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On our MTV Challenge Accepted podcast
(link in bold
) we have a segment where we discuss this question. Whose stock went up? Whose stock went down? Here were our winners and losers this week.
[OC] Which awards are locked in? Which are still up for debate? a glance through the odds and campaigns in each category
It feels like it's been 5 years since we've seen actual NBA basketball, which may make awards debates and campaigns more difficult. Wait, who was playing well again...? Dennis Schroder? Seriously? Huh. Okay then.
As we soldier back into the bubble, there's a risk that awards voters will forget about that early part of the season (aka the vast majority) and fall victim to recency bias. Given that, we wanted to glance through the major races and determine which -- if any -- awards may still be in debate.
For this exercise, I'm using the current odds as listed by an online betting site (bovada). Note: the percentages do NOT add up to 100%
because online betting sites like your money. MVP
Giannis Antetokounmpo: - 3500 (97%)
LeBron James: +600 (14%)
is the race over?
This betting site heavily favors Giannis Antetokounmpo, although some other metrics have it closer than that. Basketball-reference's MVP tracker lists Giannis at 50.7% and LeBron at 17.3%.
I'm more inclined to believe the latter and that LeBron James would be closer to 15-20% odds. No doubt, Giannis is a worthy MVP. He's been a dominant force (again) for the top statistical team in the league (again.) He's racking up 30-14-6 in only 30.9 minutes per game. In most circumstances, he'd win this award in a walk.
That said, you can never discount "narrative," and LeBron James has a few of those going for him. The Lakers have vaulted up to the # 1 seed in the West, outperforming preseason expectations. James has played exceptionally well, and even led the league in assists. Partly because of that, James' camp has successfully gotten the media to buy into the storyline that he made a sudden transition to point guard (ya know, because he had always deferred to his point guards like Mo Williams and Mario Chalmers in the past...)
More than that, James may benefit from this strange corona-bubble. He's been a leading advocate for continuing on, and as always, players tend to follow his lead. I can see more than a few media members giving James an MVP vote for "saving the season." All in all, I expect this vote to be closer than it should be (and I expect poor James Harden to finish well behind where he should as well.)
So James will get some votes, but can he actually win the award? I wouldn't rule it out. The Lakers are currently 3 games behind the Bucks for the # 1 overall seed. It's hard to imagine Milwaukee losing enough to slip, but it's not Wallace Shawn inconceivable either. If the Lakers somehow manage to catch them, then I actually think LeBron will win MVP. Of course, it's more likely the Bucks will hang onto the # 1 seed, and Giannis will hang onto MVP. But again, I don't think it's a stone cold lock -- yet.
Rookie of the Year
Ja Morant: - 3500 (97%)
Zion Williamson: +850 (11%)
is the race over?
It should be. Zion Williamson is freakin' amazing, but he's played 19 games so far. That's 40 less than Ja Morant, who has played stellar ball for a rookie from a small school, and somehow led the Memphis Grizzlies to the 8th seed.
Still, we can't rule out the risk of recency bias and a wild overreaction from the media. Williamson has a chance to lead the Pelicans up to the 9th spot, at which point they'd play Morant's Grizzlies. If Williamson can lead New Orleans to two victories over Memphis in a row -- and thus leapfrog them in the standings -- then it's very feasible the media would throw their vote his way. The media (and the league as a whole) tends to like this Zion fella, if you haven't noticed.
Dennis Schroder: - 220 (69%)
Montrezl Harrell: +190 (34%)
Lou Williams: +450 (18%)
Derrick Rose: +3000 (3%)
is the race over?
Simply put: no. It's still a three-man race in my book. The Clippers' Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell finished 1-2 last season, and are right back in the thick of things this year. Among the two, it's harder to justify Williams' winning for the third season in a row. He hasn't played as well as last year, and hasn't been as big of a focal point for the Clippers' game plan. He hasn't looked as engaged this season, and even debated missing the bubble.
With Sweet Lou taking a slight step back, it's opened the door for Dennis Schroder. He's having a career season in terms of efficiency. In fact, it's hard to understate his jump this year. In his six previous season, his career high TS% was only 53.3%. This season? He's vaulted up to 57.3%. The question is: have enough voters noticed? OKC has been a feel-good story this year, but Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tend to get the most credit for that.
Overall, I wouldn't be surprised if voters get lazy and just fall back on the highest scorer among the three. And even by those standards, the race is wide open. Schroder is at 19.0 PPG, Williams is at 18.7 PPG, and Harrell is at 18.6 PPG. A strong (or bad) week or two in the bubble may tilt this race in any direction.
