Anonymous NBA Scouts Dish Dirt On Eastern Conference Teams
- Anonymous NBA scouts break down the good, the bad and the ugly about every Eastern Conference team heading into the 2016-17 season.
For some, it's tough to form an opinion about an off-season move or development without seeing the subjects first in action on the floor.
Luckily, anonymous NBA scouts do not have this problem.
Sports Illustrated's NBA writers spoke with scouts ahead of the 2016—17 season for our annual behind-the-scenes look at all 30 teams. Opposing scouts dished the good, the bad and the ugly on each team while discussing their off-season moves and outlook for the upcoming season. We granted them anonymity in exchange for their candor. They delivered.
Today, we unveil our extended scouts takes from our NBA preview issue for the Eastern Conference. The West can be found here.
Reporting by Ben Golliver, Rob Mahoney and Andrew Sharp.
"Ty Lue did a nice job. He'll be better this year than he was last year, when there were definitely some growing pains. Ty's always had a great ability to command respect of his peers and teammates, and now his players. LeBron respects him. Kyrie respects him. They have a lot of good players, and he got them to try on defense, share the ball by-and-large, and that's the most important thing ... It's hard for me to see them not being back in the Finals. LeBron's just so much better than everyone else. ... Who knows what's going on with Shumpert? He really struggled in the playoffs last year. And he just seems to have a lot of weird stuff going on, in general. ... Channing Frye is good. Tristan Thompson fits a perfect role for them. Kevin Love is making it work in a difficult situation for him. ... They were probably going to trade Love this summer, but then they won, he played decently, and he had that defensive stand when he forced Steph to take the tough three and/or Steph settled for the tough three. So after that, I think they felt like they couldn't trade him. But Kevin was very unhappy last year, and I expect he'll be pretty unhappy this year. If they don't win this year, there's a good chance they trade him. ... I see Kyrie continuing to be a brilliant offensive player. His defense is really bad, and without Delly to push him, it might be even worse. [But] he's a terrific offensive player, and he'll probably get even more recognition for it because he had such a good Finals. ... Kyrie's had an interesting rollercoaster of a career. He came in, it was obvious that he was a brilliant offensive player. Incredibly talented. He started getting the hype, Uncle Drew, people started making commercials. He's MVP of the rookie game, he wins the three-point contest, I think he was even MVP of the All-Star Game. He's this rising star. And then the backlash starts because the Cavs still suck. 'You can't win with Kyrie, he doesn't pass enough, he doesn't defend enough,' and he's about to go into the Stephon Marbury Steve Francis phase of his career where people just crush him. And then LeBron shows up. They start winning, really winning big, and now people can appreciate the good parts of Kyrie's game again. ... I don't know that they'll be a great regular season team. I think they'll coast quite a bit over the next six months. I think there's a big title hangover, figuratively and literally for some of their guys. But those guys all know there's nobody who can seriously threaten them when it matters. ... I don't see them being anywhere near the caliber of the Warriors. The Warriors are a much, much better team. They were a much better team last year too, until Steph got hurt and wasn't at 100% after that Trail Blazers series. Cleveland can give it their best shot in the Finals, though. "
"Al Horford is a really, really big upgrade for them. He’s a little older  and has a few more miles on his legs, but he fits the way they want to play. He’ll improve their defense and he’s also an offensive threat—not so much in the post, but in the pick-and-roll. He’s a good 18-foot shooter, a playmaking center. They didn’t have that in Jared Sullinger [who is now with Toronto]. . . . I think Amir Johnson will start, but they have the option of moving Jae Crowder to the four and playing Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas together as a small team that’ll be really good defensively. That’s a great option. . . . Thomas has a great ability to get into the lane and use his body. He’s only about 5' 9", but he’s got long arms with big hands, big shoulders and he can really challenge the bigs. I’m always amazed at some of the stuff he can do when he takes it to the rim. And he’s a knock-down pull-up shooter. . . . If Smart improves his shooting he can be the player that everybody thinks he can be. That’s always going to be his Achilles’ heel. He’s strong, great size for a point guard, really can defend. If he comes out [playing] well, there are a lot of options they have with that loaded backcourt—I mean in the way they play and also in assets to make a trade with their high picks. . . . Crowder has to take another step. He’s a good player and can lock down threes but I’m not convinced that he is their small forward of the future. [Rookie] Jaylen Brown, maybe, will be. . . . Brown will play. He’s not a very good shooter, but because he’s good defensively and he can run and has good size [6' 7"], he’ll get minutes."
