Yet Another Gothic Ginobili Q&A: Playoffs, Face-Offs, and Madoffs

Hey, all! Season's drawing to a close -- can you believe we have an absolute maximum of 15 games left in the 2013 NBA season, and quite possibly less than ten? Things are crazy like that. Previously, we've had several fun Q&A sessions -- we had one during the 2012 playoffs, one during the 2012 offseason, and one during the 2013 preseason. Due to my inability to take time off work, we haven't done one in quite some time since. Until now.

For today's post, I'll be answering questions from now until I drop. Usually get 20 or so questions done before that happens. Have a question about data you read in another site's playoff preview? Some nagging statistical oddity you've been dying to have someone look into, if only glancingly? Questions about me, the blog, or the universe? Well, I'll be here all day, so it's a good time to ask. Questions can be statistical, aesthetic, personal, humorous, serious, or greasy. Depends on what you want to hear, I guess. Ask away, holmes. Here are the three ways you get in contact with us:

  1. Ask the @gothicginobili twitter account your question.
  2. Ask questions in the comments below.
  3. Ask questions via email, to staff [at] gothicginobili [dot] com.

I'll be here all day, folks! Happy asking.

-- Aaron

• • •

QUESTION #1: If you could be an animal -- any animal -- what would you be and why? And how do you think Dewey would respond to the same question? (Asked by Chris)

When I was a kid, I was an avid consumer of the "Animorphs" series of books. For those who aren't aware -- in those books, a group of kids are given the power to morph into any animal they touched. They proceed to become the only thing standing up to Earth's utter annihilation at the hands of a powerful species of alien mind-control slugs. For real. The general theory behind the books was always sort of absurd. The entire idea that a group of five kids with the ability to morph into animals would really be able to stand up to a giant race of aliens using only their animal-morphing powers is hilarious, even by science fiction standards. But, on the plus side... reading Animorphs has given me a pretty solid list of tiers I can place animals into when trying to answer this question! Score.

  • TIER #1: "No way in hell." These include animals that I would never EVER want to be. This includes -- but is not limited to -- cockroaches, 'hive' bugs (bees/ants/termites, et cetera), starfish, easily-killable-fish, pigeons, chickens, quails, squirrels, rats, turtles, and Tucker Carlson.
  • TIER #2: "Alright, maybe." These include animals that aren't really ideal, but they're pretty solid and I wouldn't mind chilling as them for a while. Mostly animals that can defend themselves but aren't exactly the BEST options. This includes orcas, sharks, dogs, housecats, alligators, sloths, lemurs, leopards, bears...
  • TIER #3: "Now THAT'S the one." These include three animals, my 'top 3' of animals I'd totally be without a single hesitation. I will explain all three in brief:
    • #1: Bird. I'd be TOTALLY DOWN with being a bird, so long as it's a hawk or an eagle and not some lame one that can barely fly. Look. Flying is probably really awesome. Birds sometimes eat roadkill and they have to be ridiculous predators all the time, but those things can fly! How cool is that? Birds are sweet.
    • #2: Tiger. Man, tigers are vicious and dangerous and beautiful. What better way to embody all of the traits I don't? Also, the main character of Animorphs was a tiger, and he was a total doofus. I bet I could be a better tiger than that guy.
    • #3: Elephant. Because nobody messes with an elephant. (Except for the poachers trying to kill off elephants for their tusks. But if I was an elephant I'd go scorched earth on those jerks.)

As for Dewey's animal? Cynothoglys, of course!

• • •

QUESTION #2: Suppose there's a stratego tournament between the guys on the all-NBA team, who wins? (asked by Michael Toney)

Mike has asked roughly 342,467 questions to date, so I'm not sure I'll get to them all. (Or, alternatively, I'll put off some to answer other questions and come back to them later.) But this one is pretty great. For those who aren't in the know, Stratego is a strategy board game where each player has a 4x10 grid of space wherein to place an array of bombs, offensive pieces, and a single flag -- you lose when your flag gets captured. The game is a tour de force in misinformation and red herrings, as the successful Stratego player is one who can bluff his opponent into making premature retreats and chasing after faux-flags and misdirection. In other words, seeing as how he does all of that without anyone bluffing him, Alex Jones is the worst Stratego player.

