherwise we'll have a lost year for LeBron James in likely one of his last two remaining years of elite and effective level play left in the tank. That's just my viewpoint though, others may see things differently.
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Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
I think you are irrationally high on Houston's offseason. Ennis is not comparable to LRMAM. Ennis is, at 27, a 3&D player without the D and kind of without the 3, too. The Rockets had an ultra-elite offense last year. Melo is not going to improve it. The Rockets had a great defense last year. Replacing Ariza & LRMAM w/ Green, Melo & Ennis will diminish it. CP3 has already fallen off defensively, and he's not getting younger. Harden's defensive shortcomings are well documented. Tucker and Capela are the only defensive pieces left in Houston. MCW is not a very good defender and he's only a good playmaker for a wing. He is a serviceable wing in spot minutes--basically a bargain-basement version of Shaun Livingston. These Rockets are falling firmly to the field in the West. They flew too close to the sun last year and melted their wings.
Well I'm not high on Houston's off season, I'm just not low on it. I view them as a team having largely stayed in the same spot as they were last year, swap out a few advantages here with another set of advantages there sort of thing. Probably not the #1 seed again next year but probably the #2 anyways. I've seen this story every year for the last 3 years. Remember in 2016 when Houston signed Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon and hired Mike D'Antoni as head coach? People actually thought that they would only win 38 games and miss the playoffs. Instead they won 55 games, took the 3rd seed in the West to go with the 3rd best record in the NBA, and took the 61-21 Spurs to six games in the second round of the playoffs before Harden flamed out.

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/...g-camp#slide20

Or how about that time in 2017 when they traded for Chris Paul and the strongest sentiments, almost universally, were that it wouldn't work, they wouldn't fit, that they would fight a lot and chemistry would be an issue. Chris Paul played in only 58 games of the regular season's 82 games and that team still managed to win 65 games, both the 1st seed and best NBA record, and take the Warriors to 7 games in the third round of the playoffs (and also held the lead on Golden State by double digits going into halftime of both Game 6 and 7 without Chris Paul or Luc Mbah a Moute).

James Ennis' career three point shooting (35.9%) is slightly better than Trevor Ariza's (35.3%), albeit Ennis isn't as much of a volume shooter as Ariza (yet) and he's been making his bread and butter in the NBA the last two years off of defense. I think when paired with Houston's coaching staff that they'll get him into a productive role on the team. Houston's staff is competent enough to draw out each of their players' strengths, that is what separates them from the equally talented Oklahoma City Thunder. I don't expect Houston to be a 65 win team again this upcoming season but I don't expect them to win any less than 58 games and most likely I have them pegged as a 60 win team, barring catastrophic injuries of course. It's just my viewpoint, I'm willing to see them play out next season before I determine if I am right or wrong, but this is a team that people do this to every single offseason, where people state that they take a step back when in reality they don't. Of course in technicalities, them not winning 65 games next year likely is taking a step back even if they win 60, but to me I see it more of a lateral move.

I don't believe that "the field" of the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and Portland Trailblazers are better than Houston. Not even now that they've lost Ariza. San Antonio is in the process of losing Kawhi Leonard and then all they will have is LaMarcus Aldridge as an elite talent. Both Los Angeles teams have horrible rosters that still don't match up to Houston's and both teams are inferior to Houston still. Both Los Angeles teams have the kind of roster that should keep them in the playoff mix but neither have a roster that can touch any of the Top 4 or even 5 Western teams. Memphis is inferior to Houston in almost every way, and Portland is fielding pretty much the poor man's Rockets team (two ball dominant isolation heavy backcourt players and unlike the Rockets don't have a rim runner like Capela or a 6th man like Gordon; neither guy in Portland's backcourt as good as Paul and Harden even still).

I definitely think the Rockets are a lock to make the playoffs with home court advantage. Personally I don't see them as anything below 3rd seed at worst. The only teams that have the talent to threaten Houston outside of Golden State in the West are in my opinion the Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, and New Orleans Pelicans. Perhaps the Utah Jazz if they make a jump from last season but even then they still don't have enough talent to compete with Houston. The key word being "threaten" because all of these teams have deeply ingrained flaws that still keep them at a minimum of a half step behind Houston. Minnesota's problem is that they still have the same team from last year, which means that they cannot shoot with Houston nor can they defend Houston, which is ironic given that Coach Thibs made his name on defense and Butler is regarded as one of the best defenders. Both Towns and Wiggins were drafted due to their upside in two-way play but so far have only played offense in their careers. Minnesota also lost some valuable bench depth in free agency (Bjelinka is gone now, as are a few other bench players). I cannot take Oklahoma City seriously, while they have the talent to make some noise, they play a very lawless and unsightly version of basketball. There never seems to be any scheme, rhyme or reason, or logic behind what they do and their coaching staff seems incapable of overruling Westbrook's will. That too in a season when Westbrook was on his best possible behavior trying to "share the ball" in order to keep Paul George happy and in town. I don't expect Westbrook to make minor concessions like that again next season now that George is under contract for several more years straight, which means the typical brand of hero-ball will persist. I think they'll win more than 50 games this season and will be slightly better but until I see them do better than even that I don't believe they can. I saw Westbrook without Durant in 2015 when Durant missed all but 27 games and they played such a lawless style of basketball where Westbrook's judgement overruled Scott Brooks' play calls. I saw them in 2017 when Victor Oladipo took a step back from his Orlando days and was marginalized and the team was unsightly. All of Westbrook's rebound grabbing even caused Steven Adams' game to take a step back in 2017. I saw them last year where they had a lot of talent on the roster but both Carmelo and George took a step back, likely not due to actual decline but because playing with Westbrook marginalized their games somewhat.

New Orleans actually is a team that took a literal step back this offseason because they lost cogs that are not at all easily replaceable on a team that's already thin on top shelf talent outside of Davis and Holiday. By letting Rondo walk, now Jrue has to once again be the primary ball handler and he's good at it but not elite at it and if you've watched Holiday play in his career, he's at his most productive, his happiest, and his most lethal when he is playing off the ball and letting someone else orchestrate the offense. There were games, both in the regular season and the playoffs where Holiday was the Batman and Davis served as the Robin. There was a playoff game where Holiday literally went off for 40+ points and completely destroyed Portland's backcourt simply because Rondo worked his facilitating magic and gave Holiday the pathway to play his game comfortably. This sucks for Davis too because Rondo knew all of Davis' special spots on the court and knew how to break down the opposition defense to help Davis get clean and open quality shots.

I can understand where you are coming from and I also understand why you believe Houston has taken a full step back but still I may have to agree to disagree with you on that but I think we should just let the season play out and see who is right or wrong with regards to Houston. It would be the sporty thing to do LOL.
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Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
The West has been better than the East for quite some time. The East has some of the worst front offices in the league. The only good front offices in the East are Miami and Boston. Chicago, the two New York teams, and Charlotte are impressively bad: Sacramento-level bad. The Spurs, Warriors, Houston (usually), Utah, New Orleans, and now the Clippers are among the better managed NBA teams. The East can get better if they hire better front offices & ownership spends to attract and retain talent. There is nothing for the NBA to do but let competition run its course.
The Western Conference has been better than the Eastern Conference since 1999, ever since the Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant era began to kick off. Since then the West has reigned supreme. There are some years where the West is even more brutal than imaginable, even by its own standards. One of the most prominent examples I can think of is 2010 when the 8th seed won 50 games exactly just to get into the playoffs. Usually in any given year winning 50 games in the East gives you a Top 4 seed and home court advantage in the first and at times the second round of the playoffs. That sort of thing doesn't fly in the West.

In 2014 Phoenix won 48 games and missed the playoffs in the West because it took 49 wins to get into the 8th seed. A team with a losing record below 0.500 (41-41) can never get into the playoffs in the West, whereas that has been commonplace on numerous occasions in just the recent years in the East, with 2015 being the biggest mockery of them all.

Perhaps even worse than that is the All-Star snubs in the West. With only 12 roster spots open, far far far too many Western players miss the cut simply because they play in the league's more competitive and talent rich conference. Whereas in the East, it common for guys like Kyle Korver and the like to occasionally slip into an All-Star spot.

