NBA Odds 2020 - Best Online & Vegas Basketball Odds & Lines

[OC] Every NBA Team Ranked By How Well They Have Performed To Preseason Expectations This Regular Season In 2018-19.

With the regular season now done and dusted I decided it would be cool to take a look back at every NBA team this season and place them into tiers on the level that they have performed at this season.
I made a very similar post to this one last year and it was very positively received so I decided to try writing another post. Here is a link for anyone interested. Of course every situation is different and so I have factored in the teams overall win-loss record but also how they have responded to difficult situations this season such as injuries or the context of how they have performed.
One thing that I am changing this season compared to this year is how I view situations with ‘disgruntled players.’ Last year this was an issue when trying to rank the Spurs season due to Kawhi’s absence. As a result I have decided that if a players lack of success is due to a disgruntled player and NOT one who is injured this will negatively effect them. (Sorry Pelican fans)
This is just my opinion and I am keen to shuffle the list around if people disagree with my results so feel free to leave your input and I will be very willing to take it into consideration. Please don’t be too harsh and I will try to make sure my rankings are as accurate as possible
Just a couple other things to consider:
  • When I state my predicted expectations It as an average of preseason rankings from ESPN, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, Action Network and 538. Sources: ESPN, BR, CBS Sports, Action Network, 538 CARMELO
  • This is the link to the NBA preseason power ranking predictions that I make reference to in my post.
EDIT: The Boston Celtics were moved from "Didn't Meet Expectations" into the lowest category of "Completely Didn't Meet Expectations." They were so heavily expected to be the number one seed and never really looked to be close to that this season.
EDIT: The Portland Trailblazers were moved from "Exceeded Expectations into the highest category of "Completely Exceeded Expectations. Despite many people predicting them to slide out of the playoffs they were a top 4 seed almost all season.
EDIT: The San Antonio Spurs were moved from "Slightly Exceeded Expectations" into the next highest category of "Exceeded Expectations". Despite an expected slide they finished with a near 50 win season so I under appreciated their season this year.

Completely Exceeded Expectations

  • Milwaukee Bucks WL Record: 60-22
The Milwaukee Bucks were predicted to win 46 games in the preseason with CBS Sports expecting them to win as few as 43 games. They were viewed as a team that would be on the rise with lots of excitement about the prospect of new coach Mike Budenholzer. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 19/30 voters expected the Bucks to finish as a top 4 seed. However only 1/30 predicted them to finish with a top 2 seed. To finish the regular season with the NBA’s best win loss record is an incredible achievement that very few saw coming. The success of Milwaukee this season can be attributed to many people but the clear stand out is star forward Giannis Antetoukounmpo. In just his sixth season the Greek Freak had one of the greatest seasons in recent history and is expected to poll very highly in MVP voting. It’s going to come down to the wire between him and James Harden but I could see voters giving him the advantage due to his consistency throughout the year, elite defence and greater team success. The performance of the rest of the team also deserves tremendous credit with Middleton making his first all star appearance and Malcom Brogdon joining esteemed company in the 50-40-90 club. The Bucks will be a team to look out for in the playoffs and Giannis will be looking to make a huge statement to the rest of the sporting world.
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  • Sacramento Kings WL Record: 39-43
The Sacramento Kings were predicted to win 25 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win as few as 23 games. They were viewed as a team that just didn’t have the right mix of players. In the preseason their power forward and centre rotation seemed too tall to be competitive with questions about the backcourt depth of the team. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 0/30 voters expected the Kings to feature in the playoffs and while the Kings didn’t qualify for the top 8 in the western conference they were just outside finishing 9th. The Kings had their most successful season in over a decade this season and with the improvement of DeAaron Fox and Buddy Hield they look like a young team with a lot of upside. Sacramento have over $70 million in cap space this offseason so If they can make a splash in free agency they will be a team to look out for.
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  • Brooklyn Nets WL Record: 42-40
The Brooklyn Nets were predicted to win 32 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as few as 29 games. They were viewed as a team that could start to turn their future around after many years asa bottom 5 team in the league, however thats essentially all it was. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 0/30 voters expected the Nets to make the playoffs. Not a single voter. The Nets however would finish the season making their first playoff appearance since 2015 overcoming an 8-18 start to the year to qualify. D’Angelo Russell had a career season which culminated in his first all star appearance and emerging as one of the front runners for the most improved player award. The Nets have a lot of money available in free cap space going in to this offseason and with their developing young team they are going to be one to look out for.
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  • Orlando Magic WL Record: 42-40
The Orlando Magic were predicted to win 30 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as few as 27 games. They were viewed as a team that was going absolutely nowhere in a hurry. Their roster wasn’t rated very highly by many in the league and they seemed to be destined for a bottom seeded finish. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 0/30 voters expected the Magic to make the playoffs. Not a single voter. The Magic however would finish the season making their first playoff appearance since 2012 overcoming a 20-31 start to the year to qualify. Nikola Vucevic had a career season which culminated in his first all star appearance, Fournier and Gordon played strong roles and Terrence Ross emerged as a genuine contender for the sixth man of the year award. The Magic shocked everyone this season with their improvement and I’m excited to see how the team builds on this year going forward.
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  • Los Angeles Clippers WL Record: 48-34
The Los Angeles Clippers were predicted to win 34 games in the preseason with CBS Sports expecting them to win as few as 29 games. They were viewed as a deep team but ultimately not a team that would be good enough to go anywhere quickly. The departure of stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in recent years lead to many thinking that the Clippers would be more amongst the worst in the league and in competition for a high draft pick. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 0/30 voters expected the Clippers to make the playoffs but they defied the odds to not just make the playoffs but also almost win 50 games. The key stand out for the Clippers this season with all things considered would have to be Lou Williams who averaged 20 points per game and hit many clutch shots through out the season. The Clippers have their sights set on Kawhi Leonard this offseason and with an already deep roster could be a team to look out for.
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  • Portland Trailblazers WL Record: 53-29
The Portland Trailblazers were predicted to win 41 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win as few as 39 games. They were viewed as a team that would be vulnerable in the race for playoff spots in a competitive Western Conference. After barely improving their roster in the offseason and after being swept in the first round they were expected to fall back. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 18/30 voters expected the Blazers to make the playoffs with only one voter expecting them to maintain home court advantage. However as the Trailblazers regularly do they defy peoples expectations and continue to prove themselves as a great team. A late season injury to Jusuf Nurkic in addition to a knee issue from CJ McCollum has people questioning how far they can go in the playoffs but this regular season, Portland has exceeded expectations.
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Exceeded Expectations

  • Denver Nuggets WL Record: 54-28
The Denver Nuggets were predicted to win 48 games in the preseason with ESPN expecting them to win as few as 47 games. They were viewed as a young and exciting team that was unlucky to miss the playoffs last season with 46 wins. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 25/30 voters expected the Nuggets to make the playoffs but just 2 of those voters expected them to hold home court advantage in the playoffs. The Nuggets encountered a lot of early season injuries but were able to maintain an elite record in large parts due to their outstanding depth. Nikola Jokic had a career season making his first all star appearance and could poll well in MVP voting. Despite all this many people still regard Denver as a bit of a ‘pretender’ that will fail in the playoffs. Time will tell but during the regular season the Denver Nuggets exceeded expectations.
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  • Indiana Pacers WL Record: 48-34
The Indiana Pacers were predicted to win 47 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win as few as 43 games. They were viewed as a team that with a deep roster that was just outside the elite group of the Eastern Conference. After completely shattering expectations last season there was a lot of excitement about the potential of the group. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 30/30 voters expected the Pacers to make the playoffs 24/30 voters expecting them to finish 4th or 5th, so you might say that they met expectations completely. However the Pacers started 32-15 this season (a 56 win pace) prior to a season ending injury to star guard Victor Oladipo. Despite the injury the team was able to maintain a strong win loss record. It is unlikely that they advance far in the playoffs but for an awesome start to the season when healthy and maintaining a great level of play despite a serious injury I have decided to say that Indiana exceeded expectations.
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  • San Antonio Spurs WL Record: 48-34
The San Antonio Spurs were predicted to win 42 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win as many as few as 37 games. They were viewed as a team that would be vulnerable in the race for playoff spots in a competitive Western Conference. Many experts thought that the Spurs run of over 20 consecutive playoff appearances was set to end. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 21/30 voters expected the Spurs to make the playoffs. The Spurs did look vulnerable at times and only had a one game gap for the 8th seed as late as March but they were able to win 9 consecutive matches and clinch their spot. The Spurs will be an interesting team to watch for in the playoffs due to their inconsistencies away from home this season but they could also create a big upset. Ultimately for making the playoffs when many expected a decline I’d say that the Spurs slightly exceeded expectations. .
  • Atlanta Hawks WL Record: 29-53
The Atlanta Hawks were predicted to win 24 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as few as 20 games. They were viewed as a young team that would be amongst the worst in the league and ultimately end up tanking for a high draft pick. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 30 voters expected the Hawks to miss the playoffs and they did. The goal for this year was never to make playoffs for Atlanta so that isn’t a concern. The Hawks played better than many had anticipated this season with Trae Young having a sensational rookie season and John Collins playing at an all star calibre level. The team is still young and inexperienced so it would not be realistic to expect them to make a jump to the playoffs very soon. However the Hawks appear to be building something and going in the right direction in their rebuild.
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Slightly Exceeded Expectations

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  • Toronto Raptors WL Record: 58-24
The Toronto Raptors were predicted to win 56 games in the preseason with ESPN expecting them to win as few as 53 games. They were viewed as a clear cut top 5 team that would be even better with the addition of Kawhi Leonard to replace DeMar Derozan. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 30/30 voters expected the Raptors to make the playoffs as a top 4 seed. A majority of these voters (24/30) also predicted Toronto to finish as a top 2 seed. The Raptors season was filled with little drama as they ultimately did what they were expected to. However the regular season to an extent didn’t really matter much for the Raptors as their main focus is on making a deep playoff push and as a result Kawhi Leonard was rested for over 20 games this season. As it currently stands the Raptors have met expectations but it all comes down to what happens in the following weeks. An underrated reason for the Raptors success this year has also been Pascal Siakams breakout season. By posting career highs in every stat including doubling his points total from last season he is the strong favourite for the most improved player award.
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Met Expectations

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  • Detroit Pistons WL Record: 41-41
The Detroit Pistons were predicted to win 39 games in the preseason with ESPN expecting them to win 38 games. They were viewed as a playoff team but almost by default with many expecting them to round out the playoff picture despite a losing record. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 18/30 voters expected the Pistons to make the playoffs. The Pistons were an inconsistent team throughout the regular season going long stretches with few wins but also having remarkable runs of form. Things got close towards the end of the season but Detroit was able to limp towards the playoffs. Blake Griffin had one of his best seasons before knee injuries limited his production in the back end of the season. Its still to be seen just how much of an impact Detroit can make in the playoffs but simply for making it into the top 8 they have met expectations.
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  • Utah Jazz WL Record: 50-32
The Utah Jazz were predicted to win 51 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win 51 games. They were viewed as a well rounded team that was be able to emerge as a Western Conference threat. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 30/30 voters expected the Jazz to make the playoffs and despite starting the season just 14-17 the Jazz would eventually find their groove. Donovan Mitchell had a phenomenal second half of the season following a poor start and Rudy Gobert maintained his elite defence that could see him pick up his second consecutive DPOY award. A lot of Utah’s ranking could come down to how they do in the playoffs in the end but through out the regular season, despite a poor start, as a collective Utah were able to meet expectations and achieve a 50 win season.
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  • Philadelphia 76ers WL Record: 51-31
The Philadelphia 76ers were predicted to win 53 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win 53 games. They were viewed as one of the top 5 teams in the league that with a dynamic young duo would be able to really challenge for a high playoff position. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 30/30 voters expected the 76ers to make the playoffs with 16 of those voters predicting a 3rd placed finish for Philadelphia. The 76ers had the 3rd seed secure for a majority of the season and really didn’t encounter a lot of drama as they progressed throughout the year. Trades for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris through out the season have put more pressure on the team to make a deep playoff push and reach all the way for the finals. However as things currently stand, for the regular season, Philadelphia were able to meet expectations with minimal fuss.
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  • Memphis Grizzlies WL Record: 33-49
The Memphis Grizzlies were predicted to win 33 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win 33 games. They were viewed as a team that wasn’t quite bad enough to be tanking but not quite good enough to make a run for the playoffs. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions just 1/30 voters expected the Grizzlies to make the playoffs and that was an 8th seed. The Grizzlies had their moments through out the year and even started a promising 12-5 but quickly dropped off from there. The Grizzlies roster changed a lot through out the season a league record 28 players suited up in a Memphis jersey this season. Marc Gasol was traded mid season and the Grizzlies stuck with Mike Conley. It will be interesting to see how they approach the offseason with their current awkwardly constructed roster.
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  • Golden State Warriors WL Record: 57-25
The Golden State Warriors were predicted to win 61 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win 60 games. They were viewed as the clear cut best team in the NBA who would be heavy favourites to win their 3rd consecutive championship. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 27/30 voters expected the Warriors to qualify as the Western Conference number one seed and the other 3 voters picked them as 2nd. The Warriors may not have won as many games as expected this season but for finishing 1st in the West ultimately I am ranking them as having met expectations. The reason is that we all know the Warriors are likely to win the championship and therefore their regular season win total isn’t really a concern. I would be interested to see how other people have seen the Warriors season this year and whether or not this was the right category to place them in.
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  • Houston Rockets WL Record: 53-29
The Houston Rockets were predicted to win 55 games in the preseason with ESPN expecting them to win 55 games. They were viewed as one of the key contenders to compete with Golden State and challenge for the championship. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 24/30 voters expected the Rockets to qualify as the Western Conference number two seed and all voters predicted them to have home court advantage. The Rockets season was definitely a more difficult one to judge. They began the season 11-14 losing many games that they should not have lost, they then were dealt heavy injury blows to Chris Paul and Clint Capela. However from there became arguably the story of the season. James Harden. The superstar guard would go on an incredible scoring streak scoring at least 30 points in 32 consecutive games and absolutely carrying the team offensively and producing one of the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history. Harden could very well soon be the back to back MVP this season but time will tell how things transpire. Overall for the Rockets they did decrease their win total from 65 games last season but for ultimately finishing with home court in the West despite their injuries they met their expectations.
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  • Charlotte Hornets WL Record: 39-44
The Charlotte Hornets were predicted to win 36 games in the preseason with ESPN expecting them to win 36 games. They were viewed as a fringe playoff team that didn’t really have a clear number 2 option after Kemba Walker. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions just 7/30 voters expected the Hornets to make the playoffs. It’s a little strange in a way because while the Hornets did essentially meet expectations they will have finished this season as a disappointment. Despite winning a lot more towards the final month of the season the Hornets really left their run till too late. Kemba Walker will enter free agency this off season and with the current state of the Hornets he has a big choice on his mind. Whether he stays or goes Charlotte have a lot to work on this offseason. .
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Slightly Didn't Meet Expectations

