Join Ben Dowsett, Basketball Insiders’ in-depth NBA analyst, for his chat Saturday, 3PM EST. All questions are welcome. The earlier you submit your question, the more likely that it will be answered!
Why do you think there have been alot of Triple Doubles in the NBA this year?
Welcome in everyone, glad to be back doing my chats. Let’s get started.
A big chunk of this is how much the numbers skew from Westbrook himself. He has 40, and if you cut those roughly in half (still a ton), we’re right around the numbers we were at last year for triple-doubles.
That’s definitely not all of it, though. I do think there’s a bit of a shift in league mentality regarding certain stars – James Harden being a good example. When he’s on the floor, the Rockets do NOTHING but run the offense through him. It’s every single play, basically. They’ve essentially realized that if you have a mostly unstoppable play, you should run it over and over until teams prove they can guard it. I think this general theme for a few guys has led to a bit more targeted usage for certain stars, and I also think there are other guys besides Westbrook who are working harder to pad their rebounding stats and get the triple-double. After all, if you read my recent piece on the topic, the pull of round-number psychology regarding triple-doubles is strong: http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-pm-round-number-psychology-and-triple-doubles/
Hi, Ben. If the NBA playoffs weren’t based solely on record but instead seeded by a committee, like the NCAA does, would we still have essentially the same field in the same order? I look at a team like Chicago, that has been pretty middle of the road all season record wise, but in terms of “quality wins” they’ve swept the Cavs, are 3-1 against the Raptors, split the season series against the Warriors, Celtics, and Spurs. Basically all the teams that are viewed as legitimate contenders, the Bulls have played to a draw or outplayed this season head-to-head. Yet overall schedule wise they still might not even make the playoffs. I was just curious if there are some lower seeded playoffs teams that might be bigger threats than their records indicate.
This is a cool question, interesting way to think of things. At first glance, as the standings sit right now, I’d say the Hawks would be at least a spot or two lower than 5th in the East, and the Heat would probably be in the playoffs instead of the Pacers. Also, Charlotte might deserve to be in there over Indy or maybe even Chicago, depending on how much you factor in recent play. In the West, there’s probably only a case for Memphis being lower than they are, though not sure if you’d put them below Portland AND Denver or just one of those. It’s interesting to think about how this would go down every year if it was the playoff format instead of regular seeding.
why do’nt the clippers rebuild get rid of doc rivers hire a real gm. this team is not going to win a chapionship. they should model themselves after goldenstate which built through the draft.
Well I’m sure everyone wishes they could model themselves after the team that binked picks for two of the five greatest shooters in NBA history right as shooting was becoming more important than it’s ever been in the league, but unfortunately that’s not too realistic. That said, I do think the option of Doc relinquishing his front office role and moving to only coach (if he even remains in LA) will have to be on the table if the Clippers disappoint again in the postseason. He hasn’t shown a consistent enough track record at player acquisition, through any avenue, and a shakeup of some sort will definitely be in order.
The DMC trade seemed to work out for both sides. The Kings seems like a totally different team without DMC and DMC seems to be adapting to be the #2 option on a team. Your thoughts?
I’d agree to a degree in a small sample, though especially in the case of the Pels, it’ll really be tough to tell for sure until next year. However, I am never going to forget how much more value the Kings could have had for Cousins at any number of points before this trade, even if some of the guys it opened up spots for are doing well. Those guys would still have been here, but they could have been surrounded by more real talent to form a better core. I do like some of the pieces they’ve got, but again, that doesn’t mean they had to take such awful value for Cousins when better deals were available even weeks earlier.
I got some all-NBA teams for you. Let’s get some thoughts. I have Harden, Westbrook as my 1st team guards, Lebron and Kawhi at forward and Anthony Davis at center. My 2nd team has Thomas and Curry at guard, Durant and Butler at forward and Towns at center. The 3rd has Wall and Paul at guard, Giannis and Green at forward and Gobert at center. I’m not to stuck on the teams as much as the players. I don’t think it matters what team the centers are on for instance. I’m sure you would have Gobert at 1st team center. You probably will find a way to put Hayward on too. I don’t think Durant or Paul should be punished for missing 20 games each. They were too good in the games they played. Do you think they should be punished for it? I heard Windhorst talking on the Lowe post about how he might vote for George instead of Durant because of George’s contract kicker from all NBA. That seems dumb to me. Thoughts? Contract shouldn’t play a factor into voting in my mind. Durant is clearly an all NBA player and way better than George and Hayward. At the same time, he said Embiid should win rookie of the year despite playing 31 games. What do you think about that? That’s not enough games for me.
