Wait, these guys are shooting 3s now?!

#NBATwitter is at its finest during the first and last week of the season. This year, there is a different kind of troll on Twitter. This troll is the one who will says things like…

“I will NOT overreact to the first week of the season because I am NOT a #casualfan.”

“Here we go, now everyone will start making their Kembaisatopfive point guard case.”

“ALREADY tired of the #LeBronforMVP narrative and it’s been one game.”

Well guess what, I AM going to be that guy.

Although the 2018-19 season has been alive for two days, there are some things we can observe and report on. I’m talking about 3-point shooting bigs, baby. Who are the guys who spent all summer working on their trey ball and are ready to show it off? You know, the guys who make us say, “Hold up, when the hell did this happen?!” The Jonas guys. The Aron Baynes guys. The *gulp* DeMar DeRozan guys. Allow me to enlighten you.

1. Jarrett Allen, 2-3 from 3 versus Detroit

If you weren’t already scared of the Brooklyn Nets towering center, well, now you should be. Allen went 2-3 from deep during his season opener. But, this is no fluke. Allen spent his summer working on his 3-point shot. Don’t believe me? Check out Allen draining a corner three during the 2018 Summer League.

If JA can take around 3 3-pointers per game for the entire year, and hit between 31-33 percent of his shots, then we are all done for. To be clear, do not expect Allen to hit north of 34 percent from deep. It takes years for some big men to learn how to consistently drain three-balls. But if anything, Allen is already trending in the right direction.

2. Andre Drummond, 1-3 from 3 versus Brooklyn

Allen was not the only center in his game who tried to show off their new 3-point prowess. Andre Drummond, who had reportedly been working on his jumper, attempted 3 shots from behind the arc, and canned one of them.

And guess what…it didn’t totally suck… Watch the clip from his opening game versus the Nets. Drummond jumps too far forward, but his upper body forms looks okay. The bench goes nuts too! This could totally take my beloved UConn alumni’s game to the next level, and have people talking about him as a top 15-20 player. Remember, Drummond became one of the League’s more potent passing bigs last year, and has his eyes set on improving another area of his offensive game. Do not doubt him.

3. Julius Randle, 2-4 from 3 versus Houston

We see you, J. Randle.

Before the season started, I had a gut feeling that LeBron and the Lakers may miss Randle. Still, letting Randle walk is an easy price to pay for landing The King. Randle only took 45 treys last season, and emphasized being the most efficient player he could be. It worked. He shot 55 percent from the floor last year, and had a 60 percent true shooting percentage.

Will this gamble work out? Randle turned his career narrative around last year, and became a covetable asset. He did so by taking shots near the paint; something he excels in. Will this new offensive mindset alter Randle’s game for better or worse? Take a look at his 3-point shots from his first game of the year and decide for yourself.

During his first made 3-pointer, Randle doesn’t look pretty. His left foot flares forward, the ball dips too low, and I don’t know what the hell his right (non-shooting) hand is doing. But, the ball goes in.

On to 3-pointer number two. In this clip, Randle again dips the ball too low. Do not be too alarmed by his body positioning, however. Most lefty shooters point their body this way during jump shots. If you don’t believe me, then watch some IT clips.

The verdict? It isn’t pretty, but Randle made half of his four 3-point attempts. Regardless of his form, Randle has an undeniable touch. Expect him to shoot around 32-34 percent from deep this year but on less than 4 attempts per game. Yet, if he slumps at any point, do not be alarmed if Randle abandons his 3-point shot altogether.

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Where the Detroit Pistons Stand

Pistons

Being stuck in mediocrity is a dangerous place in the NBA. Not being bad enough to tank, but not good enough to win playoff games is the most difficult spot to be in as an organization. It’s an even more precarious situation if you have an expensive roster. The Detroit Pistons find themselves in these dangerous waters.

Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson are all under contract the next two years eating away at around 60% of the cap this season and nearly 70% the following season. That’s comparable to what the Houston Rockets are paying their three highest paid players for the next two seasons and one of those guys is  named Ryan Anderson. Houston was one win away from the finals last season while Detroit was four wins away from finishing .500. The trade for Griffin last season was one that stunned the NBA world and it was an effort by Detroit to gain relevance again. Was it worth spending around 30% of your cap space on a big man with an injury history as rich as Griffin’s? The Pistons are already shedding out a significant amount of money to Center Andre Drummond and they only managed to go 11-14 with Griffin in the lineup after the trade deadline. Not exactly a record to boost the confidence of Detroit hopefuls.

Piston fans are not without hope. Their team isn’t bad enough to tank and the organization clearly has no intentions of doing so. Griffin is a top 15 player in the league when healthy and is one of the most elite passing big men in the game. They will boast an elite rebounding team and will be in the mix for a top 10 defense. They have the good fortune of playing in a conference where one star and a scrappy defense can get you into the playoffs and make a series interesting.

