Ethan Norof

NBA Fantasy Mailbag

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Mailbag: LeBron's Proper Place

Monday, May 29, 2017


Question 1 from Jason L. in Boston, MA: What’s your take on the rising LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan GOAT debate?

 

In a society where value is relative and is also often derived from previous context, it’s not a surprise that we’re in constant compare mode in order to attempt to establish worth. But in trying so hard to distinguish the differences in order to support a claim, who ever said there was anything wrong with accepting both equally for their similarities and differences?

 

Those trying to deny LeBron his place in history are missing greatness in the process, and this comes from someone who grew up in Los Angeles watching Kobe Bryant in his prime. James is one of the most physically gifted athletes the NBA has ever seen and will ever see, his basketball IQ is off the charts and there’s really nothing—with the exception of his free throw shooting over the last few years—that anyone can criticize about his game. There is no denying Jordan’s accomplishments, impact nor the iconic mark—still felt strongly today by those who never watched him play—that he left behind, but past accomplishments shouldn’t preclude future glory, and in some ways, the legend of MJ has grown bigger than the man himself.

 

It’s an impossible task to compare players from different eras with how the game of basketball has changed, but both James and Jordan could transcend any time period. Ultimately, there will be a different tenor to this conversation based on the result of the 2017 Finals, but remember what we said here and consider how strongly context plays a part in determining individual legacy.

 

Editor’s Note: Introducing FanDuel Mixup, the newest way to play FanDuel Baseball. Smaller lineups, so you can draft your team on the go, plus fun themes every week! Play now.

 

Question 2 from Taylor M. in Northeast, OH: Put LeBron on any roster in the NBA. Is there any team that doesn’t go to the playoffs?

 

Tim Cato and Kofie Yeboah over at SB Nation just ran a pretty cool 2K simulation in which LeBron was traded for the worst rotation player on any given team, and the results speak for themselves. My favorite part is the fact that the Heat missed the playoffs, but like it states in the article, that just provides more evidence that Erik Spoelstra is a miracle worker.

 

Obviously 2K simulations are wonky and don’t represent what could really happen over the course of a season, but put LeBron on any roster—even Brooklyn which was denied entry to the postseason in the Cato and Yeboah experiment—and I firmly believe that the team would have more to play for after the regular season concludes. It’s incredible how James has the ability to both dominate individually and elevate those around him, and that’s part of what makes him a once-in-a-lifetime player. 

 

Despite his massive reputation and ridiculous recognition, it still feels like LeBron is somehow underrated. Yeah, he’s that good. 

 

Question 3 from James T. in Sydney, AU: Where do you think might be a good fit for Joe Ingles in free agency?

 

Reader questions from Australia! Thanks for writing in, James. It’s really cool to see how fantasy basketball can travel around the globe.

 

Ingles is going to have a fascinating market, and there’s no question that he’s due a major pay raise from the $2.15M (according to Spotrac) he made this season. But because he’s a restricted free agent, sorting through assorted rumors (read: leverage plays) in order to establish his true suitors might take some time. Rarely does anyone in the front office like the idea of tying up significant money in a restricted free agent early, but it is worth nothing that this particular FA class does not offer a lot of quality depth.

 

Utah will have some tough decisions to make, but it’s hard to see the organization simply letting Ingles go, especially given what a key role he proved to play this year coupled with the fact that he’s stated very openly that he wants to return. It’s going to take an aggressive offer to price the Jazz out of the market, and although Ingles is only 29 years old, it’s hard to see a current scenario—barring an insane overbid—that places him in another jersey.

 

Question 4 from Matt M. in Raleigh, NC: I know you’re a Lakers guy—do you think L.A. is legitimately considering anyone besides Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick?

 

To consider and to do are two very different things, but that being said it would be foolish to assume that the decision has already been made.

 

There is no doubt that the intrigue is very real with De’Aaron Fox—less so with Josh Jackson regardless of what you hear—and a head-to-head workout between Ball and Fox could play a determining role in separating the two. It’s hard to believe that Ball will agree to that scenario given that it’s a losing proposition in terms of what he has to gain (nothing), but the Lakers should and likely will push for that scenario in the coming weeks.

 

At the end of the day, it’s going to take a lot of verve to pass on Ball assuming the Celtics don’t shock the world and take him first, but Fox’s stock is moving in the right direction and his momentum toward the top of the draft board is real.

 

Question 5 from Ray M. in Seattle, WA: Is this the summer the Clippers finally trade Jamal Crawford?

 

This could be the summer in which the Clippers do a lot of things, but Doc Rivers has to show a willingness to break free from the status quo—something he has been unable to do in Los Angeles—in order for that to happen.



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