This trade value thing is extremely taxing, I don’t know how Bill Simmons does this every year. Kudos to him. Anyway, this is the second rendition of trade value, consisting of certain types of players:
Available for the right price: Guys that are realistically available for a trade but aren’t technically on the trade block.
Are you trying to win a championship in three years? : The ideal third-best players on a championship. Think Klay Thompson, Dennis Rodman, James Worthy, Chris Bosh, etc.
Building blocks: Guys that you would pick in the first round in a fantasy draft and feel good about it. These guys can turn the 2009 Nets or 2011 Bobcats into playoff teams.
Here are the defining rules of the game:
- “Salaries matter”
Would you rather be paying Jamal Murray $26 million over the next four years, or C.J. McCollum $80 million for the next 3?
- “Age matters”
Would you rather have Lonzo Ball for the next 15 years or Damian Lillard for the next 8?
- Pretend there was no such thing as a salary cap (making any trade possible)
So if you could make any theoretical trade both sides could technically consider it.
- “Concentrate on degrees.”
If a call was made to that team, they would either hang up and throw the phone across the room, hang up and yell a profanity, hang up gently and shake their head, consider the deal, make the deal, and make the deal and celebrate. Basically, there are varying degrees to a response that dictates how legitimate the trade offer was.
For instance, I don’t think the Trail Blazers and Pelicans would discuss a Jrue Holiday for Damian Lillard swap, but the Pelicans would at least sit there and think, “Dame is on the table?” while the Trail Blazers would think, “No way we’re trading Dame for Jrue.”
I’m going to separate the players into tiers based on what kind of player they are and what kind of contract they possess. Without further ado, I will count down from 40th to 20th.
Available for the right price
40. Jrue Holiday
Holiday was Lillard’s kryptonite in the playoffs holding the star to 18-5-5 on 34% shooting, then held Klay Thompson to 20 points on 38% from the field and 28% from three. With Rajon Rondo and Ian Clark playing at the 1 and the 2 for the Pelicans, respectively, Holiday was forced out of position at the 3. Nonetheless, JHolla (which easily could be a girl’s nickname on the Jersey Shore) had his best season, producing 19 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists while allowing opponents to shoot just 42.7%, and owning the 4th most defensive win shares for any guard this season. He’s like the Ben Zobrist of basketball. Zobrist is naturally a second baseman, but if you ask him to play the outfield, shortstop, catcher, first baseman, or even warm up the bullpen, he’s going to do it and give 110%. If you play Holiday at the 4, he’s going to try his best to body Z-Bo or post up Rudy Gobert. No challenge is too daunting for Holiday, which makes him such a likable and relatable player. The only thing holding him back is the 4 years $100 million remaining on his contract.
PS. I kind of wish my parents named me AnJrue so I could go by Jrue. Oh well, maybe next life.
39. DeMar DeRozan
Is DeMar DeRozan even a top-5 shooting guard going into next season? Here are my rankings:
DeRozan suffers from the “Al Jefferson dilemma” which means his game is 20 years late. If DeMar played in 1998, where Wesley Person led the NBA in threes (with 192), he would be Clyde Drexler, and the Raptors could finally be eastern conference finalists.
38. Damian Lillard
37. CJ McCollum
Portland is in a real dilemma on who they should get rid of Lillard or McCollum, this offseason. Should they get rid of either of them? The reality is that Portland shouldn’t trade either because there’s no alternative option. But if a gun was held to Neil Olshey’s head and the assailant yelled, “Trade McCollum or Lillard! One or the other. I don’t care which one. I want the deal done by tomorrow or you’ll have to sign Greg Oden to the supermax.” Olshey freaks out and grabs his phone and dials his friend Elgin Baylor. The former king of trades in the NBA, he recommends, “trade both of them for a bunch of first and second-round picks. I’m sure you can get a lot of them.” Olshey quickly realized he didn’t want to endure a rebuild, so he called his old friend, Doc Rivers. Doc had some crazy ideas, “I don’t know what you can get for them. I mean both are aging and definitely aren’t Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, after all. How about C.J. and Dame for a future superstar, I think his name rhymes with Faustin Shivers? Olshey laughs, “Austin Rivers? You mean you want me to trade two stars for your son, Doc? Doc answers swiftly, “It’s not how it sounds Neil, he averaged-” Neil hung up before Doc could read off Austin’s supremely average statistics. He had to go with his gut. And that was to trade Dame.
