Monday, March 23, 2015

NBA WHO SAYS NO Rankings - Part 1

First, a fun (not really!) anecdote: on Thursday night I was at a bar that was (of course) showing NCAA tournament games on 59ish of its 60ish TVs.  The only exception was one screen over in a corner showing what was on ESPN at the time--a Phillies/Yankees spring training game.  No better demonstration of what ESPN's baseball coverage is all about than their decision to televise a game between two teams that, if things go well, will combine to win 150 games.  Anyways, I (partially) focused on this game for about 8 or 9 minutes.  That's all the time I needed to see: 1) Ryan Howard make an error trying to field a ground ball that 80% of high school first basemen would make 2) an unearned Yankee run score due to said error, and finally 3) a montage of Derek Jeter moments, likely prompted by the fact that new Yankees SS Didi Gregorious committed the baseball faux pas of coming up to bat while playing Jeter's former position.  I really feel bad for Gregoious.  If he starts at least 120 games at SS for the Yankees this year and performs at any worse than an All-Star level, someone in the Bronx is going to run onto the field and attack him by mid May.  Anyways, fuck ESPN's baseball coverage.

Now we move to Bill's piece de resistance, his Trade Value column.  Not content simply to write like an asshole, this year he also edited/promoted like an asshole as well.  I don't need to cover that, 1) because it's hard enough to just critique the flaws with the substance of this piece and 2) because Drew Magary did a great job talking about the other stuff last week.  It's awesome.  Go click that link and read it.  If I were to pick the best and most demonstrative line, it would be:

Bill Walton and Larry Bird changed my too-harsh opinion of Kobe's style…

(Magary) "No way! Two great basketball players told you a great player was great? WHAT A REVELATION."

Really, that just about sums up what Simmons is about at this point.  He's a wannabe "hoops nerd" who actually knows little about basketball but hopes that hiring Zach Lowe and having access to NBA greats via his ESPN gig will make his opinions interesting and legitimate.  But the opinions are just as idiotic as ever, and now, by flaunting these ESPN-facilitated relationships that would NEVER develop or maintain themselves organically if he were an independent blogger (even a nationally popular one) outside of the ESPNiverse, he's exposed for being a starfucker too.  Good on you, Bill.  Feel free to quit ESPN and go the fuck away any month now.  DIE.

Anyways, this is actually part 3 of 3 of his trade value column.  I'm just going to start here because it's plenty long anyways and I'm blogging at a snail's pace these days.  In fact, this whole first post is just going to be the first half of his recap of the previously published rankings from 60 up to 11, and commentary on how things have changed in the time since he made those rankings in January and February.  Really makes sense, right?  No one enjoys Bill's writing and Bill's thinking and Bill more than Bill, so of course he's going to comment on thoughts he thinks he thought a few weeks ago.

GROUP O: “You’re Just Lowballing Me Because He Expires Soon”

One of the dumbest features of what could (could) be an interesting premise for a column--the fact that conveniently, he ends up ranking guys that all have some relatively unimportant (relatively unimportant in the entire scheme of the player's total trade value, I mean) in common together consecutively in groups.  For fuck's sake, he puts Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge together at 13 and 14 below because they're both unrestricted free agents this offseason.  Yeah, they're maybe both top 20 value guys right now, but did you absolutely have to do it that way?  To the extent Bill takes this serious (he really, really does) this really takes away whatever legitimacy he was hoping to cultivate.

60. Brandon Knight
59. Greg Monroe
58. Paul Millsap
57. Draymond Green
56. Goran Dragic

UPDATE: In February, no. 56 and no. 60 DID get traded … and Dragic fetched a slightly higher price than Knight did. Big win for the 2015 Trade Value column! Don’t get used to it.

Both were dealt in three way deals, but in essence, in exchange for Knight the Bucks got a possibly useful combo guard (Michael Carter-Williams, who should be less of a shooting disaster now that he's not carrying the crappy Sixers around) who has two team option contract years left, a young point guard (Tyler Ennis) who may or may not be anything, and a warm body (Miles Plumlee).  Meanwhile, in exchange for Dragic, the Suns got a guy who probably doesn't even qualify as a warm body (Danny Granger or THE CORPSE of Danny Granger lolololol) and first round draft picks in 2017 (top 7 protected) and 2021 (apparently unprotected).

They're both good players, but Dragic is a better scorer than Knight (for now), so Dragic is definitely the better overall player (for now).  But as far as value goes, I feel like Carter-Williams + Ennis >>> a protected first rounder that's 27 months away and an unprotected first rounder that's more than two presidential elections away.  Like, that's a pretty clear win for the Bucks, as far as comparing their haul to Phoenix's.  Yeah yeah yeah, you've got to stockpile draft choices blah blah blah, but fuck that.  A first rounder in 2021?  The guy the Suns could potentially take with that pick is probably in like 8th grade right now.

