10/28 Wizards @ Clippers Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Wizards 104, Clippers 136

Washington Wizards:

What in the world is going on with this Wizards team?

  • Hey! The rebounding wasn’t an issue! You wan’t to know why? Because there practically weren’t any to grab! The Clippers shot a blistering 54% from the field and 55% from beyond the arc. Washington had one defensive lapse on top of another, and there was a lacksidasical effort all across the board tonight. This season (so far) was perfectly summed up in a John Wall mishandled ball in which he lost and then simply stood next to the grapple for the ball, watching his teammates wreslte to grab his own error.
  • Otto Porter has caught his share of criticism from head coach Scott Brooks throughout past games, and didn’t do much tonight to change his stance on Porter’s play. In thirty minutes, the forward made six shots on 33% shooting, along with a few boards and assists. The poor effort, along with the early exit of Markieff Morris, spelled early disaster for this team. HOWEVER, that does not excuse the accompanying white flag that came from the remaining starters in the game.
  • Although it is very early in the season, there seems to be the possibility of some possible locker-room dysfunction already. Accountability was an issue last season, and in a year where it has already gone not-so-according to plan, this could be an problem that tears a team apart. In what feels like a make-or-break year for the head coach, and even some players on the team, this is not a good look for what was figured to be a promising year for this group.

Play of the Game: This feels like a game not-so-deserving of one. In fact, I am incredibly tempted to put a “Not Play of the Game”. In a bad performance, usually there is still a bright spot, but today there isn’t a whole lot of positives surrounding this team currently.

 

Los Angeles Clippers:

  • This was a performance that should get Clippers fans excited for the outlook of their team. The feelings surrounding this franchise coming into the season were mixed, with some thinking this was a bridge season until the team could find its next star, and others intrigued by the possibilities and potential this cast presents. This performance, and especially the success of shooting from deep, shows the ability of this team even without a true “superstar”.
  • The Clippers got great production off the bench, especially from fan favorite Boban Marjanovic tonight. That bench stumped both the starting and reserve units of the Washington team this evening. Combined with a great defensive efforts from their starters, this is a recipe for the type of team LA will have to be if they want to be a serious threat in the West come late in the year.
  • A great point was brought up during the Clippers broadcast late in the third quarter- “This team doesn’t have a superstar caliber player, and that may not be the worst thing in the world”. Doc Rivers through these few games has shown tremendous coaching in the lineups and skill he has brought out of his players. This team will need to embody the old fashioned “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” style, and they have the potential to do so.

Play of the Game: With 2:40 left in the first quarter, Bradley Beal grabbed a rebound and attempted a layup to make it a one score game. Avery Bradley flew in to swat the ball away, setting the defensive tone early and keeping the Wizards behind.

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10/24 Wizards @ Warriors Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Wizards 122, Warriors 144

Washington Wizards:

  • Same reaction, different game, right? Four games in, the Wizards own the worst rebounding differential in the NBA. Tonight, Washington had neither Dwight Howard or Ian Mahimi to start at center, technically giving Jason Smith the “start”, although he only saw 11 minutes. Maybe it’s Thomas Bryant time? I mean this team BADLY (and I repeat, BADLY) needs a defensive presence under the rim, or will continue to find themselves on the losing end of both the rebounding stats and the box score. Jeff Green, Markeiff Morris, and Jason Smith simply aren’t getting the job done, understandably.
  • The starters played low minutes tonight, a good call by head coach Scott Brooks after a long game in Portland and what is only the second game of a five game West Coast trip. Washington seemed to resist throwing in the towel until late in the third when Steph Curry caught fire. (Again) John Wall only played 27 minutes, and no other starter played more than that. While this may be an L, and a foreseeable one at that, one positive is that hopefully this gives the Wizards an extra edge for their next couple of games.
  • It felt helpless for this team tonight, didn’t it? Washington went into halftime with 71 points and STILL was down nine. It seemed like althroughout the first half the game went almost bucket for bucket. No real runs by this offense, just a bucket or two to keep them sitting eight or so points away. That was, until the third quarter- an entirely different story. This Wizards team kept the pace, with almost 100 points midway through the third, but man… Steph Curry. That’s all I have to say. It’s tough to be on pace to smash your highest scoring game this season and STILL be down considerably.

Play of the Game:  See below in the Warriors’ Play of the Game.

