Chris Ryan: We are through our first weekend of basketball after the boom. We just experienced a different type of trade deadline, one in which, in the end, it seemed totally normal that so many players of the caliber of the Stars (Kristaps Porzingis, Tobias Harris, Marc Gasol) changed teams. The only surprising thing was that more of them did not move. You and I have been talking about how the economy of NBA transactions affects the product on the court during the last few weeks, and this weekend was a fascinating illustration. Forget what it does to the circadian rhythms of bloggers: the NBA trade deadline seemed to affect everyone. Kevin Durant entered the media gathered on Thursday night; LeBron and the Lakers have a 1-2 mark on their road trip without eyebrows, giving up 407 points in three games, including the work of an Indy without Oladipo and a resplendent Philly, and a strange win over Boston. Speaking of Boston: the wound of Kyrie Irving, the Celtics were on the wrong side of a historic comeback against a group of Clippers who barely know each other, and Marcus Morris says no one is having fun. Do you know any good cure for the hangover? I think everyone in the league, from players, executives, agents and coaches, could use one right now.
Justin Verrier: The theater of absurdity that surrounded the derby of Anthony Davis involved a sobering reality: all the involved teams needed an agreement to happen, because they were all a disaster. Hoping for a reorganization of the deadline now, everyone is coming to an agreement with the challenges of their situation. The winner of the Rajon Rondo game in Boston on the night of the deadline was fun, but the Lakers returned to resemble a team that did not have enough shots, or high-level talent, to trade punches with the Sixers. The pelicans put Davis back into the lineup, to the bewilderment of his house people and Jeff Van Gundy and almost everyone watching, and they're still trying to make sense; they somehow beat the Timberwolves on Friday, with Davis scoring 32 points and maintaining a good question and answer session with the media afterwards, only to score 90 the following night in a loss to the Zombie Grizzlies. Even the Celtics, who could only contain the breath that the deadline would pass without an agreement with Davis, now have to face the fact that even the third-best net score in the league will not solve the long-term problems in the locker room. The only team that seems to be in better condition is the Knicks, because there is only one place to go when you have 10 wins in mid-February. They and the Sixers, that's it.
Ryan: We're going to get things out of Philadelphia out of the way. I keep my enthusiasm on, as in the case of British ecstasy-of-a-year of the British (Happy Mondays), concert levels. Considering the fact that all the places and changing faces of the league have created a sense of "open career" in the last days of games, the Sixers emitted real fumes of the Warriors. There is no place to hide a weak defender against the five starters Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid. The Sixers general manager, Elton Brand, not only added an All-Star to his team, added the perfect All-Star. Harris has little maintenance, does not need a lot of touches and is going to put on a lot with a relatively open appearance, especially compared to what he was seeing in L.A., where he was still shooting 43 percent from behind the arch. As well? This team is fucking huge now. Unlike the Warriors, there is no very obvious hierarchical order in Philadelphia, and the only foreseeable problem is when / if there is some internal disagreement about that order among the players. Until that day, I'm going to really enjoy this. What is your first review of the new Sixers?
Ryan: Joel Embiid agrees with you!
Verrier: If the defenders want to get rid of Ben, as LeBron did on Sunday, he can now hit two of the best NBA shooters in their positions. You can set up screens for Butler for some of those pick-and-roll sets that Jimmy was looking for. They have not even started to take advantage of the handling of the ball that Tobias brings to the table. Everything makes a lot of sense now. My analysis of the exchange when it happened was: good player, bad exchange. I still think that is true; I do not think co-owner Michael Rubin can take Embiid on vacation on the island once the franchise starts making luxury tax payments. But I wonder if we get into the weeds at times about asset accumulation and draft picks and the development of young players who forget that adding a really good player to a really good team can be really useful.
Ryan: It is difficult to exaggerate the volume of sales that this franchise has experienced in the last six years. Three front office regimes, dozens of players. Hell, this is the third incarnation of the Sixers. this season. And we did not even mention the team that is negotiating your last one. 1 draft pick for a last minute magic bean and Jonathon Simmons!
Verrier: I still believe in Jon Simmons, Hustle God. Whatever the spirit, the good vibrations and the merchandise sales that were lost in the abandonment of Homie seem to have resurfaced. I guess that winning solves all the problems. Do you feel that the Sixers have claimed what they once had? Or is this team reading as a completely new experience through its first two games together?
Ryan: Totally new experience The song of the campfire is over, the five-year plan is now a countdown to Ben's rookie extension, when everything becomes incredibly expensive. It turns out that the great turning point in the history of the Process was the signing of Redick, because it was a harbinger of what will come: if you want to level up, you must attract the talent of that level. Two games are an obscenely small sample size, but this does not seem to be that of the Sixers 1-2-3-4-5, it seems to be the team that is not fucking.
Verrier: CLOSE THE BRIDGE BRIDGE, DANNY.
Ryan: The funny thing is that I feel that Brand built a killer in Boston, with all the switching ability and physics, but I have no idea how this new Sixers team will combine with the Bucks or the Raptors, who also worked for the run
Verrier: It's funny, even though the Celtics already look like the Pelicans when Kyrie is out of the game, I can not help thinking that Brad Stevens, with two days to prepare, remains the biggest obstacle to the Finals of any East team. . I saw Marc Gasol's debut with the Raptors (a 104-99 victory at Madison Square Garden) and I went out a bit … disappointed. Kawhi Leonard was having a bad night, so maybe the comments should stop there, but it seems that Toronto has some work ahead to combine the particular brightness of Gasol on their existing machine.
