Welcome to the second edition of the NBA Roundtable!
Sorry for the delay, but the Holidays do play havoc with schedules.
This week on the roundtable, we have Joao, Dan and the J brothers: E&J. Any and all questions, can be put in the comments for next week.
Joao: I don’t think so because the 76ers are going to stay competitive until Andrew Bynum comes back. They are 6-4 as I write this, which is a decent record to start the season. They will keep the effort up and then integrate Bynum en route to the playoffs.
On the other hand, this is added pressure on Bynum to perform and show everyone he is the best center in the East and second best in the league. Even more pressure if we consider that Andre Iguodala has meshed quite well with the rest of the Denver squad. But the 76ers are ok for now.
EJ: Philly took a risk and so far it’s looking like a loss with Bynum sitting on the sidelines. The Sixers built their roster to have the big man in the middle, and instead he’s sitting on the sidelines looking like the re-incarnation of Ike Turner. We all knew Orlando would lose this deal, but Philadelphia without Bynum will struggle to make the playoffs in the East. In their own division they are a clear fourth behind the Knicks, Nets, and Celtics.
Dan: Well, it’s ultimately hard to say that Orlando isn’t the loser since they’re team doesn’t look good for this season, but if Bynum being out really demolishes any chances for Philadelphia to make the playoffs, then yes, they’ll be the “big loser” but I don’t think, overall, they are. They’re still going to make the playoffs.
DJ: It has to be……..if he misses the season. That’s the latest being reported. If he’s just out till mid season, he could come back and give them a lift after he works himself back into shape. But, it definitely hurts this squad. They are 6-4, but they are inconsistent and they miss a legit low post big man and possible superstar.
2. Do you trust the Knicks yet?
Joao: Even at 7-1, I will have to say I don’t trust them yet. I expected more last year and somehow they crumbled. This year they have two things going against them, even with this hot start: how to integrate Amare Stoudemire once he comes back (theoretically they are better with Stoudemire, but many pundits are now thinking they are better off without him), and age; what I mean by “age” is the added chance that they will have some key injuries. Furthermore, when Shumpert comes back, the backcourt that was so thin last year will suddenly feel crowded. Look, I don’t trust them to win the East, probably not even to make it to the East finals. I do think, on the other hand, they will have home advantage in the first round of the playoffs if JR Smith doesn’t go crazy again, if they manage to bring back Stoudemire and Shumpert smoothly, if Kidd continues to defy his age, and if Raymond Felton will continue to have a sensational career. A lot of “if” elements right there.
At least we know Carmelo will score… a lot.
EJ: I live in Knicks country. Born and raised in Brooklyn, so I’ve always been surrounded by loud and irrational Knicks fans. That might be a reason as why I gravitated towards the Showtime Lakers when I was a little kid. Anyway, even I, a life-long Knick hater am impressed by their 7-1 start. The Knicks have beaten the Heat, Mavs, Sixers (twice), Spurs, Magic, and Pacers and have looked very good doing it. Carmelo Anthony has looked re-invigorated at the power forward spot and Ray Felton is playing some inspired ball. The Knicks will eventually crash to Earth as the season wears on but they are looking like they will finish somewhere in the top 4 in the East.
Dan: Trust them how? As a good team? Sure, why wouldn’t I?
DJ: Yes. The Knicks are a very good team. The real test is when Amare returns because he and Melo have a tough time playing together in the starting lineup. They should bring him off the bench, but it’s doubtful that happens.
Joao: Yes, under 60. Between 50 and 59 is my bet. They will go deep into the playoffs but they will need time to get the machine going during the regular season.
And let’s face it, with a 5-5 start, they’ll be hard pressed to win more than 60 games.
Also, the rumors regarding Pau Gasol’s potential trade won’t help. More importantly, someone forgot to tell D’Antoni that Steve Nash isn’t the same player he coached in Phoenix. Still a great player but obviously removed from his prime.
EJ: Under. 60 wins was always a little unrealistic for this Lakers squad and that was before the firing of Mike Brown and their brief interlude with Phil Jackson. Mike D’Antoni will be a good hire for the Lakers but this team is already 5-5. To expect the Lakers to go 55-17 in their remaining 72 games is a bit much considering the adjustment to the D’Antoni offense, and the big 4 adjusting to playing with each other. A good season for the Lakers would be anywhere between 52 to 57 wins.
Dan: Under 60 wins.
DJ:Under. Before the season, I said 58-24 and now I’ll adjust that to 55-27. The slow start hurts them a little, but I was never sold on them winning 60 games. New players and a new sysem means it’s going to be a process.
4. Does Houston have 2 of the 3 building blocks they need to compete?
Joao: It depends. If it’s Harden and Jeremy Lin, then the answer is ‘no’. But if it’s Harden and Asik, then the answer might just be positive.
Harden will be the leader of this franchise for years to come. Even though he is now posting more down to earth stats, he has been playing tremendously. He just needs to improve on his 3 pointers. Asik looks like he’s developing into a reliable inside complement to Harden’s all around game. He has been averaging a double double and more than one block per game. But to be more efficient, he needs to start shooting better from the field and from the charity stripe. Also, he is not a bad defender. At 26 there is still room for improvement. As for Jeremy Lin, and I believe the question had him in mind, I think the hype is gone. What you get after the New York hype is a decent to good role player, who is a starter for the Rockets but would be a bench player for half of the teams in the league. Putting matters into simple terms, Lin is shooting terribly. As long as he doesn’t improve his shooting, he is not a franchise cornerstone.
EJ: It all depends on the development of Jeremy Lin or Omer Asik. The Rockets definitely have a building block in James Harden. However, either Lin or Asik needs to take the next step in order for the Rockets to really have something going. I’m not 100% sold on Lin, and I sort of like Asik. The Rockets still have pieces to make another move, so maybe their second building block will be a player that is not on the roster at this time.
Dan: I think so. I really like what James Harden is able to accomplish. Houston is a good team, but too bad there are just a couple other teams better in the West.
DJ: I think they do. James Harden is an excellent scorer and Omer Asik has been an absolute monster on the boards, averaging 12.3 per game. He’s also a pretty solid defender. Jeremy Lin is an adequate PG, but they need another player on the same level as Harden: a superstar
5. If you combined every team in the SouthEast, do they beat the Heat in a best of 7 series?
Joao: I don’t know if this is a testament to just how good the Heat are, or if it is just a way of showing how lackluster those 4 other teams are, but the answer is a resounding no.
I would build the roster like this:
– Hawks – Josh Smith, Al Horford and Kyle Korver
– Magic – Glen Davis, JJ Redick and Al Harrington
– Wizards – John Wall (healthy, of course), Emeka Okafor, Nene and Trevor Ariza
– Bobcats – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker
This is actually a solid roster, isn’t it? Well, at least it has depth in all positions. But it lacks a first option to lead the team in scoring (sorry Josh!) and it also lacks experience. Some above average outside shooting (I am looking at you, Korver and Redick) and Al Horford, plus the other inside bodies (Big Baby, Nene and Okafor), would ensure this team would be competitive enough to take 2 games from the Heat. But not 4.
EJ: Nice question, but the answer is no. There is not one player on the Hawks, Bobcats, Magic, or Wizards that could keep up with LeBron, Wade, and Bosh. That’s why the Southeast division will remain the Heat’s playground until that trio retires or break themselves up.
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It has to be……..if he misses the season. That’s the latest being reported. If he’s just out till mid season, he could come back and give them a lift after he works himself back into shape. But, it definitely hurts this squad. They are 6-4, but they are inconsistent and they miss a legut low post big man and possible superstar.
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