Friday, April 3, 2015

NBA WHO SAYS NO Rankings - Part 2

Deeper down the rabbit hole we go.

GROUP H: “Stop It, He’s a Young Stud, No Way!”

There's got to be a less sexual way to word that.

30. Bradley Beal
29. Jimmy Butler
28. Andre Drummond

Beal is under contract for next season while Butler is not, but boy, there is a very wide gulf between those two guys in terms of ability.  Very wide.  Granted, Beal is still young after spending just a year in college before being drafted, but he has not improved at all since his good-not-great rookie year.  He's still a deadly three point shooter and not much else.  The Wizards will have a difficult decision to make with him in two offseasons if he's still just a 15/3/3 guy next season.  Meanwhile, Butler has turned into an all star, and does everything better than Beal does besides shoot 3s.  I don't think the fact that Beal has another cheap year on his rookie deal really accounts for that.

UPDATE: We need to find the right teammates for Drummond soon. I’m convinced that SVG traded D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler for Reggie Jackson as a stealth tanking move. And if he did, congratulations. It worked.

Huh?  Jackson is going for 17 and 9 (plus 5 boards) since joining the Pistons.  Augustin is somewhere between has-been and never-was.  Singler is terrible.  I'm getting to this article quite a while after Bill published it--maybe Jackson wasn't meshing with Drummond in his first few games in Detroit.  For what it's worth, Drummond is averaging 16 points a game since the trade, compared to 13 before.  So as usual it sure as hell sounds like Bill has no fucking idea what he's talking about.

GROUP G: “Sorry, Too Many Karmic Implications”

Bill's constant references to karma: more or less obnoxious than Gregggggg's incessant references to the Football Gods?

27. Tony Parker
26. Tim Duncan
25. Dwyane Wade
24. Dirk Nowitzki

Well hey, lookie there, it just so happens that four veteran superstars with titles who have never changed teams all have EXACTLY the same trade value!  Go figure!  Actually, I kind of sound dumb making that point since they really DO have the same trade value--their current teams are never going to trade them unless it's at the player's explicit demand.  Still though, come on.  

23. Paul George

What's he doing in this group?  I guess Bill was like "He's probably not going to play this season... fuck it, just throw him in with the aging superstar group.  WHO SAYS NO?" while talking to a houseplant.

UPDATE: Parker is starting to look like Parker again. Oh God … oh no …

Parker has always looked like Parker.  He's 32.  His points and assists have taken a dip this year, but so have his minutes.  I assume in the original rankings he was like "PARKER IS FINISHED--HE'S DONE."  And now he's acting like it's some revelation that he's not done.  Exact same thing happened with Wade (who is 33) a couple of years ago.  Bill has the cognitive capacity of a goldfish.  

GROUP F: “Hold On, I Have to Finish Guffawing”

22. Andrew Wiggins
21. Giannis Antetokounmpo

UPDATE: I blew it with Wiggins. He’s a top-12 trade asset. 

Given who you put in the next group down, sheesh, I have to say you blew it with the Greek Freak (hate that nickname but not going to type out Antetokounmpo more than once) too.  

(Stop looking at me like that.) I don’t know what else to say. (Seriously, stop shaking your head.) We’re moving on. We’re moving forward.

Wiggins, of course, is having a great season.  Greek Freak just turned 20 in December, is 6'11" (so he's probably still growing into his frame and learning how to maximize his athleticism) and is good for an efficient 13 and 7.  If he were a Celtic, Bill would have put him in the top five.  Meanwhile...

GROUP E: “Well-Priced Impact Stars”

At least there's positional, contract, and experience variety here.  Lowry, Conley, Horford and Ibaka are all signed at least through 2016 and for roughly $10-$12 million each.  That security is nice, and they're all good players, but I would be shocked if more than just a few "win now" teams value each of them over Wiggins (which Bill admits), Greek Freak, Paul George (who's on an expensive deal, but is locked up through 2018) or Jimmy Butler.  Meanwhile, Lillard is 1) awesome and 2) locked up on a cheap rookie rookie deal through 2016.  Definitely right to have him at the top of this group, but I think he'd go above the guys in the next group too.  Leonard is also awesome, but more of a question mark, and he's an RFA this summer meaning he's about to get expensive.  I don't think he belongs here at all.  But enough of this levelheaded analysis.  Let's see what Bill manages to fart out onto his keyboard about these guys.

20. Mike Conley
19. Serge Ibaka
18. Kawhi Leonard
17. Al Horford
16. Kyle Lowry
15. Damian Lillard

UPDATE: I’m not rattled by having Lowry too high after his January-February offensive swoon. He’s too good. 

