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Offseason Blueprint: The Detroit Pistons are an NBA basketball team. Hopefully, they can remind fans of that in the next few years.
The playoffs continue to rage on, but there are 26 teams sitting at home with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs, watch the Conference Finals, and wait for next season to start. For their sake, we wanted to look ahead with the next edition of the OFFSEASON BLUEPRINT series. In each, we'll preview some big decisions and make some recommendations for plans of attack along the way. Today, we're looking at the Detroit Pistons. step one: weave a new narrative Some teams are good, some teams are bad -- but almost all of them have a general direction. Are you a young team on the rise? Or a veteran team trying to squeeze out as many wins as possible? Right now, the Detroit Pistons are in a wonky grey area. They're missing an identity. When they tried to make the playoffs, they were fairly mediocre (records of 37-45, 39-43, 41-41). When injuries hit this past season, they plummeted down to 20-46. While that generally suggests a young and rebuilding team, the roster doesn't reflect that yet. Their marquee players are Blake Griffin (age 31) and Derrick Rose (age 31.) They also have a veteran coach in Dwane Casey who's more accustomed to competing than rebuilding. All in all, they feel like a confused, forgotten franchise. Fortunately, there's a new sheriff in town. The team hired a new GM in Troy Weaver, who had been Sam Presti's right-hand man in Oklahoma City. Weaver's been on the verge of a GM job for several years now, and his hire represents something of a coup for this embattled organization. Going forward, the franchise needs to hold the keys over to Weaver and allow him free reign to do whatever he wants. Back in OKC, he had experience with a variety of makeups: with a rebuilding team, with a contending team, with a rebuilding-wait-whoops-we're-accidentally-pretty-darn-good team. It's up to him to look at this roster and this payroll and determine the best path forward from here. step two: hold a garage sale for your old homeowner's property Presumably, Troy Weaver will treat this project as more of a teardown than a remodel. Mainstay center Andre Drummond is already out of the door, and the other veterans may join him on the bus out of Detroit. Unfortunately, that may be easier said than done. It makes a lot of sense to trade star PF Blake Griffin to a veteran team, but his injuries and his contract ($37M + $39M player option) would make that difficult from a logistical perspective. There's a chance that a desperate team may be willing to roll the dice on Griffin. Throughout his career, he's been one of the more misunderstood players in the league. People want to treat him as an athlete-dunker only, but he's actually a skilled ballhandler and passer. In his last healthy season in 2018-19, he averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists, and even showcased an improved three-point shot (36.2% on 7.0 attempts per game.) If healthy, he'd be a major difference maker to a team like Portland. Still, teams aren't going to give up major assets for Blake Griffin until he proves that he is healthy. From Detroit's perspective, it makes more sense to wait to trade him. They need him to come back, put up some good stats, and then float him in offers. Right now, you'd be trading Griffin for 20 cents on the dollar. In contrast, Derrick Rose's stock may be at a high. He put up good raw numbers this year (18.1 points, 5.6 assists), and he's on a reasonable $7.5M expiring contract. He'd be a positive addition to a playoff team, best served as a Sixth Man scorer. The Pistons and their fans like Rose (and he likes playing here), but it'd be irresponsible for them to not consider trade options. If they get any decent offers, they have to pull the trigger. If the offers are weak -- R2 picks or so -- then the team can keep him around as a veteran leader and placeholder starter. step three: don't let your breakout break out As bad as the Pistons were, they had a few bright spots. Derrick Rose played better than expected. Luke Kennard looks on track to be a rising starter. And, most surprising of all, rando Christian Wood broke out as a legitimate NBA player. As a starter, Wood averaged 21.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Wood is a springy, energetic player who also has an improving range (40% from three as a starter.) You can read a longer deep dive about Christian Wood here, but to sum it up. A) His production looks legitimate, as he's been putting up numbers in virtually every stop as a pro. But B) His breakout may be poorly timed for the Pistons, because he's slated for free agency and about to get more expensive. He's a 24 year old whose best days should be ahead of him. Based purely on his stats and scouting profile, you could talk yourself into a contract closing in on $15M a year for Wood. However, players with his "pedigree" (undrafted, limited sample size) rarely get that type of contract right away. To me, paying him somewhere in the range of 3 years, $36M would be a fair deal on both sides. There's too much uncertainty to justify much more of a commitment. Of course, the Pistons should know better than any of us whether to trust Wood. Prior to this year, he had a mixed reputation in terms of his basketball IQ and work habits. If Coach Casey can sign off on Wood's character, then the team can feel more comfortable with him as a building block. If there are still red flags, perhaps it's better not to get too attached. The Pistons have more cap room than most teams this offseason, so the money shouldn't be a major deterrent to this decision. It should be entirely about Wood as a person and a player. If you believe that he's the real deal, then you keep him around. step four: find your next field general Christian Wood is a solid young player -- Luke Kennard is a solid young player -- but these aren't franchise players. They're secondary scorers and members of a supporting cast. To truly advance to the promised land, the Detroit Pistons are going to need to find transcendent talent, somehow and some way. Unfortunately, the NBA Draft Lottery didn't help. The Pistons slipped down from the # 5 slot to the # 7 pick, making it unlikely that they'll land a future star. On the bright side, the "supply and demand" may be on their side. This draft class happens to be heavy with point guards. There's LaMelo Ball (the # 1 prospect on ESPN), Killian Hayes (the # 1 prospect on The Ringer), and Tyrese Haliburton (one of the safer picks in the class.) If any of them slip down to # 7, the Pistons should strongly consider them. It usually takes a point guard a year or two to find their footing, but they can sit behind Derrick Rose for a year and then get unleashed in 2021. From a personality standpoint, Rose isn't going to mentor and educate like Aristotle, but he's capable of soaking up 25 minutes and allowing the next PG some time to develop. If those top guards are not available (and they are unlikely to be), the Pistons may have to take some chances. One name I'm intrigued by is R.J. Hampton. On face value, that'd be a "reach." Like LaMelo Ball, Hampton was a top high school prospect who went off to play in the Australian league. Unlike Ball, his NBA stock suffered as a result. While Ball put up numbers (17-8-7), Hampton put up weak stats -- 8.8 points, 2.4 assists on 41-30-68 shooting splits. As a result, Ball is now locked into top 3 pick status, and Hampton is seeing his name ranked around the 10-20 range in mock drafts. However, I'd defend Hampton to some degree. We have to consider the context here. LaMelo Ball joined a struggling team called Illawarra. With Ball, the team went 3-9 (and finished 5-23.) When you're playing on a bad team like that, you can be the "star" and jack up as many shots as you want. In contrast, Hampton joined the New Zealand Breakers, a better team that relegated him to 20.6 minutes a night and a more limited role. His raw stats may not do him justice. No doubt, Hampton has a long way to go, especially as a shooter. At the same time, he's a big lead guard (6'4" with a 6'7" wingspan) who flashes a lot of explosive scoring ability when he's getting downhill to the hoop. He's also a smart kid and allegedly a good worker. There's some legitimate "star" potential here, even if it's a narrow bull's eye. Hampton doesn't have the same athleticism as Russell Westbrook (hardly anyone does) but maybe there's a parallel here. After all, Weaver and OKC selected Westbrook after he'd been a little under the radar after playing off the ball at UCLA. To be clear, I'm not urging Detroit to take R.J. Hampton at # 7. I'm not endorsing him as a future star like Westbrook. I don't know enough to do that; I don't sit around and splice up tape of New Zealand basketball. Still, the point is, the Pistons should be looking at upside players in that vein, knowing that they're going to need to hit a home run in the future. step five: keep one hand on the detonator The Detroit Pistons only have $68M committed on the books for next season, which means they could be players in free agency even if they re-sign Christian Wood. If the team decided to go "all in" in a desperate attempt to compete, then you could maybe talk yourself into retaining Blake Griffin, handing out a big contract for Fred VanVleet, and shooting for the playoffs. That may work. But to what end...? The 7th seed? The 8th seed? Is that the end goal here? More realistically, the team should (as discussed) try to get Blake Griffin back and fully healthy in order to showcase him for a trade. After that, they'd then dive into a full rebuild. Presuming that's going to be the ultimate destination, then the Pistons may as well get a jump on that with free agency. With their remaining cap space, they can take on a toxic asset that comes attached with future picks, or take some fliers on young and promising players. Among my favorite gamblers of this offseason may include PG Kris Dunn (CHI), SG Denzel Valentine (CHI), SF Josh Jackson (MEM), and C Harry Giles (SAC.) None of them should draw huge money offers, making them reasonable purchases and lottery tickets. If the Pistons end up blowing it up, then they should play their younger players over the course of the season. That should mean a lot of Sekou Doumbouya (entering Year 2) and even some Thon Maker (entering Year 42). If that means you only win 25-30 games, that's all right. It'll only help your odds for next year's lottery. I've mentioned this before with some potential tankers (CLE, CHA, etc), but next year's draft could be quite strong. The group is headlined by point forward Cade Cunningham (heading to Oklahoma State) and scoring swingman Jalen Green (heading to the G-League), but there are about 4-5 other players who have the potential to join the # 1 pick conversation in time. The Detroit Pistons aren't likely to be bad enough to get a top 3 pick on their own, but the flattened lottery odds make it possible for the 7th or 8th worst team to leapfrog into that territory. Of course, before Weaver and the Pistons officially press the detonator and go into full-blown rebuild/tank mode, they need to have a heart to heart with Coach Casey. He's 63 years old already, and entering the third year of a five-year deal. Is he going to embrace the rebuild? Is he going to be the scapegoat if they rack up losses? They need to get on the same page, out of fairness to Casey and out of fairness to this franchise. A reasonable solution would be to promise Casey that, if he does tank like a good soldier, he'll still be retained for next season. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will chrome. previous offseason blueprints ATL, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, IND, GS, LAC, MIL, MIN, NYK, POR, SA, SAC, UTA
Source: https://www.bungie.net/en/News/Article/49527 On this day, six years ago, players all over the world began a grand adventure. Since then, over 167 million Guardians have joined our ranks and championed the Light for over 8.6 billion hours. During that time, this community has answered the call time and time again, raising over $8.5 million for Little Lights and worthy causes all over the world. So, when it comes to defending humanity, whether you’re in the 31% that smash, the 31% that love space magic, or the 38% that make cloaks look good, we’re humbled that you have chosen to make the Tower your home. And now, as we stand at the precipice of a new era, ready to step beyond the Light, we should at least have some cake first. So, let’s light the candles and celebrate with the friends we’ve made in this truly incredible community. From the Farm to the Moon, it’s been a wild ride and we’re incredibly proud to have you at our sides for all of it. Here’s to the future – happy birthday, Destiny. Keep reading for a few birthday surprises to help you join the celebration as well as a couple of updates on new ways to play our favorite game.
Destiny Birthday Cake
Infinite cake technology still eludes us, but Victoria Rosenthal is getting closer! Not one to slow down after knocking it out of the park with the official Destiny cookbook, she’s here to share her “Infinite Forest” Chocolate Cake with all of us. Find all the instructions you’ll need to transmat yours below. Image Linkimgur Difficulty: Hard Prep Time: 24 hours Cook Time: 2 hours Servings: 1 cake Dietary Notes: Dairy Cherry Filling Ingredients: ¾ pound cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted and cut in half 2 tbsp water 3 tbsp honey ¼ cup sugar Image Linkimgur
The night before, combine cherries, water, honey, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes (if using frozen cherries, simmer for about 45 minutes). Cook until the liquid has reduced by ¼. Place the mixture in a bowl, cover, and allow to rest in the refrigerator overnight. Cake Ingredients: ¾ cup cocoa powder ⅓ cup cherry fruit spread ¾ cup hot water 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 1 ½ cups sugar 2 eggs, room temperature 1 tbsp vanilla extract ¾ cup sour cream Image Linkimgur Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together cocoa powder, cherry fruit spread, and hot water in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Image Linkimgur Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla extract. Add the cocoa powder mixture. Image Linkimgur Mix in half of the flour until it just comes together. Mix in the sour cream. Add the remainder of the flour and mix until fully combined. Image Linkimgur Spray two 9-inch baking pans with nonstick spray. Split the batter between the two pans and place in the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Remove the cakes from the baking pans and allow to cool completely. Frosting Ingredients: 1 ½ cups butter, room temperature 16 oz cream cheese, room temperature ½ tbsp vanilla extract ¼ cup maraschino cherry liqueur 4 cups confectioners’ sugar Image Linkimgur Place the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl and mix together. Add the vanilla extract and maraschino cherry liqueur. Once mixed together, begin to slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Whisk until the frosting thickens. Additional Ingredients: Fresh cherries to top, optional Image Linkimgur To assemble the cake, make sure both cake layers are level. Place the bottom layer on a plate and top with a portion of the frosting. Add the cherry filling in the center, spreading it close to the edge but not completely. Cover the filling with additional frosting. Top with the other layer of cake. Top with the remaining frosting. Decorate with fresh cherries on top. Image Linkimgur Image Linkimgur
A new poster inspired by some of Destiny’s most beloved characters went live on the Bungie Store today (US/EU), but if you can’t wait for shipping to get it to you, here’s a glorious digital HD preview. Image Linkimgur
Starting on September 22, both Forsaken and Shadowkeep are coming to Xbox Game Pass! That makes this the perfect time to binge the story before it’s time to get your passport stamped and head off to Europa.
Beyond Light Stasis Deep Dives
Last week, we began unveiling details around the three new Stasis subclasses in Beyond Light. Starting with the Warlock Shadebinder, we followed that up with the Titan Behemoth. The final deep dive focusing on the Hunter Revenant went live yesterday. They're a fantastic read if we do say so ourselves and (much like a fireteam) function as three pieces of a whole. So, in case you missed any, you can find them here: Warlock Shadebinder Image Linkimgur Titan Behemoth Image Linkimgur Hunter Revenant [[[data-content-id='49519' data-template-type='Inline' ]] Now let’s blow out these candles, get our coats, and dance with the Darkness.
