Join Jesse Blancarte, Basketball Insiders’ senior NBA editor and writer, for his weekly chat on Wednesday at 7:30:00 p.m. ET. Any and all questions regarding the NBA in general are welcome.
Who has been more disappointing, Blazers or Timberwolves
Hey everyone and welcome to my weekly chat. I apologize for having some scheduling issues recently, my schedule has been very tight. Having said that, let’s jump in and get started:
I would go with the Trail Blazers. I had optimism for the Timberwolves, but it was always a bit tempered. Young teams simply don’t win at a high level in the NBA, even when there is a ton of players with huge upside and potential. The hope was that Tom Thibodeau could come in and work his defensive magic to make this team at the very least a league average defensive unit. That hasn’t happened and the Wolves are losing games in which they have enough talent to win. The injury to Rubio didn’t help things either, but too often this team’s defense is missing rotations, miscommunicating and tripping over itself. My long term view of them hasn’t changed though — I think this team has one of the brightest futures in the entire league.
As for the Trail Blazers, this was a team that was seemingly ready to take another step forward this season after making it to the second round last season. Their primary players are back, but losing Aminu to an injury has hurt them more than I think many people expected. Their defense has been a disaster and I’m not sure that there is a great solution to that problem. Also, the signing of Evan Turner has dampened the team’s outlook for this season. I think they were really counting on him to be a plus-contributor and he has simply killed them on both ends of the court this season.
Seeing how good Dwight has been playing this year, why do you think they couldn’t make it work with him in Houston? Is it really as simple as a personality mismatch with Harden? He was pivotal in their making the WCF the year before.
It’s a combination of things in my opinion. There was obviously a lack of chemistry between the major personalities in that locker room. I think Dwight simply wasn’t quite as healthy or as in shape back then as he is now. He doesn’t look as explosive as the Orlando version of Dwight, but he looks spry and players are definitely intimidated by his presence at the rim. He also has plugged in seamlessly with Atlanta’s aggressive defensive system. Mike Budenholzer has done an excellent job weaving Howard’s defensive strengths into the schemes they were already running, which Ben Dowsett did a great job of breaking down.
How are you?
Lakers fan here – very very excited about the new look Lakers – Buss and Kutpchak should be the executives of the year just on Walton hiring – and you can throw in Mozgov as well (great for stabilizing their defense). I never thought this would work this fast. My questions is this – Swaggy P has worked himself into a very tradeable asset (I honestly thought that the Lakers would release him outright before the season started)especially on his team friendly contract. Do you think the Lakers might trade him and upset the team chemistry or ride it out with him the entire season? 3rd game against the Warrior N.Y. did not play and the Lakers could not muster any offense beyond 3 point line so he is becoming sort of valuable for them. Your thoughts. Thanks
I’m working hard and very busy, but happy to be here chatting with our readers. Hope all is well with you.
I love that Nick Young has been playing so well this season. It’s unfortunate that he’s now out with a calf injury, but that’s a lot better than an Achilles injury, which is what the initial concern was. I haven’t heard anything about the Lakers looking to move Young, but if he comes back and plays at a similar level, he could be appealing to a team in need of shooting and capable perimeter defense. Young didn’t offer much of anything last season, but now seems zoned in and like a nice rotation player in specific roles. I don’t anticipate a trade, but wouldn’t be surprised by one either if it bring the Lakers back a future asset.
What do you think is the minimum number of games you can judge how a team is doing? I’ve been in a lot of arguments with friend over Minnesota. I think everyone needs to be more patient (we all know they are a young group, learning a new system). I threw out 20 games, thinking the Wolves will improve somewhere a third or half-way through the seaon.
I think after about 10-15 games you can see and recognize obvious trends, both positive and negative. But I try and not make any wide scope ideas about a team until about 30-35 games in. At that point things like injuries, adapting to new systems, coaches, roles, teammates, etc, should start working itself out. The Timberwolves are a team I am still evaluating and giving time to adjust. Thibodeau is a tough coach who demands that his players execute their roles with precision and discipline. Once the players have internalized the system and their respective roles within it, I think we will see significant improvements. However, this team is simply very young, so there will be issues with consistency all season.
The Clippers are slipping lately. Think they bounce back soon or are there fundamental issues with this team that will take time to correct?
I think there are a few things going on. First, they are on a long road trip and started out the season playing with a high level of intensity, so I think fatigue is a major factor. Second, I think the team got a little too comfortable with their new defensive identity. Playing at the level they were playing at earlier this season required intense effort and careful attention to detail. In recent games, the players look a step slower and the rotations and communication has faltered. I expect these things to stabilize as the road trip concludes. The question is will they be able to get back to where they were, or will they settle back into the same team they’ve been over the last few seasons. I personally don’t think they can manage the level of defensive effort they showed early on, but they can still be a top 10 defensive and offensive team.
I’m out of time for today. Thanks for stopping by and submitting your questions. I’ll be back at my usual time next week (5:00pm EST), so stop by again and submit your questions. Have a great week everyone!
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