Daily Predictions – Monday October 9

NFL Monday Night Football

(2-2) Minnesota Vikings   18

(1-3) Chicago Bears           21

MLB Playoffs

NLDS Game 3 (LA leads 2-0)

Los Angeles Dodgers          5

Arizona Diamondbacks     6

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NBA Preseason Game Recap: Oklahoma City Thunder v. Melbourne United

The Thunder escaped this game with a one-point win and are understandably still developing a comfort level and optimal spacing in their third preseason game with their summer acquisitions. Carmelo Anthony is looking for his rhythm on both ends of the court. Defensive rim protection is an issue when Melo and Jerami Grant are on the back line together, even though the movement offensively is appealing to watch. Josh Heustis continues to be active in limited minutes, showing he could be an option to play more center behind Steven Adams.

Russell Westbrook looks to be in his usual form, dictating pace and choosing his spots to attack or distribute offensively. I would expect nothing less from the MVP than what we witnessed last season, but the question remains of who can effectively fill in for Russ at the point guard position to keep his minutes at a reasonable level. Raymond Felton showed some of what the Thunder were hoping for today before going down with a sprained left wrist–that he can be a playmaker with or without Westbrook on the court with him. Semaj Christon and Daniel Hamilton have played short stretches there, and maybe Paul George can fill in for minutes in a lineup with Roberson, Anthony, Grant and Adams.

This summer’s 21st pick in the Draft, Terrence Ferguson, is showing great activity and defensive awareness at the shooting guard position. He will be a useful option for Billy Donovan if he can keep it up throughout the regular season, but be prepared for some growing pains with any rookie.

In the era of “small-ball,” the Thunder should Go Big this season with Grant playing power forward and Adams at center. This could free up Anthony to slide to small forward and Paul George to shooting guard. Teamed with Westbrook, this dimension of options on the wings creates size and speed advantages at multiple positions. The Thunder will have plenty to look at before going to Denver to face an upstart Nuggets team with a strong frontcourt of their own to deal with.

Clip Show Hits Free Agency

It has been reported by ESPN that Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will opt out of their contracts to become free agents, along with Marreese Speights, who declined his $1.5 million option. This news clears up the free agency situation for the Clippers. Let’s take a look at each player:

Chris Paul

Paul is the leader of this team and arguably the best player in the league at his position. His .264 WSP48 was equal to Kawhi Leonard and only behind Kevin Durant’s .277, while his 10.6 WS was 14th best in the NBA last season. He can sign a 4-year deal worth approximately $152 million with any other team, but the Clippers can offer him about $50 million more to re-sign in Los Angeles. Paul is worth the max deal at 5-years, $205 million.

Blake Griffin

Like Paul, Griffin can earn about $50 million more with the Clippers, who can offer 5 years and $175 million, compared to 4 years and $130 million elsewhere. Griffin had the 3rd best Win Score on the team at 7.7 and a WSP48 of .179 that put him in the top 40 in the NBA. A max deal would keep him in the top 20 salaries in the NBA. Griffin is a bit overvalued at the max, and should be in the $18-20 million range.

Luc Mbah a Moute

Mbah a Moute had one of his best offensive seasons of his career last year, but was not as effective on defense as we have grown accustomed to. He had a 3.0 WS, .084 WSP48 and DRtg 109. Mbah a Moute may be looking for a bigger payday in free agency, but his numbers indicate an average player.

Marreese Speights

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Speights played last year on the minimum $1.4 million salary, and had the most productive season of his career with a 4.2 WS and .156 WSP48. He will be a hot commodity in free agency as a “stretch 4,” and the question will be whether he can be a starter in the NBA. He will turn 30 this summer, so it could be his last chance at a big contract, which could start around $10 million.

Brandon Bass

Bass has a history of raising his performance during the playoffs. He wasn’t able to prove much in his first year with the Clippers and Doc Rivers only played him 4 minutes this postseason, but he has good playoff appearances for previous teams. He was productive during the regular season, as his WSP48 of .186 was third best on the team. In only 577 minutes, he won more games (2.2 WS) than Raymond Felton (2.0) and Jamal Crawford (1.9), who both played at least 1,700 minutes. Bass is a deal at the veteran’s minimum and should be re-signed.

Raymond Felton

Playing heavy minutes in his first season with the Clippers filling in during injuries, Felton was below average (.055 WSP48) and consistent to his career averages (.066 WSP48). His play improved in the playoffs and he was slightly above average (.114 WSP48) in the series against the Jazz. Felton is valued at the minimum salary ($2.3m).

J.J. Redick

Redick is an above average player during the regular season, but throughout his career has shrunk in the playoffs and becomes below average. He accounted for 4.8 Wins (78th in the NBA) last season, fourth best on the team behind their “Big 3.” His WSP48 of .105 is just above the NBA average and sixth best on the Clippers and he played 2,198 minutes, second most on the team after D.J. However, he had a postseason Win Score of -0.1 and a WSP48 of -.012, both NBA worst for anybody who played more than 200 minutes. Add all of this up, and Redick is clearly not worth the $7.4 million salary he was paid this past season, not to mention the $18-20 million he is looking for in free agency. Redick has been productive and a fan favorite in Los Angeles, but the Clippers would be wise to let the 32 year-old walk this summer.

Alan Anderson

Anderson never made his way into Rivers’s rotation this season and at 34, could be an option to re-sign at the veteran’s minimum for experience.

 

 

Does Butler put Minnesota in the Playoffs?

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The Timberwolves traded Zach Lavine (3.0 WS), Kris Dunn (0.1 WS) and the number 7 pick (Lauri Markkanen) to the Bulls for Jimmy Butler (13.8 WS) and the 16th pick (Justin Patton). Patton and Markkanen are both 7-footers who just turned 20, not likely to produce much in their rookie seasons. Dunn was not able to find his footing in his rookie season with the Wolves. Lavine is a good young player and great scorer, but Butler had the 3rd best Win Score in the NBA last season.

On the surface, this trade will add about 11 Wins to the T’Wolves and give them a projected 42-40 finish. This will put them in contention for the last playoff spot, which the Trailblazers took last season with a 41-41 record. Coach Thibs is known to get the most out of his players and has a history of doing exactly that previously with Butler in Chicago, so I think we can expect the same when these two team up in Minnesota.

Paul George

PG13

George has given the Indiana Pacers 7 really good years and helped his team win plenty of games by playing both ends effectively. He is a very good player in the NBA, with a WSP48 of .145, and one of the league’s best shooters from outside. In the playoffs, he has shown an ability to raise his level of play. He will make $19.5 million in 2017-18 and could then sign a maximum 4 year deal worth about $130 million.

Last season, he was worth 7.1 Wins (top 40) for the Pacers. Even though it wasn’t his best season overall, he had the best shooting season of his career with 39.3% 3-Point accuracy and 195 makes, twelfth best in the NBA. His regular season WSP48 of .127 was 100th best in the NBA. His salary of $18.3 million was 24th most in the league, a premium based on his deadly shooting.

The Cavs, reportedly, are in touch with the Pacers to make a deal for George. A trade for J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson would keep the core of the Cavs intact and add to their record-setting shooting arsenal with 38 more 3s than J.R. and R.J. combined and more than Kyrie Irving, the Cavs’ leader with 177.

If Los Angeles is George’s preferred destination, a swap for Luol Deng might be preferable to the Lakers. This would clear space and add to their defense on the wing. It is yet to be seen if the Pacers will deal George now or wait it out longer.