The top of our 50 best players in 5 years list:
3. Luka Doncic
Apparently, NBA general managers hold similar views. Though they answered a slightly different question in their annual survey on NBA.com, the polled general managers had the same top three:
If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee — 86%
2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers — 7%
Luka Doncic, Dallas — 7%
Antetokounmpo won this category last year, but with just 30% of votes. An MVP season will certainly spark consensus.
The Bucks forward is the first player to claim a majority of votes in this category since Anthony Davis in 2015. Davis’ reign was short-lived. Karl-Anthony Towns claimed the top spot the following two years (though with just a plurality of votes).
Other interesting results:
Which team will win the 2020 NBA Finals?
1. LA Clippers — 46%
2. Milwaukee Bucks — 36%
3. Los Angeles Lakers — 11%
Also receiving votes: Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers
I’d favor the Clippers (though not over the field) followed by the Lakers. But the Bucks have an easier path from the East. They also don’t engender the resentment the Lakers do.
Who will win the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year?
1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans — 68%
2. Ja Morant, Memphis — 29%
3. Darius Garland, Cleveland — 4%
Which rookie will be the best player in five years?
1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans — 68%
2. Ja Morant, Memphis — 18%
3. Cameron Reddish, Atlanta — 7%
Also receiving votes: Jarrett Culver, Minnesota; Darius Garland, Cleveland
Will Zion Williamson win Rookie of the Year? Will he have the best career of this rookie class (which is essentially what the second question asks)? Neither are locks against the field. But I don’t understand naming another rookie ahead of the generationally athletic and productive No. 1 pick.
Yet, a full third of responding NBA general managers did just that. Wild!
I’m guessing (hoping?) some just wanted to give a contrarian take. Show me the general manager who’d actually trade Williamson for Morant, Reddish, Culver or Garland.
Who is the best head coach in the NBA?
1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio — 55%
2. Erik Spoelstra, Miami — 17%
3. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee — 10%
4. Steve Kerr, Golden State — 7%
Also receiving votes: Steve Clifford, Orlando; Doc Rivers, LA Clippers; Quin Snyder, Utah
There’s nothing crazy about these results… except last year’s leader – Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who received 47% of the vote – got no votes this year. That’s a steep drop, especially for a category that isn’t even about performance this season. The best coach probably doesn’t fluctuate that much annually.
Only perception did, which says something about how long to hold onto these survey results.
He and Sacramento remain apart in negotiations. The Kings have reportedly offered $90 million over four years. Hield reportedly wants $110 million over four years.
So, Hield is intensifying his rhetoric.
“I just know where my value is at, and I’m not going to budge for nobody,” Hield said. “I work hard. I come in here every day and I do my job.”
“It’s not frustrated, I’m just speaking to my heart,” Hield said. “I feel like people get mixed up with being frustrated. I’m just speaking what I believe and what I think. Like I said, there are 30 teams out there. If they don’t want to give me what I think I deserve, some team will give it to me. They’ll have the ability to match, or they’ll have the ability to let me go.”
“The goal is to be here,” Hield told a larger contingent of media. “I love Sacramento, but if they don’t want me here, if they don’t feel like I’m part of the core. … I like respect and loyalty, and I feel like I’m part of the group that’s getting the team back to where it needs to be.”
“Name one big free agent that came to Sacramento,” Hield said in the scrum. “I’ve been here three years trying to grow the program, grow the organization, and I feel like I could be rewarded close to that. But that’s just me. That’s my gut feeling.”
“I see it like an insult,” Hield said. “I feel like I’m worth more than that. If you say I’m your guy and you want to build around me, I just need you to show it. Actions speak louder than words. If you’re just talking and not showing nothing, I’m not going to respect it. I love playing here. I want to be here. This is my home. I’m trying to buy a house here, but everything is on stall mode because I don’t know if they’ll really commit to me.”
“I don’t know if things are going to get done,” Hield said while standing in front of his locker with more than a dozen reporters gathered around and three team staffers hovering nearby. “If it don’t get done, me and my team will look for something else — probably another home. Until then, we’ll see if they really want me here.
