Community Shootaround

Community Shootaround: 2017/18 NBA Predictions

After four long months without meaningful NBA games, the 2017/18 season will tip off tonight. Tuesday’s doubleheader includes Kyrie Irving and the Celtics visiting his old team in Cleveland, and Chris Paul making his debut for the Rockets in Golden State.

With only a few more hours to go until the start of the season, it’s time to register your predictions for the coming season.

  • Which eight teams do you expect to make the playoffs in each conference?
  • Will the 2018 NBA Finals feature the Warriors and Cavaliers for a fourth straight year?
  • Who will win this season’s MVP award? Will any player enjoy a historic individual run like Russell Westbrook did last year?
  • What are your picks for the other awards, including Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, and Coach of the Year?
  • Will any coaches be fired during the season? If so, which one(s)?
  • Which players or teams do you expect to most significantly outperform expectations or disappoint?
  • Which big-name players do you think will be traded before this season’s deadline?

Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts, predictions, and bold takes on the upcoming season. And enjoy tonight’s games!

Community Shootaround: 82-Game Season

As the NBA marks the 50th anniversary of its first 82-game season, Commissioner Adam Silver is giving indications that a shorter schedule is under consideration.

The league wants to expand its international exposure, possibly with an overseas franchise, which would mean longer flights and a greater physical toll on the players. The tradeoff may be fewer regular-season games to give teams more time to recover from intercontinental travel.

“There’s nothing magical about 82 games,” Silver told Sam Amick of USA Today. “It’s been in place for 50 years, but for the long-term planning of the league, as we learn more about the human body and the wear and tear of travel and the competitive landscape … invariably we’ll look at the regular season. And in looking at the regular season, it may create more opportunities for international franchises.”

Before the formation of the NBA in 1946, professionals used to play a schedule similar to college teams, with a few dozen games each year. The new league started with 11 teams each playing 60 games, explains Stayton Bonner of slate.com, then cut that to seven teams and 48 games in its second season. Eventually the owners settled on 82 for the 1967-68 season because it gave teams three games a week for roughly half the year.

But as Silver says, that number isn’t set in stone. Owners saw it as a level where ticket revenues would cover team salaries without creating too much of an injury risk for the players. The number has endured for five decades, but there’s no reason it can’t be changed if circumstances warrant it.

The last NBA work stoppage in 2011 forced the season to begin on Christmas Day, with each team playing 66 games. Although travel was difficult with so many games condensed into such a short window, some people around the league thought fewer games made for a better product.
What do you think? Does five decades of playing 82 games make it a sacred number? Would all records have to come with asterisks if the season is reduced? Or would the level of play improve with a shorter regular season?
Please share your thoughts in the space below. We look forward to your responses.

Community Shootaround: GMs’ Predictions

Earlier today, we shared the results of an annual survey of NBA general managers offering their predictions for the upcoming season.

Few of their forecasts were surprising. Twenty-eight of the 30 GMs like the Warriors to repeat as champions, with the other two votes going to the Cavaliers. LeBron James was the MVP pick of half the GMs, followed by Kevin Durant at 29% and Kawhi Leonard at 11%.

In other major categories:

  • Paul George was chosen as the offseason acquisition most likely to make the biggest impact with 59% of the vote. The Thunder acquired the four-time All-Star in a trade with the Pacers just before the start of free agency.
  • Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns was chosen by 29% as the player they would most like to build a franchise around. The Bucks‘ Giannis Antetokounmpo was close behind at 21%.
  • Paul Millsap‘s signing with the Nuggets is the most underrated acquisition of the offseason at 24%, followed by the Pistons‘ trade for Avery Bradley (17%).
  • Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. was chosen as the biggest steal of the draft (37%), with Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball the favorite to be named Rookie of the Year (62%).
  • The GMs picked the Wolves as the most improved team with 69% of the vote, far ahead of the second-place Sixers (17%).

That’s what the insiders think, but now we want to hear from you. In which of these categories did the GMs get it wrong, and who will the real winners be? Please share your thoughts in the space below. We look forward to your responses.

