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.
Also, be sure to check out Friday's weekly episode of TrueHoop TV, featuring a round table discussion with a few of ESPN's NBA experts.
Send your questions now and join Pelton Friday at 3 p.m. ET!
Kevin Pelton (3:00 PM)
Hey everyone, thanks for joining me for my weekly chat. With the group stages of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in the books, we're headed toward the more entertaining knockout round. Add in the trickle of free agency news and the start of the Seattle Seahawks' defense of their Super Bowl championship and there's plenty to discuss this Friday afternoon.
Hi Kevin, appreciate the solid effort you put into chats! I'm trying to project Aaron Gordon's game at the next level and many are comparing him to Shawn Marion (I think he resembles a young Karilenko) - given Gordon's mediocre steal/block rates in college, how likely is he to become a dominant defender?
Kevin Pelton (3:03 PM)
The challenge is figuring out how much of the responsibility for that lies with Gordon and how much with Sean Miller's system, which encourages players to stay at home rather than gambling for steals and blocks. Gordon's steal rate was off the charts when he played in a full-court press for the USA team in the U-19 World Championship last summer, but his rates were disappointing in the NBA Summer League as well. So we'll know much more after a season in the NBA. But at this point, comparisons to Kirilenko and Marion are certainly optimistic, without even factoring in their superiority as free throw shooters.
Pennsylvania [via mobile]
What do u do to win
Kevin Pelton (3:04 PM)
Score more points than the opponent.
Do you get a feeling that Houston might not make the playoffs? Let's call the offense/defense of Parsons and Ariza a wash. But losing Lin? He was the only guy who can create his own shot off the bench. Asik was Howard's insurance. They are in trouble.
Kevin Pelton (3:05 PM)
Not really. For one, Asik played less than a thousand minutes last season, and the Rockets were certainly a playoff team during his extended absence. Lin will be a loss, but he's not irreplaceable.
US squad is just a group of individuals, not a real team. (e.g. Faried ~10 offensive rebounds, leading scorer.) they're winning on talent.
Kevin Pelton (3:06 PM)
Any team that's thrown together with a month of practice is going to be a team of individuals. Not sure what Faried has to do with it. But at one point, frustrated by a lack of ball movement on the perimeter, I looked up how the USA's assist rate compared to past international competitions. While it was much better in the 2012 Olympics, it was far worse in the 2010 World Championships. Moral of the story: It's easy to romanticize the past and pick apart the present. That's one of the reasons to value statistical analysis.
David (Seattle, WA)
Kevin, Jazz fan here. Based on what we've see out of Exum during summer play and the Worlds, how concerned should I be about him?
Kevin Pelton (3:11 PM)
I don't think you should be concerned at all. He's 19. He's nine months removed from playing Australian high school basketball. The Jazz didn't draft him to contribute immediately. I don't get the notion that he should be dominating players many years his senior.
Why dont the Heat want Beasley?
Kevin Pelton (3:11 PM)
A better question would be why anyone would want Michael Beasley at this point.
Do you think the lighter FIBA ball is affecting team Usa's 3pt efficiency?
Kevin Pelton (3:14 PM)
I don't think so. FIBA used to use a full-size ball for both men's and women's competition, whereas the WNBA uses a smaller basketball. In talking to WNBA players, they felt it took them a couple of days to make the switch. Players have been working with FIBA basketballs for a month, so I don't think it should have much impact by this point. Given what we know about the high variability of 3-point percentage over entire seasons, let alone a handful of games, I think it's probably noise.
Charles (Columbus, OH)
Will someone pick up Wayne Ellington before the season tips off?
Kevin Pelton (3:14 PM)
I'd be stunned if he isn't in a training camp. At $3 million a year, Ellington is a dubious investment. At the minimum, he's a very good one.
Do you think the Bulls should be concerned with Derrick Rose's shooting struggles so far?
Kevin Pelton (3:16 PM)
A little. It's the same thing we saw last season, and as I wrote at the start of the USA training camp, to some extent it's to be expected for a player returning from a long layoff: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11282022/why-derrick-rose-playing-team-usa-help-chicago-bulls-nba
Kevin Pelton (3:16 PM)
The moral of that piece was it's better for the Bulls to have Rose go through this process now than during the first two weeks of the NBA season, which is what happened last year.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Danny Green is entering the final year of his 3 year deal. Do you think the Spurs give him a new deal before the season ends?
Kevin Pelton (3:19 PM)
While Tony Parker is an exception, it rarely makes sense for veteran players to extend their contracts. Green is likely to get far more money by playing out his deal and not being limited in the amount of a raise he can get.
