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Game Theory podcast ranks NBA's best young cores (Rockets #5)

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by OremLK, Apr 2, 2024.

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Where should the Rockets' rookie-deal young core rank in the NBA?

This poll will close on Jun 1, 2024 at 12:01 PM.
  1. #1

    18 vote(s)
    25.0%
  2. #2

    20 vote(s)
    27.8%
  3. #3

    23 vote(s)
    31.9%
  4. #4

    8 vote(s)
    11.1%
  5. #5

    2 vote(s)
    2.8%
  6. #6

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. #7

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  8. #8

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  9. #9

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. #10

    1 vote(s)
    1.4%
  1. OremLK

    OremLK Member

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    Rockets talk starts around 50:25.

    Thought this was an interesting enough topic to deserve a thread in its own right--that is, the topic of the poll, where would you rank the Rockets' young core?

    The criteria they used here was they were only comparing players still on their rookie contracts (whether or not they've signed an extension yet). So that would include guys like Anthony Edwards and Desmond Bane whose extensions still have not kicked in, but would not include guys like SGA who are already playing out their second contracts.

    TL;DW on their reasoning--they both (Vecenie and Simon) think the Rockets have great depth and could see the argument for ranking them higher on that basis--Vecenie said he would put us #1 for depth--but neither of them seem to think the Rockets have that "#1 guy", a true franchise superstar. With Vecenie stating he could even see three of our guys making all-star teams and all of them being starting-caliber (including Cam and Tari).

    Do you agree with Vecenie that we don't have a true #1 option already in the fold? If not, can we contend for a championship without adding that guy just by sheer depth and balance, i.e. the '04 Pistons or the '14 Spurs, or do we need to make a trade for a superstar or keep trying to strike gold in the draft? If we do have that guy, is it Alpi, is it Jalen, or is it one of the others?

    ---

    Anyway onto the poll, with their criteria in mind--again, comparing young cores still on their rookie contracts--where would you rank the Rockets' young core among NBA franchises? Who would you put above us, if any?
     
  2. RC Cola

    RC Cola Contributing Member

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    I was generally fine with the ranking, though the justifications Sam in particular used seemed odd to me at times (Miller over Rockets core, no guy on HOU but I think they think Paolo is that guy, sticking strongly to lineup data for the HOU core, etc.). It is mostly just a fun thought experiment, so I won't get too bothered by it.
     
  3. OremLK

    OremLK Member

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    Yeah, I'm okay with #5 and I think that's a reasonable spot to put us in--any lower and I would have been irritated by it.

    I think for me given the stated criteria (which excludes SGA, Ja Morant, JJJ), I would put us at #3 behind Minnesota and OKC. The two players I think they're overrating the most that cause me to hold this opinion are of course Wemby and Paolo.

    I think Wemby is great and I actually don't disagree that his potential ceiling is "best player in the NBA", but I think you have to weigh the health concerns for guys his height, and I also think his current basketball IQ and shooting abilities have been oversold and there's a very real chance he doesn't mature to become the player people are envisioning. (Which I guess is something like Rudy Gobert crossed with KD?)

    For Paolo, I just haven't been that impressed with him. I do not buy his defense, I think he will always be a negative on that end, and I do not think he will ever be super-efficient on offense either. I think he has a high chance of just being one of those dudes who makes a lot of all-star games but never has any playoff success. I would take Sengun and even Scottie Barnes over him among the young "playmaking frontcourt guy" dudes in the game right now. It's close between us and Orlando though, until a month ago, Franz was clearly better than Jalen and even now it's still debatable, Suggs is a more complete player than Amen right now (but gotta keep in mind Amen is a rookie), and they do have pretty good depth behind those three guys.

    But yeah, right now I guess I'd go:

    Minnesota(?)
    OKC(?)
    ---
    Houston
    Orlando
    San Antonio (if Wemby had normal levels of injury risk they'd be in the same tier as Minny and OKC)
     
    #3 OremLK, Apr 2, 2024
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2024
  4. MystikArkitect

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    The problem with them saying the Rockets don't have a "#1 guy" is that we have a bunch of guys that share the load. If we took away Jalen and Cam then Sengun would default to the #1 guy and then you'd compare Brandon Miller to Sengun who would be getting even more usage and might be higher.