So... who on the All-NBA team wins an all-out Stratego tournament? Really good question, although the answer is pretty obvious. Given his fascination with table-top games and his four-year degree in psychology, I have no idea how anyone would pick against Tim Duncan. The man has the poker face to end all poker faces, and he's in his board game element here. After Duncan, things get a bit less obvious. If Chris Bosh or Brook Lopez were on the all-NBA team they'd make decent dark-horse picks, but given that they aren't, you have to dig pretty deep. I'd go with Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant as the dark-horse candidates that could potentially upend Duncan -- both of them are good at misdirection, and both of them are unerringly competitive and would at least THINK about cheating if they felt it was worth it. Great question.

• • •

QUESTION #3: This is a set of three pub questions. What team left in the playoffs would win at pub trivia night? Give us your "I want to have a beer with that dude" power rankings for NBA players. Then give us those rankings for all public figures. (asked by Michael Toney)

Interesting array here. For the first one, the answer is obvious -- San Antonio. They have Duncan, Parker, and Pop. That's enough to win it, even if the Heat do have Shane Battier. Second one is a little more difficult for me, because I don't tend to think in terms of that particular construction. But here's my list. No explanations, just the top five.

  1. Matt Bonner
  2. Tim Duncan
  3. Grant Hill
  4. Brook Lopez
  5. Mo Williams

As for my "all public figures" rankings, here's a top ten for that one.

  1. Alton Brown
  2. Tiger Woods
  3. Boris Johnson
  4. George W. Bush
  5. Robert Downey Jr
  6. Matt Bonner
  7. Bill Clinton
  8. Stephen Colbert
  9. Roger Federer
  10. Antonin Scalia

Just missed the cut: Duncan, Will Smith, and Harrison Ford.

• • •

QUESTION #4: If you had to choose between being a Looney Tune or a Disney character, which would you choose? And who would it be? (asked by Sam Stewart)

No easy questions today. The easy answer is being a Looney Tune, simply because Tex Avery and Chuck Jones gave them an incredible depth of character. But Pixar characters are technically Disney characters, and that throws a big wrench in my answer. Carl Fredriksen is my favorite animated character ever, and the guy I relate to the most. So... man. Rough choices. If we're counting Pixar and Miyazaki characters as "Disney characters" I'd probably go with Mr. Fredriksen. If we aren't, I'd probably go with Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck. Both of them are hilarious in ways that mimic my own general approach to humor, depending on the hour, and I'd be happy to be either one of them. As long as I'm similarly impervious to bodily harm, of course.

• • •

QUESTION #5: How much would you pay for a D-League team in Richmond? (asked by Michael Toney)

I'd pay a lot, if I had the money to pay it. I don't, though. Heck, I'd even take a D-League team in Virginia Beach. Which raises a follow-up question -- why exactly doesn't the NBA look into relocating flagging D-League franchises into cities that lost out on NBA team relocation negotiations? It's the closest thing to a controlled trial to see if the city can handle professional -- or, I suppose, semi-professional -- basketball. D-League games are fun. It's a good test run. Come on, Silver, let's run with this.

• • •

QUESTION #6: If Matt Bonner battled a giant sloth... who would win? Besides everyone ever. (asked by Sam Stewart)

EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER EXISTED WOULD WIN, YOU ARE CORRECT. That said, Matt Bonner is at a decided disadvantage here. We all make fun of sloths for being slow and silly, but the giant sloth was a four-ton beast with razor sharp claws and the ability to run. In fact, the giant sloth's claws are horrifying -- they were likely as large as hunting knives and daggers. If the sloth snuck up on poor ol' Matty, he's dead. Literally. The beast was almost 20 feet from head to tail, larger than modern elephants! Matt Bonner would need to use all of his wit and guile to pull out this kind of a battle, and he'd probably need to shoot it. Many times. Many, many, many times. Dunno if he has it in him. Still, if he has access to human technology, he might be alright. We're gonna have to test this out. Anyone have a giant sloth lying around?

