Hoops Rumors Polls

Poll: Should The NBA Adopt 1-16 Playoff Seeding?

The conversation surrounding NBA playoff seeding has reached its zenith now that LeBron James has become the latest in a long line of Eastern Conference stars to defect west.

In fact, according to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports, only one* single NBA player with an All-NBA 1st-Team nod under their belt currently plays in the Eastern Conference… and no it’s not Giannis Antetokounmpo but Joakim Noah.

The question at hand is whether the league should think long and hard about ditching the current system that seeds eight teams from each conference separately in favor of one that seeds the best 16 teams in the league, regardless of conference, 1-16.

According to Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press, the most concerning aspect of making such a change would be the increased travel for teams in the postseason. Per league commissioner Adam Silver, such a change would add an overall total of 40,000 travel miles for teams in the postseason.

Currently, the league says it averages about 90,000 miles of total travel, noting that the regular season mark comes in significantly higher at 130,000 miles.

Of course changing the playoff structure would likely mean that the league would be obligated to balance the regular season schedule between conferences, too, something the league estimates would add an additional 150,000 miles of travel between October and April.

That doesn’t mean that it couldn’t still be worth it. Mavs owner Mark Cuban doesn’t see the problem (h/t Kurt Helin of NBC Sports), arguing that the league’s smartest decision in the past decade was to extend the season to allow for more time off between games. Playoff schedules, he says, could be similarly optimized when necessary.

Our question for Hoops Rumors readers, then, is what they think of the debate? Would the NBA benefit from ditching the current format in order to accommodate 1-16 seeding irrespective of conferences?

Let your voice be heard.

*Since this tweet, Dwight Howard has committed to the Wizards, so technically two.

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Poll: Where Will Kawhi Leonard End Up?

There have been plenty of huge NBA headlines during the first few days of July, with LeBron James agreeing to become a Laker, Paul George deciding not to become a Laker, and DeMarcus Cousins lining up a deal with the defending-champion Warriors, among others.

However, for the most part, all has been quiet on the Kawhi Leonard front.

After Leonard’s camp made a public trade request earlier in mid-June, the Spurs forward seemed likely to dominate the offseason rumor mill, but for now, the primary suitors for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year may be playing it safe.

As Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports tweets, the Celtics and Sixers appear to be “playing the long game” on the Leonard front, not wanting to do anything rash with their rosters in great shape and LeBron finally out of their conference.

As for James’ new team in Los Angeles, the Lakers‘ other deals this offseason have suggested the club is retaining flexibility for the 2019 offseason, leaving the door open for Leonard to sign as a free agent and for the Lakers to keep all their young players and picks.

While the Lakers – wary of being too patient after what happened with George – may increase their efforts to land Leonard in a trade at some point, they “aren’t keen” on giving up Brandon Ingram, tweets Schultz. Meanwhile, the Celtics won’t give up Jayson Tatum and aren’t enthusiastic about moving Jaylen Brown, and the Sixers prefer to keep Markelle Fultz, Schultz adds.

While Schultz believes Leonard – who is unhappy in San Antonio and reportedly wants to play in Los Angeles – will be dealt eventually, he’s not sure where the star forward will end up. So we’re opening up that question to you.

What team to do you expect Leonard to be with to start the 2018/19 season? Will he get his wish to join the Lakers? Can the Spurs convince him to stick around a little longer? Will a budding Eastern powerhouse like the Celtics or Sixers go all-in for him? Could L.A.’s other team, the Clippers make a surprise play to land him? Or will a wild-card suitor enter the fray and steal him away?

Vote below in our poll and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

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Poll: Who Will Be Pistons’ Next Head Coach?

The Pistons haven’t yet installed a new head of basketball operations, but the franchise has a well-respected group of executives and consultants running its search for a new head coach. Newly-hired special advisor Ed Stefanski is leading that search, with former NBA head coaches Bernie Bickerstaff and Jim Lynam reportedly sitting in on interviews and helping out with the process.

The search for a new head coach appears to have led Detroit to three primary candidates, per a Monday report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Woj, the Pistons would like to further discuss the position with former Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, University of Michigan coach John Beilein, and Spurs assistant Ime Udoka.

Casey, a Coach of the Year candidate, was immediately linked to the Pistons after being let go by the Raptors. While his playoff struggles have been well documented, Casey had an excellent regular season track record in Toronto, and was “impressive” in his first interview with the Pistons, a source tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. According to Ellis, Casey came prepared with “detailed notes and video clips” and exceeded expectations.

Beilein, meanwhile, has a reputation as a coach who is strong in terms of player development and offensive schemes, Ellis notes. He has been the Wolverines’ head coach since 2007, leading the team to appearances in title games in both 2013 and 2018. Assuming his interest in the Pistons’ job is as real as it appears, Beilein’s résumé local ties make him an intriguing candidate, though his age (65) may work against him.