Offseason Blueprint: it’s time for the young/Young Atlanta Hawks to leave the nest and take flight
The playoffs continue to rage on, but there are 26 teams sitting at home with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs, have nightmares about getting blocked by Bam, and wait for next season to start. For their sake, we wanted to look ahead with the next edition of the OFFSEASON BLUEPRINT series. In each, we'll preview some big decisions and make some recommendations for plans of attack along the way. Today, we're looking at the Atlanta Hawks. step one: grow up and play D, because you can’t be forever young Two summers ago, the Atlanta Hawks hired coach Lloyd Pierce on the basis of his defensive reputation. So far, that hasn't translated to the court. Last season, the Hawks ranked 27th in defensive rating. After a year in the system to improve their habits and chemistry, that ranking jumped all the way up to... 27th. What's wrong here? A few factors, of course. The one that gets the most attention and the most blame would be the deficiencies of Trae Young. His lack of length and athleticism will always be a problem, but it shouldn't be this bad. ESPN RPM ranks his defensive impact as a -6.2 per 100 possessions, which ranks 520th out of all 520 qualifiers in the NBA. According to that metric, his defense is even worse than Isaiah Thomas (at age 31.) Isaiah Thomas may be a helpful comparison though, because he does illustrate that one bad defender shouldn't be able to sink a team on his own. In IT's great season in Boston, his individual defense was poor, but the Celtics ranked in the top 5 in defense overall. Clearly, some teams are able to overcome liabilities like that. The Hawks may have to consider hiding Trae Young on defense like he's in the witness protection program. Other lead guards like Allen Iverson defended off the ball often, which is an approach that worked for his team defenses in Philadelphia and Denver. So what else is wrong here? The second major factor would be a matter of youth. Yes, we have a "Young" and a "young" problem here. Inexperienced players tend to be bad defensively, and the Hawks were one of the youngest teams in the league. Their top 5 players in minutes played (Young, De'Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, John Collins) were all in their age-22 season or younger. There are some college rosters older than that starting five. That aspect should improve in time, especially because some of those young players like Hunter and Reddish project as good defenders. Although it may sound counterintuitive, another issue with the defense is the offense. The Hawks play fast (top 5 in the NBA in pace), and shoot a bunch of threes (top 10 in three point attempts.) The problem is: they don't make a lot of those threes. As a team, the Hawks shot 33.3% from three, dead last in the NBA. These issues naturally affect their defense. The Hawks are playing fast and missing threes, which tends to lead to transition baskets for their opponents before the Hawks can get back and get set. If the Hawks improve their offense, then their defense should improve by proxy. To do that, they may have to slow down their pace to some degree. Modern teams love to run and gun, but if you're not very good, you're only giving your opponents extra possessions to allow their talent to win out. The fourth potential issue is a matter of coaching. As mentioned, Lloyd Pierce had a good reputation as an assistant coming over to Atlanta, but we haven't seen that manifest so far. It's a tough job assignment coaching up a young team, but it's a talented group of players. If we don't see tangible improvement in Year 3, then I would presume it's time to fire Pierce and look for another answer. There are a lot of good coaches on the market right now, so Pierce needs to step up his game to avoid getting replaced. Rebuilding teams can afford to be patient, but they can't afford to give their coaches tenure. step two: use it before you lose it The 2020 free agent market is going to be quieter than an indoor mall during COVID quarantine. Hardly any teams have cap space... except for Atlanta. In fact, the Hawks have the most cap space in the entire NBA, committed to only $58M on the books for next year. This is going to be a bad free agent class, but that's okay. In a sense, the Hawks are like the best looking guy in a dive bar. There may be slim pickings, but at least he gets his pick of the litter. You don't want to throw your money away foolishly, but you don't want it to burn a hole in your pocket either. Eventually that cap space is going to dry up when you extend your young players, so this may be a great opportunity to "use it before you lose it." The first option should be to throw a big offer at restricted free agent Brandon Ingram. Ingram has great length for a wing player, and his scoring prowess would make for a -- wait, what was that? The Pelicans just matched my offer in mid sentence? Okay then, let's move on to our next options. I'd also consider making sizable offers to free agents Bogdan Bogdanovic and/or Jerami Grant. Bogdanovic is a skilled scorer who averaged 18-4-4 per 36 this past season, and has the potential to thrive as a secondary scorer or 6th man. At 27, he also fits the general timeline here. While Bogdanovic may not be the defensive stopper we're looking for, you can never have too many quality wings in today's NBA. Jerami Grant doesn't have the same shooting ability or skill set, but he's an energetic player and an impact defender. He's 26 now, and should retain his value for the next 3 years. Having Grant as a complementary starter or rotation player would help the team on and off the court; from what I understand, he's a hard worker and a team-first player. On the lower end, it wouldn't be a terrible idea to punch some lottery tickets and hope they pay off. Josh Jackson (former Suns bust) still has potential at age 23. Chicago SG/SF Denzel Valentine has an intriguing skill set. And fellow Bull Kris Dunn is one of the premier defenders at his position. Dunn would make for a great yin/yang backup to Trae Young. step three: have some faith in John the Baptist One of the reasons that the Atlanta Hawks' cap size will dwindle in the future is the potential extension for PF John Collins. A year or two ago, the team may have thought long and hard about whether or not to commit huge money to Collins. There were some indications that he was a "good stats / bad team" kind of player. He was a tweener who struggled on defense, and didn't stretch the floor reliably on offense. These days, it's harder to hate on Collins. The raw stats are as good as always (20-10 this year), but he's also playing a more desirable brand of basketball as well. He's worked to improve his range and shotmaking. His three-point shooting went up to 35% in year two, and swelled to 40% in year three. His FT% has also gone up each year, from 72% to 76% to 80%. You appreciate when a young player improves his game, as it indicates a lot more potential still in the tank (as he turns 23 next week.) Defense is becoming less of a concern for Collins as well. The trend towards smallball allows him to play about 50% of his minutes at center. In turn, that allows Coach Pierce some flexibility. Depending on the matchup, he can go with the traditional bigs like Clint Capela or Dewayne Dedmon, or he can play a smaller, more dynamic 5 in Collins. Collins will never be Kevin Garnett, but if he's at least average on defense, then he's a net positive player. Going forward, there's no immediate rush or urgency to extend Collins this offseason. The team will have matching rights next summer, so they can wait and see Collins "prove it" over a full regular season before committing to him. Still, if he's willing to sign a reasonable extension this offseason, the Hawks may be able to avoid the headache. Atlanta's a good situation for a young scorer like Collins, so the hope is that he'd be amenable to a reasonable deal that locks him up as part of this core. step four: remember you're playing the long game, not Tetris The Atlanta Hawks will have the # 6 pick in the draft, giving them the chance to add another young prospect to the team. We had been concerned about too much youth on this roster, but it's not worth giving up that pick for a veteran because we're not in "win now" mode yet. The team may as well keep collecting youngsters like they're pokemon. With that top pick, they should keep that mindset, and not fall victim to the desire to find the right "fit" (hence the Tetris analogy.) Best available player. That's a good philosophy when you're drafting in the top 10 regardless, but it applies to this team more than most. The team needs to get a lot better, but there are no glaring issues in terms of positions or rotations. Trae Young will have PG on lockdown. Kevin Huerter will have a role as a wing. Better still, Cam Reddish and De'Andre Hunter are the types of BIG wings that can fit across several positions. The frontcourt should be fine as well between John Collins and Clint Capela. Given that, almost any position would be fine for the Hawks to select. At PG, the top prospects (according to ESPN) are LaMelo Ball (N.Z.) and Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State). Both players would be fine picks for the team, because both have the size and length to guard 1s or 2s and can play alongside Trae Young in that regard. Offensively, LaMelo and Trae may fight for the ball, but both have dynamic scoring potential that would make a tag-team dangerous. Haliburton would be an even easier fit, as he's had experience playing off the ball. At SG/SF, the top prospect is Anthony Edwards (Georgia), who is likely to be off the board. I'm also a fan of Devin Vassell (Florida State), who projects as a good 3+D player that could soak up minutes at SG and SF for this team. He's one of the safer prospects in the class to me. I also like Deni Avdija (Israel), a ball moving forward with the size to play either SF or PF. The hardest debate may be whether to select a big man that falls to them, be it James Wiseman (Memphis) or Onyeka Okongwu (USC). After acquiring Clint Capela (and potentially ponying up for a John Collins extension), the team may not want to invest much more into the position. Still, I'd hold firm to my "best player available" idea. Wiseman and Okongwu have major potential as defenders, which has been a problem area as discussed. It could be worth bringing them in and seeing how they develop. If they turn out to be the real deal, then it's perfectly fine to trade Capela or even Collins after the fact. I'd have a harder time justifying the selection of two other top prospects: Killian Hayes (France) feels like too much of a pure point guard to me, and Obi Toppin feels like too much of a duplication to John Collins. Still, we've discussed 7 prospects that I've already given the "greenlight" to draft, which means at least 2 of those should be available when the Hawks are on the clock. step five: give the kids some big brothers We've harped a lot on the youth of this team already. Usually, that's seen as a positive. Rebuilding teams are supposed to be young, right? Sure. But there's some danger there of going overboard. If you're too young, and too inexperienced, then it's hard for the young pups to learn from those around them. It's hard to hold them accountable if there's no one else around to play their minutes. We can't have the blind leading the blind here. Oftentimes, teams try to solve this issue by adding older veteran mentors to the locker room. The Hawks found the MOST veteran of them all by adding Vince Carter (age 43.) In theory, that's exactly what we're talking about. Wise old sages like Carter can help the kids grow up and learn to be professionals. Still, I'm not sure that's enough. As respected as an old vet like Vince Carter may be, there's only so much influence he can have on a team if he's not playing. There's only so much influence he can have on a kid's habits if they're not in the same peer group. It's unlikely that 20-21 year olds are hanging out with guys in their mid to late 30s. They're in different stages in life, and probably have different interests and lifestyles. Given that, I believe there should be more of a priority placed on "big brother" teammates in addition to older mentors. What do I mean by big brothers? I mean veterans who have good work ethic and character, but aren't over the hill. Young vets (ages 25-27 or so) who can still contribute on the court, and can still act as friends and peers to the kids. True role models. Consider this: who influenced your behavior more in high school: Your teachers? Or your friends? We need friends / big brothers that will spend more time with our kids, and teach them through osmosis if not outright lectures. Consciously or not, the Memphis Grizzlies showed the value of this principle with their current season. They surrounded their rookies and sophomores with "big brother" vets like Tyus Jones (age 24) and Kyle Anderson (age 26.) Those guys happen to be high-IQ players and high-character teammates, but they're still young and good enough to play 20+ minutes a night. When you're checking all those boxes, you can influence the young players on your roster more effectively than the salty old dog who's basically an assistant coach. It's hard for me to give recommendations for "big brothers" because I don't know these players behind the scenes outside of public reputation, but the idea would be to add smart, hard-working veterans in that 25-27 age range. We want vets who play unselfishly on offense, and play hard and disciplined on defense. Even if they're not great, they can help instill good habits with the team, on and off the court. previous offseason blueprints CHA, CHI, CLE, IND, GS, MIL, MIN, NYK, POR, SA, SAC, UTA
In a nutshell: 30 y/o, Miami Heat SF/PF, 6-7, 230lb, All-NBA Candidate 2020 regular-season stats: 19.9/6.7/6.0/1.8/0.6 with 2.2 TOVs on 45.5/24.4/83.4 shooting splits (58.5 TS%), 58 games played 2020 postseason stats: 22.0/4.7/4.0/2.5/0.8 with 3.3 TOVs on 46.8/54.5/85.7 shooting splits (63.0 TS%), 6 games played Nerd stats:25.1% Usage, +6.4 On/Off, +3.54 PIPM (16th) , +6.1 RAPTOR (10th) , +4.1 BPM (Backpicks) (13th) , +5.4 BPM (BBRef) (9th) , +3.08 RPM (23rd) , +2.21 Luck-Adjusted RAPM (12th)
🟢 The Good:
🟢 Efficient volume-scorer; "Jimmy G. Buckets, The 'G' stands for 'Gets'": 21.6 Points/75 on 58.5 TS% (+2.0 rTS%) in the regular-season, 23.8 Points/75 on 63.0 TS% (+5.7 rTS%) in the playoffs thus far
Butler finished the regular-season as Miami's leading scorer. He's highly resourceful at racking up points, utilising strength, speed, craft, handles, and deft touch in the paint to compensate for a jumper that deserts him on occasion. Per Basketball Index, Butler is in the 95th-percentile at off-ball movement and finishing among wings, and in the 93rd percentile for post-scoring. Jimmy Buckets's scoring-breakdown by zone in the 2019-20 regular-season:(per stats.nba.com)
38% of his shot attempts come in the restricted area, where he's finishing at an above-average rate for forwards (64 FG%)
24% of his shot attempts come in the non-restricted area of the paint (a.k.a. "floater range"), where he's also scoring at above-average rate (43.4 FG%)
22% of his shot attempts come from the midrange, where he's unfortunately shot at the 2nd-worst rate in the league (31.7 FG%)
16% of his shot attempts come from 3, where he's shooting at the worst rate in the league (24.8 FG%)
Jimmy uses his strength/speed/footwork combination to bulldoze or finesse his way to the rim and finish through contact, capable of athletic finishes through multiple defenders. When in the post/paint, Jimmy utilises hesitation moves and jab steps effectively, has an effective handle, excellent at keeping defenders on his hips before exploding forward and finishing either at the rim or a bit further out, with a nice little floater off two feet to finish over shotblockers. Butler is also highly physical, using his body to create space - he dips his shoulders on drives, throwing his momentum into his defender's body; he doesn't lack craft, however, using ball fakes and spins a lot (he even throws a spin-fake in there sometimes!). To quote the great Evin Gualberto:
(Butler's) foundation is his phenomenal footwork. He’s got the poise and patience to pivot and pump, and twist, and then rip through and power to the paint. He can use his force or finish with finesse; he’ll go any way he needs in order to get to the basket, whether that’s under the defender, over, around, or even through them. He’s got the ability to hit from distance, his post game is pretty with the pristine pivoting he does, but he can also go full bully ball. Speaking of, he’s an absolute bull when he wants to get to the rim. He can score any kind of way, so as a defense, all you have to do is make him take the toughest shot possible…the only problem is, yeah, he can make those with worryingly regularity as well. He is Jimmy G Buckets after all, the G stands for gets.
In previous years, Jimmy has been a decent 3-point-shooter (36 3P% in the previous 3 seasons, on 3.2 3PA/game) and has generally shot in the high 30s from midrange, which isn't fantastic but is still a value-add to his versatility as a scorer. In the playoffs thus far, however, Butler has been money on his jumpshots, connecting on over half his threes (though on low volume - 1.8 3PA/game) and 42% of his midrange shots (again, low volume - 12 midrange attempts) so far. As an overall scorer, Jimmy is:
A hyper-competent and -active cutter (8% of his possessions, 97th percentile efficiency)
Fantastic in transition (12% of his possessions, 92nd percentile efficiency)
A competent post-operator (7% of his possessions, 80th percentile efficiency)
A passable PnR finisher (36% of his possessions, 56th percentile efficiency)
Solid in isolation situations, likely buoyed by his very good rim-finishing (10% of his possessions, 68th percentile)
Below-average scoring from spot-up scenerios and handoffs
Despite his jumpshot having deserted him in the regular season, Jimmy ekes out efficient scoring options via drawing fouls and very solid rim-finishing in transition, isolation, and by cutting often and decisively. To quote Zach Lowe:
(Butler) can blend into a broader offensive system as a shoulder-checking cutter, and supersede that system when the situation requires.
Accordingly, 41% of Butler's buckets are assisted, a very solid rate for a primary ball-handler who had a non-existent jumpshot during the regular-season, that showcases his off-ball activity as a ferocious cutter.
🟢 Free-throw rate that would make Shaq blush
Jimmy Butler's foul-drawing rate this season has been, to put it mildly, something of an outlier. Butler is 29th in the NBA in Points/game (19.9), but 5th in the NBA in FTA/game (9.1), and just to emphasize how absurdly often Butler's been finding his way to the line relative to his total shot attempts, here's a fun little table comparing Butler's FTA/game and Points/Game to the league's other elite free-throw-attempters: [TABLE]. To try and add even more context, Free Throw Rate (FTr) is a very simple statistic that gives the ratio of free-throw attempts to field-goal attempts. Just to ballpark the sort of numbers we expect from high-volume free-throw shooters: famed foul-shot-aficionado James Harden's FTr this season is 0.528, meaning that he averages 0.528 free-throw attempts for every field-goal that he takes. (The Beard's career-high was 0.592, set in 2013.) Paint-destroyer Giannis Antetokounmpo has a FTr of 0.508 this year, and low-post monster Joel Embiid has a FTr of 0.543. A pretty dominant fella who went by the name of Shaquille had a career-average FTr of 0.578, averaging an incredible 0.653 in a 5-year span from 2001 to 2005. Now, keeping all of this in mind ... Miami Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler's Free-Throw Rate, in the 2019-20 season, is0.693. (If you're wondering, Butler has more than managed to maintain this in the playoffs too -- after 6 games, Jimmy is 2nd in the entire playoffs in Free-Throw Rate, posting a ludicrous 0.810 FTr. Small sample size, obviously, but wow.)
