The Half Court Heave is a panel of four writers: Two Def Pen Hoops writers, myself, and the most chill writer I could find on Twitter to join the roundtable. Or mailbag. More like a panel. Something of that sort.
The goal of the Half Court Heave is to ask and answer the very pressing questions concerning this thing called basketball. Questions that pop up on the interwebs during the week – on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and not Google Plus. And we’ll get them answered for you.
Yes, just for you.
This week’s edition of the Half Court Heave features some dope writers. Here’s who they are, what they do, and where you can block them for their horrendous takes.
Michael Anguilano: Michael is a daily NBA news writer at Def Pen Hoops. A graduate of Kent State and a diehard and suffering Cleveland sports fan, he also is the co-host of the Palace of Piston’s podcast. You can find him on Twitter @anguilnom22.
Let’s get this party started.
1.) Kyrie Irving is now a Boston Celtic. How does his offensive game change under Brad Stevens? Can he become a playmaking point guard? What is his next step?
I already wrote about this one here, but I’ll sum it up:
I don’t think Kyrie has ever had an above average NBA head coach ever. Lue, Blatt, and Brown are all fine, but LeBron made them look better than they are.
Stevens is a whole new animal. He is stellar at getting the most out of his players, and there are countless examples. Cowder, IT4, Amir Johnson, Jerebko, and many more have come to Boston and had their value saved thanks to Steven’s ability to use guys in their best role.
That said, for Kyrie, I don’t think the next step for him is necessarily being a playmaker. Becoming just a willing passer will go a long way for him. If he can cut down on 3 or 4 bad isolations per game and turn those into passing or creation opportunities, that will massively help his efficiency and usefulness on the court.
I watched Kyrie Irving take the torch as “the guy” in Cleveland, so my view is perhaps a little skewed. The Celtics have an excellent offensive point guard in Irving and he should flourish in coach Brad Stevens’ offense. Gordon Hayward and Al Horford are two very unselfish players who should help Irving get more open looks and opportunities to slice up the defense. Irving is at his best when cutting to the basket, which suits Horford’s passing skill set and ability to set good screens. Hayward on the perimeter will demand attention from opposing defenses, allowing Irving to operate with a little more room to breathe. Not playing with LeBron James will certainly be an interesting endeavor for Irving, but he is a talented enough scorer that there should not be too drastic of a drop off if any. I am not in the camp that Stevens can “unlock” Irving, but it is certainly an intriguing player-coach combo. Stevens demands constant effort out of his guys, which sometimes escapes Irving, particularly on the defensive end. As for the playmaking, I certainly think he is capable of it. It simply depends on if he wants to do it or not. To me, the next step for Irving is proving he can be the main man on a team that is quickly approaching championship-caliber. The Cavaliers were dreadful when LeBron was off the floor, forcing Irving to resort to “chuck and pray” offensive possessions. His supporting cast is much better than the Cavaliers without James, so it should be interesting to see how the situation plays out.
I honestly don’t think much changes for Kyrie Irving in green. Stevens got the most out of a similar offensive player in Thomas and I doubt the game plan changes much not that they have a better chip. I think Kyrie’s effort and growth defensively will vastly outweigh any wrinkle to his offense.
Many expect Kyrie Irving to have this next level that will suddenly make him an MVP candidate when he hits his “prime.” I’d challenge that this idea is driven by narrative. Kyrie Irving is one of the best isolation scorers in the NBA, and this serves him very well come playoff time. How that will change under Stevens won’t be overwhelmingly different. Sure, he’ll take more threes and the offense will run through him and Hayward, but other than finding a few more guys a game his stat line won’t change. Kyrie is still the same player.
2.) The Cleveland Cavaliers face the predicament of not having Isaiah Thomas for at least a few months to start the season. Can Derrick Rose be an effective starter next to LeBron? How does Tyronn Lue go after giving minutes out to a surplus of guards?
I think Derrick Rose can be more than effective next to LeBron. Let’s face it, Derrick Rose isn’t all that good anymore. He is wildly inefficient and doesn’t even try on defense anymore.