New York Knicks
"If they stay healthy, they could win 48 or 50 games. That’s a big if. Carmelo Anthony has had knee issues. Joakim Noah has had injuries in the last couple of years. And with Derrick Rose, there’s always the possibility he’ll go down too. . . . Everyone talks about Noah and Rose, but Courtney Lee was a big pickup. He’s a lockdown defender and a better three-point shooter than people think. . . . [New coach] Jeff Hornacek was a good choice. New York isn’t an easy place to go. You’re strapped with what Phil Jackson wants to do. But Hornacek is his own person. He’ll play some triangle, but he’ll also do other things—spreading the floor, pick-and-roll, trying to create more possessions. It’s hard to win when you have only 80 or 90 possessions. The triangle is just too methodical . . . Kristaps Porzingis will eventually be one of the best players in the league. He can stretch the defense on pick-and-pops, which is hard to guard when you have a guy that’s 7' 3" and can shoot like he can shoot. . . . Rose is still as quick as John Wall, he can make everyone around him better and he’s not a bad perimeter shooter, but he needs to change the way he plays. He tries to challenge bigs, and as a result he gets knocked down and hurt. He needs to play a little smarter . . . Melo can flat-out score. He’ll take bad shots sometimes, but he can defend when he wants to, and he can rebound. He’s got help now. His priority should be winning—not scoring titles. . . . You might be able to squeeze out a decent eight-man rotation, but if guys get injured and others have to step up, then they really start to drop off."
"Remember: They probably should have lost to the Pacers in the first round last year, and they almost lost to the Heat in the second round. Both were seven-game series. They weren’t the best when it came to the playoffs. . . . Losing [center] Bismack Biyombo [to the Magic] will hurt them a little bit, but the addition of Jared Sullinger, alongside Patrick Patterson, allows them to spread the floor and be better offensively. . . . DeMar DeRozan had a great year and a terrible postseason. It was almost like all season they run sets for him to catch and shoot, then in the playoffs he’s trying to go one-on-one. He’s a good player, but when you don’t shoot well, you’re limited. He lost his confidence too. . . . Kyle Lowry can make big shots. He can shoot the three; he can run a team. I would put him in the second tier of point guards. . . . It’ll help a great deal to have DeMarre Carroll healthy. He makes the most sense for them at the three. Good defender, average shooter but gives them the capability to play small. . . . Jonas Valanciunas will be a big part of what they do. Each year he gets a little better and last year I thought he was playing really, really well before he got hurt. He’s a low-post threat who can step out to 12 feet. He’s so strong and he’s got good hands. . . . When they picked up Cory Joseph last summer, I knew they would use him and Lowry together a lot. When it was crunch time or when they were protecting its lead, they went to that backcourt quite a bit. It was strong. . . . I don’t trust Terrence Ross as much as I do Norman Powell. When Ross doesn’t shoot well, he doesn’t really help you."