Defensive Player of the Year
Giannis Antetokounmpo: -500 (83%)
Anthony Davis: +200 (33%)
Rudy Gobert: +2800 (3%)
is the race over?
Even among savvy and analytically-inclined media members, "defense" is still something of a mystery to quantify. We see a lot of herd mentality emerge for DPOY voting, with candidates needing to stake their claim early on and campaign all season long.
In terms of storylines and narratives, it felt like Anthony Davis had the early momentum. He's a wrecking ball (1.5 steals, 2.4 blocks) who helped improve the Lakers' defense from # 12 to # 3 this season. Still, Giannis Antetokounmpo has steadily built his case for a double MVP + DPOY, and currently ranks as the betting favorite on this site.
Personally, I believe it's a closer race than these numbers suggest. At the same time, I'm not sure what their play in the bubble is going to do about it. More likely, it'll be an influential media piece (like Zach Lowe pushing for Marc Gasol) that may get voters ushering on one side or another.
Bam Adebayo: -150 (60%)
Brandon Ingram: +250 (29%)
Luke Doncic: +500 (17%)
Jayson Tatum: +900 (10%)
Devonte Graham: +1000 (9%)
is the race over?
Again, this race feels "too close to call" to me. John King and David Chalian may be tallying up the counties all night long.
Earlier this season, I looked back at previous Most Improved winners and tried to find some common threads. On average, the winner improved from 11.7 PPG to 19.6 PPG (roughly +8 points.)
Historically speaking, Brandon Ingram and Jayson Tatum fit close to those templates. Ingram has swelled from 18.3 PPG to 24.3 PPG in his first season in New Orleans (+6). Tatum has made an even bigger leap, going from 15.7 PPG to 23.6 PPG (essentially our exact +8). Of the two, I may lean more to Ingram myself. Tatum's taking more shots and more threes, but he was already considered a proven star prior to this. Ingram had been more of a question mark before, but has now established himself as a potential max player. The key for him has been an improved FT%. In his first three seasons, he shot 62%, 68%, and 68% from the line. This year, he's up to 86%. That's major progress, and represents a massive difference in his efficiency "floor." Still, you wonder if Ingram's momentum peaked too early. Ever since Zion Williamson came back, it feels like Ingram has been an afterthought in the media.
Conversely, Bam Adebayo's reputation within the media is still surging. He's been a major reason for the Miami Heat's success this year, nearly doubling from 8.9 PPG to 16.2 PPG (+7.3 overall.) He's also doubled his assists (from 2.2 to 5.1). If you wanted to nitpick Adebayo's candidacy, you may suggest he was pretty darn good already. A lot of the statistical upswing comes from an increase in minutes, from 23.3 to 34.4 this year.
Overall, I'd say Abebayo is the favorite, but I wouldn't lock it in yet. A player like Brandon Ingram could get hot and have a few 40 point games, at which point the momentum may swing back in his favor.
When anthropology professors
99 cent store free agents: Point Guards
The NBA offseason is always filled with exciting storylines like star free agents and blockbuster trades.
But rather than dwell on the obvious, this series intends to do the opposite: focus on the lower-profile free agents who may have some value to teams. No NBA player is actually "99 Cents," of course, but these are all players who may be bargains based on their perceived market.
This "99 Cent Store" series has been open for business for the last two offseasons. In the past, we've highlighted names like Fred VanVleet (pre breakout), Christian Wood, and Davis Bertans. Not all of the items turn out to be gems (is Nerlens Noel still not a DPOY candidate yet?), but the returns have been largely positive so far. Let's see if we can keep that momentum going this season.
99 cent store Langston Galloway, Detroit Pistons, UFA, 28 years old
In last year's 99 Cent Store, we hyped up Seth Curry (Steph's brother) as a possible value free agent. Seth didn't have the size and skill set of a traditional point guard, but the NBA isn't always craving traditional point guards these days. A lot of star SGs, SFs, PFs, and even Cs have the ball in their hands, so teams need to fill the court with a supporting cast that can complement them and provide spacing. Effectively an undersized SG, Seth's excellent shooting appeared to be a perfect complement to a ball-dominant superstar. Seth ended up going to Dallas on a moderate contract, and had a strong season for them in that role.