🟢 Good playmaker
First, some numbers: 6.0 Assists/Game, 7.5 Passer Rating, 7.4 Box Creation. Miami have a fairly strong offense (+1.9 rORTG, 6th) which improves by +4.1 points with Butler on the court. Per Basketball Index, Jimmy is in the 91st percentile for playmaking among wings. For a few seasons now, Jimmy has been a very solid passer and playmaker. Mimicking another former well-known Chicago wing who went by the name of Michael, Jimmy is a low-turnover player (career 1.5 TOV/game; this season: 2.2 TOV/Game, excellent 2.73 AST/TOV ratio). He is a decisive and relatively low-error ball-handler and shot-creator, hitting bigs and shooters well off PnDHO-action. Butler manipulates defenders with his eyes to unlock shots for teammates, and is also adept at punishing help defenders who have to react to his bruising drives to the rim by kicking to shooters and dropping it off to cutters. He's developed especially good chemistry with Bam (25% of Butler's 6.0 AST/game go to Adebayo), Duncan Robinson (who receives 17% of Butler's assists), and rookie Kendrick Nunn (18%). Some clips of Jimmy's playmaking:(Source: stats.nba.com)
Jimmy at his peak is easily an all-league defensive talent, with tremendous instincts and effort on D, generally remaining incredibly active on that end both on- and off-the-ball. Miami's 12th-ranked defense (-1.0 rDRTG) improves by 1.0 points with Butler on the floor. Butler’s defensive awareness is top-tier, as is his lateral quickness - he's comfortable chasing speedy guards around the court; Jimmy is also uber-switchable for his size, guarding positions 1-4 at least 18% of the time each, and guarding centers for 10% of his possessions, when switched onto bigs in Miami small-ball lineups. Jimmy is in the 82nd percentile of post defenders, fantastic given his position, and players shoot a whopping 4.4% worse on 3s when Butler's the closest defender, demonstrating his defensive engagement and closeout-speed. Butler is a very physical defender as well, often "bodying-up" larger players the post, Marcus Smart-style, crowding their space and making scoring uncomfortable. To again quote Evin:
(Butler's) ability to stand up powerful post-up players, coupled with the quickness to stick with the shiftiest wings, and the instincts and IQ to know when to stay down and when to jump to contest, make him a dynamite defender... (he) frustrates opponents with foot speed and anticipating with active hands, he’ll blow up pick and rolls, or send his man one way only to remarkably beat him to that same spot. You’ll see jumping in passing lanes, but you’ll also just see him holding his ground a lot; in one, he even holds Melo off with one arm while grabbing the rebound with the other. His intelligence shines through when he avoids getting screened and when he forced ball handlers into help.
Butler is quite disruptive off-ball (7th in Deflections/Game, 7th in Steals/Game, 13th in Steal-%, 14th in loose-balls recovered/game), often jumping passing lanes or making crisp rotations to cut off offensive angles. He's also a plus-rebounder for his position, snagging almost seven boards a game; the Heat's defensive-rebound-% spikes by almost 3 percentage points with Butler on the court. He's generally very engaged on D, providing hard closeouts to shooters (players shoot almost 4.3% worse from 3 when Jimmy is the closest defender) and providing help when the primary Miami defender is beat. Along with Adebayo, Butler is one of the main reasons Miami's defense is still better than league-average even though many of their lineups prioritise shooting over defense (see: Robinson, Herro, Leonard, Olynyk). Most defensive metrics (taken with a spoonful or two of salt, of course) think of Butler as a very solid positive on defense (+1.0 to +2.0); Basketball Index has Jimmy as the 4th-best Wing Stopper at Passing Lane Defense, and ranks him in the 90th percentile of perimeter defenders in the league overall. It also has him in the 71st percentile as a defensive rebounder, and in the 47th percentile as an interior defender. Here are some clips of Jimmy's defense:
Namely: spot-up shooting, handoffs, and PnR scoring, all likely related to his regular-season shooting woes.
🔴 Some areas of playmaking
From my very limited film study (~15 games), Jimmy doesn't seem to try advanced passes often (though that might be a Miami Heat scheme-related issue), rarely slingshoting cross-court skip-passes to corner shooters like LeBron/Luka/Trae do (please correct me if I'm wrong, Heat fans!). He can occasionally miss cutters while hunting for the kickout pass for 3. Butler's delivery can sometimes be a bit wild or inaccurate as well.
🔴 Some areas of defense
Jimmy's activity does dial down on occasion. He also lacks size/strength/length to defend larger wings consistently, and his gambles can blow up on him at times too when he's springing passing lanes, with the player he's supposed to be guarding getting an open 3 or cutting to the rim as Butler isn't there to recover in time. Jimmy is also vulnerable to size at the rim - despite posting one of the best block rates in the league for a guard/forward, these are mostly on smaller players and he doesn't seem to influence shot attempts at the rim too much in general - opponents shoot almost 6% better within 6 feet of the hoop when Butler's the closest defender. It also appears that Butler's pick-and-roll defense may have some room for improvement as well (46th percentile in defending PnR ball-handlers), he may have trouble negotiating man and ball occasionally.
🔴 A fewregular-seasonclutch woes
Jimmy shot 45.1 TS% in the clutch this season, with a -10.4 individual clutch net rating, while Miami as a team were 24th in clutch net rating. However, the team still broke even in the wins column (18-18) and had a 14-10 clutch record when Butler played. In addition, I say "regular-season" for a reason (keep in mind the usual "low sample size" asterisk, of course): Miami have been the 4th-best clutch team in the playoffs by net rating, winning all 3 of their close games so far, while Jimmy himself is sporting a blistering hot 88.7 clutch TS% and +29.8 clutch net rating at the moment, with an absolutely scorching +137.5 clutch offensive rating.
🔴 Few durability questions
Jimmy G. Buckets (the 'G.' stands for 'Gets') has played >67 games only twice in his 9-year career. HOWEVER, he's been very available for the Heat this season, missing 'only' 11 games. Indeed, Butler played heavy minutes in his last playoff run for Philadelphia (38mpg in 2nd round) as well, performing admirably in a razor-close loss to the eventual champion Raptors in the 2nd round (22/7/6 on 56ts%, +1.0rTS%, vs Toronto), very nearly pulling through a Sixers team otherwise starved of late-game offensive-creation into the Conference Finals.
That's it for today, thanks for reading!
(P.S. Here's Butler's playoff career-high 40-point performance against Milwaukee in Game 1 for your viewing pleasure: LINK.) BONUS heres some other things I've written (if you're interested in this sort of stuff or just wanna pass the time while waiting for the games to begin)-
Fellow Command & Conquer fans, Today we’ll be launching our second major update for the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection. As I’ve been sharing with you over the past month via our Beta Patch updates, this Patch focuses on the following items:
Balance adjustments to address several key issues
Incorporating community maps as official Quickmatch maps
Dozens of QoL improvements and bug fixes across the board
Upcoming Quickmatch leaderboard reset
Below you will find the full list of Patch Notes for this update. Note: the Quickmatch changes will likely go into effect a few hours after the Patch goes live. But before we get too deep into the detailed list, let me provide context on each of the key items in this patch. LAN Play: As requested by the community over the course of the project, this update includes our official implementation of LAN Play. LAN Play allows players to enjoy Mod content in multiplayer, and should be an evergreen way to enjoy multiplayer far into the future. We did our best to test this feature amongst the Covid situation during development, along with attempting to get feedback from the community via Beta patches. But given the variety of ways people could play over VPN and with Mods, we expect there still to be some quirks in the system. Please continue to provide feedback so we can make any refinements going forward. Balance Adjustments: Over the past several weeks we’ve been collaborating with the community to tackle a few key balance items in the game. To see further context for these adjustments and read the full community discussion, please refer to my previous post here. Community Maps: A few weeks ago we announced the initiative of incorporating community made content into the actual game update so they can be officially utilized in Multiplayer and Quickmatch. We have decided to keep the first batch of Community maps as revealed, but have also made a few adjustments of the previous maps based on community feedback. The full details of these maps can be seen in the patch notes below. Quickmatch Leaderboard Reset: As mentioned in my previous post, we are getting ready to reset the Quickmatch ladder to get a fresh start on all these Quickmatch changes. This reset will likely happen in the next 48 hours if the patch launch here goes smoothly. In addition, one new feature of this patch is the ability to view the Leaderboard results of previous seasons (which should take a snapshot of the final results of this first season). However, on this note I wanted to address a key topic with the leaderboard. We’ve seen reports, evidence, and even people admitting about “boosting” their leaderboard rank with alternate accounts. We feel this breaks the ethics of the Quickmatch landscape and undermines the leaderboard system. Being part of the C&C community should be a positive and fair experience for all players. So here’s the deal, we’re going to give a pass on this previous season, but this behavior will not be acceptable after the leaderboard reset. I respectfully ask everyone to please engage in ethical play behavior going forward, and if you are not sure what that means, I think reading our Positive Play Charter is a good place to start. Mod Compatibility: I’ll then reiterate this message from our previous Patch Notes. Because this patch includes updates to the TiberianDawn.dll and RedAlert.dll files, it’s likely that some previous mods will no longer be compatible with this updated version of the game. Modders will need to update their mods with the latest code and refresh their mods on the Steam Workshop. Once a mod has been updated on the Steam Workshop, players will need to follow a few steps to update and reactivate their mods:
Disable the mod in the Mods Menu
Unsubscribe from the mod in the in-game Workshop Mods menu
Quit and restart the game
Re-subscribe to the mod via the Workshop Mods menu
Activate the mod and restart the game as prompted
The updated mod should then work as intended
Players may experience some issues if they try to activate mods which are not updated to the patch version. Detailed Patch Notes: With those items in mind, please see below for all the updates made in this patch: New Features:
LAN Play has been added to the game, including the ability to play LAN games with Mods enabled and over certain VPN networks. When browsing LAN games, the UI should display which Mods are required to join each game. LAN Play can be accessed directly from the Main Menu.
Added the ability to change the resource regeneration speed in Skirmish and Multiplayer games. This is now a slider in the Rules section of the game lobby (With value “1” being the legacy default)
Added a shortcut “Download” button to the Join Game and Lobby screens to quickly download a selected Custom Map by the host. This should make it much easier to grab Custom Maps and try them out. Along with this change, we are adjusting the lobby list so games with Custom Maps should appear alongside all other hosted games.
Added the following community maps into the official game:
"Elevation" (TD) by AchromicWhite & Lovehandles
“Quarry” (TD) by AchromicWhite & Lovehandles
"Heavy Metal" (TD) by FeRReT666 & Lovehandles
"Electric Avenue" (TD) by FeRReT666 & Lovehandles
"Canyon Pursuit" (TD) by AchromicWhite
"Tournament Arena" (RA) by [UF] freezy
“Tournament Ore Rift” (RA) by [UF] ^^ZxGanon^^
"(WHT) Canyon" (RA) by AchromicWhite & FeRReT666
Quality of Life Improvements:
Balance adjustment - In Tiberian Dawn the APC now has the Repair Facility as a pre-requisite to build, in order to help mitigate the early APC + Engineer rush
Balance adjustment - The GDI Weapons Factory health has been increased by 30%
Balance adjustment - The Naval structures have been removed the the victory condition
Balance adjustment - The Nod Cargo Plane delivery time has been normalized to 5 sec
Added the ability to Quickload with a Hotkey
Quicksaving should now work in Custom Missions and Skirmishes with Custom Maps
The USSR sub-faction price discount should now display properly in tooltips
Improved the Harvester logic so it will more reliably collect Gems in the adjacent cell
Added a flash back to the Nuke explosion in both games
The Stop and Guard hotkeys can now be held down
Made it so the “Insufficient Funds” dialog will no longer play if you’re not building anything
Increased the priority of the “MAD Tank Deploying” voice over so it can be immediately heard
Made a slight adjustment to how the enemy Airstrike targets in Nod Missions. The A10s should now focus on a single-target instead of splitting to multiple targets. This was a tough issue to track down and still looking for player feedback on how it feels in this new patch.
