Chat with John Hollinger
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, NBA columnist John Hollinger will stop by to share his thoughts on all of the NBA news.
Send your questions now and join Hollinger Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
John Hollinger (3:05 PM)
Greetings everyone, and a happy preseason to you all. The real fun starts in three weeks. Let's get to the questions ....
Scott W (Reno, NV)
John, do you think Ramon Sessions will end up being Flynn's back-up, or will start next to him at the two?
John Hollinger (3:06 PM)
I expect Sessions to start games at the 1 and finish them at the 2, though I notice Minnseota didn't line up that way for the first preseason game.
Alok Shah (NYC, NY)
Why is no one talking about how much cap space the Heat will have next yr? According my calculations, they will have only 24Million committed to Wade (assuming he resigns), Beasley, Daequan Cook and Chalmers, which means that the Heat could also get Lebron James and fill out the roster with other FAs. What do you think?
John Hollinger (3:07 PM)
Actually, everyone is talking about that, but the Knicks continue to dominate the conversation for some reason. I don't see it plausible that LeBron would joine Wade, but what about somebody like Dirk or Amare or Boozer? And as you point out, there's still room left for a third guy. Of course, that's all predicated on Wade staying, so it will be a very interesting summer in South Florida.
Joe (Reading, PA)
Your prediction of the Celtics "clearly" being 3rd in the East is "clearly" going to be wrong. I'll be back after 20 games to let you admit your obvious mistake.
John Hollinger (3:10 PM)
I get a lot of emails along these lines, and statistically the odds are that at least a couple of you are going to be right ... at least I hope so. If everything goes exactly how we expect it will make for a very boring season. As for the Celtics, I think it boils down to what your expectations are for Kevin Garnett. If he makes a full recovery and plays at a first-team all-NBA level, then sure, Boston can surpass Cleveland and Orlando. I'm taking a more conservative approach until I see differently.
Kind of surprised to see Bynum so high in the PER player projections. What needs to happen for him to reach those lofty expectations this year, aside from the obvious - staying healthy?
John Hollinger (3:12 PM)
i think what people lose sight of in the PER projections is that minutes are the other part of the equation ... Bynum had a really strong PER last year too, especially pre-injury, but he wasn't on the court as much as other star centers. In this case quantity is more important than quality -- we know he can play well, but we don't know if he can stay out there 82 games.
I'm a tad confused. Your projections basically call for every player on the Magic's PER to decrease, but you see them becoming a better team. Can you explain? Many thanks
John Hollinger (3:14 PM)
I've had this questions from fans of a couple other vet-laden tams too. On average, veteran players will see their PER track down slightly from the year before. Realistically, random noise means that some will go up and some will go down and you'll hardly notice that in the aggregate the trend was more down than up. But Orlando projects to be better anyway because of a) a full season of Nelson and b) Vince Carter being much better than Hedo Turkoglu.
Ray (San Antonio)
Spurs and Lakers both have 3 players in the Top 15 for PER projections. Is the West that top loaded? There isn't a single Celtic and only 1 Cav and Magic player.
John Hollinger (3:16 PM)
Just like last year, in other words, except that Bynum didn't quite crack the top 15. Nothing revolutionary going on here.
Josh (Knoxville, TN)
All but 3 players on the Spurs are projected to be below average in PER. I think you had them at 53 wins (too low, if you ask me), but that # seems way too high if only 3 players are above average. How do you account for the rest?
John Hollinger (3:18 PM)
You might be the first person to complain that I have the Spurs winning too many, rather than too few. Generally, more players are below the league average than above it, because the ones that are above tend to play a lot more minutes. Additionally, a couple Spurs just miss (Jefferson, McDyess) so I think just using the league average barometer understates the quality of their finishing 5.
Dillon (Pasadena, CA)
Why is it that the majority of teams take their shot from the left-side of the court
John Hollinger (3:19 PM)
Good question. It sure seems to me that right-handed players greatly prefer to work on the left block, so that may account for a big chunk of the disparity. It's also easier for a right-handed player to shoot a jumper going to his left because he doesn't have to swing his whole body around to square up.
