Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore are fair to middling at best as far as Point Guard/Shooting Guard combos. Rajon Rondo will be missing the first 4-6 weeks of the season at a minimum but depending which version of Rajon comes back, he could give defenses fits picking and rolling with NOLA’s two All-Star bigs.
Jordan Crawford spent the last 20 games of 2016-17 coming off the bench with the Pelicans and was a really effective 6th man/instant offense generator scoring 14 points in about 23 minutes a game. The Pels also added Tony Allen this offseason and while he won’t make or break a season, he’s a great locker room guy and team leader and is still one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA as long as he is used correctly and can stay healthy.
So yes teams need Guards and Small Forwards and a bench. But let’s not get hung up on the details. This team is all about Boogie Cousins and Anthony Davis. They’re two of the most talented guys in the league at any position, let alone both playing PF/C. Anthony Davis is a basketball unicorn so obviously having him on a roster alone is unique. Two versatile 6’10-7’0 guys like Cousins and Davis paired has never been done. It could be unstoppable or it could look like a 7 year olds’ dance recital where everyone knows they’re supposed to be moving but no one’s really sure what to do or when. I’m pulling for this situation to work out because I think it will be really fun to watch if these guys can make it work.
That said, I don’t think Alvin Gentry is the guy to figure it out and put the pieces in place. Nor do I think he’s the kind of coach that can handle all these egos if things start drifting off the tracks. Rondo could either help with distribution and using both guys or could be the Rondo we saw in Dallas a couple years back and just pour gasoline on the fire. Hoping 2009 Rondo rises from the dead and Davis/Cousins gel and play off each other but I’m not overly optimistic.
Pelicans Pick: UNDER
The most notable offseason loss for the Jazz was obviously Gordon Hayward, who landed in Boston in a blockbuster free agent signing. In addition to Hayward, the team’s leading scorer, 2nd leading scorer, George Hill, and key role player Boris Diaw, are no longer in Utah. Boris Diaw was a shell of himself while playing for the Jazz and although George Hill was an important piece, he missed almost a third of the season.
To replace Hill at Point Guard, the Jazz added veteran (although only 26), Ricky Rubio, who has played in at least 75 games the last two years and averaged nearly a double double at around 11 points and 9 assists a game.
Hayward’s production, particularly scoring is not something that can be replaced by adding one piece. Free Agent addition, Thabo Sefolosha, will replace some of it while bolstering the team’s defense and rebounding. Returning SG/SF, Rodney Hood, who averaged 12.7 points last season should see his offensive chances and production increase dramatically as should Joe Ingles, whose role grew throughout last season.
Rudy Golbert, who seemed to take the Hayward departure personally is coming off a 14 points/12 rebounds a game season. If his social media vitriol towards Hayward’s decision played any part in the work Golbert put in this off season, which it had to, look for him to exceed last year’s production. Hell hath no fury like a Rudy Golbert scorned. The ageless wonder, Joe Johnson, returns for a 16th season to add another piece of veteran leadership and crunch time experience.
Rookie, Donovan Mitchell, is averaging 15.5 PPG in preseason appearances including 26 in Utah’s last game against the Lakers (eat shit Lamar). He could be a contributor early and a major contributor as the season progresses. 19 year old 6’10 rookie Center, Tony Bradley, will be much more of a project but it a solid piece for the future and will benefit from a team of veterans around him.
Bottom line: this team is just a bunch of PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYERS. They’ll play smart team ball, defend well, and given the players they’ve added and the benefit of last year’s playoff experience, I think a 10 win regression from last year is way underestimating the Jazz.
Jazz Pick: OVER
The Trail Blazers return pretty much the same core as the team that went 41-41 in 2016-17. All five starters/leading scorers are returning.
PG – Damian Lillard (27 points, 6 assists)
SG – CJ McCollum (23 points, 3.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds)
SF – Maurice Harkless (10 points, 4.4 rebounds)
PF – Al-Farouq Aminu (8.7 points, 7.4 rebounds)
C – Jusuf Nurkic (10 points, 7 rebounds)
All of the teams key role players return minus Allen Crabbe who went to Brooklyn (and Mason Plumlee who was traded to Denver midway through last season). The only real additions are rookie big men Caleb Swanigan and Zach Collins.
Swanigan, a 6’9 PF who played collegiality at Purdue, is the more polished of the two. He was a much more productive college player and turned some heads in the Las Vegas Summer League averaging 16 points and almost 11 rebounds a game.