"I think the Pistons are gonna be pretty good. Stan Van Gundy's a good coach. He's constructing a pretty well put together team. Most of those guys are young and entering their prime. ... They have a bunch of guys who are decent shooters, but they need some of them to step up and be closer to 40 percent than 35 percent from three. KCP especially, but also Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris, Stanley Johnson. It's reasonable to think all those guys can shoot 34-35 from three, but they need that group collectively to average more like 38-39% to really give them spacing for the Drummond pick-and-rolls ... That said, they're pretty defensively versatile with that group. KCP, Stanley who they're very high on and have high hopes for, who's very young still. Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris, they're versatile with that group. Those are all solid players ... KCP is terrific defensively. This might be the year he starts making more shots, which would help them a ton ... Drummond has sort of flatlined. I think Reggie Jackson is who he is at this point. The growth of KCP and Stanley is really important to this team. … Boban will be a lot of fun obviously. Jon Leuer should be a capable stretch four for them. I'd be interested to see them experiment with some more creative lineups. Like if they played Stanley, and Tobias, and Marcus Morris at the three / four / five, and those guys just switched everything. That would be hard for teams to guard. ... They're going to experiment some with playing Stanley at the two, which I wouldn't really recommend. ... There's a real risk that Drummond is gonna get his head messed up with the free throw stuff, like Bierdrins did. The free throw thing is still really bad. He's starting to hot potato the ball a little bit when he gets it. ... Defensively I think Drummond's gotten a little overrated. He'll have blocks, but he's mostly average on that end, he struggles in some pick-and-roll situations. It'll be interesting to see whether Stan can get him better, because he helped Dwight a lot on that end in Orlando. Drummond doesn't have Dwight's talent level, but he's still only 24 years old. If Stan can get him to where's he an above-average center on defense, closer to top 5 than top 15, maybe like DeAndre Jordan, that could really help them as a team. ... What'd they win last year? 44? I see this team getting to 47 or 48 wins, and being the fourth seed in the East. I think they're the best team outside of Cleveland, Boston, and Toronto. ... I'm not sure this team has the ability to go much further than 48 wins, maybe in a few years they push 50. It feels like they're sort of tapped out at 47, 48 wins. But I do think they're the fourth best team in the East and they'll have a chance to win a round in the playoffs."
"I think they want to start Jahlil Okafor at power forward and Nerlens Noel at center, but it’s not gonna work. Okafor has to have the block; he’s as good a low-post scorer as there is in the league, but his defense is a glaring flaw. Noel can’t shoot, so his [baskets] are going to come around the rim. It’s going to be a hard, hard match to make work. . . . Joel Embiid is such an unknown too. Everybody says he’s really good, but he’s had two foot injuries, and what’s to say he’s not going to have another one? I have to believe that in the first third of the season, they trade one of their three bigs. It will probably be Noel. He can defend but he’s really light in the ass—very thin. Maybe it’s to Boston for a wing player. Philadelphia is just so bad in the backcourt. . . . Another thing: If Dario Šarić is as good as they say he is as a stretch big, he’s gonna need minutes, too. . . . Obviously Ben Simmons is going to be a star once he recovers from his [right] foot injury. He’s got guard skills and his vision is incredible for his size [6' 10"]. He’s a great passer, not a very good shooter. He will guard the threes and will do a lot of three stuff, but I can see them playing him at point guard to hide his lack of scoring. . . . There are mostly stopgaps on the perimeter. Gerald Henderson improves their backcourt, but he’s not long-term. Jerryd Bayless will probably start but he’s not long-term. Sergio Rodriguez has never had much success in the NBA. T.J. McConnell, I don’t like at all. Nik Stauskas has done nothing since he came into the league."