Is Iman Shumpert a solid starter or just a role player?
Kevin Pelton (3:19 PM)
I don't know that those two are different categories.
Jason (St. Louis, MO)
Out of the international players that have yet to play in the NBA but there is talk of coming over (or are already planning on coming over), who do you see as being above replacement level when they arrive (for instances, guys like Zoran Dragic, Ingles, Rudez, etc.)
Kevin Pelton (3:20 PM)
Haven't looked at Dragic's stats, but both Ingles and Rudez translated a bit below replacement level. The best of SCHOENE's comps for Ingles, I thought, was Sasha Pavlovic.
Sergio (United Kingdom)
Is THIS Team USA underdogs against an experienced and talented Spanish side that has home-court advantage?
Kevin Pelton (3:21 PM)
From a technical standpoint, no. As far as I've seen USA is still the gambling favorites. That might reflect home-country bias, however. I explored the question a bit more without coming to a real conclusion in today's Insider piece: http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11469806/is-spain-fiba-world-cup-favorite-nba
Phil (Salt Lake City, UT)
Zach Lowe had a good article on Rudy Gobert yesterday. He's played very well this summer both in the NBA summer league and with the French national team. Any thoughts on his upside as an NBA player?
Kevin Pelton (3:24 PM)
Zach's take was good. I'm a little more optimistic than him that Gobert will be a part of the Jazz's future, probably because I'm more skeptical about Kanter being a part of it. The tools are clearly there for Gobert, and that's what we're seeing from him this summer. The question is translating them on a consistent basis against NBA-caliber opposition.
Ryan (Lancaster, PA)
Ever since Hinkie came to the Sixers, I've been following them more consistently because I believe in what he wants to do. Excitement around the Sixers has never been this high! With that being said, does it happen often that players go overseas to watch future teammates? (Embiid, Noel and MCW watching Saric)
Kevin Pelton (3:25 PM)
Can't say I'd ever seen that before.
If you played a Dominique Wilkins type role where you shot every time you touched the ball in an offense completely built around you, how many ppg do you think you'd score?
Kevin Pelton (3:26 PM)
In the NBA? Maybe 3. I'd bank in a 3 once a game or so.
Tim I. (Loyola Marymount University)
Kevin, have you seen any international players in the Championships in Spain who have not already been drafted that show NBA potential?
Kevin Pelton (3:29 PM)
Hmm. I'm trying to think of how many pre-draft international players are even playing in the World Cup. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk stands out, not really for what he's done on the court but simply for making the Ukraine roster at age 17. That's an indicator in and of itself.
Wags (the dirty philly)
% chance that Hinkie actually pays Ricardson's last year and he actually plays for the sixers?
Kevin Pelton (3:30 PM)
Pretty low. Barring a report to the contrary, I'm assuming Richardson will never be able to play competitive basketball again. Usually, when teams hold on to a player like that, it's so their salary can be used in a trade. That's not an issue for Philadelphia, which can use cap space to complete such trades.
Has anyone tried to quantify the advantage of year-to-year team continuity?
Kevin Pelton (3:31 PM)
The difficulty of studying a factor like continuity is the self-selected nature. Teams with more continuity tend to be much better, because why would they want to make changes? Whereas bad teams often have far more turnover.
Steven (az) [via mobile]
Rodgers and Green Bay that overrated or Seattle just THAT good?
Kevin Pelton (3:32 PM)
That was the closest prime-time game the Seahawks have played at home since 2012, so I don't think last night should tell us anything negative about the Packers.
Out of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Tim Duncan, who would you put your money on to win another championship this late in their career? Tim having to do a back to back for the first time, Manning getting back to the SuperBowl after last year blowout or Brady making a return after a long hiatus.
Kevin Pelton (3:34 PM)
The difficulty in the comparison is that no one team is as likely to win the championship in the NFL as the most likely team is to win in the NBA. Despite that, I'm still going Manning since I think the NBA Western Conference has more legitimate contenders than the AFC does.
Kevin Pelton (3:36 PM)
I'm afraid the "second year after ACL" thing is something of a myth: http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2261
Kevin Pelton (3:37 PM)
Williams will probably bounce back a little, but I wouldn't expect him to match what might have been a fluke season in its own right.
El Jefe (MN)
TWolves were 40-42 last season and lost like a dozen games by 4 - points or less. Young can maybe get 16-17 pts/ 8 boards of Love's 26 - 12...Seems as if Minny has will be a deeper /more athletic team, better defensively, and has a much better bench....odds they are able to get to that elusive .500 next season?