Community Shootaround: Top League Pass Teams

In a pair of pieces this week for ESPN.com, Zach Lowe continued his annual tradition of ranking all 30 NBA teams in terms of how much entertainment they’ll provide on League Pass during the 2017/18 season. Lowe’s highest-ranked teams score well in a number of categories, including zeitgeist appeal, style of play, highlight potential, and even uniform and court aesthetics.

Lowe’s rankings aren’t particularly shocking. Teams expected to land near the top of next year’s draft lottery – such as the Hawks, Suns, Bulls, Magic, and Pacers – round out the bottom of his list, while the Warriors, Thunder, Celtics, and Rockets are at the top.

Still, there are a handful of interesting results in Lowe’s list. The Sixers and Pelicans rank ahead of the Cavaliers in the top 10. The Trail Blazers, Timberwolves, and Nuggets also place highly for three teams either barely made the playoffs or missed out entirely last season. And despite the preseason buzz they’ve been generating, the Lakers don’t show up in the top half of Lowe’s list, coming in at No. 16.

While Lowe makes a strong case for his selections, we want to hear from you. Outside of the team you root for, which clubs do you expect to make an effort to watch this season?

Will you be keeping a close eye on perennial title contenders like the Warriors, Cavaliers, and Spurs, or are you more fascinated by up-and-coming teams like the Bucks, Timberwolves, and Nuggets? Maybe there are rebuilding lottery teams – perhaps the Kings, Lakers, Knicks, or Mavericks – that you’ll be excited to see in action?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts on your top League Pass picks for 2017/18.

Community Shootaround: Thunder’s Big Three

Thunder GM Sam Presti wrapped up an incredible offseason this week when Russell Westbrook signed a five-year, $205MM extension that ensures the reigning MVP will remain in Oklahoma City at least through the 2021-22 season.

Presti also added two of the best available players on the trade market in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to bolster a team that won 47 games last season. OKC’s new Big Three figures to be one of the top scoring trios in the league, and many observers believe the Thunder are the top challenger to the Warriors in the West.

But now that Oklahoma City has its three stars, how long will they stay together? Westbrook will make more than $35.3MM next season when the extension kicks in, George is expected to opt out of a deal worth $20.7MM and become a free agent next summer, while Anthony has an early termination option on a nearly $28MM salary. ESPN’s Bobby Marks estimated that keeping all three would give the Thunder the first $300MM payroll, with $157MM going to salaries and $143MM in taxes.

George seemed like a lock to opt out and sign with the Lakers, but he said Westbrook’s extension may give him a reason to stay in OKC. Anthony, who will turn 34 in May, is unlikely to find a better deal in free agency, although he could be planning to join his “Banana Boat” friends in Cleveland, Los Angeles or somewhere else.

That brings us to tonight’s question: Will George and Anthony both be with Westbrook in Oklahoma City when training camp opens next year? Please share your thoughts in the space below. We look forward to your responses.

Community Shootaround: Remaining Free Agents

Tony Allen and Shabazz Muhammad agreed to new deals within the last week, while Dante Cunningham appears set to follow suit, further reducing the number of appealing players on the unrestricted free agent market. Meanwhile, on the restricted free agent front, we finally saw some movement this week, with Mason Plumlee and the Nuggets reaching an agreement on a multiyear contract.

As our list of 2017 free agents shows, there are still some intriguing players available, particularly on the restricted market, where Alex Len, JaMychal Green, and Nikola Mirotic remain unsigned. However, the Suns, Grizzlies, and Bulls all have plenty of flexibility to bring back their own RFAs, so those players are good bets to remain with their current teams, like Plumlee and Nerlens Noel did before them.

The unrestricted market features less upside — there are former first-round picks in their mid-20s out there, such as Trey Burke, Thomas Robinson, and Derrick Williams, but those guys appear to have settled into roles as back-end rotation players, barring a late and unexpected leap.

The most interesting names on the UFA market are veterans with a little more experience, including Deron Williams, Monta Ellis, and Aaron Brooks in the backcourt. Gerald Green, Matt Barnes, and Alan Anderson may also have some appeal for teams in need of a swingman. Up front, veteran centers like Andrew Bogut, Spencer Hawes, and Roy Hibbert are still looking for work [Update: Bogut has agreed to sign with the Lakers], while power forwards like David Lee and Kris Humphries also seek new homes.

