10 NBA Questions: How Obnoxious is the ‘Giannis Leaving Milwaukee’ Chatter?

How much more obnoxious can this made-up storyline get?

The answer is none. None more obnoxious. (But it somehow will.)

And thus the reason why so many people hate the “big boys” of sports media and its talking heads who typically have no idea what they’re talking about. Instead of analyzing the games using anything other than outdated cliches, we’re bombarded with pre-manufactured talking points by the outlets still addicted to clicks, views, etc. This is one of the reasons TBW was founded at all, much less as an antithesis to this nonsense.

Yet, here I am writing about it myself now… so how sanctimonious can I really get?

The bigger slice of chagrin is not that even the good guys get roped into this morass of speculation, it’s that sometimes you really can “speak it into truth.” I sincerely believe that when the fake noise of NBA social media, reporters, talking heads, etc. reaches a crescendo, the player suddenly starts pondering the possibility that much more, even as they deny it at the time. (See: Anthony Davis.) Here’s to hoping that doesn’t happen over the next two years of Giannis on the airwaves.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee is good for the NBA.

Small-market stars who fight the good fight become long-standing heroes in the virtue theater that is professional sports.

Small-market stars who actually win a title there—rare as that might be—become legends.

The NBA doesn’t need Giannis in a big market so that he gets the proper media coverage he deserves as a (likely) two-time MVP. The NBA needs to steer its media coverage properly onto said players where they are. (Cutting the speculation game in half and focusing it on the proper times of year would also do wonders for the lethargy that’s setting in.)

If said players choose to work their jobs somewhere else after Free Agency? More power to them.

But let’s cross those bridges when we come to them, much less when they’re even in sight.

If you missed 10NBAQ last time, I also broke down WHY we always hear the Knicks and Lakers connected with nearly every player and rumor this time of year. It’s not exactly why you think:

10 NBA Questions: Trade ‘Rumors’ Time

which former nba player does ja morant most remind you of?

TBW’s Kelly Scaletta wrote up a larger profile around Ja Morant’s early impact, but one of the questions we’ve circled around is who Morant most reminds us of. There’s a lot of John Wall / D’Aaron Fox / Russell Westbrook straight line speed there, but all three are different players and hard matches.

Not to spoil too much, but Kelly initially thought a lot about Penny Hardaway, which makes sense regarding their slender builds and basket attacking ability. But Penny was four inches taller and more of a distributor while Ja seems built to score first.

So what about prime (i.e. first three years) Steve Francis?

The former Houston Rockets star came into the league with a similar bang and expectations for resurrecting an organization. And although Stevie Franchise had a little thicker build by about 20 pounds and was the better rebounder, I see a lot of similarities in both players’ ability to attack from multiple angles and play above the rim both with and without the ball.

Here’s to hoping Morant has the longer and more productive career arc, but so good so far.

is the nba going to make a scheduling change or not?

Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the NBA has “shelved” voting on any major scheduling changes after hoping to do so by April amid instituting fundamental changes (such as a midseason tournament, 78-game season, conference re-seeding, etc.) by the 2020-21 season.

Now it seems like they’re slow-rolling the conversation in hopes of letting this die a quiet death after an awfully cool reception from casual fans, basketball purists and team owners (who were never in much favor of this to begin with).

Perhaps, Adam Silver is simply proposing too much too fast here, though it’s a bad sign that they’re just discussing this and there’s already so much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Here’s what I’d do:

Keep the 82-game season and don’t worry about an in-season tournament right now. The WNBA is going to be testing that this year so observe how that goes and react accordingly.

Instead, create a Consolation Tournament for the 8th seed and slightly better odds in the NBA lottery (i.e. moving up the equivalent percentage points as if they had finished 1-2 spots worse). The top seven teams from each conference automatically get into the playoffs and a week of rest while the bottom eight play a single-elimination tournament for the above prizes.

This would help combat the rampant tanking to the bottom since Consolation seeding and the tournament’s benefits are theroetically worth fighting for. Sure, human nature says you’d now see the 6-8 seeds mini-tanking to fall out of the top bracket and into the Consolation, but that’s not a half-to-full season tanking endeavor like what we see now.

