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Chat: Kevin Pelton (Basketball)

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday October 15, 2009 1:00 PM ET chat session with Kevin Pelton (Basketball).


Whether you want to take a break from the baseball postseason, or you want to talk about hoops for its own sake, drop in and shoot your questions to Kevin Pelton of BasketballProspectus.com.

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Welcome to our first NBA chat of the 2009-10 season! Pro Basketball Prospectus 2009-10 is now available as a PDF or via mail as a printed book. We're just 12 days away from the start of the NBA regular season, so there's plenty to discuss. Let's dig in.

Todd (Austin): Are there plans for a College Basketball Prospectus this year?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say, but yes. You'll be hearing more about that shortly.

krissbeth (jp, ma): What teams won't contend, but will get their act together enough to act as spoilers towards the end of the season?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): I think Oklahoma City is the clear leader in the clubhouse in this category. The Thunder is improving (despite the presence of Kevin Durant, apparently), but probably still a year away. I think Minnesota could fall into that category too. I'm not sure whether anyone in the East qualifies, because anyone halfway decent might be in the playoffs.

Greg Oden (Portland): Am I a top 5 pre-season story if people could actually watch my games on television?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): No, because I think people expected this progress all along, even as soon as last season. That the No. 1 pick and one of the best prospects to come into the NBA in recent memory is playing like it is not a big story. Parlay it into an All-Star berth and maybe it is--but probably the story is how good that makes the Blazers.

murfritz (Kansas): If we buy the printed book, can we also get the PDF? I don't want to wait if I don't have to.

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): No ... because the book has to be sold through CreateSpace we can't link the two purchasing processes right now, so they have to be purchased separately.

Andy (the internet): you've got book money now...why don't you upgrade these live chats to coveritlive?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): I don't think CoverItLive is better because it's somewhat more challenging to read as an archive. CoverItLive is probably preferable for multi-person chats, which we'll surely host at some point this season (opening night, for example).

tonipeluso (Oakland, CA): What are the Warriors going to do with Stephen Jackson?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): It seems pretty clear they want to keep him, but Jackson has the power to make that option untenable with his behavior. The question is whether the same thing that convinces the Warriors they don't want him makes him untradeable because no one else wants to deal with that possibility.

Rob (Oakland): Are there any likely takers for Stephen Jackson? If so will it be a straight salary dump or can the Warriors get something decent back?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Well, the Cavaliers do make a lot of sense given the things they're dealing with themselves at shooting guard. Can't think of anyone else off the top of my head. I think it is possible the Warriors could get a decent player, but only if they're willing to take back a contract that's fairly ugly.

Cryogite (New York, NY): Is David Lee going to be good trade bait for the Knicks come February?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): I'd have to spend more time looking this up on CBAFAQ.com than I have during a chat, but I think he's got a base-year contract and would not be easy to trade. It's possible he might not be tradeable at all since he's on a one-year deal. Can't remember off the top of my head, though.

Tony (Brooklyn, NY): How do we get the CHONE spreadsheet in time for our drafts? Thanks!

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Whoa, whoa. CHONE is a baseball projection named after a utility guy for the Angels. Ours is SCHOENE, and stay tuned for details on that very soon.

Mike (Kansas City): Worst team in the league this year: Milwaukee, Sacramento, or other?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Milwaukee? I don't think Scott Skiles will allow that, no matter how much talent the Bucks have bled. Sacramento is the obvious choice.

BK (Boston, MA): Is there a way to determine teams' effectiveness with transition defense from existing stats? 82games.com gives stats for defensive eFG% for shots taken in the first ten secs of the shot clock...can this be used as a (very loose) proxy? For last season, Orlando and Boston were highest at around 49-50% defensive eFG%, the Knicks were last at 57% (which instinctively matches my experience of watching the Knicks).

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): I think that's only about half of the equation. Remember that the percentage of shots that come in those first 10 seconds is also important. You might see good teams that give up high percentages in the first 10 seconds, but only because opponents so rarely get chances in that timespan. The league does track fast-break points; not sure if there's a reference for that online.

