Ethan Norof

NBA Fantasy Mailbag

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Mailbag: Ballin' on a Budget

Monday, May 8, 2017


Question 1: Do you think Kawhi Leonard gets enough love for how good he really is?

 

When Tim Duncan’s retirement is a footnote in a written capsule of San Antonio’s season, that’s a major credit to Leonard and what he’s been able to achieve.

 

After waving goodbye to The Big Fundamental, Leonard took the next step in his personal evolution by claiming the Spurs as his team. Kawhi is the textbook definition of a two-way player that always makes his presence felt at both ends of the floor, and his career-high 25.5 points per game—good for ninth in the NBA—put him ahead of names like Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler and Paul George in the scoring department. There is every reason to believe Leonard’s game will continue to blossom, and it’s scary to think that his flower is not yet in full bloom.

 

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Question 2: Do you subscribe to the theory that we’re taking LeBron James for granted?

 

I wouldn’t phrase it quite like that, but there is certainly something to be said for this general idea.

 

In short, we’ve desensitized ourselves to LeBron’s greatness. Since James has entered the league, he’s spent more time being the best player in the league than with any other designation. It’s our normalcy to expect his sheer and utter dominance, and he continues to deliver with regularity.

 

Although he’s only earned four MVP trophies during his already illustrious career, there’s an argument to be made that the award should go to LeBron on an annual basis until the league dictates otherwise. Still the only player capable of elevating any current NBA roster to a title contender, James was nothing short of dominant in the second-round sweep of the Toronto Raptors with averages of 36.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.0 block and 3.3 (!) triples on an electric 43-of-75 (57.3%) shooting, including an unconscious 13-of-27 (48.1%) from distance.

 

We’re lucky to be alive and watching one of the greatest—if not the greatest—NBA player of all-time.

 

Question 3: Give us three top-35 targets you think might be undervalued going into the 2017-18 campaign.

 

This is the kind of forward-thinking question that I can vibe with and I’d encourage more of in the future. Not only is it important to identify your talent in the pursuit of a thorough draft plan, but also it’s vital to stay true to your process if you want to be satisfied with the result.

 

That being said, here are a few guys to consider:

 

DeMarcus Cousins: Assuming the Pelicans enjoy a successful offseason that includes re-signing Jrue Holiday—which is admittedly no small assumption—Year 2 of the Boogie-Brow Connection should be considerably more fruitful than what we’ve seen so far.

 

Al Horford: It feels like Big Al is in store for a draft day slide after his first season in Bean Town, but something tells me those that wind up with Horford’s services will be quite content with the return on value. No matter what type of construction the C’s roster undergoes, Horford will play an integral role while providing versatile fantasy value.

 

Question 4: Do you really think the Clippers can trade for Carmelo Anthony?

 

We keep hearing a lot about how the Clippers desire to upgrade their roster, but no one has been able to answer the core question: What assets will Los Angeles use to do so?

 

I’d love to have a conversation with any of the league executives cited the latest “development” of this manufactured storyline, because there is absolutely no way that any combination of Austin Rivers, Wesley Johnson—I mean, seriously, this is Wes Johnson—and J.J. Redick is enough to extract Melo from New York. I understand what Phil Jackson is doing in his very obvious and public attempt to drive Anthony off of the Knicks’ roster, but this scenario is downright embarrassing to even consider.

 

“’It’s really the only thing that makes sense,’ one front-office type said,” the New York Post reported on Thursday. I only have two follow-up questions: 1) What is a “front-office type?” Is that someone who works with but not in the front office, or is it some guy off the street in a suit who looks like he could potentially be cast in the role of “front office executive?” 2) What is this person’s definition of the word “perspective?” This deal only makes sense if you’re looking at it through the Doc Rivers lens, because it gives him another reason to run it back with the same team, more incentive not to play the youth and a star-heavy roster that makes him look better like a better roster-builder than he really is.

 

Look, nothing is impossible, but let’s not play with the trade machine at 2 AM after you’ve already hit the McDonalds drive-thru with no shame in your game. 

 

Question 5: What’s your take on the Lonzo Ball signature shoe & the $495 price tag?

 

The idea of entrepreneurship in this field is fascinating, and if that’s where the concept had been born that the approach would be considerably different. Instead, the marketing has been arrogant and obnoxious, two words that have become synonymous with LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s father. 

 

The concept has been pitched as a premium line despite the fact that there is zero context for them in the marketplace, and it’s unrealistic to expect a kid’s inaugural debut shoe—regardless of line—to go (standard) for more than the price of what it costs to buy two retro Jordan IV's. The $495 price point is nothing short of absurd, and having an unnecessarily expensive price tag can actually hurt the brand in the long run.

 

The idea that being a “Big Baller” is defined by the ability and/or desire to buy these shoes is something that only someone with a serious Napoleon complex could believe. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.  



Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.
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