NBA Chat With Ben Dowsett 10/20/16

Ben_Dowsett_ChatJoin Ben Dowsett, Basketball Insiders’ in-depth NBA analyst, for his chat Thursday, 6PM EST. All questions are welcome. The earlier you submit your question, the more likely that it will be answered!

  1. cj

    what do you think of these trades?
    miami outgoing – goran dragic & justise winslow
    miami incoming – tj mcconell, robert covington, greg monroe, PHI 2017 1st via SAC

    philadelphia outgoing – tj mcconell, robert covington, nerlens noel, & 2017 1st from SAC
    philadelphia incoming – justise winslow, goran dragic, & MIL 2018 2nd via DAL

    milwaukie outgoing – greg monroe & 2018 2nd via DAL
    milwaukie incoming – nerlens noel

    so what do you think? seems fair to me

    • Ben Dowsett

      Welcome in, everyone! Last chat before the NBA season officially kicks off. Let’s get started.

      I’ve certainly seen worse 3-team deals. I think this is perhaps a bit thin for Miami, but if they’re confident Philly will finish with the worst record in the league again (probably not so certain once they pick up Dragic and Winslow), they could roll the dice while conveniently putting themselves into the tank for the remainder of the season. Milwaukee would certainly be okay with getting away from Monroe’s deal and grabbing matching rights on a talented young guy in Noel, and the 6ers would be thrilled at a blue chip wing talent like Winslow. I lean toward Miami saying no unless things go REALLY bad and they’re super confident that Philly pick swap nets them a top-5 pick – otherwise sending Winslow, a guy they really value, would be way too risky.

  2. JimInCyberSpace


    Does anything jump out at you on the annual NBA GM survey?

    1. I think OKC at 4th in the WC is too high. They still have RW, but it’s pretty much a new team. I think they will lose their share of coin flip games early in the season due to chemistry. It’s looks like Domantas Sabonis is going to start the season starting a PF. Donovan says he’s beyond his years understanding the game, and it’s probably better for Enes to come off of the bench and ‘punish’ the second string?

    1A. When are you gonna publish your NW division prediction? I know it’s a horse race.

    • Ben Dowsett

      I don’t think I was alone in being pretty surprised by several elements of the survey. The one you mentioned is definitely on my list, and there were several specific player votes that I found very strange. I think more than anything, this was a solid reminder: We as basketball fans and media perhaps engage in a bit too much group-think. Maybe we’re all so locked in to our own opinions that we’re discounting the number of diverse opinions within the league.

      Alright Jim, you’ve been so diligent on this that you’re getting my answer here and now. I’m waiting on my full list of predictions for both conferences and awards and such, but I’ll do the Northwest preview now:


      I’ve been back and forth between Portland and Utah literally for months, and I have them so close together. Honestly, whoever is healthier between those two teams probably wins the division. Since that’s currently Portland by a long shot, and since they always seem to give Utah issues in head-to-head matchups (a couple of which are early in the season this year, before Gordon Hayward is set to return from injury), I’m going with the Blazers by the thinnest of margins. In another sneak peak, I think these teams finish 4-5 in the West and play each other in a fantastic first-round matchup. For those interested, keep an eye on my Twitter account in the next few days for my full season predictions.

  3. Chris G

    Over the past few years I’ve read a lot of commentary talking about the way the NBA game is played now–there was a lot this summer with how the Bulls built their roster without apparently including floor spacers. Is that change in the game more a product of the rules or the personnel? In other words, since Golden State is the model for how NBA teams are built now, if next summer Steph Curry, Tim Duncan, and Shaq all were in the NBA draft as rookies, with people knowing what they would become as players, logic would say Curry would be the first pick, since he fits how the game is played now. But my guess is he’d go no higher than third behind the two big men, and a team with a young, hungry Shaq (even though he doesn’t fit how the game is played today) would be a potent force in the NBA (Duncan, too, for that matter). So, I guess my question is, do you see a scenario where some guy who is the second coming of Shaq revolutionizes the game back to big-man centric, or is the current 3-point NBA model here to stay if for no other reason than dominant centers aren’t showing up like they used to?

    • Ben Dowsett

      The answer includes some of both worlds, but I think it’s weighted pretty heavily toward the rule changes. Modern understanding of the game has absolutely made the back-to-the-basket, non-shooting center a different sort of animal, one who has to have a different skill set to remain among the elite. Now, there are still things that can make this sort of player indispensable – rim protection and an ability to function well as a dive man in pick-and-rolls chief among them. And of course, for the rare unicorn who can do all those things plus shoot the ball with any sort of range, there’s still a max contract waiting anytime.

      As for your specific example, I think the idea of a guy “revolutionizing” the position is already happening with players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis. Maybe they aren’t Shaq with shooting touch (aka the best player ever by a wide margin), but they’re huge guys with real strength who can also play on the perimeter and move well enough to defend modern offense. This isn’t to say a Shaq 2.0 would have no place in the league, not by a long shot, but that’s honestly kinda tough to guess at since we’ve really not seen anything like his physical specimen since he left the league.