I noticed you didn't have a PER projection for Martell Webster. Considering that he might start for an eventual playoff team (although I don't think Batum is giving up his spot, he looks really good!), what is a reasonable expectation for him for the season?
John Hollinger (3:20 PM)
Something in the 13-14 range seems about right, but I'm very interested to see if Webster can shoot 3s more accurately than he did pre-injury. He's got a gorgeous stroke but never quite hit a high enough % to really scare people.
Niraj ((Washington, DC))
Where do you project the Wizards fare IF (a big IF) all their stars remain healthy? Do you think they can come together and make it to the second round?
John Hollinger (3:21 PM)
I'd say No. 4 seed and second round is about the ceiling. Of course the unstated part of your question is not just that the stars stay healthy, but that Arenas plays like the Arenas of old.
Jeremy (New Orleans, LA)
John where do you see the Hornets this year after doing nothing in the offseason? I say 7th seed and they get knocked out in the first round.
John Hollinger (3:23 PM)
I disagree that they did nothing. Three positions that killed them last year -- backup point guard, backup power forward, and backup center -- got upgrades with the additions of Darren Collison, Ike Diogu and Darius Songaila. They have some serious issues on the wings, but the bench will be better and Okafor is an upgrade on Chandler. I say they get a top five seed and have a good shot at making the second round.
Last year, you projected the Jazz to win the West. This year they have basically the same team with one more year of experience and you are projecting them to just barely make the playoffs. What gives?
John Hollinger (3:24 PM)
I watched last season, basically. Biggest item its that they didn't get nearly what I expected from their wing players and they didn't address it in the offseason.
Clips waterboy (L.A>)
Clippers, Clipppers, Clippers, do u see them making the playoffs this yr?
John Hollinger (3:25 PM)
I'd say a near-miss is more likely, but if they can keep Baron, Camby and Kaman on the court for 70 apiece they'll make a serious push for it.
You have often stated that nothing has changed for the Hawks. They added Crawford who can take some of JJ minutes without missing a beat and added two quality big men. The Hawks got tired down the stretch. I see this team being in better shape next spring because of fewer minutes for the starters.
John Hollinger (3:26 PM)
Except that they already had one of the league's most effective sixth men a year ago with Flip Murray, and they still ran Joe Johnson into the ground. Not sure how Crawford changes that. As far as adding two "quality" big men, you might want to watch a bit more Jason Collins tape before you go there.
Manny (Salt Lake City)
How do you reconcile Durant's incredible PER (by age) with his horrendous adjusted /- stats? Is there precedent for a guy with such awful adjusted /- (or general /-) but great "boxscore stats" to improve his actual impact on the game to become a positive? He has a long way to go, it seems to me
John Hollinger (3:28 PM)
Durant is the biggest discrepancy I've ever seen. For those who don't know, Durant's on-court vs. off-court numbers from this first two seasons were absolutely horrid -- the Thunder were massively better, by more than eight points per 100 possessions, when he was off the court. We're still learning about adjusted plus-minus stats and the things that they can and can't tell us, but suffice it to say a third straight year of such numbers would cause some very pointed questions to be asked.
Drew (Burnaby, BC)
Who's projected PER surprised you the most when you saw it, both good and bad?
John Hollinger (3:29 PM)
Andrew Bynum and LeBron James. I knew my projection tool would like Bynum but not to this extent. As for James, I fully expected him to project as the league leader in PER, but the computer liked CP3.
Hi John - I love the per rankings, but do you see a player or player who seems to be consistently underrated based on the formula? Paul Pierce comes to mind for this year. Thanks
John Hollinger (3:31 PM)
I think Pierce's PER points out what nobody is saying out loud -- his offensive game has become progressively less effective the past couple years, as he's moved further out on the perimeter. He's still one of the best scorers at his position, but he doesn't create nearly as much offense as he used to.
Steve (San Jose, CA)
If Chris Paul finishes with the highest PER and only Lebron is a close 2nd, do you see him winning MVP even if the Hornets win 50 and Cleveland wins 60 ?