I think the NBA really needs to fix that. I think they should first expand All-Star rosters from 12 to 15, that way it resembles the roster construction of an actual NBA team which can have as many as 15 players on the roster at any given point in the season. The second thing they should do is get rid of the conference wide selection and make it a league wide selection. The best 30 players get in.

Last edited by Trafalgar Law; 07-17-2018 at 07:14 PM..
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Old 07-18-2018, 12:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Gasol is 33, the same age as LeBron. Obviously Gasol is not LeBron nor plays the same position but his game is predicated by finesse style of play rather than physicality and athleticism like LeBron's. It should naturally age well, much like his elder brother Pau.

Mike Conley just turned 30 years old, so he's the same age as Stephen Curry with far less mileage on his body than Stephen Curry, who has been deep into the playoffs four seasons straight.

Needless to say I am not as concerned about either of their age either due to their style of play or because I don't view age 30 as a huge drop off point in Conley's career. Tony Parker was still a productive player all the way until age 33 when he aided his team in winning the title and Conley has as great of a conditioning process or even better.
Injuries make reliance on Gasol & Conley a risky bet. Conley's achilles/heel issues are particularly troubling. Conley may have fewer games played than Curry, but he has triple the injury history.

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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Regarding the 50 games thing. That's true, Memphis stopped being a 50+ win team a while ago but that's not what makes their existence a pain in the Lakers' foot. It is the fact that until injuries screwed up their season last year, this team was a perennial playoff team. Meaning they were still slotting into one of the 8 available playoff seeds and keeping other teams, often with winning records, from getting into the Western Conference playoff picture. This team's ceiling if they make the playoffs is likely taking a series to 5 games, maybe 6 if Conley and Gasol really ball out, but most likely getting swept right out of the first round. Their value as a rugged defensive minded Western team may just be by preventing 3 other teams that also have playoff "capable" rosters from making the playoffs.
If Conley and Gasol both come back healthy and sharp, this team is on the fringes of the playoffs. If not, then they won't be.

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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
I don't have either team pegged to make the playoffs. I just think both teams are going to serve as thorns to the sides of at least 6 out of 12 of the Western teams that are trying to make the playoffs.

I also believe both teams improved this off season.
All bad teams win some games, but neither of these teams will be anything but bad. They are irrelevant to the playoffs.

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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Dallas, for instance, signed DeAndre Jordan, not only did that signing weaken the Clippers but it also improved Dallas. Dallas also drafted Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. is now going to enter is sophomore season. All he needs to do is make a jump in his game as compared to last year and they're improved. I don't think Dallas is playoff ready, they are still many years away from taking that step but I also do believe that this is a team that will compete every night and keep at least half of the Western Conference teams trying to make the playoffs honest all season long. I don't think they'll be laying down and playing possum this season the way they have the previous two seasons. I think from entering training camp that making the playoffs will likely be this team's aspiration at a bare minimum and a core of Yogi Ferrell, Harrison Barnes, Wesley Mathews, to go along with DeAndre Jordan, Luka Doncic, Dennis Smith Jr., and even a really washed up Dirk Nowitzki will likely have a say in ruining some other Western team's chance at making the playoffs even if they themselves don't make it.
I think DeAndre is good. DSJ is promising. Doncic is promising. Dirk is still Dirk, but for limited stretches. This is just not a good team. Barnes is not very good. Matthews hasn't been the same player since his achilles injury. He's a solid shooter, but no longer a plus defender. This was one of the worst teams in the league last year. DeAndre & their young players do not make them relevant to the playoff picture.

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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Likewise, Phoenix improved dramatically this off season. All Phoenix needs is another year of a leap in decision making and playmaking from Devin Booker and Josh Jackson. If this DeAndre Ayton kid is even 50% of what he is advertised as, then Phoenix still improved. Plus adding Ariza to the wing gives them solid depth, he's not an elite player but he's a pretty good rotational piece to have on the roster since he can defend multiple positions and stretch the floor.
Phoenix is a couple of years and a couple of pieces away.

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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
So while I don't think either Phoenix or Dallas are making the playoffs, they're not like Sacramento to where they are hopelessly bad with no end in sight to how bad they are. These two teams will serve as instruments that will keep the Western Conference grind machine chugging all season long as they are very real threats to the lower half of the conference's playoff aspirational teams. As a Laker fan, this is not an ideal situation for us given how our roster is currently constructed to have so many teams that have talent and can do damage. Dallas and Phoenix don't have to make the playoffs to hurt someone else that is trying to make the playoffs. That is likely what their respective roles will be next season as young teams that are still a few years away from making the jump.
These teams will be ground down by the Western Conference playoff hunters.

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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Magic Johnson needs to make sure he makes moves by the February deadline, otherwise we'll have a lost year for LeBron James in likely one of his last two remaining years of elite and effective level play left in the tank. That's just my viewpoint though, others may see things differently.
I agree that the Lakers need to make moves. I don't see a great suite of options at this point. I could see them getting Kevin Love, though.

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Well I'm not high on Houston's off season, I'm just not low on it. I view them as a team having largely stayed in the same spot as they were last year, swap out a few advantages here with another set of advantages there sort of thing. Probably not the #1 seed again next year but probably the #2 anyways. I've seen this story every year for the last 3 years. Remember in 2016 when Houston signed Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon and hired Mike D'Antoni as head coach? People actually thought that they would only win 38 games and miss the playoffs. Instead they won 55 games, took the 3rd seed in the West to go with the 3rd best record in the NBA, and took the 61-21 Spurs to six games in the second round of the playoffs before Harden flamed out.

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/...g-camp#slide20


Houston will get considerably worse defensively and at best will stay the same on offense. That slides them to the field from true contender status.

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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Or how about that time in 2017 when they traded for Chris Paul and the strongest sentiments, almost universally, were that it wouldn't work, they wouldn't fit, that they would fight a lot and chemistry would be an issue. Chris Paul played in only 58 games of the regular season's 82 games and that team still managed to win 65 games, both the 1st seed and best NBA record, and take the Warriors to 7 games in the third round of the playoffs (and also held the lead on Golden State by double digits going into halftime of both Game 6 and 7 without Chris Paul or Luc Mbah a Moute).
The Rockets built a great team last year, and they are losing two key pieces of that team and replacing those pieces with two or three much worse pieces in Ennis, MCW, and potentially Melo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
James Ennis' career three point shooting (35.9%) is slightly better than Trevor Ariza's (35.3%), albeit Ennis isn't as much of a volume shooter as Ariza (yet) and he's been making his bread and butter in the NBA the last two years off of defense. I think when paired with Houston's coaching staff that they'll get him into a productive role on the team. Houston's staff is competent enough to draw out each of their players' strengths, that is what separates them from the equally talented Oklahoma City Thunder. I don't expect Houston to be a 65 win team again this upcoming season but I don't expect them to win any less than 58 games and most likely I have them pegged as a 60 win team, barring catastrophic injuries of course. It's just my viewpoint, I'm willing to see them play out next season before I determine if I am right or wrong, but this is a team that people do this to every single offseason, where people state that they take a step back when in reality they don't. Of course in technicalities, them not winning 65 games next year likely is taking a step back even if they win 60, but to me I see it more of a lateral move.
Ennis' shooting has been wildly inconsistent. He's made 159 career 3s, which Ariza exceeded last year. Ennis is not a good defender. It's possible that he will become one, but I wouldn't bet on it. He is certainly not up to the task of replacing Ariza's role or LRMAM's role. Neither is MCW. Neither is Melo.

As it stands, I expect Houston to be in the 50-55 win range.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
I don't believe that "the field" of the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and Portland Trailblazers are better than Houston. Not even now that they've lost Ariza. San Antonio is in the process of losing Kawhi Leonard and then all they will have is LaMarcus Aldridge as an elite talent. Both Los Angeles teams have horrible rosters that still don't match up to Houston's and both teams are inferior to Houston still. Both Los Angeles teams have the kind of roster that should keep them in the playoff mix but neither have a roster that can touch any of the Top 4 or even 5 Western teams. Memphis is inferior to Houston in almost every way, and Portland is fielding pretty much the poor man's Rockets team (two ball dominant isolation heavy backcourt players and unlike the Rockets don't have a rim runner like Capela or a 6th man like Gordon; neither guy in Portland's backcourt as good as Paul and Harden even still).
Those teams aren't better than Houston, but they're all in the same ballpark. Houston was clearly ahead of them all last year. San Antonio is sliding near to the bottom of the potential playoff team list as they part with Kawhi and Danny Green. The Blazers won 49 last year. The Lakers should be in the high 40s/low 50s. The Clippers I think will be in the mid 40s. I see the Nuggets, Wolves, OKC, Pels, and Jazz at the high 40s/low 50s.