Heh, I like how you ask for my opinion while insinuating that I’m biased and my opinion shouldn’t matter. I agree that upcoming contract shouldn’t matter at all in voting. Beyond that, ask your question less rudely next time and maybe I’ll answer it. I’ve never denied the bias I have from covering the Jazz in Utah, but it’s also never stopped me from analyzing the game objectively.
What happened with the Timberwolves this season? Most preseason projections had them making a big step forward, possibly flirting with the final playoff spot, but as of right now they’re only a couple games better record-wise than last year. And the defense is ranked near the bottom of the league, even with a great defensive coach in Thibs. Is this just a different scenario than Chicago and will take Thibs more time to work his magic, or is the Minnesota roster the issue?
I fell for it too, picked them 8th in the West. I think we all just underestimated that theme that seems to ring true nearly every time – young teams really just take time, no matter how much talent there is. The Wolves have given up nearly two-dozen double-digit leads this year for losses, a hallmark of an inexperienced team. They’ve been very inconsistent in crunch time. And as you say, they’ve struggled to pick up the finer points of a complex defensive scheme – another trait of a young team. They’ve shown more and more signs as the year has gone on, but we all underestimated the role of that youth and inexperience. Make no mistake, this squad is going to be a monster when the pieces start fitting together more seamlessly.
Is james harden’s wrist injury severe. Does that explain his struggles recently. Why couldnt be sit out and let it heal.
I can’t claim any sort of insider knowledge, but I have the same question you do there at the end. Harden clearly wants his MVP and made statements about not resting early in the year, so it seems doubtful he does. But I think this is an awful decision, as they’ve clinched the 3-seed. He should get as much rest as possible for a playoff run where they’re going to need every ounce from him.
What happened to the Trailblazers, they were supposed to be about a 4 seed in the WC playoffs? I still like their team, but I’m starting to wonder if Stotts is still the right guy for the job?
I think this was a slight overreaction to a team that used one strong month and some positive circumstances to overachieve last year. I also think we broadly overstated the quality of their offseason signings, though many people saw that disaster coming. I don’t think Stotts can really be blamed much – his offensive scheme gets a ton out of these guys, and he’s really hampered defensively by some of his personnel. This upcoming offseason will be fascinating for Portland, whether or not they make the playoffs.
Ben, is Paul George worth one of the first three picks (for Celtics)? I haven’t seen George (or Indiana) for the past couple of years. Is he still a top-ten NBA player? If so, how long do you think he has at that level?
Yes, I think he is, especially given the way the Cavs have collapsed recently – there’s a real case to be made that George’s presence in Boston would make them full-on favorites to win the East right now. I love this draft class based on what I know about it, and I especially love Fultz, but there’s no guarantee they’d get him, and for some of the guys in that range (like Josh Jackson, for instance), becoming Paul George would be a fantastic, unexpected outcome. We’ll never know for sure, and it seems doubtful, but if the Celtics had a chance to get George for that pick and just one or two other pieces (as long as they weren’t exactly Crowder and Bradley), I think they made a mistake not pulling that trigger.
Who do you think gets the 6-8 seeds in the East?
I think the Bucks are a near-lock for no worse than 6th, and maybe even 5th. And looking at schedules, I’d say easily the most likely outcome right now is things stay exactly how they are as I’m typing this – Bucks or Hawks 6th, Bulls 7th, Pacers 8th. Miami plays a tough final 3 games, where both Indy and Chicago play cake schedules. Unless a game or two goes in a way we wouldn’t expect, that seems most likely.
What’s your opinion of OG Anunoby? Do you think there are any draft sleepers/specific guys who could end up falling a bit?
With apologies, I’ve only done select draft research on a few guys who interest me. I’ve come around to the opinion that it’s VERY hard to be a national NBA columnist and also do true due diligence on the draft every year, so I lean more and more toward trusting a few smart folks (both in media and with organizations) for my info. However, said folks have told me they like Anunoby, and he could be a steal at his potential draft slot. Also, as far as sleepers, I think that term may be less applicable (or more, depending how you look at it) this year than any in recent memory – this class is SO deep that there’s almost no question in my mind a team is going to find a star or borderline star outside the lottery, and maybe more than one.
