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!
February 28, 2020, 1:18 amDraymond GreenPF, Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green's night ended early in Thursday's 86-1116 loss to the Lakers, as he was ejected in the second quarter after scoring two points with a rebound, four assists and a steal.
Green was arguing with a ref and picked up his second tech in the middle of the second quarter which sent him to the locker room for the rest of the night. It's good news that Stephen Curry (hand) is returning, because it might mean Green will get some more space and production to work with.
February 28, 2020, 1:17 amEric PaschallPF, Golden State Warriors
Eric Paschall came off the bench on Thursday and scored 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting to go with three boards, two dimes and a triple.
Paschall logged 26 minutes off the bench in this one and it helps that Draymond Green got ejected early in the second quarter. If Green is ever going to miss time, Paschall is the next man up, but as it stands, he can be left on the wire.
February 28, 2020, 1:16 amDamion LeeSG, Golden State Warriors
Damion Lee scored 15 points with six boards, three dimes and four triples on Thursday.
If you're in need of triples, Lee is your guy, but the scoring should dip with Stephen Curry (hand) returning on Sunday. That being said, Lee could still be in play for a triples streamer as Coach Kerr has taken a liking to him.
February 28, 2020, 1:15 amJordan PoolePG, Golden State Warriors
Jordan Poole scored 16 points to go with a rebound, a game-high eight dimes and two triples vs. the Lakers on Thursday.
This is arguably Poole's best offensive game of the year as he was efficient shooting the ball and handed out a career-high in assists. He's still far from being reliable though so don't bother adding him yet.
February 28, 2020, 1:10 amAnthony DavisPF-C, Los Angeles Lakers
Anthony Davis had a quiet night in Thursday's 116-86 blowout win over the Warriors, scoring 23 points on 6-of-13 shooting to go with six boards, one assist, two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer.
Davis got it done across the board and was able to check out after only playing 25 minutes which is a win on all sides. It looks like the shoulder is fine so keep on plugging him in.
February 28, 2020, 1:09 amKyle KuzmaPF, Los Angeles Lakers
Kyle Kuzma came off the bench on Thursday and scored 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting while adding three rebounds, three assists, a steal and a 3-pointer.
Kuzma was able to pile up the points against a weak team and it helps that LeBron James (groin) sat this one out. He's a point streamer at best.
February 28, 2020, 1:07 amDwight HowardC, Los Angeles Lakers
Dwight Howard came off the bench on Thursday and scored 13 points on 4-of-4 shooting to go with nine rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks.
Howard logged 24 minutes off the bench and was electric in tonight's win. He's shown the ability to put up efficient stat lines against mediocre teams, but the Lakers are a fantasy wasteland outside of their dynamic duo.
February 28, 2020, 1:06 amRajon RondoPG, Los Angeles Lakers
Rajon Rondo started on Thursday, scoring 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go with four rebounds, six dimes and two steals.
Rondo got the starting nod with LeBron James (groin) out, but he's far from being a reliable fantasy player on a regular basis. They played the worst team in the NBA, so anyone could have really produced here.
February 27, 2020, 11:35 pmDraymond GreenPF, Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green has been ejected from Thursday's game against the Lakers after scoring two points with one rebound, four assists and a steal in 10 minutes of action.
Green picked up his second technical arguing with a ref in the second quarter and has been tossed out of tonight's game.
February 27, 2020, 11:04 pmHassan WhitesideC, Portland Trail Blazers
Hassan Whiteside put up a strong double-double on Thursday with 18 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots as the Blazers fell 106-100 to the Pacers.
Whiteside has rebounded and blocked his way to an unlikely top-10 fantasy season and at this point, that's mostly sustainable especially with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins with uncertain timelines. Keep rolling Whiteside out there.