Chat With Nate Duncan 8/5/14

Nate Duncan is an NBA analyst and attorney.  His chats get started on Tuesdays at 11 Eastern and include all topics NBA. Nate_Duncan_Chat_3

  1. Deven

    Where would you rank the Cavaliers, with Love in the mix we all hope, overall in the NBA standings? Ahead of the Spurs? OKC? Clippers?

    • Nate Duncan

      Welcome all to the weekly chat. Let’s roll.

      I’m not sure we all hope to see Love on the Cavs, particularly if you happen to reside in the Bay Area (that’s me) or have grown up in Chicago (me again). That said, I am a fan of great basketball, and Love and LeBron would be quite the enticing combination.

      I think once they get Love, it will depend on who else they can pick up to help the defense. Shawn Marion, reportedly now interested at the minimum, would make a huge difference. The Cavs’ weakness will be defense, and while Marion won’t necessarily help protecting the rim, he can help prevent guys from getting there to begin with. With LeBron, Varejao, and Marion on the floor, the Cavs could conceivably field a very good D at times. With Irving, LeBron, and Love, it seems impossible they won’t have a top-3 offense.

      That team would have to be the favorite in the East, particularly considering the Bulls’ health concerns with Rose and Gasol.

      As for the West, I think the Spurs would still have to be slight favorites, but I would say the list of top contenders would be the four teams you mentioned plus the Bulls if healthy. Golden State could also sneak into the mix if Steve Kerr can help improve the offense and they too can stay healthy, especially for the playoffs.

  2. yoichi

    Since PG is out at least for next season, can you see Pacers signing Beasely? He could potentially fill in the scoring load. With Pacers losing PG and Lance, do you think they will disband the band (trade West and Hill) and look to rebuild? Do you think Roy Hibbert will play better this year?

    • Nate Duncan

      It really depends what the Pacers want to do now. Like a lot of these scenarios, it depends what trades are available. Do any contenders want to trade for David West, and would they give up anything decent for him considering he has a couple years left on his contract at about $12 million per? He’s really going to be the lynchpin of any trade to rebuild effort, because of his age it’s hard to conceive of him being a Pacer when they are next ready to contend with George likely out all year and potentially not quite himself at the start of next year. So let’s take a look at potential destinations for him. The idea would be to get rid of West, and possibly George Hill and even Hibbert (who can be a free agent at the end of this year), be bad this year, and then reload with a draft pick. That said, one must remember that the Pacers have struggled in that market, and that truly rebuilding and being bad may not be an option for them monetarily.

      Miami–His 2 year contract fits their timeline of trying to reload again in 2016. And with the 150% salary matching rule they could easily assemble salary to trade for him. But really the only asset they could send in return would be Shabazz Napier or a future first-rounder. Is that return worth giving up for the Pacers? Perhaps so. West’s is probably a little overpaid this year, and likely quite overpaid next year, but he can still help a team especially if he decides he wants to shoot some threes.

      Toronto–Would a package centered around Patrick Patterson and maybe another asset get it done? Patterson would be a nice fit in Indy as a stretch 4 whose defensive shortcomings would be helped playing next to Hibbert.

      Portland–A potential lottery-protected first-rounder along with relative flotsam could solve Portland’s big man depth problems, but Portland may not want to take on the salary with a chance at cap space in 2015. Or What about CJ McCollum and filler for West? Indy could take a chance at a guard who can score a little more who could be a part of their next good team, although I am not that high on McCollum as a prospect due to his limited athleticism.

      That is not an exhaustive list and we need to move on to other questions, but those are the types of trades that are out there. Hibbert likely will play better offensively, and defensively he was still awesome last year, especially in the first half. The Pacers won’t get much for Hibbert considering his contract situation, so better to hold onto him and see if he rebounds this year.

  3. Chris G

    Of these three players, who will be most driven this season, and most likely to accomplish the stated goal: Lebron James, to prove leaving Miami and coming home wasn’t a mistake by winning a title; Derrick Rose, to prove he’s not the fragile player people have portrayed him to be by playing a relatively injury-free season; or Kobe Bryant, to prove he’s still the mamba and even coming off Achilles surgery he can will his talent-depleted team into the playoffs?