Ben, have you listened to my podcast? It’s called “The Vertical Podcast with Woj” check it out sometime.
I actually haven’t even heard of you, are you well-known?
Hey Ben. I have a draft tanking solution idea. What if the draft lottery order was determined by taking the combined record of non-playoff team’s first 41 games for the current season and prior season. You still would have an 82 game sample and teams would have to fully commit to tanking prior to the season. Late season shenanigans would be eliminated. What are your thoughts?
I agree that eliminates part of the concern, but I’m not sure if it’s really an improvement. Teams change so much between years, that really might not be very fair. And really, all you’re doing is stretching the timetable out over a longer period, and changing the crux points. Teams would still find ways to exploit this.
What is the Utah Jazz playoff rotation? (what I am really wondering does Favors start in the playoffs or keep on the bench as a backup?)
This is a very solid question. To answer it, I’m going to assume that both Favors and George Hill are close enough to 100% to play their normal minutes, though this may or may not end up being the case.
If Favors is ready to go for big minutes, I see no way he doesn’t start against the Clippers, assuming that’s the opponent (almost certainly will be). From there, the two big questions for me: Does Diaw get minutes, and which guy(s) back(s) up Hill (and for how many minutes)? Hill has quietly been a lot less effective even during ostensibly healthy times post-ASB, and all three of Exum, Neto and Mack have stepped up at times in his absence. As of this exact second, if it was up to me, I’d mostly have Exum back up Hill – but I’d also play Exum at 2 for stretches (he deserves to play over Alec Burks, who I don’t think is in the rotation at all) alongside Mack or Neto. I’d start Favors at 4, and I’d play virtually 100% of my minutes either with him there or Joe Johnson there, and then I’d use Favors as the backup C. I wouldn’t have Diaw in the rotation outside foul trouble. All this said, I really don’t envy Snyder’s calls here. The injuries have once again made some of this a really tough call, especially the backup PG stuff.
I don’t mean this to sound disrespectful, so I apologize if it comes across that way, but do you think Russell Westbrook averaging a triple double in any way diminishes the accomplishment? For years, only Oscar Robertson had achieved that, and he’s regarded as one of the 50 greatest players of all time. Russell Westbrook is a great player, maybe the MVP, but I don’t know if he’ll ever be viewed in those same “all time great” terms. The same way no one’s gotten within 19 points of Wilt’s 100 point game–if someone someday does, will that accomplishment seem a little less because it’s been duplicated? I’m a big music chart watcher, and a few years ago there was a big ruckus because the cast of Glee, in just a handful of years, racked up more Hot 100 chart hits than Elvis Presley did in over 20 years, and people were asking, “So, the cast of Glee is greater than Elvis?” When Elvis had the most chart hits, it made sense. He’s a musical legend. When the cast of Glee topped him, the accomplishment didn’t seem quite so significant. Now Drake and Lil Wayne have passed him, too.
Well to be honest, as my recent writing would indicate (I linked to a piece earlier in the chat), I think the whole triple-double thing is overdone anyway. It’s an arbitrary stat, and always will be to me. That’s not to say it’s not impressive, but just that there are other impressive things. Oscar didn’t even win MVP that year, and he didn’t deserve to. So I’m the wrong guy to ask, because I don’t believe that this is some all-timer season anyway in that regard. I DO believe it’s an all-time great season in certain ways, especially the raw physical burden Russ has taken on and succeeded with, but not through the triple-double lens. I really wish people would focus on other parts of his candidacy. I really find our obsession with this stat a little silly.
I’ll go ahead and assume your first team all-defense includes Gobert, Draymond and Kawhi. Who are your other two?
You would assume correctly on that one. I am still 100% finalizing this, but as long as I’m able to get Andre Roberson in there as guard, I think I’d have Roberson and Pat Beverley – though I reserve the right to change to Chris Paul over Beverley before the season ends, I have them very close together. I think Roberson has really gone underrated defensively this year – if I had a vote, he might get my 3rd-place nod for DPOY behind Gobert and Draymond, honestly.
Looks like that’s it for the chat today. Thanks for stopping in, everyone!
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