It would not surprise me if Houston fell below 3 of the Lakers/Nuggets/Wolves/OKC/Pels/Jazz/Blazers. Houston's offense will have to change with this roster. Opponents will not respect Ennis or MCW from three, allowing stronger help in the spread P&R. If you can't spread 3 defenders out with threatening shooters, then the defense can bring help to guard against the P&R action and you can't punish them as consistently as the Rockets did last year. As mentioned, the Rockets are losing a lot of defensive talent. And they are losing useful two-way players to be replaced with either one-way players or players who haven't yet developed to positively impact the team on either end. Instead of running lineups with excellent offense & excellent defense, the Rockets will move to lineups with excellent offense and porous defense--slotting Melo, Ryan Anderson, and Eric Gordon into the Ariza and LRMAM slots.

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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
I definitely think the Rockets are a lock to make the playoffs with home court advantage. Personally I don't see them as anything below 3rd seed at worst. The only teams that have the talent to threaten Houston outside of Golden State in the West are in my opinion the Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, and New Orleans Pelicans. Perhaps the Utah Jazz if they make a jump from last season but even then they still don't have enough talent to compete with Houston. The key word being "threaten" because all of these teams have deeply ingrained flaws that still keep them at a minimum of a half step behind Houston. Minnesota's problem is that they still have the same team from last year, which means that they cannot shoot with Houston nor can they defend Houston, which is ironic given that Coach Thibs made his name on defense and Butler is regarded as one of the best defenders. Both Towns and Wiggins were drafted due to their upside in two-way play but so far have only played offense in their careers. Minnesota also lost some valuable bench depth in free agency (Bjelinka is gone now, as are a few other bench players). I cannot take Oklahoma City seriously, while they have the talent to make some noise, they play a very lawless and unsightly version of basketball. There never seems to be any scheme, rhyme or reason, or logic behind what they do and their coaching staff seems incapable of overruling Westbrook's will. That too in a season when Westbrook was on his best possible behavior trying to "share the ball" in order to keep Paul George happy and in town. I don't expect Westbrook to make minor concessions like that again next season now that George is under contract for several more years straight, which means the typical brand of hero-ball will persist. I think they'll win more than 50 games this season and will be slightly better but until I see them do better than even that I don't believe they can. I saw Westbrook without Durant in 2015 when Durant missed all but 27 games and they played such a lawless style of basketball where Westbrook's judgement overruled Scott Brooks' play calls. I saw them in 2017 when Victor Oladipo took a step back from his Orlando days and was marginalized and the team was unsightly. All of Westbrook's rebound grabbing even caused Steven Adams' game to take a step back in 2017. I saw them last year where they had a lot of talent on the roster but both Carmelo and George took a step back, likely not due to actual decline but because playing with Westbrook marginalized their games somewhat.
OKC will experience addition by subtraction (losing Melo) and will hope to have a healthy Roberson as a key cog to their long defense. Towns should grow as a player. Wiggins may be what he is at this point--basically Harrison Barnes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
New Orleans actually is a team that took a literal step back this offseason because they lost cogs that are not at all easily replaceable on a team that's already thin on top shelf talent outside of Davis and Holiday. By letting Rondo walk, now Jrue has to once again be the primary ball handler and he's good at it but not elite at it and if you've watched Holiday play in his career, he's at his most productive, his happiest, and his most lethal when he is playing off the ball and letting someone else orchestrate the offense. There were games, both in the regular season and the playoffs where Holiday was the Batman and Davis served as the Robin. There was a playoff game where Holiday literally went off for 40+ points and completely destroyed Portland's backcourt simply because Rondo worked his facilitating magic and gave Holiday the pathway to play his game comfortably. This sucks for Davis too because Rondo knew all of Davis' special spots on the court and knew how to break down the opposition defense to help Davis get clean and open quality shots.
I think the Pelicans will take a step forward in the regular season, but a step sideways or maybe backwards in the playoffs. Davis and Boogie didn't make sense together,and this roster is much more rational. Losing Rondo hurts most in the playoffs, and I don't see Randle & Payton making up for that loss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
I can understand where you are coming from and I also understand why you believe Houston has taken a full step back but still I may have to agree to disagree with you on that but I think we should just let the season play out and see who is right or wrong with regards to Houston. It would be the sporty thing to do LOL.
We will see, indeed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
The Western Conference has been better than the Eastern Conference since 1999, ever since the Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant era began to kick off. Since then the West has reigned supreme. There are some years where the West is even more brutal than imaginable, even by its own standards. One of the most prominent examples I can think of is 2010 when the 8th seed won 50 games exactly just to get into the playoffs. Usually in any given year winning 50 games in the East gives you a Top 4 seed and home court advantage in the first and at times the second round of the playoffs. That sort of thing doesn't fly in the West.
I think so, too. The '07-08 Warriors with 48 wins were better than the We Believe team that knocked off the 1 seed Mavs, but didn't make the playoffs because the West was too good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
In 2014 Phoenix won 48 games and missed the playoffs in the West because it took 49 wins to get into the 8th seed. A team with a losing record below 0.500 (41-41) can never get into the playoffs in the West, whereas that has been commonplace on numerous occasions in just the recent years in the East, with 2015 being the biggest mockery of them all.
Agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Perhaps even worse than that is the All-Star snubs in the West. With only 12 roster spots open, far far far too many Western players miss the cut simply because they play in the league's more competitive and talent rich conference. Whereas in the East, it common for guys like Kyle Korver and the like to occasionally slip into an All-Star spot.
I'm unconcerned about who makes & misses the all-star game.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
I think the NBA really needs to fix that. I think they should first expand All-Star rosters from 12 to 15, that way it resembles the roster construction of an actual NBA team which can have as many as 15 players on the roster at any given point in the season. The second thing they should do is get rid of the conference wide selection and make it a league wide selection. The best 30 players get in.
There's got to be a line, and I don't care if it's 12 or 15. I don't care about the all-star game. Playoff reseeding has appeal, but I like that traditional rivalries have a geography that matters for the playoffs.
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Old 07-18-2018, 03:58 PM
 
Location: Tokyo, Japan
6,634 posts, read 8,342,389 times
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Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
Injuries make reliance on Gasol & Conley a risky bet. Conley's achilles/heel issues are particularly troubling. Conley may have fewer games played than Curry, but he has triple the injury history.
I'm not concerned with Marc Gasol's injury history. I actually think the pair of Conley and Gasol compare closely with the pair of Curry and Durant in that regard.

Marc Gasol's career by the number of games played:
- 2017-18: 73
- 2016-17: 74
- 2015-16: 52
- 2014-15: 81
- 2013-14: 59
- 2012-13: 80
- 2011-12: 65 (lockout shortened season with just 66 regular season games total)
- 2010-11: 81
- 2009-10: 61
- 2008-09: 82

Kevin Durant's career by the number of games played:
- 2017-18: 68
- 2016-17: 62
- 2015-16: 72
- 2014-15: 27
- 2013-14: 81
- 2012-13: 81
- 2011-12: 66 (lockout shortened season with just 66 regular season games total)
- 2010-11: 78
- 2009-10: 82
- 2008-09: 74

Again, I also don't have any trepidations with Gasol's game as he ages. He's a finesse player and not only that but he plays the Center position, his game will translate rather well with age and playing Center in today's NBA simplifies it even more since that position is the least talented on the floor with regards to shooting (which Marc Gasol does well as it is). The man's role is rather simplified, all he has to do is protect the basket which he can do due to his size alone without any actual skill and knockdown shots and make passes, things that he can do even in an advanced age. If his game was predicated off physicality and athleticism like Dwight Howard, then I'd say we'd have a cause for concern but he's a total finesse player. He plays a really simple brand of ball, one that translates well with age.