John Hollinger (3:33 PM)
Doubtful. I don't think there's voter fatigue with LeBron yet, and W-L is usually a very powerful indicator for MVP votes (Witness Kobe vs. CP two years ago, and that was with Kobe only a game or two ahead).
Deron Williams (Utah)
I rank 17 on your PER behind 4 other West guards. Is it my destiny to be the greatest player to never play in an all-star game?
John Hollinger (3:34 PM)
You'll get in this year if you don't hurt your ankle. Williams, CP and Parker will be the 3 West point guards. Apologies to Steve Nash.
AGH....You don't think both Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are sacraficing some of there games for the greater good but the PER system doesn't take this into consideration?
John Hollinger (3:35 PM)
Pierce is definitely playing much better defense than most stars, but it's not obvious to me what he's giving up on offense.
Kanye West (Chicago)
John, I'm going to let you finish, but David Thorpe has one of the greatest chats of all time!
so youre telling me that the Thunder are better off without Durant? Ok youre system just lost all credibility.
John Hollinger (3:36 PM)
Stop sticking words in my mouth. I told you what the facts are -- the team has played much, much better with him off the court. It's not exactly a giant feather in his cap, no? But because the on-court v. off-court stuff is still so new, we're still trying to figure out exactly what it means.
marco bellineli (Toronto)
6th man of the year candidate? Colengelo thinks so
John Hollinger (3:39 PM)
Only if they give out a separate Canadian award ... and even then he might lose out to Andy Rautins.
Eugene (North Hollywood, CA)
How long did it take to make a system that reflects your hatred for every player/team in the league?
John Hollinger (3:40 PM)
Eons, honestly. I had to channel my hate for every team and player at the same time just to come up with a formula this evil. It's not easy, but with liquor and patience it can be done.
is it safe to say the all star slots for west guards are already set as kobe, roy, parker, CP and d will?
John Hollinger (3:41 PM)
Yes, but there's potentially room for six, which means somebody from the Manu/Billups/Baron/Kevin Martin/Nash crowd could make it too.
Bobcats Nation (NC)
I dare you to say something good about the Bobcats
John Hollinger (3:42 PM)
They're a very good defensive team. Last year they were seventh in Defensive Efficiency, and probably will be in the top ten again this year. Too bad they can't score.
Chauncey Billups (Denver)
I have a chance to steal one of those PG spots, right?
John Hollinger (3:44 PM)
Doubtful. Your stats weren't really All-Star even last year -- it was the feel-good Nuggets story and Melo's off year that put you over the top. This year Melo almost certainly gets in first, and I don't think coaches will feel compelled to take two Nuggets unless they're in the top two in the West.
So according to your rankings, I'm guessing you would definitely pick up Brandon Wright's option, regardless of his injury history?
John Hollinger (3:45 PM)
Yes, I would. Too much potential to just let him walk away for free.
The wolves have three strong players according to your PER, do you see them putting up more wins than last year as a result?
John Hollinger (3:46 PM)
I see the Wolves as fringe playoff challengers, probably settling in the low-to-mid 30s in wins. Not great, but a lot better than most expect from them I believe. Upgrading from Telfair to Sessions is a huge, huge, HUGE difference.
chris bosh (Dallas)
With my added 20 pounds of muscle am I an MVP candidate if the raptors are in the top 3 in the east?
John Hollinger (3:47 PM)
I'm sure he added muscle. 20 pounds? Yah right. That's not remotely believable, nor is the "15 pounds of muscle" routinely cited around the league. As far as Bosh for MVP goes, you left out the most important part -- he's missed chunks of the past two seasons with injuries and needs to stay on the court for 75 games.
Bobcats Nation (Charlotte)
You don't have to be great on offense if you are great at defense.
John Hollinger (3:48 PM)
But if you're only good on defense, and you're the league's worst team on offense ... well, then you have a problem.
Who's this year's Devin Harris? And by that I mean, "star who everyone realizes is a star a year too late because of minutes".