For those same reasons, we'd recommend Langston Galloway as a potential bargain add. We're not going to suggest that Galloway is as good as Seth Curry as a player or as a shooter, but his skill set is related. He's not Steph Curry -- he's not Seth Curry -- he's on the opposite side of the family tree. He's like the random third cousin who shows up at the barbecue and hogs all the mac n' cheese. Still, if he got the address, then he must have some relation to the family we know and love.
Galloway would share some DNA in the sense that he's also a "point guard" who's more of an undersized shooting guard by nature. He doesn't have the ball skills or playmaking to run an offense. At all. However, he can be effective if operating as a 3+D guard. Players like Patrick Beverly and George Hill are the premium prototypes of that skill set, and Galloway is the 99 Cent store generic brand. He's an above-average as a shooter (36.7% from three for his career), and above-average as a defender, where his 6'8" wingspan helps his cause. And while it feels like Galloway has been around forever, he's still only 28 years old. He probably has 2-3 years left of usefulness in his role. There may be 1 or 2 teams that would start Langston Galloway (in a limited role), but almost every team could use him as part of the rotation.
HOU. Russell Westbrook and James Harden are ball dominant and salary-cap dominant players, making depth a constant struggle for the team. Backup PG Austin Rivers can probably get more money than he's due on his player option ($2.4M) even in a COVID-market, possibly creating another hole. Galloway would make sense as a replacement here, seeing as how he'd be able to play in a lineup with either Westbrook or Harden.
LAL. Avery Bradley may be skipping the playoffs, but there's still a chance the Lakers can win the title with some combination of Alex Caruso and Rajon Rondo at PG anyway. But what happens if it doesn't work out? What happens if Bradley and Rondo (both of whom have player options) get shuffled out? In that case, Galloway and Caruso could tag-team and provide a decent and low-cost 3+D guard spot for next year.
MIN. The Timberwolves tried the "no PG offense" for a majority of the season, and it didn't work out so hot. Now, they'll be handing the reins over to D'Angelo Russell full time. Galloway could be a nice backup for Russell; the two would have enough size to play some minutes alongside each other as well. You have to figure Gersson Rosas will prioritize shooters like Galloway as well. The team wants to play MoreyBall (top 3 in 3PA), but doesn't have the personnel yet to pull it off (bottom 3 in 3P%).
Yogi Ferrell, Sacramento Kings, UFA, 27 years old
He may be fairly anonymous now, but there was a time when the name "Yogi Ferrell" was a big deal in college basketball. The bluechip recruit immediately stepped into the starting lineup for Tom Crean's Indiana Hoosiers, helping to lead the team to a # 1 seed that first year on campus. But then a funny thing happened: the college star actually stayed in college. Ferrell would go on to play all 4 years (starting 137 of 137 games) for Indiana.
Through it, Ferrell developed the negative narrative that he was a "college player." Only 6'0" with average length and athleticism, he didn't have the look of a future pro. The NBA dismissed him, leading him to get undrafted. He's hung around since then, but his buzz has dwindled and dwindled. He played this past season as Sacramento's 3rd PG, only logging 11 minutes per game. Maybe they were right -- maybe he was never cut out for the NBA.
Then again... are we sure about that? Ferrell may not be the prototype, but he still has some virtues. Among those strengths: "basketball." He's a savvy, steady field general who has an above-average shot. He's hit 36.5% from three and 83.8% from the line over the course of his NBA career. He's not going to carry the load (14-4-4 per 36 minutes), but he's not going to rock the boat either. In fact, he only averages 1.5 turnovers per 36.
The concern with a player like Ferrell would be his limited size and athleticism, a combo that tends to translate into awful defense. But again, we haven't seen much evidence of that. Effort and basketball IQ can help overcome athletic weaknesses, and that appears to be the case with Ferrell. Limitations and all, Ferrell has registered only a -0.2 defensive box plus/minus.
Overall, this profile doesn't suggest any huge upside or any hidden "star" potential. But at the end of the day, this store isn't about star potential -- it's about value. Ferrell is a high-end third PG who can potentially be a true # 2. He'd make sense on a team like Orlando as a potential replacement for their own steady eddie backup D.J. Augustin (also a free agent.)
clearance rack Gary Payton II, Washington Wizards, UFA, 27 years old
On paper, you may wonder why Gary Payton II wasn't a bigger deal entering the NBA Draft. After all, we're talking about the son of an NBA superstar who had been productive in college. In his last season at Oregon State, he averaged 16.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 2.5 steals (!) How the heck did someone with that pedigree go undrafted?
