June 18, 2019, 1:38 am
Welcome, Hoop Ball readers, to another edition of The Week Ahead!
The Toronto Raptors are your 2019 NBA Champions! The Warriors finally lost and thus, the NBA’s competitive balance is restored. The Raptors won the series in six games after a plethora of unfortunate events for the Warriors. The Raptors were about as healthy as can be in terms of missed games, while the Warriors suffered huge injuries to numerous players.
Kevon Looney suffered fractured chest cartilage, but he played through it and finished the season as strong as he possibly could. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson suffered injuries that will have major ramifications on the offseason and upcoming season for the Warriors.
We will get into those injuries later, but we must acknowledge the greatness that is Kawhi Leonard right now. Leonard averaged 28.5 points per game on 43% shooting in the Finals, which is remarkable considering how much he impacts the game on the defensive side of the ball as well. He proved that he is one of the top players in this league without question as he had one of the most dominant postseasons we have ever seen. However, he was not carrying this team entirely as his supporting cast did show up when it mattered most.
Six Raptors players averaged double digit points in the Finals compared to the Warriors three players. Fred VanVleet was the underdog for Finals MVP as he made clutch shot after clutch shot, but ultimately his stats were not enough to warrant giving him the award. Kawhi took home that award and became the first player to win Finals MVP in both conferences.
Congratulations to the Raptors for taking down one of the best dynasties of all-time!
Now here are some things that happened in the NBA this past week:
Anthony Davis Trade (FINALLY!!)
Anthony Davis was finally traded to the Los Angeles Lakers after rumors that distracted everyone from the actual game of basketball for the entire second half of the season. The Lakers had to basically gut their entire roster in order to get him, but they now have LeBron James and Anthony Davis so it is a win either way. The Lakers gave up Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, the #4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, a top-8 protected 2021 first-round pick (unprotected in 2022), an unprotected pick swap in 2023, an unprotected first-round pick in 2024, and an unprotected pick swap in 2025. In return, they got Anthony Davis… that’s it.
Yes, getting Anthony Davis is a win because now they have two of the top seven players in the NBA. However, they now only have five players on the roster with no cap space if they pair another max guy with LeBron and AD. Currently, their roster is James, Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Moe Wagner, and Isaac Bonga. They will need to put together a team of veteran minimum salaries along with another max player or this trade could easily backfire on them.
There are also a number of financial details that limit their cap space, so they need everything to go their way in order to land a max guy and fill out the remainder of the roster with solid role players. They are linked to Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving as players to whom they would offer a max contract. If they get one of these guys, they should have no problem competing for a championship next season regardless of their bench. The Lakers definitely benefit from this trade IF their offseason plan goes as anticipated.
The Pelicans are now set up for the future and made a Boston Celtics-esque move with the number of draft picks that they acquired. They now have one of the best young cores in the NBA with Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and whoever they take at the #4 pick in the draft. They also have Jrue Holiday and enough cap space to sign someone that will provide them with veteran leadership. This team could immediately compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they have a few seasons to go before they become title contenders.
Ultimately, I believe the trade is unique in that it is a win-win for both sides and there is really no clear winner.
Lakers Trade Grade: A- (Gave up a bit too much for my liking.)
Pelicans Trade Grade: A+ (This was the best offer they were going to get.)
Obviously, everyone knows the devastating injuries that occurred to Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. These injuries will impact their free agency, which will affect the entire offseason. Here is a breakdown of what happened to two of the game’s biggest stars:
Kevin Durant will miss the entire 2019-20 season with a ruptured Achilles that he suffered during his brief time on the court in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Warriors are still reportedly going to offer him a five-year max contract, but he may just opt into his current deal and enter free agency next offseason. He will likely be on the Warriors’ roster next season as teams may be hesitant to offer him a long contract after this injury, though if anyone would buck the trend it’d be someone of KD’s caliber. A year in the NBA without Kevin Durant will be a strange sight to see.
Klay Thompson suffered a torn ACL during Game 6 of the NBA Finals and will likely miss a majority, if not all, of the 2019-20 season. Thompson is also a free agent and the Warriors will likely offer him a five-year max contract as well. The difference here is that Thompson was not expected to leave the Warriors, so he could very well take the five-year deal and remain with the Warriors long-term. However, this injury affects his offseason and the offseason as a whole as teams who thought they had a chance at signing him will have to look elsewhere.
This offseason was already slated to be a wild one and these two injuries increase the urgency as the market loses huge names.
BONUS: Draft Article Teaser
I will be coming out with a mock draft article on Thursday morning prior to the NBA Draft that will highlight the entire first round with brief player descriptions for players that should be reached on and players that should slip in the draft. There will be about five players that I consider “reaches” that would be worth the pick and five players that will be taken higher than they should be come Thursday night’s draft.
