Tag Archives: Reggie Jackson

NBA Trade Deadline: Who improved and who disappointed?

After the dust settles from the All-Star Weekend, all the attention turns to the trade deadline and as always, there were plenty of interesting moves made. So who came out smelling of roses and who look to have shot themselves in the foot? Here’s a quick look at three teams who improved and three that disappointed.

 

Improved

Detroit Pistons

Drummond and Jackson are good players who now have more talent around them.  Source: USA Today

Drummond and Jackson are good players who now have more talent around them. Source: USA Today

There’s always one team that likes to surprise us a little at the trade deadline and this year it was Stan van Gundy’s Detroit Pistons. They might just be floating outside the playoffs but with a solid core and some really valuable additions, they look like they could pull ahead in that tight pack in the Eastern Conference.

Tobias Harris is only 23 and can still get better, even though he’s an asset with his versatility already. They then get Donatas Montiejunas, who could still develop into a really good power forward, and Marcus Thornton, who adds to their weak bench.

When they give up a first-round pick and two role players for that much coming in, it’s nothing more than a win. Not only have they got enough to contend for a playoff place this season, they may have set up enough for a strong future too.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Some wil miss the sight of Varejao but the Cavs upgraded with Channing Frye.  Source: The Express

Some wil miss the sight of Varejao but the Cavs upgraded with Channing Frye. Source: The Express

While the reigning Eastern Conference champions gave up a popular player in Anderson Varejao and a conditional first-round pick, they must feel that they’ve added a solid piece in Channing Frye from the Orlando Magic.

There were a few clubs chasing the 32-year-old, including the Los Angeles Clippers, who can work well as a stretch four in the NBA. Some feel that he’s too similar to Kevin Love but that’s exactly why he’s been brought in, he can help that consistenty of emulating Love from off the bench.

With players like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving desperate for more floor room, Frye will give them that. It also takes away some of the log-jam happening under the rim with Tristan Thompson as they look to make a team that can take on the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. Or at least, they hope it will.

Los Angeles Clippers

Green fills a need and is a great pickup for the price.  Source: Sports Illustrated

Green fills a need and is a great pickup for the price. Source: Sports Illustrated

When initial reports had the Clippers flipping Lance Stephenson, C.J Wilcox and a first-round selection for Channing Frye, it seemed like a pretty decent deal. However, when it was announced that they were getting Jeff Green for the first and last of that offer, it has to be seen as a real coup.

Green is a really solid player who could even start at the three for LA, a position of need for the last few years, as well as being able to play at the four when the team goes small ball. He already has a relationship with coach Doc Rivers and to give up a player who contributed very little seems like a bargain.

Adding to that, the pick is a 2019 selection that could even become a 2021 pick, so they could be giving up very little for some real solid production. Especially with Blake Griffin out for a few more weeks yet, Green could be a really valuable addition to compete with the other strong teams out in the West.

 

Disappointed

Utah Jazz

Mack? Really? Why?  Source: saltcityhoops.com

Mack? Really? Why? Source: saltcityhoops.com

The Jazz have a genuine shot of making the playoffs this year but needed a point guard to make more of a contribution. with Dante Exum likely out for the season, they needed a playmaker to help facilitate the likes of Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert.

So they decided to trade for the Atlanta Hawk’s third guard Shelvin Mack. A player who’s statistically worse that their current two fit guards, Trey Burke and Raul Neto, in almost every area. What an incredible move.

Is he good enough to even play? If not, then why did they need to make this move? He may surprise us, he may fall flat on his face. In the end, it looks like the Jazz couldn’t decide whether to stick or twist so just did a twirl for us at the deadline.

Atlanta Hawks

Hinrich has a lot of miles on the clock and has rapidly declined over the past season or so.  Source: Bleacher Report

Hinrich has a lot of miles on the clock and has rapidly declined over the past season or so. Source: Bleacher Report

So as we’ve already mentioned, the Hawks moved on their third guard, which was a decent move. They also decided to keep the likes of Jeff Teague and Al Horford, so their current core remains in tact until at least the summer.

Was it the wisest move to keep Horford, who could go for free in the summer? It remains to be seen, especially if they couldn’t find a good offer before the deadline. However, they decided to make a late move for Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, to replace the departed Mack.

Why? We may never know. They have two really solid guards, but they essentially swapped Mack for Hinrich while also giving up Justin Holiday, who had fallen out of the rotation anyway. This can only be to clear some space and maybe give the team some extra leadership they didn’t really need anyway.

