Chat with Kevin Pelton
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, NBA Insider Kevin Pelton stops by to chat about the latest news from the hardcourt.
Pelton is a co-author of the Pro Basketball Prospectus series and a former consultant for the Indiana Pacers. He developed the WARP rating and SCHOENE projection system.
Send your questions now and join Pelton Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Kevin Pelton (1:02 PM)
Hey everybody, thanks for joining me for my first ESPN.com chat. I'm still figuring the system out, so be gentle.I apologize in advance that I can never go snark-for-snark with John Hollinger, but I will do my best to fill the quota of Pacific NW microbrew and bike lane references. No joke, I actually have a bike lane running directly in front of my house.With that, let's get started!
Josh (Chicago, IL)
Thanks for chatting with us, Kevin! Someone needed to fill Hollinger's chat shoes. Will you be posting a Draft Rater closer to draft time?
Kevin Pelton (1:05 PM)
Yeah, I'll be bringing the college projection system I started many years ago on Basketball Prospectus (http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=707) and have since worked on behind the scenes to ESPN Insider this summer. The draft is my favorite time of year, so I'm hoping to find time for more extensive coverage.
Adam (New York)
As a Heat Fan, should I be disturbed by the fact that against teams that record wise the Heat should blow out they aren't abd are blowing big leads. Orlando, Sacramento, Cleveland???
Kevin Pelton (1:06 PM)
Keep calm and enjoy the win streak. Miami knows it can afford to coast against some of these lesser teams during the regular season, and so long as the Heat is able to pull away down the stretch, no harm whatsoever.
Hey Kevin,As I've watched Anthony Davis, I've been impressed with his development on the offensive end, and the numbers have borne this out. However, he seems lost on defense, which was his specialty in college. Have you observed this as well? Why do you think that this has been the case?
Kevin Pelton (1:08 PM)
I've been surprised by that too. Davis' block rate has been solid but the Hornets are worse defensively with him on the floor. In part, I don't think he's strong enough yet to match up with centers, which is a problem because Ryan Anderson and Davis is New Orleans' best frontcourt.
keith (southern cal)
Your thoughts on the Lakers....will they make the playoffs? Chance of advancing?
Kevin Pelton (1:10 PM)
If I had to bet on it today, I would definitely favor the Lakers. My simulation likes them more than most playoff odds because it incorporates preseason projections (about 30% of the weight right now). Given that, the Lakers are projected to finish on average with a win more than the Jazz. It's possible both teams make it if Houston or Golden State slips, but right now Utah is most likely to be the team left standing when the music stops playing.
What are the chances the Nuggets make it out of the first round this year? Will they end up with the third seed?
Kevin Pelton (1:11 PM)
Still extremely unlikely they catch the Clippers. I haven't rerun the numbers after last night, but before that they only finished 3rd about 3% of the time. Still close to a tossup they get home court over Memphis, which will probably determine whether the Nuggets advance or not.
Deven (New York, NY)
Can the Spurs hold onto the #1 seed until TP gets back?
Kevin Pelton (1:12 PM)
I think so. Tom Haberstroh used SCHOENE's analysis the other day that said Parker's injury would only cost the Spurs a game or two. I know that doesn't sound like much for an MVP candidate, but San Antonio is so good the system still wins, as DeJuan Blair (I think?) said the other day.
When it comes to your Celtics article, you said they have been better defensively post-Rondo with KG on the bench. I honestly think Jeff Green has cranked up his team defense from subpar to REALLY GOOD. Your thoughts?
Kevin Pelton (1:13 PM)
I can see that. He's finally gotten a full year in the system and the potential was always there to be an excellent defender at either forward spot, as long as you don't consider him a LeBron stopper or something crazy like that.
any truth to subpar defenders having an easier time going big on the boards? think david lee kevin love zach randolph
Kevin Pelton (1:15 PM)
It's an interesting theory to study. I know when Bob Hill coached the Sonics, he criticized Reggie Evans for favoring a rebound over offering help defense and compared him to Dennis Rodman back when Hill was in San Antonio. I think Reggie is better at that now, but the temptation always exists for guys who are in the league almost entirely thanks to their rebounding. One other possibility is that players shoot a high percentage against rebounders because they are always down low when other teams get putbacks, so this needs more exploration.
With all the advances being made in defensive stats are we going to see GM's stop offering the huge offer sheets centers who don't play D? What do you see Pekovic getting this summer?
