Question: As a newish fan who doesn’t want to dickride an already top team (Heat or Bulls type), who would be a good entertaining team with good future prospects to get behind?
Wes: I can actually answer this with a similar perspective to that of a new fan, seeing how as the Sonics were taken from Seattle and I was left team-less. Additionally, I am almost always opposed to any sort of dickriding whatsoever. My two top answers are the Denver Nuggets and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Denver is the team that I fell in love with a little over a year ago, largely due to their strategy of stockpiling depth at every position and emphasizing a more diversified attack than a lot of teams in the league. The Nuggets don’t have a guy who would be categorized as a mega-star by anybody. Instead, they have assembled a group of good to very good players who are interchangeable in some ways.
The result is a fairly relentless approach. Denver plays an uptempo style – arguably the “fastest” team in the league. A good majority of the players are young, so the energy is always high. It’s not as if the players are just faceless bodies, either. Ty Lawson is a speedster of a point guard and one of the team’s leaders. Arron Afflalo is an excellent, all-around basketball player. Danilo Gallinari is a nice little scorer. Kenneth Faried is a hustler with a never-ending motor. Al Harrington is a gritty, tough-minded sixth man. Javale McGee is… well… Javale McGee is captivating television at all times. The list is seemingly endless.
The team’s front office appears to set for a long time to come, and they’re great at what they do. They pulled off the excellent trade that relieved them of the ball-stopping Carmelo Anthony, acquiring several young, relatively selfless players in return. They shy away from poor signings and bad contracts. For example, the trading of Nene showed that they are willing to shed themselves of a deal that tied up a lot of money in favor of stockpiling some cash for the future (to be clear, Nene is a very good big man and you have to overpay for guys like him in this league, but Denver saw an opportunity to get rid of what might have been a bad, long-term decision and they took it). Their roster moves are fluid and they’re always looking to shake things up in slight but effective ways. As far as coaching is concerned, George Karl is a future hall-of-famer who preaches smart, aggressive play and has the ability to connect with players on a personal level (a skill that simply can’t be taught).
Will Denver win a championship anytime soon? Probably not, although it depends on how some current players develop and who they can acquire in the next few years. In the meantime, though, they play exciting team basketball and always give a good fight. When at home, they are extremely difficult to beat.
Philadelphia is similar to Denver in some respects. The 76ers are full of young talent, a few of which might the ability to develop into big-time players in the league. Guys like Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner seem like they’re on the verge of taking the next step. Ditto for Thaddeus Young. They have an established All-Star in Andre Igoudola, who has a solid game and is one of the best on-ball defenders in the league.
Philly is definitely still a team that is learning, but they figure to be a strong presence in the Eastern Conference for years to come. I’ve felt like the are just a potent scorer and some experience away from being a beast of a team. Will Doug Collins be their coach forever? Probably not, but he’s alright for now (provided he doesn’t work them to death in the process).
Both teams are currently making a little noise in the playoffs, although no one expects them to go too deep. Like I said, neither has superstars or gets that “marquee name” treatment, but the arrow is solidly pointing up when it comes to their respective futures.
Question: If the Heat don’t win the title, what do they do with Bosh?
Wes: I don’t know what happened to Chris Bosh. I was solidly behind him while he was getting ripped last year, and I stayed with him during the early part of this year. Unfortunately, I can’t deny that Bosh has slipped badly in recent months. Whether it’s skill set, personality, or both, he just doesn’t look like a good fit in Miami.
For the Heat, the primary concern is Bosh’s massive contract. He’s only a few years into his 6-year, $110 million deal, meaning about $18 million is set to be owed by Miami on an annual basis. Of course, it was worth it at the time of the signing because it solidified the Heat’s “Big-3” for years to come, and Bosh figured to reap the rewards of playing alongside Lebron and D-Wade. It hasn’t quite worked out like that.