• • •

QUESTION #7: Where does Z-Bo rank as an offensive rebounder? Is he top 5 all time? (asked by Sam Stewart)

Definitely not top-5 all time, although he's really good. This actually points to a trend that most people don't realize is going on: rebounding, as a whole, has become a bit more team-based than individual-based over the last few decades. Back in the heyday of players like Moses, Rodman, and Dudley, big men ended up being responsible -- on average -- for more of a team's rebounding than they are today. As we've become a league of longer-range shots, rebounds tend to go a bit farther out than they used to, which leads to higher rebounding numbers for guards and lower rebounding numbers for big men. As a result, with a few notable exceptions (mostly owing to teams where the GM pairs a rebounding wizard like Howard, Duncan, or Randolph with a less-heralded rebounder), the rebounding is more spread out and we're seeing fewer and fewer obscenely dominant rebounding seasons.

This goes double for offensive rebounding, which has been falling out of favor with many NBA teams due to the ill effects it tends to have on a team's defense. Of the top 250 offensive rebounding seasons since 1974, only 30% of them came after the year 2000. That's despite having more teams in the league (ergo, more chances for a statistical outlier season). If there were an even amount of seasons each year, you'd expect 35% of those top seasons would occur in the 2000s and onward. That includes just 8 of the top 50 and none of the top 15. In fact, Nikola Pekovic -- at #40 -- is the only player in the last five years to break the top 50. As for Zach Randolph, he's had two years in the top 250 -- one at 98 (his 2011 season) and one at 129 (his 2013 season). His career numbers have him clocking in at #36 all-time, which is reasonably good without making him one of the best ever.

• • •

QUESTION #8: which would you rather have happen tomorrow: you tear your acl, or Tim Duncan tears his? Related: what's the worst injury you would sustain in place of your favorite player? (asked by Michael Toney)

One of the funny things about this question is how instinctively most sports fans would profess to take on the burdens of injury. Me? I probably would, but I'd definitely have to think about it. You have to put things in context, here. Sports stars have the latest and greatest in modern medicine and recovery techniques. They'll have a medical staff trained to their every step of recovery. They'll have to pay for little of it. Consider, then, what happens if you suffer the same injury. You go to the hospital, wondering what's wrong. You go through a long barrage of tests, finally discovering -- probably much later than the sports star would've -- the identity of your injury. You then have to do months and months of excruciating rehab, quite possibly taking double the amount of time it takes your favorite sports star. Also, you might have to pay for it. Luckily, I have a pretty good health insurance package from my employer. So I probably would take the injury.

But there's also one additional nut to this question that most people don't think about. If you were to take an injury for your favorite sports player, would you feel lingering resentment to the player as you got over your injury? As you went through your own hellish rehab process, would you become more and more irritated when your favorite player doesn't live up to your expectations than you would have otherwise? I feel like the answer is an obvious yes. Which could mean that you stop being a fan of the team you once loved. And that further complicates the picture. Imagine if you suffered a horrible, possibly-debilitating knee injury in place of your favorite player. Imagine if they're on the precipice of the finals. Then imagine if they get swept in the finals. Wouldn't you feel angry? Wouldn't you be inordinately pissed off that you sacrificed your health for a team that got utterly embarrassed? Wouldn't you -- quite possibly -- stop really caring about that team, and perhaps start hating them altogether? It's a rough question. I'd take an ACL tear, a broken bone, or a concussion. I don't know if I'd take something that would require horrifying reconstructive surgery, though, or something that I'm going to feel for the rest of my life. Call me a crummy sports fan if you'd like. But if you thought about the consequences, I bet you'd come around.

