March 15, 2016, 2:21 pm
It is the most anticipated couple of weeks of the basketball season. There is no greater time of the year than March and the excitement that surrounds each team. In the NBA, any team can beat any other team in a do-or-die situation, as seen by the would-be-16th-seed Lakers defeating the Warriors by 17 in Los Angeles earlier this month. But what would a tournament like this even look like? In the spirit of Selection Sunday and March Madness, let’s take a look at what an NBA bracket would consist of.
Editor’s Note: You can follow Zain Dhanani on Twitter (@XainDhanani) here
1 Golden State Warriors vs. 4 Detroit Pistons/Utah Jazz
2 Boston Celtics vs. 3 Memphis Grizzlies
The committee did not do the Warriors any favors by setting them up with a potential match-up against a Pistons team that took them down in Detroit earlier this season. I’m not so sure that the Pistons will make it that far. The Jazz, now employing Shelvin Mack and Gordon Hayward, are used to streaking at this time of the year. The competition committee may determine to raise the rim in the battle of who is the most athletic big in the NBA. I can see it now, Rudy Gobert goes up for an alley-oop only to be met by Andre Drummond at 14 feet off of the ground. After an intense battle, the Bad Boys prevail and get a date with the Warriors out west.
It must be the luck of the Irish as the Celtics drew a Grizzlies team that looks more like an infirmary than a basketball team at this point. The Grizz have lost Mike Conley, Mario Chalmers, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, Chris Anderson, and Brandan Wright for extended time this season. Yet somehow, this team continues to win as they did against the Cavs last Monday in Cleveland. Regardless of their locker room, the Grizzlies are desperate for talent and have resorted to giving useful minutes at the Point Guard position to two people who they signed off the street. The Celts rank 3rd in pace while the Grizz rank 27th so it would be interesting to see how which team conforms to the other team’s style. I could see a Zach Randolph post-up on the left block with the shot-clock winding down which results in a rebound and Isaiah Thomas fast-break score kind of like this:
I see this match-up playing out much like the March 9th slaughtering that Boston gave to Memphis.
What if I told you that on one cold January night where the Pistons were recognizing Ben Wallace for his services and defensive prowess, the Pistons put a cap on a healthy Warriors team? The selection committee must have tried to set Curry’s team up for failure. The Pistons are top-10 in shots attempted within 10 feet while the Warriors are bottom-five in opponent field goals made within 10 feet. Needless to say, Detroit will be attacking Golden State down low. However, I do not believe that Draymond Green’s struggles vs. the Pistons this season will continue. Steve Kerr will find a way to deploy the small ball lineup and pull Drummond in space against Green who will blow by him or find the open man.
Golden State will down the Pistons on the Best Coast.
This sets the stage perfectly for a Boston-Golden State match-up that gets me so excited that I wish this tournament could happen right now. If you have forgotten, and I’m not sure how you could, the Celts almost gave the Dubs their first loss of the season back in December. Brad Stevens concocted a plan that would force Stephen Curry to have his worst shooting performance of the season to that point. Yes, he still dropped 38, but if you watched the game, he was fighting tooth and nail for every point.
This all comes with a grain of salt because Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes both sat out in the only battle between these two teams this season. I would like to think that both teams’ run and gun attack along with two of the game’s top-5 coaches would make this a must-watch game. It would be interesting to see what Brad Stevens would do when the Warriors go with their small ball lineup. Could we see an Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Evan Turner and Jae Crowder lineup that we haven’t seen in over 250 different lineup combinations all season?
The Warriors offense was built to create space, even if it is only for a split second. They love to use double screens to get Steph and Klay open while Boston loves to play tight defense and chase screens. The problem is that Steph only needs an inch of space to make you pay:
West Champions: Golden State Warriors
September 22, 2019, 8:56 pmBruce BrownSG, Detroit Pistons
Coach Dwayne Casey spoke highly of Bruce Brown's defensive play, calling him an 'elite defender.'
Brown remains in contention for a starting spot with the Pistons, but he is not a high-usage player, and the Pistons have stocked up with offensive threats such as Derrick Rose and the immortal Joe Johnson. It will be tough for Brown to rack up enough touches or minutes this season.
September 22, 2019, 8:41 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
There is some optimism in league circles about Kevin Durant's (Achilles) chances of playing this season, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
Looking back on Durant's decision to return during the Finals, the Nets may want to exude caution when considering KD's return to action. However, Durant is pursuing his rehab with a sense of purpose, and it would be great to see him get back on the court this season. We'll keep you posted when a real timeline on Durant's rehab emerges. This news does not make him a target on draft day for standard leagues.