Golden State Warriors:

  • As a Wizards fan, my basketball fandom heart hurts a little everytime they play the Warriors. Similarly to when they played Toronto with Kahwi Leonard the other night, I think “*insert player Washington passed in the draft* could have been on this team.” But, instead we draft the likes of- well, I don’t even want to get into it. The pain is only a google search away. ANYWAYS, the Warriors deserve credit (which they get) for building such a juggernaut of a roster. Key players have stayed for years and the team focuses immensely on player development and chemistry. Some feel like they have to get to know new bench players every year for the team too, which is also true, but is another display of the roster brilliance. It just always works, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
  • Steph Curry and Kevin Durant were fantastic this evening. Steph was *this* close to beating his career high. Oracle doesn’t take much to get loud for in the first place, so you can imagine the atmosphere when Steph came within two of breaking the all-time threes record. (That he broke himself previously, twice) He even played efficiently driving to the basket, and it was absolutely his night. Durant made his presence known all over the court, with a couple of slams that got the crowd and the team going, as well as some beautiful fadeaway midrange shots against some flawless defense. The Warriors took advantage of some great switches and mismatches in the first half, but just simply heated up in the second half.
  • Draymond Green took a role that was both surprising and incredibly unselfish tonight. He played the role of facilitator, with 12 assists and only 5 points. With Steph and Klay both having the hot hand, Draymond took it upon himself to find a role best for the team tonight as opposed to finding his own shot and risk taking away the incredible flow the offense carried. This brand of unselfish basketball shows Golden State’s true potential, as sometimes individual performances seem to be prioritized, but that was not the case in this one.

Play of the Game: I’m gonna lay it to you straight, I don’t have one- for either team. This was the kind of game that if you’re a Warrior fan you LOVE (understandably) and if you’re a Wizards fan, you shake your head at. There seemed to be so many shots taken and so many makes that it’s hard to pick one. You could take ANY of Steph’s threes or Durant’s midrange beauties. For the Wizards- there were a few Bradley Beal makes that were sweet? Maybe a Keef 3 pointer or two? Regardless, this style of throw-it-up, defenseless basketball is tough to keep up with. That doesn’t make it a less entertaining game, but truly analyzing a game like this is harder. Although, maybe that’s because I’m on the East Coast- and tired.

10/22 Wizards @ Trailblazers Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Wizards 125, Trailblazers 124 (OT)

Washington Wizards:

  • Kelly Oubre Jr. played what was not only his best game of the (young) season, but in recent memory. The third-year man out of Kansas produced in all aspects this evening. With Ian Mahimi leaving the game early with back spasms, the Wizards came out of halftime fully committing to the small ball game. This meant bringing Oubre Jr. into the starting lineup and ramping up his minutes, playing a total of 39 including overtime. He posted 22 points (9/13 from the field) but his hustle and defensive presence brought a much-needed intensity to this Washington team. On top of all that, Oubre hit a smooth three pointer midway through overtime to keep momentum on the Wizards’ side.
  • While the first win was one to remember for the Wizards, some of the issues throughout were not. With Dwight Howard not making the five-game west coast trip, the pressure has been on Mahimi to both produce and stay out of early foul trouble. Both those expectations quickly evaporated as the center collected two fouls in four minutes to open up the game, followed by him leaving thereafter with a back injury, and not returning. In the two previous games, this would mean more time for Jason Smith in the center role. But with the Trail Blazers playing hard inside, Smith’s lack of defensive abilities had a role with the Wizards going small ball in the second half with Jeff Green (who also had a great game off the bench) and Markieff Morris handling center duties. The offensive rebounds continued to be an issue throughout but seemed to be better handled in the second half. Washington needs to find answers whether from Mahimi himself, the small-ball offense, or even third-string center Thomas Bryant.
  • Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris both had fantastic games tonight. Beal had his best game of the season last year at Portland, dropping 51 points and looked to follow that up with a strong performance this year. He did just that, dropping 25 points (including 5 three pointers), 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Something that may not be noticed by many is that as the Wizards turned to the small-ball lineup, Beal went quiet for a majority of the second half- but found himself grabbing rebounds when it mattered most. Of course, most importantly, Bradley Beal hit a game tying three point shot with 6 seconds left in regulation to send it to overtime, and rightfully that is probably how his night will be remembered. Markieff Morris hit a career high 6 threes, with 4 coming either late in the 4th quarter or overtime. His threes came at crucial times for the Wizards as well and was a major key in the team securing this win.

Play of the Game: With 32 seconds left in OT, and the Blazers within two, John Wall took the ball down the court. Looking to end the game and leave Portland without much of a chance, John Wall pulled off an incredible midrange shot with 10.2 seconds left- leaving many wondering, “did he call glass?”