    I agree with Sam usually but don't on his assertion that the Rockets don't have a #1 S Tier player on the roster and also that Jalen Williams is a Top 30ish NBA player. I think he's third in OKC behind SGA/Chet. That being said if JDub could be the third best player on a championship team. I just don't know if SGA/Chet have best player on a championship team in them. Jokic is going to be in his prime for a bit and eventually you're going to have to go through him.

    Everyone sleeps on Jabari who is still not even 21 years old. His leap is going to be insane. Sengun/Amen will be constants. It's up to Jalen/Jabari/Cam to show consistency and improvement.
     
  5. dmoneybangbang

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    IDK.... I feel like we are at the bottom of the first tier because we have quantity over quality at this point.
     
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  6. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    Too many TBD youngsters on this team and only one sure thing (Sengun). Where one would rank the Rockets on this liste depends entirely on projecting the roster, cause way too many players with downside of a backup/low-end starter and upside of a max player.
     
  7. count_dough-ku

    count_dough-ku Contributing Member

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    One of their reasons for the #5 ranking is that the Rockets haven't achieved the level of success of OKC, Minnesota, or Orlando yet.

    Which is a completely fair point. But the Rockets are at least a year behind those teams in their respective rebuilding processes. They just came out of a 3 year tank job and are already on pace to finish above .500 in the first year of "Phase Two".

    Let's revisit this discussion in a year. I have a feeling we'll be higher than #5.
     
  8. napalm06

    napalm06 Huge Flopping Fan

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    This basically matches my opinion. In Green and Sengun, the Rockets have blossoming #2 players on a contender.

    In Eason, Smith they have blossoming #3s. In Cam and Amen they could have more #2s. And then a pick this year.

    That's stacked - but so much of NBA success is about who the #1 is on the team. Each guy is still finding his place and could pop as that top 10 NBA player. But I don't see it yet.
     
    #8 napalm06, Apr 2, 2024
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2024
  9. bluffkin

    bluffkin Member

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    First of all Sengun is already better than Paolo Banchero. Maybe I'm a little higher on our guys than they are but at the end of the day I am a fan.

    OKC
    Timberwolves
    Rockets
    Spurs
    Magic

    Is how I would rank them
     
  10. cml750

    cml750 Member

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    I put us just under OKC. If Jalen keeps this up we could be number one.
     
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  11. Spacemoth

    Spacemoth Contributing Member

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    I listened to the full Danny Leroux and Nate Duncan podcast on this recently, and it's hard to fairly evaluate the Rockets core by their standards. A lot of it ends up being heavily biased in favor of those teams with proven superstars at 23-24yo, basically just under their threshold for still being called young. Our entire core is 19-22yo, with Jalen Green being the oldest of those guys. So by their criteria there's just a lot more unknown with our core, although I'd still argue it has the highest ceiling short of Wembanyama and co.

    So by today's standards, #5 is fine. Long term, I still think we're #2 behind OKC. Wemby's supporting cast and his own health still remind big enough question marks for me to rank them behind us.
     
  12. Y2JT

    Y2JT Member

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    Thank you for sharing this.

    I can see their argument that we do not currently have a clear and obvious number 1 guy. However I would much rather have our scenario of multiple possibilities to fill that role than be all in on one guy. For that reason we should be above the spurs. The depth difference is overwhelming in this case.

    The magic are a fun team and I like their young guys. Their ceiling however is lower than ours. Sam waxed lyrical about the playmaking ability of Banchero but barely mentioned Sengun. Wagner has a more solid and consistent floor than Green but Green's top outcome is much higher. Suggs is a great defender who is shooting well but shooting is the only thing he can do better than Amen. They don't have 3 other guys fitting the criteria for me to even bother bring up our other 3 that do. If their 'guy' that excites Sam and Bryce is Banchero then I can't see how they have so much faith in him being a number 1 but not Sengun.

