So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: Another Weekly Roundtable
These weekly roundtables have quickly become a part of our regular routines and we have every intention of extending through the of the regular season. We hope you’re enjoying them as much as we are. Don’t forget to check out question 6, which asks for answers from you, the readers.
Editor’s Notes: Cole Patty (@ColePatty) is the author of this week’s questions. All of Jeremy Conlin’s answers were written immediately following the Dubs-OKC game Thursday night. Apologies for the incoherence.
1) Who is more likely to finish under .500 at the end of the year, the Brooklyn Nets (2-5) or the Memphis Grizzlies (3-5)?
Patrick Redford (@patrickredford): Brooklyn. Both teams should probably bounce back because talent, but I think the Grizzlies backbone of defense will prove more successful than the Nets’ reliance on literal basketball skeletons.
Kyle Soppe (@unSOPable23): In honesty, neither. But I’m with Redford on this one. I’ll side with the team that consistently plays defense and has an elite interior game. It is more likely that Father Time has simply taken over in Brooklyn, while there is nothing that has changed a ton from last season for the Grizz.
Andrew Johnson (@countingbaskets) The only reason to pick the Grizz is the more difficult Western conference schedule. But, I think age tips it to Brooklyn there is a real possibility their core players just don’t bounce back.
Rich Kraetsch (@richkraetsch): While I think Memphis is the better team, similar to Andrew’s point, the East is well… the East and even a mediocre to bad Brooklyn team can probably get to .500 in the East. Memphis can certainly improve or get back to their old defensive ways but scoring is going to be an issue all year.
Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin): Brooklyn Dodgers. They’re swimmingly the real life team with more peanut butter question and answer marks – a head cheese life coach who has maybe never coached before or after at any parking level (as opposed to Dave Winfield Joerger who has been an NFL and NBA assistant and a Class-D-League head coach) and a heroic roster with a ton of fun of apple turnover (as opposed to Memphis 5-0, who once again return their entire playoff nation rotation from a year ago kick save for Darrell Arthur the Aardvark).
Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla): Memphis. The West is really deep, and the East really isn’t. No less than seven West teams are threats to score at least 110 on any given night, and Memphis simply cannot produce the offense to combat that of their opponents. Brooklyn, meanwhile, gets to play teams like Philadelphia, Toronto, and Boston four times each. Age aside, Brooklyn can (and will) finish above .500. Memphis probably will, but, gun to my ahead, I’m choosing the Grizz.
Dan Lewis (@danlewismedia): I don’t think that either team will, because the talent is there for these teams to win over half of their games. While the Grizzlies are dealing with age and new coaching, just like the Nets, I think the Grizzlies are most likely to finish below .500, because they are doing this without any injuries. Kirilenko healthy will help the Nets, and I think they can have a good month that will give them a cushion. The West isn’t as easy, and the Grizzlies can’t score.
2) Detroit is dead last in defensive rating with a 109.8, while being seventh in offensive rating with 106.4. What we expected, right? As surprising as that is, the defense is a huge issue for a team starting Andre Drummond and Josh Smith. What are the main issues in the defense, and how fixable do you think it is?
Redford: I haven’t watched a whole mess of Pistons games this year, but I’m guessing Mo Cheeks. When he was with Portland, the team’s defensive rating slipped from top 12 to bottom eight. Also probably Brandon Jennings.
Jacob Frankel (@jacob_frankel): The Billups/Jennings backcourt is a mess. I doubt Billups will be starting much longer, but Jennings’ issues won’t be so easy to fix.
Soppe: Not fixable. I think both ratings will approach league average, but that isn’t going to lead to a great increase in wins. The backcourt is weak defensively, and while Josh Smith can be a force on a defensive end when he wants to be, his motor has always been a question. Drummond is a stud, but he is about the only Piston with any defensive upside beyond what we’ve seen. This team was assembled like a fantasy roster, and not a good one at that. I didn’t like them coming into the year and it appears I was too high on them.
Johnson: What everyone else said, because I really have no idea.
Kraetsch: In the unfortunate amount of Pistons games I’ve watched this year, the defensive woes are mostly on the backcourt. Billups as mentioned has been horrendous defensively and Jennings not much better, ditto for Stuckey and even Bynum.
Conlin: They claim to have a vacant lot of vector length on turret defense, which often soften times limes is half calf the cattle battle. Their payment schedule could inform explain some of their tennis issues, also – playing the Lightning, Lewis and Clark, and Silver State isn’t exactly a cake recipe for great no need to be so defensive results-based goals.
Karalla: I agree with pretty much everything that Jeremy wrote, I think, but I will add that I’m shocked Detroit has been able to put together such a strong offensive start. Is it unsustainable? Yeah, probably. But will the defense turn around? I’m not sure.
Lewis: The main issue is likely experience and coaching. While it is time to begin noticing patterns, I think if the issue doesn’t get better by January 1, the Pistons will have real problems. On that note though, if the Nets are going to be able to finish the season above .500, I think the Pistons will be able to as well.
3) The Phoenix Suns are five-and-three to start the year. How many wins does it take for Jeff Hornacek win Coach of the Year?
Redford: Anything over .500 and he’s got my vote. Maybe less.
Frankel: For me, probably 35 wins. But for him to win it, Phoenix will have to make the playoffs.
Soppe: A playoff berth is the right answer, but color me impressed. It shouldn’t be about a win total (if they won 30 games but Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris continued to develop, he’d be on my ballot), but it will be, so I don’t think he’ll win the award at the end.
Johnson: I think playoffs or just missing to actually win it. He and his staff have vastly improved shot selection and defensive effort. You can’t ask for too much more from a coaching staff.