I don't think triple the injury history is the real snapshot between Conley and Curry. Take a look at this (below).

Mike Conley's career by the number of games played:
- 2017-18: 12
- 2016-17: 69
- 2015-16: 56
- 2014-15: 70
- 2013-14: 73
- 2012-13: 80
- 2011-12: 61(lockout shortened season with just 66 regular season games total)
- 2010-11: 81
- 2009-10: 80

Stephen Curry's career by the number of games played:
- 2017-18: 51
- 2016-17: 79
- 2015-16: 79
- 2014-15: 80
- 2013-14: 78
- 2012-13: 78
- 2011-12: 26 (lockout shortened season with just 66 regular season games total)
- 2010-11: 74
- 2009-10: 80

In the case of both Gasol versus Durant and Conley versus Curry, I took the years that the two sets of players played in the league at the same time. For instance, I excluded Durant's first season in the NBA because that was a year before Gasol entered the NBA. Likewise, I did the same with Conley and Curry where I excluded Conley's first two seasons because Curry wasn't in the NBA at the time to make it a fair comparison.

Gasol has played in a total of 708 games over the duration of the same time period that Durant has been in the league. Durant has played in a total of 691 games over the duration of the same time period that Gasol has been in the league. The edge goes to Gasol but their injury histories in a comparable time period has been more in the similar bracket than different.

Likewise, Conley has played in a total of 582 games over the duration of the same time period that Curry has been in the league. Curry has played in a total of 625 games over the duration of the same time period that Conley has been in the league. Curry has the edge here but their injury history totals have been on more comparable ground than different ground.

Also, one more thing to note is that Conley never ruptured his achilles last season. Memphis took precautionary steps by shutting him down because they feared that if he played through stress that he would end up rupturing it. They were scared and frankly made the right move, that's an injury no one comes back from at even 80% (that's the best anyone has ever done -- Dominique Wilkins). It was a precautionary shutdown, not a shutdown because his achilles actually popped. He was feeling some strain in that region of his leg, so they cautiously shut him down not wanting to risk it. Basically they punted their season willingly after that decision. Conley will be back next season with a fresh bill of health to boot. The same with Gasol and quite frankly the same with Curry and Durant. So I don't think we can pinpoint the Memphis guys for their injury issues and not do the same with the Golden State guys given that their respective injury histories are very much comparable.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
If Conley and Gasol both come back healthy and sharp, this team is on the fringes of the playoffs. If not, then they won't be.
I don't mean any offense but quite frankly this has been a playoff team 7 years in a row, likely would have been a playoff team 8 years in a row had Conley played more than just 12 games. In those 12 games he did play they beat the Warriors once, Rockets twice, Trailblazers once, and the Pelicans once. Those are all quality opponents, the first two were among all-time great regular season teams. So in a small sample, we saw what this team could do, which is that it did what it had done the previous seven years prior to their lost season in 2018.

https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/MEM/

I don't know if they make the playoffs next year, the West become more competitive this offseason but I do know for a fact that they'll be in the hunt for a lower seed. Which is the point. They'll make some other team's life (or 3 or 4 other teams' life) a living hell for a grind out season of 82 games.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
All bad teams win some games, but neither of these teams will be anything but bad. They are irrelevant to the playoffs.

I think DeAndre is good. DSJ is promising. Doncic is promising. Dirk is still Dirk, but for limited stretches. This is just not a good team. Barnes is not very good. Matthews hasn't been the same player since his achilles injury. He's a solid shooter, but no longer a plus defender. This was one of the worst teams in the league last year. DeAndre & their young players do not make them relevant to the playoff picture.

Phoenix is a couple of years and a couple of pieces away.
Right, so it is a good thing that the context of my post was that neither of these are a lock to be playoff teams (or even make the playoffs at all) but rather serve as disruptors that can damage potentially playoff aspirational teams that are trying to squeak in.

I think all Dallas and Phoenix need to do is steal 1 game or 2 games in a 4 game regular season series against each of the Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Spurs, Trailblazers, or the like to severely damage them and put a large dent in their playoff hopes. That's their role. Neither Phoenix nor Dallas are teams that are built to get swept in a regular season series by any of those other Western teams I just mentioned, they aren't going to be playing possum, they'll be taking out the hammer and hurting others that actually are vying for relevance next season. That's my entire point.

That's what separates them from Sacramento. When I see a good Western team scheduled to play Sacramento, I automatically peg that as a regular season series sweep for any decent to good team playing them. That's 4 free wins if you actually show up to play that day over the course of the regular season. Can't really say the same about either Dallas or Phoenix, they don't have the talent to get into the playoffs but they have the talent needed to harm playoff hopefuls over the course of the season. I suspect they will do exactly that. Dallas hurt Oklahoma City just last year when Oklahoma City dropped 3 out of 4 games it played against Dallas. If Dallas just played possum, Oklahoma City would have finished the regular season with a 51-31 record and the third seed in the West instead of the 48-34 team that had to fight all 82 games just to barely get the 4th seed in the West.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
These teams will be ground down by the Western Conference playoff hunters.
See I highly doubt that a DeAndre Jordan-less Clippers, a mismatched roster for the Lakers, a tepid and shallow in depth Grizzlies, a weakened Spurs, an all offense no defense at all Nuggets are going to be mowing down Dallas and Phoenix. Will those teams win the season series against Dallas and Phoenix? Sure, perhaps they will, but only after they take a game or two of damage in the loss column from Dallas and Phoenix. Especially with the Clippers, their two best players are Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley, not bad but that's not a 40+ win team and those guys are best as secondary or even more ideally tertiary pieces rather than franchise players. That's more like a middle 30s to high 30s win team, I'd say.

They had Blake Griffin for 53% of last season and DeAndre Jordan for ALL of last season and the team still only finished with a 42-40 record. That's respectable, I don't have gripes at all with a team that fields a winning record or even a break-even record, but it clearly wasn't enough in the West. Next season they have neither Blake Griffin nor DeAndre Jordan for a single game, in a much tougher West, so I don't expect them to even touch the 42-40 record they had last year. I expect a full scale regression from this team, they'll be lottery bound most likely, especially if they start off slow to start.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
I agree that the Lakers need to make moves. I don't see a great suite of options at this point. I could see them getting Kevin Love, though.
I get the feeling on the inside that Kevin Love is either headed to Portland or Los Angeles by the February trade deadline. Kevin is a really good player, he's not a superstar but he is a star at a minimum and he's very good at spacing the floor and can give you around 20 points per game a night. He would probably be a welcomed addition to any team that trades for him and if he comes to the West, then it continues the long line of star or superstar players making their migration out West.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
Houston will get considerably worse defensively and at best will stay the same on offense. That slides them to the field from true contender status.

The Rockets built a great team last year, and they are losing two key pieces of that team and replacing those pieces with two or three much worse pieces in Ennis, MCW, and potentially Melo.

Ennis' shooting has been wildly inconsistent. He's made 159 career 3s, which Ariza exceeded last year. Ennis is not a good defender. It's possible that he will become one, but I wouldn't bet on it. He is certainly not up to the task of replacing Ariza's role or LRMAM's role. Neither is MCW. Neither is Melo.

As it stands, I expect Houston to be in the 50-55 win range.
I expect them to win more than 55 games for sure.

I saw them win 55 games in 2016-17 with a core built around Harden-Capela-Gordon and that was the third best record in both the West and the entire NBA that season for a team that was second offensively and 18th defensively. So I definitely expect better from a core of Harden-Paul-Capela-Gordon-Anthony, yes even Anthony because fit matters and he had none of that in Oklahoma City (frankly neither did Paul George or Victor Oladipo before him). So we'll agree to disagree there and I also think it may be severely overestimating the defensive prowess of Trevor Ariza and the supposed two-way play of Luc Mbah a Moute.

