2017-2018 NBA

This thread is probably not going to get much activity, but I wanted to weigh in Colin Cowherd’s comparison between Ben Simmons and Magic Johnson. I watched a highlight video of Simmons based on the entire year. Here’s the video, followed by my thoughts:

Similarities: Height, speed in transition (Yeah, there was a time where Magic was fast, especially in transition), and backing players into the post. Oh, I guess he has ability to bring the ball up the court and play on the perimeter.

Differences: Based on the clip, I didn’t notice the same level of passing skills. I don’t know if I’d call Simmons a great dunker, but his dunking looks formidable when he’s going hard to the rim. (One interesting tidbit: He seems to like dunking when jumping off the wrong foot.)

27 thoughts on “2017-2018 NBA

  1. Simmons is a special dude. He plays on the ground and seems nonathletic like Magic. His iso (as in isolation) game is better overall then Magic, but Magic had the mini sky hook. Magic developed into a good if not great three point shooter, which Simmons isn’t. I can see why they are compared, but there are some differences as well. He is definitely not the showman (and maybe passer), Magic was.

    The league has a bunch of great players right now: The Greek Freak, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, along with Harden, Durant, Curry, Lebron, Westbrook, Kyrie, and Kawhi. I think this is the most great players to play at one time in recent history. Part of it is probably because the court is so much more spread out and open, giving the great guys room to do their thing.

  2. His iso (as in isolation) game is better overall then Magic, but Magic had the mini sky hook.

    You mean, in terms of isolating Simmons on the perimeter, setting up driving opportunities? If so, I don’t get the sense that Magic was or would be really great in that situation, although who knows. By the time the Lakers looked for more scoring from Magic, they isolated him in the post.

    For what it’s worth, Magic was a solid three point shooter, but I wouldn’t call him great.

    Part of it is probably because the court is so much more spread out and open, giving the great guys room to do their thing.

    And the fact that there are really very few 5s, let alone really good ones.

  3. Yeah but Simmons doesn’t shoot threes at all, so even if Magic was just decent, he’d have the edge there. I don’t know where LeBron is going next season, but he should really give the Sixers a hard look!

  4. Oh, and I just want to say that the entire city of Philadelphia owes Sam Hinkie a gigantic apology. He proved to be right, and here he is with no job. I hate the world.

  5. Yeah but Simmons doesn’t shoot threes at all, so even if Magic was just decent, he’d have the edge there.

    Agreed. I’m just noting that I wouldn’t call Magic a great three-point shooter (and I realize Don isn’t strongly stating that he is).

  6. Actually I think I was mixing up Magic’s ability to shoot threes and his ability to shoot free throws. Both became much better, but I think Magic led the league in free throws one year or was top three.

  7. Oh yeah, Magic was a really good free throw shooter. (I’m not sure if he lead the league in percentage, though. Is Simmons a bad free throw shooter?)

  8. My observations of the playoff games:
    I feel like the NBA has shifted from defense oriented or minded teams to offensive. I’ve said this last year, but the league seem more like the 80’s now and the scoring per game is definitely closer to the 80’s then any time after that.
    Watching Miami and Philadelphia, there were numerous not very athletic guys on both teams that can either shoot or just score like Belinelli. He’s just an old guy running around shooting threes.
    The Cavs team is about as bad as it gets and Lebron is giving them a chance. This Cavs team may be worse than his pre-Heat, Cavs team.
    Anthony Davis’ athleticism is ridiculous. He’s like Larry Nance (Sr not Jr), Marcus Camby, and a little bit Kobe all in one.
    Ricky Rubio is good. He’s a poor man’s Steve Nash. He can make floaters and make passes (probably a little better than Steve). He just cannot shoot.

  9. Have you seen the Rockets play? I’m a little curious about how they play. They seem to be doing well, in spite of my thinking the CP3-Harden thing was a bad pairing. I’m curious to see how they look when they’re on the floor at the same time.

  10. I didn’t see the Rockets play yet. Although Barkley said Harden is one of the toughest players to guard of all time. That maybe be hyperbole, but coming from Chuck, who thinks all the guys in his era will dominate the guys in the current era, that’s saying a lot.

  11. The NBA championship is really the series between the Rockets and Warriors. No team in the East really can play with the two in the West. Not that, that is a revelation, but throwing it out there in case anyone was waiting for the championship to pay attention.

