The most untouchable player for every Western Conference team

Kevin Durant and Steph Curry

Well, the doldrums of the NBA offseason did not last too long. The NBA world was rocked as Kawhi Leonard got shipped to Toronto. Conversely, DeMar DeRozan is now headed to San Antonio. Still, we must strive forward and continue on with the untouchables list.

If you missed the Eastern Conference list, then click here.

 

1. Dallas Mavericks – Luka Doncic

This is a no brainer. The Mavs just surrendered a future pick for the Slovenian point-forward. Doncic has the potential to be a transcendent NBA player. This pick and roll maestro will enter the league as one of its premier passers. If you need a reminder on just how good Doncic is, I dug up his ProCity Hoops profile for you.

 

2. Denver Nuggets – Nikola Jokic

What gave this one away? Jokic just signed a 5 yr/$147 million deal. The center finished last season with a better field goal percentage that Joel Embiid and DeMarcus Cousins. Plus, he is one of the best passers in the game, regardless of position. Jokic finished 15th in assists per game last year, and 12th for total assists. Wow. This kid isn’t going anywhere.

 

3. Golden State Warriors – Steph Curry

Let’s get this out of the way. No one on this roster is getting traded anytime soon. This team has a few more finals appearances on the horizon, despite any players that LeBron guy lands in LA. While I do not expect a trade, I still chose Steph here. Trading him would be detrimental to the team’s fan base. You simply cannot throw away a home grown kid like Steph and expect everything to be okay.

 

4. Houston Rockets – James Harden

Did you expect anyone else? Here is a clip of every stepback J Harden hit last season.

5. Los Angeles Clippers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Although it is merely summer league, this rookie has looked awesome. His octopus tentacles doubles as arms nowadays, and he used them for stealing basketballs. Offensively, he has the potential to play both guard positions. Jerry West has a steal on his hands.

Jerome Robinson was considered but, he does not have SGA’s ceiling. Tobias Harris was also in competition here, but his trade value is high enough to warrant being available. Check out SGA’s scouting report.

 

6. Los Angeles Lakers – LeBron James

Moving on.

 

7. Memphis Grizzlies – Jaren Jackson Jr.

This was an easy selection. Triple J has looked like he will immediately be an elite rim protector in this league. On the other side of the ball he has shown promise by draining 8 thress during his first summer league game. His full report is here.

More importantly, however, it seems as though Memphis is looking to make the playoffs. They added Kyle Anderson and Garrett Temple this offseason and drafted NBA ready Jevon Carter. In a loaded Western Conference, is this feasible? Memphis should be looking to unload Conley and Gasol instead of making the postseason.

 

8. Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl-Anthony Towns

Kat is my most underrated player in this league. He put up statistics last year that have never been done before. Not one player in league history has put up a stat line of 54 percent FG%, 42 percent 3P% on at least 14 field goal attempts and 3.5 three-point attempts.

Offensively, he is the best scoring center in the league and it is not even as close as we think. Check out how his numbers from last season rank against the premier offensive centers in the league last year.

Per Game Table
Rk Player Season G FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FTA FT% TRB AST PF PTS
1 DeMarcus Cousins 2017-18 48 8.5 18.0 .470 2.2 6.1 .354 6.3 11.9 .530 .530 8.2 .746 12.9 5.4 3.8 25.2
2 Joel Embiid 2017-18 63 8.1 16.8 .483 1.0 3.4 .308 7.0 13.4 .527 .514 7.4 .769 11.0 3.2 3.3 22.9
3 Al Horford 2017-18 72 5.1 10.5 .489 1.3 3.1 .429 3.8 7.3 .514 .553 1.7 .783 7.4 4.7 1.9 12.9
4 Nikola Jokic 2017-18 75 6.7 13.5 .499 1.5 3.7 .396 5.2 9.7 .538 .554 4.2 .850 10.7 6.1 2.8 18.5
5 Karl-Anthony Towns 2017-18 82 7.8 14.3 .545 1.5 3.5 .421 6.3 10.8 .585 .596 4.9 .858 12.3 2.4 3.5 21.3
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/18/2018.
If you considered Andrew Wiggins for this list, seek help. Take a “me” day. With Jimmy Butler a free agent flight risk, KAT is the selection to go with.