OK.  Good for you.  Way to show conviction, dumb person who is often wrong (although not here, necessarily).

I’m mildly rattled by Ibaka’s mysterious knee injury, along with the fact that I wouldn’t let OKC’s medical staff help me with a head cold at this point. 

And since that was written, Kevin Durant has started falling apart.  Hardly the fault of the OKC training staff, though.  Or so I'd think. 

Kawhi’s electrifying two-way showdown with LeBron on Thursday made me wonder if I ranked him too low, 


but man, when are those 3s coming back for him? How bad is that mysterious hand injury? This isn’t a normal trend for 3-point shooters: 37.6 percent (2012-14 regular season), 41.6 percent (2012-14 playoffs) … 32.2 percent (2014-15 season). 

Actually, that's really not that weird.  The playoff number is great, but even with all the playoff games the Spurs have played while making the Finals two of the last three years, that 41.6% is on fewer than 200 attempts.  The 2012-2014 regular season vs. 2014-2015 regular season comparison is more valid, especially since Leonard is also shooting worse on his twos and worse at the line this year.  But a dip from 37.6% to 32.2% isn't catastrophic, especially for a stretch 4 type guy who, as Bill knows, might be hurt.  Anyways, he's talking out of both sides of his mouth as well as his ass.  Suffice to say that Leonard is going to get paid this summer, whether by the Spurs or someone else.  But at this year's trade deadline, I'm not sure he'd be an asset on par with a cost controlled Horford or Ibaka.

San Antonio can’t win four straight playoff rounds and realize their ’69 Celts destiny 


if Kawhi’s 3s don’t come around and defenses start leaving him wide open. It’s true.

Thanks for arguing with no one ("It's true, DON'T DENY IT") about something no one fucking cares about ("AHHH THE SPURS AS GOOD AS THE '69 C'S????????").  I'm sure they'll be just fine come playoff time.  They only have the best (ageless) PF ever, an elite point guard and the best coach of his generation to back Leonard up.  I don't think the difference between Leonard shooting a sub-average but still acceptable percentage on a handful of 3s per game versus him shooting the lights out on a handful of 3s per game is going to make or break them.

GROUP D: “The Mega Free Agents”

THEY ARE EQUALLY VALUABLE!  Actually, you know what, after looking at their lines--these two really do probably belong together.  They're about the same age, are both UFAs this year (who will probably look for short term deals due to the big salary cap bump that's on the horizon), and they do post pretty similar numbers while kind of sort of playing the same position.  Aldridge has the sexier raw stat line, but he also plays for a faster-paced team and doesn't share big man responsibilities with anyone as capable as Z-Bo.  Fine.  They deserve to be in "Group D" together.  Thank you for not calling them "young studs."

14. LaMarcus Aldridge
13. Marc Gasol

UPDATE: No regrets. 


Although it’s bizarre that Aldridge (23.3 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 22.3 PER, playing hurt for two-plus months, carrying a possible no. 2 seed) has been left out of the MVP race. It’s almost like the national media ignores Portland or something.

Well, first of all, fuck you and your own personal biases that cause you to ignore anything in baseball that's not BOS/NYY or relevant to your fucking AL-only keeper league full of zeroes.  Second of all, sure, Aldridge is having a nice season, but that PER is only good for 11th in the league.  He's not exactly within shouting distance of Davis, Westbrook or Curry, either.  But good job kissing babies and winning hearts and minds in RIP CITY.  I'm sure you appreciate all the dumbshits from there who will write you emails praising that blurb.

GROUP C: “No Offense, But I’m Hanging Up”

12. John Wall
11. Klay Thompson

Here again we have two guys who are almost the same age, with nearly identical contract situations (both locked up for big money through 2019), with similar PERs.  But in this case, I think the value comparison falls apart pretty quickly.  Whereas Bill overrates Bradley Beal pretty heavily, I think he's probably underrating Wall (or rather, overrating Thompson).  Thompson plays on the league's best team, alongside either the best or second best point guard in the league (who creates tons of wide open shots for Thompson every game), with a bunch of other very strong role players/semi-stars who make the team hum like a well-tuned engine.  Meanwhile, Wall carries the entire burden on offense for his poorly-coached team of good-not-great overpaid players (Nene, Marcin Gortat) and dinosaurs (Paul Pierce, Andre Miller until the Wizards cut him).  

