PRO BASKETBALL TALKPBT Select Team

You asked questions on twitter, time to answer them

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Welcome to a new feature here at PBT, where we answer your twitter questions regarding basketball, food, comics and just about everything else. Well, no food questions this week but maybe in the future. Basically, if you ask it we’ll try to answer it.

I admit to stealing this column idea from Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra, so the first question ties in to an occasional HBT topic.

Q. In honor of Calcaterra, I’m contractually obligated to ask for your thoughts on Aquaman. (@hurricanept)

I know bald bloggers are supposed to stick together. And I love reading Calcaterra and his baseball brilliance, plus ability throw high and hard at Gleeman. But dude is flat out wrong about Aquaman. Maybe because Craig is stuck in the 1970s, maybe because he fears the color orange, or most likely because he loves seafood and desperately wishes he could talk to fish. He’s just jealous.

People blame Aquaman but he isn’t the problem — he is the King of Atlantis, can speak to fish and control the oceans. Those are bleeping awesome powers unless you live in Nebraska. The problem is Aquaman has been written poorly, especially back in Craig’s ‘70s. For me, the Peter David Aquaman of the 1990s flat out rocked. Anyone with a harpoon hand has my vote. He was an Arthurian warrior king on a quest. He had a mission. So, you know, that storyline died. But Aquaman can be great in the right hands.

And when they make an Aquaman movie, Adrian Grenier must play the lead or I will be disappointed.

Q. If there is a season, will the Bulls have a chance to tinker with the roster? We’re still a player or two away. (@JTILLMAN9693)

Hey, you agree with Dwyane Wade, he says you are just one player away, too. What Bulls fan doesn’t want to agree with Wade? By the way, I’d say one starter and some depth, actually, but I think we’re all basically on the same page here.

What player? Has to be a wing player who can create shots and take pressure off of Derrick Rose. If you’re up for a little gamble on health (and his recovery), maybe Caron Butler is a guy to make a run at. Also depends on who is on the trade block once we see the new CBA.

As for time to tinker, NBA post-lockout history says yes but not much. Back in 1999, training camps and free agency were condensed into one hectic month. My guess is we will see something like that again, and the front offices that come in with the best preparation and think fastest on their feet can get some steals and deals. The question becomes, is that the Bulls front office? I have my doubts, but we shall see.

Q. Are the Lakers the most annoying team in the world, or second, behind the Yankees? (@ZachLowe_SI)

Fifth. The list goes: 1) New York Yankees (I think we all agree on that, even Yankee fans); 2) USC Football; 3) Boston Celtics; 4) Manchester United; 5) Lakers (Sorry Zach).

Q. Do you see the Pistons parting ways with Ben Gordon? (@WhatRobSaid)

Frankly, that should be up to Lawrence Frank. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.) Gordon can put the rock in the hole efficiently, and that is a valuable commodity, but he needs to be put in situations that suit his skill set (good spot up shooter, can create in isolation, works well off the ball). Nothing with Jon Kuester ever seemed to fit. So, to paraphrase John Lennon, “give Frank a chance.” But if Gordon is still square peg round hole, then you should try to move him. There will be some interest out there, but not as much as Pistons fans dream.

Q. Is it ever appropriate to wear socks with crocs? (@dailythunder)

Mario Batali does it and he seems fat and happy. So, if it makes you fat and happy — and you never want to get laid again — go for it.

Q. What’s wrong with including some provision for games missed to injury in new CBA? Like 50% pay for injured games lost? (@jazzingitup)

A couple of things, really. One is that accidents are what your insurance industry friends would call “acts of god.” Most of the time. Sometimes there are conditioning issues or whatever, but most of the time injuries are like what happened to Blake Griffin (throws down a dunk lands normally and his knee just doesn’t like it so he misses a full season). That’s part of the risk to players and should they lose money because of such a fluke?

More importantly, if a player gets paid more for playing, they will rush back and play through pain. Good you say, and you might be right if it’s the playoffs. But what if it is February against Minnesota? Do you want a player to rush back to make more money and in doing so suffer a longer term injury? It does not benefit the team.

Also, remember that for big contracts teams have insurance against injuries, so they don’t fork over all that cash.

Phil Jackson’s reaction to Kristaps Porzingis getting turned upside down feels about right

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New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the franchise, so any time he’s upended and nearly lands on his noggin it’s a cause for concern. To say the least.

That’s what happened on Monday night, as Porzingis got turned upside down during a play near the basket during a game against the Detroit Pistons.