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  • OKC Thunder WL Record: 49-33
The OKC Thunder were predicted to win 50 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win as many as many as 53 games. They were viewed as a team that would with much improved bench depth would be able to solidify themselves as one of the clear cut top teams in the Western Conference. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions all 30/30 voters expected the Thunder to make the playoffs with 20 of those voters predicting home court advantage for OKC. The Thunder began the season in extremely impressive fashion with Paul George looking like an MVP candidate and were 37-19 and within touching distance of the second seed before struggling post all star break. The Thunder failed to secure home court advantage but ultimately did have a great first half of the season so I feel inclined to say that they only slightly failed to meet expectations.
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  • Dallas Mavericks WL Record: 33-49
The Dallas Mavericks were predicted to win 35 games in the preseason with CBS Sports expecting them to win as few as 38 games. They were viewed as a young team that would be in the 10-12 range in the standings but finish the season tanking. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions just 1/30 voters expected the Mavericks to make the playoffs and that was an 8th seed. The Mavericks had their moments through out the year and even started a promising 15-11 but injuries and a drastic midseason roster change lead them in a different direction. Four starers in Jordan, Smith, Barnes and Matthews were all traded to different teams with the Mavericks set to rebuild their future around one key player. Luka Doncic. The biggest highlight of the year was rookie sensation Luka Doncic who averaged 21 points per game and show cased some terrific playmaking skills. Although he struggled a little towards the end of the season Doncic looks like a perennial all star for years to come and should be the favourite for the rookie of the year award.
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  • Miami Heat WL Record: 40-42
The Miami Heat were predicted to win 43 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as many as 45 games. They were viewed as a veteran team that had achieved a lot of success in seasons past and as a result would be a playoff team due to their defined locker room and team culture. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 28/30 voters expected the Heat to make the playoffs but they fell short and were unable to give Dwyane Wade a final full farewell tour. With the retirement of Wade now allowing for a deeper look into the Heat without emotion it appears the future really doesn’t seem too promising for Miami. They are bound by some poor contracts and do not really have a younger star ready to take the reigns. The Heat had an underwhelming season and its hard to see them bouncing back too quickly.
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Didn't Meet Expectations

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  • Chicago Bulls WL Record: 22-60
The Chicago Bulls were predicted to win 28 games in the preseason with ESPN expecting them to win as many as 31 games. They were viewed as a young team that was still in the middle of a long term rebuild. They were expected to be a mostly competitive team but ultimately one that didn’t really have a chance to make playoffs. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions just 1/30 voters expected the Bulls to make the playoffs and that was an 8th seed. There was some promising development for the Bulls with Zach Lavine having a career season and Lauri Markannen building on a strong rookie season but the glimpses were few and far between. In the end though, the Bulls didn’t have a good season going backwards in wins from the year prior.
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  • Washington Wizards WL Record: 32-50
The Washington Wizards were predicted to win 44 games in the preseason with 538 expecting them to win as many as 48 games. They were viewed as a veteran team that with the addition of Dwight Howard would be a solidified playoff team. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions almost everyone, 29/30 voters expected the Wizards to feature in the playoffs. An early season injury limited John Wall to just 32 games and Dwight Howard only played 9 games as well which could be to blame for the Wizards lack of success but in reality they had been playing poorly prior to the injury either way. A few mid season trades saw them move Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis but they were barely anymore successful with them. With John Wall still sidelined all of next season there isn’t a lot of optimism regarding the Wizards and there is a lot of uncertainty about their direction.
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  • Minnesota Timberwolves WL Record: 36-45*
The Minnesota Timberwolves were predicted to win 44 games in the preseason with Bleacher Report expecting them to win as many as 49 games. They were viewed as a fringe playoff team that would likely be one of the unlucky teams to only just miss out on the playoffs. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions only, 3/30 voters expected the Wolves to feature in the playoffs with all three voters putting them as an 8th seed. Early season drama with Jimmy Butler did little to help the team as they would eventually trade him following a 4-9 start. The Wolves had little runs of form but ultimately never really looked like a threat to make a playoff push. A point of optimism for Minnesota through out the year was the resurgence of Derrick Rose who had arguably his best season since his injury troubles. However going forward the Wolves seem to be rather directionless especially with the Andrew Wiggins contract.
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  • Phoenix Suns WL Record: 19-63
The Phoenix Suns were predicted to win 28 games in the preseason with ESPN expecting them to win as many as 30 games. They were viewed as a team, that with the addition of number one draft pick DeAndre Ayton, would finally start to show some improvement and Devin Booker was expected to lead the team back to some semblance of relevance. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 0/30 voters expected the Suns to feature in the playoffs. Expectations were already low for the Suns but they were expected to be competitive, they were anything but that as they started the season just 4-24 and failed to win even 20 games for the whole year. The Suns will be in the lottery this offseason for the tenth time in eleven years and with some recent draft failures Suns fans will be praying for some success there. Despite being a poor team Phoenix at least seem to have some sort of direction which should eventually bode well for them.
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Completely Didn't Meet Expectations

  • Boston Celtics WL Record: 49-33
The Boston Celtics were predicted to win 57 games in the preseason with CBS Sports expecting them to win as many as 59 games. After an incredible playoff run the season prior they were viewed as an exciting young super team that would not only be a solid playoff team but many expected the Celtics to be the second best team in the league. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 23/30 voters expected the Celtics to finish first in the Eastern conference with the other 7 voters expecting them to finish second. However what ultimately happened was the team would struggle to win 50 games in a season filled with drama. Tatum and Rozier didn’t play as expected, team chemistry issues arose, Hayward failed to recover and Brad Stevens’ coaching was sub par. The Celtics however are still an incredibly talented team and it would not be surprising to see them make the NBA finals. Although it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see them lose in the first round either. With Kyrie Irvings impending free agency this will be a critical post season push by Boston.
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  • New York Knicks WL Record: 17-65
The New York Knicks were predicted to win 27 games in the preseason with Action Network expecting them to win as many as 30 games. They were viewed as a young and inexperienced team that would struggle to win many games especially with a season ending injury to Kristaps Porzingis. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 0/30 voters expected to see New York in the playoffs so its amazing in a way that the Knicks still underperformed. The Knicks had multiple losing streaks of over 10 games and where the worst team in the NBA for large parts of the season. The Knicks made a huge gamble at the trade deadline effectively trading Porzingis to the Mavericks to free up cap space. It is yet to be seen whether the gamble will pay dividends as the attempt to pursue big name free agents but for having one of the worst records in the NBA this season its fair to say the Knicks failed to meet expectations despite how low they really were.
  • New Orleans Pelicans WL Record: 33-49
The New Orleans Pelicans were predicted to win 45 games in the preseason with CBS Sports expecting them to win as many as 48 games. They were viewed as a team that could really build on a strong playoff run and Anthony Davis was expected to take a step up and become a legitimate MVP candidate. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 23/30 voters expected the Pelicans to feature in the playoffs and instead the Pelicans essentially imploded. Davis requested a trade midseason after an underwhelming season and the Pelicans just fell from there. Davis was placed on a team imposed minutes restriction and the teams lack of depth was severely exposed. Its hard to see what the future holds for New Orleans and it is very much reliant on what unfolds with the Anthony Davis situation and whether they can build around Jrue Holiday going forward.
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  • Cleveland Cavaliers WL Record: 19-63
The Cleveland Cavaliers were predicted to win 31 games in the preseason with CBS Sports expecting them to win as many as 32 games. They were viewed as a veteran team that would struggle following the departure of Lebron James in free agency but would be able to compete for playoffs in a weak Eastern conference. Kevin Love was expected to lead the team and return to his Minnesota form. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions only 7/30 voters expected the Cavaliers to feature in the playoffs but they somehow still underperformed on those expectations. Kevin Love was injured for a majority of the season, Kyle Korver and George Hill were traded, JR Smith disappeared somewhere and the team quickly changed its focus. A positive for Cavalier fans was the development of Colin Sexton in the back half of the season but ultimately to follow 4 straight finals appearances with a bottom 3 record makes the season a major disappointment for the Cavaliers.
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  • Los Angeles Lakers WL Record: 37-45
The Los Angeles Lakers were predicted to win 47 games in the preseason with CBS Sports expecting them to win as many as 49 games. They were viewed as a team that would be on the rise with lots of excitement with the addition of Lebron James to complete and teams exciting young core of emerging talents. In /nba preseason power ranking predictions 28/30 voters expected the Lakers to feature in the playoffs, 6/30 voters even predicted them to have home court. However what eventuated was a forgettable season for the Lakers as the underachieved tremendously. Lebron James missed 16 games through injury before infamously being ‘managed’ through the remainder of the year. The Lakers playoff chances weren’t completely ruled as late as February but a horrific stretch of losses against bottom seeded teams late in the season saw them miss the playoffs by quite a margin. Its going to be a long offseason for the Lakers.
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submitted by NitroXYZ to nba [link] [comments]

2/24/20 - NBA Power Rankings

ESPN - 14
Rookie of the Year front-runner Ja Morant and the Grizzlies stumbled out of the gate after the All-Star break, dropping both ends of a road back-to-back against the Kings and Lakers to fall to .500. Morant had more turnovers than assists in both losses, something he had done only three times all season. He also had a negative plus-minus in consecutive games for the first time since late January, and his minus-25 against the Kings matched Morant's worst plus-minus since his NBA debut. -- MacMahon
CBS Sports - 15
The Grizzlies lost to the Kings and Lakers this week, and things go worse when they learned Jaren Jackson Jr. will be out at least two weeks with a left knee sprain. Memphis has the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA based on opponents' winning percentage, so hanging onto that No. 8 seed out West might be a difficult task.
Yahoo Sports - 14
Memphis has a three-game lead over the rest of the pack for the eighth seed in the Western Conference; however, they will have to fight to hold onto that final playoff spot. According to NBA.com, the Grizz have the NBA's toughest post-ASB schedule, both regarding opponent strength (cumulative opponent winning percentage of .554) and amount of road games (16 of their final 28 games are on the road). In addition, Jaren Jackson Jr. will be sidelined for at least two weeks due to a sprained knee.
Sports Illustrated - 14
Get well Jaren Jackson Jr., and let’s hope the emerging forward can be back for a first-round series against Anthony Davis and the Lakers. JJJ has been fantastic in his second season, banging home 40% of threes while averaging 16.9 points per game. Jackson projects to be an ideal modern five alongside Ja Morant. The Grizzlies have a real shot at becoming a Western Conference power after hitting the jackpot in back-to-back lotteries.
Bleacher Report - 14
Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and the Grizzlies currently sit in eighth place in the West, but FiveThirtyEight gives them just a 7 percent chance to hang onto that spot. Given their youth and the fact that they have the league's most difficult remaining schedule, it's not hard to understand the math's skepticism.
But this group has already made a habit of exceeding expectations. Memphis' preseason oveunder was set at 25.5, a mark the Grizzlies have already beaten.
Hoops Habit - 19
The Memphis Grizzlies quickly slid back to .500 after the All-Star break, losing both ends of a road back-to-back at Sacramento and in Los Angeles to the Lakers. The Grizzlies remain 3½ games clear of both the Trail Blazers and Spurs for eighth place in the Western Conference and have two more games on their four-game road sojourn before returning home to host the Kings and Lakers.
Adding injury to insult, second-year big man Jaren Jackson Jr. left Friday’s loss to the Lakers before halftime with a sore left knee and did not return. He is Memphis’ second-leading scorer this season at 16.9 points per game.
Backup point guard Tyus Jones scored 24 points with 11 assists and four rebounds in 36 minutes over the two games, hitting 9-of-16 from the floor and 2-of-3 from long range. Jones, in his first season with the Grizzlies, is averaging a career-high 7.1 points with 4.5 assists in 18.8 minutes per game, shooting 47.4 percent overall and 39.6 percent on 1.6 3-point tries a night.