Source: New York Post
September 22, 2019, 10:40 amLarry Nance Jr.PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Larry Nance Jr. is the presumed favorite to start at PF heading into training camp according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
Fedor went on to speculate that Nance Jr. could see a lot of time at the four while Kevin Love starts at center and Tristan Thompson and John Henson compete for back up minutes behind those two. Any uptick in playing time would be a huge boost to the per-minute dynamo that Nance Jr is, and a starting role with a new coaching staff bodes well for that. He's trending in the right direction.
September 21, 2019, 9:45 pmKevin KnoxSF, New York Knicks
Coach Fizdale told the Knicks players that no starters have been determined and players had to earn their minutes.
Kevin Knox will battle with veteran Marcus Morris for the starting small forward spot. Knox has been working on getting his body stronger to be able to take on more contact on drives to the basket. Last season as a rookie, he averaged 12.8 points on a putrid 37 percent from the field. Knox will look to get more looks closer to the basket and increase his field goal percentage to more respectable levels. Knox provided little else outside of points and rebounds last season and will need to improve his shooting and defense to be considered a standard-league player.
Source: New York Post
September 21, 2019, 5:13 pmBol BolC, Denver Nuggets
According to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic, Bol Bol could spend his entire rookie season in the G-League.
Bol Bol was not drafted to be an immediate impact player, but just fell too late fore the Nuggets liking. The 44th overall pick needs to bulk up and show that he could take the bumps and bruises before having his chance on the big stage.
Source: Nick Kosmider of The Athletic
September 21, 2019, 9:21 amKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
After speaking with Doc Rivers and Lawrence Frank, Dan Woike's takeaway is that Kawhi Leonard's "load management" will not be as strict as it was last year.
It was reported in July that Kawhi said he wants to play all next season fully and approach load management on a game-to-game basis so this is further confirmation that he will most likely play more than the 60 games he played last year but surely won't play all 82 either. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports speculates that this could be for several reasons. One could be that Leonard can take on more now that he is a little healthier while he believes the Clippers might also limit his per-game minutes to help him play more games. The other idea is that because the Western Conference is so deep, the Clippers will not be able to get a good seed if Leonard sits too many games. Fantasy wise, Leonard finished last season seventh in per game value but 18th in total value since he played only 60 games. Near the top of the second round would be a great place to snag him if he plays around 70 games this season.
Source: Dan Woike on Twitter
September 21, 2019, 8:31 amMalik BeasleySG, Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets want to extend Malik Beasley and Juan Hernagomez before the October 21 deadline.
The Nuggets already locked up one of their 2016 first-round picks (Jamal Murray) to a long-term deal and now want to do the same with their other two 2016 first-round picks, Hernangomez and Beasley. If not, the two will likely become restricted free-agents at the end of the season. Both players saw stretches of big minutes last season due to injuries but at full health, Beasley was around 20 minutes per game while Hernangomez was at around 10. Fantasy wise, neither player puts up big defensive stats but Beasley is a very efficient shooter with low turnovers, knocking down 2.0 triples per game last year, putting him near top-150 value at only 23.2 minutes per game. Hernangomez is a decent rebounder and knocked down 0.9 triples per game but he would need closer to 30 minutes per game to be a factor in standard leagues.
Source: Denver Post
September 20, 2019, 8:49 pmOG AnunobySF, Toronto Raptors
Coach Nick Nurse intends to put OG Anunoby "back out there in a primary role."
With Kawhi Leonard vacating the starting small forward spot, Anunoby is the leading candidate to take the role. Before the arrival of Leonard, Anunoby started 62 games in his rookie season. Last season he started 6 out of 67 games, and missed the entire playoffs due to an emergency appendectomy. He averaged 7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.3 blocks over 20.2 minutes per game, while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor, 33.2 percent from 3-point range and 58.1 percent from the free-throw line. He can be picked up as a late round flier in drafts.
Source: The Athletic
September 20, 2019, 4:03 pmDaryl MaconPG, Miami Heat
The Heat have signed Daryl Macon.
Macon getting picked up by another NBA squad after a solid Summer League campaign is not a shocker. If he were to crack the rotation he would post a nice assist rate, but it is unlikely Macon will be getting playing time unless something goes terribly wrong for the Heat this season.
September 20, 2019, 1:10 pmTahjere McCallF, Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks signed Tahjere McCall from their Summer League team.
This is just a depth signing for the Hawks. He shouldn't see much court time on the NBA floor if he makes the main roster out of camp
Source: Kevin Chouinard on Twitter