    Okc clearly have the best future in the league but given the show's restrictions not including Shai then I have us above them similarly to the magic above but it is a closer battle. I would consider Chet/Williams vs Sengun/Amen an even battle but again our depth wins. Their 'guy' does not fit the imposed criteria so why are we below them?

    Minnesotta do have a clear number 1 that fits. Ant is awesome. Maybe you could put them number 1 for that reason but I am a rocket fan so I voted us as number 1.

    Our number 1 option isn't as obvious right now as some of those teams above us but if I wrote a list of players from their top 5 teams who I think could be in the MVP conversation in 5 years time it would be: Wemby, Ant, Sengun, Amen. I would rather have 2 chances than 1.
     
  13. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum Contributing Member
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    Someone please do a wellness check on the sengunians
     
  14. DrNuegebauer

    DrNuegebauer Member

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    Is it possible for someone who has sat through 2 hours of video to post their rankings?

    I'd be interested to see how they rank various teams, and which players they have in their discussions (but no interested enough to watch a 2 hour video...)
     
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  15. pmac

    pmac Contributing Member

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    I don't really disagree much with their rationale. I agree that a team should be ranked higher if they have a sure fire #1 guy. But, I would argue, based on their criteria, only Minny and SA have clear-cut #1 guys. And, if you remove SGA from the conversation OKC and Orlando don't have clear-cut #1 guys either. But, I would probably still have the rockets 5th mainly because our guys have the worst fit. Sengun, at this point, is more like Pau Gasol than Jokic. He's a post scorer who passes well, not a threat from everywhere. Jalen is more of a DWade style slasher who needs the lane open to setup his shot and make plays for others. Amen is a like a mix between Rondo and Shawn Marion. Cam is also a natural slasher in the Maggette mold. Tari and Jabari are the types to play off others on the perimeter but neither are natural playmakers or elite shooters.

    The majority of our young core is best suited scoring in the paint and are more successful when their teammates clear out. We need 2 of Jalen/Sengun/Amen to significantly improve their outside shooting to be successful.
     
  16. TimDuncanDonaut

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    I don't have an issue with their rankings. Even if we think couple of our guys may have a higher upside than the likes of Banchero, Franz and Suggs. Their record has gotten them higher in the standings.

    Orlando also done it with mostly with their young cast in stars and role players (same with Thunder). They didn't need half injection of vets in the starting lineup (FVV, Dillon), nor bench (Jeff, Aaron, Jock, and Reggie) to lift them up.

    We are better than we were, but have to continue to put in work to overtake those other teams. More good games are required next season to see how much improvements and consistencies.

    Defensively I think team has found an identity. Offensive it's still TBD. And future moves will slant more towards fit and defined roles.
     
    #16 TimDuncanDonaut, Apr 2, 2024
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2024
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  17. RC Cola

    RC Cola Contributing Member

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    They recap the rankings around the 1hr 52min mark. Sam had it:
    1. SAS
    2. MIN
    3. OKC
    4. ORL
    5. HOU
    6. CHA
    7. IND
    8. DET
    9. TOR
    10. POR
    11. MEM

    Think I got that right. Other guy had slightly different, though they mostly agreed, especially in the top 5. There's probably too much for me to summarize as far as what they talked about with each team though (I mostly skipped around anyway).

    At the top, they mostly debated the impact of something like a top 10 player vs top 20-30 players. So that's why they went with teams like MIN or SAS over teams like OKC (though they really thought hard on that). Someone like ANT could be the best in the league and Wemby *could* be the best ever, so that was their rationale.
     
  18. J.R.

    J.R. Member

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    Holy ****, the Jalen “J.Dub” Williams dick sucking. Hide your kids, hide your wife, get the knee pads out.