If the Pistons are seeking a younger coach who could potentially remain on the team’s sidelines for the next decade, the 40-year-old Udoka may be a stronger candidate. While Udoka has no head coaching experience, he has interviewed for multiple openings this spring, and comes from one of the best pipelines for future NBA coaches. His fellow Spurs assistant James Borrego was hired by the Hornets last month, while many former Gregg Popovich assistants – including Brett Brown and Mike Budenholzer – currently hold jobs around the NBA.

What do you think? Will one of these three candidates end up with the Pistons’ head coaching job, or will another candidate emerge and ultimately claim the job? If it ends up being Casey, Beilein, or Udoka, which coach will be the Pistons’ pick?

Vote in our poll, then jump into the comment section to weigh in on Detroit’s head coaching search.

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Poll: 2018 NBA Finals Predictions

Although both teams had to recover from 3-2 deficits in the Conference Finals, the Warriors and Cavaliers are once again meeting in the NBA Finals, vying for the Larry O’Brien trophy for the fourth consecutive year.

Before the Warriors acquired Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016, the first two series between the two teams were competitive, with Golden State winning the first meeting and the Cavs roaring back from a 3-1 hole in the second meeting to even the score. However, Durant and the Dubs dominated Cleveland in last year’s Finals, and oddsmakers expect a similar outcome this time around.

One sports betting site, Bovada.lv, has installed the Warriors as -800 favorites for the 2018 NBA Finals. For those unfamiliar with betting formatting, that means you’d need to risk $800 on a Warriors win in order to make a $100 profit. Conversely, Cleveland is a +500 underdog, meaning a $100 bet on the Cavs would result in a $500 profit if they pull off an upset.

The ongoing absence of Andre Iguodala for the Warriors makes this year’s matchup a little more intriguing, since Iguodala has typically been tasked with being the primary defender on LeBron James during the Finals matchups between the two teams. His left knee bone bruise will make that a difficult task, even if and when he’s able to get back on the court.

On the other hand, the Cavaliers may be missing a key contributor of their own, with Kevin Love‘s status for Game 1 still up in the air. As long as Love remains in the NBA’s concussion protocol, James won’t have a ton of help as he and the Cavs go up against a star-studded Warriors squad led by Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green.

LeBron’s presence “represents the small possibility of a miracle,” according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who writes today about what lineups the Cavs might lean on in order to give themselves a fighting chance against Golden State. No matter what Cleveland throws at the Warriors though, it probably won’t be enough, Lowe concedes.

So, rather than simply asking you in today’s poll which team will win this year’s Cavaliers/Warriors showdown, we want you to make your prediction a little more specific. Will the Warriors sweep? Will this be a longer series? Do the Cavs have a chance? Vote below, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts on the 2018 NBA Finals.

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Poll: Will Marcus Smart Be A Celtic Next Season?

Once the Celtics were bounced from the 2018 postseason by the Cavaliers, it didn’t take long for speculation about Boston’s offseason to begin. Veteran guard Marcus Smart, who will be a restricted free agent, got the rumor mill going when he was asked after Sunday’s loss about the Celtics potentially being unable or unwilling to re-sign him to a deal in the $12-14MM range.

“To be honest, I’m worth more than $12-14 million,” Smart told ESPN, as we relayed this morning. “Just for the things I do on the court that don’t show up on the stat sheet. You don’t find guys like that. I always leave everything on the court, every game. Tell me how many other players can say that.”

As Smart suggests, his numbers don’t particularly jump off the stat sheet — in 54 games (11 starts) this season, he posted 10.2 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.5 RPG, with a subpar shooting line (.367/.301/.729). However, Smart makes up for his offensive limitations on the other side of the ball, keying Boston’s defense with his excellent play on the perimeter.

When Smart was on the floor this season, the Celtics’ defense – which led the NBA in overall defensive rating – was at its best. The club had a 99.4 defensive rating with Smart on the court, compared to 103.0 when he sat. That trend continued into the playoffs, as Boston’s defensive rating was 3.5 points better when Smart played. The C’s even posted marginally better offensive numbers with Smart on the court, despite his inconsistent shooting.

Those advanced numbers help show how important Smart is to the Celtics. Andre Roberson has a similar impact in Oklahoma City, earning a three-year, $30MM contract from the Thunder last offseason despite being even less of an offensive threat than Smart. When Roberson went down with a season-ending injury this year, OKC missed him badly, and you could make the case that Smart’s absence would negatively affect the Celtics in the same way — after all, Smart’s teammates refer to him as the heart of the club.