    • Nate Duncan

      I would imagine all three are superstar players and will be quite driven. That said, Kobe will essentially be playing for individual accolades since the Lakers aren’t going anywhere this season, while Rose and James are on potential title winners.

  4. Chris

    Hi Nate: A lot of debate yesterday on whether one should feel sorry for Andrew Wiggins after watching his interview (“I want to play for whatever team wants me”). Where do you fall on this, from a playing standpoint? Should we feel bad for him that he won’t get to learn from LeBron, or will Minny be the better “short-term” situation, since he’ll really play a ton?

    • Nate Duncan

      Well, I think he absolutely must be going through a rough time right now. Those who refuse to empathize because he’s playing basketball and making $5 million this year don’t quite understand how the mind works. From a happiness standpoint human beings adjust to our surroundings very quickly, and we also measure our own happiness by seeing those around us and comparing. In this case, Wiggins would compare himself to other players. In fact, research has shown that a very small amount of our happiness, around 10 percent for the average person, is determined by long-term macro factors like our salary (once you get past about $75,000 per year), job, or family. Instead, happiness is determined mostly by genetics or recent events. The joy of getting drafted first and then thinking he was playing with LeBron, now compared to getting traded to Minnesota (just ask Zach LaVine what NBA players think of going there), would make one think he is quite unhappy indeed. I think he handled the interview very professionally considering that and his age.

      While I did not predict Wiggins will be a superstar and thought others should have gone ahead of him, I will be rooting for him to make this trade a good one for the Wolves.

  5. Gustavo A Thomas

    Hi mr Duncan, yesterday USA Basketball team cuts John Wall and Bradley Beal. If you are Washington Wizards team owner, are you Happy or sad?

    • Nate Duncan

      Sad. Paul George aside, the recent history has been that guys coming out of USA basketball have had monster seasons. LeBron had his first MVP year after 08, Wade came back and had maybe his best season after two years of injuries, Rose, Love, Westbrook, Durant, Gordon, Tyson Chandler were all great after 2010, etc. So I would absolutely like them to be there, especially since they’d have had a chance to convince KD how good they are for 2016.

  6. Jeff

    Nate, with reports that the cavs and wolves have a “handshake” deal, please explain to me why Kevin love is anything more than a really over hyped David Lee, or a really expensive Ryan Anderson? On a side note, I think Wiggins is going is going to be one of the 3 best players within the next 5 years, in your opinion why won’t that happen?

    • Nate Duncan

      Here’s my Wiggins scouting report: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/2014-nba-draft-andrew-wiggins-scouting-report/

      Love has been much much more productive statistically than either of those players, both in his individual box score statistics and how he affects his team on both ends. By nearly any statistical measure, he was a top-five player in the NBA last year. With all of that, I think the burden is on those trying to prove he isn’t any good (and no, “he hasn’t made the playoffs” isn’t a good enough argument when his team is very good if he’s on the floor) much more than those trying to prove that he is.

  7. Mark

    Any chance the Cavs can get Dieng back from Minny in the Love deal?

    • Nate Duncan

      I sure hope not for MIN’s sake.

  8. Ben G.

    Thoughts on DeRozan’s USA chances? What does he need to do to build on his successful 13/14 campaign?

    • Nate Duncan

      If he keeps playing like he did in the ill-fated showcase, he absolutely can make it. It looks like it’s down to him vs. Hayward now. The problem for Team USA is that they really don’t have a great wing defender. In fact, only Rose and A. Davis are proven good defenders at the NBA level on that team now. They were relying on George a ton, perhaps even more than Durant because his scoring can be replicated elsewhere. They are likely going to just have to outscore teams like in 2012, and that is going to be a lot harder without LeBron, Carmelo, Kevin Love, and Chris Paul. Fortunately, they have a really easy draw.

      DeRozan’s biggest weaknesses are his outside shot and defense. If he can get his three-point shooting up above average this year that would be great. It was also ridiculous that he couldn’t guard Joe Johnson to the point that it basically ruined the Raptors’ whole series against the Nets. While he wasn’t bad against most guys and has improved a lot defensively, they are going to need him to progress to individual wing stopper to avoid getting killed in certain matchups in the playoffs. Toronto’s overall defense was great, but being unable to stop the Johnson was directly responsible for losing that series. DeRozan wasn’t at an athletic disadvantage, so he needs to learn how to stop guys like that.