Don't know this Hoops Habit site, but added it since it popped up in my search and they have us so much lower than every other publication.
submitted by Rainy_J to memphisgrizzlies [link] [comments]

Official /r/NBA Power Rankings #0 (10.22.2019) - Let the Games Begin Edition

28/30 rankers reporting this week. /NBA's Power Rankings are published every two weeks which is a bit different from most rankings. Other than that we rank the teams the same way as our competition. If write ups are left blank the team rep decided not to submit. We encourage any user to fill in the blanks in the comment section. We are still looking for a Grizzlies ranker so apply here if interested!
# Team Δ Record Comment
1 Clippers 0-0 With two of the most anticipated free agents in modern history, and certainly LAC history, the Clippers' future is looking bright. While Kawhi is all but certain to play less than 82 games, Paul George is still hurt, and likely won't be back for a couple more weeks. As a result, I don't think I am ready to call LAC #1 JUST yet. Let's wait and see what happens with PG out for a bit, and what Kawhi, Lou, Trez, PatBev and the rookies can accomplish in that time.
2 Bucks 0-0 With sky-high expectations, the Bucks and their reigning MVP are in uncharted territory coming into this season, and it is time to see whether or not they will be able to live up to them. This offseason's most significant change for the Bucks is the loss of Malcolm Brogdon. However, Jon Horst did a great job getting some value back in an S&T and replaced him with a platoon of SGs who can bomb away from deep. The roster is even deeper than last year with Robin Lopez, Wes Matthews, Kyle Korver, and Dragan Bender joining, but this team will be judged on its playoff success, another 60 win season with an ECF exit would be a failure.
3 76ers 0-0 Another Sixers offseason that included empty gym videos of their PG taking shots. The Sixers have high expectations after an off-season that saw Jimmy, TJ, and JJ get replaced by Horford and Josh Richardson. This team is much deeper, but still lacks shooting and will potentially look to fill that void with a mid-season trade. An easy early schedule (2nd easiest until Xmas) should allow the team to work out the kinks with the new additions.
4 Rockets 0-0 The acquisition of Russell Westbrook has been is one of the biggest question marks for the upcoming season. Will he and James Harden work well together? It's happened before, but many argue that the two players have changed too much since then. I personally think that Westbrook's fast-paced style will benefit D'Antoni's system more than Chris Paul's play style did, and I am optimistic about the prospect of surrounding Westbrook with the best group of shooters he has ever had.
5 Lakers 0-0 A new era is upon the Lakers. With only a couple players returning from the previous season, the team looks to build off the chemistry that AD and LeBron built off of during the preseason. Health will be a large portion of conversations during the season and who will be the player that steps up to be the third guy? Whatever happens, we're sure tto have a media drama filled season.
6 Nuggets 0-0 Basketball’s back, baby! With the city of Denver craving a distraction from the Broncos’ awful season, the Nuggets arrive on the stage with lofty expectations for a franchise that hasn’t made a Finals appearance in their 43 years in the NBA. With unicorn big man Nikola Jokic firmly cemented as a franchise cornerstone, the future of this team now depends on the pieces that surround Jokic. If Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and co. can develop into consistent high volume scorers next to Jokic, the Nuggets will certainly be in the Finals discussions by the end of the season.
7 Jazz 0-0 With additions of Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jeff Green, and more, the new-look Jazz look to continue their defensive identity this season. With preseason showing some hiccups in the team's schemes, the challenge of steering Utah into the postseason lies squarely on coach Quin Snyder to fix the glitches and show how dangerous the Jazz can be on both sides of the ball. Rudy Gobert will chase a DPOY trifecta, while Donovan Mitchell will continue to rely on his improved spida skills after a successful summer outing in international play. Meanwhile, questions still loom for this team. Can Derrick Favors' presence be replaced by commitee? Will there be revolving door starting lineup based on matchups? Will the bench have enough firepower? Utah looks to answer those questions early against a slew of Wester nconference opponents.
8 Trail Blazers 0-0 Portland didn't have any big moves this off-season, but they quietly improved their biggest shortcoming - shooting from people other than Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Returning players Zach Collins, Jake Layman, and Meyers Leonard look considerably improved as well. Neither of these should be enough to propell them to contender status, but they should remain a competetive playoff team. And if Collins really emerges, they might really surprise people.
9 Warriors 0-0 Steph dropped 40 points in 25 minutes. Looks like we may get a 15-16 Steph kinda season. Warriors clearly have size issues and will have difficulty on the boards. Warriors offense is a bit slower paced than it has been in the past and it's been easier for defenses to read. With bodies going on and off the injury list we haven't had a real glimpse of what this team is. The regular season is just about here though.
10 Celtics 0-0 Going into the season, there's a million questions surrounding the Celtics. Was Kyrie the problem? Is Hayward going to step up? Is Jaylen Brown going to prove he's worth the max/close to the max? Or is he going to find himself on the trade block? Is Tatum going to take another leap? Is Kemba going to flourish? Is Brad going to prove he's still deserving of being considered a great coach? How in the world will the Celtics survive with a ragtag assortment of big men led by Enes Kanter??? The Celtics jump right into the fire to start the season with matchups against the 76ers, Raptors, and Bucks, and then two matchups against the Knicks before the next edition of the powerrankings.
11 Raptors 0-0 The raptors went all in, and it worked. Now, we’re left with what remains. Hope for the future comes through our developing players such as Pascal Siakam, and Fred Van Vleet Sr. Offseason losses of Kawhi Leonard & Danny Green will hurt significantly, but hopefully players such as Norman Powell & OG Anunoby can step up in their places. Many minor offseason acquisitions took place this offseason, so it will be interesting to see if any of the new raptors can stand out. One of the more intriguing to myself is Euroleague sharpshooter Matt Thomas. As we won’t be contending this year, look for possible trade deadline moves of expiring contracts such as Marc Gasol, for potential draft picks. Overall it should be an interesting season to watch our youth movement develop further, and we should still be good enough to contend for a top 5 seed in the east.
12 Pacers 0-0 The early story for the 2019-2020 Pacers will involve how well the new pieces fit together on offense. TJ Warren, TJ McConnell, Jeremy Lamb, and Goga Bitadze all flashed at points in the preseason, and Indiana will need as much help as it can get before Victor Oladipo returns to action. Oladipo surprisingly progressed to 5v5 drills recently, but no timetable is in place for his return. If the Pacers offense can muster up enough energy in the first months of the season, there's no reason Indiana shouldn't be right back in the thick of the playoff race come early spring.
13 Nets 0-0 Basketball is back and Brooklyn saw a lot of change this offseason. The most obvious change is adding Kyrie which will add several new layers to the offense. His ability to score from anywhere on the floor will open up opportunities for Jarrett and Deandre in the Nets' PnR-heavy offense. Levert, Dinwiddie, and Harris will be returning to similar roles as last year but there will be a little extra attention for Levert who made major improvements last offseason and will try to do the same this year. With additions in Prince, Temple, and Nwaba who have all looked solid so far, Nets fans have a lot to look forward to this season.
14 Spurs 0-0 Mismatched roster? Check. Guy/s viewed around the league as at best a #2 or #3 option on a contending team featured as your two most important players? Check. A wide variety of players that need the ball to effective and operate in overlapping areas? Check. Yet will all that being true, I will let you be the one that declares this isn't a playoff team. Roster construction, be damned. One reason to be optimistic going into the 2019-2020 season is Demar Derozan's willing to shoot open three pointers off the catch without hesitation during the last game of the preseason (only 3 but in 1 game!). If this continues and defenders have to at least step towards him and contest, a lot of the floor spacing issues on offense between Him and LMA could be relieved.
15 Heat 0-0 With the new seasons come new faces and new hopes that we'll be competitive.Happy that we got to get a player as great as Jimmy Butler although I'll miss Josh Richardson. I hope that Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo are able to take the next steps although I've been waiting for Winslow for years to do so. I'm not hoping for anything amazing out of this year's draft picks just because of the time it takes to adjust, but Herro should do some good for us. I'm expecting the Heat achieve a middle of the pack playoff berth between 4-8 depending on how everyone performs. Hopefully we're not in the timeline where the Heat also tank and that means the only good team in South Florida is the Florida Panthers (I hope Quenneville makes some magic for us).
16 Kings 0-0 The Sacramento Kings have an opportunity to take another step forward after competing for the 8th seed in the West for a significant portion of last season. While the Kings fell short of the playoffs last year, they enter this season in a great position to continue building upon what they created last year with new Head Coach Luke Walton on the sideline. The Kings largely brought their core back, and added some great supplementary pieces in Dewayne Dedmon and Cory Joseph. The current wildcard, even before we start the season, is the extension negotiations with Buddy Hield who came close to Joakim Noah'ing the City of Sacramento. If a deal is struck expect harmony - if the two sides reach an impasse... That's the Kings, baby.
17 Mavericks 0-0 The Mavs had a rough offseason: they had equal odds and Memphis and New Orleans to jump into the top 2, but stayed put and conveyed the pick to Atlanta. They then missed out on big free agents and blamed the fans for getting their hopes up. Luckily, Porzingis signed his contract as expected, and Dallas got some mid-tier signings in Delon Wright and reuniting Seth Curry in Dallas. The biggest question marks this year are Porzingis' health and who is the 5th starter. The Mavs are a top heavy team, but with Rick Carlisle consistently getting the most out of his bench each year, there's a good chance the Mavs will be in the playoff hunt.
18 Magic 0-0 New season, basically the same roster. Bringing back Vucevic and Ross on long-term contracts left some scratching their heads, but consistency is typically touted as necessary for continued success, so guess we'll just have to see if that's true. Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba showed serioues growth during preseason and Markelle Fultz finally came out of the woodwork. With so much uncertainty surrounding his health, Fultz came out and showed that he can still play the game. He'll start off as the backup point but I have no doubt the plan is to eventually have Fultz starting if he's able to stay healthy. Playoffs are once again the expectation but first we'll have to see if this team can replciate that late season success that got them to the playoffs last year.
19 Pistons 0-0 The Pistons have a lot of swing for this season. Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond are coming off career years, Reggie Jackson had a full offseason for the first time in years. The problem is several key players have injury issues (Blake, Rose, Jackson) and they may have the weakest wing rotation of any team trying to win games. They need a leap from at least one of Kennard or Bruce Brown.
20 Pelicans 0-0 The Pelicans obviously had a huge roster turnover this offseason, and that will have huge implications to start the season. Typically teams with high roster turnover have slower starts, and perhaps struggle with chemistry issues. But due to great veteran leadership from guys like Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick, a fantastic coaching staff lead by Alvin Gentry (as well as Chris Finch and Jeff Bzdelick), and an eager group of young players without egos who are ready to learn and adapt I'd bet on the Pelicans starting out hotter than most expect. The beginning of the schedule for this team has them playing some great teams, but there are enough chips on these guys shoulders to put Lays out of business. I don't expect a slump coming out of the gate.
21 Hawks 0-0 There some people with some very lofty expectations of the Hawks this season, mostly due to the idea that progression in the NBA is linear, but there are some major concerns with the Hawks this season. Having 3 rookies being a significant part of your rotation generally isn't a recipe for improvement and the loss of Dewayne Dedmon is likely going to be felt more than most people expect. Turnovers were once again a massive issue for the Hawks in the preseason just as they were last year, The Hawks first ~20 games of the season are absolutely brutal so a slow start is all but guaranteed for a team leaning on a lot of young players. In spite of all the negatives, Hawks fans still have plenty to look forward too as they add the very promising De'Andre and Cam Reddish to the already established core of Trae Young, John Collins, and Kevin Huerter. It wouldn't be surprising if, like last year, the Hawks struggled mightily early in the year and then slowly become better and better in the back half of the season.
22 TWolves 0-0 New season new regime for the Wolves. Finally building a roster and offense built around Karl-Anthony Towns. That combined with health and thisnteak might sneak into the playoffs.
23 Bulls 0-0 This is not "the year" for the Bulls, but given the state of the East, an 8-seed run is not out of the question. Over the offseason, the Bulls signed veteran F Thaddeus Young and G Tomas Satoransky and drafted PG Coby White to build on the core group of LaVine/Lauri/WCJ. Our full roster is starting to look acceptable save for a few oversized contracts, so Bulls fans should approach this season with cautious optimism about our ability to win games. Head coach Jim Boylen is a strange case; with three quarters of a season under his belt, a new year is as much of a chemistry-building exercise for him as it is for the players. May the injury gods finally bless us this year. Go Bulls!
24 Thunder 0-0 Oklahoma City will look slightly different this year, with franchise legend Russell Westbrook swapped out for Chris Paul and star forward Paul George sent west for Danillo Gallinari, SGA, and a wealth of picks. While the current starting lineup looks solid and the roster synergy might actually be better than during the Westbrook years, the high probability of a deadline firesale for Gallinari at minimum and possibly Adams or Paul makes this team incredibly difficult to predict for now.
25 Wizards 0-0 HE BACK! The best possible news of the offseason came this past week when Bradley Beal decided to extend his contract for an additional two years with the Wizards. Despite all the incompetence of the front office during these past few seasons, Beal has remained loyal to the team, and has decided to stick it out through the rebuild. It will be a tough one, however, as without backcourt mate John Wall, Washington will likely finish near the bottom of the league this year. That said, young pieces Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura, and Troy Brown Jr. will be given every chance to showcase their talents this year, and it will be exciting to see how they develop. Expect another dismal year from the Wizards defensively, as the team decided that the solution to their defensive woes was to add Isaiah Thomas, Ish Smith, and Davis Bertans, all of whom are essentially glorified traffic cones.
26 Suns 0-0 The Phoenix Suns finally have a roster of NBA players. A 3y$51M deal for Ricky Rubio headlined the Suns' interesting offseason, in which newly minted permanent GM James Jones attempted to remove all the trash of the McDonough tenure and hopefully begin an era of competence. The Suns made a handful of other moves including hiring Monty Williams to a full five year deal, the longest ever under Sarver ownership.
27 Grizzlies 0-0 The Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson era is upon us. Morant is replacing long time Grizz Grinder Mike Conley as a point guard and the Grizzlies highest draft selection since Thabeet in 2009. Got some big shoes to fill. Iguodala's status is still in the air but the Grizz are holding out on a buy out to hopefully attain assets in a trade. Iguodala is still wanting to be on a contender but would be a great mentor for this young squad.
28 Knicks 0-0 NOO YAWK KNICKS BAYBEE! A few things: 1) The team is probably the deepest in the Association, with a bench mob that all brings talent to the table. 2) The young core has progressed well, with Frank getting more aggressive and taking more shots, DSJ fixing his shot issues, Knox taking contact much better and not settling for shooting, Mitch being Mitch but with less fouls, Trier being instant offense off the bench and RJ being a beast on the stat sheet. 3) As for the signings: Morris has been exactly the spiritual leader Fiz has wanted for the gritty team he's been preaching about since coming here. While he's still a hothead, his tenacity is what a young and motivated team needs as a rallying point. Randle has been excellent, with his underrated playmaking shining as he's allowed to initiate a lot of the offense. His ability to barrel into the paint and draw doubles down low opens the perimiter for shooters like Ellington, who has been exactly as advertised. Portis and Taj bring spacing and versatility to our bigs, as both are wlling teammates. I personally am not a fan of the Elfrid Payton signing, because he's even worse than Frank at shooting, but his passing is outstanding and his improvisational skills after a play breaks down help keep the team going. Here's to the only team with NEW YORK on the jersey!
29 Cavaliers 0-0 Well, here we go again. Let's buckle in and hope our new guys get more good reps in and we can hope to see improvement over the course of the season. We have a very young group that all could show signs of improvement, with new faces on the floor this year including Jim Henson (who was hurt all last year) and Darius Garland, our newly drafted guard. Get your beer ready, it's gonna be a long season. At least Kevin Love is sticking around and actually seems pretty content about it!
30 Hornets 0-0 The Hornets finally did it. They finally committed to a tank season. It isn’t clear whether or not it was purposeful, but one thing is for sure: the team isn’t going to win many games. There are bright spots, however! Miles Bridges showed flashes last year, PJ Washington has impressed in preseason, and Terry Rozier seems to be relishing the opportunity to be the leader of a basketball team. While the departure of our GOAT Kemba Walker and the existence of the Batum contract still sting, there is a fun young team in there somewhere. Maybe… just maybe… they’ll turn some heads in the future. Onward, tank!
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ESPN, 538, Bleacher Report and Vegas Prediction Rankings

After seeing some of the predictions for this years teams for the nba season using various models I tried to see which were the most accurate last season.