We shouldn’t count on any of those players to be the difference between winning and losing a playoff series next spring, but some of them could still have a little value, particularly on low-risk, minimum salary contracts.

What do you think? Which of the remaining free agents would you invest in? Are there any teams that you think would be particularly good fits for any available FAs? Or do you think clubs would be better off passing on this group of players in favor of a G League call-up or an undrafted rookie?

Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts on the remaining players from this year’s free agent class.

Community Shootaround: New Playoff Teams

Change is constant, especially in the NBA. It wasn’t long ago that the Bulls and Pacers seemed like perennial playoff contenders in the East and the Jazz were a rising power in the West.

Gordon Hayward single-handedly changed the fortunes in Utah when he left for greener pastures in Boston. Chicago reacted to a string of disappointing seasons by trading Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. And Indiana didn’t want to be left empty handed when Paul George reached free agency, so the All-Star forward was shipped to Oklahoma City.

But for every team on the decline, there are others on the rise. The bottom half of the Eastern playoff picture was already jumbled before the offseason started, and some young teams looked ready to challenge the traditional powers in the West.

With training camps about a week away, let’s examine some of last year’s non-playoff teams that might be ready for the postseason:

  • Sixers: It’s rare that a team has two Rookie of the Year candidates, but Philadelphia enters this season with the top picks in the last two drafts in Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. Assuming good health, which has been an issue with the Sixers, both should have significant roles on a talented young team. Free agent additions J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson will bring some playoff experience, but Philly’s fortunes fall mainly on the health of Joel Embiid, who was limited to 31 games last season as team doctors were reluctant to take any chances with his surgically repaired right foot.
  • Hornets: Charlotte acquired Dwight Howard at a bargain price, and the former All-Star will try to rebuild his reputation as he joins his third team in three years. The Hornets needed a defensive anchor on an otherwise fine team that actually scored more points than it gave up a year ago, despite winning just 36 games. ESPN’s real plus-minus rating projects 44.1 wins and a fifth-place finish in the East for Charlotte.
  • Heat: Miami nearly rallied to make the playoffs after a horrible start to last season and was able to retain its key free agents. The Heat have a solid core with Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson and the return of Justise Winslow, and have an outside chance of signing Dwyane Wade once his buyout in Chicago is complete.
  • Nuggets: Denver was probably the best team that missed the playoffs last season, finishing one game behind Portland for the final spot in the West. Everyone knows about the talent of Nikola Jokic, but a series of shrewd drafts has given the Nuggets plenty of young talent to surround him with. The offseason signing of power forward Paul Millsap may be the addition Denver needed to challenge the West’s top teams.
  • Timberwolves: Few organizations had a better offseason than Minnesota, which now has veteran talent to team with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Butler was the big addition, of course, as he upgrades the team on both offense and defense. Adding Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford allowed the Wolves to take a huge step forward in rebuilding.
  • PelicansAnthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins never seemed to mesh after New Orleans acquired “Boogie” at the All-Star break, but with a full offseason and training camp to prepare, we’ll find out if that experiment can work. The Pelicans upgraded their depleted backcourt by signing Rajon Rondo and Ian Clark this summer, and recently added defensive force Tony Allen.

How many of these teams are playoff ready, and should some others be added to the list? Please share your thoughts in the space below.

Community Shootaround: Statement Jerseys

The NBA unveiled a batch of new jerseys in a promotional event Friday night, adding the Statement edition jerseys to the already revealed Icon and Association editions.

Marketing aside, the mass scale reveal of alternate jerseys is oddly satisfying, although many of the new threads have already been announced or leaked through various means over the course of the summer.

While some of the jerseys are more or less similar to third jerseys that teams have worn in the past, several are completely new designs, including Golden State’s new kit that pays homage to the city of Oakland.

Our question for tonight’s Community Shootaround is to simply gauge what readers think of the big reveal. Have a particular favorite? A least favorite?

Prefer the bold simplicity of Phoenix’s new threads to the unique concept on display with the new Kings jersey? How about this new Jazz piece that looks like it may have been developed in MS Paint?

Weigh in below!

