One way the Suns love to use DeAndre Ayton

(photo cred SB Nation)

Let’s catch up with DeAndre Ayton, shall we?

At ProCity Hoops, we had DeAndre Ayton ranked as our number 2 overall prospect, right behind that Luka guy who is already the best player on the Dallas Mavericks. When scouting Ayton, we dug deep and tried to find out what his strengths were beyond simply being a behemoth of a man.

Sure, Ayton is a physical freak who moves in ways 7-footers should not move. Oh, and he has decent touch and mobility. His passing was something, however, that was always underrated. Ayton possesses the vision to pass out of double teams, something he saw often in college.

Yet, the Phoenix Suns are using him in a different way. They are giving him the ball around the perimeter, then having him face the basket and make reads (see Horford, Al.) Instead, the Suns seem to be running an extraordinary amount of dribble handoffs (DHO) through Ayton. It has paid off; look at Ayton’s stats and assist numbers so far throughout the year. Below is his assist percentage.

Advanced Table
Season Tm Lg Pos G MP PER AST%
2018-19 PHO NBA C 8 253 22.5 17.7
Career NBA 8 253 22.5 17.7
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/4/2018.

Compare that assist percentage to other skilled big men who operate often from the DHO, such as Horford (20.5 percent), Joel Embiid (19.5 percent) and Anthony Davis (19.5 percent.

We listed Ayton as being a soft screener with poor technique in our scouting report. But, the dude is so freakin’ big that he can still be wildly effective. His IQ for the game and ability to make the right read gives Phoenix the confidence to have Ayton run DHOs. In fact, many times Ayton does not even dribble, turning this DHO into a simple HO. Regardless, let’s go through the various options Phoenix can score from using Ayton as the handoff-screener.

 

The Pull-Up

Having Devin Booker on your team must be nice.

Especially when you have a monster setting screens for you after a nice handoff. This is exactly what Ayton does for Booker on plenty of occasions and the two seem to have solid chemistry already.

On this play, Ayton pops between the elbow and the perimeter, catches a pass and then immediately looks to handoff to Booker. Here is the crazy part: Ayton never really sets a screen. The mere threat of him impeding the path of Dennis Smith Jr is enough for DSJ to slow up and let Booker get half a step on him.

Oh, and when Booker gets half a step on you…..

Watch these two go at it again, this time versus the defensively astute Golden State Warriors. Ayton hands off to Booker, then Ayton rolls to the rim, which is something he did not do in the previous clip.

When Ayton rolls, his combination of athleticism, wingspan and size demands that defenders must stick with him. We call this roll gravity. Despite 7-footer Damien Jones and 6’9″ forward-turned-center Kevon Looney being next to Ayton, Andre Iguodala feels the needs to stick with Ayton.

Iggy realized his mistake, but it was too late. Booker got just enough separation and popped for a beautiful 15 foot jumper. Swish. Watch below.

The Drive/The Cut

Eventually, teams will catch on to this set. They will recognize that a DHO/HO with Ayton and Booker will likely result in Booker looking for his pull-up. Considering Booker is a lethal shooter this makes sense.

Yet, this play can be used to free up driving space for the receivers of the handoff. In this next clip, also against Golden State, Ayton runs a rarely seen corner handoff with Isaiah Canaan.

Watch as Ayton sets the softest of screens against Curry. I’m not sure you can even call it a screen, but Ayton still disrupts the path of Curry, who is trying to stick with Canaan. Curry gets beat, and Draymond Green has to help.

Canaan could have (and should have) flipped a lob pass for Ayton, who was rolling to hoop unguarded. Uncharacteristically, Draymond underates Canaan’s scoring ability and lets him score a layup. All of this was made possible by Ayton’s massive frame and rollability.


Memphis looked like another team that may have wised up to this play. Here, the Grizzlies try and prevent Josh Jackson from taking a handoff from Ayton. Smartly, Jackson does a quick V-Cut and strides towards the hoop. Ayton slings a gorgeous one-handed pass to Jackson, which finds its way between two defenders. Jackson then scores a layup.