He leads his team in scoring by a good margin while also handing out ten assists per game (second only to CP3 in the league) and grabbing a not-insignificant five boards.  He's the only guy on that team that can create his own shot and he plays 36 minutes per game.  It's a bit of a weird exercise since it would be chaotic to play Wall alongside Curry, but imagine switching these two guys and I think the Warriors come out way, way, way ahead on the deal.  In fact, better exercise--switch Beal and Thompson.  I think their numbers probably switch too.  Thompson is nothing special.  He also looks like he's probably an asshole off the court.  There, I said it.

UPDATE: If I had to do it over again, I’d give Wiggins and Kawhi these two spots and bump Wall and Thompson back a few spots. We’re stuck with those first two parts for eternity. Without further ado, the 10 most untradable players of 2015.

Yeah, people are really going to be looking back at these rankings five years from now.  You'll rue the day you improperly valued Wiggins in your bullshit rankings until you're in the ground, Simmons.  Totally.

GROUP B: “The Untouchables”

10. Kyrie Irving
Covered in detail in Friday’s 1,900-word “sneak peek” of Part 3. I can’t even pull off a sneak peek correctly.

I'm impressed you're even able to maintain your job at ESPN without being curb stomped by someone there who has actual knowledge and charisma yet makes 20% of your salary.  Don't be too hard on yourself.  Also, everyone go read this again.

9. Boogie Cousins

Hard to critique this part since I'm a DeMarcus Cousins fan, for reasons beyond his game.  Just kidding!  (Not about being a fan, but about this being hard to critique.)

In Part 2, I mentioned the smartest non-trades in recent NBA history — 

An easy set of non-events to compile, since we know all of them that have ever occurred, and teams definitely would never leak incorrect information about non-trades in order to further shape the market, affect free agent salaries, placate angry fans, etc.

including the time Houston dangled Hakeem Olajuwon for a Godfather offer (Steve Smith, Glen Rice AND Rony Seikaly), got turned down, then rejected Miami’s counteroffer (Seikaly, Grant Long and Harold Miner). How on earth was the window ever open to steal one of the NBA’s 12 greatest players ever? Because you are what you’re worth. 

Gee Bill, thanks for answering a question no one asked.  Let's see.  Kareen was traded in his prime.  Shaq was traded as he entered his prime.  Barkley was traded in his prime.  Kevin Garnett was traded at the tail end of his prime.  Could the answer to the question be one that every sports fan already knows: "These things fucking happen?"

For the previous five seasons, an increasingly unhappy Hakeem had been stuck playing with so many past-their-primers, never-made-its and never-got-theres that everyone inadvertently forgot that the Dream was unfreakingtradable. 

No.  Go fuck yourself with scissors.  No one "forgot" that.

Had the Heat countered with Rice (a top-15 trade asset that summer), Seikaly (averaged 16 and 12 in ’92) and either Miner or multiple no. 1 picks, then the deal would have gotten done 


and we would’ve had a different champ in 1994 and 1995. Instead, Houston won the ’94 and ’95 titles and Hakeem unleashed one of the NBA’s most iconic three-or-four-year runs of the past 35 years: 

I'm glad we are evaluating the trade value of DeMarcus Cousins right now.

the short list includes Jordan from 1989 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998, Bird from 1984 to 1987, Magic from 1987 to 1990, Shaq from 2000 to 2002, LeBron from 2012 to 2014, Hakeem from 1993 to 1995, and Kobe from 2008 to 2010 

Great.  Cool.

(and probably in that order).


Maybe 2015 Boogie isn’t 1992 Hakeem, 

So, thanks for the tangent, then.

but he is definitely on pace to earn the same level of career-related empathy. In less than five seasons, he’s played for six coaches, two GMs and two super-shaky owners. He lived through consecutive seasons in which the Kings were moving … and then weren’t … and then were … and then weren’t. 

The Kings had the worst owners in the league (yes, worse than James Dolan).  Then those guys sold the team to some other asshole who doesn't know what he's doing.  I'd feel worse for their fans if they didn't live in the only part of California that 1) is close to cool shit 2) doesn't have THAT much meth and 3) is not outrageously expensive.

When I asked him during All-Star Weekend 

I HAVE ACCESS!!!!!  EVERYONE LISTEN TO ME MY OPINION MEANS MORE NOW!  Bill is really stealing a page from the Peter King playbook there.

how many starting point guards he’s played with, he couldn’t remember everyone off the top of his head. Maybe he took much-deserved Internet heat for a variety of foolish young-guy mistakes, and maybe he could have been a better teammate at times. (I’m being kind.) 


