NBA Chat With Alex Kennedy 8/13/14

Alex_Kennedy_Chat2Join Alex Kennedy, Basketball Insiders’ senior NBA editor and writer, for his chat at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday. All questions are welcome.

  1. Bryan Young

    Does it seem like everyone is under estimating the Heat? I know they lost LeBron but looking at the roster, the team is still pretty solid and I think they’re going to do better than a 6th seed.

    • Alex Kennedy

      What’s up everyone? Thanks for submitting your questions. Let’s get started.

      I do think the Heat are being overlooked a bit. I’m curious to see how this team does next season. Chris Bosh will obviously have to step up and take on a bigger offensive load. Dwyane Wade’s health is a big question mark too – will he be the All-Star we know or the part-time player from last year? Miami could be better than expected, even though they lost LeBron James. I definitely think they’ll make the playoffs, I’m just not sure how far they’ll go. I think they’re a notch below the East’s contenders. They’re pretty solid, as you said, but there’s no question they’re going to miss LeBron.

  2. Bryan Young

    Is whoever comes out of the West basically the NBA champions?

    • Alex Kennedy

      I don’t think so. I really like what the Cavaliers and Bulls did this offseason, and I think they each have a shot at winning it all. Cleveland may be the league’s most talented team on paper with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. It may take time for that group to get on the same page, but they could be very good. Chicago is loaded too, but Derrick Rose is obviously the X-Factor there. The West certainly has more potentially elite teams (the Spurs, Clippers, Thunder, Rockets, Warriors, etc.), but the East has some talent at the top.

  3. Big Ace

    @AceLordChiller: Would N.O. take Monroe in exchange for Austin Rivers and Ryan Anderson? Who gets the best of such a sign and trade? Or how about Monroe to Houston for Donatas Motiejunas, Terrence Jones and Troy Daniels?

    • Alex Kennedy

      If Detroit is convinced that Greg Monroe is going to sign for the qualifying offer and walk next summer as an unrestricted free agent, they may consider some of these scenarios. I don’t know if Stan Van Gundy would be interested in acquiring Ryan Anderson from the Pelicans. He was pretty critical of Anderson during their stint together in Orlando. Even though he can stretch the floor and knock down threes like SVG wants, I don’t know if we’ll see them reunite. The Houston deal would give Detroit some younger talent, so it makes sense. With that said, I think the Pistons will have a hard time finding teams that are willing to give significant pieces to acquire Monroe since other teams realize they don’t have much leverage.

  4. Flip

    Hello Alex, as I am a sports fan from Europe I am not so familiar with the preseason procedure from NBA teams. I do wonder a little bit about the short amount of time in training camp. From Sep. 30 to the first pre season game it is only one week and only one month till regular season. In comparison: soccer teams in Europe do have up to 2 month for conditioning and team building till regular season, and sometimes that is not enough time to gel all parts. Often I do hear that a lot of players from NBA teams have conditioning problems at the beginning of the season. Why don’t the NBA teams start earlier?

    • Alex Kennedy

      Most NBA teams work with their players during the offseason. A lot of players spend their summer at the team facility and sometimes entire teams get together and train before the start of training camp. There are also training sites in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Bradenton, etc. that attract a lot of players and get them ready for the season. The NBA could change the schedule and extend training camp, but I don’t see that happening. Teams have gotten used to getting prepared during that month of training camp/preseason games, and the offseason work helps speed things along as well. There are certain players who don’t train as hard as they should during the summer and those are often the guys who tend to start the season off slowly and play their way into game shape. Those guys could benefit from an extended training camp, but I think most players are ready for the start of the season.

  5. Paul Meade

    In Spain most expect D Rose or AD to be the dominant US star – any chance it is actually Steph Curry emerges as no.1 team usa star?

    Cheers from Ireland

    • Alex Kennedy

      It’s certainly possible. Team USA needs scoring with guys like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin choosing not to participate, and we all know what Steph Curry is capable of doing. When he’s hot, there’s nobody better at putting points on the board. I think he’ll spend a lot of time with the ball in his hands, and he’ll play a huge role for this team. He could definitely emerge as the team’s number one option.

      I think this will be Anthony Davis’ coming out party, though, just because a lot of people haven’t seen what he can do and how dominant he can be. The Pelicans haven’t played on national TV very much, so I think some people will be surprised by Davis’ abilities. He was a monster toward the end of last season and if he picks up where he left off, Team USA will be in good shape.