  9. James

    Once the trade goes through how does Cleveland shore up the defense?

    • Nate Duncan

      Signing Shawn Marion, as has been rumored, would be an absolutely awesome start for the minimum. But they will still have problems on the interior defensively, particularly when Varejao is hurt or out of the game. He really can only be counted on to play half the game at this point even when healthy, for similar reasons to Nick Collison. He fouls a lot and his playing style is very high-energy.

  10. Brad Aronson

    What are the odds that other meaningful players (other than Lucas and Murphy from the Cavs) are involved in the Wiggins-Love trade? Who might they be?

    • Nate Duncan

      Talk has been that Thaddeus Young could be involved with the Sixers. With the amount of reporting on it, I’d say quite high.

  11. Steve

    What’s your prediction for the final 12 for USAB?

    • Nate Duncan

      Sounds like it’s going to come down to one of Drummond/Cousins/Plumlee, one of Irving/Lillard, and one of Hayward/DeRozan. I believe that Plumlee, Irving, and DeRozan make it out of that group. The coaches would probably prefer that either Drummond or Cousins emerge because they are more talented, purported Duke bias aside, but they haven’t yet.

      However, I would prefer Drummond make it unless he’s just been incredibly awful in practice. He provides, at least on the NBA level, shot-blocking and offensive rebounding that could be really valuable to this team. He also has the best skill-set going forward for this team, and it would be good to get him indoctrinated into the system for future years. This team isn’t going to win or lose based on the 12th man, so why not bring a guy with the most long-term potential to run pick and roll and do the dirty work team USA really needs? The only problem is if he just isn’t getting it defensively from a scheme perspective.

      I might also prefer Hayward over DeRozan, again just based on their NBA skills. I think Hayward provides a little more beef and slightly better defense, and is also a better standstill shooter. He’s not as good as DeRozan, but his skillset is a better fit.

      Irving has just been so good in a USA uniform over the past couple of years that I would probably take him over Lillard. He has more ability to get to the basket, and they are probably equal shooters.

  12. Dan

    Who would you take in a 08 vs. 92 USA game?

    • Nate Duncan

      Oh man. This is a really really tough question. I’ve watched a lot of footage of that 92 team, and the opposing teams played so little D it was difficult to get much of a read on them. I think it would be very close, and 08 would have the slight athleticism advantage. 92 was so much stronger inside though, and would likely kill 08 USA on the offensive glass. Still, it would ultimately be a very close game. At the end, I think that 92 would do a better job of sharing the ball at the end of the game, and could also give the ball to Jordan. People don’t remember because we won, but Kobe was pretty bad in 08 until the last 10 minutes of the gold medal game. He took some terrible shots down the stretch that just happened to go in while everyone else kind of stood around, and was generally pretty selfish with his selection throughout the tournament. Going against Jordan, he would probably be a little too aggressive offensively. In a game with so many great players, even a few bad shots could be fatal when the opportunity cost is an open shot for another great player.

      So I think ’92 would win, barely. In a 7 game series, I think it would definitely go 7 though.

  13. Marcus Choudhary

    What do you make of Lebron not talking to Wiggins? Even if the Love trade is a done deal, that just seems…odd.

    • Nate Duncan

      Think of the last time you were about to break up with a girl. Did you relish the idea of talking to her a lot beforehand and pretending everything was cool? Did you tell her you loved her and wanted to marry her before breaking up with her? Of course not. I’m sure it’s extremely awkward for LeBron to talk to him knowing that he is being traded essentially at his behest.

      As an aside, remember when Isiah got a ton of backlash after Adrian Dantley was traded for Mark Aguirre and people blamed him? (Of course, a lot less so when those Pistons had one of the dominating playoff runs ever afterward.) I wonder if we’ll see that for LeBron. I’m guessing not, which is good because we shouldn’t. Plus, it’s a great trade for Cleveland.