9. New Orleans Pelicans – Anthony Davis

The Brow is the future of the NBA. A 6’11” power forward (who should be playing center) who can shoot from all three levels and has DPOY potential? Sign me up. Davis was only 22-years-old when he led the NBA in both blocks and PER. He has an MVP season in him somewhere, hopefully the Pelicans can unlock it for him.

 

10. Oklahoma City Thunder – Russell Westbrook

I debated Paul George here for a second. Why? A big name free agent signing like that in OKC will be rare going forward. What message would it send to the league if OKC just shipped him off? Despite this, Westbrook gets the nod. Not only is he an MVP player, but he is the heart and soul of Oklahoma basketball.

 

11. Phoenix Suns – Devin Booker

Because, duh. Devin Only two players have put up 24 point per game, 4 assists per game on 38 percent 3P shooting during their first 5 seasons in the league. One of them is Devin Booker. The other…Steph Curry.

DeAndre Ayton was never seriously considered here. He is a heck of a talent but, it is easier to find a rim protecting, three point shooting big than it is someone with Booker’s talent and ceiling. Josh Jackson was never truly in consideration.

 

12. Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard

I struggled with this pick. Half of me thinks that Portland should just blow it up. The West has gotten even harder and they look to be a team with a second round ceiling. Why pursue the same result every year, if that result is not winning a title?

The other half of me thinks that Portland may have just enough assets to acquire a third star. Zach Collins still has a ton of potential and Portland is very high on him. Anfernee Simons balled out during summer league and turned the heads of many executives. Gm Neil Oshey should certainly consider bringing Kevin Love back to his home state. Send a package of prospects and picks over to Cleveland. Buddy up Love with McCollum and Dame, go all in.

 

13. Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox

This selection was harder than it looked. Marvin Bagley is the Kings new toy. The 2nd overall pick in last year’s draft was not ranked as the #2 overall prospect by many scouts. Yet, the Kings loved Bagley and his desire to actually want to play in NoCal. I had Bagley ranked behind duke teammate Wendell Carter, and through summer league is appeared that I was right to do so.

Fox is a different story. He will help rebuild a culture in Sac’Town. Fox may possibly be the quickest end to end player in the league, and he has a developing jumper. Having already shown leadership and clutchness, I would be willing to trade Bagley before Fox.

De'Aaron Fox
USA Today Sports

14. San Antonio Spurs – DeMar DeRozan

Aw. So sad, DeMar.

Yesterday I wrote that no one on the Raptors should be untouchable, and apparently GM Masai Ujiri agreed with me. San Antonio clearly wants to take advantage of the remaining years that they have with Pop (bad decision.) So, they went out and traded Kawhi for DeMar. Shipping him off now would only would blow my mind, literally. GM R.C Buford had made brilliant moves for the Spurs for almost two decades now, but this move was horrendous.

 

15. Utah Jazz – Donovan Mitchell

Spida Mitchell made a bunch of GMs look dumb last year. He looks like a modern day D Wade. Mitchell has an All-NBA ceiling and I cannot wait to watch him develop. Gobert was never truly in contention here. In fact, I would consider trading the big man at his peak value.

During last year’s playoffs, we saw how stretch bigs can draw rim protectors away from, well, the rim. Ask Joel Embiid to explain what Al Horford did to him. Gobert will be less and less effective in the playoffs as teams play smaller. For now though, rejoice in having one of the most exciting players in the game back in Utah.

 

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Early Las Vegas NBA Summer League Takeaways

Furkan Korkmaz

It’s July, and you know what that means: Las Vegas NBA Summer League. MGM Resorts Las Vegas NBA Summer League action kicked off a few days ago, and we’ve already seen some colossal standouts (and a few disappointments.) Below is a list of players that have caught my eye.