Unfortunately for Payton, two factors worked against him. For one, he was a poor shooter. Second, he was "over-aged." After spending some time in community college with Jeff Winger and Dean Pelton, Payton would be a 24-year-old rookie, a major knock against him and his perceived upside. That criticism may have proven apt; Payton has not improved as much as a young pup may have. His three-point shooting has sagged around 25-30%, a major problem in today's NBA. In general, he's a below-average offensive player, averaging just 10-6-4 per 36 minutes.
That said, Payton does have some virtues on the other end. He's not quite "The Glove" (basketball-reference even dubs his official nickname "The Mitten"), but he's definitely a good defender. He's 6'3" with a 6'8" wingspan, and has proven to have sticky hands himself. After averaging 2.8 steals over two years at OSU, he's at 2.2 per 36 in the NBA. He makes some sense when paired together with a ball-dominant SG like a James Harden or Devin Booker or Bradley Beal. No, we're not talking about as a starter, or even as a lead backup, but as a 3rd PG who can add a different skill set to a bench. In that context, he's worth a roster spot. Is a 13th man not worth reading about to you? Well then, get the F out of our store, ya snob! This is what the 99 Cent Store is all about.
featured item E'Twaun Moore, New Orleans Pelicans, UFA, 31 years old
Collectively, NBA fans scratched their heads in confusion when the New Orleans Pelicans doled out $8.5M a year for anonymous E'Twaun Moore. After all, this was an unheralded a player, a R2 draft pick, a player who hadn't cracked 10 PPG in any of his first six seasons in the league. For all we knew, he was an NBA2k generated player.
Three years later, the contract doesn't look much better. Moore got buried this past season in a crowded Pelicans lineup, averaging only 18.8 minutes per game. He doesn't appear to be a part of the franchise's future plans at all. Moore will be tossed out into the darkness, left with no home, and perhaps no chance of matching that $8M salary ever again.
However, we have to be mindful as NBA fans not to lump in an "overpaid" player as a synonym for a "bad" player. Someone like Tobias Harris may not be worth his salary, but he's still a good starter. On a lower level, E'Twaun Moore may be the same way. Perhaps he's not worth $8-10M a year, but he's actually a solid addition to a rotation (even if the Pelicans squeezed him out.)
Moore's primary virtue is as a 3+D wing. At first glance he's not big enough for that role at 6'4", but he's aided by a pelican-like wingspan that stretches to near 6'10". He's not a great defender (now at age 31), but he's passable at both the SG and SF spots. Offensively, he'll help you as a spacer. He's hit on 39.0% of his threes for his career, and had actually gotten up to 42% and 43% the prior two seasons before he lost some rhythm this season.
That combination of skills makes Moore a good rotation player, and perhaps even a low-end starter on the right team. I wouldn't expect him to get "overpaid" again, but that's precisely what earns him a place in our store. He's a potential bargain buy right now.
BKN. SG Joe Harris is an excellent shooter, but he's also a free agent. Will the Nets pony up to keep him around? Or will he be jettisoned like others from the pre KD-Kyrie era? If he is, then E'Twaun Moore makes sense as a cheap replacement.
MIL. The shooting guard spot is the biggest question mark for the Bucks, and this offseason may add to the murkiness if Wes Matthews (player option) or Pat Connaughton (UFA) leave town. E'Twaun Moore would be a sensible filler, and platoon with Donte DiVincenzo.
SA. Do Gregg Popovich and the Spurs want to contend for the playoffs in 2020-21? Do they want to blow it up? TBD. But if their intention is to go for that 8th seed again, Moore may be an upgrade on smaller Bryn Forbes, who struggles on the defensive end.
99 cent store Shaquille Harrison, Chicago Bulls, UFA, 26 years old
Coaches and front offices love to tout that "defense is half the game!" That is, until it's time to actually pay a defensive player. Or draft a defensive player. Or even invite a defensive player onto the roster for a fully guaranteed contract.
Shaq Harrison has been dealing with that struggle for his entire professional career. Coming out of Tulsa, Harrison always had the chops defensively. He's long and agile enough to guard 1s and 2s and even some 3s. The trouble is: shooting was never his strong suit. Even as a senior, he only hit 19.5% from deep in the NCAA. Yikes. That's a surefire recipe to go "undrafted," which is exactly what Harrison did.