Kevin Pelton (3:42 PM)
SCHOENE estimated the Love trade costing the Timberwolves about 15 wins. Add in that they haven't really solved any of the underlying problems that were a factor in their late-game losses (far from 100 percent skill, but also not 100 percent luck) and that seems like a long shot to me. Maybe 10 percent chance.
Is it possible that Team USAs shooting woes are due to the fact they aren't a great shooting team overall (Excpting for Curry & thompson)
Kevin Pelton (3:45 PM)
More a factor in the number of attempts -- which, as John Schumann noted, is way, way down from 2012: https://twitter.com/johnschuhmann/status/507973046540320768
Kevin Pelton (3:46 PM)
Percentage-wise, the USA's shooting is being dragged down by James Harden going 3-of-12 and Derrick Rose going 1-of-10, both of which are obviously flukes.
How far do you think the current 76ers roster could go if they were to compete in the FIBA world cup?
Kevin Pelton (3:47 PM)
They would obviously be behind the USA and Spain, and probably Brazil, but I'd put them ahead of anyone else.
Did you get a chance to read network's idea for the U.S. Basketball team roster? I thought it was a fascinating idea and something the players would really jump on board with.
Kevin Pelton (3:49 PM)
I did. I'm still not sure anything needs to be fixed with USA Basketball, but I would be OK with players throwing their full attention to international play for one four-year stretch.
Kevin Pelton (3:50 PM)
By the way, that was actually Andrew Sharp, and his piece is here: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/keep-team-usa-young-forever/
Brent (Valencia, CA)
What do you think of the late sneaky signings of CDR and Ekpe Udoh to the Clippers?
Kevin Pelton (3:51 PM)
Like both of them for the price. I was surprised Douglas-Roberts didn't get more attention after a solid season in Charlotte, and Udoh has long been a favor of adjusted plus-minus. I doubt he'll play much with the Clippers' frontcourt depth, but he's a better insurance policy than Big Baby.
JR's knuckleheaded-ness seems to have given him a worse reputation than his #s indicate. He's still an above average starting wing. Do you think the Knicks should look to deal Shumpert for a pick or front court help ahead of FA and use THJr as the primary wing off the bench?
Kevin Pelton (3:52 PM)
The biggest issue I see with that plan is it leaves the Knicks thin in terms of wing defense, since neither Smith nor Hardaway are ever going to be confused with stoppers. Perhaps Cleanthony Early solves that?
I'm trying to project whether Tony Snell will be a solid rotation player for the Bulls this year. What are the best indicators that a so-so rookie will turn into a better player?
Kevin Pelton (3:54 PM)
I don't know if there's an obvious indicator of this. I think what I'd say is from a Bayesian perspective everything matters -- how good a player was in college, where they were drafted, Summer League performance. The latter is the strongest data point in Snell's favor.
Kevin Pelton (3:56 PM)
You dig deeper. Again, from a Bayesian standpoint, both of those are valid data points. And more information helps you determine how much relative weight to put on each of them.
How do you see the Eric Bledsoe saga ending? Just taking the QO would be risky given his health and the fact that getting a max deal from a team next year still barely would out earn the current 4/48 deal. And that is with salary cap increases.
Kevin Pelton (3:57 PM)
At this point, it's hard to see this ending with anything but the qualifying offer.
mathieu (san francisco)
Has the Manimal made himself some money in this tournament or is he just being what he is and playing in a format and with a team that magnifies his game?
Kevin Pelton (3:59 PM)
I think Zach Lowe said it well today that Faried's management will be right to bring up his performance and the Nuggets will be equally right to dismiss it. Ultimately, I don't think it matters much: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/team-usa-fiba-world-cup-spain/
Seems like the Lebron Cavs need defense, not offense. Would a trade like Kyrie for Rubio and Dieng make sense for both teams?
Kevin Pelton (4:01 PM)
I think it's dangerous to assume that a team that tilts one way or the other can improve by negating a strength in favor of a weakness. Ultimately, points on offense count as much as points saved on defense. As for this idea, specifically, a player like Rubio who needs the ball in his hands to be effective is not an ideal fit next to LeBron James.
Ryan (St Louis)
So who looks worse, James Harden for actually putting in defensive effort(he's still junk there) or Kevin McHale not being able to get him to put forth effort and holding him accountable?
Kevin Pelton (4:02 PM)
It's a different role for Harden, since the USA doesn't rely on him creating offense in the same way the Rockets do, and obviously he's playing fewer minutes. That certainly does point to his need to get into better shape to contribute more at both ends of the floor.
I can't figure out the Sixers starting lineup. Is KJ McDaniels going to start? What's your scouting report on his game?