You could always build in further incentives for the top-7 seeds, but the goal, either way, is to make the regular season matter more again while keeping ALL the teams invested in winning. Plus, those owners get to add between one and four more games to their coffers.

are kawhi leonard and paul george playing enough together?

Nov 29, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) and forward Kawhi Leonard (2) speak during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

We keep things breezy here at 10NBAQ, so this isn’t about debating the theory of Load Management. Rather, it’s the fact that George and Kawhi have logged 18 of 44 Clippers games together this season, going 14-4 during that time.

Of course, injuries and rest have meant that we’ve only seen 34 from Kawhi and 26 for George overall.

Yes, this 31-13 team is deep, focused and well-constructed from top to bottom. PG13 and The Klaw’s skillsets match perfectly on paper and have looked mostly sympatico in real life. The strategy to ensure those two are available by playoff time is absolutely sound given the above.

But NBA history is littered with teams that thought they were veteran enough to “flip the switch” by the postseason.

Oftentimes, it’s a squad that’s won a championship (or more) and then begins to rest its aging core during the regular season while betting the group “will be fine” by the time the “games matter.” The Chauncey Billups-era Detroit Pistons and Doc Rivers-coached, Kevin Garnett-era Boston Celtics were notorious for this. The Shaq / Kobe Lakers did the same while the recent Golden State Warriors dynasty got into that during its final season together.

Thing is, you can only flip that switch so many times before it breaks. You spend so much energy saving your energy, that then your rust and age show through anyway and you don’t have enough counters for it. Or, hubris meets irony and your key old(er) guys get hurt anyway.

The Clippers don’t even have that battle testing yet with their two stars, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently essayed on as well. It’s totally cliche to go overboard with “who’s taking the final shot?” during a playoff game, but it’s still necessary to have a hierarchal game plan and roster-wide understanding in place about each and every responsibility on both sides of the court. Then you need the time together to put said plan into place and tweak any issues.

That’s called chemistry.

So who is the lead on offense? On defense? Is it Kawhi? Is it George? Is it all depending on the matchups on that night? What about the supporting cast’s roles when they take a back seat to two stars instead of just one?

Doc Rivers has been around long enough (as have his many veterans) to know this is important. I have to imagine there’s a plan in place to make sure a plan is in place by the time they need it.

But that’s gonna require Kawhi and George to play together a bit more down the stretch here.

why did the timberwolves trade jeff teague for allen crabbe?

Jan 18, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (00) drives against Detroit Pistons guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (19) in the second half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Teague was supposed to be a core piece when he was signed as “the Ricky Rubio replacement” a few years ago—a decision that was not popular with most Minnesota Timberwolves fans—but he struggled from the start to regain the full game control he displayed during his top years with those Atlanta Hawks’ perennial playoff teams. (He had already begun to lose it during a forgettable stint with the Indiana Pacers anyway.)

Teague not only lost his starting job to Shabazz Napier this season but was providing little confidence or spark from the bench.

Minnesota is among the league’s worst three-point making teams, though at least they’re taking a healthy amount of them in the post-Tom Thibodeau era. Allen Crabbe is as one-dimensional as they come, but his single dimension is shooting and he’ll have a role.

Both Crabbe and Teague are expiring, bloated contracts who are now fighting for their jobs in their new homes. But Trae Young needed a competent backup in Atlanta, and Minnesota needed cheap shooting.

We’ll see if this lasts more than the half-season for either.

who else makes sense as a trade target before the deadline?

We talked about Andre Drummond, Kevin Love and Kyle Kuzma last time, so here’s a quick rundown of other names I’m watching this time of year:

  • Evan Turner – Atlanta Hawks
  • Wilson Chandler – Brooklyn Nets
  • Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Marvin Williams – Charlotte Hornets
  • Kris Dunn -Chicago Bulls
  • Collin Sexton, Tristan Thompson, Larry Nance – Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Tim Hardaway Jr. – Dallas Mavericks
  • Everyone -Detroit Pistons
  • D’Angelo Russell – Golden State Warriors
  • Austin Rivers, Gerald Green – Houston Rockets
  • Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday – Indiana Pacers
  • Andre Iguodala, Josh Jackson, Solomon Hill, Kyle Anderson – Memphis Grizzlies
  • Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk – Miami Heat
  • D.J. Wilson – Milwaukee Bucks
  • Robert Covington, Gorgui Dieng – Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Jahlil Okafor, Josh Hart – New Orleans Pelicans
  • Everyone – New York Knicks
  • Dennis Schroeder, Mike Muscala, Nerlens Noe – Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, Khem Birch – Orlando Magic
  • Anyone not named Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons or Josh Richardson – Philadelphia 76ers
  • Tyler Johnson, Cameron Johnson, Frank Kaminsky – Phoenix Suns
  • Hassan Whiteside, Mario Hezonja – Portland Trail Blazers
  • Cory Joseph, Harrison Barnes, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Richaun Holmes, Dewayne Dedmon – Sacramento Kings
  • DeMar DeRozan, Trey Lyles, DeMarre Carroll – San Antonio Spurs
  • Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – Toronto Raptors
  • George Niang – Utah Jazz
  • Isaiah Thomas, Davis Bertans – Washington Wizards

is kyrie irving a bad leader?

Dec 11, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving (second from right) and the bench react during the fourth quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie seems perfectly comfortable accepting perception consequences for speaking his mind. Sort of.

As in, he speaks his mind and then says he doesn’t care what people think. But he’s also constantly having to explain what he meant, which should be a sign that putting a little more pre-thought into what he’s saying and how he’s saying it maybe should be a stronger priority.

To his credit, he’s also shown he’s willing to apologize when he feels like he turned people off. But the Celtics-related mea culpa for last year rang hollow after coming so late. And that whole saga should have given him the wisdom to pre-filter out his recent “Nets core” comments. On the one hand, I think the actual wording outrage was overblown, but Irving’s also been around long enough that you would think he knows how nothing good comes from playing GM to the media when you’re a player.

And then comparing yourself in any way to Martin Luther King Jr. right on MLK Day? Come on…

The Cavaliers and Celtics would probably say otherwise, but maybe little of this has to do with Kyrie’s actual leadership skills. Yet, he has consistently shown himself to be a pretty lousy communicator with a lack of self-awareness often curiously intersecting with poor timing.

is brandon ingram already a ‘max player’?

Dec 9, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) attempts a shot over Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) during the second half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Yes.

We could get into the “stat jump” that he’s made this year, but plenty of other writers will do (and have done) a great job of breaking that all down.

Ingram has figured out his scoring niche is getting downhill with his wingspan, and he already proved to be a very competent defender the last couple of years. His NBA shooting is still catching up to his college reputation, but the Pelicans would be smart to bet on that making a similar leap soon.

Plenty of other teams will be lining up to do so in Restricted Free Agency.

A lanky, multi-talented forward like Ingram makes so much sense next to a compact, multi-talented powerhouse forward like Zion Williamson up front. Get out the checkbook and don’t look back, David Griffin.

was bumping the nuggets/rockets for zion’s debut a good idea?

Are you tuning in Wednesday night? I thought so.

So did the league.

Look, the Nuggets and Rockets are both playoff-bound teams with some interesting upside beyond that. It should be a decent game, although the Rockets are skidding hard as of late.

But Zion was the most ballyhooed No. 1 pick of the last few years (for good reason), and he already showed tantalizing skill during the preseason before his injuries.

New Orleans and the Pelicans need this. ESPN needs this. The NBA needs this.

Enjoy the show.

who’s winning the 8th seed in each conference?

I’m taking the Orlando Magic falling to 8th in the East, with the Nets passing them by for 7th before too long. Kyrie’s return (and gaining a modicum of chemistry) will add firepower to the Nets that the Magic just don’t have unless they make some moves in the next few weeks. The Pistons and Hornets will call off their chases by the Trade Deadline, and the Bulls are still a coaching change away from making any real push.

In the West, let’s go with the Spurs, even as I’ve maligned them in this space.

For as good as Ja Morant and the Grizzlies have been recently, young teams like that typically fade in the last 20 games when things really get tight, often missing the playoffs by a single game despite having a winning record. I still think Portland puts together a good run, however, especially if they make some moves at the Deadline. So they could prove me wrong.

But San Antonio has more pieces to play with already on the roster, even as the team has had a truly uneven and frustrating first half to the season.

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