News broke early last week that, as part of the NBA’s ongoing CBA negotiations, the league is proposing an “upper salary limit” to replace the luxury tax.
The NBA cites its reasoning as an attempt to foster a more ‘competitive balance’ across the league by disabling teams like the Nets, Clippers, and Warriors from going deep into the luxury tax to field expensive rosters.
If anything, this proposal would only make cheap owners even cheaper and limit rich owners from doing what they want to.
In theory, a change in the way the luxury tax works could make sense to help even the playing field but look at the NBA this season! There are, maybe, 8 teams that could win it all. And about 14 others with genuine playoff aspirations. The current system has, in its own way, created a competitive balance in the league.
Look around the NBA and you will see fascinating basketball experiments everywhere. The Toronto Raptors are trotting out lineups with no real center (although Christian Koloko has played a good chunk of minutes so far) and rely primarily on a heavy dose of wings and forwards to play hot potato, sharing the responsibilities of anchoring the middle. The Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, and New Orleans Pelicans among others are running double big lineups at a rate that should make fans apologize to Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner for ever wondering
“if they could work”.
But potentially the most
and intriguing experiment is happening in the world of Magic down in Orlando, Florida. out-there
Over the weekend, the Magic threw out a starting lineup that included Paolo Banchero (6’10), Wendell Carter Jr (6’10), Franz Wagner (6’10), Bol Bol (7’2), and then… Terrence Ross (6’7)?
It may be jarring for a casual NBA fan to watch a 7-foot+ player in Bol bring the ball up the court, makes a pitch pass to another big-man with ball-handling abilities in Wagner, who then initiates a PnR action with the rookie Big-man Banchero, who eventually does the dump-off to WCJ for the layup – but it happens and they’re actually pretty good together?
In 32 minutes of action on the court that lineup has a defensive rating of 86.2 which by my estimations is… insanely good. They also have a net rating of 47.7 and while those numbers are eye-popping, it’s still a little early to call it the future of basketball, especially when Orlando is 1-6 to start the season.
could provide a peak into the future for the Magic – who have drafted, traded for, and signed players who all play similar “positions” but give you a little bit of everything; Banchero and Wagner as your playmaking, do-it-all scoring machines, meanwhile Bol stretches the floor and towers over the paint and WCJ can do a healthy mix of all it. And don’t forget the fact that they also have another 7-foot do-it-aller in Mo Bamba.
Head coach Jamahl Mosley is experimenting like crazy and it’s made this team worthwhile to watch while also making Bol something more than just a novelty act in the NBA.
Dennis Smith Jr. in Charlotte
Fayetteville, North Carolina – this is for you.
I always find it endearing when a player finds his footing in the league and man – I am so happy for DSJ who was working towards trying out for the NFL before the Hornets signed him prior to the start of the regular season.
With LaMelo Ball out recovering from an ankle injury, Smith Jr has taken the starting spot in Charlotte and is thriving, averaging just under 12 points and 6 assists while shooting 47% from the field and 54% from three.
He’s doing this while playing some stellar point-of-attack defense for the Hornets too, even putting the clamps on Steph Curry to force OT on Saturday against the Warriors.
It seems like his defense is something he’s hanging his hat on now, and that is how he’s carving out a career for himself.
This is a player who is already on his 5th team in 6 seasons but it seems he may have found his home in Charlotte.
And it’s only fitting that he is doing this in the state that he calls home, too.
Small Ball Blazers
Too many Urkles on ya team that’s why your Winslow. Justice.
Folks – the Blazers might have something here. That
something is a redemption arc for one Justice Winslow, who has been their defacto center in small-ball lineups, anchoring the middle and making plays on offense like a dollar tree version of Draymond Green – and it’s added a nice wrinkle to this Portland team.
Now, the Blazers have started the season 5-1 thanks in part to the tremendous play of Damian Lillard, Anferenee Simons, and Jusuf Nurkic, but their latest additions on the wings have added a defensive versatility that Lillard has never had around him. With Winslow, Jerami Grant, Josh Hart, Nasir Little, and rookie Shaedon Sharpe on the wings – all athletic, long, versatile players – the Blazers can switch on defense more, they can trot out smaller lineups (with Winslow at the 5) and double-down on their offensive strengths as a result.
But the Winslow redemption arc has,
in my opinion, been the coolest part of it all.
Keegan Murray, Ben Mathurin & Older Rookies
NBA draft experts always look at older players in the draft like how little children look at broccolis on their dinner plate – with
(I love broccoli, FWIW, but that’s not the point.)
It seems like when it comes time for the draft, we always end up getting caught up in the whirlwind of ‘age’ and how that might limit a player’s eventual ceiling as a pro.
Rarely, if ever, do we discuss how that added experience of being a multi-year college player can help you 1) be more ready for the physical toll of a professional sport and 2) look more poised right out of the gate.
There are MANY past examples of this, just off the rip, to name a few: Fred VanVleet, Malcolm Brogdon, Pascal Siakam, Damian Lillard, Ja Morant, and the list goes on and on.
This year, Kings forward Keegan Murray and Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin are 2 rookies who are also shutting up any ageists in the draft world.
Murray and Mathurin both look poised as hell, man. Nothing bothers them. They can read and react to opposing defenses in a way that regular rookies just don’t. They display an element of calm that normal youngins simply. just. don’t.
And it’s helped Mathurin become the most potent bench scorer in the league to start the season.
NBA Bench Scoring Leaders 🏀
1. Bennedict Mathurin – 21.0 PTS 😳
2. Christian Wood – 19.0 PTS 3. Jordan Poole – 15.8 PTS 4. Alperen Sengun – 15.7 PTS 5. John Wall – 15.3 PTS
(Min. 3 GP off the bench)
— BasketballNews.com (@basketbllnews)
October 30, 2022
And Murray has forced the Kings coaching staff to add him to the starting lineup already, helping Sacramento to their first win of the season on Saturday vs the Heat with a 22-point performance.
Keegan Murray first NBA win:
2 BLK 8-13 FG
Averaging 3.3 threes per game this season.
— StatMuse (@statmuse)
October 30, 2022
And it’s not like they’re even that old, bruh. Murray is 22 and Mathurin is 20. And with the way NBA careers are longer now with advancements in training & treatment, there’s no reason to be down on a player in the draft because of age.
It makes you look silly.
The Grizzlies Development factory
When thinking of the best development factories in the NBA, many nerds like myself will be quick to reference the Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, and San Antonio Spurs as benchmark organizations for developing players.
And that remains true for the most part, but a 4th contender has entered the conversation over the last couple of seasons: the Memphis Grizzlies.
Every year, the Grizzlies introduce young players into their rotation to play real, meaningful minutes and it goes off without a hitch.
This season its 2nd year big-man Santi Aldama who has slotted in to play over 30 minutes a game so far and rookies David Roddy and Jake LaRavia have contributed as well.
Last season it was Ziaire Williams.
The year before that it was Desmond Bane, Brandon Clarke, and Xavier Tillman.
Only two of those players I just mentioned were drafted in the top 20.
Finding good value at the tail-end of the draft is a good way to consistently fill up your rotation in a cost-effective manner – especially when you’re a contending team like the Grizzlies.
Just hats off to their scouting and development department.
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