GROUP N: “I’m Hanging Up and Calling You Back From a Pay Phone”

Why would a GM do this?  Because their office phone is tapped?  By who?  Unfunny, unclever, dumb.

55. DeMar DeRozan
54. Ty Lawson
53. Eric Bledsoe
52. Kevin Love

Here we have a group of guys who are thankfully not tied together by some unifying thread; Bill just thinks they have relatively equal trade value.  But here's another fundamental weakness of this whole thing that ruins its legitimacy from the start.  (And again, I get that the whole column is just supposed to be a fun thought exercise.  But you Billophiles out there know this to be true: Bill desperately wants to be taken seriously, and the NBA is the sport which he knows the most about.)  Love is a stretch four with just one year left on his deal.  Bledsoe is a point guard with four years left on his deal.  The idea of either getting traded for the other, or either getting traded for draft picks and trying to decide which would fetch more, is so totally dependent on the needs of the other hypothetical teams involved and those teams' willingness to take on long term salary that this list loses all meaning.

Yes, I know I just a minute ago said it was bullshit that Bill groups together guys who have something in common, and now I'm saying it's bullshit that he groups together guys who have nothing in common.  Guess what?  This whole dumb column is, in fact, bullshit.  If you asked me for a sincere idea for how to make it less bullshitty, after telling you to jump in a wood chipper, I'd suggest that the whole list be just 20 players long.  How the hell do we even begin to guess if the Suns would or would not swap Bledsoe for Love?  It's pointless.  The only fun and meaningful theoreticals of that kind involve superstar level players, not guys like the four listed above.

UPDATE: Latest odds for Kevin Love’s new home address this fall: Back Bay (-120), Brookline (+200), Beacon Hill (+350), Wellesley (+500), Weston (+500), South End (+700), Charlestown (+2000), Scituate/Hingham/Duxbury (+4000), Revere (+2000000).


GROUP M: “I Know, I Know, We’re Being Irrational”

51. Victor Oladipo
50. Alex Len
49. Jonas Valanciunas
48. Nikola Vucevic
47. Jusuf Nurkic
46. Nikola Mirotic
45. Derrick Favors

UPDATE: Oladipo made The Semi-Leap after the All-Star break: 12 games, 20.6 ppg, 4.8 apg, 45-39-83 percent splits, excellent defense and a recent Orlando Sentinel story headlined “Victor Oladipo is learning that success commands opponents’ attention.” 

That's not "making the leap."  "Making the leap" is a dumbass concept that Bill likes a lot (naturally), when he most commonly applies it to situation like this which would more properly be called "a good month-long stretch by a good player on a bad team."  OLADIPO IS ON HIS WAY TO THE HALL OF FAME, READERS.  YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.

The following "self-deprecating" sentence is presented without commentary:

Please add “Oladipo over Bennett and Noel” to my all-time NBA draft win tally, along with “Durant over Oden,” “CP3 over Bogut and Williams,” “Derrick Williams over Kyrie,” “Okafor over Dwight” and “Jabari over Wiggins.” (Fine, I’m batting .500. Whatever.)

What an asshole.

GROUP L: “Sorry, He’s Worth More to Us Than He’s Worth to You”

44. The Completely Rejuvenated Pau Gasol

He gets a special nickname because he's white!

43. Jeff Teague
42: Zach Randolph
41. Joakim Noah
40. Markieff Morris
39. Wesley Matthews
38. Kyle Korver


Korver is a good player signed to a good contract (about $6MM per year for the next two years).  Many contenders would be happy to have him; he's obviously the best pure three point shooter in the game right now (he has a shot at finishing the season above 50%) and he's not too much of a liability on defense because of his size.  But holy shit--Randolph is also signed for the next two years, at about $10MM per.  Teague is signed for the next two years at $8MM per.  Noah is signed for next year at $13MM.  You're either drunk or mentally challenged if you think Korver has more value than any of those guys, and it's not particularly close.

UPDATE: Matthews was earmarked for an $80 million to $90 million market max payday before that unfortunate Achilles injury. What a bummer. 

Even without that injury, since he was on an expiring deal this year, he's probably the one guy from the above list who maybe actually belonged alongside the likes of Korver.

If you gave me a do-over, I’d stick Matthews on the Trade Value DL, move Oladipo into this group and give Oladipo’s old spot to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Why? Because MKG is destroying people on defense, to the point that he boasted, “I want to be the best defender ever” last week — and nobody laughed. 

I'll laugh.  He's not even in the top 20 in the NBA right now in defensive rating, which might seem to some like a bullshit fancypants way to judge defense until you see that the top 5 (currently) are Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Rudy Gobert and Tony Allen.  Or in other words, five guys who all are frequently mentioned as among the best in the league based on the ol' eye test.  So yeah, maybe Kidd-Gilchrist is on his way to greatness, but he's a couple plane flights away.