Harvesters should now properly respond to a docking queue and override if a manual docking command is given
Improved the readability of the text on the score screen in Tiberian Dawn
Updated the Radar visuals for when its being jammed by a Radar Jammer or Tesla Tank
Enabled the Hell March and Act on Instinct Achievements to be unlocked via the Main Menu Jukebox
Added a download window when subscribing Mods via the in-game Mods browser
Fixed an issue in Tiberian Dawn where aircraft could force fire into the shroud
Fixed an issue where the Transport Helicopter wouldn’t land if the spot was occupied
Fixed an issue where Custom Missions were not loading if the number of sub-folders were greater than the number of custom missions
Fixed an issue where the AI would sell the Temple of Nod in the final GDI mission and prevent the Ion Cannon ending
Fixed an issue where Civilians and Technicians were not being automatically targeted by player units
Fixed and issue where players could not see allied stealthed units, including Submarines and Stealth Tanks
Fixed an underlying issue which may have been causing units to be uncontrollable at the start of a Quickmatch game
Fixed an issue where the signal flare would stop animating after loading a saved game
Fixed an issue where the Aftermath mission “Brothers in Arms” was near impossible to beat on Hard difficulty due to increased speed of Attack Dogs
Fixed a legacy issue where turreted units would perceive their range differently depending on the unit’s facing, sometimes causing units to unnecessarily move into enemy range
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where several ital Red alert options were missing, such as MaxInfantry, MaxVessel, TechLevel, and IQ
Fixed a legacy exploit where units could get stuck in a building if constructed while a unit was pathing through the tile
Fixed a crash when trying to host a Custom Map game when there were subfolders in the custom map directories
Fixed an issue where the User Maps dialog screen was taking an incredibly long time to load previews
Fixed an issue where Harvesters would pause outside the Refinery before unloading upon receiving a docking command
Fixed an issue where enemy units would become invulnerable in Soviet Mission 12
Fixed an issue where a highlighter was seen when hovering over mission briefing text
Fixed an issue where sometimes infantry controlled by the AI wouldn’t play idle animations
Fixed an issue where replays weren’t generated if the AI won certain games
Fixed an issue where the Save Button was getting disabled upon dismissing the overwrite save confirmation pop-up
Fixed a typo in the description of Tiberian Dawn Bonus Gallery #047
Fixed an issue where Sarajevo East and Sarajevo Center were swapped on the map selection screen
Fixed an issue where Quicksaves were being overwritten between Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert
Fixed an issue where the Introduction video button was getting disabled at times
Fixed an issue where players were getting stuck in an error message when joining a full lobby game from the desktop
Fixed an issue where the Badajoz map was incorrectly listed as a Snow climate
Fixed an issue where the Sonar Pulse was only available for one time when infiltrating a Sub Pen with a Spy
Fixed an issue where the Harvester wouldn’t follow orders after being moved off a repair pad
Fixed an issue where aircraft were not getting destroyed once all player structures were destroyed
Fixed a crash when destroying Ant nests in the ant missions
Fixed an issue where Visceroids were dying immediately after spawning
Fixed an issue where Custom Mission Briefings were empty on the Load Game tab
Fixed an issue where the health bar would reveal hidden Submarines in legacy graphics mode
Fixed an issue where reinforcements wouldn’t arrive in Spec Ops mission M1 if the Commando was in a specific location
Fixed a subtitle typo of Mobius in the GDI Mission 12 briefing
Fixed a subtitle typo in the GDI Mission 8 briefing
Fixed an issue where the tech level was set too low in Funpark Mission 2
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where several scorch marks and craters were shown as large cells
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the default setting for Mission units was set to “Sleep”
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the default New Map creation was set to Cancel
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the bottom tile picker was unavailable
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the toolbox would go behind the Windows Taskbar
Fixed an issue where Mission Briefings were getting scrambled text display
Fixed an issue where the Spec Ops missions had inconsistent tech levels
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where Red Alert custom missions couldn’t use the @@ to force line breaks
Fixed an issue where the Chem Warrior was not available at build level 98
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where players couldn’t resize the bottom tile picker
Fixed an issue where the player name would occasionally show up as an AI player name in the player panel
Fixed a crash when sometimes using the Ion Cannon
Fixed an issue where the Player Panel would appear in single player custom missions
Fixed an issue where the voice over for the Repair Facility wasn’t triggering
Fixed an issue where enemy GDI Airstrikes were not disabled upon destroying the Communications Center in Nod Mission 13
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the internal length limits for team types and triggers were not being enforced
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where checkboxes were being re-ticked upon reloading the map
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor with the underlying Player settings
Fixed an issue where right-click on a wall would cause an exception error
Fixed an issue where the host couldn’t launch a match if all players had set their faction to Random
Fixed an incorrect description in the tooltip of Parabombs
Fixed a typo in AIPlayer1 in Observer mode
Fixed an incorrect description in the mission objective of “Don’t Drink the Water”
Fixed an issue where infantry were blocking the Ore Harvester from spawning
Fixed a crash when sometimes loading the next Nod campaign mission
Fixed an issue where the EVA dialog “Our base is under attack” was not playing for all allied players
Fixed an issue where a camera bookmark was moving one cell to the right
Fixed an issue where the Retry Mission dialog box was not appearing for Funpark Missions
Fixed an issue where the Retry Mission dialog box was not appearing for Custom Missions
Fixed a tile display issue on the Badajoz map
Fixed an issue where structure health bars were not showing in Yellow when they should be
Fixed an issue where the Spy was playing boxing animation frames when killed by Grenadiers
Fixed an issue where units were not getting repaired on the Service Depot in Soviet Mission 10
Fixed an issue where Submarines were not submerging after finishing an attack
Fixed an issue where the Nod briefing text was becoming corrupted after Alt-Tabbing
Fixed an issue where an enemy Medic would health the player infantry on certain missions
Fixed an issue where air units would disappear when flying too close to the top map border
Fixed a crash when sometimes opening the Options Menu
Fixed a crash when sometimes opening the Player Panel
Fixed an issue where the Sell and Repair sound FX were heard by other players
Fixed an issue where certain VFX were not showing up in Multiplayer games
Fixed an issue where the scroll bar in the Mods UI menu would pop back to the top
Fixed an issue where a faction icon wasn’t displayed in the replays tab when choosing Random
Fixed a crash when playing Aftermath mission “Harbor Reclamation”
Fixed a crash when using the Quicksave command in rapid succession
Fixed an issue with saved games from Custom Missions not appearing if they were the only save file present
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where some trigger values were seen as “0” after re-opening a saved map
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the active size of the map was not visible when dragging to resize the map boundaries
Fixed a typo in the final Nod Mission Briefing
Fixed an issue where the Custom map list was being improperly indented
Fixed an issue where infantry were automatically coming out of a Barracks without being purchased
Fixed an issue where the Civilians were not revealing the shroud
Fixed an issue where no music was being heard in GDI Mission 15
Fixed an issue where the incorrect starting units were displaying in the Replays / Observer menu for Quickmatch
Fixed an issue where the timer would disappear when loading a saved game on Allied Mission 10
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where tile P15 was not a complete terrain piece
Fixed an issue where no sound FX was playing when activating / deactivating the Radar Map
Fixed an issue where loading a Skirmish game would enable super weapons even if they had been disabled at game start
Fixed a crash when trying to host a Multiplayer game with a Custom Map
Fixed an issue where the “Primary Building Selected” voice over was not being heard in Tiberian Dawn
Fixed an issue where several Red Alert assets had incorrect spaces in their filenames
Fixed a crash when toggling Sell mode on certain missions
Fixed an issue in the Map Editor where the trigger editor had no buildings listed for the “Built it” event
Fixed an issue where the allied AI team members were not revealing shroud when attacking
Fixed a crash when multiple MiGs attack a target in Soviet Mission 12
Fixed or improved dozens of mismatched terrain tiles in a variety of multiplayer maps across both games
Increased the default resource regeneration rate to value 3 in the new slider
We are then making the following Map Pool adjustments based on community feedback:
Removing “Eye of the Storm” from the pool
Removing “Nowhere to Hide” from the pool
Removing “Tiberium Garden” from the pool
Removing “Four Corners” from the pool
Removing “Red Sands” from the pool
Adjusting “Monkey in the Middle” to be Top Left vs Bottom Right spawns only
Adjusting “One Pass Fits All” to be Top Left vs Bottom Left and Top Right vs. Bottom Right as the only viable spawns
Adding “Elevation” community map to the pool
Adding “Quarry” community map to the pool
Adding “Heavy Metal” community map to the pool (Opposite corner spawns only)
Adding “Electric Avenue” community map to the pool (Opposite location spawns only)
Adding “Canyon Pursuit” community map to the pool
Removing “Things to Come” from the pool
Removing “Shallow Grave” from the pool
Removing “Equal Opportunity” from the pool
Adjusting “Bullseye” to be Top Right vs Bottom Left spawns only
Adding “Path Beyond” to the pool with Top Left vs. Bottom Right spawns only
Adding “Tournament Arena” community map to the pool
Adding “Tournament Ore Rift” community map to the pool
Adding “Canyon (WHT)” community map to the pool
Thanks to everyone who contributed their feedback during our Beta Patch process, and we hope this update improves your experience with the Command & Conquer Remastered Collection. Thanks for your ongoing support, and please continue to provide your feedback here on the subreddit, in social channels, and with our support teams. Cheers, Jim Vessella Jimtern * Hi everyone, we’ve noticed some online stability and performance issues since we launched the patch yesterday. Specifically, the game is freezing during certain matches or suffering from slowdown / lag on large scale maps on large scale maps. Over the past 24 hours the team has worked to identify areas which may have been causing these issues, and we just deployed a server hotfix in an attempt to improve these items. We’re going to monitor the game throughout the weekend and see if this hotfix improves the stability and performance. If we feel good after the weekend, then we’ll plan for the ladder reset early next week. Thanks for your patience and ongoing support, and looking forward to hearing everyone’s experience over the weekend. *Hi everyone, we saw increased stability over the weekend and have officially reset the ladders as of Monday at 11:15 PDT. We're then continuing to investigate the input lag / framerate issue, but may have a lead thanks to some videos from the community. In the meantime, good luck in the new Season! This [announcement] [roadmap] may change as we listen to community feedback and continue developing and evolving our Live Service & Content. We will always strive to keep our community as informed as possible.
Should the Golden State Warriors gamble on a draft pick? Or cash in their chips for a proven player instead? A look at potential trade packages
Back in 1978, "The Gambler" Kenny Rogers gave all NBA general managers some sage advice. "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." Golden State decision makers Bob Myers and Steve Kerr are clearly fans of Rogers, because they acted quickly and decisively this season. As soon as they saw the writing on the wall that a playoff push wouldn't happen this year, they made sure to rack up as many losses as possible. As a result, they'll enter the offseason with a 15-50 record, in the catbird seat with the # 1 slot in the draft heading into the lottery. When a strong team winds up with a high pick like this, there's a natural reaction: this is the Spurs and Tim Duncan all over again!" Realistically speaking, that's not what's going to happen here. After 4 years in college, Tim Duncan came into the NBA as one of the most pro-ready prospects of our lifetime. As a rookie, he averaged 22-12 with 2.5 blocks and earned All-Star status right out of the gate. He even finished 5th in MVP voting (as a rookie!). Golden State shouldn't expect that. More realistically, you're looking at a top pick that could be an "average" player as a rookie, and hopefully work their way to All-Star status in year 3 or 4. The question for Golden State is: can they afford to wait that long? Steph Curry is 32. Klay Thompson is 30 and coming off a serious injury. Draymond Green is 30 and perhaps on a decline already. Given that, the Warriors have a choice to make. Should they utilize this top 5 pick as a way to supplement their playoff roster now, with the expectation that the prospect could develop into their next franchise player down the road? Or should they cash in their draft assets for a "win now" approach? In order to answer that question, let's take a look at more of the specifics.
What kind of package can they offer?
There's no way the Golden State Warriors will trade Steph Curry or Klay Thompson, especially given how well their skill sets should age over time. In theory, they could debate trading Draymond Green (still owed 4 more years) for younger legs, but I imagine he's too important to the franchise from a culture and historical standpoint. Other than that...? All bets are off. As we peek through the Warriors' cupboard for potential assets, here's what we find: THE LOTTERY PICK. Currently slated at # 1, there's only a 14% chance it stays there. That pick could land anywhere from 1-5, with 3 or 4 being the most likely outcome. While this isn't a very strong draft, there's inherent value to a top 5 pick. I would estimate that the top 3 is especially valuable this year, with three potential bluechip prospects emerging from the pack in SG Anthony Edwards (Georgia), C James Wiseman (Memphis), and PG LaMelo Ball (facebook). Minnesota's 2021 R1 pick. This had been included in the D'Angelo Russell deal. The pick is top 3 protected, but could still be a valuable asset. Under Ryan Saunders, the Timberwolves have gone 36-70 overall. With Karl-Anthony Towns and a full season of D'Angelo Russell (not to mention another top 5 pick), the Wolves may get closer to .500 range, but there's also a good chance the pick lands in the top 10 regardless. Andrew Wiggins. Sadly, Young Mr. Wiggins would be used mostly as contract filler at this stage. He's not a bad player, but he happens to be overpaid on his current contract. He'll get $29.5M next season, $31.5M the following year, and $33.5M in the final year. He'll need to take a massive step up in efficiency to be worth that type of money. Eric Paschall. The forward from Villanova had a solid rookie year, averaging 14.6 points and 4.6 rebounds. Realistically, there may not be a huge amount of upside left in the tank for the 23 year old, but the price makes him appealing. He's only due $1.5M next season and $1.8M the following year. Kevon Looney. The 2019-20 campaign was a lost season for Looney due to injury, but he's still a potential asset on his current contract ($4.8M + $5.2M player option.) When last healthy in 2018-19, he averaged about 12-10 per 36 minutes of action. He's one of the few "middle class" contracts on the books, so he's going to be a common throw-in to trades. Damion Lee. Steph Curry's brother-in-law is a personal favorite of mine. He's worked his way up through the G-League and 10-day contracts and proven to be a legitimate rotational player. The Warriors locked him up on a team-friendly contract ($1.7M + $1.9M) that makes him a positive asset as well. Marquese Chriss. Amazingly, mega "bust" Marquese Chriss flashed some improved play for the Warriors last year. Teams will still be wary of trusting him, but his salary ($1.8M) makes him a decent throw-in and flier. Alen Smailagic. The 20-year-old Serbian only played 139 total minutes for the big league club this year, but did pretty well (15.2 PPG in 25.9 minutes) in the G-League. He's a decent flier of a prospect who at the very least can be an extra contract ($1.5M) to throw into a deal. other picks. The Warriors also own the # 48 and # 52 picks in this year's draft, and could throw in future R1 picks of their own as well. If we throw in ALL of these players (hard to do with roster constraints), we're talking about a salary package of about $40M. More likely, you can make anywhere from $30-35M work presuming you include Andrew Wiggins as a major component of the trade. Overall, I'd say the Warriors have three levels of trade packages to offer. THE GOLD PACKAGE: Would be this year's lottery pick + Wiggins (for contract purposes) + a solid young player like Pascall THE SILVER PACKAGE: Minnesota's pick next year + Wiggins (for contract purposes). THE BROWN/TURD PACKAGE: Wiggins + minor picks and assets (but no high picks.) With this package, the Warriors would be looking to acquire other "toxic" assets more than anything else.
Potential deals for the THE GOLD PACKAGE (Wiggins + this year's lottery pick)
Bradley Beal (WAS) ($29M + $34.5M + $37M player option) Look, I don't want to do this any more than you do, but the United States Congress just passed legislation (Provision BB-3) that requires every single trade post to mention Bradley Beal. For this to actually happen, a number of events would have to fall in line. The first is that Beal formally demands a trade, forcing Washington's hand. His recent extension makes that unlikely, but not unprecedented given today's NBA climate. Secondly, the Warriors would have to grab a top 3 pick -- likely # 1 or # 2. If they do that, then they would have a legitimate offer to make the Wizards for Beal: that top pick + Wiggins + maybe Eric Pascall as an additional piece. They could even throw in a future R1 pick to sweeten the pot if need be. You may question whether another shooting guard (emphasis on shooting) would even fit on Golden State, but we shouldn't overthink this one. Shooting is like peanut butter -- it goes with everything. Moreover, Klay Thompson could easily slide out to SF if need be. The defense would take a hit, but the offensive firepower would be devastating enough to make up for it. Myles Turner (IND) ($18M + $18M + $18M) + $10M in trade filler If the Warriors' pick lands in the 4-5 range, they may have to set their sights lower in trade talks, and look towards near All-Stars like Myles Turner instead. The Indiana Pacers went into this season with an unconventional two-big lineup, and it actually worked pretty well overall. That said, they've been playing without Domatas Sabonis in the bubble, and it's given scorers like T.J. Warren more room to operate. Looking ahead, perhaps the team decides they need to break up the big guys in order to maximize their spacing and spark their offense (ranked 18th pre-bubble.) And hey, maybe they decide they don't want to pay Victor Oladipo (a FA next summer) big money and lock into a core that may top out as a 4-5 seed no matter what. Acquiring a young starter like Andrew Wiggins and a top 5 pick would give them some more options and potential upside. From the Warriors' perspective, Myles Turner (or Sabonis) would give them a very good center that can play without the confines of their offense. Turner is also particularly stout on defense, and would pair with Draymond Green for a formidable duo inside. Originally, I had listed Jeremy Lamb ($10M + $10M) as the trade filler to make it work, but his ACL injury complicates that math. Presumably, the Warriors would like some healthy bodies to help a team that would be dangerously thin. They'd likely prefer Doug McDermott ($7.5M), but may have to settle for lesser white dudes like T.J. McConnell ($3.5M) and T.J. Leaf ($4.5M) instead.
Potential deals for the THE SILVER PACKAGE (Wiggins + MIN 2021 pick)
Blake Griffin (DET) ($37M + $39M player option) Blake Griffin has been in the NBA for 10+ years now, but he's still one of the more misunderstood players in the league. He still has the rep as an athlete/dunker, despite the fact that he's a highly skilled ball-handler and passer as well. When last healthy in 2018-19, he averaged 24-7-5 and helped push the Pistons into the playoffs. Griffin's (offensive) potential on this Warriors team would be terrifying. From Detroit's perspective, this would represent a reset and rebuild. They'd hand the reins of the PF spot from Griffin (31 years old) to Christian Wood (24) and go with a younger approach. Andrew Wiggins may never be the All-Star we hoped, but he still fits that timeline at 25 years old, and has proven to be more durable than Griffin (who isn't?). With this "silver package," the Pistons would also get that Minnesota draft pick to help their rebuild. There's some uncertainty to that pick, so they may prefer some type of pick swap this season instead. For example, let's say Golden State lands at # 2, and Detroit comes in at # 4. The two teams may negotiate some deal that would allow the Pistons to jump up to 2 and grab their preferred prospect. Aaron Gordon (ORL) ($18M + $16M) + Terrence Ross ($13.5M + $12.5M + $11.5M) After six seasons in the league, it may be time to give up on the idea that Aaron Gordon will develop into a go-to scorer. Instead, he may be best served as a 3rd or 4th starter who's going to be a movable piece on defense and an energy scorer on offense. That doesn't sound like what the doctor ordered in Orlando (with Jon Isaac already there), but it could fit well in Golden State. Gordon and Draymond Green would be a "small" PF-C combination, but it's a mighty switchable tandem. Terrence Ross would be included for salary and depth, although Orlando may try to push for Al-Farouq Aminu instead. Why would Orlando be interested in Andrew Wiggins? They wouldn't, necessarily, but this package would also offer them that extra Minnesota draft pick. Moreover, it would help clear some logjam in their frontcourt. Aside from Jon Isaac, they also have Nikola Vucevic, Mo Bamba, and this past year's rookie Chuma Okeke. Personally, I'm excited to see what Okeke can offer when healthy next year.