John Hollinger (3:49 PM)
Ramon Sessions would be my first guess, Carl Landry also has to get a mention -- I'm not sure he can play next to Scola for long stretches, but if he can he could blow up.
With Kahn making all of these financial trades, who do you see the wolves going after in free agency 2010? Any chance of getting a guy like joe johnson?
John Hollinger (3:50 PM)
I have a feeling he'll target somebody younger if he can, but upgrading the wing positions is the obvious move given how locked in they are at point guard, power forward and center.
Re: Dan (DC) - this year's Devon Harris - Maresse Speights
John Hollinger (3:51 PM)
Yep, that's another possibility. As is Kevin Love.
What does your PER say about Jason Campbell? Time to go?
John Hollinger (3:52 PM)
The funny thing is that Campbell hasn't been that terrible ... it's the offensive line and the lack of running game that's really the problem. That's why they can never score inside the five. And that's against the Rams, Lions and Bucs .. I shudder to think what will happen now that they're playing the real teams.
Bobcats Nation (NC)
don't listen to that other Bobcats Nation he's a fake
John Hollinger (3:53 PM)
Is this the People's Front of Judea or the Judean People's Front?
Glan (Grand Rapids, MI)
Will the Pistons ever realize/admit that Stuckey shouldn't be playing PG?
John Hollinger (3:54 PM)
Unfortunately, the time to realize it was last year in training camp. Now they've committed long-term to both Hamilton and Gordon, so it's a tricky situation to unwind.
When you look 'round the league, which team is likely farthest away from serious contention even for a playoff spot? Is it still likely to be a western team?
John Hollinger (3:55 PM)
Has to be either New Jersey or Sacramento. But since Nets have mad cap space next summer, I'll go with Sacramento.
How do you see the Lopez injury factoring out in Phx? No big deal, as he wasn't going to play that much, or a real concern?
John Hollinger (4:01 PM)
It will hurt against the Howards and Bynums because he was their only true size ... now they're using guys like Frye and Amundson in the middle. That will work most nights, but not against the big 5s.
Nets win 50 - Frank COY?
John Hollinger (4:01 PM)
Are you kidding? If the Nets win 50 they'll rename Paterson Plank Road after him.
Freddy (Los Angeles)
Isn't a backcourt of Curry and Morrow better than that of Ellis and Curry?
John Hollinger (4:03 PM)
Doubtful .. Morrow is an even worse defender than Curry and not nearly the ballhandler.
Eddie (Hoboken, NJ)
You REALLY love that Paterson Plank Road reference LOL!! Anythign to like about the Knicks this year?
John Hollinger (4:05 PM)
Glad the peeps in Hoboken appreciate it. Best thing for the Knicks is to watch Gallinari and Hill. I'm not crazy about Hill but any frontcourt player who can rebound and block shots will help them. As for Gallinari, his shooting #s a year ago were crazy good. Small sample, but if his shot is that potent he'll help regardless of how bad he is on D.
Matt H (Phx, AZ)
John, Spurs/Celtics Finals. Spurs in 5. You heard it here!
John Hollinger (4:06 PM)
Could be, but I think you're looking backwards rather than forwards. Both clubs have serious age/injury issues.
John, I am a little miffed at your vitriol regarding Anthony Morrow. The kids leads the NBA in 3pt% as an undrafted rookie and rebounds well at his position on a team that treats defense as optional. Don't you think he at least deserves the consideration of a player like James Jones?
John Hollinger (4:06 PM)
Sure, he's a helpful player, but the guy asked if I'd start him at he 2 ahead of Curry. No chance.
Bulls 4th best team in the East. Your thoughts?
John Hollinger (4:08 PM)
There are about eight teams that could finish No. 4 in the East if everything breaks right, the margin between No. 4 and No. 10 in my picks was only eight games if I remember correctly. So Chicago certainly could ... but again, they need a lot of good fortune to get there.
John Hollinger (4:08 PM)
Folks, that's all the time I have but thanks again for all the great questions. We'll do this again in two weeks to get ready for the season.