Every Monday a group of writers on BADMENBLOG will discuss several topics regarding the NBA and basketball at large with quick, paragraph-long responses. This week, we’ll be discussing what we’re looking forward to during the All-Star weekend, the Lakers future, and more. The panel for this initial edition of the Fastbreaks column are Anthony J, Jordan, Andrew G, and Fred.
Question 1: What All-Star event are you most excited for this year?
Anthony J: Looking forward to the Inside the NBA All-Star Challenge, not exactly sure how they are going to go about the challenge but more times than not Inside the NBA on TNT crew usually comes through as far as entertainment goes. Having actual all-stars compete in events like the Dunk Contest and 3 point shootout is an upgrade but the whole East vs. West stipulation is not needed
Jordan: It’s gotta be the Slam Dunk Contest. There’s an exciting field this year, with Paul George and John Wall going against the grain of stars typically not participating, and electrifying athletes like Ben McLemore and Terrence Ross, who is the defending champion. I’m not a big fan of the new team structure, but it could potentially set up better dunks. Oh, and McLemore said[LINK GOES HERE] he might do a 720. So yeah.
Andrew G: After years of cautious optimism or flat-out disinterest, the dunk contest looks to be making a return back to prominence. Including budding superstars like John Wall and Paul George, who have shown the kind of dunks they can produce in an environment like the dunk contest, to compete against defending champion Terrence Ross, fresh off of a posterization of Kenneth Faried will provide great excitement.
Fred: I might be in the minority but I actually love to watch all the events, there’s none I really hate. I’ll be watching the Celebrity game all the way to the All-Star Game.
Question 2: Did Mo Cheeks deserve to be fired now?
Anthony J: I have seen a couple of Mo Cheeks press conference and he left me scratching my head on a couple of occasions but the Pistons have won four out of their last six(losses against Heat and Spurs) and are currently on a two game win streak. Does not make much sense to me to fire Cheeks right now unless something happened behind closed doors that was problematic to the locker room and management.
Jordan: The firing came at a weird time, considering the Pistons had won 2 games in a row, including a rout of the Nets. To me, there are three potential explanations for the move: something happened behind the scenes, another candidate like Lionel Hollins is prepared and willing to step in, or Joe Dumars is crazy. Only time will tell. But looking at things at current value, it seems like the move was premature.
Andrew G: The timing of this firing is certainly suspect, given Detroit has just walloped the Brooklyn Nets and the Denver Nuggets in a back-to-back. The Pistons have definitely been a disappointment, even more than what I expected to start the season, and the defense has been at times atrocious. If Joe Dumars has a reason behind this firing, like upgrading the head coaching position to someone like Lionel Hollins, then this move might work out. If not, it seems like it’s just another excuse Dumars can give to the ownership as to why yet another team he constructed has failed to do anything.
Fred: It’s really odd that the firing came after the Pistons had two big wins. I’m not about to say Mo Cheeks is Phil Jackson but…
Joe Dumars really deserves some of the blame. He has gone through 8 coaches in his time with the Pistons. At that point, he’s either hiring the wrong coaches or he’s constructing rosters poorly. Or possibly even both.
Question 3: What does the Lakers future look like?
Anthony J: With Kobe Bryant locked up for a couple more years and with a top 8 pick in the draft and with the financial flexibility to go after the top free-agents this years the Lakers have the ability to bounce back quickly.
Jordan: Obviously things aren’t picture perfect, but it’s hard for the Lakers to be in a bad situation (long term, at least.) If the season ended today, the Lakers would have the 7th best shot at the #1 pick. Regardless, they will definitely be picking very high, and may end up “stuck” with a player like Noah Vonleh or Gary Harris. Also, being the Lakers, they always will be able to attract major free agents. They are getting out of the cap hell they were stuck in a few years ago, and certainly will be major players in July. Even if they don’t land Jabari Parker and Kevin Love, things are looking bright in LA.
Andrew G: They’re going to be like the Mavericks post-championship, signing role players to one-year deals. I just don’t see this team managing to grab a superstar this offseason when all they can claim to have is Kobe, Robert Sacre, and an old Steve Nash. There aren’t many top players in the league that are willing to leave a team to join a roster that—quite frankly—is in worse shape than just about any other team going forward.
Fred: The Lakers have at least one more bad year left, but hopefully they will at least be watchable unlike this year. They should be receiving a top draft pick this year and will hopefully have a healthy Kobe Bryant. I have doubt that they will make a splash in the free agent market this year, but they can probably make a run at a marquee free agent come 2015. One thing is certain, a good draft this offseason is essential if the Lakers want anything to look forward to in the near future.
Question 4: Marcus Smart was suspended for three games on Sunday for shoving a fan. How will this episode affect his draft stock?
Anthony J: This incident will not affect his draft stock much, he is one of the top six prospects potentially in this years draft. If he somehow did manage to slip in the draft I think it will have do with the fact that teams like Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland, Utah, and Denver do not have a need for a PG more so than this incident.
Jordan: This negatively affects his draft stock, but only a little. Most college hoops fans and pro scouts already knew he had a hot head. This may push him a little behind Australian Dante Exum, simply because they are very similar and the difference between them may simply be only a mental one. I still have him in the top five along with Wiggins, Parker, Embiid, and Exum. Overall, I don’t see this incident hurting Smart’s pro career anymore than being a minor maturity blemish.
Andrew G: Smart’s suspension is going to have an impact, as it’s seen as a public image problem. It’s going to scare some teams away that might have had some little interest in him, but his–and his team’s–poor play are probably weighing more on his draft.
Fred: I don’t believe it will hurt his draft stock much. He is still one of the better players in the draft and a high character guy that had a momentary lapse in judgement. His shooting is what can actually hurt his draft stock.