36. Myles Turner
Turner hasn’t taken that step forward that many felt he would, acting as more a third-wheeler in the Oladipo-Sabonis relationship.
His per-36 minutes show his stagnation as a player:
Year 1: 16.3 points, 8.7 rebounds
Year 2: 16.6 points, 8.3 rebounds
Year 3: 16.2 points, 8.2 rebounds
To add, Turner’s offensive rating fell from 115 last season to 110 this season and defensive rating from 106 to 105 this season. His potential in 2k is probably a B+ because Turner’s rating has stayed the same the past two season. Myles is only 21 and still has room to improve, but time is of the essence.
35. Jamal Murray
My favorite scene from Nemo wasn’t Dory singing whale, Crush the turtle riding the wave, or even Nemo’s long-awaited reunion with his dad, but rather it was the ‘shark bait’ scene. Nemo was sound asleep when the shrimp woke up him up, directing Nemo to follow him. Nemo really had no idea what was to come. He arrived at the scene, where all the fish surrounded him in ceremonial fashion. This was like a pledge test for Nemo to be initiated into the tank, with Gill towering over Nemo ready to explain the test. To be in the so-called fraternal bond you have to swim through the ring of fire onto the other side. Nemo swam through the ring of fire rather easily leading Gill to ceremoniously state, “from this moment on you, you are now brother Sharkbait.”
From now on, I will refer to young players who are dangled as trade bait as “shark bait.” It recognizes the debut of a player’s rumors on the trade block. For instance, prior winners are as stated; 2009 Stephen Curry (almost traded for Amare, Warriors dodged a bullet on that one), 2010 Michael Beasley, 2011 James Harden, 2012 Tobias Harris, and 2014 Ryan Anderson. Jamal Murray captures the 2018 shark bait award. In reality, I don’t think trading Murray is the answer. Murray is a natural scorer, in the mold of Jerry Stackhouse and Kevin Martin. At one point, Murray will be a top-5 shooting guard, averaging 22-5-5 for a few seasons. I ultimately think it’s a good thing the Nuggets kept Murray because I have this weird feeling that Kyrie is going to burn out in a few years. Jamal Murray, shark bait.
34. Dennis Smith Jr.
33. Kyle Kuzma
32. Markelle Fultz
The Fultz shoulder injury tied with Kawhi’s invisible groin injury for the quirkiest storyline of 2018. Past winners of the quirkiest storyline: 2017 Sam Hinkie debacle 2016 Kevin Durant signs to a 73-win team (snake) 2015 Jahlil Okafor vs. Karl Anthony-Towns was a real argument, proving once again hindsight is 20/20 2014 Lamar Odom signed to the Knicks even though he was 20 pounds out of shape (leading to the infamous Stephen A. rant, “He was on crack!!!).
Markelle was something of a mythical character at Washington, fans from the midwest and east coast didn’t really tune into his games. The only primetime game came against UCLA and Lonzo Ball, a game in which Fultz outplayed the former. It was mostly because the Lorenzo Romar-led Washington team was 9-22 and 2-16 in Pac-12 play. Nonetheless, everyone had this idea that Fultz was the next coming of James Harden and also was the most NBA-ready player, which clearly he was not. I see Fultz as a Manu Ginobili player for the contending Sixers, who could go on a mid-2000’s Spurs tear within the next 5 seasons (or once Lebron retires). It’s worth noting that Fultz is on his rookie contract, $29 million over the next 3 and a player option of $15 million the fourth season. Whether or not Fultz will live up to the hype remains to be seen, but the talent is definitely there.
31. Justise Winslow
Winslow led the Heat in total rebounds and actually shot well from three against the Sixers, 37%. He is the sole reason the Heat have 60/1 odds to win the 2019 championship. It’s surely not Tyler Johnson, Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk, right? Josh Richardson and Goran Dragic don’t hurt either, but if there’s one guy that could make the jump to swiss-army knife all-star next year on the Heat, it’s Winslow. His offensive rating improved from 88 to 101 this past season. Reminds me a lot of Gerald Wallace. Look for him to start his ascent next season with 13-7-3 on a solid 43-34-75.