Predictions

538
Bleacher Report
ESPN
Sportsline
Vegas
Previous Season - Using the previous season as the predictor
Mean Predicted Wins - Average of all the models for each team
I wasn't able to find any nba predictions but if there is one lmk

Measures Used

MAE - Mean Absolute Error - Average number of wins the model was off for each team
RMSE - Root Mean Square Error - Similar to MAE but this it is the average of the error squared. This basically punishes the model more for making more extreme errors.
MAPE - Mean Absolute Percentage Error - The average percentage each prediction was off by. (I'm not sure if this was done correctly because I divided the error by the actual wins, which seems to make it harder to be accurate for lower teams - in 538s model both the suns and warriors are off by 7 wins but the APE is 37% for the suns and 12% for the warriors)
Table

Results

Charts
The models were all fairly similar in their accuracy, the worst model being less than one win on average worse than the best and all about 7 wins off for each team. From most accurate to least accurate its ESPN, MPW, Vegas, Bleacher Report, 538, Sportsline and then the previous season. However, because of the obvious huge change in the Cavs lineup which I think anyone could see changing the wins in the previous season without the Cavs makes it the second or third most accurate model - although its hard to see this being the same for this season with the amount of offseason moves.
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‘The Rocket’s Mailbag: The Curious Case of Luc Mbah a Moute’s change of heart and Nene’s contract’ by Kelly Iko (The Athletic)

Mark your calendars, good people.
The Rockets’ unofficial official mini-camp in Vegas this past week served as the latest reminder that the NBA season is as close as ever. Media days across the league will commence at the end of the week, followed by training camp and preseason.
There are still a few topics to tackle before we officially flip the page from the offseason. What’s going on with Luc Mbah a Moute and Iman Shumpert? What does the league’s ruling on Nene’s contract mean for Houston moving forward?
Without further ado, let’s get into your questions.
What’s happening with Luc, Kelly? What was with the mixup last week? Him and Thabo sharing minutes as wing defenders (and providing coveinsurance for each other) would be absolutely ideal. — Nathan F.
While the year-old physical pain from Luc Mbah a Moute’s shoulder injuries may have subsided, its effects elsewhere — financially, emotionally, mentally — are still lingering. Why a 6-foot-8 3&D wing is still without an NBA team with the season just around the corner honestly should be getting more attention than the Carmelo Anthony saga.
The case is a bit confusing. So we’ll have to dial back a bit to get a better understanding of exactly what’s going on here.
During the 2018 offseason, aside from the prospect of Chris Paul’s long-term future, Trevor Ariza’s departure and rumors of Carmelo’s arrival, Mbah a Moute’s free agency situation was still unclear.
On one end there was Houston, still endeared to Mbah a Moute but unsure about the severity of his shoulder and subsequent recovery, especially given the fact that he elected not to have surgery on it. An injury like that, without allowing it to properly heal, always runs the risk of future damage. For any player, but especially one who prides himself on the defensive end, this can be a red flag for teams.
Nevertheless, Houston was prepared to offer him a contract, in the region of the veteran’s minimum. Other teams had expressed interest, including both Los Angeles teams, the Spurs and the Wizards. Mbah a Moute would end up signing a one-year, $4.3 million deal with the Clippers.
While the shoulder wasn’t necessarily an issue during the 2018-19 season, a knee injury early on would only allow Mbah a Moute to feature in four games for the year. Unlike the shoulder injury, he opted for surgery in late March and was eventually waived shortly before the playoffs.
Those closest to Mbah a Moute have repeatedly stressed that he’s had a great recovery and that there are no lingering issues. Houston maintained “extreme interest” in him over the past few months, according to one team source, and had conversations with him over the summer about a possible return to the team. There was still some doubt internally about the health, but there was more than enough comfort in bringing him to training camp.
Mbah a Moute also expressed interest in returning, and he was expected to travel to Vegas, along with other free-agent veterans. It wasn’t a deal in principle, a la Deandre Jordan committing to the Dallas Mavericks, but more along the lines of a gentleman’s agreement.
Mbah a Moute, like Nick Young, Thabo Sefolosha, and Corey Brewer are free agents but are adults first and foremost. Mini-camp isn’t an official league event, and all are well within their right to decline or change their mind concerning attending. Within three hours of news breaking that he was among the group making the trip to Vegas, Mbah a Moute’s camp informed The Athletic that they had changed course.
So why the shift? Perhaps Mbah a Moute wasn’t content with a tryout anymore, having to prove himself against other hungry veterans. Maybe the potential earnings both sides were discussing weren’t in accord. All that’s known is that it’s a loss for both sides.
Having since signed Sefolosha to a one-year deal, adding Mbah a Moute to shore up wing depth would certainly be ideal for Houston, to answer your question, Nathan. Circumstances change in the league every day, so I wouldn’t say that ship has sailed just yet. Anything can happen in camp, whether it be an injury, further evaluations or simply future agreements.
Do you know how the organization is handling the league’s decision over the Nene contract? Obviously there are some sore feelings, but what’s next? — Carter P.
Will the Rockets still have the non taxpayer MLE available now that the Nene contract was changed by the league? — Nathan A.
If you’re keeping score at home, this is now the second time that Houston has danced with the CBA in regards to Nene, the first being the Over-38 Rule two summers ago.
To keep it short and simple, The Athletic initially reported that Nene was re-signing with Houston. In the deal, Nene agreed to a two-year contract worth the veteran’s minimum. He would be paid his base salary (around $2.6 million) and likely bonuses (worth up to $7.4 milli0n) to take his potential salary to $10 million.
According to Shams Charania, in a ruling laid down by both the NBA and NBPA, this contract won’t be allowed to remain as is. The base will remain, but the likely bonuses (tied to 52 wins and games played) will not.
In speaking with those well-versed in the CBA world (shoutout to Jeff Siegel and his breakdown), this hurts Houston on a number of levels. Before this ruling, the Rockets could have chalked this up to another win over the CBA, being deft enough to find loopholes and circumvent some of the rules regarding contracts.
Nene played in 42 games last season and Houston won 53 games, so placing a season-high of 40 games and 52 wins is deemed as “likely.” Because it’s likely, Houston isn’t capped at 15% of Nene’s new salary ($384,000), which would put them in luxury tax area. That’s before you even factor in the potential bonuses, though they might have been considered as unlikely.
With this contract, Nene instantly became a valuable trade chip. For example, if he were to be involved in a like-for-like trade, Houston could potentially bring back someone making up to $12.6 million in salary. Now imagine combining that with other players on bigger contracts. The opportunities would be endless in terms of financial flexibility and roster upgrades once the trade deadline rolled around.
I’m sure the Rockets must feel a bit annoyed if they feel like the league and NBPA stymied their plans. Perhaps they had a similar deal in place for Iman Shumpert, seeing as they still control his Bird Rights. In any case, there’s really nothing you can do besides move forward with the group you have.
Houston will not have the Non-Taxpayer MLE at its disposal anymore, however. But this isn’t directly because of Nene’s contract. When Danuel House agreed to return on a three-year deal, it was initially done out of the $9.3 million available. Nene’s new salary that was signed with Bird Rights theoretically puts Houston over the tax apron, so House’s will be converted under the Taxpayer’s MLE. So Houston will have what’s left of it to work with for this season.
Do you think (Mike D’Antoni’s) contract status gives him less of an ability to get Westbrook’s complete buy-in to his system? — Henry O.
This is a fantastic question, Henry. My immediate answer is no.
I think when Russell Westbrook made it clear where he wanted to take his talents, that decision was made with a number of things in mind. One was the long-coveted fascination of playing in a free-flowing, all-systems-go system. Westbrook has played in systems that didn’t always cater to his strengths in Oklahoma City, oftentimes being surrounded by fellow athletes who weren’t enough of an outside threat to alter defensive schemes.
Westbrook will instantly fall in love with D’Antoni’s system, if he hasn’t already. If there’s one thing I’ve seen D’Antoni do, rather than purely X’s and O’s — and don’t get me wrong, he’s up there with the greats in this aspect — it’s the human aspect that Westbrook will fall in love with. D’Antoni preaches confidence and assertiveness, two things that Westbrook isn’t lacking in by any means.
Gerald Green offered a brilliant anecdote to give a peek inside just what kind of confidence MDA instills in his guys. According to Green, D’Antoni said he wouldn’t care if you missed 100 3s in a row, as long as you kept shooting them when the shot is there. Now, if you missed the 101st, he’d have to have a bit of a conversation. The point is, Westbrook will fit in with the other guys in terms of being able to get shots up.
Another aspect of D’Antoni’s sytle is accountability. The leaders on the team — James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Chris Paul when he was here — never missed an opportunity to make their opinions known. It’s not uncommon to see Tucker screaming at his teammates when something needs correction.
Houston will speed things up a bit, as both Daryl Morey and D’Antoni have alluded. There’s a desire to get back to being a top fastbreak team, rather than having everything be a slow grind in the halfcourt. Westbrook will enjoy getting the rebound off the rim and just going, knowing he has shooters at his beck and call.
Whether D’Antoni is coaching here for one more season, or five (and I do believe both sides will hammer something out), I don’t believe it affects Westbrook’s mindset, nor should it. Consider this quote from owner Tilman Ferttita to our Sam Amick last week concerning D’Antoni’s situation:
“Well, I can tell you this, I really like our coach, OK? I really like him a lot. And if I’m a betting man, I bet you he’s here again the following year, OK? But it’s OK. He’s going to play out this contract, and he and I will sit down and both of us will walk out of the room happy.”
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Why the hell are the Thunder so much better this year. (OC)