Zach Collins, a 19 year old 7’0 Center from Gonzaga was drafted 10th overall by Sacramento and acquired by Portland in exchange for the rights to Harry Giles and Justin Jackson. Collins is raw and is regarded as more of a project but has more upside so he’ll probably play a larger part in my Over/Unders next year.
One or both should make some contribution though. Swanigan will likely get more playing time, being more of a finished product. Plus the fact that Noah Vonleh is still nursing a shoulder injury heading into the season should free up some minutes early. When the Blazers are fully healthy, their crowded front court including Vonleh, Ed Davis, and Meyers Leonard will probably limit the impacts Swanigan and Collins will have though. Unless the Blazers look to make some mid-season moves, which I think makes a lot of sense, especially if things get off to a rocky start.
With McCollum and Lillard, the Blazers are going to be dangerous and can shoot anyone out of the gym on any given night. Not being a great defensive team and making no major changes doesn’t give me much reason to pick them to finish two games better than last year in a better, deeper conference though.
Blazers Pick: Under
Two Words: Ewing Theory
I think this team could overachieve with Chis Paul‘s departure. As good as he is, when Chris Paul wasn’t sporting an argyle sweater selling insurance with his twin or punching people in the dick, he spent a lot of time scowling and yelling at Blake and DeAndre. They might not miss it that much and might play a little better with Cliff in Houston.
He punched Julius Hodge right in the dick. What an asshole. YouTube Chris Paul dirty plays. Plenty more where that came from.
I ♥ Blake Griffin. I think he could reach another level with the ball in his hands more and the offense running through him. I really like the addition of Danilo Gallinari, who at 6’10 averaging close to 20 points and 5 boards, is the best Small Forward the Clips have had since, ever?
Also a big fan of Pat Beverly who I think will do a good enough job running the Point and will make one of the better defensive back courts paired with Austin Rivers.
Lou Williams is a legit scorer off the bench (I can’t believe this guy is only 30, feels like he should be at least 34). Milos Teodosic, who will back up Beverly is a 30 year old rookie from Serbia (what’s not to love about that sentence?) Sam Dekker is a solid shooter/defender off the bench and Sindarius Thornwell, the rookie from South Carolina, was the best defensive player in the NCAA tournament last year. Maybe he makes an impact guarding a Klay Thompson, CJ McCollum, or a player of that ilk in a big moment at some point.
I want to take the Clippers to go over BUT Blake Griffin’s health always concerns me. Even more concerning – Blake What the Fuck are you doing running around with a Kardashian/Jenner on TMZ? WHEN HAS THAT EVER ENDED WELL? RUN BLAKE!
- Lamar Odom went from 6th man of the year to almost dead.
- Lebron had to ban the fat one that’s OJ’s daughter from the Cavs locker room.
- Reggie Bush fizzled out faster than Kendall Jenner’s time as Pepsi spokesperson
- Is Chris Humphries still in the league? Even if he is, he’s the dude that married Kim Kardashian for a minute and that will always trump anything he’s accomplished on the court.
- Bruce Jenner, possibly the best athlete to get caught up in their web of botox and whorish self-publicity, chopped off his hog and is telling people to call him Kate.
Blake, not for me, do it for yourself. BAIL.
I put two videos in the Clippers breakdown and I’m also buying 1000 shares of Milos Teodosic so I can’t really pick against them (will probably be blogging specifically about Milos at some point this week too).
Clippers Pick: OVER
Emmanuel Mudiay back healthy after missing a third of the 2016-17 season can hopefully get back to or exceed the 13 point, 5 assist numbers he put up the year before as a rookie. Jamal Murray & Jameer Nelson round out the PG position and give Denver some solid depth running an offense that will be running a lot.
Wilson Chandler, Will Barton, and Gary Harris at SG/SF are all 12-15 PPG guys who can go off for 30 in a given night. Wilson Chandler has his daughter’s picture tattooed on his neck though. Because he missed her when he’s on the road. Dude get an iPhone. That tat looks like an alien baby.
Nikola Jokic is a very good young Center, coming off a 17 and 10 season and is backed up by two solid bench big men in Juan Hernangomez and Mason Plumlee. Add Paul Millsap and his 18 points and 7.5 boards plus Kenneth Faried off the bench. Denver looks pretty good this year.
Quality across the board and depth everywhere. I can’t not take the over.
Nuggets Pick: Over