Community Shootaround

Community Shootaround: This Year’s Donovan Mitchell

“He made strides as a playmaker in his sophomore season and operating out of the pick and roll … However, he still plays too fast at times, not always reading the defense and making the simple play … He also lacks the ideal height and court vision to see over the top of the defense, especially with bigger opponents guarding him … He has a tendency to settle for tough, contested two-point jumpers, partially due to his inability to consistently get all the way to the rim, and also because of his average decision making skills … While he can make some of these attempts, it will not be a reliable way to score at the next level, and it will decrease his overall offensive efficiency, as it has in college.”

From, that was part of last year’s scouting report on Donovan Mitchell. Those concerns led to him being passed over by 12 teams and then traded by the one that did select him. Mitchell was viewed as an undersized player for his position who needed to land in the right situation to be successful.

He blew away expectations, of course, providing the Jazz with the go-to scorer they needed after the loss of free agent Gordon Hayward. Mitchell became a finalist for the Rookie of the Year award and reminded us that the draft remains hard to predict, no matter how closely the prospects are studied.

It’s easy to criticize the teams that didn’t see Mitchell as a future star. It’s much harder to pick out a similar surprise from this year’s crop. The first 10 selections in the latest mock draft by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony are Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Jaren Jackson Jr., Luka Doncic, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr., Michael Porter Jr., Trae Young, Kevin Knox and Mikal Bridges. The next version of Mitchell might be somewhere outside that group. Here are a few candidates:

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — The late-blooming Kentucky star has exceptional size for a point guard, standing 6’6″ with a nearly 7-foot wing span. He is an aggressive defender who can guard several positions, and scouts are confident that his offense will improve as he ages.
  • Lonnie Walker — Miami’s shooting guard is blessed with considerable athletic ability and a nice shooting stroke that should transfer well into the NBA. He was impressive at the combine both on and off the court, as teams took notice of how he smoothly conducted himself with the media.
  • Collin Sexton — For all the attention that went to Young, Alabama’s Sexton may have been the best pure point guard in college basketball. He displayed a combination of strength, speed and agility and seemed to raise his game in big moments.
  • Zhaire Smith — Athleticism stands out for the Texas Tech freshman, who proved to be a dangerous scorer from all over the court and is particularly adept at drawing fouls. He also made strides on defense and as a rebounder and could develop into an all-around player.
  • Miles Bridges — An A-plus athlete who can match up with guards and forwards, Bridges might have been a certain lottery pick if he had left Michigan State last year. He has a smooth jumper and can get easy points on cuts to the basket, but scouts are most impressed by his athleticism and competitive drive.

Of course, there are a lot more candidates, and we want to get your input. Which player projected to be drafted outside the top 10 has the best chance to turn into a star? Please leave your feedback in the comments section below.

Community Shootaround: Sixers’ GM Job

Nine days after The Ringer published a fascinating report linking Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo to a handful of anonymous Twitter accounts that had seemingly revealed sensitive information about the franchise, Colangelo announced his resignation on Thursday, confirming that he and the club had agreed to part ways.

It was an extremely unusual way for a top executive to lose his job, but the upshot is that the Sixers have become the third NBA team this spring in the market for a new head of basketball operations. The Hornets hired Mitch Kupchak as their new GM and president of basketball ops, while the Pistons’ search remains active.

While Detroit’s list of candidates has included several executives who recently retired as NBA players and don’t have extensive front office experience, the early – and informal – list of options in Philadelphia looks a little heavier on former GMs and seasoned top lieutenants.

Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has been cited most frequently, viewed as an ideal fit not just due to his résumé in Cleveland, but due to his connection to a certain Cav — LeBron James figures to be the Sixers’ top target in free agency this summer, so bringing aboard a GM LeBron liked could boost the team’s chances of landing him.

League sources have also identified Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren as a top candidate for the 76ers, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Zarren has received consideration for several GM jobs over the years – including the Philadelphia gig before Sam Hinkie was hired in 2013 – but has always opted to remain in Boston. His track record suggests he won’t leave the C’s, but the Sixers, armed with a pair of potential franchise players, a top-10 pick, and significant cap room, would be an extremely appealing landing spot.

