Around the Rim

By Josh Eberley #41

Pressing questions, hot topics, and collaboration amongst your favorite basketball minds—welcome back to Around the Rim.

Think of Around the Rim as your local politicians would like for you to think of a town hall, a safe forum for all voices in the basketball universe to be heard. A stable roundtable, fluctuating in both voices and trendy issues. We’ve had over 350 unique contributors working at any and every outlet you can think of living all across the globe.

The roundtable runs every Tuesday, with new questions and new voices each week. If you have a question you’d like answered by the panel, tweet @JoshEberley or @HOOPmag and check back each week to see who hopped in for the current edition. Last week’s edition can be found here.

This week we are fortunate to have six dedicated and knowledgeable contributors pitching in. Make sure to give them a follow and check out their great contributions to the basketball community:

Jackson Frank: The Athletic Philadelphia, contributor

Rahmeaun Rahming: All U Can Heat, contributor

Bryan Oringher: Toronto Raptors & Atlanta Hawks, former scout

Jake Paynting: Canis Hoopus, contributor

Melissa Sulewski: NBA freelance

Warren Ward: NBA TV, freelancer

Markelle Fultz isn’t the first overall pick to disappoint, but the complete and utter disappearance of his shot and confidence is puzzling. Do you still believe he can turn things around?

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Frank: It’s tough because I don’t exactly know what “turn things around means.” I think it’s very unlikely he reaches his pre-draft ceiling but at this point, expectations should be skewed. In the long run, I believe he will become a valuable player with his passing, ability to attack the rim and defensive upside. Despite regressing as a shooter, his overall play has improved during the past three weeks or so. He’s more engaged defensively and looks more confident as a driver. Will his play be deserving of a No. 1 pick? No. But whether it’s in Philadelphia or elsewhere, he’s going to carve out a role in this league.

Rahming: Up until a few days ago, I thought Fultz had reached the point of no return. He looked afraid to shoot from a standstill position. This very evident fear wasn’t limited to the free-throw line. Although those shots receive the most scrutiny—the hitch, and general fear of taking a shot had been manifesting itself on the court for weeks including taking an open jump shot. Once I saw his most recent free-throw routine, I knew precisely what was going on because I experienced this while I was a college student in Philadelphia. During my sophomore year, my trombone teacher and I broke down every aspect of playing the instrument from top to bottom. I spent many lessons and practice sessions making sure to have all my technique down pat. From breathing in properly to the very first second of sound to cutting the sound off just right. While this was great for my playing, I developed a terrible habit of stopping between breathing in and creating that first second of sound. I had to come up with all sorts of gimmicks to trick my body into being OK—going straight from picking up the instrument to playing with confidence. Fultz is experiencing the same thing this season. Not only did he suffer an unconfirmed shoulder injury, he’s also been working on the mechanics of his shot. This has been a terrible experiment for him so far. Dr. Rajpal Brar stated on Twitter that perhaps Fultz’s mind has tagged the action of a standstill shot as painful and his new free throw routine of bobbling the ball back and forth before shooting is an attempt to break the association between the two since he’s no longer injured. Sixers fans should still hold onto some hope for Fultz, but if a good trade comes along, that includes him, don’t be surprised if the front office jumps at it.

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Oringher: Fultz definitely has plenty of time to turn things around. I also think he does a lot of good things on the court even without a shot. In DC, John Wall couldn’t make a shot for a couple years—we all remember Ason Kidd. There’s much more to basketball than just shooting.

What concerns me more about Fultz is how much he appears to let the outside noise get to him. I get it—these are difficult times with every mistake going viral on Twitter and the media landscape we have today. But people are going to crush you when you’re down regardless. I guess Fultz’s new free-throw form is an attempt to get him to stop thinking as much—which really causes the hitch—but I hope this was suggested by Brett Brown or the staff and not Markelle doing it on his own to avoid the potential embarrassment of another hitch. Obviously Fultz has a fragile confidence and Philly shielding him for so much of last year was clear proof. I just hope they have a good sports psychologist working with him to help him out. I’m also not sure Philly is going to be the place he finds success. It’s hard to be a passing point guard with a dominant ballhandler who can’t shoot like Simmons, and another guy who demands the ball a lot and is mostly a midrange guy in Butler—not a lot of spacing and not an ideal fit for Fultz.

