NBA Hot Takes I Kind of Believe

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Hot takes are the media currency of the day, but it’s hard to fully believe any hot take. That being said, you can talk yourself into some of them, and this is going to be my attempt to reconcile these takes with myself. Without further ado:

 

Malcolm Brogdon is a top 5 point guard

 

Case for: Brogdon has been the Pacers best player this season. You can talk about Domantas Sabonis, and you can talk about maybe T.J. Warren, but this season Brogdon has been a driving force. He is huge (6’5”) and is a defensive force. If he were a force just on defense, that would be great for Indiana. However, his offense is what has been keeping the team alive, with him averaging careers in points per game (19.1), assists (7.5), and shot attempts (14.7). He is aggressive, and makes sure the offense is balanced and everybody eats when Brogdon is on the floor. That combination of offense and defense has been deadly.

 

Case Against: Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker and Trae Young have all been better this season, and those are just the guys that are healthy. Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet have been playing at an outstanding level thus far, and Steph Curry is not even healthy yet. 

 

Verdict: Needs more time

 

Miami is the second best team in the East

 

Case for: Depth seems to be the new name of the game, as the league seem to shift away from the superteam era. Miami’s depth is a marvel to behold, as they never seem to have a bad player gracing the floor. The worst player is probably Chris Silva, who gives Miami a pure rim running presence, the likes of which they probably have not had since Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen. Bam Adebayo is a perfect big man for the modern NBA, as he can play quarterback on the back line of the defense while being a pretty good passer on the other end. 

Their development team deserves a lot of credit, making NBA players out of unproven commodities such as Silva, Duncan Robinson (44.9% from 3-point range on 7 attempts), and Kendrick Nunn, who is a leading contender for Rookie of the Year. Justise Winslow is proving to be an incredibly sharp Swiss Army Knife, being the de facto point guard while playing the three/four most of the time. They have incredible players to come off the bench, as Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk are overqualified to be sixth and seventh men. 

I have made it this far without even mentioning Jimmy Butler. Butler is fulfilling a sort of Scottie Pippen role this season, averaging 20.6 points a game, 7 assists, and 6.9 rebounds. He allows Spoelstra to play his way for 44 minutes, and then crunchtime is Butler time. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKyaz4_w5SQ

Without Butler doing all the little things, there is no Miami Heat being 18-6. Butler is probably the second best player in the conference, depending on how you feel about Joel Embiid (you’ll see how I feel further down this article.)

 

Case Against: Boston does not have the size at center, but they are bigger on the wings than Miami. Indiana could potentially bully them, as well as Philadelphia. Philadelphia has a way better starting five. The Raptors are going to be a formidable matchup for any team on any given night, as even though Butler willed them to a victory in their matchup. There is also a not insignificant case that they are the fifth best team in the conference. 

 

Verdict: Talk me to in January.

 

Karl-Anthony Towns is better than Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic

 

Case for: With Towns, we may see another Anthony Davis situation developing before our eyes. Embiid and Jokic got the benefit of being drafted into better organizations, who put actual good teams around the players that exacerbated the strengths of their best players (Embiid admittedly less so.) Towns is a top shooter in the league. No, I did not say top big man shooter. I said top shooter. He is shooting 42.4% from three on 8.4 attempts a game, in the process of averaging 26 points and 12 rebounds. He also suffers from what we call Kevin Garnett syndrome, which is when your team is incapable of surrounding you with effective talent for more than a year.

Towns is not the defender that Embiid is, nor is he the passer that Jokic is. However, according to Cleaning the Glass, when Towns is on the floor with Jarrett Culver, Andrew Wiggins, Treveon Graham, and Robert Covington are on the floor, the Wolves defense only allows 100 points per 100 possessions, which is by far an above average defense. Also according to that wonderful site, Towns assists on 21.9% of his teammates shots, which puts him in the 98th percentile for centers as well. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C8mplQI9Fs

In this video, you can see Towns getting into the teeth of the defense, and using his pump fake effectively to make plays for others. Embiid has never shot higher than 31% from three after his first season, while Jokic has had exactly one season shooting higher than 33.3% from three, and he is shooting 23% from that range this season. And this season, they have combined to take 7.5 threes a game, meaning they have taken 20 fewer threes combined while making 26% of them this season. 

 

Case Against: Towns is not the passer and defender that Jokic and Embiid, are respectively, and both of them game-changing on that end. Additionally, Embiid is considerably better at drawing fouls, and Jokic performed considerably better in his lone postseason than Towns did in his. Embiid is a defensive monster, as the 76ers are 11 points worse on defense when Embiid is off the court, according to Cleaning the Glass. 

Verdict: I fully believe it, and here is why: I laid out the case why those are better at their best strengths than Towns is. However, when you give a player 50% of those capabilities and make him one of the most knockdown shooters in the league, then you have a player who is going to be a monster. Towns is going to be the next Anthony Davis, and I hope he either gets freed or gets better help because he is a special player who needs even just a point guard. Let’s see what happens in the future.


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