"They got hit pretty hard with [the loss of] Chris Bosh [to blood clots] and Dwyane Wade [to the Bulls]. They do have, I think, one of the best coaches in Erik Spoelstra. He’ll keep them focused and playing really good defense. But can they score enough? I don’t think so. . . . Their two primary options are Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. Talentwise, Dragic is as good as there is in the division. He’s got great size, he can shoot from the outside, he can take it to the rim. He’s got to have a breakout season for them to even be competitive. . . . A big part of Whiteside’s success has come from his attitude. He was looking for a contract. He got it and did all the right things. He’s pretty good with his back to the basket, and he’s just gonna keep getting better offensively. . . . I’m not real high on Justise Winslow. His only strength is taking it to the basket, and then transition. He’s not a good shooter at all. He lacks confidence, he lacks technique, he lacks a lot of things. . . . Their roster is so thin. Udonis Haslem is more of a cheerleader now. Derrick Williams—ehhh, I don’t really care. Josh McRoberts can spread the floor, make threes and he’s a smart player. But he’s a backup who’ll be pushed into Bosh’s role. . . . Unless they can run and get a lot of possessions, they won’t score very much. Dion Waiters can score. I think he’s just too inconsistent. . . . Josh Richardson was a great pickup. He can play the one or the two, he’s got size [6' 6"], he’s athletic. He and Tyler Johnson are two-way players. Both will be on the floor for them a lot."
"I can’t imagine Mike Budenholzer changing the way he plays. I love it—swinging the ball, pushing it, getting a lot of possessions, unselfishness. But Dwight Howard wants to plant himself in the post. He’s not a threat like Al Horford was from the perimeter, but he’s going to want touches. Horford and Paul Millsap were always facing the basket. Atlanta only on occasion threw the ball into the post. I don’t know how well it’s going to work. . . . What they gave up trading Jeff Teague is ball movement. Dennis Schroder is more of a pounder; the ball’s going to be in his hands and he’s going to be looking for his own. Teague was really good at pick-and-roll, spacing the floor, drive-and-kick. Last year they underachieved, so maybe they thought they needed to make changes. . . . Kyle Korver is 35. I see him probably taking another half-step back like he did last season. He played better with Teague, too. He will be spotting up somewhere and Schroder won’t find him. With Korver’s age, Tim Hardaway Jr. should have a chance to prove himself. . . . When I watched Kent Bazemore play, I fell in love with him. He’s improved his three-point shooting, he’s athletic and he’s really good defensively. I mean real good. He can lock you down with his length and quickness. . . . Tiago Splitter is a big body who can make an open shot, but he struggles to guard the quicker fives. Horford was really good at that—getting out to the pick-and-pops, rotations—and it’s where both Splitter and Howard will struggle. . . . When they have to go to the bench, it’s a weakness."
"I feel really bad for Fred. He's a great guy. He left Iowa State, he was the fucking mayor. And now he's gotta coach this debacle. ... They're not gonna be horrible, but their three key guys, Wade, Rondo, Jimmy, are three guys that prefer not to shoot off the catch. They like to dribble, they like to hold the ball, stop the ball. It's going to be hard to coax ball movement out of that. ... Rondo and Wade are very undisciplined defensively at their age. They'll gamble a lot. They take shortcuts. ... I like Mirotic. He's one saving grace for that team. He takes some weird shots, but he can shoot, he can pass. They need him to play a lot of minutes alongside those other guys to give them enough space to operate. ... Portis will be a good player. Arkansas plays really unstructured basketball, so he didn't get a lot of understanding of NBA offensive or defensive concepts. But he's got good size, a good body, he can shoot a little bit, he plays really hard. Once he gets a little more comfortable, he'll be decent. … Jimmy is quite good. He's evolved into more of a star. He wants the ball in iso, which is OK if he's the go-to creator. But I do think a good coach would get him to consider catching the ball on the move more, and playing off movement more ... Look at it like this. Harrison Barnes is sort of a bad version of Jimmy Butler. And Mark Jackson was iso'ing Harrison Barnes all the time in Golden State, then Kerr went away from that, and Barnes didn't get as many touches, but he got better looks. ... So I do think Jimmy might have to modify his game a little bit in certain places. But he's very effective at what he does. ... I just don't like the mix they have with those three guys. Like they're all gung ho and saying the right things about making it work now, but