    •Guys only on rookie-scale contracts
    •SV: top end talent was my number one criteria (#1 guy on title team)
    •SV: Number two was how much success have you had this season (on/off)
    •SV: Teams tough to rank: Houston(Green lately); OKC(Shai not included); Charlotte/Indiana

    •Sam Vecenie
    11. Grizzlies
    -GG Jackson this year gave me real pause in terms of leaving them off. Scoot’s ceiling is higher than Bane’s which is why I defaulted to Portland here. Bane is probably best suited as a number three on a really great team. Couldn’t quite get to the level of putting them on. Chance GG Jackson is a real starter long term and could be more than that. Vince Williams looks like long term starter or sixth man. Aldama gives them minutes. LaRavia has been better recently. There are dudes who could be intriguing. They were the hardest one for me because of the GG factor. Former top 5 HS recruit who had a disastrous season at South Carolina and looks way better this year. If he was in this draft class, he’s in the conversation for number one. … GG’s upside is very high and might look stupid having them at 9/10/11 but couldn’t get there with the sample so far.

    10. Blazers
    -Scoot disastrous rookie season; Sharpe another clear project, dealt with injuries;
    -Dealt with injuries, not a great situation around Scoot, Billups is tough, not a great offensive scheme; maybe he is just all-star upside; Shaedon total wildcard

    9. Raptors
    -Like fit of Quickley/Dick next to Barnes
    -Probably need floor spacing big who can protect the rim and another playmaker who can score

    8. Pistons
    -Cade, Ivey, Duren, Thompson, Stewart, Sasser, Grimes — whole lotta stuff there. Cade is a real dude, can be a franchise player. Might be better than a couple guys listed above him, like Miller or Cade is an interesting conversation. I think I would still default to Cade but Charlotte has another guy there which is really, really good which is why Charlotte comes ahead. Where you place Detroit comes down to do you believe in Ivey, do you believe in Duren in a real way, can Thompson fix the offense in a real way, what can Grimes become, is Sasser a sixth man or just a PG and play 15 minutes a night. They have a lot of stuff which is why they’re at 8. I couldn’t get them higher because man has this team been bad and I think I’m a little lower and have been on the non-Cade pieces. I am a big believer in Ivey. Ivey last 17 games: 16 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds on 38/23/84 shooting. The stretch before that was stronger. I don’t know what to make of what we think he is. December 21-February 13, he averaged like 19 points and really good and looked like a potential dude. (26 games, 19 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds on 46/41/69 shooting) It feels like, as you said, the organization has less faith than they did previously. … Real quick on Duren, the defense has not improved. Not a good defender throughout his 2 years. Won’t be a shooter. We think there are passing skills but never consistent. You have to be a great defender or else you’re Andre Drummond. Drummond made all-star games but would not in today’s league. Ausar is a total re-write. He does some things like in terms of being a connective player, making his athleticism felt in transition, as a cutter but the skill level, it’s not remotely there. … I would rank these guys 1. Cade 2. Ivey 3. Duren 4. Ausar 5. Grimes 6. Sasser 7. Stewart.

    7. Pacers
    -Really fun basketball team led by Haliburton … Elite level number two guy on title team but willing to hear out anyone if they think he’s a one on a title team. … Rest of these guys, Jarace, we don’t know. Nesmith good role player wing 3/D, Mathurin don’t know what to do with him, don’t have a lot of faith. … The feel didn’t get better this year. … Haliburton’s defense is still, it’s a real question. He needs to continue to improve on that end.

    6. Hornets
    -Reason I had them at 6 ahead of Indiana is Brandon Miller is a dude. This was a tier break for me. The top 5 are the top 5. Charlotte was clearly 6. I have questions on LaMelo staying healthy. We all have to. 51 games rookie year—>36 third year–>22 this year. When he plays, he’s fantastic. I have Miller ahead of LaMelo right now. … Not totally sure how ridiculous Brandon has been since basically mid-January. Since January 19, 20 points, 5 rebounds on 45/37/82 shooting. He’s just been really good. I’m worried he’s too low. One team I have in the top 5 is Houston. I think I would take Miller over all the Houston guys right now. … If people wanted to rank Charlotte ahead of Houston saying LaMelo/Miller are better than anyone on Houston, I would understand that argument. I put them slightly lower because of the injury factor to LaMelo. Miller is a real dude.