Sacramento appears on the verge of breaking through now. That’ll make the team more attractive to free agents.
Of course, Hield is a big part of the Kings’ rise. They might fear disrupting chemistry if he’s unhappy without an extension. He’s clearly trying to prey on that potential concern. That’s his leverage.
But Sacramento has far more leverage. Without an extension, Hield would be a restricted free agent, the Kings able to match any offer he signs. He can’t unilaterally leave next summer.
Hield could accept the $6,484,851 qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2021. But that will be a stronger free-agent class, and Hield will be 28 then. That’d be quite risky.
The Kings also have another good young shooting guard in Bojan Bogdanovic. That gives them even more leverage with Hield.
There’s just not much Hield can do now except make waves through the media. So, that’s what he’s doing.
If he doesn’t get an extension, will it get worse? Sacramento should be wary of that. However, there’s also a chance the perceived slight motivates Hield into even better play. That’d be the Kings’ gain, because – again – they can still pay him next summer with no risk of losing him until 2021 at the very earliest (and that’s only if Hield is willing to take an unprecedentedly risky route with the qualifying offer).
There’s still plenty of time for Hield and Sacramento find common ground. He’ll likely keep applying pressure until a deal is reached or the extension deadline passes.
I’m extremely reluctant to accuse anyone of faking an injury, but…
1. It’s JaVale McGee, who has a history of antics.
2. There’s no obvious cause of an injury.
3. McGee recovered incredibly quickly.
If he weren’t actually hurt, this was an illegal play by McGee. Healthy offensive players can’t run off the court like that. The penalty is loss of ball, but I don’t envy officials who had to determine whether the injury was real.
It’s also inconclusive whether McGee established himself in-bounds before catching the pass it. It’s close.
Another debatable point if McGee did this deliberately: Did he waste a clever play in the preseason? Even a sharp defender, Draymond Green, understandably lost track of McGee once McGee limped off. Or was the preseason the only time to have fun like this?
With the start of the NBA season just more than a week away — it’s predictions time. We’ll be covering most of the postseason awards between now and the opening tip of the NBA season.
As a disclaimer, we get it: making NBA preseason awards predictions is like nailing Jell-O to a tree. We’ll be wrong. But it’s fun, so the NBA staff here at NBC is making our picks. Today…
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Kurt Helin: Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans). This is the obvious pick, but it’s also the only logical one. The guy scored 55 points on 71 percent shooting across two preseason games already, and defenses aren’t sure how to stop him. Williamson is an incredibly gifted athlete who will put together a lengthy highlight reel of dunks this season (with Lonzo Ball throwing him some insane alley-oops), but he can do much more than that and will show it as the season wears on. Plus, he has a strong team around him, which makes him even more of a lock for this award. What will be interesting is to see who else is on the ballot at the end of the season (voters have to rank three guys). Ja Morant is going to have the ball in his hands and plenty of opportunities in Memphis. RJ Barrett will get touches in New York. Will Tyler Herro‘s impressive play this preseason carry over. Can Coby White in Chicago or Rui Hachimura in Washington force their way into the conversation? The race for second may be far more interesting than who wins.
Dan Feldman: Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans). Unlike most preseason award picks, I’m not just taking Williamson as the single most likely winner. I’ll take him over the field. He enters the race with the most hype, and he has the talent to back it up. He’s far more than just a dunker. At Duke, he showed he could translate his athleticism to production. That should continue with the Pelicans
Dane Delgado: Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans). Anyone picking against Zion Williamson must be hoping for some kind of catastrophic injury to befall the New Orleans Pelicans star. And he is already a star, by the way. Preseason statistics aside, Williamson is an electrifying player who will have the kind of narrative and media coverage necessary to make a successful and relatively easy Rookie of the Year campaign happen in 2020. He may not be a shooter just yet, but Williamson will buck the trend in NBA stars having to have a 3-point shot to garner serious attention. It’s already here, and there’s nothing Ja Morant or RJ Barrett can do about it. New Orleans won’t have to make the playoffs in order for Williamson to win the ROY, and if they’re a postseason entrant there’s no chance for anyone else.