But ever since he got himself into terrific shape last year, everyone has HAD to double-team him. I mean …

Boogie, last two seasons (123 games): 33.0 mpg, 23.1 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 48% FG, 25.5 PER
Duncan, ’01-’02 and ’02-’03 (163 games): 39.9 mpg, 24.4 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 51% FG, 27.0 PER

Maybe he isn’t Apex Duncan, especially in the defense/teammate/leadership/intangibles/getting-thrown-out-of-games-for-wonky-behavior categories, 

I'm glad someone taught you the word "wonky."  It should never be used, ever, but if you're going to use it that is not how you do so.  WHICH IS THE WONK TEAM?  Remember that horseshit?  That was also not a correct usage.

Boogie HAS improved. Did you know his rim protection numbers are slightly better than DeAndre Jordan’s numbers this season? And with the spacing that Boogie creates and the numbers he’s putting up, you could absolutely run a world-class offense around him. Only you can’t … because he’s wasting his pre-prime playing for Jackass Central on a perpetual lottery team in a stacked conference.

Haha.  No sarcasm, that last one is a good line.  "Jackass Central."  That's pretty good.  Bill does induce one chuckle from me about every six months or so.  HE'S STILL GOT IT!

So if you were Boogie, what would make you feel good about playing in Sacramento other than the city’s fantastic hoops fans? George Karl? Too soon to say. 

Yeah, the guy only has like 1,000 wins as an NBA coach, all in mid-sized or small markets.  Probably not a good fit in Sacramento.

Ben McLemore? Too soon to say. 

I don't think he belongs on this list.  I'd hate to be a guy picked 7th overall in a super thin draft and have someone be like OUR BEST PLAYER IS COUNTING ON YOU.  GET IT DONE.  That would suck.  McLemore left Kansas after just a year, and wasn't even the best fucking player on the team for that one year.

Cap space this summer? Crap, they don’t have it. 

Dang, now they don't have a chance to get turned down by Gasol and Aldridge, whose styles of play wouldn't mesh with Cousins's at all, or to overpay Goran Dragic!  Nuts!

Their next lottery pick? Crap, it’s headed to Chicago unless Sacramento finishes in the bottom 10. 

Which they are almost mathematically assured of doing at this point, so, let's not shit our pants just yet.

This is bleaker than bleak. 

No, that is your narrative that you are constructing because Hakeem once almost got traded or something.  In fact, watch this: Knicks, Lakers, Nuggets, Pistons, 76ers, Nets, Heat, Thunder (very suddenly on this list), Magic, Timberwolves (even with Wiggins).  There's a list of teams with bleaker futures than Sacramento's.  Fuck, the Knicks might not be a playoff team again until like 2020.  That's hard to do in a league with 16 of 30 teams making the postseason.  I'll bet you a shiny nickel the Kings get there before all the teams on that list that aren't in the playoffs already this year (i.e., the teams on that list that are also rebuilding right now).

My advice to Kings fans: You better keep showering Boogie with love. Because the moment he checks out and says to himself, “I cannot play for these jackasses anymore,” there’s no going back. (And we’re damned close.)

He's under contract through 2018.  They'll be fine.

Last Boogie note: Check out these names: Wilt, Kareem, Barkley, Pettit, Duncan and Elgin. That’s the complete list of players, along with Boogie, who averaged 23 and 12 with a 25-plus PER in their fourth and fifth NBA seasons combined. 

HOLY SHIT DO YOU REALIZE WHAT THIS MEANS????  It means that when a player is really good, like Cousins is, you can concoct a moderately complex set of criteria and show that only that player a few other all time greats have met all the criteria.  Very cool stuff. 

Boogie isn’t THAT good. 

Jesus, whose side are you on, here?  I thought we were all in the DEMARCUS (I hate people like Bill who over-embrace nicknames) fan club together.  He has a good chance of being every bit as good as Barkley, Kareem and Baylor.  The other three, maybe not so much.  But still.

But he’s really, really good. And he’s saddled with Vivek and the Bumbling Vivikettes. 

Forced.  Just stick with Jackass Central.

We’re well past the point of using New Owner Syndrome as a viable excuse. Too much has happened. We wasted five years of Boogie’s career. Next year, we’re probably heading for a sixth. Might be time to get Liam Neeson involved.

"We" haven't wasted anything.  You're not the center of the universe, you cunt.  You're not in charge of basketball.  You're not in charge of anything other than a vastly overrated "sports" (ok, it's really like 25% sports, but who's counting?) content mill and a shitty TV show that ESPN airs at 4 AM.  Just stay in your lane and come up with funny nicknames for dysfunctional franchises.  Christ.

More next week.



Great breakdown. You have made me realize that Klay Thompson is kind of overrated.

Also, I like his insinuation that the first few years of Cousins' career were a complete waste. Yeah it sucks he hasn't made the playoffs, but he did develop into one of the best players in the league.

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