Paynting: Like most people, I had enormously high hopes for Markelle Fultz and his ability to become a legitimate superstar in this league. I think at this point, most of those hopes have vanished. He can still impact the game defensively with his length and offensively with his capacity to get into the paint and make plays for others, but I believe that without a confident jumper from the charity stripe, midrange or three-point range, his ceiling is dramatically lower. I can see him hanging around the League as a low-level starter or sixth man, but I have serious doubts he will ever come close to All-Star level. Until he does figure it out, Fultz will remain one of the strangest cases the NBA has seen in a long time.

Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Sulewski: Though not an endless optimist when it comes to extended player inconsistencies, I have faith in Fultz. He’s showing the effort and tenacity I’d like to see from a young player proving he’s working on getting back into form and fixing problems. Look, he’s only 20 years old and Brett Brown said he attempted 150,000 shots over the summer after coming back last season to become the youngest player to score a triple-double in the NBA (surpassing records previously set by LeBron James and then most recently fellow rookie Lonzo Ball.) Two things that aren’t helping him? Lack of public understanding/patience around his shot mechanics strategy and scrutiny about his status due to a tweet by his ex-trainer. He’s appears to be doing somewhat untraditional tactics of changing the mechanics of his shot, believed to help avoid triggering the same pain in muscle memory of his old free-throw by shifting the path his shoulder travels. The optics resulted in free-throw moments that got blown out of proportion recently. His (now) ex-trainer’s tweet about him not being healthy didn’t help matters. Trainer Drew Hanlen tweeted in defense of the young player but people are quick to take that as evidence of a bigger issue, especially with Hanlen distancing himself and announcing he’s now no longer working with him as Fultz’s inconsistencies continue. That messes with your mental state, and young guys don’t have thick skin yet, whether we believe they should’ve been ready for NBA scrutiny or not.

What’s positive? Defensively he’s improved tremendously; he’s combating his shot inconsistency in the midrange/three by trying to be more aggressive and driving into elite defenders like Rudy Gobert. Him moving to a bench position with the addition of Butler is necessary and will be beneficial in the long run. Jimmy has alluded to a lot of Fultz issues being mental. Being someone who personally admitted to struggling with mental blocks after a knee injury with the Bulls, Butler’s empathy will be refreshing in a league that understandably moves fast. Being on the bench will also take off pressure from a guy already struggling and allow Fultz to flourish when a scorer like Jimmy takes the reigns and creates opportunities for him once a lead is established with Embiid and Simmons. I’m not ready to believe Fultz is a bust—if mental blocks are his issue, the leadership of a strong proven All-Star like Butler may be exactly what he needs. Butler can also help Fultz continue developing his defensive prowess to offset shooting inconsistencies, as Butler knows what it’s like to win MIP and defensive team honors after being drafted 30th overall and going through his own share of defensive hurdles. If we’re waiting for Simmons to make a shot beyond the arc two years later, we can have a bit more patience before we label Fultz a lost case.

Ward: Fultz is an interesting dilemma. On one hand you have a raw athlete, a 6-4 point guard who actually does a great job running Philly’s offense when Ben Simmons is not dominating the ball. He is great in transition and see’s the floor well. On the other side is a weak jump shot. That needs fixing to say the least and adding generosity into the equation. Media plays a large part in why Fultz is already being regarded as a bust. There is heightened expectations when you’re picked first overall (unlike a Kyle Kuzma who essentially “came out of nowhere”). The draft number should never determine your expectations, but it always does and this time Fultz is the victim of that ideology. If Fultz was picked 27th overall, he would be afforded time to “figure it out” instead of being expected to have it all at the tender age of 20. If he continues to work hard on his weaknesses much like any other player who has come into the league, he can have impact and contribute to an already steadily improving Philadelphia squad.

 

LeBron James sits about 7,000 points back from the all-time scoring list. Do you think he finishes No. 1 all-time and secondly, where would it rank on his very long list of accomplishments?