Joshua (Austin, TX): DeJuan Blair averages __ points and __ rebounds per game during his rookie year and come in __ in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): SCHOENE says 5 and 6. I think he'll score a little more--maybe 7 and 6? There's a lot of competition for playing time in the San Antonio frontcourt, but it's true that Blair will be hard to keep off the floor if he keeps this up. At this point, I'd guess nothing more than a few token votes.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Am I alone in holding out hope that the Raptors are still shifting to a Seven Years, oops, Seconds or Less style?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Triano seems to have made it pretty clear that, while he wants to speed things up, he doesn't want to go to those kinds of extremes. I'm not sure that would suit the Raptors' talent anyway. Jose Calderon seems to be to be better in a half-court setting.

SaberTJ (Cleveland): Kevin, Back when the Cavs acquired Shaq, you mentioned how the Cavs picknroll defense would be worst with him in the lineup. Do the Cavalier's perimeter additions help counteract that?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): They do to the extent they give Mike Brown more alternatives if he wants to go small and put Varejao at center to counter the pick-and-roll down the stretch. That worked pretty well ... until Orlando came up against Dwight Howard, whom Varejao couldn't handle one-on-one in the post.

Andy (Portland): 2009 wins SCHOENE projection for the grizzlies = 45 wins vegas over/under = 27.5 a difference of 17.5 wins. What happened here?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Obviously, that's the most intriguing projection SCHOENE has to offer this year. In part, Memphis' weaknesses (passing, obviously, and one-on-one defense) are a good fit for what SCHOENE is unable to measure. However, don't underestimate the value of adding legitimate NBA players where previously the Grizzlies had guys who were replacement level. Memphis did add a lot of talent.

I would definitely take the under on 45, but the over on 27.5.

Rob (Oakland): Random question - How often do you use ESPN's trade machine?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): I loaded it up to look at David Lee's contract this morning, but in general not very often. Nothing wrong with the Trade Machine, but making up trades isn't really my interest.

jdhastings (Berkeley): Do you really agree with your system's projection of the Hornets as the second best team in the West? Even with the pieces added this summer, I had written them off as being able to contend against deeper teams like LAL, SAS, POR and DAL. Or is Chris Paul just that good? (PS I prefer this chat format to others)

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): They nearly won 50 games last season with Antonio Daniels and Sean Marks in the rotation, so I think it is certainly possible that Chris Paul is just that good. In a way, having a team like the Hornets did last year that is so top-heavy and has such obvious weaknesses is almost a good thing because it's much easier to upgrade that rotation than one that is strong up and down the lineup.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): T/F: No SG for the Raptors will average even as many as 25 minutes per game when all's said and done. Follow up question: % chance DeRozan's an all-star at least once in his career?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Depends if you count Jarrett Jack. I think he'll play the most minutes of anyone because he'll be at both guard positions. I'd say ... 25 percent chance on DeRozan.

Quincy (BC): Where can I buy the pro basketball book in Canada? Should it be in the local Chapters/Indigo store?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): It's strictly available online, north and south of the border.

twinkies25 (MN): Will Al Jefferson finally get an All Star berth this year, and who do you like better in the long term for the T Wolves, Johnny Flynn, Ramon Sessions, or the possibility of Ricky Rubio?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): I think Jefferson has a better shot next year. It could take him a while to get completely to 100 percent. Long term? Rubio. Like all three of them, however.

Justin (Normal, IL): Is Osiris Eldridge a legit NBA prospect?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): His stats aren't very impressive when you adjust for the level of competition. (I think we're in the lightning round.)

Nick (Jakarta): What do you think of Gallinari? In general, what do you think of where the Knicks are headed?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Big fan of Gallinari's shooting ability. What you think of the Knicks' strategy I think depends on whether you believe that next summer's free agency is going to materialize or not. I'm fairly optimistic. Not LeBron optimistic, but maybe Chris Bosh optimistic.

Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Do you really think Jack steals that many minutes from Calderon, or is that your way of saying that he's the de facto starter at SG? His numbers the last few years in give-or-take 30 mins/game weren't that hot, and I can't imagine he can defend long shooters too well.

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): 13 MPG as PG + 13 MPG as SG > 25 MPG

The Flying Bernard (Acton, MA): Chone Figgins is not a "utility guy", he's the starting 3rd baseman for the Angels and the 2009 AL leader in walks.