    5. Rockets
    -I love what they’re doing. So excited about them. In terms of depth of talent, they might be one. They probably are. But I don’t think they have the guy. On top of it, they have not had the same success that for instance Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Orlando have had at this point in the season. If you go through and look at for instance Green and Sengun playing together this season, they’re like a -0.7 in 1600 minutes. If you look at Jalen without Sengun, +3.9 in 700 minutes. Sengun without Jalen, +4.3 in 400 minutes. If you look at Jalen and Sengun without VanVleet, they’re a -9.8. If you look at anything with Houston without VanVleet, it’s a serious problem in terms of their on/off numbers. That’s OK. It’s not a death knell long term. They’re in a positive position and have Brooklyn picks coming. You look at what Orlando has done, Paolo and Franz without Wendell Carter, they’re +1.6. Jalen & Chet, -0.3 without Shai in 600 minutes. That’s slightly better than Jalen and Sengun WITH Fred. Jalen and Chet have better numbers without Shai on the court than Green and Sengun do with Fred on the court. Those are the kind of things that helped swayed me to Houston at 5. I went into this assuming I’d have them at like 3. I ended up having a couple teams ahead of them. … Franz has had a catastrophic shooting season from three. He’s still averaging 20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and has been really good. Franz has had a better season than Jalen Green. Green’s past month is better than anything we’ve seen from Franz or Jalen at this point but it’s a month in March against a schedule that hasn’t been ideal and then we saw against Dallas, they trapped the hell out him and that was a problem. Trying to figure out how to rank these teams is difficult. The bigger question I had was how would you rank the talent on Houston long term? (Bryson: I’m of the mindset Jalen or Alperen one is the one you’ll have to hitch your wagon to. Then Amen, Jabari, Cam, Tari.) I would go Sengun, Jalen, Amen, Cam, Jabari, Tari. That’s where I’m at long term. I would’ve had Jalen 5th on this list a month ago. With Jalen taking this leap and figuring out his tools, that spikes him to where this is like Zach LaVine stuff. Really high level player if he continues this. … This is bad take by me if I said Cam over Jabari. I would have Jabari over Cam. I would have Jabari and Amen pretty tight. Jabari’s been great this year, really good. That’s where I fell on it for them. Green, Sengun, Amen, Jabari, Cam, Tari is how I would rank them. I love them all. They’re all starting caliber players. Wouldn’t surprise me if 3 ended up as all-stars but I don’t think they have the number one guy which is why they ended up falling here, in addition to team success compared to the next two teams on this list.
     
    #18 J.R., Apr 2, 2024
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2024
  19. J.R.

    J.R. Member

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    4. Magic
    -Magic have Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. Also Jalen Suggs, who should be an all-defense guy, top 6 pick Anthony Black, Jett Howard, who went in the lottery, Cole Anthony and Caleb Houston and Chuma Okeke. The key was Paolo and Franz. I like them better as a combo than any two players you can put together from Houston. I’m still a believer in Jalen Suggs. Impactful every time he takes the court and oh by the way, do you know what he’s shooting from three? (Bryce: 40% on over 5 attempts) You’re god damn right he is. He’s been fantastic. There’s a real case he’s a top 75 player in the league this year. … According to EPM, Suggs is currently ranked as the 35th most impactful player. That feels aggressive but he’s averaging 12 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists vs 2 turnover. 46/40/76 from the field. The defense is truly elite. Absolutely a dude that is worth more than whatever Immanuel Quickley will get this summer. He’s a better player than Quickley has ever been and I think Quickley is getting like $25M this summer. If you told me Suggs gets $30M this summer, it’s probably aggressive but probably not wrong based on his impact right now. What Orlando is doing, there’s a real case he’s just as impactful as Franz and just as impactful on both ends as Paolo. I’ve always been high on Suggs but can’t come to the conclusion of anything other than he’s an fantastic, elite 3/D point guard. … They’re in a weird spot salary wise. Does Franz get maxed this summer? Probably. Suggs, given the way guards are getting paid, if I’m his reps, I’m asking for at least what Herro and Poole got. Suggs is better than those guys have ever been. … The key here is whatever you think Paolo will be. Franz is a stud. There’s a real case he’s been Orlando’s best player beyond Paolo. The way Paolo gets insane amount of defensive attention every night and still able to get shots, create shots, get in the mid-range and score, he’s still their highest upside guy. He’s their most important guy. For as much as we love Suggs and Franz, they can’t create shots like Paolo. He holds up their offense on his shoulders. … They are the 5th seed. There’s a non-zero chance they’re the 3 seed. I don’t think they’ll quite get there but they’re closer to 3 than 6. Huge credit to these dudes and Mosley. I strongly considered Orlando ahead of this next team. (Bryce: I had a tier break.)