Potential deals for the THE BROWN/TURD PACKAGE (Wiggins + minor picks and assets)
Kevin Love (CLE) ($31M + $31M + $29M) Can we possibly go full circle here? Andrew Wiggins started his career by being traded for Kevin Love, so it'd be fitting for the two to swap places once again. From the Cavs' perspective, this move would be all about a rebuild. Kevin Love (31 years old, turning 32 in September) never felt like a great fit for their very young team. While Wiggins isn't an ideal building block, he's younger and easier to slide into a lineup at the wing. They'd also be getting off a contract that's naturally risky given Love's age and injury history. The Warriors had resisted adding Kevin Love before (for Klay Thompson), but his "fit" would be interesting right now. Offensively, his ability to rebound and stretch the court would make their lineup even more potent. Defensively, your hope is that Draymond Green could cover for any potential weakness he may have. Love is also a good team-first player who shouldn't have any problem fitting in and chasing another ring. Al Horford (PHI) ($27.5M + $27M + $26.5M) Another skilled big man in his 30s, Al Horford could be an option if the Warriors want to make a quick push to win now at the expense of their future. Horford is past his prime, but he's still a heady player who would fit into the offensive system and culture well. That said, Horford carries sizable risk to him given the length of his contract. He recently turned 34, so he'll be paid $20M+ into his age 35-36 seasons. It's almost guaranteed to be an albatross contract by the end, but perhaps the Warriors can talk themselves into it if they believe their window is only 1-2 more years anyway. For the Sixers, Andrew Wiggins isn't ideal either (as a mediocre shooter), but he'd at least offer them more depth at the wing. Paying a big man like Al Horford to go along with Joel Embiid never made a ton of sense in the first place. LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) ($24M) The San Antonio Spurs haven't embraced a full-on rebuild yet, but they're verging on that territory. That'd be especially easy at center, where Jakob Poeltl is more than ready to man 25-30 minutes. Given that, LaMarcus Aldridge would be an easy piece to push aside. Would the Spurs want a player like Andrew Wiggins back in return? Probably not. Still, they may have the faith that their player development system can get Wiggins to tap into his full potential. From the Warriors' perspective, this would be another push to "win now." Despite being 35 years old, Aldridge can still be an offensive weapon, as illustrated by his 18.9 points per game this season. In some ways, he could be a bootleg version of what Kevin Durant gave the Warriors -- bailing out their offense in half-court possessions when needed. Defensively, he should be able to play alongside Draymond Green as well. While LaMarcus Aldridge may not sound like a needle mover at this stage, this is a good time to remind the reader that these latter packages don't include those valuable draft picks. Julius Randle (NY) ($19M + $20M) + SG Wayne Ellington ($8M) You're not going to find more polarizing players than Julius Randle. The raw stats suggest he's a star (he neared 20-10 again with averages of 19.5 and 9.7 this season.) The advanced stats suggest he's a net negative. Still, you'd like his chances of success playing with this Golden State offense. Randle is an underrated ball-mover himself, so he may fit in well with their lineup. For his part, Wayne Ellington would be a contract filler and a potential depth play. Would the Knicks want Andrew Wiggins? Eh. He's probably a little better than Julius Randle, but he's about the same age (both 25) and would be on a more expensive, longer-term deal. Their decision here may come down to the draft. If they have a chance to take another big (be it James Wiseman or Onyeka Okongwu) they may want to jettison Julius Randle sooner than later to clear room. Kyle Anderson (MEM) ($9.5M + $10M) + Gorgui Dieng ($17M) This would certainly be the lowest profile trade option, and it would essentially be the Warriors' way of admitting that they never wanted Andrew Wiggins in the first place. I like the idea of "Slo-Mo" Kyle Anderson on the Warriors given his basketball IQ, while Gorgui Dieng may be good enough to give them 20 minutes a night. Still, the only reason the Warriors would make a trade like this would be if they viewed Wiggins as a toxic/negative asset. From the Grizzlies' perspective, this deal would represent some risk as well. This is a young and talented team that doesn't necessarily need more help on the wing. They have a full plate already with Dillon Brooks, Justice Winslow, Grayson Allen, Josh Jackson, etc. Still, it's never easy for a market like Memphis to draw in "big names," so perhaps they view Wiggins as that type of star material.
https://preview.redd.it/ulhht7w4cfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=8160adeefa53ee8d6b739f06be3dcbc6cae0c0df Every year NFL Network puts out a list of the Top 100 Players for the upcoming season, as voted by their peers. I have talked about the flaws of that whole process a few times already – the players only write down their top 20 players, which is understandable, but also doesn’t result in the proper results, since everybody is somewhat to put their guys on, not all players actually get to watch a lot of games, if they don’t include teams they actually face or are limited to watching highlights, and the voting concludes before the playoff are even here, which can be the only somewhat logical reason, Patrick Mahomes was only number four on the official list – even though that would still be wrong. For the purpose of this list, I first put together my rankings of the top players at every single position, but then somewhat went off script by just writing down names in the order that they shot into my head, before comparing it with the positional rankings and trying to weigh guys against each other. And just to make this clear – these rankings are based on players regardless of their position, since otherwise would have almost half the starting quarterbacks in the league within the top 20 or so. And of course this is a bit of a projection and not solely built on what these players did this previous season, but also not about where they will be at the end of 2020. Here is my list: https://preview.redd.it/6lv7eu5ecfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=7e060476b8bbdf264b77e46aa6eccaff6e78c91d
What is there still to say about Mahomes? In just two years as a starter, he has been a league MVP and just led his team to three consecutive double-digit comebacks to get that Lombardi trophy. He is the most talented player I have ever seen and will now have the Chiefs as contenders in the AFC for the next decade, after signing that blockbuster deal. You can not tell me there are three humans on earth that are better at football than this guy. If we lived in a world without Mahomes, Donald would be the obvious pick here for the best player regardless of position. You can easily argue that the gap between the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the next-closest players is even bigger (since I have a QB at three), since Donald doesn’t just have the numbers despite facing constant attention, but does so much more that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, in terms of blowing up plays before they can even get going. Wilson to me has earned his way up to being the second-best quarterback in the league. He throws those unbelievable rainbow deep balls, is elusive as it gets at extending plays as a passer and seems to always come through when his team needs him most. He has covered up a lot of issues for the Seahawks – leading his team to a winning record every single season of his career – and the only thing that can hold him back is his own conservative coaching staff. I “only” have the league’s reigning MVP at number four, because I think there are two more proven quarterbacks and there are definitely things he can still improve upon, but holy crap, was this guy exciting last season. Lamar led the league with 43 total touchdowns and a ridiculous 9.0 touchdown percentage. His QB-record 1206 yards on the ground helped the Ravens break the all-time rushing mark for a team, but as spectacular as he was in the open field, the stats say he was also elite from within the pocket. The reigning DPOY shows up at number five here for me and while there were other worthy candidates, Gilmore was on a different level as the other corners in the league last season. He was tied for the lead-league in interceptions and scored more touchdowns (2) than he was responsible for in coverage (1), while allowing a league-best completion percentage of 44.6 and 41.8 passer rating. Outside of a week 17 blunder, he shut down every top receiver he faced. Julio to me is still the best receiver in the game and it’s not that close to be honest. His freakish combination of size, speed, leaping ability and hands set him apart from most guys, but it is the way he has continued to advance as a route-runner and technician that have paved his way to being an all-time great. Over the last six seasons, he has averaged 1565 receiving yards per season and his 96.2 yards per game is almost ten yards more than any player in NFL history. The best and most complete tight-end today is Kittle. There are only five players in the entire league with more receiving yards over the last two seasons, despite seeing about 60 targets less than the five guys ahead of him, and his 1507 yards after the catch over that stretch is second only to Christian McCaffrey. As impressive as all that is, he is equally valuable as a run-blocker, being a huge factor in setting things up for the 49ers’ second-ranked rushing attack. I know he has only been in the league for two years, but I would already take Nelson over any other interior offensive lineman in football without a doubt. When I evaluated his college tape, I thought he was a generational prospect and he has come nothing short of his expectations. Nelson has only been responsible for one sack in those two seasons combined and been named a First-Team All-Pro in both of them. If you want to know how great Adams is, just check out the kind of compensation Seattle gave up to acquire a disgruntled player at a position that is deemed undervalued by most people. The Jets are probably happy to still get as much back as they did, but Adams was their best run-defender, coverage player and pass-rusher. He is a chess piece, that improves every area of a defense and gives them an attitude and tremendous versatility. The one guy who can challenge Stephon Gilmore for the title as best corner in the league is Ramsey. While the numbers in coverage didn’t look quite as impressive last season, switching teams mid-season and missing four games, he still only allowed 45.6 yards per game and one total touchdown in coverage. Ramsey is one of only two or three guys at the position, who can match up with the opposing’s top receiver every single play. https://preview.redd.it/hd5k3rzfcfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=44027dfe6dcc5ecee7f8499e0b14b5387ddae6eb
It was a very close race for the top back in the game, but I just had to go with the unbelievable talent of Saquon here. He is so explosive, elusive and powerful. Barkley was banged up for pretty much half of last season, but still averaged 5.4 yards per touch and 60 percent of his rushing yards came after contact, with bad offensive line play in front of him, that had him avoiding defenders as soon as he got the handoff at times. His 279 scrimmage yards against Washington in week 16 was the most since Julio Jones’ 300-yard performance in 2016. McCaffrey comes in right behind Barkley, coming off a highly impressive season. CMac became just the third player in NFL history to put up 1000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season and also easily leading the league with 2392 scrimmage yards. Maybe even more impressive – he had eight yards more after the catch (1013) than total receiving yards. Nobody is a bigger asset running routes out of the backfield, but he has also become a much more efficient in-between-the-tackler runner. Thomas set a new all-time record with 149 receptions last season and led the league with 1725 receiving yards. The crazy thing about that is the fact he lead all receiver in catch percentage last season at 80.5, despite being really the only guy the Saints could rely upon at that position on a weekly basis. He’s not nearly as dangerous after the catch or on vertical patterns as guys like Julio Jones or Tyreek Hill, but he is so physical and constantly comes through on third downs. When you look at what Mack had done in the five years since his rookie season (49 sacks and 76 TFLs over four seasons), he didn’t quite live up to his lofty standards last season. With that being said, he is still the most impactful guy coming off the edge when totally healthy. He is an elite run-defender, routinely puts offensive tackles on skates and has a knack for getting the ball out (11 forced fumbles since 2018). Similar to Mack – and as it has been like for several years now when these two have been right next to each other in any rankings – Miller had a down-year in 2019. He did not reach double-digit sacks for the first time since 2013, when he was put on IR mid-season, but I expect that to go back to normal with more help around him. His burst, ability to bend and smarts for the position will create issue for offenses once again this season. Deshaun is just an absolute baller. Like his former college head coach Dabo Swinney said, he is Michael Jordan-like in the big moments. Over the last two seasons, he has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for just over 4000 yards on average and 52 touchdowns compared to 21 INTs over that stretch. More importantly, he gets the Texans out of the toughest situations and has led five game-winning drives in both years. I don’t think anybody else could have led this team back in that Wildcard game, other than maybe Mahomes. After coming over from Miami via trade early last season, Fitzpatrick completely turned around this Steelers defense by bringing the secondary together and became one of the premiere play-makers in the entire league. He came up with eight takeaways and scored two touchdowns himself, with both of them completely shifting the momentum those respective games. Minkah is most valuable patrolling the deep middle of the field, but offers the versatility to play just about everywhere. I know this may be a little bit of a controversial pick, with other guys at the receiver position deserving consideration, but to me Adams right now is the third-best receiver in the game. He came up with three yards short of cracking the 1000-yard mark due to missing four games and dealing with a banged up toe, but he came up big in two playoff games, with 300 combined yards and two TDs. Adams offers the best releases in the game, as well as beautifully setting up routes with head-nods and body language, to go with tremendous body-control. Now that Luke Kuechly has retired, B-Wagz to me is the clear choice as the top middle linebacker in football. He displays great range and has to cover a lot of ground with how much base personnel the Hawks run. Wagner is also a very secure tackler, who led the league in take-downs for the second time in his career last season, after missing just one of his attempts the year before. What doesn’t get enough attention is his football IQ and the process of getting to the ball in the first place. If I told you the next player has caught 200 passes for 2565 yards and 15 touchdowns over the last two seasons, you would say that’s a great receiver – since that ranks behind only Julio, Mike Thomas, D-Hop and Mike Evans. What is even more impressive about those numbers is that Kelce has averaged 9.0 yards despite that high target share. He is the premiere flex receiving tight-end, who can be moved all over the formation and create problems. https://preview.redd.it/r5uajc1c7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=2a39e3d399818439538f76d064580220b18ed765
In a world without Aaron Donald, Cox would be known as the best defensive tackle over the last decade. He has only reached double-digit sacks once in his career and to be fair, dipped a little last season, but the numbers will never tell the whole story as what kind of player he is. He has that quickness to shoot through gaps and show up in the backfield, but he can also bench-press 330-pounders and toss them to the side when he needs to. Just watch him destroy the interior O-line of the Seahawks and almost singlehandedly keep them in that Wildcard Round game without Carson Wentz. Nipping at the heels of Cox is another game-wrecker on the inside of the defense for the reigning Super Bowl champs. Jones may not nearly be the same run-stopper at the point of attack, but his length and burst off the ball allow him to impact plays in a penetrating role and he is an elite pass-rusher at his position. 24.5 sacks and 49 QB hits in his last 29 games is highly impressive, but in the biggest game, he only logged on tackle and still made a huge impact, with a couple of batted passes and directly forcing a pick. The most overlooked edge rusher and maybe overall player in the league over the last several years has been Chandler Jones. Since coming over to Arizona in 2016, he has led the league with 60 sacks and 17 forced fumbles, while also being near the top in total pressure numbers every single season. That is despite playing on one the worst defensive units over the last couple of years and having no legitimate threat up front with pretty much the entire time. Cam Jordan is a very unique player. He has more of a 3-4 defensive end body type, rather than your typical edge rusher. He has great power and strings his hands and feet together really well, but what makes him special is the way he can read pass-sets and take advantage of weight-distribution and how far tackles open up their hips. Not only did Jordan set a personal high with 15.5 sacks last season, but he is also an excellent run-defender (15 TFLs). Even though his trade to Arizona is still confusing for most people, when you see how little his new team had to give up, don’t let that make you think D-Hop isn’t a top-tier receiver anymore. If you take out the 2016 season, when Brock Osweiler could not have gotten the ball to his superstar receiver, even if he were just inches away, he has averaged 1369 receiving yards and 9.6 touchdowns since his rookie season. He may not as homerun-hitter, but he might be the most physical receiver off the ball and at the catch point, plus he has the best hands in the game. Did I just say homerun hitter? Outside of Julio, I think there is an argument to be made that Tyreek is the next-best receiver in the league. He breaks the game open with his next-level speed and changes how defensive coordinators have to call coverages. However, he is much more than just a deep threat, with quick feet to stop and start on his routes, he shows great concentration when the ball is in the air and he does now shy away from the physical aspect of football. We have not seen Rodgers play at that elite level since 2016, when he led the league in touchdown passes (40), but he is still one of the best in the game. He has lost just a little bit of his elusiveness to extend plays and does not take as many chances down the field as we are used to from him, but his quick release, ability to see the field and the arm talent to throw off platform are all still special. Just watch what he does in his second year in Matt LaFleur’s system, with added motivation. The younger T.J. Watt stepped out of the shadow of his older brother last season, when he finished top five in sacks (14.5) and quarterback hits (36), while also leading the league with eight fumbles forced and recovering another four, to go with a couple of picks. He finished behind only Stephon Gilmore and Chandler Jones in the hunt for his first DPOY trophy and will be a terror on Pittsburgh’s ferocious defense for years to come. At 29 is the player that shamefully didn’t even make the official top 100 list. Maybe it is people still saying Nick Foles won the Eagles their Super Bowl or they call him injury-prone, but let’s not forget Wentz set this team up with home-field advantage through the playoffs back in 2017 in an MVP-level season and he has actually missed only eight of 64 career regular season games. Last year he put the team on his back, with practice squad players catching passes and both his tackles missing multiple weeks, and led them to a home playoff game. Closing is the top 30 is the older Watt brother. I gave the slightest edge to the Pittsburgh outside backer. He certainly the track record as one of only two guys to be named Defensive Player of the Year three times in his career, but injuries have started taking a toll on him and over the last four years, he has missed the equivalent of two full seasons. However, when he played all 16 games in 2018, he still topped his little bro with 16 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He played at a very high level when healthy last season and miraculously returned in the playoffs to make a big impact against Buffalo. https://preview.redd.it/68e2613kcfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=3f99e76d5524ab4aeff016746711b1012ae62130
One of the most underrated guys on the player’s countdown is Humphrey. To me there are no five corners in the game that you can tell me are better than this guy – and I actually have him at number three. He is long and physical in press-coverage, he can move into the slot, he is a hard hitter from that position and he is like a magnet for the ball, with three interceptions, two fumbles forced and three recovered. Humphrey is only 24 years old and already near the top of football. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently said something pretty interesting, when he tweeted that “if you put all players in a league-wide draft, Derwin James would be the top safety on every board”. To me Jamal Adams has done enough to earn the title as best player at that position and Derwin only played five games, but the Chargers superstar can do pretty much everything Jamal does, in terms of defending the run as a box-defender, blitzing off multiple spots and just being a position-less player, while also having the range to basically play free safety. Big Mike has now become only the second receiver in NFL history alongside Randy Moss to start his career with six consecutive 1000-yard receiving seasons. He gets in and out his breaks better than you would ever think of a 6’5”, 230-pound guy, he is much more of a vertical threat than people label him as, averaging 1.5 yards more per catch than Tyreek Hill (17.5), and he obviously dominates at the catch point, while also bullying DBs as a blocker. At 34 I have another defensive back, who has become a highly underrated player in my opinion. Somehow Eddie Jackson didn’t make the official list, which is still mind-blowing to me, because just a year ago, he was right up there among the premiere defensive play-makers in the game. His takeaways went way down on a Bears defense that took a step back, after coming up with eight of those in 2018 and scoring a league-high three defensive TDs, but he is still one of the smartest and rangiest player on the back-end we have in the game. That third running back behind Saquon and McCaffrey was a tough choice, which is indicated by four players at that position over the next six spots, but I went with Kamara here. He recently that he basically played on one leg last season, which may be a little exaggerated, but when healthy, his explosiveness and contact balance are second to none, plus he is an elite weapon out of the backfield, who is basically un-coverable on option routes. The next guy here is the reigning rushing leader Derrick Henry. This may seem a little low for him and he is the only one of this group to get that second contract so far, but since he is only a factor on screen plays in the passing game, I could not put him any higher. Still, what King Henry did down the stretch was unbelievable. He put the team on his back, rushing for 896 yards over his final six games in the regular season and 374 yards combined in wins over the then-reigning Super Bowl champs and the team with the best record in the league, on the way to the AFC title game. Another corner that I just love to watch is the Bills’ Tre’Davious White. While he plays in a zone-heavy system, that doesn’t leave him on an island as much as a Stephon Gilmore or a Jalen Ramsey, he is tremendous in that role and can match up against some top receivers one-on-one. What makes him special is the ability to anticipate routes and read the receiver and the quarterback at the same time. He was tied for the lead-league with six INTs, while deflecting another 17 passes and forcing a couple of fumbles. Martin has been as consistent as it gets. He has started all but two of his 96 career games at right guard and been named First-Team All-Pro in four of six NFL season. Over the course of his career, he has allowed just eight total sacks and he was flagged for holding just once last season and four times in the last four seasons. He is a road-grader on gap and zone schemes, while having a tremendous anchor and clamps in protection. Did you know Dalvin Cook finished second behind only Christian McCaffrey in scrimmage yards per game? He was tremendous for Minnesota last season in that zone-based rushing attack and a real weapon out of the backfield, catching 53 of 63 targets for over 500 yards. Dalvin is so good at pressing the front-side and then transitioning in one step to cut off the backside, while also having the burst to threaten the edges of a defense, and he has become a very tough runner. My final RB here is Nick Chubb. There were a lot of stars on this underperforming Browns team last season, but this guy was the best player for them pretty much every single week. Similar to Henry, Chubb is not the most valuable receiver, but his physical running style was the best part about Cleveland’s offense. He can run inside and outside zone, does a great job setting up power plays and not only is he patient with letting plays develop, he has great acceleration once he puts on the gas and consistently falls forward. https://preview.redd.it/3zr305de7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=f52704036f55e8bf1e5ae2c9396d45338dc07c39
Odell Beckham Jr.