  12. I haven’t seen the Warriors play with Durant, but I agree with this statement before KD joined them–and with KD I’d say they would be the best shooting team ever (especially if we’re talking about range). Their passing is really good (although I don’t know if it’s diminished since Bogut left). And, yes, this is the type of basketball I like, generally–but I would make one exception. A great basketball team has to have at least great one-on-one player–that is, a guy that can create his own shot (and I would count bigs who are great in the post). I would differentiate these players from shooters who rely on screens to get shots. Reggie Miller is an example of this. I know Curry has handles, but I kinda put him in this category as well–at least when he goes against good defenders. Great ball movement, screens and unselfishness–I love all those things, but if you don’t have one or two great one-on-one players, that’s generally a big deficiency.

    I should say that the deficiency doesn’t only relate to the ability to win the championships. For me, it also relates to my enjoyment of watching the games. This is especially true in the playoffs because what tends to happen is that these type of teams tend to go through periods where they struggle. This is especially true against really good defensive opponents. The offense may be moving and passing the ball, but they can’t get any open looks and struggle to score. When this goes on for a while, it gets kind of boring. To be specific, this situation is boring when the team doesn’t really have great one-on-one players–generally players who can take it to the hoop. When the team has these type of players and the defense is just shutting them down, that can be fun to watch.

    Going back to Cowherd’s comments, he mentions that G-State plays good defense. I’m wondering if that’s true. I never really got the impression that they were a great defense team. Same with rebounding. To me, if they were really good defensive and rebounding team, I’d probably like them a lot more. (By the way, when LeBron played in Miami, while that team wasn’t great at rebounding, they could be really good defensive teams–especially defending the three point shot.)

  13. Do you mean it has to be a good defensive team as in all five guys on the floor? Because Draymond Green was NBA defensive player of the year last year, and has been on the all-defensive first team for three years in a row — which of course coincides with their three appearances in the finals. I don’t care for the Warriors, but aside from Steve Kerr, Draymond is my favorite on this team.

    1. Do you mean it has to be a good defensive team as in all five guys on the floor?

      Essentially yes. You could have the greatest defender of all-time on a team, and that team may not have a great defense.

  14. Actually KD and Harden are easily the best two one-on-one players in the game today. KD is virtually unstoppable because of his height and because he’s willing to take the mid-range shot. I would put him above Bird in terms of scoring. Golden State with KD is way more efficient offensively. They are not as fun because it’s not Curry and Thompson running around getting open and shooting threes. There is still better than average ball movement, but as long as KD is willing, it’s basically him taking his guy and shooting over him. The thing with Golden State is their role and bench players are so damn good. Shaun Livingston’s mid-range game is ridiculously good. David West’s ability to pass and play in the post is great. They have Nick Young who is an outstanding three point shooter and JaVale McGee who is a good post defender and space-eater. All those guys come off the bench (well at least in this series because I think GS think they don’t need McGee who didn’t play in game one). They also have the two ultimate role players in Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, three if you want to consider Klay as a role player as well. I get why pundits don’t want to put them in the class of the 80’s Celtics and Lakers. But anything other than that like the Bad Boys, Bulls, etc, this Warrior team is right up there with those guys. It’s a different game, but they should be in that conversation.

    We have moved to a time where offense rules, so it’s hard to say who’s a good defensive team and who’s not. I wouldn’t say they are a great defensive team, but Klay is outstanding. Green is great but because he’s not tall it’s not like he’s a great shot blocker. He’s more of a Rodman type player, but of course not as good. KD is very underrated defensively and has the quickness and length to be very effective. Iguodala or Mcgee are both very good at what they do defensively. Curry is the only crutch defensively on that team. But it’s not like they are winning games with their defense.

  15. I haven’t seen any games, but here’s what I think of when I hear these comments:

    1. My impression of G-State is that they have almost a kind of motion offense, i.e., an offense involving a lot of passing, cutting, and screens to get open shots, and it’s different from the Indiana style offense where the objective is to get the best player open shots. I like watching these type of offenses, but I think they’re vulnerable in late game situations.

    2. Cowherd asks why Curry isn’t getting the ball, when he’s a great dribbler, shooter, and passer. My sense is that a bigger defensive player can give him a lot of problems, even come close to shutting him down. If that’s true, this would explain, why Kerr doesn’t give Curry the ball and let him create.

    3. I’m wondering if KD is a bad passer–because if KD is a great one-on-one player–i.e., he can create his own shot and is difficult to stop–then he should probably be getting the ball in close game situations. However, if KD is a bad passer, then that might explain why he’s not getting the ball.

  16. In the half court KD is definitely the go-to guy especially if the shot clock is running down. But I wonder if he has the killer instinct. I mean if he did, he probably wouldn’t have joined the Warriors in the first place. But give credit to D’Antoni, he learned when to double KD. He seem to send the double right when KD is about to shoot and that’s throwing KD off a bit. Add to that, that KD seems to be getting fouled a lot, but the refs aren’t calling it. There is a lot of body contact when KD goes up for his shot.