Porzingis was OK on the play, and Detroit big man Andre Drummond did his best to help catch him so nothing too scary happened.

Still, Knicks president Phil Jackson had a pretty hilarious reaction to the whole thing. I guess that’s what happens when you watch your basketball life flash before your eyes.

Porzingis was unhurt and played a full 37 minutes. New York beat Detroit, 109-95.

Jimmy Butler won’t pick LeBron over Durant as toughest matchup in NBA, and for good reason

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Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler is a smart dude. He’s spent years of offseason work turning himself into a max-level player, and that shows he knows not only how to work but how to attack the game of basketball.

He’s also smart enough to know he shouldn’t go poking the bear when it comes to two future Hall of Fame players in LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

When asked whether the Cleveland Cavaliers star or the Golden State Warriors scorer was the toughest matchup in the NBA, Butler made sure he wasn’t adding any kind of blackboard material to rile up either player.

Via Twitter:

The best way to defend LeBron or Durant: don’t make them angry.

Smart move, Jimmy.

Likely top-10 pick Dennis Smith Jr. of North Carolina State declares for draft

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This had long been expected, but now it is official.

North Carolina State freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. has declared for the NBA Draft. He made the announcement on ESPN saying playing in the NBA is his dream, reports the News & Observer.

“It was definitely an obtainable dream for me,” said in an interview on SportsCenter. “I knew I would chase it with all of my might.”

Smith is considered a top-10 pick (DraftExpress.com has him going seventh currently).

Smith had missed his senior year of high school ball with an ACL injury, but was named ACC Freshman of the Year after averaging 18.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He had two triple-doubles as a freshman. He was also inconsistent. Smith had brilliant games and ones where he looked disinterested.

Smith is unquestionably explosive and athletic, and that makes him a threat both in the open court and getting to the rim off a pick-and-roll. He’s got good handles, he knows how to draw fouls, and you can see his potential to get buckets at the next level. His jump shot needs to be far more consistent to thrive at the next level, however. The questions about Smith are more about his ability to make good decisions and be a floor general. He knows how to survey the floor and create for himself, but can he figure out when to pass to set up teammates? Can he defend consistently? He needs smooth out the rough edges of his game, but the potential to be very good is there.

James Harden says playing in every game should matter in MVP voting

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James Harden has played in every Houston Rocket game this season so far. Russell Westbrook has done the same thing for Oklahoma City.

When voters sit down in a few weeks to choose the league’s Most Valuable Player — in one of the most wide-open races in memory, with Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James making legitimate cases as well — Harden says they should take playing every game into account. It’s the latest part of the rest discussion going on around the league. Here’s what Harden told Calvin Watkins of ESPN.

“Yeah, because you’re not leaving your teammates out there to dry, ” Harden said Tuesday morning, before the Rockets’ game against the Warriors. “For me, I worry about always having my teammates’ back and always being out there….

“I’m going to have [my teammates’] back and they know that they have mine as well,” said Harden, who is second in the league in points and first in assists. “For the coaching staff and the fans, especially here in Houston, the front office, I’m here to play.”

Both LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard have had rest nights.

This injects Harden into the rest debate, where recently Harden’s teammate Patrick Beverley came out and said players are “disrespecting the game” when they rest. Gregg Popovich sees more nuance in the debate and certainly backs resting players. On the latest PBT Podcast, former Bull B.J. Armstrong told me that they didn’t have rest days back in his day, but players were kept out of games for things they could play through to get right for the playoffs, it was just listed differently. He added that the rest situation might have been different back in the day if the data about the increased chance of player injuries on the second night of a back-to-back (and it goes up from there with four games in five nights) had been available.

In this case, Harden lobbying for his case in the MVP voting. The thing is, his numbers make the case for him: Harden is averaging 29.4 points per game, leading the league with 11.3 assists a night, and he’s creating the most points per game 27.5 (buckets and direct assists. He has taken on the point guard duties in Mike D’Antoni’s offense and has taken on the largest load on offense he has in his career — and he has continued to do it efficiently.

However, one can make a strong statistical case for Westbrook (who carries a larger load for an OKC team that has less talent around its star than Houston), Leonard (best defender of the group), and LeBron (the Cavs recent struggles may doom his chances).

Little details are going to divide this group, and Harden is trying to get his point out there.

That said, the Rockets are almost certainly locked into the three seed in the West, and once it’s clear they are in that slot team management should discuss giving Harden a night off before the playoffs, to let his body rest. Whether he wants to or not.

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