When teams try and prevent guards or wings from taking this handoffs, Ayton can beat them by making great reads like the one seen above. His passing ability and vision is both underrated and underappreciated, although not for long.

In this next video, the Toronto Raptors recognize that this play is to be a DHO from Ayton to one of Phoenix’s guards. So, the Raptors prevent both Booker and Canaan from receiving this handoff. In fact, Danny Green and Kyle Lowry, two plus defenders, do an excellent job at preventing this.

Yet, the shifty Devin Booker fakes out Lowry, cuts to the hoop and gets a nice read from Ayton for a layup. Ayton’s ability to hit a 17-foot jumper keeps Jonas Valanciunas far enough from the hoop that the rim is unprotected and Booker can take advantage of it. Expect more of this going forward.

What is Next to Come

Ayton has shown the skill to roll to the rim and throw down lobs. He wants to do this when coming out of these DHO and screens. At Arizona, Ayton did not always have the space to do this, however. This may be why this particular skill was not written about indepthly during all of the 2018 scouting reports. See for yourself below.

Ayton runs a DHO for current New York Knick Allonzo Trier. He rolls to the rim for a lob pass, but there is not enough spacing. UConn can keep a defender in the paint to prevent this passing from ever happening, and recover quickly enough if the ball is swung to the perimeter.

The pass comes to Ayton, but it was not the one he wanted. He has to dribble around two defenders and take a hook shot. It goes in, but the most efficient play would have been the lob pass.

Against the Warriors, we again see Ayton call for this roll pass. There is no one between him and the rim. Ryan Anderson gets the handoff, uses the screen and opts to take a contested long range two, arguably the worst shot in basketball. This pass must go to Ayton! I mean, look at this screenshot!

ayton roll.PNG

Watch the play for yourself. The Suns were lucky it worked out, but this shot should usually result in a miss. The right read needs to be done here.

Going forward, the Suns needs more of the play shown below. Booker and Ayton execute the DHO perfectly. Ayton rolls to the rim and takes a bounce pass between two defenders. He doesn’t field it cleanly, but Ayton recovers to simply shoot over the smaller help defender.

The (slight) Adjustment

The Suns need to find a way to consistently put three or four floor spacers on the court. Why? This will stretch the defense and give Ayton more room to roll during these DHOs. Think about (homer alert) the Boston Celtics and when they run Horford and a ballhander through screens/DHOs.

Take a peak at what the Cs do here. With Horford (screener), Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum, they have four shooters on the court. In this set, Marcus Smart, the non-spacer, takes the handoff from Horford. All three of Irving, Rozier and Tatum flash to the perimeter, which draws their defenders out of the paint.

Smart drives hard to the hoop, beating his man. Ekpe Udoh is forced to abandon Horford and prevent Smart from getting an easy layup. Horford receives a lob from Smart which results in a slam.

This was an impressive set against a good Jazz defense. Do the Suns have enough shooters to mimic this lineup? Probably not. Anderson, Trevor Ariza and Booker are traditionally plus shooters, and T.J. Warren has added that to his game this year. Yet, Anderson has proved that his defensive miscues are not always worth the offensive spacing he provides.

The Suns should run out Booker, Jackson, Mikal Bridges, Warren and Ayton in small ball lineups. The trio of Booker, Warren and Bridges should draw defenders to the perimeter. The Suns seem hesitant to run Booker as their nominal point guard, despite him having the ability to do so.

Regardless, Phoenix cannot afford to stunt the growth of DeAndre Ayton or their other stars. Give the young guys some run, while also mixing veteran spacers into lineups with Ayton. This will give him the experience of running DHOs as either passer, lob-finisher, or popper.

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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The most untouchable player for every Eastern Conference team

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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?

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!

Three Shocking NBA Draft Day Trades

Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker

The 2018 NBA Draft is fast approaching. With just over a week until the Suns are officially on the clock with the first overall selection, the trade rumors will be out in full force. Last year, there were Jimmy Butler trade rumors, there were Paul George trade rumors and there were top picks in the draft trade rumors. This year should be no different. It is expected to be one of the most active off-seasons in the NBA, and that will start on draft night. So, what kind of deals would make NBA fans lose their minds? Let’s get into “Three Shocking NBA Draft Day Trades.”