The problem is that it’s tough to get rid of a contract like that. Do you look at the possibility of invoking your one amnesty clause? I don’t think so. First and foremost, freeing up the money at this point might not be the best timing because you’ve got a relatively weak set of free agents to spend it on in this upcoming offseason. Additionally, there are guys like Mike Miller who are probably a better target for that treatment. As far as trading away the contract goes, you’re going to have trouble finding takers for the contract alone. I have no doubt that a team like Houston would love to grab Bosh, but would they be willing to take his deal, and what would you get in return? In my opinion, fair or not, Bosh’s reputation has been slightly damaged by his run with the Heat, and Miami is not going to have leverage in any sort of deal when it comes to the personnel involved.
So here’s my decision: I would keep him. Despite the lackluster run, I maintain that Bosh is a valuable commodity. Provided he doesn’t come to you and express his discontent with his situation, I would continue forward with him. With Bosh, I think it’s all mental. If he can find a role where he’s comfortable, one where maybe all pressure is gone, then perhaps he can thrive. Additionally, don’t forget that Wade always seems close to sustaining an injury that could sideline him for an extended period of time. Bosh has shown the ability to step up when one or both of his running mates are down. In short, I’m still behind the guy, even if it because the rest of the options are less than desirable.
Question: Which rookie PG had the best year? Which rookie PG is going to be the best of the group?
Wes: Two questions, same answer: Kyrie Irving. Statistics aside, Irving just look like he has “it.” He plays with confidence and composure, and he had a lot of moments where he didn’t look like a rookie at all, to me. Granted, he stood out because he’s with Cleveland, but he also stood out because he gave me hope for the Cavs in the future. I think he’ll be an all-star before too long.
In terms of the future, it’s tough to project. To me, Rubio could go either way. He was overrated because of flash and the momentum that his story had, but he was also probably underrated in terms of his vision, passing, and ability to adjust to the speed of the NBA game. The injury was a real shame. With him and everyone else, it’s too early to tell. I didn’t even watch Brandon Knight play because he plays for the Pistons, and you can’t tell a damn thing about a guy in his rookie year who plays in Detroit.
Keep in mind, I’m not exactly the master of accurate projections, so take it for what it is.
Question: Rank the top starting PGs in the league.
Wes: Alright, I did this pretty quickly. In some cases, injuries threw the depth charts out of whack, so I just picked who I thought a team’s starting PG should be. Criteria is just who I think means the most to their team, ultimately. In truth, beyond the top ten or so, I could move things around. And don’t kill me for Rubio, Lin, etc – those guys are too inexperienced for me to rank them very high.
Top 30 Point Guards:
1. Chris Paul
2. Derrick Rose
3. Russell Westbrook
4. Rajon Rondo
5. Tony Parker
6. Deron Williams
7. Steve Nash
8. Jrue Holiday
9. Devin Harris
10. Ty Lawson
11. Kyrie Irving
12. Jeff Teague
13. Jason Kidd
14. Brandon Jennings
15. Darren Collison
16. Jameer Nelson
17. Stephen Curry
18. John Wall
19. Ramon Sessions
20. Mike Conley
21. Jose Calderon
22. Kyle Lowry
23. Mario Chalmers
24. Ray Felton
25. Jeremy Lin
26. Ricky Rubio
27. Isaiah Thomas
28. Brandon Knight
29. Jarrett Jack
30. D.J. Augustin
Question: If the Kings were moving to Seattle, but only under the condition that Hedo Turkoglu be signed to a 5-year, $65 million contract (with a no-trade clause), what would be your reaction?
– John Hathwell
Wes: If I met the woman of my dreams, who had everything I could ever hope for and was the perfect compliment to me in all ways, but she had a 7-year old son who already had multiple run-ins with the law and a father with severe anger management issues…
… I’d run like Usain Bolt. You get what I’m getting at, though. I’d endure Hedo if it meant getting a team back. Life is defined by tough decisions. It’d also mean that I could heckle Hedo from close range. See? Made lemonade out of that shit.
– Wes Lilliman