Oringher: That’s another what, three-ish seasons after this? I would think so. Certainly, up there and a testament to his longevity and how well he takes care of his body. But at the end of the day what he cares about is winning, and whether he can turn the Lakers around ultimately will probably define his career in the “what have you done for me lately?” society.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Frank: I will never count out LeBron for any of these career accomplishments—his offensive longevity is fascinating to witness—so mark me down for him taking that top spot. But oh, man, that second question is so tough. It would rate pretty highly because A) he’s not a score-first player and B) it’s not even his best offensive skill, his passing holds that title! It would be top five in my eyes. The 2016 Finals has to be No. 1, that 2012-13 season (MVP, DPOY runner-up, championship, Finals MVP) is probably No. 2 and I’d have to reflect upon everything he’s done in 16 years, but it might take the bronze.

Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Rahming: I believe James can definitely take sole possession of first place in all-time scoring. The answer to this question lies within another: Can LeBron James average 22.5 points per game for the remainder of his contract? Since the playoffs are unknown, I only included the 66 remaining games for this season, plus the additional 246 games of the next three seasons. There are two reasons I am very confident he can accomplish this goal. Outbursts like his 51 against Miami last night and 44 against Portland a few nights prior will cushion his average and allow him to take games off for rest or the occasional bad game. Also since this stat does not bar entries from the playoffs, those will count as well. We don’t know how many times or how many rounds he’ll last throughout the years, but president of basketball operations Magic Johnson will do everything he can to make sure he’s in position to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If you think the only ghost James is chasing is Michael Jordan, think again. Once this goal is achieved, he can retire immediately. No matter what he says in public about the championship rings, the regular season and Finals MVPs, the all-NBA and all-star selections, the hierarchy of his achievements will be in this order: NBA all-time leader in points scored, the second Citizenship award he’s got coming, and two (or three) time Olympic gold medalist.

Paynting: I do think LeBron will get the top spot eventually. He has scored over 1,900 points in all but three of his seasons since he hit the League, and and this rate I can see him going strong for another 4-6 years, as unbelievable as that sounds for a man nearing 34 years. If he does manage to grab hold of the top spot, I believe it will be his second biggest accomplishment, right behind the championship he won against the 73-9 Golden State squad. It’s not easy to score at a high level for a long time in this league, and becoming the greatest point-producer ever would be near the pinnacle of his jaw-dropping resume.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Sulewski: Taking LeBron’s own word for it, if he ever surpasses Kareem and lands No. 1 on the all-time scoring list, it would still rank below playing with his own son in an NBA game. That said I believe he will land at the top of that list one day because LeBron has shown zero signs of stopping or slowing down and has stayed amazingly healthy throughout his storied career. He’s already in the GOAT conversations due to his cultural relevance, his ability to take overmatched teams deep into June play due to his singular dominance (something MJ was never known for), and his numbers are only projected to continue. Statistically, he will likely not only surpass Kareem for points but also has a chance to push into the 40,000 points range and set unheard-of records across the board due to longevity alone. At some point the standard GOAT conversations comparing apples to apples between LeBron and Jordan based on championships alone will get increasingly weakened with LeBron’s tenure. LeBron’s health and lack of notable injury could be his single most underrated trait that can propel him to the top of every leaderboard, even with three rings. Perhaps fans of other top record holders will never stop comparing LeBron to their respective idols, but it might be too early to rank scoring against all LeBron’s accomplishments because he’s far from finished updating those stats in significant ways.

Ward: I think if there is anyone with a chance to pass Kareem, it’s LeBron and maybe Kevin Durant after that. IF LeBron finishes No. 1 all time it would be his biggest accomplishment above all else because he’s not a pure scorer. He has had a steadily improving jump shot and scoring touch over his career, he’s not the first you would think of when it comes to lethal assassin level scorers. Most would agree Jordan and Kobe Bryant fit that mold. LeBron is more of an all-around player, a guy that likes to do everything. To be No. 1 all time in the NBA would cement his already established GOAT legacy.

 

The Draymond Green-Kevin Durant feud stole the show last week. Have we seen the end of the fallout? Is there any possible way the franchise moves Green prior to the deadline if the water isn’t under the bridge?’

Paynting: With Draymond’s attitude toward the game and his at-times-controversial leadership style, I will not be surprised if this isn’t the last time, we see he and Kevin Durant go at it, nor will I be surprised if/when Durant bolts next summer. With that in mind, I doubt that the Golden State brass will move their spiritual leader. Green seems much more committed to the team than Durant, and his defensive prowess and passing chops are much more vital to their success than Durant’s scoring ability. Especially with fellow stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson able to light up teams on a nightly basis.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Frank: For this season, I think we’ve seen the end of the fallout, but I imagine this is just going to be another reason Durant signs elsewhere this summer. Not just the spat from last week but all of the news that was reported after the fact and most notably how Green had expressed his frustrations with Durant for a while now.