Are you trying to win a championship in three years?
30. Josh Jackson
Clyde Drexler literally says he sees himself when he watches Jackson. Over anything I would have to say about Jackson, I trust Drexler. This guy has the potential to be a true “swiss army knife.” Right now there are only 3 guys with swiss army knife features: Kawhi, AD, Lebron, Giannis, and Jimmy Butler. Here’s my definition of a swiss army knife:
Scissors: Can play at least three positions.
Large blade: Ability to score 20 points on any given night.
Small Blade: Can pass, shoot, and rebound efficiently.
Wood saw: Can lockdown any opponent.
LED light: Can takeover in crunch time.
Admittedly, Josh Jackson isn’t a takeover scorer quite yet, although he did produce 18 points a game in the last month. To add, his defensive rating was meager 112, but he has the intangibles (long wingspan, quicker feet) to lock up opponents.
PS. Thabo Sefolosha was nicknamed the “Swiss-Army-Knife” for my beloved Bulls and even he wouldn’t be considered a swiss-army-knife according to my definition (exclusive, I know). I’m starting to feel like a disappointment to all Chicago Bulls fans.
29. Brandon Ingram
The NBA is more of a copycat league than any other sport. Take a look at these near replicas; Kobe and D-Wade-MJ, Embiid-Hakeem. Copycats are being formed faster than ever, evidenced by 2 in the past 10 years; Tatum-Pierce, and Mitchell-Wade. For example, teams are already looking for the next Draymond thus players are changing their games accordingly. Ingram is a Giannis replica. He has elastic-man arms, with a 7’3’’ wingspan (Giannis’ arms are the same length) and averaged strikingly similar per 36 minutes stats as the Greek Freak: 17.3 points, 4.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks per 36 minutes (Giannis put up 14.6 points, 2.9 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.2 blocks per 36 minutes at age 20). His usage in his second year was about the same as Giannis’ third year (22.2 to 22.3), so we should be expecting a jump in usage like Giannis’ fourth year (28.3). Thus, Ingram should average numbers somewhere between 17.2-7.8-4.4-1.2-1.4 and 23.2-8.9-5.5-1.7-1.9 that Giannis put up in his third and fourth year, minus the absurd amount of rebounds Giannis grabbed (Ingram is frailer and less aggressive on the boards). Expect Ingram to average 20.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists in his third season, unless the Lakers get Lebron or Paul George (or both), in which case Ingram will become extremely passive and will look more like a taller Harrison Barnes than the Greek Freak. PS. I’ve made the argument to my friends that Brandon Ingram is really a stretched out Wiz Khalifa, so I’ve just been waiting for a press conference where Ingram (Khalifa) throws some rhymes in a press conference, “So what we dunk? So what we cross you up? We’re just having fun/We don’t care who sees.” A man can dream.
28. Dario Saric
Resembling a James Bond villain while playing a Toni Kukoc role for the Sixers, Dario Saric slowly became my favorite sidekick in the league. Remind me again how Brogdon won rookie of the year over Saric last year?
27. Lonzo Ball
If the Ball family is the Kardashian family, Lonzo is definitely Kim. In that case, Lamelo is Khloe, Lavar is a combination of Kris and Caitlyn, and Liangelo is Kourtney. I’m only certain Liangelo is Kourtney because Liangelo is the oddball, just like Kourtney because she definitely is O.J. Simpson’s daughter. I see Lonzo as a player with Andre Miller sight, young Jason Kidd agility, and unfortunately Jason Kidd’s jump shot (which means it will get better eventually). He’s also 6’6’’ with the potential to be a Jason Kidd-like defender. This kid is the closest thing to a sure thing, I’m not sure I’d rather have any other point guard for the next 15 years (if we consider Ben Simmons a point forward). PS. I’d say there’s 3/2 odds a member of the Ball family ends up with a Jenner/Kardashian within the next 2 months. PPS. Liangelo has the highest odds of any member. Mark my words.