  6. sammy v

    I really got dissapointed with the rockets, I love Ariza and I think he is underrated but they needed to find more role players who can play d and they totaly failed. Seems like they trust their young players a lot…

    • Alex Kennedy

      I agree. Daryl Morey took a risk and it didn’t pay off. This team would’ve been scary with James Harden, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Chandler Parsons, but that obviously didn’t work out. Signing Trevor Ariza does help fill the hole after Parsons’ departure, but Ariza is known for playing well in contract years and then coming back down to earth so I’m not sure what to expect from him. I do think Ariza will be good to have next to Harden, since he’s a better defender than Parsons and can help make up for some of Harden’s lapses on that end of the floor. With Patrick Beverley, Howard and Ariza, Houston’s defense should be better than last year. But you’re right, this team isn’t nearly as deep after losing Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik so they really their young guys to step up. I don’t know if relying that heavily on Isaiah Canaan, Troy Daniels and Donatas Motiejunas is smart. I think Houston took a step back and it’ll be really difficult for the team as currently assembled to come out of the West.

  7. Alex

    Aside from Shawn Marion, do the Pacers have anything they’re working on to keep Indiana in the playoffs ?

    • Alex Kennedy

      It sounds like they’re working the phones and trying to make some trades. There were reports that they offered Roy Hibbert and Chris Copeland to the Suns for Goran Dragic and that they offered Hibbert to the Pistons for Greg Monroe. It sounds like they’re weighing all of their options and gauging interest in their players. The problem is that Hibbert doesn’t have much trade value after the way he disappeared in the second half of last season and the playoffs.

  8. Fontaine

    Has there ever been a time where you have seen this much of a logjam of talent at the guard and c/f positions as of today. Looking at Phx, Det, the. Bulls, and etc. It seems like the NBA is two teams short

    • Alex Kennedy

      It’s interesting. Those teams have loaded up at those positions by choice, but there’s no question that there’s a ridiculous amount of talent around the league when it comes to point guards and forwards. I still think the center position is pretty weak, but that could change in the coming years. Just look at next year’s draft class; most of the top prospects are centers and Jahlil Okafor is the best C prospect we’ve seen in quite some time. But yeah, I’ve written about this being the Golden Age of Point Guards. It’s crazy. If you’re a point guard, you’re facing a star on most nights. It’s why a guy like Isaiah Thomas, who put up great numbers last year, has to settle for a backup role with a team like Phoenix since most teams are set at the position.

  9. Wyatt Stroud

    Hey Alex, I’m a big fan of your work. Where do you see the Hornets winding up in the East at the end of this season with the new additions? Do you think they have a legitimate shot to make it to the ECF, or possibly even The Finals? And if not, what additions do you think should be made? Thanks so much!

    • Alex Kennedy

      Thanks, I appreciate it! I’m excited to see what the Hornets can do this season. Steve Clifford is a great coach and the fact that they have one year of experience in his system under their belt should help the team. Al Jefferson was obviously great last year and I expect similar productivity this season. Lance Stephenson is a great addition to that team and he’ll help them on both ends of the court, especially if he plays like he did in the first half of last year when he was being talked about as a potential All-Star. Marvin Williams was a great signing too, because he was very good last year in Utah. Kemba Walker played very well last year and that should continue, especially since he has some more weapons around him. I’m curious to see if guys like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller can take the next step in their development. If so, this team could be really good. I think they can make some noise in the East, but I don’t think they are a Finals team just yet. I still have them a notch or two below Cleveland and Chicago. I just think those teams are much more talented on paper.

  10. Alex H

    Hi Alex, two questions.

    First, which players do you think will be a first time all-star this season?

    Second, any tips on writing? Better to start a personal blog, or find a website to write for? I’m looking to start myself.

    • Alex Kennedy

      I’d go with DeMarcus Cousins, Al Jefferson and Kyle Lowry. Those guys probably should’ve made the team last year, and I expect them to put up similar numbers this year. Jeremy Lin is a possibly too, since he’ll have a ton of votes from international voters and Lakers Nation. Remember, he had the third-most votes among West guards last season. Now, he’ll have a ton of Lakers fans voting as well and all of the exposure that comes with playing in L.A. It’s possible, is all I’m saying, even if it seems crazy that he’d get the start over guys like Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, etc.