Kevin Pelton (1:16 PM)
Are those related? I think Pekovic has developed into a solid pick-and-roll defender, even if he's not much of a shot blocker. Seems like most of the recent big contracts for centers have favored defenders like Asik and Jordan, but I might be forgetting somebody.
According to OEff-DEff, which teams are hot since the all-star break? Any surprises?
Kevin Pelton (1:17 PM)
I haven't looked specifically at since the All-Star break, but the three deep lottery teams playing well lately are Washington, Cleveland and New Orleans. The Hornets in particular haven't gotten much attention because their improved play hasn't necessarily translated into wins.
Kevin, with a poor record, the Magic understandably don't get a lot of PER Diem love- can you give a Magic fan some "bright spots"?
Kevin Pelton (1:17 PM)
I think, record aside, this has been a great season for Orlando. Vucevic looks like an anchor and Moe Harkless and now Tobias Harris have shown tremendous potential given their youth. Now it's time for Rob Hennigan to upgrade the backcourt starting in this year's lottery.
You're forgetting Brook Lopez, but that's the only example I can think of, plus he's improved defensively this year.
Kevin Pelton (1:18 PM)
Ah, yes, I was thinking about Hibbert from last summer but Lopez is well worth the money.
Neal (Chicago )
Thoughts on the Derrick Rose situation ? Doctors have cleared him to play but he still needs to dunk better off left knee. Should he play this year ?
Kevin Pelton (1:19 PM)
Only Derrick Rose knows his knee. There's not any evidence that I've turned up that indicates waiting is necessarily better for a player's long-term prognosis, but that's a general guideline and he (and his doctors) have to make that decision.
Can u tell us about yourself? Your background that lead you to espn?
Kevin Pelton (1:21 PM)
The 30-second chat version: I last played organized basketball in sixth grade because I'm short, slow and can't shoot. In college, I started writing about the Sonics online at Hoopsworld.com and came across first baseball stats (Rob Neyer and Baseball Prospectus) and then hoops stats (Dean Oliver and John Hollinger) about the same time. I spent two years writing for Supersonics.com as an intern and four more full-time before the team moved to Oklahoma City, at which point I started focusing on the league at Basketball Prospectus.
Jordan (Pullman, WA)
On a scale of 1-10 how terrible did you feel after the 2012 Apple Cup?
Kevin Pelton (1:22 PM)
A little more terrible than Cougars fans felt after both matchups in basketball this season.
Hey Kevin,What are your thoughts on Ty Corbin? I feel he has probably misused his lineups alot and kept the young guys off the floor too much this year. They are playing awesome lately. could you see a situation where the Jazz let everyone walk and hand the reigns over to the young guys for next year?
Kevin Pelton (1:24 PM)
I think Tyrone Corbin's in a tough spot because of the combination of veterans and emerging talent, plus the fact that Utah is just not ready to compete at an elite level. So it's easy to point to the coach whenever the Jazz loses a game that shouldn't necessarily have been a win. I think there's more criticism for how little trust he's shown Gordon Hayward at times this season. I would be surprised if Utah lets both veterans walk, but as the last few games have shown clearing one of Jefferson/Millsap out of the rotation leaves plenty of time for Favors and Kanter.
Blazers are pretty much locked in to missing the playoffs but losing their (top-12 protected) draft pick this year, right?
Kevin Pelton (1:24 PM)
I think there's a pretty good chance Portland hangs on to the pick because the schedule is so difficult the rest of the way. 12th is their most likely finish in my simulation; they only finish 13th or 14th about a third of the time.
On the other hand, could awful defense hurt JJ hicksons chances at a big-ish contract this summer? Or will teams be blinded by the double-doubles?
Kevin Pelton (1:25 PM)
I think the relative lack of interest in Hickson at this year's deadline was a sign teams are seeing through his impressive per-game numbers. On the other hand, my motto in free agency is it only takes one team to believe in you.
Who is the best center in the N.B.A. right now? Is it Brook Lopez?
Kevin Pelton (1:28 PM)
I would probably have Lopez behind Joakim Noah and Marc Gasol right now because of their ability at both ends. Of course, that assumes Tim Duncan is not a center this season.
Do you think Mike Woodson is deserving of some criticism that he hasn't really been getting? I'm thinking stubborness with both line-up rotations and defensive adjustments specifically...
Kevin Pelton (1:28 PM)
I'm seeing some criticism of him. The Knicks don't have a ton of great options but starting James White is a bit silly.