O’Connor indicates that Sixers vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley and VP of basketball operations Ned Cohen are two internal candidates that may receive consideration for the position, and says Kiki VanDeWeghe‘s name has been floated as a possible target too. A former GM, VanDeWeghe currently works in the league office.

Malik Rose, who is said to be receiving interest from the Pistons for their front office opening, is a Philadelphia native, which could make him an appealing target for the Sixers. If the team wants to dip into Houston’s front office again, Gersson Rosas would be a strong candidate. The 76ers’ list of candidates may grow even further, though it’s probably safe to assume that Hinke – the club’s previous hire from the Rockets – won’t be returning to Philadelphia, despite the wishes of many Sixers fans.

What do you think? Which GM candidate would you like to see replace Colangelo in Philadelphia? Which candidate do you believe the Sixers will ultimately hire?

Head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Community Shootaround: NBA Finals

The Warriors barely survived Game 1, but as the 2018 NBA Finals head to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4, the results thus far have been predictable. Heavily favored Golden State held home court and carries a 2-0 lead to the Midwest.

LeBron James monstrous 51-point game in the opener nearly allowed the Cavaliers to steal one at Oracle Arena. A controversial reversal of a block/charge call, along with J.R. Smith‘s brain lock after rebounding a free throw in the closing seconds of regulation, gave the Warriors a reprieve and they dominated the overtime session. Stephen Curry‘s 3-point barrage assured the Warriors wouldn’t have to sweat out the closing minutes of Game 2.

However, the Cavs have been tough at the Q this postseason, winning their last eight games at their cozy and noisy home arena. Also, as Kevin Arnovitz of notes, the Warriors are not as deep or as disciplined as they have been in past playoff runs.

What they do have, of course, is more superstar power. And they could back their defensive stalwart, Andre Iguodala, as soon as Game 3. Iguodala has missed the last six games with a knee injury.

Certainly, everyone outside of Golden State fans would like to see the Cavaliers make a stand and provide some suspense to the series. If the Warriors win on Wednesday, a sweep or a five-game series, as was the case last season, would seem inevitable.

That leads us to our question of the day: Can the Cavaliers climb back in the series or have the Warriors already established their dominance?

Please take to the comments section and voice your opinion.

Community Shootaround: Does The NBA Need A Hard Cap?

An NFL version of the Warriors and Cavaliers would never be able to meet in four straight Super Bowls. That league operates with much more restrictive salary cap rules, which means veteran players frequently hit the open market as their current teams decide they are no longer affordable.

The NBA has a much softer cap structure, utilizing Bird rights that give great leeway in allowing teams to exceed the cap to re-sign their own free agents and providing yearly exceptions for teams that choose to use them.

Not coincidentally, only six franchises — the Mavericks, Heat, Thunder, Spurs, Warriors and Cavaliers — have reached the finals in the past eight seasons, as teams that amass talent tend to find a way to keep it. Over that same stretch, 11 teams have played in Super Bowls.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver defended his league’s cap system during his annual pre-Finals press conference this week. He pointed out differences between the two sports and noted the importance of continuity in basketball.

“Now [the hard cap is] something that we’ll continue to look at,” Silver said. “There are pros and cons to doing it. Historically, one of the issues in our league was we didn’t necessarily want to break up teams. There is a different sense in the NBA than the NFL, and the chemistry and dynamic that comes together with a group of players.”

This year’s salary cap is set at $99MM, but only a handful of teams operate below it. Even the $119.2MM luxury tax threshold hasn’t been much of an impediment for organizations that believe they have a shot at a championship. Both the Warriors and Cavaliers have payrolls that exceed $137MM, and a few other owners have expressed a willingness to pay whatever tax is necessary to get to their level.

Continuity may be important, but it also has a downside as eventually fans get tired of seeing the same teams in the Finals every year. If LeBron James stays in Cleveland and Golden State keeps its crew of All-Stars together, it’s easy to envision this matchup again next year, and possibly for several more seasons to come.

Any cap changes would have to be negotiated with the players’ union, which would take a strong stance against anything that lowers salaries, but do you believe that’s the direction the league needs to take? Please jump into the comments section below and give us your thoughts on how stricter cap rules would affect the NBA.