26. Chris Paul
I originally put John Wall below Chris Paul and then thought to myself, “would the Rockets even consider flipping Paul for Wall?” My answer was quickly no, see these rankings do work!
25. Bradley Beal
In players I’d rather start my team with, I prefer Beal over Wall. Beal will be 25 by next year, he’s becoming a better passer (3.5 last season to 4.5 assists this season). Meanwhile, Wall will be 28 years old, can’t score like he used to (23.6 to 19.4), and holds the ball for way too long (first and third in the time of possession in consecutive years).
24. Rudy Gobert
Stifle tower. Enough said.
23. Draymond Green
Wouldn’t Draymond Green fit in perfectly with the 90’s Pistons? The modern day Dennis Rodman with a side of offense that Rodman never had. How would Draymond fare on a worse team? He surely wouldn’t be as important, but he’d be debatably more entertaining. I think sometimes Kerr holds him back from the amount of technicals he can get and playing with the best players probably (definitely) makes him super self-conscious about his anger problem.
The best way to describe Draymond is that he’s like Boris Diaw put away the nightly bag of Lays potato chips and made sure to keep to keep his weight in check. He had three triple-doubles this past season.
22. Paul George
The Ye album was extremely hyped. Kanye chose to live in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do except produce music and rap over beats so it everyone thought it had to be up there with College Dropout and Late Registration. When the album finally released, everyone was surprised and disappointed that it lasted 23 minutes and was mostly a rant about Tristan almost being single, Kanye plotting to murder the Kardashian family, and slavery being a choice. How does this relate to Paul George? Well, PG-13 toiled away in Indiana (debatably worse than Wyoming), was the number one option, got all the shots he wanted, and ultimately trained to be that dangerous number two option on a championship team a la Scottie Pippen. PG was shipped to OKC for Oladipo and Sabonis and yet the Thunder winded up with the same number of wins as the Jazz. Is PG more Latrell Sprewell (minus the choking) or Scottie Pippen?
21. Victor Oladipo
Oladipo had a breakout year in Indiana, which is fitting because he did the same at Indiana University. He learned a tremendous amount about work ethic from Russ. Again, Oladipo did this in Indiana and was a main storyline for a majority of the season. He’s kinda like Deadpool 2: The best movie of the year only because this year made a collection of awful movies; Rampage, Solo, and Black Panther. While I loved the hilarious narration by Ryan Reynolds, the crass jokes by Wade Wilson, and the goofy characters (Domino, whose superpower was Luck. That’s a superpower I would be born with.), any other year of movies would wipe out Deadpool (think of 1994’s collection of Forrest Gump, Shawshank Redemption, The Mask, and Lion King). Any other year and the Oladipo hype would be simmered down. Let’s look at the last three most improved players; Jimmy Butler (homeless in Texas until he was 13), C.J. McCollum (looked maybe 4’7’’ in this hilarious high school picture, standing next to giant to Kosta Koufos), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (born in the same place as Socrates, found playing in the second best league in Greece where teams played in front of a crowd of 10. Also nicknamed the Greek Freak). This further proves my point that Victor Oladipo is the Deadpool 2 of most improved players. Loved it but I’ve seen better.
20. Nikola Jokic
The king of the top of the key three. I was watching Denver v. New York (for some weird reason) mid-season and saw Jokic drop a variety of weird shots. He hit stepback, off-balance threes, awkward floaters, and especially the top of the key three-pointers (his personal favorite). It’s really unusual to see a plodding center making these type of shots, it’s like Spencer Hawes was born again as a do-it-all player (I was going to reference Byron Mullens but I’m not sure anyone remembers him except Doc Rivers).
The Joker hit 111 threes at a 39.6% rate (5th for big men), dished out 6.1 assists (15th in all the NBA), 8th in win shares, 5th in box plus/minus. Yet he resembles an offensive lineman that lost 90 pounds after some serious self-evaluation and insecurity about his ballooning weight (like Nick Hardwick).
That’s about it for today, the last trade value section will be put on paper (or computer) by tomorrow. Be on the lookout because there’s going to be movie references, life stories, stats, and an unexpected winner.