Memphis Grizzlies

Even Courtney Lee was surprised to be traded.  Source: rantsports.com

Even Courtney Lee was surprised to be traded. Source: rantsports.com

What a strange deadline from the Grizzlies, who look to have thrown their hands up in the air and hope they can rebuild again around an ageing Marc Gasol. That seems even stranger when they are sat with the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

We’ve already mentioned the Green trade, which brings in a player that will either be waived instantly or will be a complete gamble in Lance Stephenson. They also gave up Courtney Lee to the Charlotte Hornets for mainly cap space, although P.J Hariston has shown flashes of quality.

Both were third and fourth in three-point shooting on a bad three-point shooting team. Will these moves help keep Mike Conley around in the summer? He may need more than a load of second-round picks to convince him to stay in Tennessee.

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Has the East finally conquered the West in the NBA?

The Cavaliers lead the charge but the rest of the East has improved.  Source: Bleacher Report

The Cavaliers lead the charge but the rest of the East has improved. Source: Bleacher Report

It has been a running joke for almost the past decade that the Western Conference has held complete dominance over the Eastern equivalent in the NBA. Despite the East winning four of the last 10 NBA Finals, they have been demolished in terms of regular season wins and inter-conference games by those that play a little later here in the UK.

However, the balance of power looks to have shifted this year and in striking fashion.

The Eastern Conference have 10 players over .500 this season, similar to what we saw in the West last season, after just five teams managed that total in 2014/15. Whether that record continues will yet to be seen but adding to that, the team with the best record last season, the Atlanta Hawks, are currently outside of the playoff places despite going 14-12.

So how has this happened? The simple maths tells you that teams that struggled with injuries or chemistry last year have managed to pull it together. Other than the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were excellent last season too and could get better, most teams have had something that has changed their season.

Going down the confernce standings, the Chicago Bulls have a new coach that emphasises on offence and that’s getting the best out of the likes of Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. It hasn’t been a rousing success, they are still waiting for Derrick Rose to return to MVP-like form that he may never reach and Jochaim Noah to find himself, but Chicago were pretty good last year too.

Paul George, a certainty for comeback of the year.  Source: Fox Sports

Paul George, a certainty for comeback of the year. Source: Fox Sports

The Indiana Pacers have been dramatically changed by returning All-Star Paul George, who is really playing on an MVP level.  He’s averaging 26.2 points per game, fifth best in the NBA, along with 7.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists. George put the power forward experiment to bed quickly and he’s proving why they should have never considered it in the first place.

Miami have all their pieces they traded for fit and ready to play. They have gelled well, they play some serious defence again and they have enough firepower to deal with any team. Dwayne Wade is ageless, Chris Bosh is still great, Hassan Whiteside is a monster in the making and Goran Dragic is the ideal point guard to add to that great mix.

Toronto haven’t changed too much, with DeMarre Carroll adding some strong defence, but they need to find more offence from somewhere other than DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. They are possibly the best backcourt in the league and Jonas Valanciunas was growing into a solid piece until his injury, his return might be the spark they need.

The Hornets have just found their chemistry in Charlotte, especially after Lance Stephenson left. Nicolas Batum was always a good pickup, Jeremy Lin is actually playing good basketball and Al Jefferson is still a beast, before his silly suspension, then add the surprise form of Jeremy Lamb.

Orlando were a solid team just waiting to grow. They have three great guards, Nikola Vucevic is a really solid player and their coach is pulling them together. Detroit Pistons are another team that just needed to reduce the log jam as Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson look like pieces for their present and future.

The Magic, led by Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, have been a nice surprise.  Source: sircharlesincharge.com

The Magic, led by Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, have been a nice surprise. Source: sircharlesincharge.com

Teams like Atlanta are just outside, Boston have a good solid team that are well coached and New York have finally found some traction despite their poor record. Even the Milwaukee Bucks, who everyone thought could make the leap, have shown in flashes real brilliance and are certainly a team to keep an eye on. That’s also considering that Washington Wizards have a good team but just aren’t competing right now.

Looking into the deficiencies of the other conference and it’s the usual mix, big teams underperforming and players injured. The Los Angeles Clippers look to have finally got out of their early hump and the Houston Rockets are hanging in there despite still being in a funk.

New Orleans have had an abysmal injury crisis and Anthony Davis is not playing at his full level. Phoenix and Utah have not met expectations, the Kings are good but only on their day and Portland are really missing the star power behind Damien Lillard.

So is the East better now? On current evidence it’s hard to deny. Back in early December, the East was 57-55 on games against the West and that just shows you that the gap is not as big as it looks on paper comparing conferences.

It is good to see both conferences be competitive but at the same time, it is weighed against the dramatically poor starts from the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the real question becomes that come playoff time, can anyone knock off the Cavs? I’m not so sure yet.

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