 

Josh Hart, Lakers

The sophomore guard out of Villanova, in his second year of Las Vegas NBA Summer League, looks like he shouldn’t be playing in it, as he is above his competition. Against Chicago, Hart dropped 19 points, grabbed 6 boards, and dished out 3 assists. He followed this up with a 24-point performance against the Sixers. He looks to be a valuable piece of LA’s young core alongside LBJ next season.

 

Furkan Korkmaz, Sixers

You all knew this one was coming. WOW. Who would’ve thought a second year player out of Turkey would be the consensus summer league standout this year. Against the Celtics, Furkan dropped 40(!!!) points on 8-14 shooting beyond the arc. He brings exactly what the Sixers desperately need: knock down three-point shooting. Korkmaz also showed the ability to drive to the rim and finish with a variety of floaters. He shot well at the free throw line, and he composed himself under pressure. Watch out for this potential sixth man on the Sixers roster next year.

 

Jaren Jackson Jr., Grizzlies

Only 18 years old, scouts knew JJJ had tremendous upside. It looks like he’s proving his fourth overall selection a worthy one. He put up 29 points on 8-13 from three-point land to outshine Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. Jackson Jr.’s ability to stroke it from deep, along with his big frame and defensive post-presence make him one of the most well rounded young bigs in recent memory.

 

Trae Young, Hawks

On the other hand, Trae Young has been very disappointing thus far in summer league play. He was held scoreless in a loss to the Trail Blazers, and only put up 10 points in a bout with the Jazz that saw him and Grayson Allen scuffle leading to double techs. He shot 3-16 with only one three-pointer that night. However, he followed it up with a 21-point performance against the Knicks. Obviously it is very early and any takeaways are speculative, but it looks like Trae Young may struggle against bigger defenders in the NBA.

 

Mikal Bridges, Suns

The standout shooting guard from Villanova looked every bit as good as advertised against the Bucks. He shot 5-6 from the floor, including 4-5 from beyond the arc. He only had one turnover to go with three assists and a block. Bridges looks to be the 3-and-D wing that scouts had foreseen, and he will play a big role with the Suns in which he may start at the 2 or 3 spot next season.

Next Post: Can Mario Hezonja reach his potential in New York?

Day Two NBA Summer League Studs and Duds

Derrick Jones Jr.

Day two of the Utah and Sacramento NBA Summer League provided less enticing basketball. The first night brought excitement in Sacramento with the Kings playing what will actually be their NBA lineup competing in front of a packed Golden One Center. Night one was also the debuts of many high-profile rookies including Jaren Jackson Jr., Trae Young, Marvin Bagley III, Lonnie Walker IV, Grayson Allen, and more. However, night two saw some players take a rest. De’Aaron Fox, Lonnie Walker IV, and Grayson Allen were all among the players who didn’t play in the second night of the Summer League. Teams were being cautious as they don’t want to overwork the young players and cause an injury early in their career. But, there were players that did play. Let’s get into the studs and duds from day two of the NBA Summer League.

 

Studs:

Justin Jackson – Sacramento Kings

The second year player out of UNC showed out against the Golden State Warriors. The Kings team managed to score just 54 points, but 20 of those points were recorded by Jackson. The forward shot 7-11 from the field, including 2-5 from three-point range. In addition to his scoring, Jackson managed 5 rebounds and limited his turnovers to just one. It was a solid performance for Jackson one night after scoring just five points.

Deyonta Davis – Memphis Grizzlies

Deyonta Davis is looking to make a big jump for the Grizzlies this upcoming season. Davis appeared in 62 games for Memphis last season recording 5.8 points per game playing just 15.2 minutes per night. Davis dominated the Utah Jazz in night two of the Utah Summer League. Solidifying himself with 17 points, Davis shot 8-9 from the field while playing just 23 minutes. Davis also grabbed 6 rebounds and was a game-high +18 when he was on the court. If Davis can continue to prove himself in the Summer League and the NBA, it won’t be long before Davis becomes a household rotational player in the league.