Eric (New York)
Any playoff drama whatsoever left in the East? Top 8 seem pretty locked in, with the Heat untouchable. Should we just focus on the race for 8th in the West?
Kevin Pelton (1:30 PM)
The big race to watch in the East is for second and third among New York and Indiana, which will set up the favorite to meet Miami in the conference finals. But fourth through seventh are still a bit of a jumble, and whoever gets home-court advantage out of that group will matter.
Can you please explain to me why Deron Williams (18.08 PER), who is playing through tremendous pain and injury limitations, gets criticized to no end, while Paul George (17.06 PER) gets mentioned as an All-NBA candidate?
Kevin Pelton (1:31 PM)
In a word, defense.
Kevin Pelton (1:32 PM)
Also, George is one of the players PER and WARP disagree on the most. He ranks just outside the league's top 10 in WARP, in large part because he gets a big boost from his combination of steals and blocks.
Kevin Pelton (1:33 PM)
Out of the 1,000 runs of my most recent simulation, they combined to make it 14 times. So we can pretty safely call the East playoff teams without fear of a 2000 election situation.
Sounds like Hollinger was def. an influence on you....lets say you get to hypothetically do as he did and land a front office gig. Where would you start if you were made the Suns GM.....we need a lot of help out here in the desert.
Kevin Pelton (1:34 PM)
I would probably move Marcin Gortat. His combination of production and salary would draw a lot of interest and he's a bit too old to be part of the next great Suns team. Besides that, avoid mistakes like the Michael Beasley signing. Phoenix has admitted this is a rebuild, and that's the first step.
I know there is a need for hype and suspense, but does any team in the East REALLY stand a chance of beating the Heat in a 7 game series?
Kevin Pelton (1:35 PM)
We're only 10 months removed from Miami being down 2-1 and trailing at halftime of Game 4 against an Indiana team that wasn't nearly as good as this year's incarnation. So even in a seven-game series, crazy things can happen. The Heat will be overwhelming favorites to come out of the East, but not a lock.
Who would you rather have for the next 5 years. P. George or Irving?
Kevin Pelton (1:37 PM)
Irving, since he's two years younger and has the athleticism to eventually get past his defensive issues right now. But I had to think about that more than I expected at first.
Are some players' values inflated by grabbing a lot of uncontested defensive rebounds? It seems that a lot of rebounds when the offense doesn't crash the glass go to the guy willing to jump in front of his own teammates to pad his stats.
Kevin Pelton (1:37 PM)
Definitely. As I wrote about in last week's look at 10 questions for basketball analytics, rebounding is a case where there's a lot of interference between teammates that makes it hard to judge their stats in a vacuum.
Tell us about your houseboat.
Kevin Pelton (1:39 PM)
It's great because I can dock and walk right up to Sounders games.Seriously, one of my old co-workers at the Sonics lived for a while on (in?) the houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle.
JeremyB666 (Kewadin, MI)
In five years where will Andre Drummond be considering his potential?
Kevin Pelton (1:40 PM)
I miss watching Andre Drummond. I think there's an argument to be made, given how effective he was this season and his pre-UConn ranking, that he's got the most upside of anyone in this class -- and that's coming from a big Anthony Davis believer. So I'd be a little surprised if he hasn't made an All-Star team by then.
Nba fan (Ca)
What made the nba 2000 draft so bad?
Kevin Pelton (1:41 PM)
Someone put a curse on that class. I'm open to suggestions who did it.
Is Wilson Chandler playing himself into an important piece of the Nuggets future or a trade chip?
Kevin Pelton (1:42 PM)
I don't feel like they have to move him because he fills an important need as a backup four. Denver's in a nice position to evaluate this group the rest of the year and then see this summer whether any big moves are needed.
Ben (Denver, CO)
Has any team ever been successful in the playoffs with a minutes/scoring distribution like Denver's? I think they need to look at a 3 for 1 for a stud big man
Kevin Pelton (1:43 PM)
Depends on your definition of success. If you mean winning a championship, then other than the 2004 Pistons who won with defense, not in recent memory. But it's possible to be successful like this. Just ask George Karl:http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/SEA/1993.html
I think Jeff Green has been the best bench player in the NBA. Can he win the sixth man award this year?
Kevin Pelton (1:45 PM)
Why is Tommy Heinsohn chatting under an alias?