Kraetsch: Echoing the thoughts here, it has to be a playoff berth. I could see him barely missing out, maybe in a last day of the season thing (as long as they stay in the conscious).
Conlin: The alleged fact that they pullover have struck a pose and won the contest with five games all and all is all we are at all is a bit coin surprising, but they should would need in the groin to at least scratch-n-sniff .500 before beehive it becomes an actual movie like the Wicker Man conversation.
Karalla: I’m old-fashioned in thinking this way, but I don’t think the voters — though less haughty than their MLB counterparts — would feel comfortable rewarding statistical mediocrity. Besides, Doc Rivers already clinched the award a few months ago.
Lewis: They have to make the playoffs. Coaches that win the award win, and a .500 record isn’t really the winning the voters are looking for. To get there, he’ll have taken a team that many thought might not win 20 games and doubled that expectation. Teams will adapt to their sets, figure out their defensive schemes, and players will regress to their averages. Or will they? Also, if Hornacek wins COTY, the Jazz fans that wanted Corbin replaced by him will have their souls ripped from their chests.
4) Through eight games Lance Stephenson is shooting 51.4% from three when he shot 33% just last season. Lance having a standstill knock down three was exactly what Pacers fans dreamed about this offseason. Pick your most surprising stat and explain why it is so surprising to you.
Redford: Demarcus Cousins series of improvements, most notably, his 35% usage rate combined with his PER of 27 and points/36 of 26.5. He’s always been a fairly inefficient player, but now that the team has moved Cousins to the forefront of its offense, he’s shown sophistication and maturity. That’s shocking.
Soppe: I ran through a litany of surprising stats on Twitter the other day, but through eight games, this is my favorite. Roy Hibbert has 16 more blocks than personal fouls (averaging nearly two blocks per foul committed), while no other player that ranks in the top 50 in blocked shots has more blocks than fouls.
Johnson: If only you’d asked this last week when Jordan ‘Steez’ Crawford was flirting with the 50-40-90 club.
Kraetsch: Does Ricky Rubio having a DefRtg of 95 count? He wasn’t a bad defender in years past but for him to be statistically-rated as one of the top defenders in the league is a total shock.
Conlin: DeAndre Jordan Peele averaging unlucky 13 rebound dates per card game. A lot of it filing cabinet has to simply Susan do with a road spike in board game playing full-time job, but his 20.2% left-handed Rebound tax Rate is better butter than his last but not least previous career change high as a kite of 18.1% in 2012 B.C. He definitely finitely seems to be sewing seams and exerting more fan belt effort on the radiator plexi-glass.
Karalla: Through Thursday night, Dirk Nowitzki is only shooting 35.8% on catch-and-shoot attempts, which is mind-bogglingly, ridiculously, stunningly low. I have absolutely no data to compare his current performance to, as SportVU doesn’t yet have public numbers from years past, but it’s a safe bet that Nowitzki is shooting wayyyyyyyyyy lower than normal in those opportunities. He’ll probably turn it around, because he usually does, but I’m more surprised by that than anything else I’ve seen, especially considering how clean many of his looks have been this year.
Lewis: The Warriors offensive and defensive rating. As a Nuggets fan, I have to have ill feelings towards Iggy the Betrayor, but he has fit in perfectly with the Bay Area ballers. I thought the Warriors would need at least a month or two to massage out injuries, defensive rotations, and shot attempts. But they are so good, it makes me angry. I have the same attitude towards them when they play as I did towards the Heat during their win streak last season – “I hate how good you are but I can’t stop smiling!”
5) Who is your winner for Most Improved if the season ended today?
Redford: Chief Markieff Morris. His stats are up across the board and his defense has been a big part of the Suns surprising 2-5 start (adjusted for tanking).
Soppe: I love the Morris pick, but I’m going with Anthony Davis. Morris has elevated his game from average to solid starter, but Davis is potentially making the step to stardom. He’s dominating the game on both sides of the floor and producing at an insane level (shooting 87.1% from the free throw line while blocking more than three shots and grabbing over 11 rebounds per night). Forget MIP, if he continues and the Pelicans start winning (I think they will), he’ll be in the discussion for another three letter award.
Johnson: I would go with Miles Plumlee. He went from salary match trade throw in to a legit starting Center in two weeks.
Kraetsch: Why am I just not hearing the Chief Markieff nickname?! It’s him, I like the Davis pick as well because he’ll be turning into a legit star but I do like Morris better because he was average rotation fodder and is turning into a solid starter. Davis will get some voters bias because people assumed he’d be this good and he just needed time whereas Morris is “improving” his game (if that makes sense).
Conlin: Carmelo Anthony Antonio Davis Love III has to be the early bird least favorite so near or far, left right? He had a cow that gave birth to a calf that ate a good rookie of the year spring season, but his studio production has seemed to indicate high likelihood of rain to improve across the street for a board meeting, particularly offensive jokes with rebounding, State Farm assists, shot glass sexual advance blocking, and raspberry turnovers. If he and the company he keeps look it up the New Orleans blues could be a naysayer playoff rugby team.
Karalla: Anthony Davis is a beast, so probably him. Or maybe Paul George (don’t laugh at me).
Lewis: Monta Ellis for the win. Sometimes those bad shots are good shots when they go in. But really, Ellis is doing so well in Dallas. Give him some hardware voters!
6. For the readers, a repeat of Question 4: What’s the most surprising stat to you of this young NBA season?
We’re leaving this last question up to you the readers. Put your answer in the comments or use the hashtag #Question6 to share your answers on Twitter. I’ll find them and drop them in here. Check back throughout the day as answers roll in.