I have recently started participating in the subreddit r/Nbadiscussion. I have found it to be an charming place to discuss basketball, away from the churn and clickbait of r/NBA. Since this is my blog to aggregate and showcase my basketball-related thinking, I thought I would crosspost some of my r/Nbadiscussion content here as well as interesting posts from other community members. I will try to provide context as well as a link to the reddit discussion.
Evan Turner / Kent Bazemore Trade
Portland is trading Evan Turner to Atlanta for Kent Bazemore, league source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2019
Surprised that this is being reported as a 1 for 1 trade. I think almost every team would rather have Bazemore than Turner since Bazemore can theoretically fill a 3&D wing role. Maybe the Hawks are doing Bazemore a solid and/or were planning on buying out Bazemore anyway so the cap neutral deal means it makes no difference.
I don’t really like the deal from the Hawks perspective. They are still rebuilding and Bazemore could have theoretically fetched an asset as an expiring rotation-level wing similar to the rumored Brandon Knight + HOU 1st for Bazemore deal last trade deadline. Bazemore probably comes off the bench for Portland, but I could see his role expanding and being a playoff contributor if he can knock down enough of the open 3’s that Dame and CJ will generate.
Evan Turner could have some value as a ball handler off the bench and might be useful if they ever want use Trae Young off-ball. However, Atlanta has a glut of other wings who they should want to get minutes over Turner. I could see Atlanta buying out Turner if he starts racking up DNPs during the season, assuming he is even on their opening day roster.
D’Angelo Russell has James Harden and MVP potential
Well Harden at 23 was his first season in Houston and put up 26/6/5 as the #1 option for a playoff team in the West with his second option being Chandler Parsons. They have similarities as left handed shot creators with size, but DLo has limitations that are currently keeping him from following the same trajectory. Most importantly, Harden was always been hyper efficient with his ability to attack the rim and either score or get fouled. In the 2012-13 season he averaged 10.2 FTA per game and shot 65% at the rim. In comparison DLo this past season averaged 2.5 FTA and shot 55% at the rim. At the time Harden didn’t have as deadly of a stepback 3, but what makes his stepback 3 so deadly now is his ability to beat his man off the dribble and create shots at the rim which he demonstrated even dating back to his OKC days. Even if DLo develops Harden’s ridiculous stepback 3 (which Harden shot historically well this past season), it won’t be as threatening without a similar drive game.
It’s pretty unlikely that Russell will suddenly turn this weakness into a strength so he will need to find another route if he is going to build on his first time all star selection this past season.
How biased am I for thinking the Hawks can make the playoffs this year?
Your bias is in assuming that the Hawks young players will for sure improve both in skill and on-court production while the young players on other teams will stay static. People were sky high on Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum after great rookie seasons and were assuming they would only improve, but progress is rarely so linear.
Both the Heat and the Pistons were over 10 wins better than the Hawks this past season and though it’s possible they choose to blow it up next season, it’s not a foregone conclusion. The recent Pistons have seemed pretty content with pushing to make the playoffs every season over taking a more long term approach. The Heat have traditionally also tried to push for the playoffs as a way to lure top flight free agents.
That said the bottom of the East is pretty terrible and ~40 wins is probably what you’ll need to make the 8-seed. It’s not impossible for the Hawks to make the playoffs by any means, but I wouldn’t put any money on it.