Kevin Pelton (4:03 PM)
I think it's probably three players for two spots between McDaniels, Hollis Thompson and Tony Wroten. Maybe Jerami Grant gets in that mix, but at this point it seems like he might have to play power forward given how empty the Sixers' depth chart is there.
Kevin Pelton (4:04 PM)
McDaniels is a fine athlete with good size for the wing. He figures to be a solid defender right away, and whether he becomes more than that is contingent on his ability to develop a 3-point shot.
The Smiling Knight (Coram/Ny)
Assuming that both point guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic are UFA next season which one would be better for the NY Knicks triangle offense ? Also what do you think of Kosta Koufos joining the NY Knicks next season ?
Kevin Pelton (4:05 PM)
Because of his shooting ability, Dragic seems like a more ideal fit for a triangle offense.
Did the Thunder maintain the status quo this offseason, get better, or get worse?
Kevin Pelton (4:06 PM)
Maintain the status quo.
What's Sacramento up to? Releasing Ellington, trading Terry. Are they just lowering their bill or clearing room for a move?
Kevin Pelton (4:08 PM)
Seems like the latter. By the way, point of clarification to my HOU-SAC trade grades by way of Larry Coon: the Kings only have a $3.6 million trade exception from the Isaiah Thomas sign-and-trade, not the full $7.2 million Thomas is making this year. That's a leftover from the base-year contract rules, which are mostly gone now.
Teddy Green (Los Angeles )
While soon to be Clipper Hedo Turkoglu obviously isn't the player he once was, couldn't he still have a role as a 6-10 stretch four ala Matt Bonner or Steve Novak?
Kevin Pelton (4:08 PM)
I wouldn't say that Turkoglu is in their class as a shooter.
Robert (Glendale, AZ)
Chris Singleton had a reputation as a defensive stopper at FSU. How has he been in the NBA, and was this a good signing by the Pacers?
Kevin Pelton (4:09 PM)
He's been OK defensively, but not good enough offensively to stay on the court. And unless he's improbably developed a 3-point shot over the summer, I don't see that changing in Indiana during training camp.
What are your thoughts on Wayne Ellington? Wouldn't mind him ending up on the Bulls.
Kevin Pelton (4:10 PM)
He's a good shooter, but the more he plays, the more problematic his other limitations become. For a team like Chicago, that probably wouldn't be an issue.
When thinking about the upcoming season, what teams do you think have the biggest boom - bust potential? I think in the East - Miami could win the championship or also miss the playoffs (albeit both would be shocking).
Kevin Pelton (4:11 PM)
I wouldn't be shocked if the Heat misses the playoffs. I think everyone after the top two in the East is close enough that you could put several of those teams in the mix. Houston and Dallas both stand out to me in the West. Maybe Golden State took with some of the Warriors' injury risks.
What would be your dream USA Basketball starting 5 for an international competition? Assuming you can use players from the 1992 Dream Team through the 2014 World Cup?
Kevin Pelton (4:15 PM)
This is a great question. Jordan 1992 and Barkley 1992 seem like givens. James 2012 is probably the best incarnation. At center, I think the choices are generally all from the 1996 team that had Robinson/Olajuwon/O'Neal in their primes. Robinson was the best of those three guys, who shared the starting job. Point guard is maybe the toughest spot, but I'm going Paul 2012 over Magic 1992 by virtue of superior outside shooting. And my sixth man is the lone Worlds entrant: Durant 2010.
Who's this Zoran Dragic? Is it just Goran with a moustache?
Kevin Pelton (4:16 PM)
Have you seen them both on the court at the same time? Yes? Oh, carry on then.
Is there a statistical analysis regarding which team has the greatest home court advantage leaving out the team's actual talent level?
Kevin Pelton (4:18 PM)
Historically, the only home-court advantages that are statistically significantly different from average are the ones related to altitude: Denver and Utah.
Michael (Chicago )
If Yugoslavia was still a united country do you think they'd be better than Spain in FIBA? (consisted of Serbia, Croatia, Slovinea, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro)
Kevin Pelton (4:23 PM)
Hmm. So your starting lineup, using this year's rosters plus the countries that didn't make it, is something like Dragic/Bogdanovic/Bogdanovic/Saric/Pekovic with Teodosic/Bjelica/Raduljica as your top three off the bench? I think that team would be favored over Brazil for bronze by virtue of its incredible depth, but I don't think it would match Spain in terms of star power.
Kevin Pelton (4:23 PM)
Haven't seen that during the limited amount I've seen him play. Good backup seems like a more reasonable target.