Why do poeple consider Melo is a top 10 player? He is a low efficiency scorer who doesn't help his teammates play better and his d-fense is very inconsistent. Wouldn't a lot of other guys score a lot more points with his usage rate?
Kevin Pelton (1:47 PM)
Calling Melo a low-efficiency scorer is a bit of an outdated criticism; his TS% is solidly better than league average this year, and when you factor in his limited turnovers, he's actually been pretty good in terms of efficiency. So I don't think many other players could score more with the same usage rate. Melo is one of the best pure scorers in the league, as is reflected by the fact that he's typically played on very good offensive teams, last year aside. His problems, and why he's not a top-10 player, are largely at the other end of the floor.
Are you in the Simmons group that say OKC didn't get nearly enough for Harden? I'm a bit surprised with Morey saying that was the best offer OKC could have gotten. GS could have offered Barnes/Klay and WAS had Beal.
Kevin Pelton (1:49 PM)
I am in the Simmons group on that, yes. I would assume that a lot of Sam Presti's thinking was the desire to diversify assets so the Thunder didn't end up in a similar position a few years down the road when someone like Beal came up for an extension. Fundamentally, I think you're better off with one elite prospect rather than a couple of late lottery picks (Lamb and what's likely to be a pick from 9-12). But obviously OKC is doing just fine without Harden.
Moving to Seattle next month. Got any advice for someone used to sun all the time? Also, I am hoping the Sonics move back so I can get some tickets.
Kevin Pelton (1:50 PM)
There's a Portlandia sketch where everyone starts grilling and sunbathing when a small crack of sunlight peers out during the winter. This is only a slight exaggeration.
Kevin Pelton (1:50 PM)
The key is getting the most out of the sun when it is out during the summer. But I don't know if I'm good to offer advice about how to manage the winter because I've never known anything else.
Jay (Tacoma, WA)
The 2000 NBA draft was clearly cursed by Richie Frahm.
Kevin Pelton (1:50 PM)
I should have known.
how many years will it take for the cavs to be a playoff team ??????
Kevin Pelton (1:51 PM)
I think there's an outside chance, depending on where they fall in the lottery and whether they can fill their need at small forward, it could happen next year.
What are your thoughts on Monta Ellis? Would you really give him $10 million+ per year? It feels like he is just the best sixth man in the league masquerading as a #1 option.
Kevin Pelton (1:52 PM)
Kevin Pelton (1:52 PM)
I think that's a pretty fair take on Ellis. Coming off the bench would cover some of his defensive limitations and allow him to play with guys who really need his ability to create more than starters do.
Do the Pacers re-sign West after this season? If so, how many years and what type of salary do you think he warrants?
Kevin Pelton (1:55 PM)
That's one question that's sort of flown under the radar. He's such a key part of what the Pacers are doing that it's hard to imagine letting him get away. Another deal similar to his current one (two years, $20 million) might be fair and limit the risk he starts to age.
Can Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe coexist in the same frontcourt? Is it as simple as Monroe developing a consistent 18-footer?
Kevin Pelton (1:56 PM)
To me the questions are way more about the defensive end and whether Monroe can defend on the perimeter against, say, Josh Smith. I think the high post-low post game should work well for them as they develop chemistry. The shame of Drummond's injury is they haven't been able to do that lately.
Christobal (San Fran)
Bogut - better or worse for the Warriors? Seems like they struggle to win when he plays.
Kevin Pelton (1:57 PM)
Haven't looked at the numbers the way I did with Rondo today, but the sense I get from watching the Warriors and what I have seen is that their problems started before he returned and he just has been unable to fix them.
What's your outlook for the Storm this season? ;)
Kevin Pelton (1:57 PM)
Could be a rebuilding year. Hope expectations are appropriate.
David (Seattle, WA)
I've never understood the concept of "15 points on 10 shots" when the 15 points consisted of 5-10 from the field and 5-6 from the line. That's not really 10 shots; it's probably 13 (10 + the three hoisted to get to the line). Shouldn't we be looking at a stat like "points per possession used" which would account for that as well as turnovers?
Kevin Pelton (2:00 PM)
I use a simple offensive rating with that kind of points per possession; EvanZ of NBAwowy.com has taken that a step further by accounting for turnovers being worse than missed shots. But sheer points/shot, though it's easy to calculate looking at the box score, is not a very good number at all.
Kevin Pelton (2:01 PM)
I think that's all the time I have today. Apologies if I didn't get to your question. I'll see everyone at the same time next week as we make this into a recurring feature. Thanks for joining!