Chat with Michael Wallace
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, NBA reporter Michael Wallace stops by to chat about the latest news from around the league.
In addition to writing about the NBA, Wallace is also a frequent contributor to the "Heat Index" and the TrueHoop Network. Prior to working for ESPN, Wallace spent more than a decade covering the ACC, SEC, NFL and the NBA for other publications.
Send your questions now and join Wallace Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Michael Wallace (2:59 PM)
Thanks for joining me for another week of the NBA chat. It's always one of the highlights of my time covering the league. Looking forward to you questions and takes, so let's get right to them.
Zach (State College)
Do you think LeBron can keep up with his amazingly efficient start?
Michael Wallace (3:02 PM)
The simple answer is no. He's not going to shoot 70 percent from the field and average 34 points throughout the rest of the season, as he's done in the past three games. But can LeBron shoot, say, 58 percent and average 28-30? I think so. He spoke the other day about how much easier it is for him to be an efficient scorer while playing with the Heat because of the shooters surrounding him. The only thing that will keep his numbers down from a scoring standpoint are the shot attempts. Those must spread around on a team that also features Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
How is Oden doing in practice? I never hear about him.
Michael Wallace (3:04 PM)
That's because we never see him. So you and I are pretty much in the same boat when it comes to Greg Oden. The most we've heard is that he's continuing to work on his conditioning in and effort to strengthen his knees. This is a slow, methodical process for Oden and the Heat. They rewarded him late in the preseason with that cameo appearance as a reward for his work and dedication to that point. Let's see where he is in another month.
Is there any real difference between the positions of power forward and center? They seem to be used just as "labels" for certain players.
Michael Wallace (3:06 PM)
With the league trending smaller over the past 20 or so years, those two positions have pretty much become interchangeable. Guys think it's just cooler to be labeled a power forward than it is to be considered a center. Just ask Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. To go a step further, there's not much difference these days from a stretch-four and a small forward, either. We've entered an era of what Heat coach Erik Spoelstra likes to call "position-less basketball."
Mike Watson (San Diego)
How do you percieve the Lakers through the first couple of weeks of the season? Do you believe they will make any roster moves for a primary scorer or a low post presence for defense?
Michael Wallace (3:10 PM)
They've been the hardest team to figure out in the league through the first three weeks of the season. They've won some very impressive games playing Mike D'Antoni's system of late. But you have to wonder how things will shape out once Kobe Bryant returns. That big-man defensive presence was supposed to be provided by Chris Kaman, but he seems to have fallen out of favor in recent days.
Jason (Ellicott City, MD)
What can the Wizards do to right the ship or are they better off tanking it to get a protected 1st round pick?
Michael Wallace (3:12 PM)
I know this coming draft is supposed to be the end-all, be-all class. But there's no way I'm sacrificing an entire season to tank and get there. I just have a fundamental problem with that logic. The Wizards should be a playoff team at this point. They've gone the high-draft route the past three years. They have the pieces in place to make a run at one of the final four seeds in the East if they stay relatively healthy. This is a chemistry and communication issue right now. They also need to get something out of the third overall pick in the draft at some point. We've yet to see Otto Porter, who could really have an impact on this team.
What is going on with Wade's inconsistent game? Did the work in offseason/knee therapy not work?
Michael Wallace (3:14 PM)
The work in the offseason needs more time and will extend into the season. Wade is dealing with a chronic issue with his knees. He can't avoid it. There's no getting around that at this point. Both he and the team have a plan in place to try to manage his minutes and the wear and tear as much as they can without making Wade look like a player who can't keep up with the demands of his role. This will be on ongoing process, with both Wade and the Heat learning this week that he shouldn't be trying to play in both games of a back-to-back set just yet.
Daniel (Davidson, NC)
Will LeBron shoot over 60%+ this year?
Michael Wallace (3:17 PM)
I can't see that happening with a player at his position. Would I be stunned if he does? Not the way he's capable of playing. But it's not likely.
Ryan (The D)
Detroit has definitely raised the talent level, but to really take the next step they need some cohesion. How about Monroe, Stuckey and Singler to GS for Lee, Barnes, and Bazemore? Seems to help both teams...
Michael Wallace (3:19 PM)
I don't see either team desperate enough to pull off a trade anytime soon.
Derrick (Garden City)
Do you think Wade will be sitting out all back to backs until 2014?
Michael Wallace (3:19 PM)
Through the first half of the season? Yes.
It's so sad to see OKC go from the future of the NBA to the past of the NBA. Is this roster capable of winning a championship? I'm not talking about getting a lot of regular season wins, but are they capable of winning THE title? If not, what move do they have to make to get back there?
Michael Wallace (3:22 PM)
They traded away sure trips to the NBA Finals for a few years when the let James Harden walk. Now, they have to do it with lesser role players needing to step up and Durant and Westbrook needing to play like a pair of MVP candidates. The West is deep, and there aren't meany teams head and shoulders above the rest. So it will come down to catching the right matchup and staying healthy. OKC still has plenty to prove and they still have to find a way to solve the Perkins problem.
Michael,What 5 current players would you choose to contend with Michael Jordan's dream pickup team?
Michael Wallace (3:24 PM)
Give me Zeke Thomas, Chris Mullin, Benard King, LeBron and Wilt Chamberlain.
What do you think is wrong with the Nets and Knicks?