once they start taking some L's, I think those three are gonna bump heads a little bit. ... Hoiberg has two guys who are both heavily athleticism-reliant, brilliant players when they were younger, but not the same players they were, and not totally aware of it. That's a really hard coaching assignment. And last year he had Derrick Rose trying to prove he could still be Derrick Rose, Noah physically done, Pau... You know, Thibs' last team was sort of held together by scotch tape. A bunch of old, broken down guys, and Thibs is coachin' his ass off and losing his fucking mind to drag every last drop of winning out of that group. And then in comes Fred, a lot more laid back, and he's inheriting these guys who have been basically squeezed dry over five very successful years with Thibs. It's like, "Hey, make something good out of this." ... The front office there is in a tough position because they made a big thing in the Chicago media about how the team would be better with a different coach, Thibs was hurting the team in a variety of ways, etc. That had grains of truth to it, but it wasn't really fair to Thibs, even though he was a pain in the ass for them. But they've staked themselves on this idea that we're going to be better without Thibs, whereas the right thing to do would've been to assess the team last year, see that it was basically at the endpoint for that core, and start a rebuild around a younger group. They couldn't admit that the team needed to be rebuilt. So they went the other direction and just tried to win the press conferences. I don't think that's going to be a successful strategy. ... It wouldn't stun me if they were the 7th or 8th seed. More likely they are 9 or 10. But that's their range."
"I’m leaning toward the Hornets to win the division, but they actually took a half-step backward. [Departed free-agent guards] Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee had great years, and [departed free-agent center] Al Jefferson was a guy you could rely on to score. . . . Can Kemba Walker get much better? I don’t think he even needs to. If he consistently has the kind of year he had last year, they’ll be good. . . . Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is excellent defensively but really limited offensively. Steve Clifford has always emphasized defense and built his team around it. . . . A big part of it was that they changed the way they played. When Jefferson was playing with his butt on the post, they were throwing it in and cutting off. That’s not Kemba’s game. Kemba needs a high pick. Then they installed Cody Zeller. Walker had his best games when Zeller was on the floor and they were running pick-and-roll while spacing the floor. . . . Marvin Williams did what he was supposed to do: plant himself in the corner and make threes. He earned himself a nice contract. As long as he can find space, he’s gonna make shots. . . . Why are they bringing Marco Belinelli in? They must not be high on Jeremy Lamb. You see flashes with Lamb, then he disappears. It seems like he doesn’t have a strong motor, even though he has good skills. . . . As he gets stronger, Frank Kaminsky’s asset will be his shooting—being able to stretch the floor as a four. He’s not a center—he has small shoulders, he’s thin, he doesn’t have the strength. Once he starts making shots, he’ll be pretty good for them."
"I didn’t like the deal for Serge Ibaka. Trading [guard] Victor Oladipo [to the Thunder] for Ibaka is kind of a wash, but they also gave up the 12th pick, and they’re really only renting Ibaka. If he doesn’t have a great year, they’ll either overpay to keep him or just let him walk. . . . Some of the changes they made are a little frontcourt heavy even though they lack backcourt strength. How do you find minutes for all these guys: Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, Jeff Green? . . . Gordon will probably have to play the three because of the logjam. He’s a great athlete and he’s gonna get a lot of buckets in transition. He’s strong and has great size to guard threes. But he lacks the shooting skill to space the floor. I like him more as a four. . . . When they need offense they’ll go with Vucevic; when they need defense and rebounding they’ll go with Biyombo. They paid Biyombo a lot of money, but he really has no offense at all. He came off that great playoff series where he was getting 20 rebounds a game and playing great defense. If he can repeat that kind of performance, he’ll maybe even win the starting position. Frank Vogel is more of a defensive coach. . . . You get scoring from Vucevic, though, and I don’t know how much of that they’ll get from other positions. . . . Elfrid Payton has been a real disappointment. I don’t think he has ever really improved. He’s obviously an up-tempo, penetrating guard, but he can’t shoot at all. . . . Mario Hezonja is really limited. Certainly he can give you spot-up shooting, but he’s slow defensively."