Unlike the Thunder though, the Celtics have a ton of depth in their backcourt and on the wing. If they don’t bring back Smart, they’ll still head into 2018/19 with Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Gordon Hayward available as playmakers and perimeter defenders. And while there are no CBA rules stopping the Celtics from paying whatever it takes to keep Smart, the team is likely headed into tax territory down the road once youngsters like Rozier, Brown, and Tatum are up for raises. As such, it may not be worth it for the franchise to invest heavily in Smart.

What do you think? Do the Celtics need to make it a priority to re-sign Smart this summer, even if they have to overpay a little to do it? Or is Boston’s roster deep enough that the club should try to bring back Smart at a team-friendly price, and let him walk if he gets a better offer? Will Smart be wearing Celtic green next October?

Vote below in our poll and jump into the comment section to weigh in.

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Poll: 2018 NBA Finals Matchup

The Cavaliers faced a significant uphill battle in the Eastern Conference Finals after falling behind 2-0, and the Rockets looked to be on life support in the Western Conference Finals after being blown out in Golden State in Game 3. However, after Houston’s dramatic win on Tuesday night, both series are all tied at two games apiece, guaranteeing we’ll get a couple Game Sixes, and perhaps even a Game Seven or two.

With both Conference Finals having essentially become best-of-three series, the next several days should be fascinating. Coming into the third round, a Warriors/Cavaliers rematch in the Finals was widely expected, and oddsmakers are still forecasting that outcome. Sports betting site Bovada.lv currently lists both Golden State and Cleveland as 2-to-1 favorites.

Still, despite being favored, neither the Warriors nor the Cavs has home court advantage, which could be an important factor. Historically, in best-of-seven series that are tied after four games, the team with the home court edge wins 80% of the time, per Dan Feldman of NBC Sports (Twitter link).

The Rockets and Celtics have been particularly effective at home this year. No team posted a better regular-season home record than Houston’s 34-7 mark, and the Rockets are 6-2 in the postseason at the Toyota Center. As for the Celtics, they’ve yet to lose in Boston during the playoffs, reeling off nine straight home wins.

What do you think? Will either the Rockets or Celtics prevent a fourth straight Warriors/Cavaliers showdown in the 2018 NBA Finals? Which two teams do you expect to continue playing into June?

Vote in our poll, then jump into the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts on the Conference Finals!

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Poll: Rockets Or Cavaliers In Better Position?

The Cavaliers are coming off one of their most disappointing games of the season, as they surrendered a halftime lead on Tuesday night and dropped a second consecutive game in Boston, with the Celtics taking a 2-0 lead in the series.

The Rockets, on the other hand, looked like a legit title contender on Wednesday night in Houston, jumping on the Warriors early and outscoring them in every quarter en route to a 127-105 win to even up that series at 1-1.

Despite each team’s most recent game though, the Cavaliers are still viewed as a stronger bet to make the NBA Finals than the Rockets, as the odds at Bovada.lv show. A $100 wager on the Cavs to win their series would net $175 in winnings, while the same bet on the Rockets would earn you $250.

A strong respect for LeBron James – and for the Warriors – is reflected in those lines, but LeBron’s excellence isn’t the only reason why oddsmakers still view the Cavs as a stronger bet than the Rockets. The Eastern Conference Finals are headed back to Cleveland, where the Cavaliers have a 5-1 record so far in the postseason. The Celtics, meanwhile, are 1-4 on the road in playoff games this spring. If the Cavs can take care of business at home, the series would return to Boston for Game 5 tied at 2-2.

Home-court advantage is also a major factor in the Western Conference Finals. Having stolen Game 1 in Houston, the Warriors don’t need to win another road game to win the series. In fact, the Rockets will be under pressure to win one of the next two games in Oakland to avoid heading back home down 3-1.

Outside of the home-court factor, oddsmakers also figure to be heavily weighing recent history in their lines. The Warriors were one win away from taking home the last three NBA titles, and have looked virtually unstoppable in the postseason since Kevin Durant joined the roster in 2016. James, meanwhile, has been in the last seven NBA Finals, and it wasn’t long ago that he and the Cavs steamrolled the East’s top seed in a four-game sweep.

What do you think? Are the Rockets, with one win in hand, in a better position to advance than the Cavs, or are oddsmakers right to give the Cavs a stronger chance to make the Finals?

Vote in our poll, then jump into the comment section below to make your case.

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Poll: Who Should Suns Draft With No. 1 Pick?

Josh Jackson‘s lucky underwear paid off at Tuesday night’s draft lottery, with the Suns taking home the No. 1 pick for the 2018 NBA draft. While it was the fourth consecutive year that the team with the worst record in the league came away with the first overall selection, it was the first time in franchise history that Phoenix had nabbed that top pick.