• • •

QUESTION #9: Rank these four: Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry.(asked by Quixem Raimirez)

I don't usually like ranking questions, but this one's a solid list. Twitter's been abuzz for most of the playoffs over the subject of who's overrated and who's getting unduly held up by an unsustainable playoff performance. My take, with short explanations:

  • #1: KYRIE IRVING. Look, he's not an excellent defender. I get it. But 75% of Kyrie's issues on defense are those of the personnel behind him and the 'system' he learned under. He was a superb defensive player at Duke and he's got a toolbox that could eventually translate to some excellent NBA-level defense. Chris Paul wasn't immediately a good defender in the NBA, and Byron Scott did nothing to institute a system that Kyrie was going to learn under. Also: his jump shot is only a hair worse than Curry's, he's the best rim-finishing guard since Tony Parker, and his passing is a lot better than most people realize. He's had a lot of incidental injuries, but he's got the highest upside of all these players (HE'S 21 YEARS OLD DEAR GOD) and he was the only "100% rock-solid definitive all-star" out of these four. That said, it's only a hair between him and #2.
  • #2: STEPHEN CURRY. When in doubt, pick the guy who has a legitimate argument for being the best in NBA history at an important skill -- shooting, of course. He's the best jump shooter I've ever had the pleasure of watching and he's an excellent passer. That said, his defense is as bad as Kyrie's and he's 25 years old (Kevin Durant is 24). To me, Curry's general inability to finish at the rim makes Kyrie vs Curry lean in the direction of the guy that finishes incredibly well and has significantly more growth potential.
  • #3: PAUL GEORGE. I love Paul George. Think he's great. That said, he's not exactly the most efficient scorer on the face of the earth -- his defensive brilliance is something to behold, and nearly pushes him past the two sieves above him, but his offense is lacking enough to keep me from declaring him better. He takes a LOT of poor-decision midrange jumpers, especially since he simply isn't very good from that range (33% between 3 feet and the three point line, to be exact). And his ballhandling still needs a lot of work. He's a Pippen-type player, for sure -- but he definitely isn't there yet.
  • #4: BLAKE GRIFFIN. While I'm not Griffin's #1 fan, there's something to be said for a guy who puts in his work and gets results. And Blake gets results. He shot 54% from the floor this year, and before you cry out "HE ONLY DUNKS!", I'd like to point out that he shot better from midrange than Paul George and has one of the best conversion rates in the NBA between 3-to-10 feet. His post moves aren't exactly Olajuwon-esque, but they ARE effective, and he's developed his offensive game in such a way that it isn't nearly as raw as it used to be. That said, his rebounding has fallen off precipitously over the course of his career and his defense is still pretty shaky. And he's drawing fewer and fewer free throws as time goes on, which is a pretty disturbing trend. So it's hard to really declare him better than any of these guys. He's still really good, though.

• • •

QUESTION #10: Cake or Pie? (asked by Quixem Raimirez)

Pie. I love cake (especially ice cream cake), but a good pie destroys a good cake. ... Hey, wait, is cheesecake a cake? Or is it a pie? Oh my lord. Life is so hard. These questions are tearing me apart, Lisa.

 • • •

QUESTION #11: What should the Cavs do in the draft this year? (asked by Michael Toney)

I don't know whether or not Noel will be a star in the NBA, truth be told, and I'm not sure the Cavaliers are entirely beholden to the high-upside move of drafting Noel. But I do believe he's the highest-upside player in the draft and his defense in college was absolutely stupendous. I think his skills will translate well to the NBA once he puts on a bit of weight, and I like the idea of pairing him and Mike Brown. I think they'll make a good pair. That said, there's another reason to draft Noel above and beyond his status as the "likely best player". That reason? Trade value. Noel is currently targeting a Christmas return to playing action. Even if Noel proves to be somewhat disappointing in the few minutes he'll play before the trade deadline, the trade value of a high-upside 19 year old big man on a rookie scale contract is absolutely enormous. Chris Grant is a deft hand in the front office -- drafting someone as high-upside as that doesn't just give the Cavs that upside, it gives the Cavs the ability to flip that upside for whoever happens to come on the market. That's big.

As for the rest of the picks, a lot of people I've talked to want the Cavs to flip them for a higher pick or a few vets. I disagree. The Cavaliers are looking at a future core with 4-5 reasonably highly paid players -- a max in Kyrie, then a bunch of players at $10-$15 million a year in Waiters/Thompson/Noel. At some point, they're going to need to surround those players with a low-cost bench. Rookie scale contracts are the absolute best way to do that. Locking in a few high second rounders and late first rounders at low salaries lets Cleveland try out a bunch of young guys to fill that role now, at a lower cost than MLE veterans like Jarrett Jack or Andre Miller. Think Chandler Parsons. Think DeJuan Blair. Think Danny Green. That's the kind of talent they need to try and luck into with their lower picks, and to that end, I think it makes sense that they keep the lot of them and take some calculated risks. Some of them will work, some of them won't. But if they can convert on just one or two of those picks and negotiate a four-year salary, that could pay some huge dividends down the line.