Since then, Harrison has been trying to improve his shot, the key for him to stick on an NBA roster. This past season, we've started to see some glimmers of progress there. He shot a career-high 38.1% from three, and a career-high 78.0% from the line. Now to be fair, those were both extremely small sample sizes (16-42 from three, 39-50 from the line), but it's still encouraging nonetheless. Because if Harrison can become a passable shooter, then his defensive abilities give him inherent value. He's legitimately one of the better perimeter defenders in the league. ESPN's real plus/minus listed his impact as a +2.5 on defense, which ranked as the 9th best player in the entire NBA (out of 503 qualifiers.) If a coaching staff feels confident in their player development and their shooting coaches, then Harrison would be an intriguing investment to make.
clearance rack John Konchar, Memphis Grizzlies, 24 years old
Last year, I included Philadelphia PG-SG Shake Milton in this column, causing Sixers fans to riot and demand that I mention the team had the right to extend his two-way contract if they wanted. The team did, and Milton will prove to be a bargain for them over the next few years. Similarly, the Memphis Grizzlies will have that opportunity to keep two-way player John Konchar on the team should they want. But if they don't, I'd be eyeing Konchar as a possible roster addition.
No doubt, there are reasons to doubt John Konchar's NBA prospects. He comes from a school that's so small that they didn't even know what to name it (shifting a few times before settling on "Purdue Fort Wayne"). And at the risk of being politically incorrect, we should also mention that he's white. NBA GMs don't exactly sit up and salivate when they see an undersized (6'5") white wing player walk into the gym.
All that said, Konchar has been productive time and time again. As you'd expect, he can hit the three pointer. But what's most intriguing about Konchar is his playing strength. He may be only 6'5" (6'7" wingspan) but he plays much bigger than that. As a college senior, he grabbed 8.5 rebounds a game and blocked 0.9 shots to boot. He also converted 62.9% of his field goals in two-point range. It may have been low level competition, but he flat-out bullied his opponents.
Naturally you'd presume: there's no way he can do that in the pros! But so far, so good. Konchar put up similar numbers in the G-League this season, hitting 56.5% from the field and grabbing 8.3 rebounds per game (in 30 minutes a night.) From there, you'd presume: there's no way he can do that in the actual NBA! Well, in his 160 minutes of NBA action, Konchar shot 65.7% from the field and averaged 9.9 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Clearly, it's too early to take this as gospel. But eventually, we're going to have to presume something else: maybe this dude is actually good. If I ran an NBA team, I'd want to run that experiment with Konchar in our uniform and not someone else's.
99 cent store Josh Jackson, Memphis Grizzlies, UFA, 23 years old
Like most of us on this sub, I have moments when I watch the NBA, watch the roster moves, watch the draft, and think: I could do that. Not play, of course, but perhaps build a team and winning roster. I've had a long and successful career in fantasy sports, so naturally a GM job would be the logical next step.
The 2017 NBA Draft was one of those moments for me. Prior to the draft, I wrote a few posts on here, explaining why consensus top prospect Markelle Fultz wouldn't have been my personal # 1 pick. Clearly, I am a genius operating on a higher plane than the Bryan Colangelos of the world. Unfortunately, the alternative prospect that I advocated for wasn't Jayson Tatum. Or De'Aaron Fox. Or even Lonzo Ball. Instead, I thought the # 1 prospect in the class was... Josh Jackson. Whoops. Turns out, Jackson became an even bigger bust than Fultz (for his original team), causing the Phoenix Suns to dump him and wash their hands clean. Turns out: I have no clue what I'm talking about after all.
But while I may have given up on my hidden genius, I'm still not ready to give up on Josh Jackson as a player. After all, no one expected Jackson to be a finished product. Back at Kansas, his shot looked funky and in need of an overhaul. Still, he had athleticism, defensive tenacity, and flashed some ball skills and passing ability. All in all, I thought he may develop into a player in the mold of a Jimmy Butler in time.
Unfortunately, his NBA career stumbled out of the gates. If you're going to be the next Jimmy Butler, you need to work at it. Jimmy Butler may be a polarizing media presence, but he's undoubtedly a hard worker. In contrast, Josh Jackson had some issues off the court that made you doubt his dedication. His shooting hadn't improved much either. Even now, he hit on only 31.9% of his threes (29.8% career.)
Still, if you're a stubborn Jackson optimist like I am, then you can see some flashes of progress here. After being humbled by a trip to the G-League and a trade to Memphis, Jackson has started to be effective again. This past season for the Grizzlies, he averaged 19.0 PPG, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.8 steals, and 0.9 blocks per 36 minutes. He's never going to be Kawhi Leonard as a shooter, but there are ways he can be effective offensively. He converted 77.5% of his field goals inside (0-3 feet), which was up from 55% in the past, showing how improved strength and bulk may aid his game. He also shot 34.8% on corner threes -- still below-average, but better than before.