Last season the Thunder were playing a half dozen guys who wouldn’t/don’t see the floor whatsoever now or are completely out of the league.
Melo (32.1) Brewer (28.6) Felton (16.6) Huestis (14.2)
These 4 guys played on average a combined 91.5 minutes a game! They are all out of the league or in Felton’s case (when everyone is healthy) a constant DNP.
Toss in the likes of our lord and savior Kyle Singler, Dakari Johnson and Mr. Thunder Nick Collison and you have an entire bench that has been revamped and remarkably improved.
It’s unfair to blame it all on Melo’s addition by subtraction. It’s also easy to point out how bad he was… so I will… Melo sucked. He didn’t turn into a pumpkin this season. He was a one dimensional scorer with one of the lowest all-time assist rates and probably the most inefficient player in the league. Oh and he played matador levels of defense. All while demanding a starting role and refusing to accept the obvious. Not only was his low effort enlightenment replaced by young energetic and willing wings but for god’s sake SAM PRESTI TURNED HIM AND HIS BEHEMOTH CONTRACT INTO SCHRODER.
Everyone knows the Thunder started last year slowly (8-12). In the next 52 games they went 35-17 including going 16-3 (in games Roberson played) from the 20 game mark until Roberson was injured for the season. This team was absolutely rolling and in spite of the dearth of depth. Roll the clock forward to this season and it’s easy to see the positive effect of replacement of a handful of scrubs, no more Melo, added length/defense/energy and youth and another year of PG/Russ playing together (not to mention an offseason to build chemistry).
We’ve all seen numerous posts on PG and his increasing MVP buzz. I won’t go into too much detail but I will say DPOY is him or RoCo at this point. He’s playing every game (looking at you Kawhi), never takes a possession off let alone entire games defensively (cough Lebron) all while carrying the team during a glut of injuries including Russ missing 8 games. His MVP buzz is certainly warranted.
Russ.. well he’s Russ and frankly if I even mention him this post will turn into a Haters v Truthers debate and I want quite the opposite. I’m interested in shedding light on the Thunder, what’s clicking this season and why. I’d like to talk about some of the more minor components…
What can I say about Aquaman Steven Adams? Funaki is averaging career highs across the board. He’s been an absolute rock and nightmare for teams to deal with.
Terrance Ferguson
T-Ferg when playing well... Turd Ferguson to start the season.
Ferguson fell off the radar for the most part when, as an elite recruit, he chose to play overseas rather than a big school in country. An athletic mutant Ferg’s issues have always centered on his confidence. That makes plenty of sense. He’s only 20 and was thrown into the fire as a rookie especially after the Roberson injury. Last year he splashed in some garbage time and showed the uber athletic 3 & D potential. He went through his fair share of growing pains as a rook and for the most part looked like he was in over his head. But the potential is there and flashed sporadically.
To start the season he was BAD. Call it playing scared or overthinking, he was out of his depth. Since the 0-4 start he’s really found his niche. He’s essentially Andre Roberson 2.0 in terms of his role. He’s playing stellar… yeah I said it, boarderline elite defense. It allows OKC to switch without worry of mismatches on the wing and takes pressure off of PG on that end of the floor. While Roberson can guard 1-4 like almost no one else Ferguson’s frame and height limit him to guarding 1-3 strictly but alongside PG and Grant with Adams/Noel anchoring it’s been more than enough. Much like Jerami Grant the raw #’s won’t impress you but his unselfishness and playing within his limits has been a remarkable thing to see. Ferguson currently is part of not one but the TOP 3 THREE MAN LINEUPS IN THE NBA
He’s been a subtle difference maker due to his demeanor, role and what he excels in but as his confidence has grown he’s started to make more and more game changing plays:
https://streamable.com/56mxd https://streamable.com/dts45
While T-Ferg isn’t asked to shoot much and therefore is shooting not even 5 shots a game and half of those are 3’s he’s been much improved. Since the 0-4 start (including spraining his ankle in the middle of this run) he’s shooting 36% from 3 and 83% at the line. With his athleticism and unselfishness we are watching Terrance blossom into the definition of a 3 and D contributor on a contending team.
Hamidou Diallo
Diallo was highly regarded in high school and as such went to Kentucky. Unfortunately for him he was stuck playing behind Kevin Knox and Blog Boi’s favorite Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Hami has the pedigree and talent. He’s not only a freakish athlete but potentially made of rubber.
He impressed the team so much in the preseason/SL they signed him outright. He’ll make under 4 million dollars TOTAL for the next 3 years. Diallo, like Burton and Ferguson will need to improve his shot but by no means is his form broken or bad. Aside from the shooting he’s shown it all. He’s a menace on the break, gets into passing lanes (like basically every other thunder wing) and can finish pretty damn well. It doesn’t always look pretty.
The most encouraging thing I can say about watching Hami is he just has a nose for the ball. Loose balls, rebounds, put backs, fast break leak outs… the guy is impossible to miss when he’s on the floor. Unlike some 3 & D guys Hami is no wallflower, he attacks relentlessly and flat out makes shit happen. While he’s been slowly coming back from the ankle injury and prior to that being integrated into the rotation he’s still been an absolute sparkplug from the bench. His per 36 of 16ppg and 7rpg along with 2spg is nothing to scoff at. I have all the confidence that in time he’ll lower his foul rate and incrementally improve his shooting (similar to Jerami). Don’t be surprised if Diallo is a long time starting 2 in this league.
Deonte Burton
Deonte “Blockhead” Burton: You can read here in this fantastic write up on his path to the league
The Lego-headed love child of Dion Waiters and Zion Williamson has been an absolute spark off the bench. Due to Westbrook, Diallo and Ferguson missing significant time the undrafted rookie has been forced to step in. In his limited minutes he’s ignited the second unit and made some incredible plays. He’s a bit of a Jack of All Trades. Not a great shooter nor does he hang his hat on the defensive end but he is solid across the board. Sprinkle in some otherworldly athleticism and you can see why Thunder fans are giddy about his future with the team. He jumped on OKC fans radar in Summer League with some dominating performances showcasing a wide array of skills along with his killer mentality.
At his core Burton is a scorer. He is tenacious about driving to the rim and while he isn’t the most finesse finisher he can steal souls.
All in all he isn’t a guy who quietly stands in the corner and plays deferentially. Nope Deonte wants to make momentum changing plays and jump start runs with highlight dunks and lobs.
Billy Donovan has stated he wants Burton to play small ball 4 and develop his game from the inside out. There’s a real chance we see Deonte stealing more and more of 2Pat’s minutes sooner rather than later. So while the bar seems kind of low for these young wings it rightfully should be. OKC hasn’t had wing depth in years. For a team with a payroll as high as OKC’s they need to surround the stars with inexpensive young players who can improve over the next few years. The Thunder don’t need or even expect these guys to take over and score 20. They just need consistency and effort with a few highlight plays sprinkled in.
One thing I will say in regards to Russ is enough can’t be said about his (and PG's) leadership specifically in taking Ferg, Hami and Dennis under his wing. These guys idolize Russ and his effort is contagious.
Jerami Grant
Still only 24 years old Jerami is another guy who’s steadily improved in his time with OKC (Currently posting career highs in all major categories). When he left “the Process” he was merely an uber bouncy long athlete who dribbled like a drunk guy on ice skates and couldn’t shoot. The obvious thing to point out is his 3 point shooting. He hasn’t just gone from a bad shooter to an acceptable one, he’s pretty fucking knock down. Not just on a handful of attempts either. He’s shooting 39% on over 3 attempts a game (30/77). Point is it isn’t flukey, he can flat out shoot now yet that’s merely the cherry on top. Jerami butters his bread with Defense. He can legitimately switch onto any position. He’s continued to bulk up and while he’ll never be the banger his Uncle Horace was he’s got more than enough length and wingspan to be a defensive maven. I want to lastly reiterate that Jerami has always been able to do those things. It’s his vastly improved driving, finishing, passing and shooting that has made his so valuable this season. Since Grant was inserted into the starting lineup OKC has gone 17-5. Enough said.
Dennis Schroder
OKC has had backup point guard problems like nobody else in the league. From Eric Maynor to Bassy Telfair, the way too old Derek Fisher, way to Thicc Ray Felton and way too… not good Semaj.
Aside from the brief Reggie Jackson experience it’s been Heaven and Hell with Russell Westbrook and whatever scrub is backing him up. Insert Dennis Schroder and holy god what a difference he makes. It seems the hoop cognoscenti have soured on Dennis over the past few years. I’m here to stump for Dennis the Menace. Sure he’s inefficient, let’s get that out of the way but I’d also like to postulate something to the readers.
I’ll put down some stat lines…
Player 1: 16.8ppg/4.4rpg/5apg on 43/34/87 Dennis Schroder
Player 2: 17.2ppg/2.6rpg/4.5apg on 40/34/94 Lou Williams
Player 3: 15.7ppg/2.3rpg/1.8apg on 37/31/80 Eric Gordon
Player 4: 9.4ppg/2.2rpg/4.0apg on 41/34/77 Fred Van Fleet
Obviously the situations are varying but the point is some of the most well regarded 6MOY Microwave guys are ALL INEFFICIENT. So let’s be consistent talking heads and rather than make the first thing you point out about Dennis being his inefficiency let’s talk about what he does do well.
He effortlessly runs the much improved second unit, started when Russ went down, plays seamlessly with Russ and closes games. That versatility to me is what 6MOY should be about, not just purely who comes in and lights it up against back-ups. Speaking of lighting it up though Dennis sure can do that. He’s had 20+ points in 1/3 of the games including a 32 point outburst in the evisceration of the Warriors. OKC doesn’t need him to pour in buckets every night but far more often than not when he’s needed to he has and yet he has no problem taking a back seat. His reputation certainly preceded him in ATL but he’s stated Russ is his favorite player and if you’ve watched at all you know he’s playing within the system and by no means chasing #’s.
Nerlens Noel
Nerlens obviously fucked up not taking the massive payday previously offered to him. He bet on himself and it cost him. That said he’s absolutely earning himself a solid paycheck this summer. I’ve mentioned the steady improvement from Grant and Ferguson in this system. Throw in Roberson & Adams and it’s pretty clear Presti/Donovan can find and mold limited talents into their best selves. Nerlens came to OKC because he believed that too.
Like Grant, Noel has always been an uber athlete that is at the very least great at one or two things. Rim Protection and Steals. Somehow he simultaneously might have the best hands for a center in the league on defense but has bricks for hands on offense. For whatever reason he has trouble catching lobs and dump offs at times but for all intents and purposes he’s there to be a defensive anchor and boy has he been. Noel’s per 36 are gaudy to say the least… 15 points/13 rebounds and 3.5 blocks on 61% shooting. He had a real slump when Russ was out forcing him to play with Felton but in the times aside from that he’s been everything and more the Thunder could have asked for. Most importantly his presence allows a seamless transition to the bench lineups while maintaining the elite defense the Thunder have.
The troubles of years past vs shit teams are seemingly gone.
The team is the #1 defense (without Andre).
The team is young (Russ/Felton are the only guys in their 30’s) and should continue to improve over the next few years. The entire core is locked up for the next three years. It wasn’t just losing Melo or Russ “being less selfish”...
There’s a myriad of things contributing to this hot start and players to be excited for going forward.
Here’s me hoping more people start taking notice.
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[OC] "Hinge" players for the Northwest Division (DEN, MIN, OKC, POR, UTA)

When a team is projected to win 35 games, they're most likely to go fall somewhere in between that 30 to 40 range. And that variance depends on a variety of factors: injuries, the streakiness of 3-point shooting, etc.
However, each team also has some high variance players that will influence their upside and downside more than others. We're calling this a "hinge" player. It's not necessarily the "X-factor," because that hinge player may be the star of the team. He may be a rookie. He may be a 7th man. But whoever he is, the team's success hinges on his success.
So without further ado, let's identity some hinge players for each team. We're breaking it down into divisions for the interest of length. Next up: the NORTHWEST DIVISION.
DENVER NUGGETS
The Denver Nuggets will retain the lion's share of the same roster and rotation as the 54-win team from last year with only a few notable new additions. PF Jerami Grant should add some energy behind Paul Millsap. Meanwhile, young wings like Malik Beasley and Torrey Craig may continue to earn increased playing time.
But in terms of pure upside? Ceiling? It's hard to compete with the mysterious potential of PF Michael Porter Jr. As most fans know, MPJ was a one-time top 3 prospect in high school whose career has been slowed down by injuries. He didn't play at all as a rookie, and is no sure thing to crack 40+ games as a sophomore. There's a sizable chance that his body is simply not meant for the pounding of a professional athlete.
That said, if Porter can deliver on his potential (or even 80% of his potential), then he vaults these Denver Nuggets into a whole new stratosphere. Back in high school, Porter looked like a stud of a scorer, someone who could take advantage of his 6'10"/6'11" size to pour on points against smaller perimeter players. Back then, it wasn't unrealistic to think he could be a 25 PPG scorer in the NBA one day.
What's a compromise between those two poles? The Nuggets may be satisfied if Porter can develop into a strong 3rd banana behind Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray who settles into that 15-20 PPG range. Given his health, Porter will likely never be a superstar two-way player, but he can form a nice platoon with Jerami Grant who has more athleticism and defensive impact. That 1-2 punch may turn out to be crucial, as Paul Millsap (now 34, soon to be 35) will be aging out of a starting role soon. The Nuggets may need them to hold the fort to keep pace out West. And if one of the two breaks out? Then this team has unlimited upside.
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
As we know, the Minnesota Timberwolves have an Andrew Wiggins problem. They paid him a max deal on the premise that he'd keep improving, but he's actually regressed. For Wiggins, one of the big issues is that he's not a great shooter, so his ability to score efficiently is often tied to his ability to get to the line. In year 2-3, he averaged 7.0 and 6.6 free throw attempts, respectively. Over the last two seasons, those have gone down to 3.8 and 4.1. You don't have to be Daryl Morey to know that's a bad formula for success. In fact, his true shooting has nosedived accordingly, down from a high of 54% to sub 50% last year.
So why isn't Wiggins our "hinge" player? Because I'm just not sure if that leopard can change his spots. Coach Ryan Saunders will try to get Wiggins to abandon his two-pointers and play better defense, but it may be too optimistic to think that Wiggins is going to be a materially different player overnight, starting in Year 6 of his career. There may be some "sunk cost" here.
And if that's sadly the case, then the Timberwolves will have taken a sizable risk trading up for SG Jarrett Culver (Texas Tech.) Why? Because Culver shares some of the same traits as Wiggins (offensively.) Like Wiggins, he's not a great shooter (hitting just 34.1% of his threes and 68.7% of his free throws in college). He's best with the ball in his hands, where he can attack and distribute effectively. But if he's not getting the ball much and is forced to be a 3+D player exclusively, he may not produce enough of a return for that # 6 pick.
I'm not sure that Wiggins + Culver "fit" offensively, as currently constructed, so they're either going to need to evolve their games or stagger the two (with one off the bench.) Because Culver is younger and more of a wild card, I'll be more optimistic that he can keep growing and prove to be a good secondary option for Karl Anthony-Towns (think Jimmy Butler without the drama.) But if he can't? If he's similarly limited as Wiggins? Then this KAT may seriously start to question whether this is the litter he wants to settle in forever.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
It's difficult to pick a "hinge" player for the Oklahoma City Thunder, because we're not even sure what game they're playing right now. If they intend to make a credible playoff push (which isn't as unreasonable as you may think, given a solid roster), then SF/PF Danilo Gallinari becomes the most critical. He played extremely well for the Clippers last year, but his durability is always in doubt. If you could guarantee me that Gallo played 75 games for these Thunder, then I'd bet they'd flirt with .500.
But again, we don't know if Sam Presti wants to chase the 8th seed or not. Based on some rumors, they may start selling off pieces like a garage sale. And if Chris Paul goes to Miami and Steven Adams goes back to Atlantis, then they're going to go full on rebuild and full-on tank. As nice as all those R1 picks they've acquired are, you're not going to build a dynasty with a bunch of mid-to-late R1 picks. You need premium talent, like they had before with the Kevin Durant + Russell Westbrook + James Harden (jesus christ) core.
To that end, PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be the "hinge" player to determine the success of their post-Westbrook, rebuild era. SGA flashed at times last season, utilizing his length well on defense and as a slasher. Still only 21, there's loads of upside here. If you told me that Gilgeous-Alexander would develop into the next Jrue Holiday (a very good two-way guard), I wouldn't be shocked at all.
At the same time, there may be a slight sense of over-hype for SGA at the moment. Many people are already pegging him as a future All-Star, forgetting how high of a bar that is in the Western Conference. Remember, Mike Conley has never made an All-Star team. Jrue Holiday himself has only made one (and never in the West.) We can't guarantee that Gilgeous-Alexander is going to be that caliber of a player at all. After all, there are other tall scoring guards who can play solid defense that are good players but not stars (Delon Wright comes to mind.)
So where will SGA settle in? We won't be able to tell after Year 2, but we'll have a better idea. And through that, Presti will have a better idea of whether he can be a foundational piece for their rebuild, or simply a 4th or 5th starter to supplement their future stars.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
For a veteran team that's constantly in the playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers have done a good job stocking their farm system with young talent. I'm still high on rookie Nassir Little as a potential starting SF/PF down the road. And based on preseason hype, Anfernee Simons just flew down from Krypton.
In terms of upside, those two are high up on the list, but they may not be as crucial to the team's success for this particular season. Instead, PF/C Zach Collins finds himself in even more of a critical "hinge" position. The Blazers are quite thin at the PF spot right now, which may require that Collins slide down there and soak up heavy minutes next to new center Hassan Whiteside.
Bill Simmons calls Portland fans "soccer moms," and if that's the case, Zach Collins is their favorite son. He has good size at 7'0" and fluid feet. He's also showcased some stretch potential, improving to 33% from three last year. You can look at his "Per 36" averages -- 13.6 points, 8.6 rebounds -- and make an argument that he can be their version of Domatas Sabonis. He can play some 4, and then back up your center at the 5.
In theory. The Blazers will need to put that theory to the test, because they don't have many other options unless they go very small or rely on Anthony Tolliver (underrated, but old.) They're going to need Collins to give them 25-30 good minutes a night, and he hasn't quite proven that ability yet. One of his challenges is that he may be that he's a "tweener" in a negative way. 33% shooting from 3 is nice for a big, but it's no great shakes for a modern PF. And while Collins can block shots -- 1.8 per 36 -- he also draws a lot of fouls in the paint. In fact, foul trouble has been an issue that's plagued him dating back to college.
If Collins does well this year, then great. The Blazers may be right back up there as a 50 win team again. But if he flops (defined by plateauing where he had been last year), then they may need to pull the trigger on another trade. Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Love are two stretch 4s that loom in the market with more of a proven track record (albeit a much heftier salary.)
UTAH JAZZ
The Utah Jazz had one of the most logical offseasons of the summer. Their defense has always been dominant (ranked in the top 3 in each of the last three years), but their offense often stalled out and fell victim to mediocrity. They've been mid-pack (15th and 16th) over the last two seasons, largely due to a lack of spacing around Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
To remedy that, the Jazz ordered a double dose of "spacing." Ricky Rubio: out. Mike Conley: in. Derrick Favors: out. Bojan Bogdanovic: in. It's hard to under-sell how major of an impact that may have on their offense this season. If you combine their averages, Rubio + Favors hit 1.4 of 4.7 threes per game last year (29.8%). Conley + Bogdanovic combined to average 4.2 of 10.9 (38.5%). Not only will those long bombers score on their own, but they should also create more space for Donovan Mitchell to work with inside.
Defensively, the Jazz may take a slight step back. Conley is a good defender and Bogdanovic is OK (in the right system), but there's not many stoppers on the perimeter right now. In some ways, their makeover is a bet on Rudy Gobert's defensive greatness. They feel like their defense will always be good with the Stifle Tower in the paint and Quin Snyder on the sidelines.
That said, it never hurts to have a good individual defender on the wing, particularly in a Western Conference that features James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and LeBron James. So with that in mind, unheralded SF Royce O'Neale may be a crucial piece for them this year. O'Neale is a tough and gritty dude who's already a top-notch defender, capable of guarding multiple positions on the court. In fact, ESPN RPM graded him as a +2.3 impact, 5th best at his position. The hope here is that O'Neale can be a movable 3+D piece, a la P.J. Tucker in Houston. To do that, O'Neale will need to continue to provide some solid spacing (and he did hit 38.6% of his threes last year) and continue to be able to guard "up" at PF when need be. If O'Neale takes a step back, then the Jazz may be missing one piece from a complete puzzle.
previous entries
Atlantic Division : Boston, Brooklyn, N.Y. Knicks, Philadelphia, Toronto
Central Division : Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana, Milwaukee
Southeast Division : Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Orlando, Washington
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bathrobeDFS - Daily Analysis for April 8th (MLB)