    Last night, I saw almost the entire fourth quarter. Neither team looked great. Harden cannot hit the side of the barn from three point range (He missed his last 18 three pointers going back to game four.), Steph is pretty close to that as well right now (but as you may know he is far from 100%). KD didn’t take many shots, and Klay was getting contained. Draymond hit big baskets, but on essentially the game’s last possession, lost the ball and thus the Warriors didn’t get a shot to tie or take the lead down by two. KD also just bobbled the ball a few possessions earlier and it became a shot clock violation.

  17. But I wonder if he has the killer instinct.

    Does he have a Ray Allen thing going on? If so, this might explain why Kerr isn’t giving the ball in a clear-out type of situation.

    He seem to send the double right when KD is about to shoot and that’s throwing KD off a bit.

    This gives me the impression that he’s not a great passer–which would also explain why Kerr wouldn’t give him the ball.

  18. KD was phenomenal in the fourth quarter. Hard for me to say he’s soft after seeing KD hit numerous big shots. That being said, KD and the Warriors remind me of the year Jordan went to play baseball. Reid and I both agreed that the Bulls could look better on offense without Jordan, but they really missed Jordan when they just needed a big basket. The Warriors was more fun to watch when they didn’t have KD. They would run their offense more effectively and couldn’t rely on one-on-one plays. But they are not as good a team (obviously) because there are times they need KD to put them on his back especially in the half-court.

    1. But they are not as good a team (obviously) because there are times they need KD to put them on his back especially in the half-court.

      What you’re saying highlights the need for at least one great one-on-one player, as well as the big weakness of an offense that relies almost totally on passing, movement and screens. When Rick Adelman employed Pete Carrill’s Princeton offense at Sacramento, they also had the same problem.

      In pressure situations, I also think it’s harder to get a bucket from the passing/movement style.

      1. I was saying that teams miss great one-on-one players when baskets are needed (ie: opponent goes on long runs, close games, end of half or game). Are you saying in general, isolation is better than good passing teams? So the Bulls should almost exclusively go isolation as long as Jordan is on the court? This is what D’Antoni was saying in why he almost always iso Harden and Paul.

        1. Tim Legler (I think) told Tony Kornheiser Tuesday pretty much what you were saying, Don, about the team being more fun to watch in pre-KD days but obviously being a better team when he’s there. He says they go too easily now to feeding it to KD and letting him get his shot, which gets away from the basketball that makes them so much better than everyone else, though.

          Legs!

        2. I was saying that teams miss great one-on-one players when baskets are needed (ie: opponent goes on long runs, close games, end of half or game). Are you saying in general, isolation is better than good passing teams?

          No, I’m saying that if you’re going to have a offense reliant on passing, you need one or two great one-on-one players. Basically, that describes the Bulls. Isolation-based offenses aren’t necessarily superior.

          Mitchell,

          He says they go too easily now to feeding it to KD and letting him get his shot, which gets away from the basketball that makes them so much better than everyone else, though.

          I don’t know the full context or meaning of Legler’s comment, but I just want to say that an isolation-based offense can be just as team-oriented and characterized by good passing as offenses that rely heavily on team movement and passing. This is especially true if the isolation occurs in the post. If done properly isolation can lead to really good ball movement and passing. The ’86 Celtics epitomized this.

          1. But the Celtics didn’t have these three-point shooters, nor the understanding that going for three is more efficient over the course of a game. It sounds to me like the game the Warriors play makes them far better than anyone else in the league, but for those times when the opponent is still close, they can now feed Durant and increase their likelihood of getting points. My novice take.

  19. Until Stan Van Gundy gets a new gig, Steve Kerr is my favorite coach in basketball, so even though I don’t like Golden State, I will for now root for them to win any game that’s not vs. LeBron James.

    Or maybe not. Trying to think of a way to root for his success without also rooting for the team’s success.

  20. Mitchell,

    Again, I don’t know the context or full meaning of Legler’s comments, but I interpreted it as a comparison between offenses reliant on ball/player movement versus isolation offenses. You seem to be focusing on Golden State specifically–i.e., Golden State vs. ’86 Celtics. When Legs talks about what makes them better than anyone else, I assume it’s the passing and ball/player movement. My main point is that an isolation-based offense can not only be just as good, but the passing can be quite good as well. I think it’s a mistake to assume that the use of the isolation automatically means that there won’t be good player/ball movement. The ’86 Celtics may be the best example, but other teams were like this, too.

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