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 3:30 p.m. ET!
Michael Wallace (3:31 PM)
Thanks for joining me again this week for the NBA chat. Lots going on right now as we head into the final two weeks of the regular season. I'll be answering your questions and addressing your takes today from 3:30 to 4:30, then I've got front-row seats for my son's T-ball game. Between the two, can't think of a more fun way to spend a few hours this afternoon. Let's get right to it.
Cole Nachtigal (South Dakota)
Hey! Do you think the Pacers will be able to turn things around before the play-offs and be a legit threat to go to the finals?
Michael Wallace (3:55 PM)
Yes. I know they've been playing horrible basketball the past few weeks and are in a deep funk. But if anyone believes the Pacers can't overcome these struggles, they are mistaking. This team defends, has depth and will bounce back in the playoffs, if not sooner. Their track records suggests as much.
Even though I am a Heat fan, I am in awe of the Spurs. They beat everyone so easily, and it doesn't even matter who they have on the floor. I know they win 60 games every year no matter what (so they always look like a machine during the regular season), but how is anyone out West realistically beating them? I don't see any way that less experienced teams like LA or Houston beat them when it counts....OKC is the only team with a chance.
Michael Wallace (3:57 PM)
I heard Tony Parker say last night that he hopes his Spurs aren't peaking too soon. They are playing tremendous and balanced basketball right now. I don't see anyone being able to stop them at this rate, East or West. But the West playoffs will be a serious grind.
Jerry (Shakedown Street)
MW, What is up w Harrison Barnes? Looks so robotic. Any clues?
Michael Wallace (3:59 PM)
That's pretty much been the kind they way he's played for a few years now. I love the potential and tools that Barnes has. His size, shooting, and athleticism give him everything he needs to be an All-Star caliber player for years to come. But he's got to get the mental part of the game in order. His confidence is too easily rattled right now. At some point, the hope is he'll really settle into his role and a consistent level of confidence. But if it doesn't work out in Golden State, he's a player who might play his best ball on his next team.
will the sports brother get another show soon?
Michael Wallace (3:59 PM)
They certainly deserve one. At some point, a station in this market will get it right and lock these guys up for the long term.
Drom John (Macon, GA)
Marco Belinelli is currently tied (with Markieff Morris) in WS for all players who have played less than 50% games as a starter. Belinelli should be in strong contention for 6MOY, yet I haven't seen Belinelli mention by ESPN NBA writers. And a close third is Chris Anderson, who should get bonus points for having no starts. What about Belinelli and Anderson that has made them be overlooked?
Michael Wallace (4:02 PM)
Sometimes, it can be all about statistics, which doesn't always tell the real story of how much impact a player has as a reserve for his team. The 6th man of the Year has traditionally gone to the player who has scored the most points off the bench, or close to it. But Andersen for Miami and Belinelli for the Spurs are vital pieces for their respective teams because of their energy, consistency and versatility. You don't win titles without those kind of role players you can rely on.
Demarcus Cousins is the most talented big man in the NBA, Agree? and Who do you think would be a good fit from the draft on the Kings in that 6-8 range? I'm thinking Marcus Smart or maybe Gordon from Arizona.
Michael Wallace (4:05 PM)
From a skillset perspective, I can't think of many other bigs in the league who are more talented than Cousins. There's no doubt that Cousins and Andre Drummond are the two best young big men in the league. Anthony Davis is in there, too, but I consider him more of a Garnett-like big who can do things on the perimeter just as well. The Kings have been in the lottery so long, I'm not sure that a draft pick is what they need to get them to the next level right now. They need some veteran leadership and a quality free agent. But I do like Gordon as being a good fit.
Michael, Toronto being North of the Border is the only reason I think of as to why people are only talking about Chicago doing some damage in the Playoffs. Nobody is talking Raptors. A little unfair?
Michael Wallace (4:07 PM)
Yes, it's unfair. But that's to the general fans out there. Folks in the league know and respect what the Raptors are capable of doing. They don't jump out at you because they lack a legitimate and popular star player. But they do it with balance, athleticism and ball-movement that makes everyone on the court a live option. They're not great at one particular thing, but they're good in a lot of different areas. They will be far from an easy out, especially if they can hold onto homecourt advantage at least in the first round.
Tom Diner (Brooklyn, NY)
Mike I just want to chime in that I already knew Paul George was overrated this year. The media excellerated him just a bit too fast, and actually had him up near KD and LeBron level lmao. Can he get there? YES, is he there? no way.