Hello, everyone!! bathrobeDFS is here with your Daily MLB Analysis. First, I will go over any weather concerns. Then, we will take a look at the Vegas lines. Next, I will take a look at Pitchers. Then I will look at the Hitters. All of this will be discussed as someone who plays on DraftKings. If you have any additional questions or want to see guaranteed updates in regards to breaking news- I provide additional updates, information, and stats on my twitter @bathrobeDFS. Feel free to throw me a follow cause it’s much easier and more timely to provide updates over that medium. I also have a Venmo and Patreon for those that would like to donate
I also strongly suggest joining us on Flick. It’s a live chat app that allows me, and a wonderful group of people, to deal with news as it happens, talk about the slate, share lineups, and break things down in a way I simply can’t on any other medium. It is also invite only, so there are no trolls and only good, helpful people talking all different sports, all day, every day.. If you want to join us there, Download the Flick App and send me a message so I can get you an invite. That’s it! Free and easy!
With that being said, let’s get into it!
Early Two Game Slate
Game Notes (SPs, Vegas Lines, Weather)
Rays vs White Sox - 210pm
Projected Lineups (L/S refers to Handedness of the Batter // Splits - EN = Extreme Normal, N = Normal, 0 = No splits, R = Reverse, ER = Extreme Reverse, RHB = Switch Hitter better as a RHB. LHB = Switch Hitter better as a LHB. // Pitcher information is about pitching not how he hits.)
Tampa Bay Rays
Name DK Position Price L/S Splits
Yandy Diaz 1B/3B 3600 R R
Tommy Pham OF 5100 R 0
Daniel Robertson 2B/3B 3800 R N
Avisail Garcia OF 4300 R N
Mike Zunino C 3900 R ER
Kevin Kiermaier OF 4200 L EN
Guillermo Heredia OF 3300 R EN
WIlly Adames SS 3300 R R
Christian Arroyo 3B 3400 R 0
Blake Snell SP 10900 L 0
Chicago White Sox
Name DK Position Price L/S Splits
Leury Garcia OF 3500 S 0
Tim Anderson SS 3700 R N
Jose Abreu 1B 4200 R 0
Welington Castillo C 3300 R EN
Yoan Moncada 3B 4500 S LHB
Eloy Jimenez OF 4600 R ?
Yonder Alonso 1B 3700 L N
Jose Rondon 2B/SS 3300 R 0
Adam Engel OF 3100 R 0
Carlos Rodon SP 6200 L R
Analysis
Well, this game gives us the clear #1 pitcher on a 2 game slate with reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell starting for the Rays. He is someone you can play every time he takes the mound and, especially in a limited slate like this, the question of what you should do is going to be one of game theory. There is no reputable source that will tell you anything other than that Snell is, far and away, the best play here. Everyone else will know that too. And he’s not priced in a way that makes finding bats impossible, meaning he is going to be 80% owned in some places. So what do you do??
Well, you have 3 options. I often talk about this in regards to the NBA, but the same thing really does apply to SPs in MLB. You can either:
  1. Play him with the field and hope he pitches a normal game and crushes it. This would mean finding a way to separate yourself elsewhere, either by not stacking, taking an unpopular stack (like the Pirates), or taking the lowest owned pitcher (I would assume that is Taillon) to pair with him.
  2. Fade him and try to find value at other places. This would mean taking a chance on Taillon and Rodon and making a point of stacking the White Sox, to further distinguish yourself from the field. Especially on a 2 game slate like this, if a pitcher is overwhelming chalk and you don’t plan on playing him, it makes sense to stack against him as added leverage against the field. I mean, you’re not playing him means, generally, you think points can be had. So find them and have them.
  3. You just put together the best lineup you can and who gives a shit about ownership projections. Because you win a tournament by having the highest score, not by being the cutest or having the lowest owned player.
I think Rodon is also a good play. When you take a look at the projected TB lineup, they lead off with a reverse platoon RHB, already putting them at a disadvantage. While I totally think you can take a mini stack (or one-offs) with Pham (especially), Robertson, and Garcia, I think Rodon will have his way with the rest of the lineup.
I will add 2 things here: It is a perfectly viable strategy to play a pitcher AND batters against him when the slate gets this small. While I don’t advise it on larger slates, it is perfectly viable when the options are so thin. If you want to play Rodon AND Pham you absolutely 100% can.
Second, If you play Snell and Taillon, I totally think it’s possible to expand the mini stack to a normal sized one by adding Heredia and Adames.
Pirates vs Cubs - 220pm
  • Jameson Taillon, RHP - 0-1, 13.0 IP, 3.46 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 2 BB, 9 K
  • Jon Lester, LHP - 1-0, 12.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 5 BB, 10 K
  • Vegas Info: N/A
  • Weather: Partly Cloudy and Warm. Temps around 60. Light winds blowing out.
Projected Lineups (L/S refers to Handedness of the Batter // Splits - EN = Extreme Normal, N = Normal, 0 = No splits, R = Reverse, ER = Extreme Reverse, RHB = Switch Hitter better as a RHB. LHB = Switch Hitter better as a LHB. // Pitcher information is about pitching not how he hits.)
Pittsburgh Pirates
Name DK Position Price L/S Splits
Kevin Newman 2B/SS 3400 R ?
Starling Marte OF 4700 R R
Francisco Cervelli C 3500 R 0
Josh Bell 1B 4100 S LHB
Jung-Ho Kang 3B/SS 4300 R ER
Melky Cabrera OF 3500 S 0
Pablo Reyes 2B/OF 3500 R ?
Erik Gonzalez SS 3400 R ER
Jameson Taillon SP 8800 R N
Chicago Cubs
Name DK Position Price L/S Splits
Ben Zobrist 2B/OF 3500 S 0
Kris Bryant 3B/OF 5000 R EN
Anthony Rizzo 1B 5000 L N
Javier Baez SS 5300 R EN
Kyle Schwarber OF 4900 L N
Willson Contreras C 4300 R EN
Daniel Descalso 2B 3700 L 0
Jon Lester SP 7600 L ER
Jason Heyward OF 3900 L 0
Analysis
I have been talking up Taillon since the very first time I talked about the Pirates. This kid is a legit ace-caliber pitcher. While he hasn’t had one of his ace-caliber starts this year, he did show marked improvement between the two starts, and I expect more improvement going into this game. I also think he will be the lowest owned due to both his price and the matchup with the Cubs. Which is scary, sure. But they are not the Red Sox or Yankees, and they can be had. Especially by someone like Taillon who can get strikeouts, has great control, and can keep the ball on the ground.
If you wanna go with what I assume is the most chalky stack on this small slate, I would prioritize the LHB on the Cubs so Zobrist/Descalso, Rizzo, Schwarber and, if you hate yourself, Heyward. He had his best game of the year already. Now I can ignore him for a few months while he eats up ownership and puts up a bunch of 0s or 3s.
I will also add that I’ve made it a point in taking some bats against Lester. He is an OK pitcher now, sure, but he is vastly overrated by the field both for his name and cause of the team he is on. I expect he will be the 2nd most popular pitcher on the slate by far. He is also someone who shows EXTREME reverse splits, meaning we can actually give a bump to Lester since he will be seeing 9 righties, including the pitcher. Still, I will take a chance on some Pirates bats considering the prices and where I expect the field will be. I would just start at the top and try to fit in whoever you can.
Ultimately this whole slate will come down to who you choose at pitcher, and that will come down, in part, to your philosophy.
Today’s Slate
Game Notes (SPs, Vegas Lines, Weather)
Athletics vs Orioles
  • Marco Estrada, RHP - 0-0, 16.1 IP, 2.76 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 4 BB, 7 K
  • Andrew Cashner, RHP - 1-1, 10.0 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 7 BB, 6 K
  • Vegas Info: 9, OAK -136
  • Weather: Mostly Cloudy and Warm. Temps in the 70s. Winds blowing out at 8mph.
Nationals vs Phillies
  • Anibal Sanchez, RHP - 0-0, 4.0 IP, 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 4 BB, 3 K
  • Vince Velasquez, RHP - 0-0, 1.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP, 0 BB, 2 K
  • Vegas Info: 9, PHI -132
  • Weather: Mostly Cloudy and Warm. Temps in the 70s. Winds blowing out at 9mph.
Yankees vs Astros
  • Masahiro Tanaka, RHP - 1-0, 12.1 IP, 1.46 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 0 BB, 12 K
  • Justin Verlander, RHP - 1-0, 11.0 IP, 4.09 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 4 BB, 13 K
  • Vegas Info: 7.5, HOU -152
  • Weather: DOME
Dodgers vs Cardinals
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP - 2-0, 13.0 IP, 2.08 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 0 BB, 13 K
  • Miles MIkolas, RHP - 0-1, 10.0 IP, 7.20 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 3 BB, 5 K
  • Vegas Info: 8, LAD -118
  • Weather: Mostly Cloudy and Warm. Temps in the mid 70s. Winds light, blowing across field.
Mariners vs Royals
  • Felix Hernandez, RHP - 1-0, 5.1 IP, 1.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 0 BB, 4 K
  • Homer Bailey, RHP - 0-0, 5.0 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 2 BB, 8 K
  • Vegas Info: 9, Pick Em
  • Weather: Clear and Warm. Temps in the mid 70s. Winds blowing out at 7mph.
Braves vs Rockies
  • Julio Teheran, RHP - 0-1, 10.0 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 5 BB, 14 K
  • Kyle Freeland, LHP - 1-1, 11.2 IP, 2.31 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 5 BB, 15 K
  • Vegas Info: 10.5, COL -133
  • Weather: COORS FIELD GAME - Clear and Warm. Temps in 70s. Winds blowing in at 7mph
Padres vs Giants
  • Eric Lauer, LHP - 1-1, 11.0 IP, 3.27 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 2 BB, 5 K
  • Madison Bumgarner, LHP - 13.0 IP, 1.38 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 BB, 13 K
  • Vegas Info: 7, SF -125
  • Weather: 30% chance of Rain through the Game Overcast and Warm. Temps around 60. Winds blowing out at 10mph. Doesn’t matter in SF
Brewers vs Angels
  • Jhoulys Chacin, RHP - 2-0, 10.2 IP, 4.22 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 5 BB, 13 K
  • Trevor Cahill, RHP - 0-1, 12.0 IP, 3.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 1 BB, 8 K
  • Vegas Info: 8.5, Pick Em
  • Weather: Partly Cloudy. Temps in the mid 70s. Winds blowing out at 4mph.
Pitchers
Great Pitchers
Masahiro Tanaka (8700, RHP) at HOU - This price is insulting for someone with the consistency that Tanaka has. I know that the Astros are one of the most dangerous offenses in the league, but I also know that I don’t give a shit when a pitcher is as good as Tanaka (or, as we will see on the other side of the game, Verlander). As I have noted every time I have talked about Tanaka - what beats him is himself. He has the stuff, when it’s on and he can control it, to beat any team in the league, any day, and make them look like little leaguers. It really is filthy. If he stuff is working today, he will get more than 1 K per inning, not allow a walk, and keep the runs down, even if some hits get through.
Justin Verlander (10400, RHP) vs NYY - Verlander is coming off a bad start in Texas, which is awesome. It lowered his price 1100 bucks, and 600 under where it started on Opening Day. That means we get cheap Verlander! Plus, people who don’t understand how baseball works will look at his log, see one bad game, and get off him, thereby lowering what should be astronomical ownership. Or they will see the Yankees and get worried. But it’s Verlander. If you play this slate out 100 times, he will get 25 DKP against the Yanks more often than he doesn’t. Don’t be foolish. Don’t overthink it. Even Cy Young pitchers have a bad start sometimes (except deGrom). And while he may have one again, odds are he won’t. So get on him at way, way too cheap a price.
Hyun-Jin Ryu (9600, LHP) at STL - I like Ryu a lot. I think he’s a great pitcher, for sure. I just don’t think there’s any way in hell I am paying 9600 when Verlander is 800 more. That’s just stupid. That being said, stupid wins a LOT of tourneys. So if you do MME, make sure you are taking some lineups with Ryu instead of Verlander (or even paired with, if you like some cheap stacks). That being said, Ryu is an extreme reverse splits pitcher who will be going against a lineup almost full of RHB, which is a huge boost for him.
Great Spots
Eric Lauer (7500, LHP) at SF - On opening day, I strongly recommended Lauer when he was 5600. I explained how he matches up really well against this poor Giants team. As a reverse splits lefty, he really is set to avoid almost every main problem he could face, which is how he got 6 IP with 4 hits allowed, 0 runs, 1 BB, 3 Ks and 20.5 DKP. While he’s almost 2k more expensive now, he’s still a good play, and I still expect him to put up around the same 20 DKP or so in this matchup. Granted, that puts him under several other pitchers on this slate, but I will still have my shares of Lauer tonight.
GPP Plays