 

Tony Bradley – Utah Jazz

Tony Bradley had himself a game against the Memphis Grizzlies. The 2017 first-round pick was projected to be a project, and he was just that in his first season with the Jazz. Bradley appeared in eight games with Utah and it was clear he needed to mature his basketball skills. Well, if his second game in the 2018 NBA Summer League is any indication, Bradley did just that. Posting 18 points and 14 rebounds in 23 minutes was single-handedly the best performance by any Jazz player. In addition, Bradley was a +16 in the game, one that the Jazz lost by three. The rest of the Summer League will be big for Bradley as he continues his development as an NBA center.

Derrick Jones Jr. – Miami Heat

The high-flying Derrick Jones Jr. did it all for the Miami Heat on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. The high-flyer finished with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 steals. Jones didn’t have his three-point shot falling, but it didn’t matter. He got looks at the rim with ease, and he looked too good to be playing in the Summer League. If DJJ can continue his development, he can turn into a solid rotational player for the Heat this upcoming season.

 

Duds:

Josh Hart – Los Angeles Lakers

Josh Hart should be dominating Summer League action, plain and simple. After logging meaningful minutes with the Lakers last season, there is no reason Hart shouldn’t be killing the competition. However, Tuesday night, Hart recorded just one point on 0-4 shooting from the field. He only played 14 minutes, but Hart needs to be better, especially when he’s been talked about as an asset in a Kawhi Leonard trade package.

 

Marvin Bagley III – Sacramento Kings

One night after electrifying the hometown Kings crowd, Bagley laid an egg. Was it because De’Aaron Fox wasn’t getting him easy looks? Was it because he was playing in a back-to-back? Who knows, but it was not a good game for Bagley in his second pro outing. Bagley shot 3-16 from the field and 0-5 from three recording a lackluster 7 points. While Bagley had a rough night, it was his second pro game, no need to worry in Summer League.

Trae Young – Atlanta Hawks

Another game, another rough Trae Young experience. For the second night in a row, Young struggled, especially shooting the ball. Connecting on just 5-16 shots from the field, and just 1-5 from three, Young is looking like the guard from the second half of the Oklahoma season, not the first half. On a positive note, Young played better in the fourth quarter getting to the basket and finishing in the lane. He also made some nice passes to teammates, who didn’t convert their shots. With it being just his second pro game, give Young some time Atlanta.

Day One of NBA Summer League is in the Books

Marvin Bagley III

A look at some of the performances from this years top prospects:

Sacramento Kings (98) vs Los Angeles Lakers (93):

Image result for kings vs lakers summer league

Marvin Bagley:

While De’Aaron Fox might’ve been the best player on the floor and posted the prettier statline for the Sacramento Kings on Monday night, it was Marvin Bagley who was the games main attraction. Bagley had himself an impressive debut. He poured in an efficient 18 points along with 6 rebounds and a game-high 3 blocks in 24 minutes of action. Oh, and he also had a filthy poster in the first quarter.

Harry Giles:

The Kings first-round pick from the 2017 Draft also made his Kings debut yesterday after missing his entire first year with a knee injury. He played 25 minutes and finished with 13 points and 3 rebounds on a 6-10 shooting night.

Moe Wagner:

Like Fox for the Kings, Josh Hart was another returning player in this game who had himself a big game, but we’re not here to talk about them. We’re here for the rookies, specifically, Moe Wagner. First-round pick Moe Wagner gave his team 23 points and 7 rebounds, but struggled shooting the ball (6-18 from the floor, 2-9 from three). He did go 9-10 from the line however and had a team-high 2 steals and 1 block in 27 minutes.

 

Atlanta Hawks (88) vs Memphis Grizzlies (103):

Image result for hawks vs grizzlies

Jaren Jackson Jr:

Jackson showed out Monday night. He gave Memphis fans a glimpse of what’s in store for the regular season and even amazed fans with his tribute to Steph Curry, burying 8 threes on 13 attempts and even sinking a hail mary half-court buzzer beater to end the 2nd quarter. It was the complete opposite of Trae Young’s performance. Jackson finished the contest with 29 points (9-15 FG), 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in 23 minutes.

Trae Young:

Young had a less than spectacular start to his NBA career. He started off the game by air-balling his first two three-point attempts, then ended the first quarter with an 0-6 shooting performance before ending the game 4-20 from the floor and 1-11 from three with 16 points. His playmaking didn’t make up for his woeful shooting either, dishing out just 3 assists and turning the ball over twice in the process. The good news is Trae Young will have a chance to bounce back from that performance later today when his Hawks take on the Spurs.