Kevin Pelton (4:24 PM)
Wait, K.J. McDaniels is getting hype? Where?
Try to disagree with this comment: If the USA had to pick one player from this roster to take the final shot or create one it would be Kyrie!
Kevin Pelton (4:24 PM)
I suppose I would take Irving, but the beauty of a roster like the USA's is you can feel comfortable with the open player taking the shot.
Kevin Pelton (4:25 PM)
Hard to see it at this point. If his comeback leads anywhere, I think China is more likely than the NBA.
Gorgui Dieng is looking pretty good in the FIBA games and finished strong last year. Does his emergence make Pek available or do you think they can play together?
Kevin Pelton (4:26 PM)
I'd assume the Timberwolves are open to offers at this point, but given Pekovic's history of injury having two good options at center isn't the worst idea. Playing them together seems unlikely now that both Thaddeus Young and Anthony Bennett are in the mix at power forward.
Jake S. (Ohio)
Why does it seem that most good/great players take so long to develop a postup game? Such as LeBron while in Cleveland. I could only imagine the terror Durant could become if he put on a bit of weight and developed a postup.
Kevin Pelton (4:28 PM)
Well, part of it is that every hour you spend working on one skill is another you don't spend working on the other. It's easy to see how an improved post-up game could help Durant, but very difficult to see how much worse his ballhandling would be had he not spent so much time developing that aspect. Because it's unlikely to be a go-to element, the post game for a perimeter player is usually the last piece to the puzzle.
Robert (Glendale, AZ)
"Robinson was the best of those three guys"Robinson over Olajuwon? Or are you saying just in 1996?
Kevin Pelton (4:29 PM)
Glancing at the stats, he seemed the most effective in 1996. But, at the risk of opening up a whole other debate: http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=415
Ummm how would it not be Steph Curry taking the last shot??
Kevin Pelton (4:32 PM)
Curry has occasionally struggled to create his own shot in late-game situations. His lack of size/elite quickness is magnified when defenses are so focused.
Do you think there is a real chance Ray Allen decides to play this year and sign with the Spurs? Seems like it would be the perfect situation and offense for him. Pop would manage his minutes and he would get a lot of open looks!
Kevin Pelton (4:34 PM)
If there wasn't a real chance Allen plays this season, he'd have announced his retirement by now. Clearly, it is a decision, and one he's giving a lot of thoughts. I have a hard time seeing how the Spurs would find minutes for so many capable wings, but perhaps with Patty Mills injury Manu Ginobili would play point guard full-time.
Kevin Pelton (4:36 PM)
I think it's contingent on Andrew Wiggins developing into a star. Right now, Canada has impressive depth but I'm not sure there's a single Canadian who can be considered even an average starter.
Why do you think Davis will be the best PF next year? Personally I think the argument is between Aldridge and Love.
Kevin Pelton (4:37 PM)
I wasn't aware that I thought that.
To the Yugoslavia question, they'd also have nikola vucevic, zoran dragic, mirza teletovic, nenad krstic, namenja nedovic, ect.
Kevin Pelton (4:37 PM)
I would not want to be in charge of cutting the hypothetical Yugoslavian roster down to 12.
Hi Kevin, any decent back up center left the Bulls can sign to replace Nazr Mohammed?
Kevin Pelton (4:39 PM)
Gustavo Ayon is probably the best of the group. Elton Brand would also make a lot of sense if he's willing to accept such a small role.
Kevin Pelton (4:39 PM)
Realistically, Pau Gasol is the Bulls' backup center.
Kevin who do you have winning it all in FIBA and the NFL this year?
Kevin Pelton (4:40 PM)
I'm still leaning toward USA, maybe 55-45 percent over Spain. And in the NFL I'm taking Denver.
Kevin Pelton (4:41 PM)
I would anticipate this will be a part of the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
How would the WNBA all-stars do against an average men college team?
Kevin Pelton (4:42 PM)
Not well, which doesn't tell you anything about the level of play in the WNBA. It's just simply a matter of height. Brittney Griner is enormously tall in the WNBA at 6-8; she'd be an undersized power forward in the men's game.
Couldn't Ray Allen take minutes from Green, since he appears to be in pops dog house a lot? It could be an insurance for green or Mills if one of them drops off this year.
Kevin Pelton (4:44 PM)
I can't see playing Ray Allen over Danny Green as a positive for the Spurs at this point in their respective careers.
Kevin Pelton (4:44 PM)
Alright, folks, I'm going to call it a day. Thanks for your questions and see you next week when we're preparing for the championship game of the FIBA Basketball World Cup.