Julio Teheran (5800, RHP) at COL - If you want a real cheap GPP play, boy have a got one for you. If you like getting deep into analysis, I strongly recommend reading this article about pitch type and how they are affected by Coors Field. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, basically, the 2 pitches that see the least change in effectiveness are the slider and the 4 seam fastball. Well, he throws his 4 seamer 42% of the time and his slider 22% of the time as it is. In Coors, I am sure he will take out the Curveball, that you can’t use there, and increase his slider usage. That will be good for him, as his slider evoked a 22.9% swinging strike rate and a .143 batting average against. Coors Field effects different pitchers differently. Some pitchers can deal with it. At 5800 and no ownership, I have no problem taking a chance on Teheran.
Kyle Freeland (6200, LHP) vs ATL - Oh man am I going to get shit for this. I am putting both pitchers in the Coors Field game in the GPP section. But the fact is Freeland is as an effective pitcher in Coors Field as he is outside of it. If you read the article I just posted in the Teheran section, you will see that 4 seamers and Sliders are the way to go. Well Freeland throws his 4 seamer about 40% of the time and his slider about 30% of the time. And, again, that is taking into account that he may change this rate in and out of Coors. I look at Freeland’s logs, as well. Game 1 of the season against the Marlins - priced at 9000, he gets 25.4 DKP. Game 2 against the Rays - price falls 1100 to 7900, he gets 22.3 DKP. Now his price falls again to 6200. How much you wanna bet he still gets 20 DKP?
Jhoulys Chacin (8100, RHP) at LAA - Chacin profiles very much like Teheran - a pitcher that can get a lot of Ks, can get absolute murder on RHB, but has a lot of trouble against LHB. The difference between the 2 is that Chacin throws his slider 45% of the time, and it is NASTY, which makes him REALLY nasty to RHB. But extra vulnerable to LHB. Still, this lineup is mostly Rs with only a couple of really good LHB we would have to worry about. While he is pretty expensive, I also expect him go get 20 or so DKP. Also, the Coors Field effect here is named Mike Trout, who will get a HR regardless of how nasty his slider is and how many feet off the plate it breaks.
No Thanks
Marco Estrada (7300, RHP) at BAL - Marco Estrada is a bad pitcher that doesn’t strike people out and gives up a ton of HR. But Baltimore is awful. There is ONE bat on the O’s that I almost consider a lock, but, otherwise, I don’t want anything from him or the other O’s bats.
Batters
Stacking Opportunities (in no particular order)
Athletics vs Andrew Cashner (OAK) - There are very few sure things in life - death, taxes, and stacking against O’s pitchers. Andrew Cashner is their ace, but is the most hittable. He may have thrown 100 but, when you don’t have great control and the ball doesn’t move, it doesn’t matter how fast you throw in the bigs. People will catch up to it and make you pay. And that has been the story of Cashner’s career.
How much do I love this stack? (1-10): 9
Chalk Level (1-10): 6
Preferred Stack: Full
Preferred Players: Piscotty (OF - 4700) and Davis (OF - 5200) are my favorite plays here, but you can start at the top and work your way down against Cashner
Phillies vs Anibal Sanchez (WAS) - Anibal Sanchez is the 5th starter for the Nats, but he really doesn’t deserve that job. He had a 2nd wind year last season with the Braves, but it was smoke and mirrors. In his first start against this same Phillies team, he got 4 IP and gave up 4 hits, 4 ER, 4 walks and 3 Ks and it would have been worse if he hadn’t been hit by a comebacker and taken out. I will also note that he is a reverse splits pitcher, and the wind will be blowing out
How much do I love this stack? (1-10): 9
Chalk Level (1-10): 6
Preferred Stack: Full
Preferred Players: Start with Rhys Hoskins (1B - 4700) and then go to the top and work your way down.
Nationals vs Vincent Velasquez (RHP, @PHI) - Velasquez was a pitcher with a lot of promise when he came up for the Phils. He has always managed to keep his K totals high, but he never was able to find the control you need to make it to the next level in the big leagues. Because of that, he is prone to leaving the ball out over the plate, or missing it altogether. I should also note Vince has only gotten to pitch one inning so far this year, as he has been the long man in the bullpen (since the Phillies didn’t need 5 starters until now.) So, yeah, not a ringing endorsement if I do say so myself.
How much do I love this stack? (1-10): 8
Chalk Level (1-10): 4
Preferred Stack: Full
Preferred Players: Eaton (OF - 4000), Soto (OF - 4800), Rendon (3B - 4200), Gomes (C - 3500), Robles (OF - 4000), then take your pick if you wanna fit someone else.
Dodgers vs Miles Mikolas (RHP, @STL) - If you have been following my MLB articles since the beginning of the season, or beforehand when I did the previews, let me first say thank you!. I really do value you taking the time to read the work I put out. I hope you enjoy reading my stuff as much as I enjoy writing it for you. Second, I have been on a quest to stack each and every time I can against Mikolas. I have been harping on it since the preseason and nothing is going to change here. When you are an extreme, EXTREME control pitcher that doesn’t strike people out, and you are getting lucky, eventually that luck runs out. And, as I often say, if you are not absolutely perfect, you aren’t going to be functional. It is way, way more profitable to bet against someone being perfect then to bet on them being flawless. And we have seen that so far against a potent Milwaukee and a not-so-potent Pirates offenses.
How much do I love this stack? (1-10): 10
Chalk Level (1-10): 5
Preferred Stack: Full
Preferred Players: Everyone and their grandmas if they become available on DK tomorrow for some reason. I would find it hard not to lock in Bellinger (1B - 4900) and Muncy (1B/3B - 4300). Especially Muncy at that price, and while everyone else will be looking to Colorado.
Royals vs King Felix (RHP, SEA) - Felix had a great first start for him, and he struck out only 4 in 5.1 IP. He wound up not walking anyone, which was nice. But he still gave up 7 hits and 3 runs (1 ER). I just don’t think Felix has it anyone. You know I’ve talked about how he has fallen off the cliff and, while it’s possible he figured out how to not be a power pitcher in the offseason, the odds are he is going to keep getting smashed most of the time. Even though this isn’t the best Royals team, they still have some great pieces we can take a chance on. Especially LHB
How much do I love this stack? (1-10): 6
Chalk Level (1-10): 3
Preferred Stack: Mini
Preferred Players Whit (2B/OF - 4500), Mondesi (SS - 4800), O’Hearn (1B - 3900) or Duda (1B - 4100), Soler (OF - 3900)
Mariners vs Homer Bailey (RHP, @KC) - Homer Bailey won’t have a job for long. Well, I mean, I’m sure he’ll have a job, it just won’t be a pitcher for a major league baseball team. There is a reason he is priced that low. And even that is far too high for him. He is a trainwreck of a horrorshow and I wouldn’t be surprised if his first start of the year is, by far, his best one.
How much do I love this stack? (1-10): 8
Chalk Level (1-10): 8
Preferred Stack: Full
Preferred Players: Start with Bruce (OF - 4200) then go back to the top and work your way down
Braves vs Kyle Freeland (LHP, @COL) - Given how Kyle Freeland pitches, there are very few Braves I am interested in playing. Anyone listed here is also a fantastic one-off play as well.
How much do I love this stack? (1-10): 9
Chalk Level (1-10): 10
Preferred Stack: Full or Mini - Only these Players:
Preferred Players: Donaldson (3B - 5000), Acuna (OF - 5500), Albies (2B - 5200), Camargo (3B/OF - 4500), Flowers (C - 4100). If those 5 don’t all play, I will not play a 5 man stack from ATL.
Padres vs Madison Bumgarner (LHP, @SF) - MadBum has looked OK in his first 2 starts, but still not like the dominant Cy Young pitcher he had been a couple of years ago before injury and age. On Opening Day, he pitched well against this Padres team, going 7 IP, striking out 9, walking 1, giving up 5 hits, including 1 HR, and 2 ER. in his next start, he threw a ball away that resulted in an error, or else he would have surrendered upwards of 5 ER, which would have tanked his stats. But that’s how baseball works. If you don’t pay attention, you don’t realize that he still gave up 5 runs, including a massive HR, and 2 walks and only 4 K in 6 IP. While I can understand not wanting to stack against MadBum like I will, I certainly won’t pay almost 10k for him and I advise you not to either.
How much do I love this stack? (1-10): 7
Chalk Level (1-10): 2
Preferred Stack: Full or Mini
Preferred Players: Machado (3B - 4200), Renfroe (OF - 3900), Franmil Reyes (OF - 3900), Tatis (SS - 3900), Myers (OF - 4200)
Brewers vs Trevor Cahill (RHP, @LAA) - Cahill is a mediocre pitcher. I mean he’s hit or miss really. It depends on the lineup. If he is going a lineup that has, say, a fuckload of LHB that can mash HRs at a ridiculous clip, he’s probably going to have a really, really bad day. Oh look, here come the Brewers who now get to use Thames at DH!! Poor, poor Trevor Cahill.
How much do I love this stack? (1-10): 10
Chalk Level (1-10): 5
Preferred Stack: Full - LHB Preferred
Preferred Players: Yelich (OF - 5300), Shaw (1B/3B - 4200), Moustakas (2B/3B - 4400), Eric Thames (1B/OF - 4300), Grandal (C - 4200)
One-Off Batters
Trey Mancini (1B/OF - 4200) - While the fact he’s been swinging a hot bat is a positive, I would want some shares of Mancini regardless. Estrada is a severe reverse splits pitcher, meaning he is WAY worse against RHB. Trey Mancini is a reverse splits hitter, meaning he is better against RHP. While you can also take your chance with Nunez (1B - 4100), I think Trey Mancini is close to a slam dunk today. I will be building my lineups 5/2/1 or 4/3/1 to make sure I have the ability to fit Mancini in as a one-off, no matter what. The dual-position eligibility is a huge bonus as well.
Altuve (2B - 4700) and Aledmys Diaz (2B/SS - 3600) - While I only Altuve in my current projected Astros lineup for tomorrow, if they are smart and play Diaz as well, I will have them both. This is a question of an extreme reverse splits pitcher going against reverse splits righties. That’s like 2 waves meeting each other and making the amplitude bigger, even though the wavelength stays the same. PHYSICS, BITCHES.
Carpenter (3B - 4200) - When a lefty has as severe reverse splits as Ryu, you bet I am going to try to get a share or two of Carpenter in there. I know Carpenter is an extreme normal splits hitter, so this doesn’t line up nearly as well as the other one offs I have listed so far, but it’s still cheap and worth a chance, especially since no one else is going to play him a L/L matchup, but he’s still leading off.
Blackmon (OF - 5200) and Dahl (OF - 5100)- The one thing with Teheran is he already has a huge problem getting LHB out. I think he should be able to work through the many, many RHB in this lineup, but these 2 LHB should give him extra trouble. Teheran likes to use the 2-seamer and the change against LHB since the slider breaks in and would generally be less effective. Unfortunately, changeups and 2 seamers are 2 of the pitches that do much worse in Coors so I expect him to struggle against these 2. They will either walk every time they are up or hit HRs.
Renfroe and Reyes - Both of these dudes hit LHP like they were future hall of famers. Seriously. If every pitcher the Padres went against was a southpaw, these dudes would be all-stars. So don’t ignore them just because it’s 75% of a MadBum pitching against them. Even if you don’t want to go to a mini stack of Padres, get some Renfroe and Reyes in there. Especially with Mancini, these 3 are reason enough to leave space for a one-off in your lineups today. Oh nelly.
Bour (1B - 4100) - With Chacin an extreme splits pitcher and Bour an extreme splits hitter, lining up against each other, I predict great things for Bour today. Even if you don’t wanna pay up for Trout, or go to the rest of this lineup (which I don’t really recommend), Bour looks super sweet today.
HR CALL OF THE SLATE: There are so many. Franmil Reyes
Ok. That is a full MLB day. Without an NBA slate to worry about, I got to get a little deeper in, though still not nearly as deep as I wanted, given that I had to write about the 14 gamer until 230 pm and then finally get some sleep. Anyway, best of luck today everyone!!
I am almost finished with my website. The article will still be free, and posted here, for as long as I am working for myself. If you took down a GPP thanks to my help, feel free to send me a DM here or an @ on twitter to be added to the site’s hall of fame! The site will have a membership that will provide, as far as I am concerned, what will be the best projections in MLB (and eventually NBA). I will work on them with my stat guy until they are perfect. We are going to account for things other people ignore because they are too much work. It’s going to be amazing. I am also going to be doing a daily video that will be a Q and A as well as a way for me to go deeper into everything, and discuss more of who I love or hate and why, since I can’t mention everyone due to Reddit’s character limits. As it stands now, I am almost at 30k and the limit is 40k and it was half a slate. God I love baseball.
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The Kawhi Leonard Saga: A mild summary of the events, and the people involved, with links

