Basketball Insiders Week in Review 10/16

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Can James Harden Revert?

By Moke Hamilton

Just because I ranked Jimmy Butler higher than James Harden on my list of the league’s best shooting guards doesn’t mean that I don’t see Harden’s value. I just happen to think that Butler and Klay Thompson each have game-changing ability on both ends of the floor, making them worthy of higher consideration. Sue me.

Joining Harden in Houston is another individual I have been critical of: Mike D’Antoni. Whether agree with me on Harden or not, one thing we can all agree on is that Harden has the capability of being one of the best point guards in the entire league. Yes, point guard.

If things break right for Harden and D’Antoni, the Rockets could very well find themselves in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

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Rivers Excited to Play Small Forward

By Cody Taylor

Looking at the roster for the Los Angeles Clippers, it’s clear that the small forward position is one of the weakest on the team. With players like Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan locked in as starters, four out of the five positions in the lineup are set.

The small forward spot in the lineup seemingly has no clear starter for the team. Last season, the Clippers plugged a few different players into the position out of necessity. When Griffin was in the lineup, head coach Doc Rivers went with Luc Mbah a Moute; he then used Mbah a Moute and Paul Pierce when Griffin was out the lineup.

While Pierce will certainly be in the Hall of Fame once his illustrious career ends following this season, it’s clear that he isn’t the player that he was when he played with the Boston Celtics. Mbah a Moute is a good defender, but is limited offensively – averaging a career-low 3.1 points in 75 games last season.

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James Jones Guarantees Chris Bosh Return

By Lang Greene

The Miami HEAT’s summer, in many ways, was a prelude to the future and an unexpected departure from the past. The team locked up future building blocks Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson to new multi-year deals, but lost part of their past with future Hall of Fame guard Dwyane Wade bolting to Chicago in free agency. Just over two months later, nearing training camp, the team announced All-Star forward Chris Bosh failed a physical. A few days later, the franchise publicly admitted Bosh’s tenure with the organization is likely over.

Wade’s departure came down to perceived disrespect during contract negotiations, while Bosh’s tenure in Miami is up in the air due to a recurring medical condition. Bosh has had his last two seasons cut short around the All-Star break due to a blood clot diagnosis. According to multiple reports, the second blood clot diagnosis this past February led Miami team doctors to inform the forward his professional playing career was likely over.

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What’ll Be in New Collective Bargaining Agreement?

By Eric Pincus

According to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, negotiations with the NBA Players Association are “going very well,” and there’s “a great sense and spirit of cooperation across the table and a desire to move forward.”

The league’s 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) contains mutual opt-out clauses for both the owners and players, with a Dec. 15 deadline.  If neither side opts out, the existing deal will stay in force through the 2020-21 season.

While Silver wouldn’t put a “specific timetable” on negotiations, a hope remains that a revision to CBA can be agreed to prior to the mid-December date.

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Preseason Logjams to Watch

By Tommy Beer

The NBA preseason is underway, which means we can start analyzing actual games.

Many teams seemingly have their rotation all set, but there are still a number of fluid situations just two weeks before the start of the regular season. Below, we take a look at few of the more interesting logjams across the league.

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Wizards Will Go As Far As John Wall Can Take Them

By Jesse Blancarte

The Washington Wizards were two wins away from making the Eastern Conference Finals in 2015, but finished last season with a 41-41 record and failed to make the playoffs. The Wizards were one of the most disappointing teams last season as they struggled to adapt to a faster style of play, suffered several injuries and failed to find any sustained rhythm or success.

The Wizards made some drastic changes after the season, including the firing of Randy Wittman and hiring of former Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks. They also added other players like Ian Mahinmi, Tomáš Satoranský, Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith and Trey Burke, though they did lose solid veterans in Jared Dudley, Nene and Ramon Sessions. While the coaching change and shuffling of players is certainly significant, no one is more important in determining how far the Wizards can go this season than star point guard John Wall.

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Valentine Perfect Fit for Bulls

By Joel Brigham

The Chicago Bulls drafted former Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine this past summer because of course they did. No front office in the league loves established high-character, big-program players more than Chicago’s, and there really was no player with a realistic shot of getting drafted in the first round with a stronger pedigree than him.

When the Bulls made him their selection with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, nobody was surprised, and some fans even rolled their eyes at how uncreative and predictable the selection was. Why not reach for a player with more upside, someone younger with more to prove and higher to rise?

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Forecasting 2016-17 NBA Rookie Of The Year

By Oliver Maroney

Most early award predictions carry familiar names and faces. However, predicting Rookie of the Year candidacy is much more difficult based on many variables and factors. Because these players are drafted very young, it’s difficult to forecast a player’s output on any given team. Essentially, every rookie is a free agent coming into a new team and a new system, hoping to make an impact. But hoping can only get you so far in the NBA. Players who’ve previously been stars and played entire games from elementary school to college have to deal with a limited role. Some can take the emotional and physical toll immediately, while it takes others more time to acclimate to the NBA.

That’s what makes forecasting for Rookie of the Year so difficult. The past two seasons, the number one overall pick has taken home the award. But prior to that, it hasn’t been as cut and dried. Michael Carter-Williams won the award as the 11th pick in the 2013-2014 campaign, while Damian Lillard, the sixth overall pick, won it in 2012-2013. In fact, over the past ten seasons only five Rookie of the Year recipients have also been the number one pick.

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