So where do we go from here? What can Josh Jackson become? If he continues to work on his craft without any problems behind the scenes, he looks like a good prospect again. After all, this is a kid who's still 23 (younger than rookie teammate Brandon Clarke.) Maybe it's too optimistic to think he can be the next Jimmy Butler, but maybe he can be a solid starter in the mold of a young Wilson Chandler. There's still some risk involved here, but it's worth an investment and gamble in the right circumstance (and for the right price.)
MEM. Jackson staying in Memphis is the most likely scenario. While the Grizzlies are in the 8th seed right now, they're still a young team. Ja Morant is 20. Jaren Jackson in 20. Jackson can fit into their timeline. The only question here is whether they already have a similar (and better) player in house in Justise Winslow.
CLE. The Memphis Grizzlies are a good young team. The Cavs are a bad young team. They need to add some more talent, especially at the wing. In theory, Jackson would be a nice complement to their undersized bomber guards like Darius Garland and Collin Sexton.
CHA. The Hornets need to find a star, somehow, some way. It's unlikely Josh Jackson becomes that star, but it's worth a shot. He's comparable to current forward Miles Bridges in terms of his worth/upside.
Daulton Hommes, San Antonio Spurs, 23 years old
Marial Shayok, Philadelphia 76ers, 24 years old
NBA general managers have a lot in common with Chris D'Elia: they like 'em young! They tend to dismiss college veterans as "over-aged" and salivate over teenagers instead. And to be fair, there's some logic there. A 22 or 23-year-old rookie likely doesn't have as much upside as a 19 or 20 year old. At the same time, not every NBA players needs to ooze with Giannis Antetokounmpo upside. Sometimes, you set the bar lower; you're just looking for a serviceable role player.
To my eye, Philadelphia's Marial Shayok is trending in that direction. He spent 5 years at college (gross!) -- the first 3 at Virginia, before transferring and playing for Iowa State in 2018-19. That last season, Shayok looked solid -- averaging 18.7 PPG with great shooting splits (50-39-88). The 6'6" wing also sported a 7'0" wingspan, which naturally makes you consider him as a potential 3+D prospect.
Still, the "age" issue prevented Shayok from going high -- landing at pick # 54 last season and earning only a two-way deal. That leverage puts the Sixers in the catbird seat here; they can bring Shayok back on a team-friendly deal, and likely will do just that after he played very well in the G-League. In fact, he averaged 27-7-5 per 36 minutes, hitting 36% from three and 89% from the line. Teams don't just let players like that go, especially when their depth is an issue already. However, if the Sixers decide to cast him aside, then Shayok should wash ashore on another team in a hurry.
Marvin Williams, Milwaukee Bucks, UFA, 34 years old
Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors, RFA, 27 years old
Frank Kaminsky, Phoenix Suns, 27 years old
Bonzie Colson, 24 years old
Back in college at Notre Dame, Bonzie Colson felt like an anomaly. Here was a stocky 6'5" player who largely played as a smallball 5. He utilized his strength and wingspan (7'0") to bully opponents, averaging 19.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks as a senior.
Still... a 6'5" PF/C? You didn't play like that in the NBA.
Or do you...? The Houston Rockets are changing the paradigm with heavy minutes for P.J. Tucker (also 6'5") at center. Zion Williamson (6'6") will likely play a good amount of center as well for New Orleans. It may not ever be the norm, but it's not a ridiculous concept anymore. If you're an NBA team, it makes sense to at least have a lineup like that in your back pocket to break out in case of emergency.
Colson can capably fill that role (on the back-end of a roster) due to his natural savvy and his passable shooting (34% from 3 in the G-League.) Better still, he'd be dirt-cheap after some G-League and overseas stints. In fact, he may not cost much guaranteed money at all. If he shows up at camp in good shape, then there's a chance he sticks around. And let's be honest, the NBA -- and all of our lives -- are better off when there's at least one Bonzi/e around.
Nerlens Noel, Oklahoma City Thunder, 26 years old
Jakob Poelte, Mason Plumlee
Ekpe Udoh, 33 years old
Ivan Rabb, 23 years old
Langston Galloway, Detroit Pistons, UFA, 28 years old
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