 

Miami Heat (68) vs Golden State Warriors (79):

Image result for bam adebayo

No rookies to watch out for in this one, but Derrick Jones Jr. (24 points, 11 rebounds on 4-5 from three) and Bam Adebayo (14 points and 14 rebounds) had themselves big games that Heat fans can get excited about.

 

San Antonio Spurs (76) vs Utah Jazz (92):

Image result for spurs vs utah jazz

Grayson Allen:

Allen was the crowd favorite Monday, and despite not shooting the ball well (4-16 FG, 2-6 3PT), he did contribute in other ways. He had 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 steal in just 16 minutes. Allen’s court vision was on full display in this game and his gritty hustle should please Jazz fans as his game has the makings to be a perfect fit in Utah’s system.

Lonnie Walker:

Like Young and Allen, the Spurs 18th pick just couldn’t find a rhythm. He played 24 minutes and recorded 7 points, shooting 3-16 and had the worst plus-minus among all players in the game with a -20. Walker didn’t do much to get himself high percentage looks in this game and that was the result.

 

Summer League schedule for Tuesday, July 3rd: 

San Antonio Spurs vs Atlanta Hawks at 7:00pm ET 

Miami Heat vs Los Angeles Lakers at 9:00pm ET

Memphis Grizzlies vs Utah Jazz at 9:00pm ET

Golden State Warriors vs Sacramento Kings at 11:00pm ET

Creating the best NBA Lineup from this year’s Rookies

Jaren Jackson Jr.

The third edition of the “Creating NBA Lineups” column is here! Make sure to check out the first and second edition of the column at the bottom of the page after reading this post. This week, the rule is to create the best NBA lineup from this year’s rookie class. Although it may seem easy to just plug in the top picks from the draft, the lineup is a lot more complicated than it may seem.

 

PG: Luka Doncic

Point guard or shooting guard. Whatever you want to call him. Luka Doncic is going to be special. Being the Most Valuable Player in the second-best basketball league in the world is no small feat at 19 years old. Doncic can do it all on the offensive side of the ball. His ability to create for himself and his teammates is impressive at such a young age. Doncic is the perfect player to lead this fictional lineup to the top.

 

SG: Troy Brown

Shooting guard was the toughest position to choose. I decided to put Doncic at point guard, and with all the offensive potential this team will have at the other positions, a versatile defender fits right in at the two. Brown is a competitive, young player out of Oregon. He has upside on offense, but he will make an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball. Brown can guard one through four at all times and that versatility makes him a perfect fit on this team.

 

SF: Miles Bridges

Miles Bridges will be a great small forward in the NBA, with the potential to turn into a star. Bridges can fill it up on offense, with unlimited scoring potential. His defensive potential gives him the chance to play the four in small-ball lineups. In addition, he will feed off Doncic nicely, who will get him a lot of open looks.

Miles Bridges
USA Today Sports

PF: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Jaren Jackson Jr. is cut from a different cloth. The dude is all defense and effort. Oh, and by the way, he can shoot threes too. Jackson Jr. has the ability to switch one through five, giving him great value to any team. With his physicality and body type, Jackson Jr. will give this lineup a lockdown defender that can stretch the floor.

 

C: DeAndre Ayton

DeAndre Ayton is a flat out beast. The dude is huge. He has all the physical traits necessary to succeed in the NBA. Ayton was the easy choice at center for this fictional team as he gives the squad a low-post scorer with the ability to knock down shots. Ayton will also be the main rebounder on the team, something they lack at the other positions.

 

Recap:

It’s quite the team that can be created from NBA rookies. While each rookie goes to their separate team, combining rookies onto one team can make a very scary lineup. This team has it all. There is flair, shooting, defense, versatility, rebounding, and much more. It could take some time for the team to develop, but once they do, nobody is stopping them, not even Golden State.

Be sure to check out Edition One and Edition Two of the column!