Community Shootaround: West Game 7

The Warriors roared back after halftime of the Western Conference Finals on Saturday to force a deciding Game 7 on Monday night.

Naturally, it helped that the Rockets played without their floor leader, Chris Paul. After pulling his hamstring late in Game 5, Paul could only watch from the bench and occasionally give a piece of his mind to the officials in Game 6. He’s a game-time decision for Game 7 but even if he goes, he’ll likely be limited in terms of minutes and mobility.

The Warriors’ Big 4 will play, though small forwards Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney are questionable because of injuries. Houston will have the home court on Monday, which they earned by playing more consistently that the Warriors during the course of the regular season. But each team has won a game on the other’s court during the series, so the energy boost from the crowd will only help the Rockets to a certain extent.

Golden State has looked much less focused and more vulnerable during these playoffs than it did last season, when it cruised to the title. But Paul’s iffy status puts Houston in a bind, even though its players are clearly hungry for a ring.

This could be the night that James Harden puts his team on his shoulders and carries it to the Finals. Or the Warriors’ overall talent could simply be too much for the Rockets to handle.

This leads us to our question of the day: Who will win Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals and why?

Please take to the comments section and voice your opinion. We look forward to what you have to say.

Community Shootaround: Game 7 Prediction

It seems like Boston has fielded two teams in the postseason. There are the Home Celtics, who have been unbeatable, and the Away Celtics, who can’t beat hardly anyone.

Fortunately for Boston fans, it’s the Home Celtics who will be playing the Cavaliers tomorrow for a spot in the NBA Finals. Boston is 10-0 at the TD Garden during the postseason, but just 1-7 on the road. The Celtics have an offensive rating of 107.7 in their home games, about 10 points higher than away from home.

“I truly believe it’s our fans,” Al Horford explained to Jack McCluskey of The Ringer. “I feel like our guys feed off of them and it really just drives us as a group. … You get on the road and you’re just out there against everybody else. Here, I just think that our guys just feel comfortable and good. It’s a credit to the atmosphere that’s here.”

On the other side is LeBron James, who has been brilliant no matter where he has played. James is averaging close to a triple double with 33.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 8.8 assists in 17 playoff contests and kept Cleveland alive with a 46/11/9 performance in Friday’s Game 6.

The Cavs will be short-handed for tomorrow’s game with Kevin Love already ruled out because of a concussion. Love has been one of the few reliable scorers alongside James, averaging 13.9 points per game in the postseason.

The edge in playoff experience easily goes to the Cavs, who have been to three straight Finals [eight straight for LeBron], while the Celtics field a young roster with few players who have ever experienced this level of postseason pressure.

There are many things that could decide Game 7, but we want to get your take. Who pulls out what James called one of the best two-word phrases in sports and represents the East in the NBA Finals? Please leave your responses in the comments section below.

Community Shootaround: Best Seasons Of All Time

NBA Twitter is a beautiful place where entertainment and debate reign, and great ideas can be found. Recently, the team at NBAMath organized a #TimeMachineDraft in which 30 personalities from around NBA Twitter selected an ultimate roster comprised of individual seasons from NBA greats. Let’s take a look at the top 15 picks:

1. 1988/89 Michael Jordan (Bryant Knox of Bleacher Report).

2. 2012/13 LeBron James (B/R’s Andrew Bailey).

Who else was going to be selected in the top two? The Jordan-LBJ debate has been going on for several seasons now and with James showing no signs of slowing down, it’ll likely continue for quite some time. I wouldn’t determine whether GoodFellas or The Departed is the better film without seeing how each movie ended. With LBJ still playing at a high-level, I’m not ready to pick between the two.

3. 1971/72 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Former Bulls beat writer Sean Highkin).

4. 1986/87 Magic Johnson (HoopsHype’s Bryan Kalbrosky).

5. 2015/16 Stephen Curry (CBS Sport’s Adi Joseph).

You could talk me into these three in any order, though if I were picking third, I might pull the trigger on Curry, a player who looked like his 2015 self during Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals this week.