Disclaimer: These trade ideas are for fun and there is practically no chance these trades would actually happen.

 

1. The Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves pull off a blockbuster deal

Suns get: Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves get: #1 pick, T.J. Warren

This trade idea stems from recent reports of Karl-Anthony Towns’ potential discomfort with the Minnesota Timberwolves. After that report, former teammate of Towns in college, Devin Booker went right to recruiting, posting a picture of Towns in a Suns jersey. Although this trade will never happen, it is an interesting trade on paper. The Suns would get Towns to pair with Booker, a combo that would be unstoppable on the offensive end. The Suns would also be getting that second star player, which teams need to be successful in the modern NBA. And for the Timberwolves, it isn’t all bad either. They would get the first overall pick in the draft, which they would likely use on DeAndre Ayton to fill the hole that was left by Towns. And in T.J. Warren, they would acquire a high-quality backup wing for their bench that can provide a big-time scoring punch.

While the trade won’t happen, if the Timberwolves for some reason decide to move on from KAT, this would not be a bad option to go to.

 

2. Celtics and Spurs pull off a one-for-one swap

Celtics get: Kawhi Leonard

Spurs get: Kyrie Irving

Boy, NBA fans around the league would absolutely lose their minds if this trade went down. Kawhi Leonard has been a part of trade rumors a lot in the last six months because of his odd injury situation, and the growing disfunction between him and the Spurs organization. In addition, Kyrie Irving’s name is starting to float in the rumor mill. There was a recent interview that Irving took part in when he wouldn’t commit to Boston past this season. And if you know Danny Ainge, nobody is ever safe from being traded (see Isaiah Thomas last summer.) If it comes to it, this trade would be smart for both teams. The Spurs were on Kyrie’s reported wishlist last summer, and Kyrie would provide Pop and the Spurs a star point guard to build the franchise around. For the Celtics, how deadly would a Kawhi and Tatum wing combo be? That is the definition of a frightening duo on the wing: a young and blossoming star matched with the best two-way player in the NBA? Good luck.

However, unfortunately for NBA fans, it looks as if this trade won’t even be talked about. Leonard is reportedly going to sit down with the Spurs and hammer out their differences so Kawhi can sign the supermax deal to stay with the franchise. In addition, it is likely that Boston will also keep Kyrie this summer. Boston made it to the Eastern Conference Finals without him last season, so that has to have the team wondering how far they can go with him.

Kyrie Irving
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

3. Hornets and Cavs make a last-minute mega-deal

Hornets get: #8 pick, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr.

Cavs get: Kemba Walker

This deal would be a last-ditch effort for the Cleveland Cavaliers to keep LeBron in town. Getting a point guard like Kemba Walker would at least have to make LeBron think twice before leaving town. Walker would provide the Cavs with another All-Star that can fill it up at any instant. Pairing Walker with LeBron and Love would certainly give the Cavs a shot to go back to the NBA Finals next season. However, even without LeBron, a team with Walker and Love would have a great case to be a playoff team in the weaker Eastern Conference. For the Hornets, the trade would be a complete reset. Taking on Clarkson would not be ideal for Charlotte, but it would be necessary to make this deal work. Nance Jr. is a piece that has the potential to be a very solid backup and potential starter down the line. At just 25 years old, there is value in getting Nance Jr. for Charlotte. Then, the major piece in the deal would be the eighth overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Hornets could either pair that selection with their 11th pick and try to move up in the draft. Or, they could stay at eight and take a very high-quality youngster.

This is probably the most likely of the three trades to happen. The trade would need two things to go right in order for it to happen. First, the Hornets would have to decide they are going all in on a rebuild. Second, the Cavs would have to decide they are going all in to convince LeBron to stay. However, in the end, both teams will likely go in different directions.

While none of these trades will likely go down next week, these trades would completely change the landscape of the NBA, something fans love.

