Welcome to the NBA Roundtable. This week we have EJ, Bill and David go through our Rookie of the Year teams, dumping Conferences, LeBron vs the Cap, and just how do we make the Center important again?
1. Who is your All-Rookie team?
EJ: At point guard I got Michael Carter-Williams. MCW might be on a terrible Sixers team but he’s the Rookie of the Year going away. At shooting guard, I’ll go with Tim Hardaway Jr. Yeah, I know Oladipo is the safe choice but Timmy Jr. is getting solid minutes and putting up good numbers with the Knicks. At small forward I got the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo. Before the season started I thought Giannis could have made a Rookie of the Year run. He’s raw, he’s still new to the game of basketball, but he’s a crazy athlete. If he can gain a little weight, and pick up some confidence, he could be the next superstar. You heard it from me first. In the front court I got Mason Plumlee of the Nets at power forward and Kelly Olynyk of the Celtics at center.
Bill: As follows:
PG: Trey Burke, UTA
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr. NYK
SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
PF: Mason Plumlee, BKN *
C: Kelly Olynyk, BOS
* I tried to stick strictly by their listed positions, but I feel Plumlee is more of a PF than a C but can play both.
David: No Cody Zeller? You mean the Giant White Guy from the Big Ten didn’t become a dominate force?
PG: Michael Carter-Williams Phi
SG: Victor Oladipo Orl
SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
PF: Mason Plumlee, BKN
C: Steven Adams OKC
Adams is a bit different but he’s going over 4 boards a game, and playing solid defense, not to mention he’s earning minutes on a playoff team with size. YOU try getting the ball in the paint when the other option is Kevin F’N Durant
2. LeBron said he hates the Salary Cap, do you?
EJ: He should hate the salary cap. LeBron is the best player in the game, but his salary comes nowhere close to matching that status. Is that fair? This season LeBron is the 9th highest paid athlete. Ahead of him on the list are Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Joe Johnson, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Gilbert Arenas, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kobe Bryant. So ahead of LeBron, is a player that only played 6 games this season, and a player that hasn’t even played in the NBA in a couple of seasons. Is that fair? Hell no, so if you’re LeBron you’d hate the salary cap too.
Bill: No. I hate LeBron James whining about it though. The guy makes a TON of money and has no right nor reason to complain. On topic, I don’t think the current cap is restrictive enough. If it were my league with which to tweak, I would prefer a HARD cap that absolutely cannot be exceeded. I know that something like a hard cap is but a mere pipe dream seeing as the NBPA would never agree to a hard salary cap. If they did, however, it would immediately level the playing field and create more competition due to increased parity. It would also stop greedy players from trying to put what amounts to a financial stranglehold on teams and force a trade. Players would know what’s available and the teams would have to work within those limitations. The days of teams being able to outspend and essentially “buy” their titles needs to be over and soon. The days of exorbitant player contracts would also be done, thank goodness.If LeBron wanted to get at the seemingly endless money available in Major League Baseball, perhaps he should have instead worked on his swing or his throw rather than his jumper.
David: The top guys are always going to be overpaid. The bottom guys are always going to be underpaid- guys like Arenas are always going to be stupidly paid. If only there was a players union to do something about that. Oh yeah, there is. I’m sure the Heat would pay LeBron a million a game- but the problem is, he would have to play with a team of no-one. Baseball is in the problem its in because there is no cap. By the way LeBron, Nike doesn’t have a cap, does it?
3. If the season ended today, the Mavs (43-30) would miss the playoffs, but the Hawks (31-40) would make it. Should the NBA drop the conferences?
EJ: I’m on record as saying that the NBA should drop the conferences. Top 16 records make the playoffs, you seed them according to record, and re-seed after every round. Make it completely fair, because to me it’s unfair that a team like the Mavs could win close to 50 games and miss the playoffs, while the Hawks or Knicks could make the playoffs and they’d barely win over 30 games. That’s not fair at all.
Bill: No. The conference structure has been in place for what seems like forever and it simply works. It’s not the fault of the conferences that there’s a power vacuum in the Eastern Conference. That’s an issue relating to a disparity in talent among teams in that conference. As I discussed above in relation to a hard salary cap, teams simply shouldn’t be able to outspend other teams to get marquee talent. It’s a problem that’s far more prevalent in MLB than in the NBA, but it’s a problem all the same. Seeing how the last collective bargaining agreement tightened the screws on teams going over the cap, perhaps the days of seeing teams willing to spend any amount to get who they’re after are over. I don’t think ridding the league of conferences or, as another option, realigning them, is going to solve the problem.