Michael Wallace (3:27 PM)
Injuries and a lack of cohesion represent the biggest problems for the Nets. But that should take care of itself with time. The Knicks are just a team of misfits. None of the parts seem to work together, and some of those signs were there from the outset. I hate to admit it, but the Knicks played far more like a team before Melo arrived. It's not all on him, but it just shows that you can't build a championship-caliber team certain guys, even highly elite ones.
How is Andrew Bynum doing I'm not hearing that much about him?
Michael Wallace (3:30 PM)
He's playing through his knee soreness. He's playing his way back into conditioning. He's unable to play for long stretches because of both of the previous statements. Bynum is also struggling with the mental phase of the game, trying to cope with the fact that his body isn't letting him be the player he remembers when he was healthier. That takes some time to adjust. If he's a solid backup center, the Cavs are getting their money's worth.
Do you chalk up the slow start for Rose as getting back into basketball shape and kicking off a year of rust or should Bulls fans start to worry?
Michael Wallace (3:32 PM)
Even before Rose was hurt, the Bulls weren't the most efficient offensive team in the league. They beat you with defense. They keep the score low, contest all shots and hope to get a knockout punch from Rose in the fourth quarter. That style isn't conducive to enjoyable basketball. But it's been effective. Rose needs more than two or three weeks to adjust to full-speed NBA action for 40 minutes a night. The rust will wear off.
Jessie (Buffalo, NY)
If OKC could've kept Harden, how many championships do you think they would've won in say 4 years, up until Durant's contract runs out?
Michael Wallace (3:33 PM)
I couldn't see them getting past the Heat. Their style plays right into Miami's hands. OKC's best ball is small-ball. No team in the league is better at that than Miami right now, although Golden State is gaining ground.
What do you think about all this pacers talk do you believe they can beat the heat or are they just another team on the platter for the heat to knock off? Do you think they can beat the heat in 7 games if not who can?
Michael Wallace (3:36 PM)
Indiana took the Heat to seven games last season and ran out of gas in the final round. They're playing this season like they're on a mission to get over that final hurdle. That's why it's so important for the Pacers to get that 7th playoff game on their own turf. Otherwise, I'm not sure they'll be able to get past Miami and all of the pressure, momentum and calls that tend to go against them if they have to play a seventh game again on the road.
Patrick (San Antonio)
Any thoughts on the Spurs start? Duncen has started slow and they appear to be deeper than last year. If they stay healthy do you like their chances to get back to the finals?
Michael Wallace (3:38 PM)
I might not know a lot of things. But I'm smart enough to avoid counting the Spurs out. They just won't go away, will they? They'll be right back into the thick of the finals chase as long as their key guys stay relatively healthy. The slow starts or midseason minor injuries won't be a concern for the Spurs. They're masters at overcoming those tedious matters and playing their best when the postseason arrives - barring the final 30 seconds of a certain Game 6 in Miami.
How good are the Warriors, do you see them as legit title contenders, Is Steph good enough to take a team to the finals and win, whilst being so dependent on his jump shot
Michael Wallace (3:40 PM)
His jumpers are layups for everyone else. It's that simple. So yes, he's one of the few guys in the league who can rely almost exclusively on jumpers to lead his team. The only thing the Warriors lack is deep playoff experience. So you can only hold that against them for so long before they eventually break through. If there's a legit concern, they haven't proved they can stay healthy for the duration of a season and into the playoffs. I don't trust their health. But that's about it.
ben (los angeles)
Michael, what piece or pieces do the lakers need now to improve. it seems they understand the system the coach wants them to play but the players aren't there to inact it?
Michael Wallace (3:44 PM)
So much of this depends on Kobe's approach when he comes back. They don't have many trade chips beyond Pau Gasol, really. And there won't be much D'Antoni can do if he has to pump the brakes on what's working now in order to suit Kobe's game. I want to see if this supporting cast still plays with as much energy and confidence when Mr. Bryant returns. Then, you can truly see what needs they'll have moving forward for the rest of the season.
Paul (Portland, OR)
As far as Melo goes, "they" often say the best players make the players around them better. I've never felt Anthony falls into that category. A great talent, who can score in bunches when he's feeling it, but a notch below other elite players in my book.
Michael Wallace (3:46 PM)
Nan, Melo's elite. You have to give him that respect. But it's fair to believe he won't lead a team to a championship as the best player on the squad. He needs to play with a point guard like a healthy Deron Williams, a Rondo or a CP3. But not too many teams are in position to pull off that kind of deal.
Isn't it time for Masai to pull the plug on the Gay- Derozan combo?
Michael Wallace (3:53 PM)
They need shooters. Rudy Gay can't take 30-plus shots and carry this team anywhere beyond mediocre. They're stocked with athletic guys who can run the floor and dunk all day long. But until they find a way to get a consistent, floor-spacing threat onto the floor, they'll struggle with up-and-down play.
What do you make of Portland's good start to the season?
Michael Wallace (3:59 PM)
I don't think this winning streak is any sort of fluke. It's tough to fall in love with anything Portland does, because they have a snake-bitten recent history that has always lead to some sort of heartbreak, be it from injuries or just regression at the most inopportune time of the season. But Dame Lillard is playing like a true playmaker instead of a shoot-first scorer. And Aldridge is showing some consistent toughness in and around the basket. Other guys are filling in nicely. They have a formula. They have to stick with it.
Michael Wallace (3:59 PM)
Well, that hour certainly went by fast. That's my time folks. Thanks for all of your questions. If I missed your question, stay with me. I'll get around to them before too long. Until next week, take care. Peace. MW