Portland Trail Blazers:

  • Big-men Al-Farouq Aminu and Jusuf Nurkic both had themselves great games in the paint, taking advantage of the Wizards going with smaller lineups. The lack of a true center for Washington left many opportunities down low that these two made the best of. Aminu, with 16 points and 15 rebounds, stressed the Wizards’ defense as he also forced them to acknowledge his presence beyond the arc with three makes on five attempts. Nurkic posted 22 points and 18 rebounds, bullying Washington down low with his physicality and presenting his team with second chance opportunities, as half of his rebounds were offensive boards. The Blazers needed a big game from their front court and they certainly delivered this evening.
  • Nik Stauskas’ huge game was a pleasant surprise for Portland. They know the spark he can bring off the bench, but his physical play and well-timed threes helped carry an offense that for the most part, struggled from deep. He also managed to grab eight rebounds and three assists in a season-high thirty minutes. On top of his Play of The Game, the shooting guard assisted on the McCollum three near the end of OT that could have been a game changing play. Stauskas provided great energy and scoring off the bench for this Trail Blazers team.
  • While the back-court did eventually show up for Portland, this game may have been decided earlier and possibly even in a different direction had that been earlier. While their two stars finally turned it on when it mattered most, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum still finished a combined 12-46 shooting on the evening. Had either of them started hitting shots sometime before, there may not have been a need for overtime. With that being said, the two played incredible late. The two were responsible for 11 of the 13 points scored in overtime. One play that could be a debatable decision, however- Damian Lillard driving to the basket and attempting a heavily contested layup with the team only needing one point to tie. It could be argued that he should have went for the smarter play and attempted to create more contact to get a foul call. At the same time though, the point guard had to race across the court to even give them a chance and did seem at one point he had a good lane to the basket. Ultimately, Portland having no timeouts really hurt their options in those closing seconds of overtime.

Play of the Game: With the game tied at 108 and nearing the end of regulation, the Trail Blazers won a jump ball and were looking to put themselves ahead. Damian Lillard found Nik Stauskas in the corner for a crazy three point shot that left 13 seconds on the clock and the Wizards looking for answers. (It was very close between this one and the CJ McCollum shot with a few seconds left in overtime, but that one shouldn’t have been as impactful had Wall made his free throws, so I went with this one.)

10/20 Raptors @ Wizards Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Raptors 117, Wizards 113

Toronto Raptors:

  • Kawhi Leonard rested tonight with the Raptors playing the second night of their back-to-back. Head coach Nick Nurse did a good job of preparing for nights without the former All-Star. In this game, Toronto went with a back-court heavy approach, relying on the likes of Kyle Lowry and Fred VanFleet. The team evidently wanted to run a portion of the offense through Serge Ibaka after his last performance, who was mostly placed into the Leonard role. The forward seemed to do well in spots, with 16 points and 9 rebounds, but also created good mismatches with well-timed switches.
  • Speaking of the backcourt, Fred VanFleet once again showed up greatly for the Raptors on a night they needed it. While he won’t pop out on the stat sheet, he took the ball down the court on many possessions, allowing Kyle Lowry to play off-the-ball and set up the offense in some favorable positions. The loss of Demar Derozan, who could handle both guard positions when called upon, opens the door for VanFleet to be more active as a passer and play-maker.
  • Another ripple effect of resting Leonard this evening was greater minutes to young players. Four of the five other forwards on the roster played above 24 minutes, and scored above 10 points. However, on the downside, the Raptors had 17 turnovers total. Many of these were untimely, resulting in 30 points off turnovers for the home team. This is expected when playing younger players, but is something Toronto will look to clean up as they plan to have additional rest nights for Kawhi Leonard.

Play of the Game: With less than 2 seconds left on the shot clock, and 14.6 left in the game, Fred VanFleet hit a incredibly tough midrange shot to essentially put the Wizards away. This pushed the Raptor lead to 4 and made it a two possession game, sealing the win.