Lets start off with Trevor Ariza first, this supposed good defender. His defensive rating ranks him 171 in the NBA among all active players, that's good not great because it's still in the top 40% of all NBA players, compare that to James Harden ranking 184 in the NBA for all active players also in the top 40% of all NBA players. Yet supposedly one is a good to great defender and the other is a supposed slacker on that end of the court. When Ariza is on the court, Houston's defensive rating is 104.3, compare that to when Harden is on the floor and Houston's defensive rating is 104.7. Basically just a tick worse. Both Harden and Ariza tie in individual defensive win-shares at 0.043, both were good and/or decent defenders last season but hardly what one could call a "lockdown defender". Chris Paul ranked 123, superior to both of them and in the top 25% of the NBA. What's especially surprising is that Harden actually put some effort into defense last year but that's another discussion altogether. Carmelo has a much much much worse defense than Ariza, no doubt about it, Carmelo would likely be the worst defender on the Rockets when they acquire him but he's a better offensive player than Ariza. Much much much better. He's able to generate his own shots and can handle the ball, Ariza cannot. He is able to knockdown midrange shots, Ariza cannot. He only made 7 less three-pointers than Ariza last season, which is nearly identical and only at a 0.1% worse clip than Ariza and that was with Westbrook tossing him the ball with 5 seconds left on the clock and defenders in his face (Oklahoma City's system never generated clean wide open looks, it was too haphazard of a setup to do even that). He wont be having that issue next season since the Rockets playbook opens the pathway to wide open shots that wing players generally take advantage of (see Ariza, Mbah a Moute, and Tucker). I don't expect Carmelo to be a star player, I just expect him to produce equal or better output than Ariza, that's all.

Contrary to the what people say, Eric Gordon, while no lockdown defender is actually a plus defender both statistically and by the eye test. He ranked 110 and it is not just statistics but actually pans out in real life as well. He's statistically a net positive on the defensive end, ironically better than Chris Paul. Paul is a positive defender and increased his blocking to a career high last year while still maintaining his strengths in forcing turnovers and staying in front of the opposition guards. It helps that he's one of the few playing defense in a position where starting point guards on majority of the opposing teams don't. Tucker is a positive defender. Capela is a positive defender. Harden spent last season as a break-even kind of defender, a vast improvement from his porous performance in 2016 and a decent bit of an improvement compared to even 2017. Harden is no lockdown defender and you cannot count on him to make impact plays on defense, all you need out of him is to hold his own.

Will the Rockets slide from their defense last year? Probably. Will it be some dramatic fall off the cliff? Nah. They'll probably go from like 8th to 14th or something or somewhere in between in that range. Not because of the loss of Ariza but more so because of the loss of Luc Mbah a Moute. Will it be a drastic slide like the way people are making it out to be? Nah, no way. People are either overreacting or overrating Ariza's defense. Will they take a slide back offensively? Nah, hell nah. Their offense last season was 114.7 point per game, the exact same 114.7 points per game that they had the season before, exact same. They didn't lose any major offensive pieces that they cannot replace, in fact they will replace Ariza's output with Carmelo's and Luc's output with Ennis' that's actually a net positive on scoring output but I digress.

Individual Defensive win-shares: https://stats.nba.com/players/defens...=DEF_WS&dir=-1

Individual Defensive Rating: https://stats.nba.com/players/defens..._RATING&dir=-1

So yeah, you'll have to excuse me while I think that Houston can survive without Ariza's defense and likely either replace him by February or just get other guys that have the capability to step up do exactly that. No offense but Ariza's defense isn't something to be losing sleep over and thinking that its so irreplaceable. If it was, the Rockets would have just outbid Phoenix to bring him back, they're not an idiotic organization and are already well into the luxury tax as it is, if they saw him as absolutely necessary they'd just bring him back again.

Now lets move on to Luc Mbah a Moute. He's hardly a two-way player, he's a defense only player that in small stretches can knockdown the occasional wide open three-point shot at a respectable clip. Beyond that he has no offensive game to speak of. He was a 68% free throw shooter, which is below Ennis' 80% last season (87% in Memphis and 77% in Detroit). Their field goal percentage is an identical 48% for last season. Finally Luc was a marginally better three-point shooter at 36% compared to Ennis' 34% last season. Both players averaged identical 7.3 - 7.5 points per game shooting splits and both players have an identical shot chart, meaning that the areas on the court that they made their buckets were identical. So offensively this is a total wash. Luc was a beneficiary of Houston's team staff last offseason that he worked with, arguably the best in the NBA for the last 25 years at training the three-point stoke (Rockets have been a three-point happy franchise since the days of Robert Horry, Mario Elie, Kenny Smith, and Clyde Drexler), which Ennis should be a beneficiary of this offseason. I expect him to improve by a few ticks to match Luc's production of 36% and if not and it still ends up staying at 34%, who really cares? That's good enough. Not like the guy is some 28% three-point shooter and can't knock down a single wide open shot like some of the guys on my team.

Defensively, Luc was a good deal better player than Ennis last season but that can be more attributed to Ennis' lack of fit in a chaotic roster like Detroit than anything else. Every player that plays for Detroit experiences a decline on both ends of the court and Ennis is no exception, primarily because they don't have a good system in place to maximize on people's strengths and people end up in logjams with their position. They're basically the Oklahoma City of the East in that regard. His defensive production was just a small clip behind Luc's while he was with Memphis and before getting traded to Detroit. All Houston needs from him is for him to reach into his bag and pull out the defense that he had in Memphis and he's a full-scale replacement of Luc there.

From what I can tell by just looking it up, it seems James Ennis knows what his role is going to be next season:

https://www.thedreamshake.com/2018/7...ouston-rockets

That's good, we'll see how it pans out for him.

I think as long as the Rockets stagger the minutes and avoid playing Harden and Carmelo on the court together for significant minutes, that they'll be okay defensively, and wont really miss a beat offensively. Again a lineup of Paul-Gordon-Harden-Tucker-Capela is a capable two-way lineup. The statistics prove that. You can substitute Harden with Carmelo and it should still be able to hold its own. That and the fact that the offseason still isn't over and the Rockets are likely to make one or two more moves from now to the February deadline (like get rid of Anderson by stretching out his contract or buying him out and filling the rest of the roster).

I don't mean any offense, but I'll just have to go with my own viewpoint on Houston. They are not the same 65 win team from last year, but they're still easily the second best team in the West and I fully expect them to win a minimum of 58 games. Oh and they're a complete lock to make the playoff with homecourt advantage in both the first and second rounds at a minimum. I'm sure of that. They just have way to much talent to not. When I look at Houston, I see the kind of talent that I wish the Lakers had. Paul is better than any point guard on the Lakers, Harden is better than any shooting guard on the Lakers, Capela is better than any center on the Lakers, Gordon is better than any sixth man on the Lakers. The one and only position the Lakers are better is small forward otherwise Houston is superior in every other way imaginable. Capela is also a restricted free agent, he's not going anywhere, Houston's in complete control of that situation so he is not a flight risk either.

Are the Rockets on the level of the Warriors? Nah. No one in the NBA is.

Are the Rockets on the level of a team like the Lakers? I'd say hell nah, way to much talent to be compared to a much more inferior roster to be honest with you.

You can make the argument for Oklahoma City or New Orleans being on Houston's level and I take the New Orleans idea seriously. I still view Oklahoma City as a joke to be honest, I see that team with talent every year spoil what they have because of unsightly and lawless style of play. Until they actually do something to the contrary, I wont believe it until I actually see it from them. It makes me think Kevin Durant is a top 10 NBA player of all time to have constantly dragged that team to 55+ wins every season and to the third round of the playoffs with lunatics like Westbrook and Billy Donovan at the helm to screw everything up and they absolutely do screw things up. I love Westbrook as an individual talent but his team play is unsightly, it hurts to watch, they screw up so much because he monopolizes control of the ball and unlike other monopolizers in the NBA, he makes god awful decisions and puts his teammates in the worst position to succeed. No offense to Westbrook but until I see him play better, I cannot view him as a threat to Houston, to Golden State, to anyone really.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCityTheBridge View Post
I think the Pelicans will take a step forward in the regular season, but a step sideways or maybe backwards in the playoffs. Davis and Boogie didn't make sense together,and this roster is much more rational. Losing Rondo hurts most in the playoffs, and I don't see Randle & Payton making up for that loss.
See I never mentioned DeMarcus Cousins in my post even once because I don't expect losing him to be a tough loss at all. I do think losing the assets they traded to Sacramento to get Cousins is a loss because the dude basically walked away for nothing in return at all. Two big-men lineups don't work in the current NBA and the Pelicans are proof of that. They always played better without Boogie than they have with him. That's no indictment on Boogie as a player but rather an indictment on the system and setup of having "Twin Towers" in this day and age. Memphis found out about that the hard way after the Randolph and Gasol pairing outlasted its use. San Antonio found out last season that you cannot play Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge together in the same lineup. It just doesn't work in this day and age.