6. 1999-00 Shaquille O’Neal (T.J. McBride of Mile High Sports).

This pick might be too low or just right. Does this theoretical league play 82 games? When you pick a player, do you get him in peak form or how he looked prior to opening night of a given season? That might influence my pick in this spot. However, if we’re taking a Shaq season, this is probably the best one.

7. 1985/86 Larry Bird (NBAMath’s Coach Adam Spinella).

8. 1993/94 Hakeem Olajuwon (RotoBaller’s Justin Carter).

9. 1963/64 Wilt Chamberlain (NBAMath’s Tony East).

It would be fantastic to see each of these Hall-of-Famers play against each other in their respective primes. Also, can you image any of these players floor, surrounded by the long-range shooting in today’s game?

10. 2002/03 Tim Duncan ( The Score’s Chris Walder).

11. 2013/14 Kevin Durant (B/R’s Tyler Conway).

Two very underrated seasons. Not sure which moment was more emotional for basketball fans: Durant making his MVP speech or Popovich speaking about Duncan after the big man retired.

12. 2003/04 Kevin Garnett (NBAMath’s Tom Rende).

13. 2008/09 Chris Paul (B/R’s Dan Favale).

Two players who have had heard their fair share of criticism. Add being partially responsible for Durant’s signing in Golden State to their haters’ lists.

14. 1993/94 David Robinson (HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy).

15. 2016/17 Kawhi Leonard (Nylon Calculus’ Krishna Narsu).

Leonard was my selection for the 2016/17 MVP award after putting up a great, efficient season. Russell Westbrook – whose 2016/17 campaign was also selected in the first round of this Twitter draft – won the actual award after averaging a triple-double for the season.

I’m not sure I’d take a player who took over 2,000 shots and committed 438 turnovers in a season with my top pick in this kind of draft, but then again Westbrook provided special moments over and over again during his lone MVP campaign.

So tonight’s Community Shootaround is all about which player had the best NBA season in history and which ones are severely underrated.

Think 2006/07 Dirk Nowitzki should have gone higher in the draft? How about a season from Kobe Bryant? What about Charles Barkley, Anthony Davis or Grant Hill?

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

Community Shootaround: Best Expansion Cities

Kansas City has been off the NBA map since the Kings moved to Sacramento in 1985, but there’s a push to bring it back. A report emerged last night that Kansas City is on the short list to get a franchise the next time the league expands.

“Kansas City will get an NBA team at some point. … Just a matter of time,” an unidentified league executive told NBA scout Jarrett Sutton. “Seattle and KC, to me, are most valuable markets for league expansion when it makes sense.”

Seattle has been among the front-runners for a new franchise ever since the SuperSonics were moved to Oklahoma City a decade ago. Late last year, Seattle’s City Council approved a $650MM renovation project at Key Arena, the Sonics’ former home, with the goal of attracting an NBA or NHL franchise before the end of the decade. The league is planning a preseason game in Seattle in October, so its commitment to the Pacific Northwest city seems solid.

Kansas City is more of a surprise, but it does have a 19,000-seat facility to offer in the Sprint Center. The city was never considered an NBA hotbed when the Kings were there from 1972-85, and they adopted Omaha, Nebraska, as a dual home city for three of those seasons. However, Kansas City is one of the largest media markets without an NBA team and it offers a larger television market than either Oklahoma City or New Orleans.

Here are a few other locations the league may consider when it decides the time is right to expand:

  • Louisville — The city has a rich college basketball tradition and the 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center. The Kentucky Colonels were among the most successful and well-supported ABA teams, but the city has never gotten a shot at the NBA. Louisville made efforts to attract the Rockets, Grizzlies and Hornets last decade, but came up empty each time.
  • Las Vegas — The NHL’s Golden Knights have been a huge hit in their first season in Vegas, and their new T-Mobile Arena could easily house a basketball team. The Las Vegas Summer League has become a must-see event on the NBA calendar with all 30 teams now signed up. The Oakland Raiders are headed to town soon, and the city may want to add a basketball franchise as well.
  • Vancouver — The NBA struck out in its first attempt to put a team in western Canada, but it hasn’t given up on the market. With the Rogers Arena housing the Canucks, a facility is already in place. However, if Seattle is a lock for an expansion franchise, it’s hard to imagine the league putting another team so close by.
  • Mexico City — The NBA has long tried to expand the borders of its fan base and has scheduled two regular season games in Mexico City in each of the past two seasons. The Palacio de los Deportes can hold more than 20,000 fans, and commissioner Adam Silver has discussed putting a G League team there and launching an NBA Academy for Latin American and Caribbean players.
  • Pittsburgh — The Steel City hasn’t had a team since the early days of the ABA, but it does have PPG Paints Arena, which can hold 19,000 people for basketball. The city also boasts an enthusiastic fan base, especially for its NFL and NHL teams. Five years ago, David Stern listed Pittsburgh as a possible expansion site, and the city was mentioned as a potential destination when the Pistons discussed relocation in 2010.

We want to get your input. The next expansion franchise will probably go to Seattle, but if the NBA adds two teams, who should get the other one? Please leave you feedback in the comments section below.

Community Shootaround: Draft Lottery Scenarios

The 2018 NBA draft lottery will take place on Tuesday night, as we noted in our lottery primer earlier today. While the odds favor the Suns, there are 14 NBA teams that could ultimately end up with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, creating some fascinating drama.

In a piece for The Ringer on Monday, Paolo Uggetti broke down some of the most interesting potential scenarios for the draft lottery. As Uggetti observes, the two teams still alive in the Eastern Conference Finals have a chance to get some great news before they take the court on Tuesday, since the Cavaliers own the Nets’ first-round pick, while the Celtics will own the Lakers’ first-rounder if it lands at No. 2 or No. 3 overall. The possibility of one or both of those teams landing a top-three pick at the same time they’re looking to advance to the NBA Finals isn’t good news for the rest of the league.

Of course, the Sixers would keep that Lakers pick if it moves all the way up to No. 1. It’s currently 10th in the lottery standings, so the odds of it becoming a top-three pick are slim, but it would create some terrific drama if it lands in the top three, since the balance of power in the Eastern Conference could shift significantly depending on whether the pick ends up at No. 1 (Sixers) or Nos. 2 or 3 (Celtics).

Uggetti’s other intriguing scenarios include big-market teams like the Knicks and Clippers getting a top pick — L.A. could theoretically move into the top three while keeping a second lottery selection, courtesy of the Pistons. Uggetti points to the Magic or Kings getting the No. 1 pick as interesting scenarios too, since neither of those clubs has had much lottery luck in the last few years — despite several appearances near the top of the draft.

Outside of the teams we’ve already mentioned, the Grizzlies, Mavericks, Hawks, Bulls, Hornets, Pistons, and Nuggets all have a chance to land a top pick.

What do you think? What would be the most interesting draft lottery scenario? Which team deserves some good luck the most (or least)? Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Community Shootaround: Mike Budenholzer

Mike Budenholzer has generated more headlines during this offseason than he did in recent years as the Hawks’ head coach.

Since Budenholzer and the Atlanta franchise mutually parted ways, he has been mentioned prominently for virtually every coaching opening. He withdraw consideration from the Suns job but was a major candidate for the Knicks’ opening before they hired David Fizdale.

Budenholzer is now reportedly the focus of coaching searches in Milwaukee and Toronto. The Bucks will meet with him for a second time on Tuesday, while he was first outside candidate linked to the Raptors after Dwane Casey surprisingly got fired last week.

Both jobs hold appeal. The Bucks, of course, have young superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and some other quality pieces, particularly Khris Middleton. The Raptors held the top seed in the East before LeBron James and the Cavaliers swept them out of the playoffs. Perhaps some fresh ideas could squeeze out better postseason results from a roster that won 59 regular-season games.

Budenholzer’s name has also been mentioned for the Pistons’ opening. He would inherit a roster there that includes the All-Star caliber big man duo of Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin.

That leads us to our question of the day: Which coaching job should Mike Budenholzer take if he receives offers from the Bucks, Raptors and Pistons? Or should he wait for another opening?

Please take to the comments section to voice your opinion. We look forward to what you have to say.