    3. Thunder
    -Right now, Edwards is the best player on a team that might be the 1 seed and Victor is breaking basketball every single time. For as good as J.Williams(top 30) and Chet(top 40) are, Edwards will be All-NBA. There are levels. … If Shai was included, they’re number one and it’s not a conversation. I would rather have OKC’s overall future than I would San Antonio with Vic. … Williams is such a stud. I think the world of him. Complete package. Last 23 games: 21 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds on 54/40/83 shooting. There have been games there where he’s the primary option. They like to let him rock in the 4th. We might be ****ing up putting them at 3. … Edwards is 3 months younger than Williams and is averaging over the course of his last 2 seasons where he’s made the all-star game: 25 points on 46/37/80 while averaging 4.8 assists. … I think Jalen would’ve been an all-star in the East, Chet as well. I would take Jalen Williams over Paolo. Jalen is a better defender, close as passers, Jalen is so much more efficient, better finisher, better mid-range, better 3pt shooter, same as shot creation, Jalen is probably a year older than Paolo, 6’6, one of the strongest wings, 7’2 wingspan, elite finisher, touch through contact, the whole thing, I would take Jalen over Paolo and take Chet over Franz. The guy we haven’t talked about is Giddey. He’s been so fantastic through this last little stretch where they’ve needed him. Last 14 games: 26 minutes, 17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists on 58/41/70 shooting. He has that touch floater. These three, we might’ve ****ed up putting them at 3. It’s right to have Edwards at 2 but these three OKC guys make it tough. … Cason Wallace is having a great year. Where would he rank on the Pistons prospect list? Him or Jalen Duren? He’d be 2 or 3 for me in Indiana. He’d be 3 in Charlotte over Mark Williams. Cason has been a stud. We’re glossing over him and he’ll be 2nd team all-rookie. Ousmane Dieng still exists here. Aaron Wiggins is in this conversation. Jaylin Williams, the center from Arkansas. There’s a lot of dudes here depth wise. Would you trade Jalen Williams and Chet for Anthony Edwards? Seriously, that’s what this comes down to. What percentage of Edwards will Jalen Williams be? Like 75%? … Would you trade Jalen, Chet and Cason Wallace for Ant? That’s really hard. I’m not sold on this. We might come back and adjust.

    2. Timberwolves
    -Edwards has arrived by being this incredible player and couldn’t be more enthusiastic to watch the rest of his career unfold. … Another reason I had Edwards here ahead of this OKC team. We’ve kinda seen it in the playoffs, in important games. Do you remember the playoff series last year? 32/5/5 while shooting 48/35/85 from the field. Let me repeat: 32/5/5 as a 21-year old in a playoff series. He was insanely good in that series. I think he has chance to be one of the two or three best players in the league. As much as I love Jalen Williams, there is such a big difference from first-team All-NBA best player on a title team to second-team All-NBA. … If things break right, Ant will be a walking 30-35 PPG and Jalen is incredible in terms of strength, physicality, getting to the basket but he’s not as athletic as Edwards. The explosiveness difference is real. … What his ceiling is for a 3-year window, there’s a real chance he’s the best player in the NBA once Giannis ages out, once Jokic ages further, Shai has a real case, Luka will have a shot and the guy we haven’t talked about yet. That’s probably the guy that will ruin all the conversation. If he’s the best perimeter player in the league, that’s a tough one. … Is he better than Tatum right now is a real question. I think the answer is probably about the same. I’d have Jayson very slightly ahead of Ant right now but in the same tier because of the decision making with Ant. … Anthony Edwards can be the best player on a title team. As much as I love Jalen Williams, I don’t know that I’m there on that. … Would you trade Jalen Brunson and Jayson Tatum for Luka? I think I’d rather have Tatum and Brunson. Maybe we should have OKC at two. Tied at two. OKC will spike up these rankings in the summer because Minnesota will age out with Ant and Jaden and won’t be anywhere near this list next year.