But the perfect player to mitigate those problems is LeBron. When LBJ is roaming on defense and controlling the game on offense, Rose will have far easier scoring opportunities, and his role will involve less passing. If Rose can simply shoot 45 percent overall, that will make up for his bad defense enough that LeBron’s dominance can carry the team the rest of the way.
As for the guard rotation, man, I have no idea. Does Crowder start at the 2, or does JR? I would think it would be (until IT returns):
· Point guard: Rose starts, Calderon backs up, sprinkle of Felder in garbage time
· Shooting guard: JR starts, but Crowder is the 6th man and gets more minutes. Korver plays sparingly, Shumpert plays garbage time and important defensive possessions.
The problem is 2 things: IT will come back and bump out a lot of Rose minutes, which DRose won’t like. And the team also has a ton of small forwards (Crowder, Osman, LeBron, Jefferson) that will want to play, so it may beneficial to give those guys some run at the 2. Balancing the minutes for these guys will be very challenging.
This is an unpopular opinion, but I am low on Derrick Rose as a starter. It is necessary to qualify that because I feel as the sixth or seventh man he could thrive with the Cavaliers. LeBron James has the uncanny ability to make everyone around him better and I expect that quality to trickle down to Rose. But I have a hard time getting
But I have a hard time getting exciting to see him as the starter until Thomas does come back. Do not be deceived by his 18.5 points per game last season, it is not an accurate telling of just how inefficient he was as a starter for the Knicks. He is not a good three-point shooter, a trait that is seemingly a requirement to play with James. His passing vision is not terrific either and a dread watching him throw up contested long jump shots. That isn’t to say he will be a failure, he still has sparks of that MVP season with acrobatic layups and the explosive burst to the rim that leaves defenders in the dust. In smaller quantities as a backup, Rose can be lethal offensively and a nice
That isn’t to say he will be a failure, he still has sparks of that MVP season with acrobatic layups and the explosive burst to the rim that leaves defenders in the dust. In smaller quantities as a backup, Rose can be lethal offensively and a nice complement. That is what I am excited for, even if his defense gives much to be desired. Jose Calderon may be a better shooter than Rose, but he is coming off his worst season statistically and leaves much to be desired. As a starter, Rose scares me. As a backup, I am more intrigued.
Lord, Derrick Rose starting on the Cleveland Cavaliers is going to take some time. Remember when Rose was likable? A young, local kid with immeasurable talent, and the possible heir to more than one throne? I’d imagine James helps Rose look passable but spacing the floor has never been a strength of his and that’s the bread and butter of being a good LeBron James teammate. I would love to see Lue let LeBron truly play point guard in certain matchups and give the extra minutes to Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, or whoever.
I’d imagine James helps Rose look passable but spacing the floor has never been a strength of his and that’s the bread and butter of being a good LeBron James teammate. I would love to see Lue let LeBron truly play point guard in certain matchups and give the extra minutes to Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, or whoever.
Derrick Rose will not be an above-average NBA starter next to LeBron James. His inability to score without the ball, whether it’s a spot up three or running within a flow of an offense is a hindrance. Rose will be much more suited as the primary playmaker coming off the bench, where his minutes can be more efficiently used to maximize his energy and ability.
3.) The New Orleans Pelicans signed former Memphis Grizzlies defensive specialist Tony Allen this past week. How should Alvin Gentry look to make lineups with little to none depth at the wing? Are there enough pieces around DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis to make a playoff run?
For starters, Tony Allen has never once in his career averaged more than 30 minutes a game and outside of 2013 he’s never started more than 66 games. He just turned 36, so I have trouble seeing him playing a huge role for the Pelicans.
That said, New Orleans has awful wings. Like, Darius Miller might start and close games awful wings. So Allen is a huge improvement over anyone they already have at that position.
To me, the best lineup they could roll out would be Jrue, Allen, E’Twuan Moore, AD, and Cousins. This puts their best healthy shooting on the floor and their 4 best players. You could argue Miller is a better shooter than Moore, but Moore is a better overall player and would make this lineup more effective.