I consider the loss of Rondo to be a huge deal though. He's a rarity in the NBA because he's one of the FEW pure point guards out there, which makes replacing him as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. For Rondo, if you put him on a team where he fits, that team's play elevates. Rondo is the type of player that can be the most valuable on the court while still only scoring 0 points. We saw that with his one season with the Bulls, they just played better in the second half of the season when Rondo started and orchestrated their offense and quite frankly they were on their way as an 8th seed to humiliating the 1st seeded Boston Celtics squad that season by eliminating them had Rondo not gotten injured. We saw that in both the regular season and playoffs with New Orleans. Especially against the Trailblazers in the first round. His 20 assist game allowed Jrue to simply focus on what he does best, which is score in a myriad of ways without having the pressure on his shoulders to make plays for both himself and his teammates, which is when Holiday typically starts to fold. That was invaluable not just for Holiday and Davis but for the entire team, especially for Alvin Gentry because Rondo literally functioned as an extension of the coach on the court.

The offseason isn't over and there's still the February trade deadline. The Pelicans are also operating on the basis of keeping Davis satisfied so that way he stays in New Orleans longterm, so I expect them to go above and beyond in trying to fill in their roster spots. I will wait to see how they fill out their roster before making any further comments or opinions on them. They have the potential to be one of the Top 3 teams in the West and one of the Top 4 in the entire NBA but lets see what happens.
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Old 07-18-2018, 05:58 PM
 
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I'm not concerned with Marc Gasol's injury history. I actually think the pair of Conley and Gasol compare closely with the pair of Curry and Durant in that regard.

Again, I also don't have any trepidations with Gasol's game as he ages. He's a finesse player and not only that but he plays the Center position, his game will translate rather well with age and playing Center in today's NBA simplifies it even more since that position is the least talented on the floor with regards to shooting (which Marc Gasol does well as it is). The man's role is rather simplified, all he has to do is protect the basket which he can do due to his size alone without any actual skill and knockdown shots and make passes, things that he can do even in an advanced age. If his game was predicated off physicality and athleticism like Dwight Howard, then I'd say we'd have a cause for concern but he's a total finesse player. He plays a really simple brand of ball, one that translates well with age.
A broken foot for a 7-footer is always concerning. This year was not a great one for Gasol like his All-NBA-caliber years. He could bounce back. He might not.

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I don't think triple the injury history is the real snapshot between Conley and Curry. Take a look at this (below).

In the case of both Gasol versus Durant and Conley versus Curry, I took the years that the two sets of players played in the league at the same time. For instance, I excluded Durant's first season in the NBA because that was a year before Gasol entered the NBA. Likewise, I did the same with Conley and Curry where I excluded Conley's first two seasons because Curry wasn't in the NBA at the time to make it a fair comparison.

Gasol has played in a total of 708 games over the duration of the same time period that Durant has been in the league. Durant has played in a total of 691 games over the duration of the same time period that Gasol has been in the league. The edge goes to Gasol but their injury histories in a comparable time period has been more in the similar bracket than different.

Likewise, Conley has played in a total of 582 games over the duration of the same time period that Curry has been in the league. Curry has played in a total of 625 games over the duration of the same time period that Conley has been in the league. Curry has the edge here but their injury history totals have been on more comparable ground than different ground.
Conley had surgery on his heel last year. He's had 3 achilles-area injuries in the past. He had a fractured vertebra. He had a broken face. He's had a lot of injuries, including repeated achilles injuries. And now he has had heel surgery. It could work out, or it could not.

Curry's frequent ankle injuries are pretty far in the rearview mirror. Recently, he had a pair of MCL sprains suffered during an awkward fall and an awkward teammate's fall. Those aren't really the kinds of injuries that are concerning for a player's ability--Curry's extended rest for the second MCL resulted in him returning and playing at a high level in the playoffs.

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Also, one more thing to note is that Conley never ruptured his achilles last season. Memphis took precautionary steps by shutting him down because they feared that if he played through stress that he would end up rupturing it. They were scared and frankly made the right move, that's an injury no one comes back from at even 80% (that's the best anyone has ever done -- Dominique Wilkins). It was a precautionary shutdown, not a shutdown because his achilles actually popped. He was feeling some strain in that region of his leg, so they cautiously shut him down not wanting to risk it. Basically they punted their season willingly after that decision. Conley will be back next season with a fresh bill of health to boot. The same with Gasol and quite frankly the same with Curry and Durant. So I don't think we can pinpoint the Memphis guys for their injury issues and not do the same with the Golden State guys given that their respective injury histories are very much comparable.
He had surgery. And he has a history of achilles injuries. Take that information for what it's worth.

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I don't mean any offense but quite frankly this has been a playoff team 7 years in a row, likely would have been a playoff team 8 years in a row had Conley played more than just 12 games. In those 12 games he did play they beat the Warriors once, Rockets twice, Trailblazers once, and the Pelicans once. Those are all quality opponents, the first two were among all-time great regular season teams. So in a small sample, we saw what this team could do, which is that it did what it had done the previous seven years prior to their lost season in 2018.

https://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/MEM/

I don't know if they make the playoffs next year, the West become more competitive this offseason but I do know for a fact that they'll be in the hunt for a lower seed. Which is the point. They'll make some other team's life (or 3 or 4 other teams' life) a living hell for a grind out season of 82 games.
The last time the Griz made the playoffs they had 43 wins and ZBo.

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Right, so it is a good thing that the context of my post was that neither of these are a lock to be playoff teams (or even make the playoffs at all) but rather serve as disruptors that can damage potentially playoff aspirational teams that are trying to squeak in.

I think all Dallas and Phoenix need to do is steal 1 game or 2 games in a 4 game regular season series against each of the Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Spurs, Trailblazers, or the like to severely damage them and put a large dent in their playoff hopes. That's their role. Neither Phoenix nor Dallas are teams that are built to get swept in a regular season series by any of those other Western teams I just mentioned, they aren't going to be playing possum, they'll be taking out the hammer and hurting others that actually are vying for relevance next season. That's my entire point.

That's what separates them from Sacramento. When I see a good Western team scheduled to play Sacramento, I automatically peg that as a regular season series sweep for any decent to good team playing them. That's 4 free wins if you actually show up to play that day over the course of the regular season. Can't really say the same about either Dallas or Phoenix, they don't have the talent to get into the playoffs but they have the talent needed to harm playoff hopefuls over the course of the season. I suspect they will do exactly that. Dallas hurt Oklahoma City just last year when Oklahoma City dropped 3 out of 4 games it played against Dallas. If Dallas just played possum, Oklahoma City would have finished the regular season with a 51-31 record and the third seed in the West instead of the 48-34 team that had to fight all 82 games just to barely get the 4th seed in the West.
Sac last year beat Houston, GS twice, Miami twice, Cleveland, Philadelphia twice, New Orleans twice, OKC, Portland, and Denver. In an 82 game season, things happen. Every western team plays a bunch of games against every other western team. The squads are equally advantaged/disadvantaged by bad teams like Dallas, Phoenix, and Sacramento.

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See I highly doubt that a DeAndre Jordan-less Clippers, a mismatched roster for the Lakers, a tepid and shallow in depth Grizzlies, a weakened Spurs, an all offense no defense at all Nuggets are going to be mowing down Dallas and Phoenix. Will those teams win the season series against Dallas and Phoenix? Sure, perhaps they will, but only after they take a game or two of damage in the loss column from Dallas and Phoenix. Especially with the Clippers, their two best players are Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley, not bad but that's not a 40+ win team and those guys are best as secondary or even more ideally tertiary pieces rather than franchise players. That's more like a middle 30s to high 30s win team, I'd say.
The Clips were good last year. Their big loss is DeAndre, but they're adding Bradley, Gortat, LRMAM, and hopefully a healthy Gallinari. Last year's 7th seed Spurs are replacing Danny Green with DeMar DeRozan. The Nuggets are good, and will be getting better. They really missed Paul Millsap for stretches last year, especially on defense.