    1. Spurs
    -You have to have San Antonio number one. If you told me he’s the best player by his third year, I would believe that Vic has broken basketball in that way. That is 100% reasonable and right. … You look at the stats, they’re absurd since he really settled in. In last 40 games: 23 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks on 49/35/81 shooting. That’s mind altering unbelievable. There’s a real case he’s best defensive player in the league since mid-January. It’s just the team around him is horrendous on that end. It’s truly insane what he’s doing. The way he’s scoring doesn’t make sense. … He is completely breaking my brain. I don’t think you can have anybody but him at one. I can’t get over watching him play basketball. He’ll change the way we think about basketball. They have all the flexibility in the world. We haven’t talked about Vassell or Sochan and those guys. I don’t even know if they’ll be on the team when he’s at his peak. Vassell is a good player. They are coming next year. They will make moves this summer that set them up for next year. He’s ready now. He’s taken a leap every summer from like 3 years ago onwards. He’ll get better this summer. They’ll go get a real vet, real star and make a run at this sooner than later. We think Edwards has a chance to be best player in the league but no way he ever becomes the best player to ever play basketball. You can’t rule out Victor from that conversation. He’ll change the game on defense. He’ll average 30+ points per game. He is truly special.


    •Bryce Simon
    11. Blazers
    10. Raptors
    -Barnes/Quickley trump Scoot/Sharpe for me

    9. Grizzlies (Bane, Jackson, GG Jackson, Vince Williams, Ziaire Williams, LaRavia, Santi Aldama)
    -While none carry the name as Sharpe or Quickley, feel one or two will pop (in addition to Bane).
    -We’ve seen Bane be a 20ppg guy, be really good on one of the best teams in the league
     
  20. J.R.

    J.R. Member

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    8. Pistons
    -I still believe in this backcourt. I don’t think Monty believes in this backcourt. I don’t think Ivey is the off-ball guard he wants. I don’t have intel. This is my opinion of watching Pistons basketball. … Ivey’s process is flawed right now. Is it Ivey or the coaching staff? He takes too many threes. The way he can attack the lane, not many other can do in the NBA. I’d like to see him default to that. He should never take a one-pass transition 3pt attempt and he does it way too often. If you take the process and efficiency and fix it, you’re in a good space. His defense isn’t great but has improved. I have faith in him. We barely talked about Duren or Thompson, I think one of them will be a second tier guy for this team. … Fan base would love to trade Ivey and are getting there with Duren and majority feel Ausar is the 2nd most important piece. (Sam: I disagree with that for what it’s worth)

    7. Hornets
    -If I had to re-do it, I would have Hornets over the Pacers. I did not have Miller high enough and had Mathurin overrated. LaMelo/Miller goes over Haliburton. Good call by you Sam. … Houston is a tricky one. They have a bunch of talent but yeah, there’s an argument for Miller. I mentioned earlier, Miller/Ball/Williams, that just fits. No questions about those three. I don’t know what Williams will end up being but those three together make a whole lot of sense and easy to piece around those guys if they stay healthy.

    6. Pacers
    -Haliburton took that jump; maybe have given him a pass due to injury. … Like Nembhard, Naismith, Walker is still interesting, they have some guys, maybe another reason I have them at 6. Toppin, Jackson, Mathurin was my guy in that draft. There’s projection and wishful thinking with me having them at 6 instead of 7 where the team I have at 7, maybe a mistake of how low they are … Mathurin is probably in the wrong tier based on what I thought pre-draft. He should just be in the role player/starter tier and the team I have 7th has two guys, their two guys trump Haliburton by himself so I made a mistake with my ranking here. (Sam: That’s where I’m at).