Here is an example — this one won’t appear in Thursday’s article — of a player description that would be shown in the article:
Darius Garland- Point Guard from Vanderbilt University (6’2” 175 lbs)
Garland is a player that will be taken top-five and considered a “reach” by some since he is unproven at the collegiate level. He only played five games before getting injured, but he averaged 16.2 points on 53.7% shooting in those games. It is unfair to criticize Garland for his lack of experience due to injury since we know a player that had a similar path and was taken #1 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft — Kyrie Irving.
This is not to say that Garland is Kyrie Irving, but he definitely had similar college stats and has a similar skill set to the perennial All-Star. In college, Irving played 11 games and averaged 17.5 points on 52.9% shooting and that was enough for him to go #1 overall in a very weak 2011 draft. Garland will be worth the gamble for a team like New Orleans, who could use Garland as a sixth man burst scorer behind Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday. I would be surprised to see Garland slip past the 6th pick in the draft as his stock has shot up over the past few weeks.
Thanks Hoopballers for reading another edition of The Week Ahead!
July 23, 2019, 8:47 amJohn WallPG, Washington Wizards
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said that John Wall “probably won’t play at all” next year as he is recovering from a torn Achilles.
Nothing new here, Wall ruptured his left Achilles in a slip-and-fall incident at home and he is not expected to resume any basketball activity until at least February of 2020. The Wizards are not expected to be very competitive this year and it makes sense to take it slow with Wall’s rehab. Owners should only stash him in dynasty leagues.
Source: Chase Hughes on Twitter
July 23, 2019, 8:10 amDedric LawsonPF, San Antonio Spurs
Jabari Young of the Athletic is reporting that the Spurs are expected to sign forward Dedric Lawson to an Exhibit 10 deal.
A 6’9″ forward out of Kansas, Lawson entered the 2019 draft following his junior season. In 36 games for the Jayhawks he averaged 19.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.1 block while making 39.3 percent of his three-pointers. He will join San Antonio after playing for the Warriors in the Las Vegas Summer League where he recorded 6.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in four games.
Source: Jabari Young on Twitter
July 23, 2019, 7:48 amLuke MayePF, Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have signed forward Luke Maye to an Exhibit 10 deal.
A 6’8″ forward, Maye played his college ball at North Carolina, winning a national championship with the Tar Heels in 2017. He went undrafted last month after a senior season in which he was named the ACC’s Most Improved Player, averaging 14.9 points and 10.5 rebounds in 36 games. He struggled in the Summer League with the Bucks, averaging just 3.0 points on 18.8 percent shooting and he is expected to spend time with the Wisconsin Herd.
Source: Keith Smith on Twitter
July 22, 2019, 11:08 pmMarcus MorrisPF, New York Knicks
Marcus Morris stated that he didn't expect another offer after he verbally agreed to the Spurs' two-year, $20 million contract.
We've seen players renege a contract offer before, so this isn't unprecedented, but it's still not a good look for the Knicks and Morris. He took more money and will join a weaker free agency class in 2020, but he joins an insanely crowded Knicks frontcourt which will now have to find playing time for Morris, Bobby Portis, Julius Randle, Taj Gibson and Mitchell Robinson.
Source: Kurt Helin on Twitter
July 22, 2019, 8:00 pmDonta HallPF, Detroit Pistons
Donta Hall was signed by the Pistons to an Exhibit 10 contract.
Hall is a forward that went undrafted this summer after four years at Alabama. He's currently many hurdles away from fantasy significance.
Source: Keith Smith on Twitter
July 22, 2019, 7:42 pmThaddeus YoungPF, Chicago Bulls
Thaddeus Young will be added to the Team USA training camp.
Young joins Marcus Smart on Monday as two late additions to the training camp roster after six players withdrew from camp to focus on the upcoming NBA season. Although neither of these two are superstars, both are very solid veterans who can impact the game on both ends of the court. There may be more additions to the training camp roster to come.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
July 22, 2019, 7:12 pmTodd WithersPG, Detroit Pistons
The Pistons have signed Todd Withers to an exhibit 10 contract.
Withers will join the Pistons for training camp to compete for a roster spot. The best outcome for Withers is being signed to a two-way contract for this upcoming season. There is no fantasy impact from this signing.
Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter
July 22, 2019, 6:37 pmMarcus SmartPG, Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart has been selected to participate in Team USA training camp.
Following the news of six players dropping out of contention for the USA roster for the FIBA World Cup, the team has decided to add Smart to the list of participants. Don't be surprised if we hear of more additions in the coming days.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
July 22, 2019, 5:07 pmTim DuncanPF-C, San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan will join Gregg Popovich's coaching staff as an assistant with the Spurs.
Duncan played all 19 of his NBA seasons under Popovich. He became one of the league's most dominant big-men of all-time. In regards to the hiring, Popovich joked "It is only fitting, after I served loyally for 19 years as Tim Duncan’s assistant, that he returns the favor." The NBA will welcome having Duncan back in the league.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
July 22, 2019, 4:46 pmJosh OkogieSG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Josh Okogie will join Al-Farouq Aminu in representing Nigeria at the FIBA World Cup.
Okogie broke the news Monday on Twitter. He will be playing with at least a few other current or former NBA players in China.
Source: Magic PR on Twitter