The Raps played against Gasol mainly with second units and, if that is the plan, he will divide the benches of other teams simply by placing himself in the high position and passing the many traders in Toronto. But some of the slow foot reductions he made in the defense made me wonder who he would defend when the Bucks throw a front by Giannis Antetokounmpo – Nikola Mirotic, or if he can handle Joel Embiid with more space than ever. Serge Ibaka has his flaws, but the Raps look much more flexible in their usual initial alignment. And although I have high hopes for Mirotic in Milwaukee, his injury problems are already following him to the Midwest. I wonder if any of them has a combination of five bulletproof men that can beat the Sixers in a playoff series, when something that is easier to cover now, such as the mobility of the Brook Lopez tank or the fall of the OG Anunoby's shooting, could make the series turn. Man, life comes to you fast. Or is it more concerning for the Sixers for you, or is it still Boston?
Ryan: Committing to their "sometimes you only need good players" koan, sometimes you can have too many good players, or young players on the precipice of being good players, or good players who have not regained their quan after destroying their leg or players called Jaylen Brown who shouts: "I HAVE ABANDONED MY CHILD", every time they have to fight through a screen.
I think Philly has the best five starting players in the conference, but Milwaukee, Toronto and Boston feel like more complete teams. Philly could also have the least inspiring coach in the game. Boston is still Philly's ghost. As I said before, they remind me a lot of a LeBron Cleveland team, and I learned to judge those LeBron Cleveland teams after the Finals, not after the press conferences in the middle of the season. Danny Ainge has just released Gregg Popovich's version of the main office "let them play through it" as a coach. You can read that as "We like our team more than Marcus Morris." Or maybe he realizes what looks like no one else in the East: no one is beating Golden State this season, so it's better to keep your gunpowder dry for Anthony. Davis in July.
The Western Conference teams certainly seemed a bit more up to that concept: almost none of the current playoff teams of that conference had a consequential move. The recent capitulations on the Lakers' court speak of a much deeper institutional schism between LeBron and the main office, but I have to support Magic and Rob Pelinka here: Anthony Davis is not really enough to beat Boogie Down Productions. Durant just put 39 in the Heat on Sunday night … and that's how he plays when he's discontent.
Verrier: The Western playoff field is beginning to feel like the Five Season Club. It is likely that two new teams will jump into the fray this year, but otherwise they are the same faces in different places. A kind of karmic equilibrium has overtaken the Nuggets after their enchanted first half; they lost the three sets of their recent road trip to the East, and even if they recover, the sense of inevitability that surrounds the slightest sign of trouble speaks for itself. The Warriors may not be playing better than ever, but they may have their best combination of comfort, motivation and talent since the 28-game winning streak. However, for the first time since his dynastic career began, there is no clear rival between them and a fifth consecutive NBA final. It's a shame that neither the Jazz nor the Trail Blazers looked for the hurdles on the deadline. A Mike Conley here or a Nikola Vucevic there would have made it at least interesting.
Ryan: If Denver is not tested in battle, Houston is playing on the three-card mount, and the Jazz can not go back to last season's highs, so Oklahoma City, by default, is Golden State's closest rival. Which I'm sure it delights … the Golden State fans. That said, are you getting some vibes from San Antonio del Thunder this season? They may not play with the tactical discipline of the Spursians or take advantage of the inefficiencies on the court, but the way the Thunder has been able to rebuild a conference heavyweight around two stars and a bunch of first-round picks and Average recovery projects at the last minute is really impressive. Like, what are we doing here with Terrance Ferguson? And is it just my deep personal prejudice, or does Paul George have an MVP claim like James Harden?
Verrier: I know that Giannis is the best player in the best team, and George is the best two-way player in the game right now, but if we deny Harden another MVP as a way to compensate Russell Westbrook, it will be a farce. Harden is having one of the best offensive seasons in history and, unlike the Thunder's average offense in the 2016-17 season, the Rockets are surviving in the West because Harden has boosted his offense to a better rating than the The Warriors in their 73- win season
I would have George third on my fake ballot if the season ended today, but I would also have the Thunder as the second best in the West. Even with Andre Roberson on the sidelines and Patrick Patterson spending more luxury tax money than useful minutes, OKC has this Crazy 88s band of long athletes that can throw relentlessly. And whether it's the emergence of George or the acquisition of the team's defensive identity, Westbrook has become almost the elite version of that OKC archetype; He has never fired so badly in this volume, but his bounce, assist and steal numbers have never been better. (Maybe this is Russ's version that we should have had all the time, but the opportunity diverted it towards the volume score). Old Russ will shoot the Thunder for one or two important games before the end of this season, but the net performance is encouraging. The OG Thunder were at their best, with Westbrook postponing a dominant scorer on the wing and backed by a scoring combo, and although Russ-PG – Dennis Schröder is not Russ-Durant-Harden, the imitation is passable. In the worst case, they are still the perfect complement for a dynasty. Maybe the Western playoffs are not so bad after all.