"They could have issues lingering from last season. It’s well-known that John Wall and Bradley Beal don’t always see eye to eye. That could create problems. . . . If Beal, Wall and Otto Porter are all playing together, you have one of the best one-two-three combinations in the East. . . . There’s nobody in the league faster from end line to end line than Wall. Nobody can get to the rim and finish like he can. But his lack of perimeter shooting has really held him back. And he’s looking to shoot a little more than he probably should. Sometimes he plays too fast, where he’s just running past everybody and it’s one-on-four. He’s got to learn to play more cerebrally. . . . A new start should be a good for Markieff Morris. He allows them to play small and space the floor, because you really can’t play Marcin Gortat and Ian Mahinmi together. Morris fits in well with either of them. He’ll stretch the floor, he’ll be able to run. If he produces at the four and Porter elevates his game, they’ll be pretty good offensively. . . . Mahinmi’s known as a defensive player and a rebounder. He has the skills to go out and guard the pick-and-pop, which a lot of centers struggle to do. He doesn’t have great hands, and doesn’t have the touch Gortat has or the ability with his back to the basket. The combination of Gortat and Mahinmi, if they were one player, would be pretty good. . . . [New coach] Scott Brooks needs to do a lot of the same things he did in Oklahoma City: change the culture, implement a system. Brooks is a proven winner. Granted, he had good talent, but he did win with it."
"They’re years away from being competitive. No real, valuable draft picks until 2019. You’ve just gotta break it down, rebuild, and own it: We’re the worst team in the NBA. . . . Trevor Booker was a good pickup. He played well in Utah—good defender, good rebounder, not a bad scorer. . . . Jeremy Lin had a strong year for the Hornets. He’s basically going to keep the ship afloat if he can. He’s not a great point guard because he doesn’t have the ballhandling skills. But he’s a good all-around player and a good fit for a bad team because he’ll be able to score and he can make them a little bit competitive. . . . Luis Scola is old. Chris McCullough—not a whole lot to work with. You’ll see an entirely different team when they do take that next step. . . . They’ve basically given everyone away, and I think Brook Lopez might be the next to go. He would be a good pickup for any team. He can flat-out pick-and-pop and make a shot, and he’s big enough to score inside. He’s capable of double doubles every night and can get you 30. He’s by far their best player. . . . Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a typical small, athletic forward who can run the floor. Wing defenders are so important in the game today. But I don’t know how well he shoots. . . . [New GM] Sean Marks has come in and made massive changes. I think Kenny Atkinson was a good choice as coach. He worked for Mike Budenholzer, and I think he’ll bring in that kind of a system—run up and down, defend, play small. He worked in New York under Mike D’Antoni and would certainly have learned offensive spacing from him."