    5. Rockets
    -If you’re mad at us about Houston, go watch last week. … I don’t think I could have gotten them in the top 3. The sheer ceiling of four guys spread amongst three teams is too high to justify anyone ahead of them. Victor Wembanyama could be the face of the NBA someday. I’m taking that, no matter the other talent around him, over this multitude of Rockets talent. I couldn’t get them over Orlando because Orlando has been so good. It’s Paolo, Franz, Suggs leading the charge. While yes it has been Sengun at times and Green at times and Jabari has played well, we did the breakdown on Amen, tell me the guy who is definitely 100% better than Paolo Banchero. I don’t know you can tell me that. Even if you project that, so far it hasn’t happened. The Magic have won guys with their young guys where the Rockets have won with Fred contributing a lot. … If the process stays, if the defense stays, if the rebounding stays, if the passing stays, I can live through his 3-week stretch where he shoots 29% from three, which he will go through. He’s not gonna shoot 45% on shots he’s taking but I can live with the downs if he’s doing the defense, rebounding and everything else.

    4. Magic
    -Suggs 3pt shooting isn’t the best thing he does. Defensively, he’s a nightmare for perimeter players. If this is real, he’s a major component of Orlando over Houston. Yes, it’s Paolo and Franz but Jalen Suggs being another guy I believe in help me balanced the amount of guys the Rockets have vs the amount of guys the Magic have. … He doesn’t need to be a true point guard. Paolo will play with the ball in his hands, Franz will play with the ball in his hands. Those guys can break down the defense. … I talked about fit. Some of this is fit. Part of the Rockets thing, I don’t know if Sengun and Green reach their peak playing together. I think these 3 can reach their ceilings playing off each other. (Sam: totally agree with that) … I was high on Paolo, thought he could be the hub of an offense. As they build this thing with the right pieces around him, I think he’ll be good enough defensively. With his gravity as the hub of the offense, that makes up for any of that on defense. He’s had a good year. I’m interested to see this Magic team in the playoffs.

    3. Thunder
    -J.Dub made this hard for me. What is his ceiling? The reason the next 2 teams are above is they have guys who could legit be the best player in the NBA. … This comes down to JDub and Chet vs. Vic vs. Ant Edwards. … I struggled with this. Are we sure JDub is not a potential top 10 player some day? (Sam: I think he’ll be a top 15 player) Then I think we’re messing up. If JDub is 10-12 some day and Chet is top 20, at that point, the two is better than the one. … You’d find people who would take the two over the one even though in general, I think you want the best player on the floor and figure it out from there. … I flipped this multiple times today. At one point I had OKC higher and then moved them. It was always these 3 teams. Vic because of who he is goes over everything. You might have the best player in basketball and that wins out over all else. … It’s closer than what I thought going on. I want the best player on the floor. That’s why I have Vic one and Timberwolves two. JDub is really good.

    2. Timberwolves
    -What happens in these playoffs? Can he go be the best dude in the series for multiple series? I’m not expecting him to knock off the Nuggets in the Conference Finals but can he unquestionably be the best player in the first round, or best player against these Thunder in the semifinals? These playoffs will give us more context. … This comes down to Edwards ceiling vs. what you think JDub can be. Is Edwards legit top 5 for the next 6-8 years? If he is, we’re probably right right now. If you think Ant is more all-NBA 2nd team, I think we’re wrong. If he isn’t a top 3-5 player, I think we’re wrong. … I love Edwards as much as anyone but is he that and how many years of that does he end up being? And if he’s not, give me JDub along with Chet. …

    1. Spurs
    -Might be the best player in the game in a few years. Wasn’t that hard based on what I believe. 7’5, doing what he’s doing defensively and a kid I believe will improve offensively and we’ve seen it already with not the best stuff around him, who were experimenting around him. I don’t know how you don’t take that guy that could be the best player in the NBA for multiple years if healthy. He’s been healthy this year. … His teammates haven’t learned how to play with him. … He came in with so much hype and so far, he’s lived up to all of it. … He has best player in the league, face of the franchise, he has the best chance on this list.
     
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