Kawhi and MKG are in the Finals in any “Which Guy Would You NOT Want Guarding You If You Had To Score A Basket To Save Your Own Life?” contest.

That isn't a contest, and it's a really dumb way of trying to make the point you're trying to make.  In any case, Leonard is obviously way better, as are a lot of guys.

GROUP K: “No Thanks — We Don’t Want Him to Come Back and Haunt Us”

37. Rudy Gobert
36. Jabari Parker
35. Joel Embiid

UPDATE: I didn’t have the balls to throw Gobert in the low 20s with Giannis and Wiggins. Big mistake. His next 11 games after Part 2 was published: 11.3 ppg, 15.9 rpg, 2.6 bpg, nine wins in 11 games, one Kirk Goldsberry piece titled “Rudy Gobert Is Making Utah an Elite Defensive Team.” Anytime “The French Rejection” and “The Gobert Report” aren’t your best possible nicknames, you know something special is going on. All hail the Stifle Tower!

MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST FOR DEFENSIVE POY!!!!  Also, just the fact that you have to account for a guy like Embiid in these rankings makes them not worth writing, or reading.  Obviously the guy is untradeable right now.  Nothing anyone offered the Sixers would be good enough, and if they shopped him around, every team they offered him to would say that they were asking an insane price.

GROUP J: “Don’t Tell Anyone, and I’ll Deny It to the Death, But I’m Listening”

34. Carmelo Anthony

HAHAHAHAHA again.  Simmons went into greater detail about how fucked Carmelo and the Knicks are in the full version of part 2 of these rankings, but he (Simmons) still refused to recant his position that you can "absolutely" win a title if Carmelo is your best player.  Really, if I had to pick one piece of evidence that he's a fucking moron when it comes to the NBA, I might settle on that one.

33. Chris Bosh
33. Hassan Whiteside
32. Dwight Howard

UPDATE: Whiteside wasn’t really a top-60 guy (just filling in for Bosh), 

Just another reminder that while Bill wants these rankings to be taken seriously, a guy with like 100 games of NBA experience can be plugged in for a ten time all star.  Because both guys play on the same team and sort of play the same position, kind of!  It makes sense!  WHO SAYS NO

but let’s say I told you, “I will bet you $100 that Whiteside will either make the 2016 All-Star Game OR be out of the league before the 2016 All-Star Game, and you can pick only one of the two sides of that bet,” which side would you pick? I can’t decide, either.

I hate entertaining his little thought experiments, but I'll take the latter.  Whiteside kind of seems like an asshole who can't get his shit together.

GROUP I: “This Is So Ludicrous That I Can’t Even Hang Up On You Yet”

31. Gregg Popovich

UPDATE: I don’t know if you noticed the ’69 Celts potential of the 2015 Spurs lately, but … well … I mean …


More later.


Snarf said...

" I really feel bad for Gregoious. If he starts at least 120 games at SS for the Yankees this year and performs at any worse than an All-Star level, someone in the Bronx is going to run onto the field and attack him by mid May. Anyways, fuck ESPN's baseball coverage."

I almost guarantee that he has a superior season to 2014 Jeter in every measurable way, yet NY fans will HATE him for not batting 1.000.

tony harding said...

Please rip this to shreds. Please. I love reading your destructions of Billy Boy, but this link above is why this blog was created, right? Mariotti is the fucking worst.


"(Simmons) still refused to recant his position that you can "absolutely" win a title if Carmelo is your best player. Really, if I had to pick one piece of evidence that he's a fucking moron when it comes to the NBA, I might settle on that one."

Even allowing for your slightly harsher opinion of Melo than that of my own, that is not one of the 50 dumbest things he said about the NBA. Keep in mind, we are talking about a man who once described Avery Bradley as "someone you could build your franchise around".

Shit, it might not be one of the 50 dumbest things he wrote about the NBA in the catastrophic whirlwind of stupid that was these rankings. From parts 1 and 2 not broken down here (or by Magary):

- He said that Derrick Rose was more popular than the '85 Bears in Chicago. (If Rose won a championship that would still be fucking stupid).

- That the '07 Mavs, who won 67 games and had Dirk in his prime, would have missed the playoffs in this year's West.

- That Kemba Walker is the next Monta Ellis...always good to compare a career 39% shooter to a career 45% shooter

- Slammed the Mozgov trade

- Claimed that McLemore would one day be a 50-40-80 guy (maybe the last two, but jesus god no on the first)

- That Melo would have been better off financially by leaving $30 million on the table to ditch the Knicks

- That the Heat would never ever trade Wade for any reason

- That Giannis was a better trade asset than Wiggins

- Said DeMarre Carrol was EXACTLY like Kawhi Leonard (cue cornrows/dreadlocks jokes)

- That the Spurs were the #1 draw for free agents in the NBA

- That Dirk is threatening to surpass Olajuwon as the best foreign player ever.