What happened in that week 11 Steelers game was not pretty and I’m sure people will bring it no matter what this kid continues to accomplish, but he just got a mega contract and to me is ready put his name among the elite defensive players in football. Garrett has only played 37 career games so far, but he has already put together 30.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss, with one QB take-down per game last season. He is obviously an athletic freak, but his pass-rush arsenal has come a long way already. DeFo is one of the most talented defensive linemen in all of football, but his technique has improved every single season and among all that talent on the NFC champions’ roster, he was named team MVP. As great as he was all the way throughout the regular season, he terrorized the interior O-line of the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. The 49ers had to move on from him this offseason due to cap reasons, but he immediately a key piece for that Colts D. He might be the GOAT, but Brady lands at number 43 for me heading into 2020. Contrary to popular belief, his arm isn’t far off from what it was when he entered the league at the start of the millennium and his pocket movement is impeccable, but what bothered me when watching him play last season, was that reluctancy to stand tall in the pocket and take the punishment in order to deliver big plays, which will be an interesting mesh with Bruce Arians’ vertical passing attack. While there about five guys in that conversation for me right now, Ryan Ramczyk earned the top spot here. More of a luxury pick three years ago, he ended up sliding right in at right tackle and has been absolute stalwart for them ever. Ramczyk has started 47 of 48 games and improved every single season, earning first-team All-Pro honors last season, when he did not allow a single sack and had did not have a holding call accepted against him past week two. This is the lowest I have had Odell in my rankings since his rookie season. I have never been a huge fan of the antics with him, but the media constantly bashing on him has turned me into a fan, and I believe he will make all the haters shut up in 2020. OBJ was dealing with a foot injury all of last year and the amount of miscues between him and Baker Mayfield was countless, when it comes to break off or adjusting routes on the fly. He is still one of the all-time talents. New to the list is a guy, who was quietly getting the job done as a rotational piece in Baltimore’s defensive front for a few years, before getting a big contract by the Packers. Smith instantly went from a nice player to one the premiere edge rushers in the entire league. While he “only” finished sixth with 13.5 sacks, he led all players with 93 total pressures and also had the fourth-most TFLs (17). I love the way Mike Pettine moves him around all over the formation in Green Bay. The one thing I actually learned from the official top 100 is the fact Tyrann Mathieu was actually named team MVP, despite playing with the best player in the entire league. As explosive as that Chiefs offense is, the difference for this team was how the Honeybadger helped turn around this defensive unit and the energy he brought to the table. Mathieu can line up in the box, cover the slot, drop into deep coverage, blitz from multiple spots and tackle in the open field. Another guy in that tackle conversation is maybe the most athletic one of the bunch. Johnson only played in 12 games last season, but he was tremendous in those, allowing just one sack and being called for holding once, despite facing some great pass-rushers in the NFC East and the conference overall. He has the feet to seal the edges in the run game and works up to the second level as well as anybody in the league. The top rookie on the list this year is Nick Bosa. Making the top 20 on the official list seems a little rich, but this guy was dominant from the moment he stepped onto the field. Bosa finished one sack short or cracking double-digits, but he easily blew away the rookie record for total pressures (80) and finished tied for fifth overall in the regular season, plus another crazy 22 in the playoffs. He was also tied for fifth in tackles for loss (16) and got a pick, whilst constantly playing with all-out effort. One of the biggest breakout players last season was Godwin. I predicted this already the year prior and wasn’t wrong necessarily, when he finished with 842 yards and seven touchdowns, but he took it to another level in 2019, when he finished third in receiving yards (1333) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (9) despite missing two games. He is so tough going over the middle to get those hard-earned yards, is incredibly hard to bring down after the catch (577 YAC) and led the league in 20+ yard receptions (25). https://preview.redd.it/8chiv76ogih51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=2687f4fbab6202fb4312d6aef3704f605c66186a
The title for best center in the league has been in Philadelphia for at least the last three years and to me also for the decade. He may not as powerful as a few other guys, but the mobility to beat linebackers to the spot or can put hands on people as a puller or on screen plays allows the Eagles to do pretty much anything, while also doing a great job of recovering in pass-pro and transitioning assignments. Kelce has allowed multiple sacks just once since 2015. There is a pretty significant drop-off between the first and second linebacker, but right now I would take Leonard behind only Bobby Wagner. Over his two years in the league (28 games), he has put together 284 tackles (including leading the league as a rookie), intercepted seven passes, forced six fumbles, recorded 12 sacks and deflected another 15 passes. “The Maniac” shows up all over the field and truly has a knack for the ball. My top left tackle in the league is Ronnie Stanley. He took his game to another level last season, when he was named a first-team All-Pro. On 515 pass-blocking snaps, he did not allow a single sack and didn’t surrender any pressures in nine games. He also was a huge piece to the Ravens breaking the NFL’s all-time rushing yardage record (3296 yards) that had stood for over 40 years, as Stanley had the lowest percentage of negatively-graded run blocking snaps according to PFF. Joey comes in five spots below his younger brother for me. While I believe Nick Bosa is a little more athletically gifted, Joey came into the league slightly more technically refined in his hand-usage. He may not quite have the burst off the ball like a Danielle Hunter or the ability to bend like a Von Miller, but Bosa is as complete a defensive end as we have in the game. He does a great job setting the edge in the run game and when he gets after the passer, he is so smooth with his hand-combos and finds the weakness of the tackle’s pass-sets. Another one of those enormous snubs from the actual list is Byard, who has become one of the premiere safeties in the game. Over the last three seasons, he leads the league with 17(!) interceptions and broke up another 33 passes. The range he presents as a deep-middle safety and the confidence he has in his game, combined with extremely dependable tackling in space (just two of 86 attempts missed last season), definitely earn him a spot. Since I just talked about Hunter, this is where he comes in. The Vikings D-end is another one of those guys, who has improved pretty much every year, since coming in as a pretty raw product from LSU. Hunter has put up 14.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons, but he massively improved his total pressure number of 97 (including the playoffs) and he actually got the ball out of the quarterbacks as well (three forced fumbles). He is an athletic phenom, who has learned to string moves together incredibly well. We have started a bit of a run on offensive tackles here, with Schwartz coming in slightly outside the top 50. There is a good argument to be made for this guy being the best at his position, especially if you base it off that incredibly postseason run he just had, when he allowed no sacks and just one total pressure on 142 pass-blocking snaps against some of the baddest dudes on the planet. Schwartz wasn’t responsible for any sacks through the regular season either and the Chiefs averaged an NFL-best 5.93 yards per carry through the gaps to either side of him. If you just base the list on this past season, you could argue Kendricks was the best linebacker in all of football. He has been a beast against the run pretty much since coming into the league, but what put him on a different level last season was his play in coverage. Kendricks allowed only 53.3 percent of the passes his way to be completed (very low for a LB) and broke up 12 passes, leading to a forced incompletion rate of 21.9 percent, which is more than four percent better than Luke Kuechly in his best season (who had been the previous record-holder). Let’s get this out of the way – Clowney can be an absolute game-wrecker. However, I really struggled with his ranking, because he is such a disruptive player when on the field – which the stats simply don’t tell you – but injuries have just been too much of an issue for him. That is also a big reason why he is still signed. Yet, you can not overlook how incredibly gifted Clowney is and how much better he has gotten with his hands. That week ten game at San Francisco was the best performance from a defensive player all season long. It’s always great when you predict a player to break out and he actually does. Jones already was on all my fantasy teams two years ago, but I said he would take another step forward in 2019 and he surprised even me. His 1558 scrimmage yards were the eight-most in entire league and he was tied for the most touchdowns at 19, while touching the ball almost 60 times less than the backs ahead of him (285 touches). He is so explosive and can just slither through defenses, while also being a true downfield threat as a receiver. https://preview.redd.it/imk396cc7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=7a468004843b4c94a11ceb2890e4b2415daf5aac
I always thought Barrett was a good player as part of that rotation in Denver, but when he finally got a chance to shine, that’s exactly what he did. After posting 14 combined sacks over his four season with the Broncos, he led the league with 19.5 in his first year with Tampa Bay. He also finished second in tackles for loss (19) and forced six fumbles. Watching him rush the passer, his game is built on the bull rush and long-arm, off which he can covert power-to-speed, in terms giving a little hesitation and then winning on a quick burst to the outside. Talking about the top backs in the game, Elliott’s name doesn’t come up too often for me anymore. He still finished fourth in the league with 1357 rushing yards, but that was running behind a top-five offensive line and he just looked a step slow to what we have seen from him, without that explosion through the hole and turning those good runs into big gains. With that being said, he might still be the most complete back in the game and could return to glory in 2020. It almost feels bad to put Bakhtiari this low, but he is still one of those five elite offensive tackles. I think what puts him as last of that group is the fact he is closer to the average in terms of his run-blocking than the other guys. Still, he has been the best pass-protector over the last four years at least, when he did not allow more than three sacks once and the lowest amount of total pressures, despite his QB finishing in the top six of time to throw in all but one of them. While he did allow two sacks through the first half of last season, from week ten all the way through the NFC Championship game, he did not surrender a single one. If you asked me who the best route-runner in the game today was, I would probably say Keenan Allen. He is so elusive off the line, deceptive with how he sets up his breaks and he has that quick-twitch to create separation on the short and intermediate level. He does lack some vertical speed and his YACability isn’t among the best at the position, which is why he isn’t even higher, but if you need somebody to get open on third downs, this is your guy. He terrorized Darius Slay last season. Hicks did miss missed 11 games last season, but unlike the players around the league apparently – I did not forget about him. With just one sack and five TFLs in the five games he did play, it’s understandable that he would drop in the rankings, but let’s forget that in 2018 he rivaled Fletcher Cox and Chris Jones for the league’s best D-tackle not named Aaron Donald. Hicks was a frequent visitor in the backfield, with both ten marks in QB pressures and defensive stops. His impact was felt most when he wasn’t on the field for the Bears last season and they were closer to average than number one. While Kittle and Kelce to me are clearly in a tier of their own, Ertz is still that third guy at the tight-end position. He has been one of the most productive pass-catchers in the entire league for several years now. After setting a new record for most receptions in a season for a TE (118) in 2018, he took a little step back last year. Ertz is by far Carson Wentz’s favorite target, having lead the Eagles in both receptions and receiving yards in all four seasons the QB has been there for. Since he isn’t as much of a downfield or YAC threat as the other two guys at his position – as well as only being an okay blocker – this is where he falls for me. Somehow I think the player just don’t respect safeties, since this is the third guy now that should have clearly made the list at that position. I have always been a fan of Simmons and called for him getting more playing time, after mostly being a backup his rookie season, when the Broncos last won the Super Bowl. His range, instincts and smarts as a single-high free safety have allowed him to become a true difference-maker. And he certainly had the stats to back it up last season, with four picks and 15 more plays on the ball. Matty Ice has never gotten the love he deserves on this list or from people covering the league as a whole. People seem to still think about the 28-3 game and while his MVP season was more of an outlier due to playing with the game’s best offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan, he has thrown for 4000+ yards in nine straight seasons, completing exactly two-thirds of his passes for a TD-to-INT ratio of 2.26 and a passer rating of 97 over that stretch. He has pretty much always been second tier for me, but he has had to deal with some bad O-line play and a couple of questionable years of play-calling under Steve Sarkisian. 2019 was not a good season for Juju by any means. He missed four games and had less than half the production of the year prior. However, a lot of that had to do with the worst quarterback situation in the league and you don’t put over 2300 yards and 14 TDs before you even turn 23, if you aren’t a special player. With Big Ben under center in ’18, Juju finished top five in the NFL with 1426 yards and was named team MVP over Antonio Brown – which the latter let us know later on. I know this is what will get me the most hate, but whenever people want to give me all the stats on Drew Brees, they forget to mention that he is playing behind an elite offensive line, a record-setting receiver, one of the premiere pass-catching backs and one of the all-time great play-callers. I have called him a well-oiled machine in that Sean Payton offense several times and his command of that group is impeccable, but the raw arm talent simply isn’t quite there anymore. https://preview.redd.it/ngz596km7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=91b89cf581eefed34fbf6bced8d7170d18de00ed
Undertaking a fairly large project here. The aim is to give each team a plausible trade, signing, and draft pick over the 2020 NBA offseason in order to boost each team's prospects in the upcoming 2020-2021 season. While I can't promise they all will be, I'll try and keep the trades as player-specific, rather than something like "Knicks trading up to draft Ball" or something like that. I will also try (no promises) to do the trade in conjunction with one another. So it would ideally be proposed as 3-moves to make together, not 3 separate moves to make. Again, no promises, and I'll clarify if I'm suggest one as an alternative, but that will be the aim if I can find a pattern I like. Also, some players listed in free agency signings do have player options, so we'll treat them all as possibilities to a certain degree. And also, just because your team's player is listed as a trade move for one team doesn't mean they are moving them, just that there either have been rumors they'd be available, or simply that the listed team would be interested in acquiring them.