David: I say we dump the Conferences but retain DivisionsWe give the 6 Division winners spots 1-6 in the playoffs
Then the next 10 teams get the wildcard spots. That way we still have teams in the East getting in the playoffs, but teams like the Mavs still make the playoffs.
4. What would it take to have the Center has a position that matters again?
EJ: A center has to come along and capture the public’s attention. Right now there are a few dominant centers, but none of them really captures the public’s imagination. There’s Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah, and Dwight Howard but none of them hold your attention the way Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, or Shaquille O’Neal did. That big man that can be dominant on the court, and attract some attention off of it is sorely needed. However, I think Anthony Davis can be that big man going forward if he embraces the center position. He’s a freak athlete, and he’s put up some big numbers this season. If he can gain a little weight, and embrace being a 5, then he can make the center position relevant again.
Bill: Honestly, this is a tough one. Today’s league is more about speed and versatility as opposed to the days of yore’s finess, power, and fundamentals. It might take someone that’s as utterly dominant as Shaquille O’Neal was to turn things around. Centers, in this day, are really stretch power forwards. The days of the true center are pretty much gone. I don’t think we’ll ever see another era with centers possessing the raw power, ability, or fundamentally sound play as we had with Russell, Chamberlain, Malone, and even Darryl Dawkins. Shaq was and is the last truly “dominant” center to show how relevant the position can be. The center is your anchor player; your last line of defense. In my eyes, I don’t see that being so anymore and it’s more about defense-by-committee than it is going to and depending on your anchor. As good as Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Alrdridge, DeAndre Jordan, et al are… they’re not really “centers” in as much as I see it.
David: Its an issue of talent and rules. Ewing would have a problem with todays game. Dwight Howard could be monster Center in the 80s game. The problem is you have to have an outside shot. Mark Eaton would have almost no chance to get off the bench today. Manute Bol would be a star with his outside shot. The problem is rotations and all the extras that centers have to do now- you would be better off with 2 Power Forwards and no center in todays game. Would you trade any 2 Centers in the NBA for a pairing of Dirk and Bosh? Unless you widen the paint, or work on the charge, the center is going to continue to be useless.
I'm a fan of most sports but basketball, particularly the NBA, is my favorite. I live and die with the San Diego Chargers and San Diego Padres, but I also root for my hometown Cardinals and Diamondbacks. I'm also an alumnus of UNLV and proudly served in the US Navy.
I'm opinionated in my sports, my politics, and just about everything that can be opined about, usually with some four letter flare thrown in to emphasize the point. If you can take it, stick around and enjoy the ride as I let the opinions fly!
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If the salary has to hurt anybody, I don’t have a problem with it being LeBron. Let him make up the slack with those ugly ass $300.00 tennis shoes.
The biggest threat to the center position as been coaching. Back in the day, big men set up on the block. Today they want to play away from the bucket, and shoot jump shots. Coaches no longer coach bigs. When Dwight Howard signed with the Rockets, he was suppose to be polishing his game under the direction of Hakeem. What happened? The man has been in the league 10 years and he’s the same player he was 10 years ago.
Four out of our five rookie picks match up exactly, EJ. Coincidence? I think not. Great minds and all…
Thanks Bill but this rookie class has been so bad as a whole, that there really aren’t many players to choose from. I tried to go off the beaten path and I just couldn’t. I’ve seen some articles out there calling this rookie class as one of the worst classes of all time.
Looking at things from that POV, I think you’re onto something and a rather disturbing trend: quality players are simply NOT being found and many of the players that are coming into the league are not prepared. That’s a whole discussion unto itself, but it’s the truth. Even as good as the upcoming class has been hyped and with many of the players themselves buying into it, the prospective for overreaching and failure is still a distinct possibility.
Does that make me the dumbass?
Don’t answer that.
It is disturbing. This year’s draft class promised to be one of the best in recent memory, but that was before the season started. Wiggins struggled all season, Parker looks like he’s going to return to Duke, Embiid has a bad back, but he’s a boom-bust pick due to his relative newness to the game, Exum is largely unproven due to his playing in Australia, Aaron Gordon is a great athlete but doesn’t do much else, and Marcus Smart could be good. He could be but I don’t feel too confident in saying that.