  14. Alec

    What would you recommend the Clippers do to improve their chances of winning a title?

    • Nate Duncan

      They did somewhat address one of their weaknesses with Hawes, as backup big man has been an open sore for years. The real problem is they need to get someone to contribute on the wings. Jared Dudley was really out of shape last year–if they can get him to slim down, that would do a ton for their chances.

  15. Jeff

    What would Masai have to offer Minnesota to bring Wiggins to Toronto? Impossible?

    • Nate Duncan

      Yes it would be tough. JVal is really their only huge trade piece at this point, and that’s not getting it done.

  16. Jake S.

    What do you expect out of the Jazz defense this year? Do they have the talent but just lacked coaching? Do they lack the talent all together?

    • Nate Duncan

      Tyrone Corbin never showed much ability to get the team to defend at an above-average level, so coaching may be part of it. Another was just that they don’t have good defenders on the roster. Last year’s team had two total sieves at the 4 in Williams and Kanter, a rookie at the 1, etc. Hayward can be an average defender in the right system, and Favors has been really good in the past although he exhibited a bit of a decline in bounce last year to me in defending at the basket.

      Adding another totally unprepared player in Exum isn’t going to help this year either. Really the only hope is that Rudy Gobert gets a lot of time and proves as adept defensively as he looked in summer league. Overall that Jazz summer league team defended, so that is some small cause for optimism. If Gobert and Favors are the front line, then maybe they can improve the ranking. But it looks like another long year for the Jazz, although I like their long-term outlook much more now with Exum in the fold.

  17. Jon

    How would you evaluate the rumor that the Twolves prefer Thad Young over Bennett given their contract situations? Thad is clearly the better defender and player right now (and only 26), but seems like he will command something about $10-$12 million on the open market next year while Bennett is still on his rookie deal. Seems like it may be a case of coach Flip outweighing GM Flip.

    • Nate Duncan

      I’d prefer Bennett in a rebuilding situation. The ability to pick and pop from 3 while still rebounding and defending the position is so valuable. Bennett hasn’t show the ability to do any of those things, but he has the potential to even if it’s not that likely. He just has to start hitting his shots (easier said than done, I know). Young won’t be part of the next good Wolves team, so what’s the point?

  18. Danny

    What do you think were the main factors in cutting John Wall over the other fringe PG’s? Hate to speculate like this, but the Kyrie’s Duke affiliation had to have had a bit to do with it, right?

    • Nate Duncan

      I think a lot of it was program equity, with Kyrie having been involved the last two summers and played great. Wall didn’t do much in the showcase, and by accounts was the worst in practice even though he’s theoretically better on D than Lillard and Kyrie in the NBA. I don’t think the Duke thing had much to do with it, especially since Colangelo has the final say.

  19. Larson

    Which remaining free agents do you think GSW should target to fill out their roster for the upcoming season?

    • Nate Duncan

      They need another backup C, and old favorite Ekpe Udoh would be a good target. Festus Ezeli is coming off a year-long injury and was horrendous offensively as a rookie. I doubt he improved his hands much with a year of inactivity, so that’s a huge need. Unfortunately they only have the minimum to offer, but I think they have enough playing time at the backup big role that it should be attractive to a minimum guy.

  20. bill jones

    when teams trade for bad contracts, what is the $$ value for that eaten money? I think it’s 1 1st rd. pic/player for each $10 mil taken.( sixers take amare’s $24 mil I think they should receive 2 1st + a 2nd or 3 good young prospects.)what say you?

    • Nate Duncan

      That seems about right Bill. It’s about $10 million per first round pick, give or take. Jeremy Lin had a first-rounder attached to him at $8.3 million cap number, but $15 mm in actual salary. GSW got a first-rounder (late) for taking on an extra year of $10 million of Richard Jefferson over Stephen Jackson. That probably wasn’t great value considering it was the #30 pick and they then had to give up their own pick which turned out to be #23 in a good draft to offload him in the Iguodala trade.

      That said, there’s little reason for the Knicks to trade Amare now because his contract expires at the end of the year and there aren’t any more free agents out there really. So why pay a King’s random to offload Amare?

      That’s all the time we have this week. Thanks for the good offseason questions.