"Almost everyone that I've talked to, from casual observers to people who really know NBA basketball, thinks the Pacers are going to better. On paper, they've added a lot of names and offensive talent. Jeff Teague is the obvious one, but also Al Jefferson, and Thaddeus Young ... People don't think George Hill was good for whatever reason. But George Hill is a stud defender. Jeff Teague is nowhere near as good as defensively as George Hill. Al Jefferson is nowhere near as good as Ian Manhinmi defensively, so they're going to miss Mahinmi too. And I know Myles Turner will play more, he's good. But Mahinmi was a stud for them last year ... They kept Dan Burke the assistant who was in charge of the defense there, and hopefully he keeps the defense afloat. But Vogel was the guy holding people accountable for defense, subbing, playing lineups with defensive considerations. And they were always good defensively under Vogel ... Nate McMillian seems like an OK coach, I hear he's a good guy, but his teams in Portland were much better on offense. They played slow so people didn't notice as much, but they were not very good on defense ... So you take away your two key defensive players outside of Paul George, who's a great defender when he wants to be but he conserves energy at times on that end. Take away the head coach who was a defensive-focused guy. I think they'll be better on offense, but the drop-off on defense could negate any gains they make ... If Paul George is your number one playmaker, and if Monta Ellis thinks he's number two, where does Teague fit in? If he's just spotting up, how effective is he? They may end up just benching Monta and playing Teague with CJ Miles at the two and Paul George at the three, which would be fine. ... I do think there will be stretches when George and Monta are off the floor where Teague's playmaking really helps them. ... Paul George is great. He's a top 10 player in the NBA. He's a really good defender, he's a decent playmaker for his teammates. Any team in the NBA would love to have him. ... He's never had a coach who held him accountable to the shots he takes. His shot selection could improve a little bit. If he was in a better ball movement, uptempo offense, that had him understanding how to take better shots, he could be really, really good offensively. But as it is, that's a top 10 player in the NBA. ... Myles Turner is still a little ways away from being as good as people think he is. He's a very good midrange shooter, 18-20 feet, turnarounds from the post, and he'll throw in the occasional three this year. He's a very good rim protector. He'll struggle a little bit in pick-and-roll defense, but he's got a bright future, and he's headed in a really good direction. But is he about to take the league by storm as a 20 year-old? Probably not. ... The story of the season will be how they do relative to expectations. How does that affect the likelihood that Paul George is going to want to stay? He has two years left on his deal, and by the end of the season, he'll have one year left and a lot of leverage .... What was their record last year? .500? I think they're right there again. A game or two, or three, above .500, and they make the playoffs but don't get homecourt in the East."
"It is very unfortunate for them that Middleton got hurt. I don't know if he's as good as some of the advance metrics rate him, but he's very good and was trending toward being a borderline All-Star. And what is clear from all the advance metrics, is that the Bucks play terrible when he's not on the floor. Like they are nowhere near a competent NBA team when Khris Middleton is on the bench. ... I liked adding Delly and Teletovic because those are two guys who can make shots and stay out of Giannis' way ... In a lot of ways he’s just a very poor man's Giannis. And when Giannis is your franchise player, uh, that's not a very useful guy to have ... They've got three centers, none of whom is all that good, that they're paying a ton of money to. ... Secretly their best lineup might be something like Giannis, Jabari, and Teletovic at the three, four, and the five. And I don't know exactly who guards the center there, it depends on who they're playing. But Jabari can't shoot threes, and neither can Giannis, and it's really really hard to play in the NBA with more than two guys who can't shoot threes. So, if you're gonna play Giannis and Jabari -- and Jabari's getting pretty good on offense, despite not shooting threes and being a terrible defender, he's getting pretty good on offense—they should probably just play Teletovic as a defacto center. Then mix and match defensively with Giannis, Jabari, and Teletovic. At least have a competent offensive lineup ... They don't really have a two guard for that lineup. Rashad Vaughn's not very good. Jason Terry's a great dude, who can shoot, but he's 40 years old. ... And it's going to be hard for them to play that lineup with Giannis / Jabari / Teletovic because they have, literally, I think $40 million per season, tied up in Greg Monroe, Miles Plumlee, and John Henson. Are you really just going to sit all three of those guys and play your best lineups? ... Thon Maker will be interesting. He plays really hard, he's tall. But he has very little feel for the game, and very poor strength in his core, his glutes and legs. He can kinda shoot if he has time and space, but he can't really make shots at game speed yet. I hope they're not expecting him to play. ... It's hard to figure out how that team makes sense as currently constructed. Jason Kidd's had a lot of influence on their personnel moves, and I don't think that's been a good thing for them ... If you do a good job pushing the ball and getting out and running, you can score in transition. Maybe Giannis will do that, and make up for some of their issues. ... They could be pretty good defensively. Giannis is a monster. ... No, no playoffs. Hard no. … Giannis Anetokuonmpo makes the All-Star game this year. He's going to average like 19 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists. He'll make the All-Star game, and their team's gonna stink."