• • •

QUESTION #12: What's your favorite Spurs team of all-time? Also: why? (asked by J. Dana Teague)

Probably the 2003 team, simply because it combined a genuinely sub-par supporting cast that still managed to have four hall-of-fame players in it with a genuinely generation-defining Duncan run. Tony/Manu's production was pretty terrible -- in 2003, they were embryonic at best. As for D-Rob and Ferry, those guys were well past their primes and -- on some nights -- could barely move at all. But Duncan was so dominant that absolutely nothing else mattered. It was the perfect combination. It had everyone I love in it (D-Rob! Manu! Captain Jack! Tony! Pop!) while simultaneously displaying why exactly Tim Duncan is one of the most incredible players who's ever played the game. Perfect combination. Also, I think I've watched every game of that run twice. Beautiful stuff. The way Duncan, D-Rob, and Bowen locked down opposing teams was beyond compare.

That said, at the time that occurred I was a 12-year-old kid who barely followed sports. Given that, I'd probably tab the 2012 Spurs as my favorite of the post-Twitter era, and the post-Aaron-McGuire-Rediscovering-Sports era. The 2013 Spurs still have a shot at upending them, of course, but the beauty of 2012's offense combined with the return of Jackson, the unexpected RJ trade, and the way the season drew to a roaring crescendo led to a sports love I'm not positive I'll ever feel again. And a heart-rending loss I'm not positive I'll ever feel again, either... if we're counting.

• • •

QUESTION #13: If the NBA championship was determined via a Mortal Combat style tournament, who wins? Each team picks 1 entrant. (asked by Michael Toney)

If you're the kind of man who picks against Tony Allen in a Mortal Combat scenario, I don't even want to know you. In any event, the Grizzlies would destroy this no matter WHICH player they chose. Z-Bo, Gasol, Allen... all of them could annihilate anyone that the other three teams could throw at them. Wouldn't even be fair. (Warning: answer would be different if the Spurs hadn't waived Stephen Jackson.)

• • •

QUESTION #14: Can you talk about Memphis? Imagine if they had Danny Green. (asked by Sam Stewart)

I love Memphis. Let's get that straight. I've had lingering resentment for them since 2011, but that resentment isn't meant to be disrespectful in the slightest. The Grizzlies legitimately outclassed the Spurs in 2011, and they're a far better team than most people deign to anoint them. They're hard-nosed, sure, but they aren't a chore to watch on offense -- Marc Gasol's brilliant passing and Conley's adroit game management both approach best-in-class at their respective positions, and Zach Randolph's doughy dominance on offense is something to watch when that man get's going. Lionel Hollins is a really good coach. Their role-players are solid, and their minor stars (see: Allen, Tony) are absurdly good. They remind me of the early-dynasty Spurs. They're phenomenal. And if you replaced someone like Jerryd Bayless with someone like Danny Green, they'd be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. And I think it's worth pointing out that I'm not some recent convert. In the preseason Q&A (linked above), I wrote the following about the Grizzlies while anointing them my sleeper team:

The Grizzlies are about as frightening as they ever were, and very quietly, they've improved in most of the ways they needed to. Darrell Arthur is going to help the Grizzlies rest Marc Gasol quite a bit more, which will make them more dangerous when the playoffs roll around. He's a very good player whose absence hurt a ton last season. Bayless and Ellington are immediately the 2nd and 3rd best three point shooters on a team that was formerly dismal at it, and Tony Wroten could be helpful. They could still use a player like Gary Neal or James Jones, but the Grizzlies are deeper than they were last year and (theoretically) more healthy. They still won a pro-rated 51 games last year, despite having no real presence from Randolph all year, overplaying Marc Gasol to the point of exhaustion, and featuring one of the worst three point shooting offenses ever. With both of those improved, I think they're going to push the Spurs for the Division crown, get home court relatively comfortably, and stand a pretty good shot at making a Western Conference Finals. None of the top three teams match up with the Grizzlies particularly well, if they're healthy. I think -- at the end of the year -- they'll be one of the 5-7 best teams in the league, even if Randolph doesn't return to full form.