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They had Blake Griffin for 53% of last season and DeAndre Jordan for ALL of last season and the team still only finished with a 42-40 record. That's respectable, I don't have gripes at all with a team that fields a winning record or even a break-even record, but it clearly wasn't enough in the West. Next season they have neither Blake Griffin nor DeAndre Jordan for a single game, in a much tougher West, so I don't expect them to even touch the 42-40 record they had last year. I expect a full scale regression from this team, they'll be lottery bound most likely, especially if they start off slow to start.
Blake & DJ were not good combo. After losing Blake, the Clips went 25-19.

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I get the feeling on the inside that Kevin Love is either headed to Portland or Los Angeles by the February trade deadline. Kevin is a really good player, he's not a superstar but he is a star at a minimum and he's very good at spacing the floor and can give you around 20 points per game a night. He would probably be a welcomed addition to any team that trades for him and if he comes to the West, then it continues the long line of star or superstar players making their migration out West.
Love is an excellent player, and there is no way the Cavs want him anymore. They will want to reduce long-term salary commitments and/or get picks & young players.

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I expect them to win more than 55 games for sure.

I saw them win 55 games in 2016-17 with a core built around Harden-Capela-Gordon and that was the third best record in both the West and the entire NBA that season for a team that was second offensively and 18th defensively. So I definitely expect better from a core of Harden-Paul-Capela-Gordon-Anthony, yes even Anthony because fit matters and he had none of that in Oklahoma City (frankly neither did Paul George or Victor Oladipo before him). So we'll agree to disagree there and I also think it may be severely overestimating the defensive prowess of Trevor Ariza and the supposed two-way play of Luc Mbah a Moute.
That '16-17 team had some pieces this '18-19 team won't have: Ariza, Beverly, Dekkar, Brewer, Nene (when he was a nightly contributor), Harrell. Melo is not a winner. He's very talented, but he is a big minus on defense and he does not fit with the Rockets offense at all.

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Lets start off with Trevor Ariza first, this supposed good defender. His defensive rating ranks him 171 in the NBA among all active players, that's good not great because it's still in the top 40% of all NBA players, compare that to James Harden ranking 184 in the NBA for all active players also in the top 40% of all NBA players. Yet supposedly one is a good to great defender and the other is a supposed slacker on that end of the court. When Ariza is on the court, Houston's defensive rating is 104.3, compare that to when Harden is on the floor and Houston's defensive rating is 104.7. Basically just a tick worse. Both Harden and Ariza tie in individual defensive win-shares at 0.043, both were good and/or decent defenders last season but hardly what one could call a "lockdown defender". Chris Paul ranked 123, superior to both of them and in the top 25% of the NBA. What's especially surprising is that Harden actually put some effort into defense last year but that's another discussion altogether. Carmelo has a much much much worse defense than Ariza, no doubt about it, Carmelo would likely be the worst defender on the Rockets when they acquire him but he's a better offensive player than Ariza. Much much much better. He's able to generate his own shots and can handle the ball, Ariza cannot. He is able to knockdown midrange shots, Ariza cannot. He only made 7 less three-pointers than Ariza last season, which is nearly identical and only at a 0.1% worse clip than Ariza and that was with Westbrook tossing him the ball with 5 seconds left on the clock and defenders in his face (Oklahoma City's system never generated clean wide open looks, it was too haphazard of a setup to do even that). He wont be having that issue next season since the Rockets playbook opens the pathway to wide open shots that wing players generally take advantage of (see Ariza, Mbah a Moute, and Tucker). I don't expect Carmelo to be a star player, I just expect him to produce equal or better output than Ariza, that's all.
If you think Ariza is just a slightly better defender than Harden, then you are out of your mind. This reasoning highlights the shortcomings of statistics--especially defensive statistics. Rewatch the WCF. Ariza was excellent in P&R coverage and as the primary defender on the perimeter. Harden was atrocious in pretty much every aspect of defense. Paul was mostly bad, except on KD in the post, where he took away KD's dribble before KD drained shots over him (which is good defense). While Harden gets hidden on defense, Ariza gets assigned to quality offensive players. Houston wants him in the defensive action.

The Rockets' best offense is the spread P&R. Ariza in that set is a spot up shooting option, and he shot .368 from 3 last year, better than Anthony (LRMAM shot .364, also better than Anthony). Anthony's great offensive talents are his isolation game, which is not nearly as good an option as Houston's spread P&R. No, the Rockets did not throw the ball to Ariza in the midpost very often. No, they should not do the same for Melo.

Hiding Harden and Melo on defense is hard--especially with CP3 on the floor. That is a fit problem.

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Contrary to the what people say, Eric Gordon, while no lockdown defender is actually a plus defender both statistically and by the eye test. He ranked 110 and it is not just statistics but actually pans out in real life as well. He's statistically a net positive on the defensive end, ironically better than Chris Paul. Paul is a positive defender and increased his blocking to a career high last year while still maintaining his strengths in forcing turnovers and staying in front of the opposition guards. It helps that he's one of the few playing defense in a position where starting point guards on majority of the opposing teams don't. Tucker is a positive defender. Capela is a positive defender. Harden spent last season as a break-even kind of defender, a vast improvement from his porous performance in 2016 and a decent bit of an improvement compared to even 2017. Harden is no lockdown defender and you cannot count on him to make impact plays on defense, all you need out of him is to hold his own.
Gordon is mediocre defensively. Harden was well-hidden on a team that spent lots of time with two of Ariza, LRMAM, and Tucker on the floor.

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Will the Rockets slide from their defense last year? Probably. Will it be some dramatic fall off the cliff? Nah. They'll probably go from like 8th to 14th or something or somewhere in between in that range. Not because of the loss of Ariza but more so because of the loss of Luc Mbah a Moute. Will it be a drastic slide like the way people are making it out to be? Nah, no way. People are either overreacting or overrating Ariza's defense. Will they take a slide back offensively? Nah, hell nah. Their offense last season was 114.7 point per game, the exact same 114.7 points per game that they had the season before, exact same. They didn't lose any major offensive pieces that they cannot replace, in fact they will replace Ariza's output with Carmelo's and Luc's output with Ennis' that's actually a net positive on scoring output but I digress.
If the Rockets replace Ariza & LRMAM's minutes with Melo & Ennis minutes, they will lose a lot on defense. They won't gain much, if anything, on offense.

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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Individual Defensive win-shares: https://stats.nba.com/players/defens...=DEF_WS&dir=-1

Individual Defensive Rating: https://stats.nba.com/players/defens..._RATING&dir=-1

So yeah, you'll have to excuse me while I think that Houston can survive without Ariza's defense and likely either replace him by February or just get other guys that have the capability to step up do exactly that. No offense but Ariza's defense isn't something to be losing sleep over and thinking that its so irreplaceable. If it was, the Rockets would have just outbid Phoenix to bring him back, they're not an idiotic organization and are already well into the luxury tax as it is, if they saw him as absolutely necessary they'd just bring him back again.
The Rockets just didn't want to spend. They decided against a pricey contract for Ariza and a modest one for LRMAM, and instead picked up scraps in the bargain bin. Those scraps are not as good as the 60 minutes a night they were getting from the two-way wings they lost.