I don’t think there’s any way Green is moved. With an undersized frame and brutish game (haha, I rhymed, look at me), he’s a prime candidate for a rapid decline in the coming years and with a new contract on the horizon, he’s probably worth far more in the Bay than around the rest of the League. He remains Golden State’s best defender, primary facilitator and lifeblood. Replacing those attributes in a trade would be hard to come by and I imagine Golden State skirts the risk of hurting its championship odds.

Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images

Rahming: I think the part of the feud that was taking place for public consumption is over. You have to take a step back and think about it from a bit farther away. Green and Durant are professional basketball players. I don’t believe the Warriors organization needed to drive the point home any further by issuing a fine to Green, but it didn’t hurt either. Like most conflicts between two passionate professionals, they will hash things out behind closed doors, and they will have results on the court to show for it. There is only one scenario where Green is moved before the end of this season. If the two players aren’t able to salvage their working relationship, and Durant says to Warriors brass, “If you move Green this season, I will opt into the final year of my deal and sign a max extension or a brand-new max contract in the summer of 2020”. If those words or something similar doesn’t come out of Durant’s mouth, Draymond Green remains a Warrior.

Oringher: I don’t think this is going to be a huge deal. KD shouldn’t have clapped at Draymond for the ball. Draymond should’ve passed it. KD shouldn’t have freaked out at Draymond for not passing. Draymond shouldn’t have freaked out at KD for freaking out at him. So on and so forth. Draymond is fiery and nutty and isn’t afraid to call out anyone. KD is fragile and cares what everyone thinks and is very human. We know this about both of them and have for a while. Last year and prior they’ve always used their disagreements as moments that brought them closer together after they hoist the trophy at the end of the year. I personally expect this to be a similar story.

Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images

Sulewski: With Steph still out on injury and taking a cautious approach to recovery, the Warriors have tried to put a balm over the Draymond/KD altercation. As immature as it sounds that a locker room scuffle can crack the veneer of such a recently three-time winning franchise with so many All-Stars, it just seems like certain lines were crossed and the chemistry will never be the same. This whole debacle feels like perfect storm for Kevin to leave the Warriors. He’s won two rings and personality-wise, he’s outgrowing his fit with Golden State and looking for change. This puts Draymond in the unfortunate position of being blamed for KD leaving regardless of whether Golden State can pull themselves together to be playoff contenders this season and ride it out. I don’t see GOlden State letting Green go on purpose because he’s a dynamic force. He’s a defensive nightmare who works perfectly in Curry’s offense. If anything, Dray gets fed up and expresses wanting to leave himself. We’ve interestingly gotten a glimpse of KD leading the charge on the floor alone with Dray and Steph out and that’s been the most telling of the role everyone plays. Kevin is a leader and volume scorer on any other team in the entire league, but with him at the helm, the Steph-less Warriors bench becomes ineffective, and scoring/tempo significantly languishes. Let’s just say the days of the Golden State we’ve grown to know and love are numbered.

Ward: The media made a way bigger deal out of that situation than there needed to be. Teammates and brothers fight, period. I am sure that has happened on that team in practice or amongst other teammates in a game. Draymond was absolutely wrong for trying to make a play against the Clippers, he should have given the ball to KD immediately. If they move Green they do not stand a chance at winning another championship. He does too many things well for them and covers a lot of the mistakes made by his superstar teammates. Winning that much demands excellence and sometimes your emotions get the best of you. It happens, move on.

 

The Jazz have struggled mightily despite many analysts and metrics pointing to them as possible risers in the conference this preseason. Are the Jazz struggles temporary or perhaps, are they pointing to a more permanent problem?