Washington Wizards:

  • Rebounding issues were still evident, a problem carrying over from their first game against the Heat. This can be attributed to both the loss of Dwight Howard and Ian Mahimi finding himself in foul trouble once again. In the first half, the Wizards were giving up easy points inside the paint on top of a extra handful of offensive rebounds. The team seemed to have a better grip on the issue in the second half, but there a few plays late in the 4th quarter that swung momentum in Toronto’s direction with second chance points. Washington finished with 15 less rebounds than the Raptors, but they hope that issue will naturally resolve itself with the return of Howard.
  • Bradley Beal passed Gilbert Arenas as the all-time franchise leader in 3 point shots made tonight. After four years of injuries hampering a promising career, Beal stepped up for the Wizards last year playing all 82 games, plus 6 in the playoffs. Gilbert Arena set the record in his 8th season, but shooting guard broke this record in his 7th season. The incredible part is, Beal could have broken it in his sixth season, had the Wizards won their series against Toronto or even extended it to game 7. Congrats to Bradley Beal! 
  • The Wizards have found themselves ultimately snake-bitten by crazy plays with seconds left to go in both their games. After a back-breaking Kelly Olynyk putback in their last one, Washington watched Fred VanFleet crush them with a fantastic shot that gave Toronto a 4 point lead with seconds left. The team is all too familiar with these kinds of loses from last year, but the good news is- it’s only the second game of the season. The Wizards have plenty of time to learn and defend better in these crucial late game situations.

Play of the Game: With the Wizards down 12 after a poor run from their bench unit, John Wall came off the bench looking to ignite a spark on the team with only eight minutes left. The point guard drove to the basket for a contested layup, missing his shot, but Kelly Oubre Jr. flew in over Pascal Siakam for the slam and got fouled in the process. The play ignited the crowd and the team, fueling their late game run.

10/18 Heat @ Wizards Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Heat 113, Wizards 112

Miami Heat:

• The so-called “chemistry issues” reported previously in the week as a result of the Jimmy Butler trade talks don’t appear to be an issue among the team. Josh Richardson, a mentioned trade asset, played the most minutes and was the teams top scorer.

•Goran Dragic, while struggling in the scoring department, still made his presence felt greatly on the court tonight. The point guard has never been quite known to be a scoring machine, but it was good to see Miami can still rely on him in that role.

•Key bench players produced tonight, with three producing nine points a piece, while creating assists and grabbing rebounds. Dwayne Wade struggled tonight however shooting once again.

Miami’s Play of the Game: With .2 seconds left in the game, Kelley Olynyk scores the game winning bucket off a Dwayne Wade miss. Olynyk was known for being a “Wizards Killer” already, draining 3’s to put Washington away in the 4th quarter of their series against Boston a few years back.

Washington Wizards:

•Not having Dwight Howard or the presence of a starting-quality center hurt the Wizards greatly tonight. Ian Mahimi, who Scott Brooks had previously talked about having his trust, only played 15 minutes tonight. Howard will bring a defensive presence to the backcourt on his arrival.

•Austin Rivers’ role could be seen more clearly tonight, and it was evident he will be a great asset in keep John Wall and Bradley Beal fresh. He can play both guard positions and allowed for the offense to run smoothly, keeping whichever player he was teamed with in the backcourt, aggressive throughout.

•Tomas Satoransky may have a lesser-than-expected role this year. Sato found his minutes reduced last year in the playoffs and did not seem to have Scott Brooks’ trust even with his play throughout the year in John Wall’s absence. The guard played only 14 minutes tonight, and while that may be attributed to the starters’ production, it is something to watch.

Wizards’ Play of the Game: With 4:50 left in the second quarter, John Wall drove to the basket and threw down a beautiful slam over Tyler Johnson to take the lead.

Cleveland Cavaliers Trade Options

Kevin Love

Now that LeBron James is a Los Angeles Laker, the Cleveland Cavaliers have a long term rebuilding process ahead of them. The quickest way to turn the franchise around is to turn their older proven players into young players and draft picks. While the Cavaliers have a lot of players on the roster with negative trade value, the two players they have with plus trade value is Kevin Love and Kyle Korver.

 

Trade One

Kevin Love to Pacers for Thaddeus Young, Darren Collison, future first-round pick.

When many expected the Pacers to be tanking for the number one draft pick last season, they surprised everyone and finished with the number five seed in the playoffs with a 48-34 record, while pushing the Cavaliers in a seven game series. Victor Oladipo made his first all star appearance and the team played well around him. However, the Cavaliers took him out in their playoff match up and forced the roles players to try and beat them. Adding Love would give the Pacers a second scoring option and a dangerous pick and pop game with Oladipo.