Draft Pick: G/F Isaac Okoro, Auburn With plenty of promising scorers, the Hawks should target Okoro to add to their defensive capacity on the wing. Okoro is a very selfless player, and would fit well into a lineup with Trae Young, John Collins and Clint Capela, amongst other promising young players. While ultimately, the Hawks may actually be best suited packaging this pick in a trade, if they stick at #6 overall, Okoro sure would be a good addition for Atlanta. Signing: F JaMychal Green, Los Angeles Clippers The Hawks have a few players who can fill minutes behind John Collins at the 4, such as De'Andre Hunter. But adding a clear backup for Collins would round the depth a bit cleaner. Insert JaMychal Green, a quality shooter (39% last season), who still be able to keep the post clear for Clint Capela, will giving Atlanta an excellent depth addition should he decline his player option in LAC and seek out a new opportunity. Trade: G Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers Oladipo would be interesting backcourt partner with Trae Young. In addition to being a high-caliber defender, Oladipo also has the ability to handle the ball when Young isn't on the court. While Indiana risks losing Oladipo down the road for nothing, shipping him off to the rising Hawks, who will be angling for a playoff run next season. Oladipo could be a big piece of that run, and perhaps even help them contend for more if returns to his All-Star form.
Draft Pick: F Patrick Williams, Florida State The Celtics have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, and selecting back at #13 overall means they'll really just be able to target the best player available. If Patrick Williams is available at 13 however, he should definitely be considered, as his versatility would help continue loading up the Celtics bench. And with Williams being a bit raw offensively, the Celtics can afford to take a chance on his upside and develop him under Brad Stevens further. Signing: F Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets A 6'6 sharpshooter, Harris would be a fun add to the Celtics rotation. It may take some small moves to create the space for him, but adding the career 3-point marksman would fit in well with the versatile athletes around him like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and help the second unit stretch the floor when he comes off the bench. Trade: C Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers Turner seems like he has been connected to the Celtics for a little while now, and it makes plenty of sense. The Pacers will likely be looking for players who fit better around Domantas Sabonis, and that could give an opportunity for the Celtics to move for Turner. Turner would fit well in the Celtics lineup at the center position, where right now the Celtics have some quality role players, but no star. By adding Turner, the Celtics would have one of the best all-around starting 5's in the entire league (Kemba-Smart-Brown-Tatum-Turner).
Draft Pick: G Josh Green, Arizona Finding players who can work alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will be key, and Green's defense and off-ball ability make him well suited to this role. Picking #19 overall will make it difficult to add an instant impact rotation, but Green would have a good chance to find minutes with his skill set. Signing: C Aron Baynes, Phoenix Suns Should the Nets see themselves dishing out C Jarrett Allen in a blockbuster trade for a third star (see below), then a backup center becomes a big priority for the Nets. The solution here is Baynes, a hard-working center who had a career season shooting the ball. He'd fit nicely behind DeAndre Jordan. Trade: G Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards If Beal is available, the Nets should be keen to add him to the mix. Able to offer the most enticing players to any blockbuster package (Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen), the Nets could find their third star to pair with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant when the two return next season. Adding Beal to the mix would immediately vault the Nets all the way to Finals contenders, if the return of Durant and Irving themselves don't already accomplish that.
Draft Pick: PG LaMelo Ball, Australia If he's on the board at the #4 overall pick, the Bulls should be keen on bringing LaMelo in to the Windy City. Perhaps the Draft's best playmaker, he could fit well with scoring guards like Coby White and Zach LaVine, while operating a dangerous pick and pop with big guys like Markkanen. With the size and athleticism to match up well defensively, LaMelo's playmaking ability would help turn the Bulls into a legitimate playoff threat in 2020-2021. If LaMelo is off the board, the Bulls could go in several direction, perhaps even trading the pick if they find a suitable offer. Signing: C Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers The Bulls could use some depth in the frontcourt, and Leonard's range and 3-point ability make him a great player to add into a rotation that ranked in the bottom third of the league in their percentage from deep, and could potentially lose F Otto Porter if he opts out, one of their better marksmen. The question will likely be centered on how much money Leonard is aiming for, but if the numbers work, Leonard should be a serious target for Chicago. Trade: C Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers Embiid may or may not be available, there have been reports going both ways. But if the former Jayhawk is on the block after the 76ers quick exit from the playoffs, then Chicago should be very interested in acquiring him, even if means shipping out Wendell Carter and some other assets. With Markkanen capable of spacing the floor (34.5% shooter from deep), an Embiid addition would give Chicago two versatile bigs, given Embiid's proficiency from deep as well (34.8%). But most importantly, he'd be a scoring machine that would be the focal point of a fun, versatile Bulls roster that could push into playoff contention quickly with him leading the way.
Draft Pick: F Obi Toppin, Dayton With it almost assured that neither LaMelo Ball nor Anthony Edwards reaches Cleveland at #5, their hope should be in Toppin making his way past the Hornets and Bulls. A dynamic forward who excels in multiple facets of the game, he'd represent the best player available at this point in the draft, and an ideal addition for a talent-needy Cavaliers team. Whether replacing Kevin Love, or playing alongside him in looks, Toppin should stay in Ohio if at all possible. Signing: F Derrick Jones Jr., Miami Heat The Heat need cap space for upcoming extensions, so it's likely that Jones Jr, a versatile role player, will hit free agency. Cleveland is already reportedly interested, and it makes sense why. Providing quality defense on the wing, he's 23 years old, which fits Cleveland's rebuilding timeline, and should have time to round out and improve his offensive game (8.5 ppg, 28% from 3). The name of the game for the Cavs is to acquire talent, and Jones Jr. provides them with an intriguing piece with room to grow. Trade: Moving Kevin Love for Assets After landing a dynamic replacement for him, the Cavaliers are a team that doesn't necessarily have a specific player to target, but rather figure out what they could get for someone like Love, who shot 37% from deep last year. His salary could be problematic here, but even adding second round selections has proven useful for Cleveland (Kevin Porter Jr.).
Draft Pick: G Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky Maxey may not be a lethal shooter by any means, but his defense should make him a desired player for a Mavericks team that could use a defensive stopper to pair with Luka Doncic down the role. Maxey brings athleticism, ability to finish at the rim, and a decent mid-range game to the table, which should be enough, along with his defense, to make a desirable player for Mark Cuban's Mavericks. Signing: SF Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings Limited to what they can make happen with the Mid Level Exception or in a sign-and-trade, the Mavericks should get creative and add Bogdan Bogdanovic to the roster. The 27-year old wing would fit right at home with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, a high caliber shooter, especially on catch and shoot situations. If Sacramento doesn't believe they can fit Bogdanovic in with upcoming deals for Fox and Bagley, along with Hield potentially, landing some assets in a sign-and-trade would make sense. If no sign-and-trade, perhaps a 3&D wing like James Ennis (Orlando) could be an easier fit financially. Trade: PF Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic Whether Kristaps Porzingis fills more time at the four or the five, finding a way to pair him and Gordon together in a frontcourt would be fun to watch. Gordon's resurgence for the Magic this past season was a large reason they managed to make it into the playoffs. His defensive versatility and 3-point ability would make him an ideal third star to pair with Luka and Kristaps.
Draft Pick: F Jaden McDaniels, Washington The Nuggets were patient in bringing along Michael Porter Jr., who has stepped up big time during the Bubble. And with several Nuggets wings likely to depart in free agency (Millsap, Torrey Craig), adding a high potential piece like McDaniels to develop and even rotate in behind Grant and Porter Jr. would give Denver the opportunity to take a chance on someone like McDaniels. Signing: C Thon Maker, Detroit Pistons If Plumlee is in fact priced out of a return to Denver, finding a suitable replacement at center will be important. While Bol Bol could claim that spot, it's not a certainty, and thus, adding a three-level scorer at the 5 would be a wise insurance policy for the Nuggets. Trade: G Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans A high caliber veteran on a rebuilding roster, Holiday could be a great partner to pair with Jamal Murray in the backcourt. Less costly than someone like Bradley Beal, Holiday would be a much more realistic third star to bring in. A lineup with Holiday-Murray-Porter Jr.-Nokic and whoever else you want in that fifth spot seems deadly. With Gary Harris and plenty of other assets available, the Nuggets could offer an intriguing package for Holiday.
Draft Pick: G/F Devin Vassell, Florida State This may break from the mock drafts a bit, which usually have the Pistons adding a point guard. However, Vassell could be an interesting piece for Detroit to select, especially considering that the top point guard in the draft (LaMelo Ball) will not likely be available for Detroit at #7 overall. Instead, Detroit adds a long 3&D piece that could fit nicely in between Luke Kennard and Sekou Doumbouya long-term. And as for a point guard. . . Signing: PG Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors Reuniting Dwane Casey and VanVleet seems like an ideal pairing, especially the major need Detroit has at point guard. With Blake Griffin still a high caliber player when healthy, adding a win-now veteran like VanVleet could perhaps boost Detroit all the way to the playoffs next season if Griffin is playing. And at 26-years old, he's both an instant impact veteran as well as a possible long-term solution at the position. Trade:C Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic The Pistons may have found themself something with C Christian Wood, who emerged as a quality option for them in the wake of the Drummond trade. However, Wood's emergence was a very small sample size, raising some questions over how much stock Detroit would put into it. Acquiring Bamba would give them another starting caliber option, who has proven himself as a decent player off the bench behind Vucevic if Wood does manage to build on his promising play.
Golden State Warriors:
Draft Pick: C James Wiseman, Memphis (kinda) Should the Warriors not move this pick, Wiseman makes more sense than LaMelo Ball in terms of fit and need. Though both have questions of maturity and consistency, Wiseman's size and length would offer the Warriors a weapon they haven't really had alongside Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. If Wiseman can fit in the frontcourt with forward Draymond Green, and Golden State makes the pick, it should be Wiseman. Signing: PG D.J. Augustin, Orland Magic At 32-years old, Augustin likely won't command more than any of the exceptions that Golden State would be able to muster up. However, he still can make an impact, running the Warriors second unit when Curry and Thompson (both returning from injury) need a breather. A quality shooter as well (35%), Augustin to the Warriors makes plenty of sense as they attempt to return to their place at the top of the Western Conference. Trade: PF John Collins, Atlanta Hawks While the Warriors seem to be another team interested in acquiring All-Star G Bradley Beal, perhaps a move for John Collins would be more feasible. The beauty for Golden State is that they would likely be able to orchestrate this trade more along the lines of a pick swap than an outright deal using their #2 selection. If the Hawks are interested in pairing Trae Young and perhaps LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards, this could the way to get there. Collins' 3-point shooting and athleticism would make him a quality fit in Golden State.
Draft Pick: - - - No Selection in Upcoming Draft - - - The Rockets could always try buying a second round pick to add someone like C Nick Richards (Kentucky) or F Paul Eboua (Italy), but for now, they do not possess a pick. Signing: C DeMarcus Cousins, Los Angeles Lakers The Rockets have found success operating without a center, but should look to find a big man or two who fits alongside Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Cousins' season was derailed by injuries, but his ability to stretch the floor as well as battle big men like Davis or Jokic in the West make him an appealing option for the Rockets. Trade: F/C Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers Likely dependent on whether or not they made the signing above, the Rockets could also choose to trade for a big man to help stretch the floor. A decorated veteran, Love has plenty of experience playing with ball-handling stars, and so long as he continues to shoot a good clip from deep and rebound the ball, he'd be an invaluable piece for Houston as they attempt to win a title.
Draft Pick: F Killian Tillie, Gonzaga The Pacers do not posses a first round pick this year, so finding a useful rotational piece at #44 overall will be the challenge here. For the Pacers, finding a clean backup for Sabonis would be a welcome add. Tillie is a floor-stretcher at the four, hitting over 40% from deep every season at Gonzaga. Mixing him into the second unit with Doug McDermott on the wing and Gaga Bitadze at center should give the Pacers the depth they need to make a run. Signing: G/F Kent Bazemore, Sacramento Kings Should the Pacers decide to move Victor Oladipo before he departs in 2021 free agency, then adding a wing like Bazemore should help fill in the depth after Jeremy Lamb steps into Oladipo's spot. Bazemore saw his 3-point percentage climb after moving to Sacramento (38%), and if he's able to continue hitting at a quality rate like that, he'd be a valuable two-way wing that would be helpful for a hopeful contender like the Pacers. Trade: G Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards The Pacers have several very intriguing pieces that they could potentially move, notably G Victor Oladipo and C Myles Turner. Should they move Oladipo, perhaps using him as the centerpiece to a Bradley Beal piece would give Indiana a shot at the player who would most likely elevate their team beyond first-round playoff exits. Swapping Oladipo for Beal should be discussed if the Wizards find themselves willing to move Beal.
Los Angeles Clippers
Draft Pick: F/C Kaleb Wesson, Ohio State If JaMychal Green departs, finding another power forward would make sense for the Clippers to look for. Picking so late in the draft, #57 overall, limits their options in terms of finding an immediate contributor. Rather, targeting someone more developed like Wesson would be their best bet of finding a contributor, though they could easily opt for someone with more raw potential. Either way, Wesson's 3-point ability makes him an interesting option to develop into a rotational piece. Signing: F/C Marvin Williams, Milwaukee Bucks While the most likely signings for the Clippers will revolve around internal free agents, notably Marcus Morris and Montrezl Harrell, they still will have a bit of room for a smaller addition like Williams. If Harrell does depart, the Clippers could use another big to add to the rotation, and Marvin Williams would be a quality small ball center option for any teams looking to contend for a title, like the Clippers. Trade:G J.J. Redick, New Orleans Pelicans The Clippers have a very deep roster already, but Redick is exactly what you'd want to bring in to bolster your chances of winning it all. An elite, established marksmen, his shooting off the bench would be a big plus, and the defensive-minded Clippers already can compensate for him on that end of the floor. If they can make the money work, reuniting Redick and LAC would make sense as they chase a title.
Los Angeles Lakers
Draft Pick: G/F Desmond Bane, TCU Picking at #28 overall, the Lakers would be wise to target Bane here, as his crazy 3-point rate (43%) would make him an energizing option off of the bench. The Lakers have a handful of wings as well on expiring deals, and should they lose someone like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, bringing in Bane to boost their mediocre 3-point numbers could help LeBron win another title. Signing: C Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets The Lakers have had DeMarcus Cousins, JaVale McGee, and Dwight Howard all on the roster in 2019-2020. McGee has an option for 2021, so the Lakers could see some turnover at the center position if any of the aforementioned don't want to run it back with LeBron and AD. If they need a new center, Biyombo's defensive chops would make him a good fit as a backup or rotational center to help the Lakers win a title. Trade:PG Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons Ensuring that the Lakers can generate offense with their stars getting a breather is crucial for any contender. Derrick Rose may no longer be the star he was, but he's still a valuable piece off the bench, and would fit quite well leading the Lakers second unit, should Rajon Rondo decline his player option.
