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Hoops Rumors Weekly Mailbag 3/15/15-3/21/15

In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have added a second opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap, or the NBA draft? Drop me a line at [email protected] or @EddieScarito on Twitter. Now for this week’s inquiries:

“Who might the Knicks actually be able to land in free agency this summer?” — Gerry

As a fellow Knicks fan I understand the pessimism in your phrasing. Phil Jackson will certainly be active in trying to land a number of big name, big ticket free agents this summer. Unfortunately, I don’t expect him to be all that successful though. Most, if not all, of this summer’s potential free agents would have to accept less money and a diminished chance at contention to come to New York…which isn’t a great start to any sales pitch. Jackson as an executive has little appeal to prospective signees, despite what the Knicks’ PR department would have you believe. To land free agents, Jackson will have to overpay just to have a fighting chance this summer. Keeping this in mind I would posit that Greg Monroe and Rajon Rondo would be the two players most likely to sign with New York. If I can only choose one, then I’ll go with Monroe. He’ll likely be seeking top dollar, a figure that not all league executives agree Monroe is worth, and I can easily see the Knicks being the ones to give it to him.

“What NBA team needs Devin Booker the most and what do you see him doing once he makes it to the NBA?” Dustin

I don’t rate Booker as being a franchise cornerstone type of player at the NBA level, so to say a team needs him is perhaps a bit strong of a statement. It’s also not a given that Booker will leave school after this season. He really could use another year of development and would probably improve his draft position by staying at Kentucky for his sophomore campaign. But if Booker has a strong tournament, or if his people get a strong indication that he’ll be a surefire first-rounder, he’ll likely decide to leave school this year. But his 1-6 shooting performance against Hampton on Thursday night isn’t a great start on this front.

Booker isn’t really a great athlete, and this will limit his ability to be an effective pro over the long haul. He’ll have difficulty guarding the more athletic twos in the NBA, and creating his own shot will be a challenge as well. But the kid can definitely shoot, perhaps better than anyone in this year’s draft class, and that is a skill that can always find a place in the league. Booker will likely top out as an NBA sixth man because of his limitations. He’s only a freshman, so he may have a well of ability that hasn’t been tapped yet, but I don’t see him becoming an All-Star, nor a top of the line starter in the NBA.

The guard is currently projected as a mid-to-late first-rounder if he declares for the draft in June. Going by our current reverse standings that allows for some potentially interesting fits for Booker. A team like the Clippers, who are currently projected at the No. 25 spot would be a very good fit for Booker given their lack of bench production this season and need for floor spacers. Memphis could also use some depth in the backcourt, and the Grizzlies would be able to allow Booker significant D-League time during his rookie season, which he’ll need.

“How important do you think NCAA tournament performance is to a player’s draft stock?” Vinny

While a solid tournament performance certainly doesn’t hurt a prospect’s draft position, it’s not necessarily a prime determining factor for the NBA draft. Individual pre-draft workouts are far more important to GMs and scouts than what a player does over a few games in March. There have been plenty of March heroes that have gone undrafted, or have ended up being busts in the NBA. Personally, I believe how a player performs under the bright lights of the tournament reflects more on his emotional makeup and character than on his actual playing ability. College teams can load up on defense and limit any player for a game or two, no matter how talented he is. A bad stat line or two isn’t going to knock a prospect out of being a lottery pick like a bad pre-draft workout can.

“Who should win the Rookie of the Year award for this season? Rank your top five finalists.” Kelly

I think the ROTY award winner is easily the Wolves’ Andrew Wiggins. He has shown quite a bit of growth over the course of the season, and he just might end up making the Kevin Love trade look like a foolish deal for the Cavaliers. Much more so if Love changes his mind and leaves Cleveland after this season. Wiggins is a player whom Minnesota can and will build around. It should be pretty fun for Wolves fans in a few seasons thanks to Wiggins and the rest of the young talent Flip Saunders has acquired.

Here are my top five rankings for the Rookie of the Year award:

  1. Andrew Wiggins (Timberwolves) 15.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.8 APG. .433/.324/.742
  2. Elfrid Payton (Magic) 8.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 6.1 APG. .421/.250/.527.
  3. Nerlens Noel (Sixers) 9.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG. .453/.000/.608
  4. Nikola Mirotic (Bulls) 9.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.1 APG. .402/.317/.801
  5. Marcus Smart (Celtics) 7.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 3.3 APG. .363/.341/.647.

That sounds the buzzer on this week’s column. Thanks for all of your submissions. Keep on sending in your questions and I’ll be back next Saturday with some more responses.

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