That said, the roster as constructed probably isn’t good enough for the playoffs. Ther 1-3 rotation on the bench involves Moore, Rajon Rondo, Ian Clark and Jordan Crawford. Not great. Additionally, when Cousins/Davis sit, Perry Jones or Alexis Ajinca is going to have to play in the post. Not good. The rotation is very weak outside of the top 4 guys, so I think they will be short of the playoffs.
I don’t mind the Tony Allen signing by the Pelicans, but it really does nothing to make me even a hair more excited. Just once in DeMarcus Cousins’ career, I would like him to be surrounded by shooting just to watch opposing defenses crumble. Alas, we will have to wait. Instead, let’s talk about 36-year-old Tony Allen. He is a great defender and could somewhat fill the role of Solomon Hill who is lost for the year to a hamstring injury. In fact, the Pelicans may be a top-five defensive unit with the squad they have put together. The question will be on the offensive end, where spacing will be excruciatingly difficult to come by. Players like Ian Clark and E’twan Moore will be leaned on to stretch opposing defenses and they’ll likely see prominent minutes. I would like to say the Pelicans will be a playoff team because I want to see Cousins and Anthony Davis there, but the Western Conference is so deep that I cannot commit to putting them in the
Instead, let’s talk about 36-year-old Tony Allen. He is a great defender and could somewhat fill the role of Solomon Hill who is lost for the year to a hamstring injury. In fact, the Pelicans may be a top-five defensive unit with the squad they have put together. The question will be on the offensive end, where spacing will be excruciatingly difficult to come by. Players like Ian Clark and E’twan Moore will be leaned on to stretch opposing defenses and they’ll likely see prominent minutes. I would like to say the Pelicans will be a playoff team because I want to see Cousins and Anthony Davis there, but the Western Conference is so deep that I cannot commit to putting them in the top eight.
I’m trying to imagine having Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins and purposefully surrounding them with Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo in 2017. It’s a head-scratcher. I don’t think the Pelicans are doomed, hell, talent has to shine through with that frontcourt, right?
But anyone who thinks this is an ideal unit around Davis is bat s*** crazy. Jrue Holiday got overpaid, though, there was no choice. Holiday will have to be massive and adapt quickly playing at the two slot, maybe the biggest factor in if the Pelicans can step forward this season.
The New Orleans Pelicans have singularly a great group of talent. But, when meshed together it’s not an ideal team. Too many guards, not enough three-point shooters, and two bigs who need the ball in their hands to be their best selves. Gentry is going to have to really play with lineups, staggering Boogie and Davis to optimize small ball rotations as best he can.
4.) A lot of talk has been made on social media on where Carmelo Anthony ranks out of every NBA player. Is he a top 50 player? If not, could he be one in the right situation?
Pure talent? Top 50 player.
Impact on the court? He’s not a top 50 player.
He is so hard to rank. People often get his on-court skill and off court problem intertwined. They are related, but they don’t drag him out of the top 50, to me.
His skills are conducive to having a top 50 impact. He can score from anywhere on the court. If he was in a situation where he felt comfortable moving the ball and trying of defense (see: Warriors roster or Spurs roster) he would be very effective. On the Rockets, his impact would be odd as that team doesn’t have the most pass-happy offense and the ball-stopping style Melo has may not fit in well.
The Carmelo Anthony slander has reached epic proportions with the latest ESPN rankings, boiling over into heated debates from analysts and players alike. And while I am not the first to defend Anthony, this has gone on far enough. There is no reason he should be outside the top 50 players in the league, especially behind a certain rookie point guard who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. Melo has withered in the misery that is the New York Knicks organization which has likely given way to his obscenely low ranking. In another
There is no reason he should be outside the top 50 players in the league, especially behind a certain rookie point guard who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. Melo has withered in the misery that is the New York Knicks organization which has likely given way to his obscenely low ranking.