      If you can find a website to write for, I think that’s the way to go so that you can get experience writing on deadline and get some feedback from an editor. That’s a good way to improve as a writer, and writing for an established website looks good on a resume. If you can’t find a website to write for, definitely start your own blog and get some experience that way. The more you write, the better you’ll get. It’ll also expand your portfolio. Good luck!

  11. Bryan

    Thanks for your time Alex!

    The Jazz have assembled a ton of very young talent, what do you think is this team’s potential? Given the core stays together

    • Alex Kennedy

      I love this team’s young core. I recently wrote about how Utah has assembled one of the best up-and-coming teams in the league (check out that article here). I think they have the potential to be very good in a few years. They have young talent at every position. I’m really excited to see what Dante Exum can do at the NBA level. He needs some time and work, but he could develop into a very good player in time. I also like Trey Burke, Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks. This is definitely a team to watch in the coming years.

  12. Dinakdakang express

    Who is your favorite under the radar rookie? Whats your take on jordan clarkson?

    • Alex Kennedy

      I’ll go with Jarnell Stokes. I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people, which I wrote about recently. He’s someone who can make an impact from day one in Memphis and he’ll have an opportunity to play after the departure of Ed Davis. He should get minutes behind Zach Randolph. I’m a big fan of Stokes’ game and anyone who watched him during the NCAA Tournament knows that he’s capable of dominating in the paint and on the glass. I spent some time with Stokes while he was doing his pre-draft training at IMG Academy in Bradenton and he’s a very hard worker. He’s probably my favorite “under the radar” rookie.

      I like Jordan Clarkson, but I think he’s pretty raw. He obviously has great size and athleticism for a PG, which will help him in the NBA, but he needs to improve his shot and his point guard skills (ballhandling, distributing, running a team). He’s 22 years old, so I think some teams were concerned that he didn’t have as much upside as some of the other players in this draft, which is why he slipped on draft night. But at 46th overall, he’s a steal and I’m curious to see how he develops.

  13. Soup no.5

    What will the new lakers show this season and who has the higher ceiling this season, mavs or clippers? Heat or bulls?

    • Alex Kennedy

      The Lakers will be entertaining, but I can’t see them making the playoffs in the West. Kobe Bryant is a question mark since we don’t know how effective he’ll be. I hope he’s the dominant scoring machine that we all know, but who knows how the injuries will affect him? I wasn’t crazy about the Lakers’ offseason. The fact that L.A. is bringing back a lot of the same players from last season isn’t a good sign, since this team really struggled last year. I think Jeremy Lin will do well and surprise people, but I don’t understand the decision to sign Carlos Boozer. Julius Randle was a great pick, but I don’t know how much he’ll play since it seems like they’ll be playing veterans and trying to fight for the eighth seed. The West is just too good though, so I think L.A. finishes outside of the playoff picture. I just can’t see them being better than the Spurs, Clippers, Thunder, Blazers, Rockets, Warriors, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Suns, etc.

      I think the Clippers will be one of the best teams in the league next season, whereas I have the Mavericks as a sixth or seventh seed. I think the Bulls finish above the Heat; I really like what Chicago did over the summer and I think this is the year that Derrick Rose comes back and plays close to full strength.

  14. Chip

    The Rockets did NOT get better this summer. Why are they still listed as a contender (or the W’s for that matter)? Why are the Blazer’s not considered contenders? (Obvious fan)

    • Alex Kennedy

      I agree. I made it clear in another answer that I think Houston will take a step back. My point is that the West has way more teams with the potential to be elite than the East does. Houston is maybe the fifth-best team in the West, but they’d be in the mix for best team in the East. I was trying to show the disparity between the two conferences. Throw in Portland, who I agree is a contender, and the gap is even bigger. I’m excited to see how the Blazers do this season. I think Damian Lillard will take another step forward and solidify himself as one of the league’s best guards. LaMarcus Aldridge should continue to play at an elite level. Nic Batum and Wes Matthews played well last year and I expect similar productivity from them this year. I think Steve Blake and Chris Kaman will help their depth, and I think C.J. McCollum will play a bigger role this year. Should be a good year.

      Thanks for all of the questions! Have a great week!

  15. NBA NEWS AUGUST 13, 2014 |

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