In addition to our weekly chat, which Chuck Myron facilitates every Wednesday, we have 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. This week, in a continued effort to change things up a bit, I’ve once again invited some of the other staff members to join in on the fun. Now for this week’s inquiries:
Chris Crouse: The Heat will miss Chalmers. He was playing pretty well this season and with his departure, the door has opened for Tyler Johnson to receive more touches. However, the team seems to be going with Beno Udrih as the backup point guard. That role doesn’t come with the burden of a traditional point guard because of how coach Erik Spoelstra staggers the minutes of Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade and how much they both handle the rock. Both players should dominate the ball even more as a result of this trade. It’ll really hurt the Heat in games that Wade doesn’t play. Those should be the games where we see Johnson running the offense and probably taking too many shots for a player of his caliber.
“Now that this season’s extension deadline has passed, which player who didn’t agree to an extension will make his team regret it the most? Why?” — Sam
Will Sammon: A handful of guys, notably Andre Drummond and Bradley Beal, are expected to ink deals with their current clubs after not agreeing to an extension. By the end of the season, Evan Fournier could very well make the Magic regret not being able to extend him before the deadline. Fournier is an excellent perimeter defender and is now consistently attacking the rim on offense. He’s an important player right now for the Magic and it will be interesting how Orlando’s offseason shapes up if Fournier ends up not returning.
“Give me your three most under-the-radar free agents for next summer who will make the GMs who sign them look like geniuses. I’ll hold you to these by the way….” — Isaac
Chuck Myron: No pressure, huh? Well, a lot depends on how much you sign a guy for. The genius signing for $5MM is the foolish signing for $15MM. Anyway, Courtney Lee, though he’s off to a slow start this year, has always fit in well for the right team at the right price, so if someone can get him for the mid-level exception next summer, that’ll be a bargain. Alan Anderson, who seems to have exceeded expectations wherever he’s gone, could be available on the cheap if he doesn’t bounce back quickly from his injury. Miles Plumlee, who started for the 48-win Suns team that barely missed the playoffs in 2013/14, is buried on the bench in Milwaukee and is set for restricted free agency. I think he’ll succeed if given minutes somewhere.
“Which rookie(s) have impressed you the most so far this season?” — Billy
Eddie Scarito: I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a number of this year’s crop of rookies, and I’m beginning to believe that the 2015 draft may end up being looked back upon as one of the deeper ones in recent years. I’m glad you allowed me to choose more than one player, since there are a few who have caught my eye. Here are some rookies who I think have stood out from the rest of the pack thus far:
- Karl-Anthony Towns: Sure, he’s the No. 1 overall pick, and that honor always comes with a set of lofty expectations based on talent level. But after playing just one season at Kentucky, and playing limited minutes while there thanks to the team’s depth, Towns is looking like the real deal for Minnesota. When I say real deal, I mean he appears to have the capability of being a top five player in the league in just a few seasons.
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: Brooklyn did rather well for itself on draft night by nabbing Hollis-Jefferson. Sure, he’s still as raw as freshly butchered steak, but there is no denying that the Nets are a better, more exciting team when he’s on the court. Defensively, he’s already a stud, and Hollis-Jefferson is a highlight reel waiting to happen when running the break. If he can ever develop a passable jump shot, GM Billy King should be lauded for maximizing the No. 23 overall pick he acquired from Portland in exchange for Mason Plumlee.
- Myles Turner: Turner is another would-be project who has surpassed initial expectations and snagged himself a rotation slot early in his rookie campaign. His fractured left thumb will keep him out of action for roughly a month, which is unfortunate. But the Pacers have to be happy with what the big man has shown them thus far. He looks like he has the makings of a solid stretch-four, and if he can improve his defense, the franchise landed itself a starting-caliber player in this year’s draft.
- Kristaps Porzingis: Porzingis’ selection was met with quite a bit of skepticism (myself included), but he’s making Phil Jackson look very wise for snagging him at No. 4 overall. I have been very impressed with his rebounding and defense thus far, and the Latvian has shown flashes of greatness on the offensive end at times. After Towns, Porzingis could end up being the second best player in the entire draft. The Knicks finally catch a break and land a player the franchise can build around. What a world.
- T.J. McConnell: McConnell is the only undrafted player on this list, but he’s held his own thus far, and is averaging a stellar 7.7 assists per game for the Sixers. I’m not sure that he can sustain his production over the course of a full season (probably not), and his playing time will likely take a hit once Tony Wroten and Kendall Marshall return to the lineup. But for now, he’s a great early season storyline, and for Sixers fans struggling to cope with yet another awful start, he’s one of the few reasons to cheer on a nightly basis.
Well, that’s all the space we have for this week. Thanks again to all those who sent in their inquiries. Keep them coming, and we’ll be back next Saturday with more responses.