Dwane Casey
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The hiring of Dwane Casey can’t be understated either. Adding an elite head coach to any roster means improvement and the Pistons won nearly 40 games last year and now have a full season with Griffin. There will be two playoff spots up for grabs in the East this season (maybe 3 if Dwight Howard causes the Wizards to spontaneously combust).  With the addition of an elite head coach and having their new All Star for a full season this team has a ceiling of being the 6th seed in the conference.

Detroit fans are going to be in for an interesting ride. There will be times they want the front office to simply blow it all up and start from scratch with Dwane Casey at the helm. But this team will have stretches where they impose their physical will and look like a team capable of pushing a higher seeded team to the brink. Questions over Reggie Jackson’s future will dominate a lot of story-lines and might not be answered at all this year. The Pistons are yearning to be relevant again and while it might not happen this year, they certainly have the makings of a team that could surprise a few people.

 

Recent Articles:

Three “Don’t Give up on me” players to watch next season

Why Carmelo will continue to struggle in Houston

The most untouchable player for every Eastern Conference team

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons

This is it. We can do this, ladies and gentlemen. Free agency is winding down, the NBA draft has been done for what seems like ages, and summer league is wrapping up as well.

Now more than ever, we need thought provoking NBA content. Well, say no more fam.

 

1. Atlanta Hawks – Trae Young

When I first glanced at this roster, I threw up a little in my mouth. But then I took a deep breath, dry heaved some more and decided to look again. Things aren’t as bleak as they seem.

Trae Young, John Collins, Taurean Prince, Kevin Huerter. The Hawks have the start of something promising or at the very least, intriguing. Is anyone on this roster truly untouchable? Probably not. Still, with management trading back and still drafting Trae Young, all signs point to him as being the least likely to be traded.

 

2. Boston Celtics – Jayson Tatum

The rookie standout is the obvious answer here. Do the Celtics want to trade any of their core? Nope. Still, I cannot imagine Danny Ainge trading Tatum for any realistic option out there right now. (Anthony Davis cannot come to the Cs via a DPE rule.)

Tatum’s duel with LeBron in the game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final is something we could see in a 30 for 30 one day. The kid is that special.

 

3. Brooklyn Nets – Jarrett Allen

Just when I thought I was done throwing up…

All jokes aside, the Nets are finally headed in the right direction. They own their future picks and have acquired then developed some good prospects. Spencer Dinwiddie revived his career in Brooklyn, and other reclamation projects await.

Jarrett Allen has looked like a good gamble so far. There is a reason he only played 20 minutes per game last year but, his per-36 minutes suggest a bright future lies ahead.

Per 36 Minutes Table
Season Age Tm G FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
2017-18 19 BRK 72 5.8 9.9 .589 0.1 0.4 .333 2.8 3.7 .776 9.7 1.2 0.7 2.2 14.7
Career 72 5.8 9.9 .589 0.1 0.4 .333 2.8 3.7 .776 9.7 1.2 0.7 2.2 14.7
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/16/2018.

4. Charlotte Hornets – Miles Bridges

So this is the question: What makes Miles Bridges more untradable than Malik Monk?

Monk had a disappointing rookie season. Sure, he showed flashes during the last month or so of the season. Yet, Monk proved to be more of a project than what scouts originally thought.

Bridges may not project as the safer long term prospect however, he has a two-way ceiling higher than Monk’s. Offensively, Bridges looks to be equally as dynamic as Monk, despite these two having different skill sets. It is on the defensive side of the ball where Bridges separates himself, as he has the potential to defend four positions on the court.

 

5. Chicago Bulls – Wendell Carter Jr.

I struggled with this selection as well. Lauri Markkanen set rookie records for three-pointers last year. Plus, Coach Hoiberg ran a bunch of the offense through him, something that displayed Markkanen’s playmaking ability. So why did I side with Carter Jr here?

Lauri Markkanen may learn NBA defensive spacing but, he simply lacks to physical tools to be an effective two-way player. With the game getting quicker, I can imagine future playoff scenarios where Markkanen gets played off of the court. Who does Markkanen guard when a team like the Sixers trots out Embiid, Simmons, Redick, Fultz and Covington. Carter Jr won’t ever get played off of the court. His three-point stroke and playmaking look to be just as good as Markkanen’s as well.

 

6. Cleveland Cavaliers – Collin Sexton

Has anyone made an “I wanna Sexton you up” meme yet? No? Great.

Cleveland has players that are the opposite of untouchable. They should be looking to gain value for Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and others. Yet, Sexton remains untouchable. The former Alabama guard is a locker room blessing. Sexton can reset the culture in Cleveland while becoming their point guard of the future. Cedi Osman was in contention here as well.