Ideally the Cavaliers would like to avoid any bad long term contracts but still bring in veterans that can help the team. Both Young and Collison are in the final year of their respective deals and can help the team this season. Any trade involving Love should return the Cavaliers a first round pick. Like many expect, if the Cavaliers are clearly out of the playoff picture by the trade deadline, they could unload both Young and Collison to playoff contenders or teams looking to remove bad contracts in exchange for more draft picks.

 

Trade Two

Kyle Korver to the 76ers for Jerryd Bayless, future second-round pick.

After having a successful season last year, the 76ers are determined to build off of that and make a run at the finals. After losing Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova in free agency they need to add shooters to space the floor for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Korver is former 76er who could easily fill Belinelli’s role in the rotation, no problem. Bayless is out of the rotation and the 76ers have plenty of future second round picks they can afford to give up to add an excellent shooter.

Like Korver, Bayless is on an expiring contract and the Cavaliers could look to buy him out. Korver has value around the league but he has limited value for the Cavaliers. The minutes Korver would be playing could go to younger players. Unlike any trade for Love, the Cavaliers won’t get back much draft capital for Korver but a future second round pick for a team that lacks youth and draft picks is a solid return for a 37 year old player.

 

Trade Three

Kyle Korver to the Wizards for Jason Smith, Jodie Meeks, future second-round pick.

Much like the 76ers, a large part of the Wizards offense is based on spacing the floor with three point shooting. Otto Porter and Bradley Beal are two of the better three point shooters in the league but with John Wall, the Wizards can never have enough shooters. Meeks was suppose to help provide shooting but last year he had a down season and is suspended for the first 19 games of the 2018-2019 season. Like a lot of teams in the eastern conference, the Wizards view the conference wide open and are pushing all the chips in. Adding Korver at the cost of a second round pick and two players out of the rotation is a steal for the Wizards.

For the Cavaliers this deal is similar to the one with the 76ers in terms of return value. Both Meeks and Smith are in the last year of their respective deals and would be buyout candidates. Their combined salary is a tad less than Bayless’ contract so the Cavaliers might favor this deal over the 76ers one in order to save some money. Korver should fetch the Cavaliers a second round pick and getting back expiring contracts makes the deal all the better.

Kyle Korver
Getty Images

Trade Four

Kevin Love to Thunder for Carmelo Anthony, Terrance Ferguson, two future second-round picks.

Obviously this would be a huge shocker if it happens. Anthony has a no trade clause he would have to waive in order to be traded but if the Cavaliers promise to buy him out he will waive it. The Thunder have a payroll with the luxury tax penalty of over $300 million dollars. If they can trade Anthony for nothing, they could save about $100 million dollars. However, if the Thunder want to add a third star player, using Anthony’s contract is the best way to do so. The Thunder don’t have a first round pick they can trade till 2022 so they would have to get creative in their negotiations.

In any Love trade, the Cavaliers would want back a future first round pick. However, with the Thunder’s limited future draft picks the Cavaliers could accept last year’s first round pick, Ferguson and a pair of second round picks. While it’s not an ideal package, moving Love to the western conference would be preferred. The Cavaliers could give Ferguson the minutes he needs to develop that he isn’t getting in Oklahoma City. Swallowing Anthony’s almost $28 million dollar salary is tough but the Cavaliers are better offer doing that and getting back assets verse keeping Love on a rebuilding team.

 

Trade Five

J.R. Smith to the Pelicans for Alexis Ajinca, Emeka Okafor, Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins.

The truth is no one wants Smith, well maybe that’s not true. The Pelicans have gone under a major transformation this offseason with the loss of DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo in free agency while adding Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton. However, the Pelicans have yet to add some scoring along the wing. While Smith is a headache at times, he can score and shoot. While Smith is owed $15.7 million dollars next season, the Pelicans can save about $11.8 million dollars if they waive him before June 29th.

The Cavaliers would love to move on from Smith at the cost of the nothing. All four players the Pelicans would send back in the trade are either entering a contract year (Ajinca and Miller) or have non-guaranteed contracts (Okafor and Liggins). The Cavaliers can waive the non-guaranteed contracts of Okafor and Liggins immediately, while they could try to buy out Ajinca. Keeping Miller would be a solid addition for the Cavaliers. Miller is a good wing defender and shot a career high 41% from three last season. For the Cavaliers to dump Smith without taking back any long term salary is a perfect trade for them.

 

In the end, with James moving on to Los Angeles the Cavaliers are facing a long rebuilding process. Any player on the roster other than Collin Sexton is reportedly available for trade and the Cavaliers should move anyone else for young players and draft picks in order to jump start the rebuilding process.

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.