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): There's a reason I write about baketball (and I know he's better than a typical utility guy, but he's played all over the place).

Quincy (BC): Just from the BP site?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Ultimately it will be available via Amazon.com, but for now CreateSpace as linked on BAsketball Prospectus.

Avi (New York): Joakim Noah has put together an impressive preseason. What can we expect from him when the games count?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): WARP has him as the most valuable player on the Bulls. I'm not sure if that will look more (because of Derrick Rose) or less (because he plays so well) ridiculous this season.

Tbaby1 (Bay Area): About the College Basketball Prospectus, I was dissapointed in last year's publication because of the lack of coverage regarding smaller college programs. It was still better than ninety percent of anything ever published.

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Tough with the level of manpower working on the book to cover everybody. Ninety percent of everything published ever? Including Shakespeare? Heh.

John (Lansing): Is Ben Gordon worth the money? I see small shooting guard and scream no, but then I see a good 3p% and think yes.

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): He's a valuable player, but that's way too much money.

Cole (Portland): Early prediction on Ducks-Huskies??

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Decided in the final seconds (a fairly safe prediction about the 2009 Huskies).

Damon (ON): Hibbert's preseason block extravaganza: real breakout coming this year, or just a fun run against less than normal lineups?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Somewhere in between. If he's in the right position, he can block a lot of shots. That's easier, as you allude, in the preseason.

dianagramr (NYC): David Lee trade bait? I look at him and see a nice, complementary player for the Knicks to hold onto.

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Going to be tough for them to hang on to him. Getting him back was positive for this season, but the contract they gave him will make it tough to not renounce his rights this summer. (Of course, they could renounce him and just sign him as they would any other free agent.)

Tim (Queens): As someone who grew up watching the Jordan-era NBA before the Internet and the stats revolution exploded, I fear that I may have overrated and underrated certain types of players my whole life. So if you could, to give me some perspective, who is the most overrated player today and during the Jordan era? Who is the most underrated today and in the Jordan era?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Hmm. That's a great question, but I'm not sure I have a good answer off the top of my head. Maybe I can come up with something down the road. Horace Grant was awfully underrated in his younger days, I will say. You know who came out much worse than I expected? Mitch Richmond.

jdhastings (Berkeley): Has anybody ever analyzed the extent to which preseason success translates into the regular season for teams and players? Is there any correlation or should I just take it all as noise?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): I did last year. They were more useful than you'd expect: http://wwww.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=420

Oracle (Oakland): Can Monte really play the point? I feel if given time Azubuike would be the better option in the long run. Is Curry legit? Will I ever see a playoff game again?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): I think a lineup of Ellis + SG who can initiate can work. Stephen Jackson is that guy right now, and Curry might become so down the line. I don't see Auzubuike working well on the ball.

There's a lot of talent in the Bay Area. It might just take a new regime to harness it all.

jarjets89 (North Jersey): How big of a step forward do you think Derrick Rose will take this season? We know he can drive and score, but can we expect more defensively, and more from his outside game?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Defense will always improve with experience. The outside game is probably a year or two away.

Jack (Yukon): Will you explain your skill ratings? Based on the numbers and your impressions? Which matter more? What are some of the other new stats in the book?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Bradford can really do more to explain those, but I will say I relied a lot on the defense numbers in writing the book because they summarize the information we track about counterpart performance. The important thing to remember about all of those stats is that they are adjusted by position, so a +5 passing PG is different than a +5 passing C. A similar story applies to rebounding.

Tim (Queens): So perhaps players who are scorers are more likely to be overrated? My basic curiosity is that you're going to tell me that Jordan wasn't leaps and bounds above everyone else during the time he played. He had to be the best player by a lot? No? And I must be right that Lebron is the best right now. Significantly better than Kobe. Right?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Well, David Robinson was closer by the stats than conventional wisdom would indicate, but it's safe to say that Jordan was not overrated at all.

dianagramr (NYC): Best HOF-eligible player NOT in the Hall yet?

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Artis Gilmore, hands down. No doubt about it.

Kevin Pelton (Basketball): Alright folks, that's all the time I have today. Thanks to everyone for chatting and keep reading BasketballProspectus.com. Remember that Pro Basketball Prospectus 2009-10 is available now!

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