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Originally Posted by Facts Kill Rhetoric View Post
Now lets move on to Luc Mbah a Moute. He's hardly a two-way player, he's a defense only player that in small stretches can knockdown the occasional wide open three-point shot at a respectable clip. Beyond that he has no offensive game to speak of. He was a 68% free throw shooter, which is below Ennis' 80% last season (87% in Memphis and 77% in Detroit). Their field goal percentage is an identical 48% for last season. Finally Luc was a marginally better three-point shooter at 36% compared to Ennis' 34% last season. Both players averaged identical 7.3 - 7.5 points per game shooting splits and both players have an identical shot chart, meaning that the areas on the court that they made their buckets were identical. So offensively this is a total wash. Luc was a beneficiary of Houston's team staff last offseason that he worked with, arguably the best in the NBA for the last 25 years at training the three-point stoke (Rockets have been a three-point happy franchise since the days of Robert Horry, Mario Elie, Kenny Smith, and Clyde Drexler), which Ennis should be a beneficiary of this offseason. I expect him to improve by a few ticks to match Luc's production of 36% and if not and it still ends up staying at 34%, who really cares? That's good enough. Not like the guy is some 28% three-point shooter and can't knock down a single wide open shot like some of the guys on my team.
LRMAM is an excellent defender who nicely fills a spread P&R slot on offense by virtue of his .364 3Pt%. That percentage is good enough to keep defenders honest. Ennis' volume on 3s has been low in his career and his accuracy has been wildly variable. He may or may not be as good at shooting as the two guys who left. He is not as good defensively as either of them.

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Defensively, Luc was a good deal better player than Ennis last season but that can be more attributed to Ennis' lack of fit in a chaotic roster like Detroit than anything else. Every player that plays for Detroit experiences a decline on both ends of the court and Ennis is no exception, primarily because they don't have a good system in place to maximize on people's strengths and people end up in logjams with their position. They're basically the Oklahoma City of the East in that regard. His defensive production was just a small clip behind Luc's while he was with Memphis and before getting traded to Detroit. All Houston needs from him is for him to reach into his bag and pull out the defense that he had in Memphis and he's a full-scale replacement of Luc there.
Ennis has never shown defense comparable to LRMAM or Ariza. He's 27. He's just not as good as they are on that end. Maybe he'll figure it out this year, but that's a pretty big hope for a guy Houston is hoping will fill 25+ minutes.

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From what I can tell by just looking it up, it seems James Ennis knows what his role is going to be next season:

https://www.thedreamshake.com/2018/7...ouston-rockets

That's good, we'll see how it pans out for him.
A fan blog is irrationally high on a newly acquired player? Color me surprised. I love the video they use to demonstrate Ennis' "stout defense." I see a guy playing in a variant of a box-and-one scheme and looking very weak maneuvering around screens and getting bailed out by his help defenders. Harden makes a lot of defenders look bad, but Ennis looks atrocious in that video.

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I think as long as the Rockets stagger the minutes and avoid playing Harden and Carmelo on the court together for significant minutes, that they'll be okay defensively, and wont really miss a beat offensively. Again a lineup of Paul-Gordon-Harden-Tucker-Capela is a capable two-way lineup. The statistics prove that. You can substitute Harden with Carmelo and it should still be able to hold its own. That and the fact that the offseason still isn't over and the Rockets are likely to make one or two more moves from now to the February deadline (like get rid of Anderson by stretching out his contract or buying him out and filling the rest of the roster).
That lineup would be excellent offensively but not very good defensively. Melo can't run spread P&R like Harden & CP3. If you sub him in for Harden, you are either putting the ball in CP3's hands (which is fine), or you are going to Melo in the midpost, which is a significant downgrade from Houston's offense last year. Stretching or buying out Anderson does not create any cap space next year. The Rockets are already over the cap.

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I don't mean any offense, but I'll just have to go with my own viewpoint on Houston. They are not the same 65 win team from last year, but they're still easily the second best team in the West and I fully expect them to win a minimum of 58 games. Oh and they're a complete lock to make the playoff with homecourt advantage in both the first and second rounds at a minimum. I'm sure of that. They just have way to much talent to not. When I look at Houston, I see the kind of talent that I wish the Lakers had. Paul is better than any point guard on the Lakers, Harden is better than any shooting guard on the Lakers, Capela is better than any center on the Lakers, Gordon is better than any sixth man on the Lakers. The one and only position the Lakers are better is small forward otherwise Houston is superior in every other way imaginable. Capela is also a restricted free agent, he's not going anywhere, Houston's in complete control of that situation so he is not a flight risk either.
Houston needs to extend Capela, otherwise he will play for the QO and be unrestricted next year. Forcing him to play for the QO is not going to make him more interested in playing for Houston in the future.

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Are the Rockets on the level of the Warriors? Nah. No one in the NBA is.

Are the Rockets on the level of a team like the Lakers? I'd say hell nah, way to much talent to be compared to a much more inferior roster to be honest with you.
Houston was on the Warriors' level last year. They won't be next year. That's my point. They are sliding.

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You can make the argument for Oklahoma City or New Orleans being on Houston's level and I take the New Orleans idea seriously. I still view Oklahoma City as a joke to be honest, I see that team with talent every year spoil what they have because of unsightly and lawless style of play. Until they actually do something to the contrary, I wont believe it until I actually see it from them. It makes me think Kevin Durant is a top 10 NBA player of all time to have constantly dragged that team to 55+ wins every season and to the third round of the playoffs with lunatics like Westbrook and Billy Donovan at the helm to screw everything up and they absolutely do screw things up. I love Westbrook as an individual talent but his team play is unsightly, it hurts to watch, they screw up so much because he monopolizes control of the ball and unlike other monopolizers in the NBA, he makes god awful decisions and puts his teammates in the worst position to succeed. No offense to Westbrook but until I see him play better, I cannot view him as a threat to Houston, to Golden State, to anyone really.
I'm not nearly as high on Westbrook as a lot of people, but I am high on George, and I think ditching Melo will do wonders for this team's defense. I agree that Russ is not a good decisionmaker and not a great team player. These Thunder, though, will be very long, with excellent defenders in George, Roberson, and Adams. I think they will be roughly on Houston's level.

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See I never mentioned DeMarcus Cousins in my post even once because I don't expect losing him to be a tough loss at all. I do think losing the assets they traded to Sacramento to get Cousins is a loss because the dude basically walked away for nothing in return at all. Two big-men lineups don't work in the current NBA and the Pelicans are proof of that. They always played better without Boogie than they have with him. That's no indictment on Boogie as a player but rather an indictment on the system and setup of having "Twin Towers" in this day and age. Memphis found out about that the hard way after the Randolph and Gasol pairing outlasted its use. San Antonio found out last season that you cannot play Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge together in the same lineup. It just doesn't work in this day and age.
Basically agreed.

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I consider the loss of Rondo to be a huge deal though. He's a rarity in the NBA because he's one of the FEW pure point guards out there, which makes replacing him as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. For Rondo, if you put him on a team where he fits, that team's play elevates. Rondo is the type of player that can be the most valuable on the court while still only scoring 0 points. We saw that with his one season with the Bulls, they just played better in the second half of the season when Rondo started and orchestrated their offense and quite frankly they were on their way as an 8th seed to humiliating the 1st seeded Boston Celtics squad that season by eliminating them had Rondo not gotten injured. We saw that in both the regular season and playoffs with New Orleans. Especially against the Trailblazers in the first round. His 20 assist game allowed Jrue to simply focus on what he does best, which is score in a myriad of ways without having the pressure on his shoulders to make plays for both himself and his teammates, which is when Holiday typically starts to fold. That was invaluable not just for Holiday and Davis but for the entire team, especially for Alvin Gentry because Rondo literally functioned as an extension of the coach on the court.
Rondo was great when the games got important. He was a much more mixed bag in the regular season.

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The offseason isn't over and there's still the February trade deadline. The Pelicans are also operating on the basis of keeping Davis satisfied so that way he stays in New Orleans longterm, so I expect them to go above and beyond in trying to fill in their roster spots. I will wait to see how they fill out their roster before making any further comments or opinions on them. They have the potential to be one of the Top 3 teams in the West and one of the Top 4 in the entire NBA but lets see what happens.
It will be interesting to watch.
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Old 07-23-2018, 10:59 AM
 
Location: Jersey City
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Lakers took the appropriate calculated risk here, in my view. The danger is how much will Lebron decline over the next couple years. Fortunately, the Lakers will likely end up with one of the 6 stars available next offseason, and ultimately a 4-year deal with Lebron is not that big a deal. By the time Lebron is out the door, Lakers will have room to sign another star.

I even love the small signings the Lakers made this offseason. The West will be a bloodbath this year, but it will be fun to watch.
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