Sulewski: This appears to be a longer-term defensive cohesion and depth problem in Utah that was already visible last year, despite an unlikely decent run to the playoffs and despite the best efforts of their gilded rookie. Optimism in Utah seems to be centered around repeating last year’s midseason turnaround, which is unlikely. Last year the Jazz had a lot of new players to integrate and still made a decent run of it somehow. We saw bench players show up last year and assist defensively, and rookie Mitchell was progressing nicely. That defensive chemistry has all but fizzled as they’re failing to get stops everywhere. Players are missing their assignments on switches which has exploited their defense. Gobert won DPOY last season on a roster specially built for elite defense. Meanwhile this year he’s been largely ineffective in the paint with the current rotation. Beyond that, Utah simply lacks the firepower required to play catch up as a result of bad defense. That’s their biggest issue if nothing else changes. This led to a 50-point loss to Luka’s rising Mavericks last week. Right now, the West is tougher overall. While Rubio has been regressing this year, he’s also an 84 percent career free-throw shooter; if he can stop trying to draw fouls in the midrange and go to the hoop, he can get points on the board. Jazz needs a few players to heat up and to overall work on their cohesion as a unit, but in the long run they’ll have to ramp up the roster if they ever want to be serious playoff contenders in the West.

David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Frank: I think it’s a combination of both. Some, including yours truly, may have undersold the possibility of a sophomore slump for Donovan Mitchell, whose bouncy shot creation is vital to this team. He should improve upon his current lowly shooting percentages, but if he can’t produce at the same rate he did last year when he hit his stride, they might just be an average playoff team. On the other side of the floor, the usually elite defense has struggled and there’s just too much high-level ability for that to continue. I don’t think I’d peg them as the third-best team like I did this offseason, but they have enough talent and coaching to make another cameo in the postseason.

Rahming: The struggles we’re seeing from the Jazz are only somewhat real. If the season ended today, a lot of analysts would be deleting tweets while holding their busted brackets. If you would’ve told me the Trail Blazers would be leading the Western Conference with the Grizzlies and Clippers following them closely in second and third place, I would’ve asked for your autograph right then and there. Yes, the expectations of the Jazz have risen, but they are attainable albeit contested. I do not believe in the Grizzlies whatsoever, and good luck telling everyone the Rockets will miss the playoffs. If they don’t pick it up though, the Jazz will become prey for teams like the Clippers and Lakers at the end of the season. While they have a very pedestrian schedule to finish the year filled with plenty of matchups against the Timberwolves, Suns, Nets, Knicks, Wizards, Hawks and Bulls, there are a few landmines sprinkled in. In their last eight games, the Jazz square up against the Nuggets, and Lakers twice. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t bet against LeBron James in an early April in-conference game with high stakes playoff implications. Would you? I know Jazz head coach Quinn Snyder won’t be looking forward to it.

Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Oringher: I said on Twitter after the first couple games that I wouldn’t be shocked if the Jazz looked like Jeff Hornacek’s Phoenix team when they won almost 50. I think they significantly overachieved last year and were destined to come back down to earth. I also am not convinced yet that Mitchell is a generational talent. I think the scouting report on him was generally somewhere in between Waiters and Wade. Waiters is a heck of a scorer when healthy—but also is a limited playmaker and has never had phenomenal consistency. Call me crazy, but I think Mitchell may be closer to Waiters than Wade. I think Utah could easily miss the playoffs this year.

Paynting: I’ve long suspected the hype around the Jazz to be overstated. Mitchell is undoubtedly a budding superstar, but the lack of capable shot creators around him make it tough for the Utah to excel consistently on that end. Make no mistake, Ricky Rubio, Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles are all offensive threats in their own unique ways, but they are unable to reliably go and grab a bucket when the defense really digs their heels in. They seem to be a team that would benefit in moving some of their assets for a scoring wing, but history suggests that general manager Dennis Lindsay is unlikely to make that sort of move. Because of that, I can see them middling out in a lower playoff seed.

Ward: Utah is a top team in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, they are not playing well at home, but have recorded wins against Golden State and the Boston Celtics. They are playing inconsistently, losing as many as four straight but winning as many as three straight resulting in an 8-8 record, a .500 ball club. Things could be much worse, I think it’s too early to tell but if I am the Utah Jazz I am not panicking. They play quality basketball and should feel confident in saying that our struggles are temporary. They are growing as a unit.

 

Courtesy of Jackson Frank: Thinking back on your time as a fan of the game, which player best rewarded your long-standing faith in their abilities, despite the masses jumping off at various points? (Which player were you most right about?)

Ward: Tracy McGrady. One of my all-time favorite players. Most people criticized him since his early days in Toronto. He put the world on notice in Orlando and continued to thrive throughout his career.

Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Frank: Hey, I know that guy! This one was tough for me to answer when I first presented the question, but I came around and landed on Kemba Walker. I remember falling in love with his game when he lit up the 2010 Maui Invitational and tracking his electric year at UCONN, leading the Huskies to the title. Shortly after they won, I bought his No. 15 UCONN jersey and still wear it to this day (it was big back then, to say the least). When he was drafted to the Bobcats, I played with him nonstop in 2K. Maybe most of my faith in him was due to an emotional attachment but I always figured he would right the ship and become a dynamic scorer, even during his putrid volume chucking seasons.

Sulewski: Definitely Kemba Walker. We went to UConn together so that shared Husky history has led me to watch his career in the League closely over the past seven years. After winning an NCAA championship for Connecticut  in 2011, he wasn’t underrated by any means. But when he got chosen by Charlotte as the ninth pick, I knew it would be a long road ahead for him. With the former Bobcats (now Hornets) not being a winning franchise all these years, it has gotten Kemba overlooked and underappreciated. He’s frequently snubbed in lists he should be on and only a recent two-time All-Star with Charlotte finishing 36-46 the last two years, receiving almost no national broadcasts. He’s continued to play with an explosiveness and energy that would make him a force on any playoff contending team in the East. Kemba got attention this weekend when he set this season’s single game scoring high with a powerful performance at home of 60 points against Butler’s new Sixers. To put it in perspective, the next closest player was Jeremy Lamb with 20. Irony is a cruel mistress though—despite scoring only 15 in Saturday’s win against Charlotte, Butler scored the game winning shot in the final seconds of OT in a clutch play that overshadowed Walker’s record. Now there’s talk that Michael Jordan is committed to rebuilding Charlotte around Kemba and rewarding his persistence with a max contract as his current four-year deal wraps. Walker can go anywhere else and help a team with other vets make the playoffs easily. After this most recent performance, and as a prominent free agent in 2019, other teams should make serious moves to sway his loyalty.

Rahming: For me, it’s got to be my favorite player Mike Miller. This man truly exemplified what it meant to be a member of the Miami Heat. He was as professional as they come, never bring outside drama to the team. I remember watching him go from the pregame huddle to his spot on the floor next to the bench to lay down due to his back issues. He would wait for head coach Erik Spoelstra to call his number. Once he was on the court, he never looked hobbled. His shooting form was perfect, and it seemed like he never missed. Every time he shot, it was if he was transported back in time to a healthier point in his life. Remember the Miami Heat’s 2012 championship against the choking Oklahoma City team?  I know LeBron James won the Finals MVP that season, but in my heart, I gave the award to Miller, who really put the team on his back in Game 5 with 23 points off 7-8 shooting from deep. When the teams needed a three, they called him. Coming in cold and hitting shots, no problem. Getting switched onto offensive juggernauts like Kevin Durant, no problem. Hitting threes with no shoes, no problem. I am well aware he won’t appear in any greatest player lists, but even when the team used the amnesty provision (a very cold-blooded move by Pat Riley) on him, my fandom remained. I knew his time on the court was soon coming to an end, but he was still my favorite player.

Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Paynting: I have proudly owned real estate on Victor Oladipo island since the moment he was drafted. Even when he failed in Orlando and struggled to mesh with Russell Westbrook for Oklahoma City, my confidence never wavered in his ability to become a very useful NBA player. I was always very fond of his blend of attacking ability and defensive intensity, even when it was as prominent as it is now. Did I know he would eventually become an All-NBA and All-Defense level player? No. Not at all. However, i will reap every reward for choosing to live, and flourish, on the Oladipo hill.

Oringher: I’ve always been a Zach LaVine proponent. Still doesn’t play a ton of defense or make his teammates much better, but that kid is a freak, absurdly skilled and athletic and his game has improved leaps and bounds. He’s still not in the right situation playing on an awful Bulls team with an allergic-to-defense Jabari Parker, but I see his scoring as a bit of a validation in terms of his potential. When CJ McCollum was in the draft I thought he had a lot of Lillard in him, and I thought Devin Booker was pretty close to Klay Thompson. I don’t know if any of those guys really had the masses jumping off. I guess I’ve always been a big Nikola Mirotic fan so it’s nice to see him find a great fit in New Orleans.