- I’m a firm believer in stats regressing back to the mean. For example, Otto Porter started off the season super hot from three. He was shooting 46% from three pre-allstar break. Lately he’s been struggling and only shooting 34% from three post-allstar break. Typically things will average itself out. So that brings me to my point about Steph Curry. I think the more likely scenario when it comes to Curry and his shooting slump is regressing back to the mean. He is a career average 43.6% 3pt shooter and this season he has shot 39% from three. Everyone has been trying to dissect the why behind his shooting slump and for good reasons. Maybe after the past two seasons he’s having a down year or his confidence is off. It just feels to me that everyone is thinking since he’s slumping this late into the regular season he will most likely slump into the postseason. I think the more likely scenario is that he shoots 45-50% from three the rest of the way out; get his average back to 43%. I think there’s a better chance he will finish off this season super hot rather than continue his slump. So with that said, with or without Durant, if Curry is shooting 7 of 14 from three on a nightly basis the Warriors win the title. When you have a guy that dictates a defense’s reaction time when he’s 15 feet above the 3pt line it’s a wrap.
- If I had to pick either Karl Anthony-Towns or Anthony Davis to start my franchise, I’d pick Towns. They’re both equally good at rebounding. Towns is younger so you get more years with him. Davis is way more injury prone so durability goes to Towns. Davis is a better defender than Towns, but for now. If you compare Davis’ second season with the season Towns is having now than I would say Towns is more advanced with understanding of defensive coverages. The same communication breakdowns that Davis suffered from in year two Towns shares as well in his sophomore year, however, Towns is a little less jumpy on fakes than Davis was. I think this has been by far Davis’ best defensive year of his career but it took him 5 years to understand team defense. You can see the same growth curve with Towns because understanding rotations as the last line of defense isn’t simple, takes time. Defense goes to Davis, but again, for now. Towns is a better shooter and a better all-around offensive player. I’m going to get a lot of push back for this one but stats are facts and the facts say Towns already in year two is just as good offensively as Davis in year five. Towns is a better shooter, passer and takes smarter shots. Here are the shot charts for Davis and Towns, courtesy from NBA.com (Davis is on the top, Towns on the bottom:)
I’ve gone back and forth on this debate but my foot is down. I’m going Towns.
- Gary Harris is good. He’s been improving with every year even though he has been oft-injured. Since February 1st he’s averaging 17 PPG on 52% from the floor and 44% from three. For the 19th pick in the 2014 draft that’s pretty good. His handle is what he’s improved on the most. An improved handle opens up the door for rim attacks, pick plays and mis-direction. Now that he’s a good 3pt shooter closeouts on him have to be hard and Harris does a nice job throwing in moves to attack the basket. His defense is kind of my issue. He needs to do a better job of keeping his body in front of his man. He gets blown by too often and reads flare screens terribly. He should improve over time but since he’s short with a short wingspan and average athleticism he needs to be a heady defender or else he will always be a minus on that end. The trio of Jokic, Murray and Harris is one of the better under-22 trios in the game.
- That brings me to my next point. Nikola Jokic is a hot name in NBA circles. They’re falling in love with his shooting, passing and transition skills. He’s averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists on 58% shooting from the floor and 35% from three. So you can understand why he’s the new “it” thing. But the only issue I have with Jokic is his pick-and-roll defense and rim protection. The guy is slow footed, can’t jump, or at least he doesn’t want to jump and is the beginning stages of understanding PnR coverages. Like I said with Towns, it’s going to take time for him to understand back line defense. But that’s not the issue. The issue is his body movement. He’s just slow and not athletic. Even if he does read a play properly he’s slow to get there:
This is just one play of many that I have noticed. It isn’t even a pick-and-roll play, just a simple blow by that he doesn’t cut off. The Nuggets perimeter defense is nothing to ride home about but still sometimes he won’t even move in the direction of the gap attack. He’s good at one-on-one post defense but this isn’t 1999. I like Nikola Jokic as much as the next guy but his defense is a problem that I’m not sure is going away.
- If I were Boston I’d seriously consider trading Isaiah Thomas. The only reason why I say this is because of the fact Boston owns the Nets first round pick which will yield either Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball. I don’t want to put too much expectations onto Ball/Fultz but I can say with almost certainty that they are going to be max salary players when they come off their rookie deals. Boston wants to save a max salary slot for a Paul George or Gordon Hayward type to contend versus the Cavs. Boston has max money already being spent to Al Horford and Bradley, Thomas, and Smarts contracts are coming up summer 2018. So that’s potentially max money to Fultz/Ball (only if they extend their contract after year 2 new CBA rule,) Thomas, Horford, Hayward, and another $20 million contract on Bradley and another $15 million on Smart and there is still Jaylen Brown too. Something has to give. Either they lose their depth and don’t resign Bradley and Smart or they don’t sign a big name free agent and trade for one. I’d trade a package of Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Smart and Boston’s 2018 first (unprotected) and Memphis’ 2019 first (unprotected) for Jimmy Butler. Boston would get out of cap hell and keep BOTH Brooklyn’s first round picks. Isaiah Thomas is going to be 30 years old when his contract comes up for renewal. That means paying a 30 year old, who isn’t a top 20 player, about $40 million per year for 5 years. If I were Boston I wouldn’t let it get that far and trade him before his contract is up.