Photo Credits: A Sea of Blue, AP

Creating the best NBA Lineup from Non-Playoff Teams

Devin Booker

Today is the day. It is time to kick off a brand new column called “Creating NBA Lineups.” Every Monday, a new lineup will be released. However, each week there will be different rules to follow when I create the lineups. To open up the new column today, I am “Creating the best NBA Lineup from Non-Playoff Teams.” I am basing the lineup off of the players’ performances last season, and I am assuming full health for each player. Let’s jump right into it.

 

PG: Kemba Walker

What better way to start off a team than with a two-time All-Star running the show. Kemba Walker is one of the most fascinating point guards in the NBA, and with more talent around him, the Hornets would be a fixture in the postseason every year. Perhaps the biggest knock on Kemba’s game is his passing ability, which won’t be a problem on this team with all the talent surrounding him. In addition, Kemba gives this team someone to go to when the team is in desperate need of a bucket. Kemba has a killer mentality, exactly what a franchise needs in their star point guard.

In Consideration: Jamal Murray

 

SG: Devin Booker

What other direction can you go? Devin Booker has the potential to be one of the next great NBA players of all-time. Booker is just 21 years old and has already shown that he has what it takes to be very successful in the NBA. Averaging 24.9 points per game on 38.3% shooting from three-point range, Booker is the perfect backcourt fit next to Walker. Similar to Walker, Booker has a killer mentality. When the team needs a bucket, all you need to do is call an iso for the Kentucky product. There isn’t a more perfect fit at shooting guard for this team, exactly why a young star is the direction to go.

In Consideration: Lou Williams

 

SF: Tobias Harris

Welcome to the first shock of the “Creating NBA Lineups” series. Most people would probably think a young and still developing Brandon Ingram would be the way to go here. However, I think Tobias Harris is exactly what this team needs at small forward. Coming off his best season in the NBA, averaging 18.6 points per game on 41.1% shooting from deep, Harris complements a ball-dominant backcourt well. Harris has the ability to spot up outside the three-point line and knock down shots when defenses collapse on the driver. In addition, Harris’ savviness will get him easy buckets making back-door cuts when the defense puts their attention on other threats. Finally, Harris’ size and defensive abilities give the team someone who can match-up with the opposing team’s star player. Harris fits the build for exactly what this super team needs at small forward.

In Consideration: Harrison Barnes/Brandon Ingram

Tobias Harris

PF: Kristaps Porzingis

“Unicorn.” “Porzingod.” Whatever you want to call him, this man can flat out ball. The 22-year-old All-Star is the prototypical modern NBA big. Porzingis can score from anywhere on the floor. He can put the ball on the deck, he can post-up and he can launch it from deep. Not only can he do it all on offense, his size and length allows him to block a flurry of shots each game. Porzingis’ abilities on both ends of the floor make him the perfect fit at power forward for this super team.

In Consideration: Blake Griffin

 

C: Nikola Jokic

What a frontcourt we have here. Can you even imagine Kristaps Porzingis and Nikola Jokic on the same team? That is the definition of an opposing team’s worst nightmare. Like Porzingis, Jokic can do it all on offense, but he adds an additional element: his passing. Jokic is possibly the best passing big in the NBA. He sees things that a lot of point guards don’t see, and this man is over seven feet tall. His ability to handle the ball and make passes like a guard add a whole new dynamic to this team.

In Consideration: DeAndre Jordan/Andre Drummond

 

Recap/Prediction:

To close it off, this team would be good, really good. Having a Kemba/Booker backcourt, a Porzingis/Jokic frontcourt and Harris to tie it all together is unfair. In addition, a mixture of veteran leadership and young talent spells for this team to be very good for a very long time. If I were to make a prediction for this lineup over 10 seasons, I would put them at winning five championships over that time period. Other super teams still dominate in the present, but once some of these young guys get in their prime, this non-playoff super team would rule the association.

Be sure to come back next week when a new “Creating NBA Lineups” column is posted!

Photo Credits: The Ringer, Blazer’s Edge