Community Shootaround: NBA Coverage Trends

Sep. 10: Yesterday we asked hoops fans to tell us what NBA storylines they grew tired of hearing about over the summer as well as what items they felt may have flown under the radar. Not surprisingly, the Knicks came up as one of the teams most heavily discussed.

Between the ongoing Carmelo Anthony saga, controversy surrounding Kristaps Porzingis and the eventual dismissal of Phil Jackson, New York has been as much a part of the public’s consciousness this summer as any.

In contrast, a few teams that quietly did work this offseason were the Kings and Hornets. Will Sacramento’s shrewd draft and Charlotte’s gamble to bring Dwight Howard back under the tutelage of a former coach equate to noticeable improvements in 2017/18? It’s hard to imagine otherwise.

Yesterday I wrote that I’d pull from our own Hoops Rumors database to get a handle on some of the coverage trends that we’ve relayed over the summer.

As expected, the Knicks were the team that we covered the most over the course of the period ranging from the day after the NBA draft up until yesterday. Following the Knicks were the Cavaliers and, as one reader suspected, the Celtics. Rounding out the top five were the Clippers and Rockets.

Of the top five all but the Knicks made significant roster moves and, of course, two of those moves were blockbuster trades involving another team in the top five.

For science, here are the teams ranked 1-30.

  1. Knicks
  2. Cavaliers
  3. Celtics
  4. Clippers
  5. Rockets
  6. Timberwolves
  7. Lakers
  8. Heat
  9. Kings
  10. Pacers
  11. Mavs
  12. Bucks
  13. Hawks
  14. Warriors
  15. Jazz
  16. Nuggets
  17. Nets/Thunder/Pelicans
  18. Pistons
  19. Suns/Bulls/Wizards
  20. Sixers
  21. Raptors
  22. Spurs
  23. Hornets
  24. Magic
  25. Grizzlies
  26. Trail Blazers

Sep. 9: The NBA offseason can be a fascinating thing, this summer especially considering all of the blockbuster moves that went down. Inevitably, however, the excitement of the rookie draft and the ensuing start of the league’s free agency period gives way to the doldrums of August and September.

Now that the whirlwind of player movement has started to slow down, it’s a good time to reflect back on the weeks that were, as well as on the coverage that surrounded them.

We here at Hoops Rumors pride ourselves on being a repository of NBA news, earth shattering or trivial, whether that means bringing context to the Kyrie Irving trade mere minutes after news broke or updating minor storylines that few outside of a niche group would ever find particularly riveting.

As such, the archive of Hoops Rumors stories serves as comprehensive database of all headline-worthy items big and small that transpired over the course of the summer, an analogue of the highs and lows of the NBA news cycle.

Our question to you, on this quiet Saturday night in September, is what teams did you grow tired of hearing about this offseason? What teams did you feel flew under the radar of the hoops community at large?

We’ve compiled a list of the teams that pinged our radar the most over the offseason and, generally speaking, it’s not hard to guess which teams got the most coverage. There were some items that the NBA media wrote about ad nauseum while others barely caused a ripple.

Before we unveil specifically what teams took up the most real estate in our pages, however, we figured we’d field a bonus question to see if our community could guess which teams we talked about the most this summer and which teams we talked about the least.

Weigh in below!

Community Shootaround: Lottery Reform

The NBA Competition Committee is considering a change to the current lottery system, as we passed along on Thursday, and the proposed terms of the new system include:

  • Teams would be able to drop four spots in the lottery. Currently teams can drop no more than three spots.
  • The three worst teams would have equal probabilities of landing the first pick.
  • The odds for those three worst teams would be flattened, closing the gap between their odds of landing the top pick and the subsequent teams’ odds of landing the top pick.

The reform would help to discourage tanking, something that commissioner Adam Silver would like to accomplish. The committee may vote on the proposal prior to the upcoming season and if it gains support, there could be a new system in place as soon as the 2018 draft, though it’s more likely that any changes are phased in over time.

That leads us to tonight’s topic: Should the NBA make these changes to the lottery or does the current system work for the league? Are there other alternatives to the latest proposal that would be better for the NBA?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. We look forward to what you have to say!

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