Michael Wallace (4:10 PM)
I have to admit that I fell for the Paul George early MVP-level hype as well. But he's taken a step back after a great start to the season. I agree with you that he has all the necessary skills and potential to be an elite player. But he lacks the experience and mental toughness right now. It seems like there are some nights when he doesn't know exactly how good he is. Other nights, he tries to do too much instead of working on other aspects that would help him be a better facilitator for his team. Paul George will get there soon. Maybe even this spring. He's still very much a developing star.
am i the only one that thinks deandre jordan should be in the discussion for DOY?
Michael Wallace (4:12 PM)
Absolutely not. He's right there in the mix. I don't think there will be many who overlook Jordan when the votes are tallied. What he's doing for the Clippers on a consistent basis this season is one of the more under-told stories of the season. But he'd be right there at the top of my DPOY ballot - if I had one.
Steven (az) [via mobile]
To me it's ridiculous at the backlash Kobe has received for his comment last week. Would black America really rather condemn someone exercising self defense (according to anything prove able and an unbiased jury) and support the black community than the law that allows them to vote and have equal civil rights? Sounds like reverse racism to me.
Michael Wallace (4:18 PM)
There is a tremendous amount of middle ground and gray area with these Kobe comments and backlash that folks don't want to take into consideration. To me, Kobe's point on a general level is valid. No one disagrees with him there. But when placed in the context of the Heat's decision to wear hoodies and the Trayvon Martin case as a backdrop, it seems a bit misplaced and out of context. And let's be careful about this monolithic characterization of "Black American" or "Black Twitter" or "Black community." When it comes to these kind of debates, I can't think of any other so-called segment of culture or race being lumped together under a collective thought or view on any situation. It's far more diverse than many think.
What's good Mr Wallace, just stopping by to make sure you know who the MVP is this year. That would be KD, too bad he couldn't go for the 50/40/90 again this year huh.
Michael Wallace (4:20 PM)
I've got Durant as the MVP. He's done enough to deserve it. But I also think it will be a very, very close vote at the end of the day. Especially if LeBron keeps Miami atop the East, with Wade missing in the neighborhood of 25 games this season. As of now, I've got Durant ahead, followed by LeBron, Blake, Noah and Parker.
If the Spurs win this year do you think Duncan Many and Pop would pull an Elway and call it quits??
Michael Wallace (4:22 PM)
I could see that happening. Going out on top is the best way to do so. But it's not like the Spurs are limping along and barely able to make it through a season these days. They're playing like a team that has a few more seasons of elite play in them.
Michael Wallace (4:27 PM)
I'll admit. I was very skeptical of Burke after I saw him play in the Orlando Summer League last July. He was smaller than I imagined and lacked the difference-making speed he would need at point guard to overcome that size on the NBA level. But I've also seen some promising stretches from him in Utah. The jury is still out on whether he can be a franchise-type point guard. For some reason, DJ Augustin comes to mind when I see Burke. But not just because of similar physical features. Let's see how it plays out and how much patience they will have in Utah with his development.
The Spurs did the same thing 2 years ago heading into the playoffs and lost in 5 to the Thunder... I don't think they should be crowned yet.
Michael Wallace (4:29 PM)
I don't think anyone is crowning them. But there's no shame in being impressed by the way they've played coming down the stretch. They are the team to beat right now heading into the playoffs.
Michael Wallace (4:31 PM)
It could happen. But it won't happen in Cleveland. There's a chance it could happen in Phoenix, where Hornacek could get coach of the year and Dragic could get most improved. Or in Indiana, where Lance can get most improved and Hibbert could get defensive player of the year. I could think of a few other places that could double-dip in league awards, too.
Can a team have two players winning two different awards the same year? Dion Waiters should be 6th man of the year and Spencer Hawes most improved.
Michael Wallace (4:32 PM)
Could happen. But it won't happen in Cleveland. There's a chance it could happen in Phoenix, where Hornacek could get coach of the year and Dragic could get most improved. Or in Indiana, where Lance can get most improved and Hibbert could get defensive player of the year. I could think of a few other places that could double-dip in league awards, too.
Is the Blazers last three games sign of a turnaround - and the potential to win a first-round match-up with Houston - or just false hope?
Michael Wallace (4:34 PM)
Just about every series in the West could be classified as a toss-up in the first round. I would only be surprised by the Spurs or the Heat losing that early. Nothing else, in my mind, would be considered an unbelievable upset. The Blazers are a very difficult team to read. They have been all season. I don't trust them. I like them. I think they're dangerous. But I can't rely on them. But the same can be said about Memphis, Golden State and, to some degree, Houston.
Michael Wallace (4:36 PM)
Well, that's my time for this week. Thanks for all who joined the chat. I'm already looking forward to talking NBA shop with you next week. Until then, take care - peace. MW