[RELATED: Full 2018 NBA Draft Lottery Results]

“In the 50-year history of the Phoenix Suns, there have been a lot of great nights and great accomplishments, and I think this is one of them,” GM Ryan McDonough said, per Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. “This is something the franchise has never done before.”

While the Suns are in position to select whichever player they want from this year’s draft class, there’s no LeBron James or Anthony Davis in the 2018 pool. While there are plenty of tantalizing prospects to choose from, none of those players is a consensus top choice.

The top candidate to come off the board is probably big man Deandre Ayton, who played his college ball at Arizona, averaging a double-double (20.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG) in his first and only season with the Wildcats. After the Suns won the top pick on Tuesday night, Jackson endorsed Ayton, suggesting the youngster’s ceiling is “through the roof.”

However, Ayton isn’t the only prospect in play at No. 1. Many draft experts think just as highly of Real Madrid star Luka Doncic, who is viewed as one of the top prospects to ever come out of the EuroLeague. Doncic is also familiar with new Suns head coach Igor Kokoskov, who coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team.

While Ayton and Doncic are widely considered the top two prospects in this year’s draft class, McDonough said there’s a “small grouping” of players the club will consider with the No. 1 pick, per Bordow. As Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes, Marvin Bagley III – an Arizona native – could be a part of that group. The ACC Player of the Year, Bagley averaged 21.0 PPG and 11.1 RPG in his freshman year at Duke.

What do you think? Do you like Ayton, Doncic, Bagley, or someone else for the Suns at No. 1? Should the team give much consideration to how those players would fit alongside Jackson and Devin Booker, or does it simply make sense to pick the best player available?

Vote in our poll, then jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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Poll: Boston Celtics Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Seven months ago, nobody would have been surprised to learn that the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals would pit the Celtics against the Cavaliers. In fact, most probably would have expected these two teams to be where they are.

Yet, after a season filled with drama for both franchises, with the Cavs trading away half of their team midway through the season and the Celts losing both Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to injuries, the match-up isn’t quite what many would have expected in the preseason.

The Cavaliers, looking to reach their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, are considered to be the favorite by most, as they still have the best player in the world on their side. LeBron James is averaging a ridiculous 34.9/9.4/9.0 so far this postseason and the Celtics and head coach Brad Stevens will have their hands full trying to contain him throughout the series.

The regular season series finished in favor of Cleveland, with the Cavaliers blowing out the Celtics in Boston back in February after the teams each won a game on their home floor earlier in the season.

However, the first game the teams played – in the season opener – was marred by Hayward’s injury, and the win in February by Cleveland saw huge contributions by newly acquired players Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance – players who have seen their minutes reduced this postseason.

So what do you think? Which team do you expect to represent the East in the NBA Finals? Place your vote, then jump into the comment section below to discuss the series.

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Poll: Was Firing Casey Right Decision For Raptors?

After dismissing head coach Dwane Casey earlier today, Raptors president Masai Ujiri spoke to reporters this afternoon about the decision, calling it “the hardest thing I’ve done in my life” (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).

While Ujiri acknowledged how difficult it was to part ways with Casey after the head coach’s seven seasons in Toronto, he also indicated that sometimes relationships need to come to an end. “We’ll figure a way to move on,” Ujiri said (Twitter link). “New voice.”

While it’s hard to place the blame for another disappointing postseason performance against Cleveland entirely on Casey, he made several questionable calls during the Raptors’ four-game sweep at the hands of LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Toronto struggled all series to contain James and his supporting cast, and Casey kept returning to certain defensive matchups that weren’t working, letting the Cavs exploit constant defensive switches. Additionally, an ill-fated decision to bring in Lucas Nogueira during Game 4 for the first time in over two weeks may have been the dagger in the Raptors’ season — Nogueira was a -10 in less than two minutes of action as the Cavs built a big lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Still, as many observers have pointed out today, firing a head coach for being unable to beat James in the playoffs doesn’t seem fair. After all, no Eastern team has been able to get past a LeBron-led squad in the postseason since 2010, and the Raptors don’t exactly have a superstar capable of matching up with the NBA’s best player.

Casey is coming off a 59-23 regular season, having established a new Raptors record for wins in a season. He hasn’t had fewer than 48 victories in a season since 2012/13, and his club won four playoff series in the last three years. Casey was even recognized by his peers as the National Basketball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year earlier this week.

It’s a strong résumé, and one that has many NBA fans questioning whether the Raptors can really find a coach who will be an upgrade on Casey.

What do you think? Did the Raptors need to move on from Casey after its latest playoff defeat, or is this the wrong move, and one the team will regret? Vote below in our poll, then jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

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