      As for your question regarding Curry, Duncan and Shaq all in the same draft…man, that’s a great question. My instinct tells me the first pick is Curry, but there’s such an easy case to make against that and anyone over 35 or so reading this chat instantly just started hating me. I think I’m gonna put this one on Twitter and see what folks think.

  4. jomel

    jomel in pilipinas… how come that k.leonard draft at no.15? because he cant shoot thats the expert said, my 2nd question is which is more important the system in developing ala spurs or the player it self pushing to the limit tobe the best player you can be? 3rd question who do you take k.leonard, k.durrant or i take k.leonerd love the game, play hard train hard, and no issue.

    • Ben Dowsett

      Yeah, that’s a pretty huge part of the reason Leonard fell to 15 – not only was he not a good shooter, he was a TERRIBLE shooter coming out of college. As in, there have been very few examples in NBA history of a player who was THAT bad a shooter becoming as accurate as Kawhi has in his career. Kudos to the Spurs for seeing it and trusting shot doctor Chip Engelland, but it’s easy to see why other teams weren’t quite willing to play those odds at the time.

      Both the things you mentioned are hugely important, but in the end, the player and all his individual attributes will always remain the largest individual factor in his own development.

      If that question is for right now, and I know nothing else about the rest of my team, the answer is Durant and it’s only semi-close. Kawhi and PG have both been fantastic the last several years, but Durant is a tier above both when firing on all cylinders. If we’re factoring age then maybe one could argue for one of the other guys, but if I need to win one game of basketball tomorrow and I can pick one of those three guys, I’m picking KD.

  5. JimInCyberSpace


    There is talk that LaMarcus Aldridge is unhappy in San Antonio and might be traded? How much meat is on that rumor bone?

    • Ben Dowsett

      I can’t speak with any more credibility than those who have reported these rumors in the first place, apologies.

  6. JimInCyberSpace


    I’m sure you read the ‘Golden State’s Draymond Green problem’ article? No doubt he’s a very good BB player. It reminded of an old article I read years ago about an NBA team, something like; ‘the player most likely to be arrested.’

    At some point the off court antics and on court nut-shots will likely wear thin, even with the Warriors?

    Steven Adams’ Kiwis should get an honorable mention in the Cav’s championship run. There are ‘citizen’ athletes still, I hope?

    • Ben Dowsett

      I did read Ethan’s article, and it was really interesting. Again this is something I have no insider knowledge of, so I can’t speak to it particularly, but there was also certainly backlash and many people who believe that the tone of the article over-played Draymond’s issues in that locker room. Only time will tell, I suppose, but there’s no question Draymond could do himself some good by toning things down here and there.

  7. Mitchel Brown

    What would it take for there to be a meaningful and quantifiable stat for individual defense? Would that be useful? I’m thinking like the other side of the ball from David Locke’s (Radio/Podcaster of the Utah Jazz) PAAC rating, which values the offensive potency of players.

    • Ben Dowsett

      Honestly? What it would truly take would be full access to the complete SportVU database, with someone skilled enough with large data sets to produce a metric that weights various elements of movement and direction to isolate individuals within a defensive scheme and parse their impact. And even in this case, there would be very smart people out there who’d tell you that some percentage of what goes into NBA defense would be missed. I think the closest thing we’ve even glimpsed to this point was “Ghost” trackers, which appeared in one of the first-ever SportVU articles by Zach Lowe a few years ago – basically, programmed defenders built into the SportVU digital tracker that allowed a team to view where its guys SHOULD be standing at any given moment defensively, compared with where they’re ACTUALLY standing. An absolute ton of computing power went into this simulation, including inputs that reflected the team’s defensive scheme, and again, there would STILL be people who’d tell you this left out big chunks of accuracy. NBA defense is just such a cohesive thing, such a true team effort when done correctly, that there will simply always be situations where accurately applying praise or blame for a particular outcome is just impossible beyond a certain threshold. Sorry if that’s a very complex answer, it’s a fascinating subject. For now, the closest publicly available metric is ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, which does a good job accounting for team and opponent context while producing a “value added” type stat that’s easy to understand. It’s miles from perfect, though.

  8. Edwin

    Hawks release of Jarrett Jack.. In your opinion was it about his injury or the play of Malcolm Delaney?

    • Ben Dowsett

      Unless they have something else in mind before next week, one would certainly hope it’s the latter primarily. The Hawks were already showing a ton of faith in Delaney by giving a two-year guaranteed deal to a guy who hasn’t even played in the NBA before, and now they’re showing even more by ostensibly handing him the backup job. I’d assume the Hawks have at least been in touch with a couple other free agents at the point, even if they haven’t come to any agreements – unless they’re simply 100 percent convinced that a couple good years in Europe have Delaney prepared to play real rotation minutes in the NBA right away, they might want to have another option in their back pocket for if things go south here right out of the gate.

      Looks like that’s it for today, folks. Thanks to everyone for the questions, looking forward to answering some about real NBA games next week.

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