 

7. Detroit Pistons – Andre Drummond

If I were the GM of the Detroit Pistons, Andre Drummond would not be untouchable. That does mean I would be looking to unload him however, I prefer my centers to be able to switch pick and rolls, as well as space the court. Yet, Drummond is probably the most unlikely player Detroit is willing to part with.

Blake Griffin was a Stan Van Gundy guy, not someone new management particularly wanted. I am not suggesting his trade value is high enough to warrant a move but, crazier things have happened. This summer, Drummond has posted videos on his Instagram account draining threes. Perhaps he will bring this skill to the Pistons this year, and truly earn this hypothetical untouchable title.

 

8. Indiana Pacers – Victor Oladipo

I won’t get into too much detail about this because Josh Eberly of HOOPmag already did it for me:

9. Miami Heat – Josh Richardson

Why not first time All-Star and former All-NBAer Goran Dragic? Dragic can opt out of his contract after next season and will be a 33-year-old point guard. If anything, Miami should be tryingto ship Dragic off to a fringe contender looking for that next piece.

Bam Adebayo came to mind here but, paint protecting rim runners are becoming easier and easier to find nowadays. 24-year-old defensive wings who drain 37% of their threes and hit 45% from the field are not easy to find, however. Throw in Richardson’s cheap contract and Miami has a piece they should hold onto.

 

10. Milwaukee Bucks – Giannia Antetokounmpo

Ask Tim Hardaway Jr to explain this one.

11. New York Knicks – Kristaps Porzingis

Want to know how many NBA players shot 39% from deep last year while also blocking 2.4 shots per game? One. Don’t overthink this one, people. Kevin Knox will be an awesome player and is on a cheap deal. Frankie Smokes is already an elite perimeter defender with promising offensive development. Still, KP is the way to go here.

 

12. Orlando Magic – Mo Bamba

Rookies seem to be dominating this list, and I do not know if I am comfortable with that.

Aaron Gordon took a step forward with his three-point shooting ability last season yet, he still has so much more to develop if he wants to truly take advantage of his elite athleticism. With both Bamba and Jonathan Isaac looking great in summer league, I would move off of Gordon for a top-20 pick.

Jonathan Isaac has shown promise lately however, he does not have the ceiling that Bamba has. Bamba is the most boom or bust player of this bunch, but Orlando needs a star and Bamba is worth making untouchable.

 

13. Philadelphia 76ers – Ben Simmons

Let the debate begin!

I love Embiid’s game and potential. In my opinion, he has a higher ceiling than Simmons. Embiid could be an MVP and  DPOY winner. Yet, I like my untouchable players to be on the court. Out of 328 possible regular season games, Embiid has played 94 of them. Folks, he has only played in 28 percent of his games. Unfortunately, 7’1″, 260 lbs centers tend to progress towards injuries, not away from them.

Ben Simmons has an MVP ceiling as well. At one point during his career he will be the best passer in the game. Defensively, he can be elite too. Simmons has all the tools to be transcendent and a gambling man will bet that Simmons will find a way to fix that jumper. Factor in his health, and Simmons is my pick here, although I would not trade either.

 

14. Toronto Raptors – No one

Why should anyone on this roster be untouchable? Toronto is at a crossroads. With LeBron out of the East, they need to take a risk and go all in.

I have been a fan of the “DeMar for Kawhi” fake trades. Kawhi is simply a better player than DeMar DeRozan and would raise Toronto’s chances of winning. If the team can package Lowry and other assets for an upgrade, do it. Could they need to sell off OG and other young prospects for an experienced difference maker? Go for it.

If not now, when? Toronto has a very small window to win. If there is a move out there that makes them better for even one season, they must do it.

 

15. Washington Wizards – Bradley Beal

Surprised you, right?

Bradley Beal had a better year than John Wall last year, straight up.

Per Game Table
Rk Player Season Age GS FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK PTS
1 Bradley Beal 2017-18 24 82 8.3 18.1 .460 2.4 6.5 .375 .527 .793 4.4 4.5 1.2 0.4 22.6
2 John Wall 2017-18 27 41 6.8 16.3 .420 1.5 4.1 .371 .466 .726 3.7 9.6 1.4 1.1 19.4
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/16/2018.

 

I will take Beal’s numbers here over Wall’s any day of the week. Plus, Washington should be looking to move off of Wall’s contract. John Wall will be paid $37 million dollars in 2019-2020. Compare that to Beal who will be making $10 million less! Remember when I was throwing up earlier…

…John Wall will be making $43 million when he is 31-years-old! That type of money cripples franchises from making other important acquisitions. The point guard position is the saturated one in the game today, making Wall expendable in the long term. Bradley Beal is the guy to hang onto.