In another situation, I firmly believe that he can be a dominant player again. I feel motivation is a big factor in a player’s performance and Anthony has had little in the last few seasons. Other than cashing in a check, the Knicks have not given him much to work with. A change of scenery, I think, would be very beneficial for him as he steps into the later part of his career.
Houston and Cleveland have been the most-debated destinations for Carmelo, but I think a team could swoop in and snag him from the other two. Regardless, Anthony needs out of New York one way or another to prove that he should not be taken lightly.
I think Carmelo Anthony is still top 50. He’d be in the 40-50 range for me but he’s still a matchup problem in the right setting. If Anthony committed to defense and accepted a lesser role I think he’d be a stud in that capacity. It’s whether or not you believe Anthony is willing to accept that. I think most don’t. Players have an elevated view of Anthony and based on his reaction to some of these rankings, it’s hard to see Melo fitting in. Hell, just not his style. Olympic Melo at the NBA level is a fan
It’s whether or not you believe Anthony is willing to accept that. I think most don’t. Players have an elevated view of Anthony and based on his reaction to some of these rankings, it’s hard to see Melo fitting in. Hell, just not his style. Olympic Melo at the NBA level is a fan favorite fable and not much else.
I have Carmelo Anthony right in that top 50, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t dropped off from his previous position on that list. Melo has been in an awful basketball situation in New York for years, and his game has become one of inefficient volume scoring. That’s not impactful. His value as an individual talent is still there, and it will take a team who needs a scoring boost and the right system/culture to bring out unselfish Melo.
5.) The EuroBasket tournament displayed NBA players like Kristaps Porzingis and Goran Dragic, as well as rookies and prospects to be drafted like Lauri Markkanen and Luka Donic. How much stock do you put into these games? Is international basketball worthy of an NBA’s fan attention?
First of all, the Pacers writer in me would like to say how dare you not include Bojan Bogdanovic is this question.
Second of all, Eurobasket is absolutely worth an NBA fans attention. There are tons of NBA players and prospects in it, and it’s fun to watch forgotten players like Sasha Vujajic.
That said, for the same reason, I put 0 stock into these games. Any level of basketball where Sasha Vujajic is dominating Pau Gasol leads the competition in efficiency rating is not a high level of basketball.
Any basketball is good basketball, whether it be the NBA, the G League, or EuroBasket. But I think fans give international basketball as a whole a bad reputation because it is perceived as vastly inferior to the NBA when that is not the case. Yeah, international players have not always panned out in the NBA but I think that the script is starting to flip. Players like Goran Dragic and Kristaps Porzingis
Yeah, international players have not always panned out in the NBA but I think that the script is starting to flip. Players like Goran Dragic and Kristaps Porzingis are already stars in the NBA and should be enough to create some intrigue. Young players like Lauri Markannen and Luka Doncic offer a different type of interest: untapped potential. Doncic is a potential top pick in the NBA Draft and Markannen is, ideally, the new centerpiece of the Chicago Bulls. I can see casual NBA fans being interested in EuroBasket, but I think those fans who fall somewhere between “casual” and “enthusiast” should give it a shot. If anything, you get to see NBA stars in a different element.
Doncic is a potential top pick in the NBA Draft and Markannen is, ideally, the new centerpiece of the Chicago Bulls. I can see casual NBA fans being interested in EuroBasket, but I think those fans who fall somewhere between “casual” and “enthusiast” should give it a shot. If anything, you get to see NBA stars in a different element.
Yea, heck yes. It’s fun. Basketball in the summer, thank the lord. The thing is, don’t massively change your evaluations based on it. It’s a different game with lesser talent levels in a relaxed atmosphere. There was what, 4,000 people in attendance for the semi-final yesterday? I’m glad Markkanen took off and showed out but I’m not massively changing my thoughts on him or shooting him up a redone after the fact mock. Doncic is the truth and if you are invested in the draft you should’ve known that before this!
As far as player evaluation goes, the talent of basketball is not translatable to NBA success. The talent pool and style of play simply does not validate that.
Yes, basketball fans should watch more basketball!