DISCLAIMERS:
I. We will all believe what we want to believe regarding the situation. You can choose to believe that certain sources are not reliable, or that some are more than others. This post is only to show off news that is relevant to the situation, that many seem to have missed.
II. There are a lot of ways to mince words. You can choose to interpret them one way, I can choose to interpret them another way. That's all fair, though I tend to believe Occam's Razor holds true for these situations.
Chapter 1 - Injury for preseason
As we all know, Kawhi Leonard had an unfortunate ankle injury in the 2017 Western Conference Finals against Golden State in game 1. This ankle injury kept him out for the rest of the series, which the Spurs proceeded to lose. After this, in the offseason, it was reported in media day that his ankle had gotten better. Kawhi's media day interview here.
Enter the 2017-18 preseason. Leonard was slated to miss the preseason due to the quadriceps tendinopathy. According to the Spurs and Popovich, it was "working on things from last summer, going a little more slowly than we thought," keeping him out.
Chapter 2 - Nine game return, shutting down again
After missing the preseason and a good part of the regular season, Leonard manged a return after reportedly impressing teammates in practice and getting cleared by the Spurs to play once again. He returned December 12, 2017, against the Dallas Mavericks. In his post game interview for that game, he noted things such as:
I'm just happy to be out there... just to play the game, enjoy the things I miss... hit some shots, losing games, just everything... I'm just glad I was able to play.
Kawhi didn't play back to backs, and for the most part didn't play unless there were 2 days between games. During these games, talked in some of the post game interviews about not being 100% , and "taking his time" to "not skip any steps so I can be healthy down the road." Very conservative approach, not rushing things if he is to believed.
Kawhi continued to play some more games, totaling nine as he averaged 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal. Essentially, a glorified role player. In the games, he looked slower and hobbled at times. Basically Will Barton numbers. Very much not the same player as last season, where he finished top 3 in MVP voting.
Before the Atlanta Hawks game in Atlanta, Kawhi Leonard planned on playing his 10th game. However, before the game, he was once again shut down, indefinitely so. Notable quotes from the MySA article discussing Kawhi being shut down once more:
"He didn't re-injure it," Popovich said. "He was having pain, not right after the game, but the next day at noon or that kind of thing. The pain wasn't dissipating. It wasn't going in the right direction. It was going the other way."
The decision to shut Leonard down was a collaborative one between the coaching staff, medical team, and rehabilitation staff, with input from Leonard himself.
"I'm probably more conservative than most," Popovich said, "but the trainers, the rehab people, the doctors, the coaches, we all talked about this for a long time."
Leonard's back-to-the-drawing-board stab at rehab won't be a strict rest regimen. He will hit the weight room in hopes of re-building strength in his troublesome quad.
"He's working his ass off," Popovich said.
Anyone who was watching had an idea as well. Leonard was very plainly not the same player and the fact that he was feeling pain was worrisome. To err on the side of caution, as the Spurs normally do, they decided to shut him down and focus on his rehab once more, instead of playing games.
Chapter 3 - Tension With Spurs Organization, New York Rehab
In January, Wojnarowski broke that there had been tension developed between Leonard and the Spurs due to the nature of his rehab. Spurs officials and people in Kawhi's group nearly immediately denied these reports, insisting they were untrue or exaggerated.
Notable responses to the article -
From Leonard's uncle, Dennis Robertson
"There is nothing true to that story," Robertson told the Express-News hours after the story published. "Kawhi's camp and the Spurs are how they've always been – doing the right thing for the team and the right thing for Kawhi."
I might also add that Jared Zwerling of SI spoke to Leonard's uncle, he talks about it at 6:50 in the video
From Spurs GM RC Buford
"This has been difficult for everyone. It's been difficult for Kawhi. He's an elite-level player. It's been difficult for the team, because they want to play with a great teammate. And it's been difficult for our staff. Historically we've been able to successfully manage injuries. This rehab hasn't been simple, and it hasn't gone in a linear fashion."
From Spurs HC Gregg Popovich
"Lots of players go get second opinions," Popovich said. "Lots of players have trainers. Second opinions are good. It doesn't indicate anything except for due diligence, making sure you're doing everything you can to get a player back. Nobody wants to come back more than Kawhi Leonard. I think I'm No. 2. His teammates want him back, everybody wants him back. He's a competitor. He wasn't Kawhi Leonard when he first arrived, the one we know now, so that shows you how much work he's put in to get here. He certainly doesn't want to be missing games. So it's frustrating for everybody but for somebody to come up with something about him and his teammates, it's just silly."
Popovich said the situation can only be termed a soap opera if the club talks about it daily.
"I don't get it," he said. "We won't talk about it. There's nothing to talk about, other than what we've already said. The rehab is going slower than expected. We wish it would have gone more quickly. And if we're going to err, as we have in the past, we're going to do it on the conservative side. We kept Timmy Duncan out of a playoff one year because of a knee, and he could have played. I don't see this as anything different than we've done with any other player. Some people, for some reason, want to do that. That's OK. It doesn't affect our team or me or anybody else."
Later on, in February, due to the convoluted and non-linear nature of quadriceps rehab, and the slow progression, (read up on La2Philly's write up here: it's fantastic and provides some great insight) Popovich noted that he would be "surprised" if Leonard returned this season. Meanwhile, Kawhi worked out and continued to receive rehab in New York, presumably to try and attempt a comeback at some point, especially since Popovich was still not ready to list him as out for the season at this time.
Additionally, Kawhi also spoke on the rumours and the progression/communication of his rehab in early March, before the Salters report, breaking silence.
Notable quotes:
We're taking the right steps. We don't want to take steps back and aggravate things.
On how tough it's been to watch the team struggle:
It's been tough. But these guys have been doing it all season, been playing great. Thankful for the teammates I do have; they understand my situation. And, they're playing well. I just gotta get back, but I can't come back unhealthy"
On the pain in his nine games back:
Like i said, it's hard to explain. But obviously, I'm a competitor. If I can get out and play, I'll play, like I did in the nine games just to test it out. It just wasn't where we wanted it to be.
On what he gained by going to New York for rehab before the All-Star Break:
It's a group effort to just getting me better, really. Just the type of protocol, step by step we were doing.
On the reports of treatment creating friction between him and the team
Everything was done as a group, I don't feel like nothing was friction, I talk to Pop everyday. he knows what the progressions were, he knew what I was doing the whole entire time, as well as the front office. We made a group decision, so it wasn't just me going out to say "I'm going to go do this"
On "Would you like to finish your career as a Spur?
Yeah, for sure.
In early March, but after Kawhi spoke on his injury, reports from Lisa Salters of ESPN noted that Kawhi could return at a home game against the Pelicans.
ESPN's Lisa Salters is reporting that San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard could return as early as Thursday's game against New Orleans. League sources tell me that barring a setback, Thursday vs. Pels is indeed the targeted return of Leonard to the lineup.
Following these reports, Popovich noted that Leonard still had not been cleared by his medical team and that he "needs a bit more work" after watching his workouts. Therefore, a return did not happen. Following this, some days later, Greg Simmons of KSAT reported that Popovich had said that the Spurs medical staff were now in agreement with Kawhi's doctors. Which, would mean that any disagreement between the Spurs and Kawhi's doctors regarding whether he's capable of playing are likely settled. Especially since there are Spurs trainers with him in New York according to Woj, it makes sense that they're likely coordinating with these things.
Notable quotes from the Woj article:
Spurs staff has traveled to New York to meet with Leonard and stay abreast of his treatment and activity, sources said. Leonard has been using the National Basketball Players Association headquarters gymnasium facilities in recent days, sources said.
This is Leonard's second extended trip to New York to consult with his own outside medical team and work out at the NBPA's Manhattan facility. He spent an extended period in New York prior to the February All-Star break.
Leonard resumed working out in San Antonio on Feb. 27, and the intensity of his workouts has varied. On occasions in the past month, Leonard has increased his workout load in preparation to return to the floor, only to step back and conclude he wasn't prepared to do so.
"It's the same as a player who is the 13th man sitting on the end of the bench," Popovich said. "The more you're participating, the more you feel like you're a part of the deal. But anybody who's injured, sitting on the bench or not playing, feels a little bit different, of course. That's just human nature.
"He's a nice guy. I love the kid. What am I gonna do? Sometimes he wants to rehab in the room, getting stronger; use the time wisely instead of watching us out there."
Recently, Leonard, focusing on his rehab, was shut down for the postseason, eliminating any chance of a comeback during San Antonio's first round series against the Golden State Warriors.
Chapter 4 - Team meeting
Also, in late March, there was reportedly a team meeting where players implored Leonard to return to the lineup. According to Wojnarowski, the meeting was contentious, and tense, and Leonard was caught off guard. Manu Ginobili noted a motivation for the meeting being "I guess you guys [the media] made us fall for it," in terms of wanting to hear when a return would happen from Leonard himself, so that things such as Salter's reports would not throw off the team's focus and expectations.
Spurs players came to the helm to refute the nature of the meeting. Not denying it happened, but insisting it was exaggerated in Wojnarowski's article.
Danny Green:
In a podcast with Chris Broussard:
"The one person who knows is Kawhi Leonard. He had a set-back. He had a couple of set-backs. He's still in pain. We all text him. We're in touch with him. He's still a very much part of this group, this team. We still have his back. From the team's perspective, there is no one that is at odds with him."
Something to note in that Danny Green quote - Kawhi apparently had a setback, which nobody else reported. This adds some veracity to the notion that Leonard continues to communicate with his team.
Green went on to say no one knows and not even Kawhi knows what is going on with his injury but did say Kawhi is still with the team, teaching the young players in practice and being involved.
On Twitter:
Couldn't be any more incorrect lol [linking the Wojnarowski article]
Brandon Paul:
A couple of sarcastic jabs at the media's nature.
Rudy Gay:
In a video interview about the team meeting:
“I’ve been on a lot of teams and obviously things get discussed,” Gay said. “I wouldn’t say it was a legit team meeting, it was just one of those things where we all got together and we talked about things that were going on.”
"Heated? I don't think so."
Chapter 5 - On not being with the team
Another point of contention for many, especially after Leonard was shut down for the season, was him not being with the team on the bench supporting them in street clothes. Though Leonard can be seen on the bench for the team as recently as the six game home stand the Spurs had in mid-March, him not being with the Spurs on the bench in the playoffs is regarded as him giving up on the team by many.
However, his teammates do not seem to feel the same way.
Lamarcus Aldridge
"I have no comment. He has to do what's best for him. That's it."
Patty Mills:
"It's a tricky deal. You obviously want him to keep doing what he's doing to stay healthy. I don't tknow if he'll be able to do that if he's in this environment. In saying that, the support is always going to be there for him no matter where he is around the country. We support him getting healthy."
Gregg Popovich, asked about a potential Leonard return in the postseason
"You'll have to ask Kawhi and his group that question," Popovich said. "So far, they say that he's not ready to go. So we can't do anything until that happens. Then, we would have to decide what's going on from there. But that's the first thing that has to happen."
Popovich said Leonard remains in New York, where he is continuing to rehabilitate a right quadriceps injury, and Spurs general manager R.C. Buford confirmed that information.
Additionally, the flying involved in Leonard going to Oakland/San Antonio to support his teammates would put his rehab behind schedule, seeing as he would need to be with the team for 2 weeks in the event of a seven game series, over a week if it was only four games. Altitude can also have effect on things like blood clots and other issues.
Also I'd like to plug OwnsAParrot who has provided some insight with this comment in another thread, and the nature of tendinopathy. It's worth a complete read, but here's a paragraph:
I am assuming he is at the point where his personal doctors have told him to not risk the long-term effects associated with compromising the tendon. Progress is tough to measure in these cases so that may be why things are being kept under wraps and why doctors may disagree with his health (healthy to play versus fully healed). Furthermore, if he is undergoing specialty treatment and rehab for severe degenerative tendinopathy in NY, it is likely he will be recommended to continue that regimen without interruption. It may seem suspicious that he is not on the bench while other injured players are, but I have to stress that this is not a normal injury. It requires constant attention - especially for a professional athlete.
Jabari Young, a Spurs beat writer, also recommended reading the above comment.
In the end, the Spurs advised Leonard to continue rehabilitation, as he had not been cleared yet.
But though progress is noticeable, doctors Leonard sought for a second opinion about his quad injury are still not ready to approve his return to play with the feeling he needs additional rehab under their supervision.
Though national reports suggest Leonard and his camp decided to leave the team, sources told the Express-News the Spurs also suggested Leonard remain in New York to rehab following his routine checkup from doctors.
Chapter 6 - In Conclusion
This has been a very strange injury situation - one unlike anything we've ever seen, from the Spurs especially. A lot of rumours have gone around, and speculation to all different kinds of conclusions has been rampant. That's all natural and part of being a fan of the NBA. Everyone enjoys a good story. However, this post was an attempt to try and spread some information that otherwise has likely gone under the radar, so people can interpret the situation in another way or see it in a different light after seeing some of the linked article/tweets/etc.
Kawhi Leonard is a workhorse. The guy's life is basketball, and we know this because of his drastic improvement in such a short amount of time, becoming a top 3 MVP candidate at the age of 25(?) and being perhaps the best two-way player in the league last season. Understand what this injury has taken away from him - he was easily the favorite to win MVP coming into the 2017-18 season, assuming he put up similar numbers and led his team to 60 or so wins again, which was likely coming into the season. He'd have been up there for MVP, DPOY, and of course the all-NBA and all-defensive teams. And with a contract extension coming up for $219 million in the summer of 2018, there was a lot to look forward to this season.
But that was all taken away from him, because of his injury. He continued to not be able to come back for a long period of time, until he attempted to in December. He played for a period of time, and was clearly not the player he used to be. Even for being rusty, it was too much. With the pain he was feeling after games, he wasn't where he needed to be.
I'd bet anything that it's killing him that he can't play right now, and to think that he is sitting out on purpose to be lazy isn't something he'd do just because. If he really didn't care, he wouldn't be working his butt off in rehab. Sure, there's value in supporting your team from the sidelines, but it's not like other guys aren't away from games in the postseason to do their rehab (Hayward, Cousins), and Leonard has supported from the sidelines during home games this season, as recently as mid-late March. If his teammates are to be believed, they all speak well of Leonard if you take their words at face value, and believe what they have to say. To imply that he gave up is just inaccurate due to the fact that he continued to rehab and attempted to return, and played for nine games, then got shut down again and was not cleared.
Outside of that conclusion, I tried to be as unbiased as possible here, and just spread things people might have missed. I probably screwed up on that big time though, considering I have a lot of sympathy for him in this situation with everyone attacking him relentlessly.
I hope I was at least able to provide some insight here.
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