Draft Pick: C Jalen Smith, Maryland The Heat have found tons of success with Bam Adebayo at the five, but for a team as deep as Miami, bringing in a high potential big man like Jalen Smith could give them a fun piece to develop. A quality three point shooter already, ironing out his defensive inconsistencies would give the Heat a quality contributor with the #20 overall pick. Signing: F Dario Saric, Phoenix Suns With Adebayo more of a playmaking Energizer Bunny, bringing in another big who can play alongside Adebayo, or relieve him, would be wise. The Heat will likely focus on bringing back players from their current roster, which would likely take them out of the running for Danilo Gallinari, for example. Instead, Saric could provide the same style of play at a more affordable cost. And that's important because.... Trade: Nothing Big...for now Miami has a claim to one of the deepest rosters in the league. Their system works and they have the financial flexibility and assets to go big game hunting. With a poor free agency market this year though, the Heat should hold tight for another season and take a shot at a superstar like Giannis Antetokounmpo, and then pair him (or whoever) with one of the stacked free agents on the docket (Kawhi, LeBron, Beal, Gobert, Paul, etc). Adding DeMar DeRozan right now may be tempting, but don't do it, hold tight...for now.
Draft Pick: PG Devon Dotson, Kansas With multiple guards on expiring contracts, the Bucks should aim for a guard capable of providing them minutes in the Draft. An absolute blur, Dotson is one of the most physically impressive prospects in the Draft, though he'll need to work on deep range shooting before pairing up with Giannis. For now, he'd be a fun piece to add off the bench, able to push the ball in transition opportunities. Signing: F Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets With a physical freak like Giannis leading the charge, surrounding him with shooters is the best course of action, and Harris shoots incredibly well. The Bucks may need to get create to afford Harris, but if they can make the money work, they likely won't find anyone as impactful as Harris in their pursuit of an NBA title. Trade: F Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings Bjelica had a quality season for the Kings, and while they'd likely want to hang onto him, the Bucks should consider making a call and working something. A 6'10 big with fantastic floor stretching ability (42% from 3), he'd represent a significant upgrade from the older Ersan Ilyasova. All about adding shooters, and even relative upgrades should be considered if the Bucks can afford it.
Draft Pick: SG Anthony Edwards, Georgia This is a fairly easy one, as the Timberwolves hold the top pick and will have their choice of player here. The most likely, and most logical, is Edwards, who would pair with D'Angelo Russell in a high upside backcourt in Minnesota. While not an elite shooter, Edwards finds plenty of ways to score, and should continue to do so in the NBA, as Russell and Karl Anthony Towns take up the most attention from opponents. Signing: F/C Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers The Timberwolves could give themselves a defensive boost by bringing in Harrell, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year. Whether playing the four or five, Harrell would give the Timberwolves a high intensity option that can play alongside Karl-Anthony Towns or relieving him when he's off the floor. Trade: G/F Josh Richardson, Philadelphia 76ers If the 76ers do enter a fire-sale, the Timberwolves should put in a call for two-way wing Josh Richardson. Still only 26-years old, Richardson has plenty of upside for a relatively young team like the Timberwolves. Adding him to the mix would give them another capable weapon around their stars.
New Orleans Pelicans
Draft Pick: F Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt A 3-point marksman to fill in on the wings would be the exactly the type of player to put around a playmaker like Zion Williamson. Nesmith's large wingspan (6'10) would be an asset as he develops into a top two-way wing, and doing so in New Orleans would be an excellent move for the Pelicans to pursue with the #13 overall selection. Signing: PG Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets If the Pelicans look to accumulate assets by moving Lonzo Ball or Jrue Holiday, than bringing a quality shooting point guard makes a lot of sense. Rivers shot 36% on 4 attempts per game in Houston, and showed the ability to play with more ball-dominant players in Russell Westbrook and James Harden, which would suit him well in a lineup featuring Zion Williamson. And at 28 years old, Rivers still has plenty of good years left in him as the Pelicans work towards contending status. Trade: Whatever Assets They Can Get From Redick or Holiday The Pelicans don't bring a specific target to mind, but rather as a team who should aim to accumulate assets. Gathering picks or promising young players would position them well to make a move for a bigger superstar down the road, one who, paired with Zion Williamson, would propel them into championship contention. And with both Redick and Jrue Holiday in town, the Pelicans have some intriguing pieces to dangle for teams looking to win now.
New York Knicks
Draft Pick: PG Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State Unless the Knicks trade up to acquire PG LaMelo Ball (which they are reportedly looking at), the Knicks should feel comfortable picking the best guard on the board at #8 overall, as there are several quality options. Haliburton, however, is the ideal target here, as he's a high IQ player with a good 3-point shot and excellent defense, he would fit Thibodeau's style pretty well, and presents less of a risk than Cole Anthony or Killian Hayes for example. Signing: F Danilo Gallinari, Oklahoma City Thunder With Mitchell Robinson not a shooting threat in the slightest, the Knicks should target someone who can stretch the floor from the four position. The best name available there is OKC's Danilo Gallinari, who nearly went to the Heat, but now is a free agent. Whoever the Knicks end up with at point guard will be well-aided by the floor stretching capacity of Gallinari, a 40% shooter the past two seasons. Trade: PG Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder Another name out of OKC, the Knicks should feel no issues drafting a point guard and trading for Chris Paul. First and foremost, the Knicks need to rebuild a winning culture, and bringing in Paul and Tom Thibodeau are good first steps towards that end. Likewise, even if the Knicks do select a point guard in the draft, Paul has shown himself quite adept at sharing the floor with other ball-handlers, like he did in Houston with James Harden, and as he did this past year in OKC with Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and Dennis Schroeder. A great leader, player and mentor, Paul would help the Knicks build the right environment to end their playoff drought.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Draft Pick: C Isaiah Stewart, Washington If the Thunder move Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari walks, they could be in for a rebuild. Stewart may be raw and underdeveloped offensively, but at 19-years old, he has time to develop his offensive game. Meanwhile, his wingspan, strength and motor give him major upside as a defensive stopper in the post. With Nerlens Noel potentially departing OKC, there could even be minutes for Stewart to step into as a rookie and get his feet wet. Signing: F Otto Porter, Chicago Bulls The Thunder could possibly be losing their best shooter (Gallinari) and their best defender (Roberson). Finding someone who can provide a little bit of both could work for them, with Porter shooting 38% last year in Chicago. An easy fit in between OKC's high powered guard duo and center Steven Adams, Porter could serve as either a reinforcement for another playoff run, or a piece with some long-term upside. Trade: F Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings If the Thunder aren't able to retain Danilo Gallinari, perhaps bringing in Bjelica could give them a similar styled replacement. As mentioned already, Bjelica is a floor stretching forward (42% clip) that would put another dangerous shooter around Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous Alexander.
Draft Pick: G Theo Maledon, France The Magic need someone to boost their struggling offense, and Maledon's craftiness as a ball-handler and off-ball shooting ability (37% from deep) should peak the Magic's interest. While Markelle Fultz has rebuilt himself into a potential long-term point guard, Maledon should seamlessly fit in next to him, and even provide minutes backing him up when Fultz heads to the bench. Signing: G Wesley Matthews, Milwaukee Bucks If Evan Fournier opts in, the Magic won't have the money to add bigger names, but Matthews would fit in well after finding a role as a rotational two-way guard. And even if the Magic do see Fournier depart elsewhere, Matthews' veteran experience could help their young core figure things out. Trade: G/F Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets If the Nets have interest in bringing in Aaron Gordon to add to the Irving-Durant duo, the Magic should be intent on getting Caris LeVert shipped to them as part of the deal. Only 26 years old, Levert averaged 19 points per game while fueling a KD-less Nets team to the playoffs. A young core of Fultz, Levert, Isaac, and Bamba is a group that you can build around.
Draft Pick: G Cassius Stanley, Duke The 76ers could use guards and shooting, and with limited financial flexibility, may need to find it in the NBA Draft. Thus, Stanley to Philly, where his elite athleticism and quality range (36%), would be a welcome addition to the 76ers. If he's still on the board at #21 overall, Stanley would make plenty of sense for the 76ers. Signing: PG Goran Dragic, Miami Heat The 76ers management has said they intend to keep Simmons and Embiid together, but if they don't keep that intention, bringing in Dragic to run the offense could be the move to make. Still productive for the Heat at 33-years old, Dragic would likely pair with Embiid better than Simmons did, as indicated by his shooting ability (37%). Trade: PG Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Thunder Breaking the mold here, should the 76ers decide to move Simmons, but not bring in Dragic, perhaps a bigger move would solve the question better. While the Knicks are the one most often linked to a move for Paul, the 76ers may want to consider adding the veteran PG to the mix, especially if they decide to breakup the Simmons-Embiid duo, and ship Ben Simmons out. Paul's veteran experience and versatile game should make him a much better sidekick for Embiid than Simmons managed to be.
Draft Pick: PG Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama The Suns needs someone in the backcourt, preferably someone who can work with Devin Booker, and run the offense when he's off the floor. That someone could be Lewis Jr., who averaged 19 points per game at Alabama and was able to knock down over 36% of his threes over two seasons. Finding a quality playmaker to carry the load could give them the breakthrough they need. Sigining: F Moe Harkless, Los Angeles Clippers Current starting wing Mikal Bridges was a solid compliment to Booker and Ayton this past season, but adding some more depth, especially a defensive geared piece, would give the Suns some switchy wings who can help them slow opponents down in the playoffs next year. Harkless will be a fairly cheap way of doing so. Trade: F Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls Putting Markkanen in an offense led by Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton could give him the space he needs to regain some of the production he had earlier in Chicago. Able to shoot off the pick-and-pop, Markkanen won't need to crowd in on Ayton to be an effective piece to the Suns offense.
Portland Trail Blazers
Draft Pick: F Saddiq Bey, Villanova With two picks in the first round (16 and 29), the Blazers will have the flexibility to fill multiple needs with the most talented players on the board. For that first selection, Bey would be a quality addition, giving the Blazers wing defense and reliable shooting. A second team unit featuring Trent, Little and Bey would be very versatile. Then, with that second first rounder, targeting a big man like Jalen Smith would be a quality Draft for the Blazers. Signing: C Mason Plumlee, Denver Nuggets With Hassan Whiteside hitting free agency, it's likely the Blazers could find themselves in need of a backup center if Whiteside is unwilling to accept a role as a backup. Thus, Mason Plumlee could be an option, as a veteran big with a quality motor who has been a serviceable option for Denver. Plumlee may not fill up the stat sheet, but in Game 6 of the Playoffs, made a direct impact for Denver with a handful of offensive rebounds and high energy. That kind of team player who work well for the Blazers rotation. Trade: PG Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs. The Blazers have a quality starting lineup with Lillard-McCollum-Ariza-Collins/Melo-Nurkic. What they still could use is a backup point guard to help generate some points when Lillard takes a breather. Perhaps swinging a deal to bring in Patty Mills to an actual contender would be a good match. Mills currently backups Dejounte Murray in San Antonio, but his quality production and veteran leadership could be a boost for the Blazers.
Draft Pick: G/F Devin Vassell, Florida State With De'Aaron Fox running the point, the Kings need to surround him with shooters like Vassell. A 6'10 wingspan and 42% clip from deep, Vassell would be an ideal fit on the wing, and could help the Kings make the push into the playoffs by bolstering their offense and defense. Signing: F Jerami Grant, Denver Nuggets If Grant opts out of his deal in Denver, he'd give the Kings a two-way option at the 3 or 4, an excellent depth addition to add in rotation with Jabari Parker, Bjelica, and Harrison Barnes. And of course, important to note when playing with De'Aaron Fox, Grant has a quality shot from deep, hitting 39% for the Nuggets this season. Trade: F Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers If the Kings are moving G Buddy Hield, then perhaps he could interest the Lakers, who would likely want to acquire a more high profile guard to compliment LeBron and Davis. Thus, a move for Kuzma could be in play, as he'd give the Kings a versatile wing to pair with Harrison Barnes. Kuzma would also compromise a promising young trio along with De'Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III.
San Antonio Spurs
Draft Pick: F Deni Avdija, Israel If there's any team that should be angling to move up should Avdija slide, the Spurs would likely be one of them. An excellent distributing big wing, capable of giving the Spurs minutes at the 4, Avdija seems like a tailor made fit for a Gregg Popovich offensive system. Between his schematic fit and his upside, he'd be the ideal player for the Spurs to come away with on Draft day. Signing: F/C Bobby Portis, New York Knicks Portis has plenty of upside if he can get straightened out, and if anyone is going to get the most out of Portis and teach him to play in a system, it's Gregg Popovich. If he succeeds, the Spurs find themselves with an offensive forward who can score in multiple ways, or even another trade piece if they want to sell high. Either way, taking a gamble on Portis could pay off for a program needing a new direction. Trade: As Many Picks as They Can Get The Spurs run is over for now. They did well to bring in some fun pieces in the Kawhi trade, but the Spurs need to enter a rebuild or risk an extended play in no man's land. Selling on DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Patrick Mills, and Marco Belinelli should be the aim. Get picks, get promising young players, and set yourself up to rebuild quickly. If one of these guys can even help you move up and select Avdija, do it.
Draft Pick: F Robert Woodard II, Mississippi State An athletic forward with a good build, Woodard could be a steal if Toronto is able to land him at #29 overall. After taking a major leap in between his freshman year and sophomore year, Woodard developed an outside shot (43%). For a team that may not be able to retain Serge Ibaka, finding another big to provide some range on the outside would give them a quality replacement. Signing: PG Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets Should Toronto be unable to retain Fred VanVleet, finding a guard capable of picking up minutes at point guard and shooting guard would serve them well. Rivers may not the same caliber of VanVleet, but can provide the versatility needed, along with a quality enough shot from deep (36% in 2019-2020). Trade: SG Luke Kennard, Detroit Pistons Thinking outside the box here, if the Raptors aren't comfortable paying VanVleet the rate it'd take to retain him, perhaps a sign-and-trade for a team like Detroit could send them back something useful, rather than letting VanVleet walk entirely. A sharp shooting guard (40% over his career, Kennard could fit well in Toronto, either as a long-term solution, or a piece to flip as part of a package at the deadline for a bigger star post-Kawhi.
Draft Pick: C Aleksej Pokusevski, Serbia A unicorn big-man, Pokusevski is a mobile center with fantastic height (7'0) and the ability to knock down shots beyond the arc (32% shooter). While he'll need to get bigger (only 205 lbs and lanky), he's still very young and should be able to develop into a starting caliber player down the road. And selecting at #23 overall, that's really what you're looking for. Signing: G Langston Galloway, Detroit Pistons While the main signing priorities for Utah will be re-signing Jordan Clarkson and extending Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz could also look to add another guard into the rotation, and Galloway's versatility and shooting make him an easy player to fit into any rotation. Trade: PG Dennis Smith Jr., New York Knicks The Jazz would have some quality offers if they did move C Rudy Gobert. But assuming they keep Gobert, the Jazz target someone to give their second unit a boost, especially as an aging Mike Conley drops off from the All-Star player he was. Smith looked much better earlier in his career, averaging around 15 points per game through his first three seasons. If he can recapture that, he could even play his way into the direct replacement for Conley.
Draft Pick: F Isaac Okoro, Auburn This one makes more sense than a lot of these other picks, in my opinion. The Wizards are horrendous on the defensive end, and Okoro is the best wing defender in this year's Draft. Being able to lock up opposing team's top scorer will allow Beal and Wall to go to work on the offensive end, lightening their load a good deal. Signing: F Moe Harkless, Los Angeles Clippers Bringing in one defensive minded rookie won't solve the defensive woes of the Wizards. With not a ton of cap flexibility, the Wizards should aim for someone relatively cheap, who can fill a clear role, and help develop young players like Rui Hachimura. That someone would likely be Moe Harkless. Trade: The Biggest Haul They Can Get for Beal I know the Wizards have said they want to see what Beal and Wall can do next season, rather than moving Beal now. But I personally think that's a mistake, and that cashing in on Beal, and getting a jump start on the rebuild is the way to go. The Wall-Beal duo didn't accomplish anything before Wall tore his Achilles, and the longer they wait, the more likely they get screwed over. If they can land two of Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Jarrett Allen from the Nets, I think that would be the best package, but the aim is less so a specific target than just hoard what they can get. Anyways, this took a little while to put together, so I hope you don't totally hate it. Let me know if you agree, disagree, think someone would fit better!
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