I'm not often right, but I think I was spot on here. And I think the Grizzlies fans should be incredibly proud of the team they put on the floor. Nobody has any reason to hang their heads. (Except the Spurs, if they manage to lose a series they were up 3-0 in. The Spurs would have reason to hang their heads in such a situation. Because my God. That would be brutal.) Still. It's the best team in franchise history by a country mile, and a few role-players are currently all that stand between the Grizzlies and perennial contention. Amazing team. All the respect I can muster. And a strong "hear hear" to Alex Dewey's post at Pounding the Rock yesterday, on this very subject.

• • •

QUESTION #15: If a basketball genie granted you the ability to learn one player's signature shot, what would you pick? (asked by Chris)

Manu Ginobili's step-back in-motion three point shot.

Can you imagine just draining that shot over and over again in pick-up games? EVERYONE WOULD HATE YOU.

If not that, then I'd like to learn Dirk's signature fade, because it's one of the most iconic shots ever and it's always a joy to deconstruct.

• • •

QUESTION #16: If you could be any NBA player, which would you choose to punch a Disney princess in the boobs and why? Also which Disney princess would you punch thanks. (asked by Kathryn)

... what?

• • •

QUESTION #17: please respond (asked by Kathryn)

... well, I guess I'd be Matt Bonner, because I can't imagine a Matt Bonner punch being super injurious and I don't like hurting people. Especially not princesses. And I guess I'd punch Snow White because, well... girl, what you doin eatin apples strange ladies give you the hell's wrong with you stop that now 'fore I gotta punch you.

• • •

QUESTION #18: If you could punch one NBA player in the face with no repercussions, who & why? Also, one front office person? (asked by Michael Toney)


Anyway, again, I don't really like punching people. But if I could deck one NBA player in the face with absolutely no repercussion, it would be Karl Malone. Because of that whole "abandoning his son" thing. And hiring a team of ruthless lawyers when the 13-year-old girl he impregnated pressed charges. And refusing to give any child support whatsoever, even when the family was asking for -- I kid you not -- $125 per week. A $100 million dollar basketball player who preaches the ideals of fiscal responsibility can't pay $125 a week, huh? Really? Runner-up would be Jason Kidd. Partly for the spousal abuse, but more recently for the whole "driving while falling-down drunk" thing. You're in your late thirties. Grow up. As for NBA front-office people, I'm going to cheat and pretend that team owners are front-office people. That way, I can punch Donald Sterling in the face, for reasons obvious to everyone.

• • •

QUESTION #19: If you could do Player Capsule Pluses for more players, with this season in hindsight, who would the players be? (asked by Leif Erikson)

Damian Lillard, Paul George, Stephen Curry, Marc Gasol, and J.R. Smith.

• • •

QUESTION #20: Can we discuss teams you thought over/under achieved and about how the Knicks didn't do either?(asked by Michael Toney)

Sure, meet me at the bar tonight.

Oh, wait, you mean in the Q&A. Fine. One of the funny things about the over/under achieving structure is that it's beautifully binary -- you can't really straddle the line too much. You either overachieved or underachieved -- you don't just achieve, if you get my drift. Which is to say that I somewhat disagree with you regarding the Knicks. I think they overachieved, if only just. Yes, they didn't make a conference finals -- they still played above their general talent level. And barring some major moves, they just had the best season they're going to have in the next several. That said, there are two main teams that I'd tab as the BIGGEST over/under achievers in the NBA. These teams are:

  • MOST OVERACHIEVING: The Houston Rockets. Really! Remember how I brought back that great quote that showed how right I was about the Memphis Grizzlies? Let me keep my head deflated by bringing back this phenomenal set of gems about the Houston Rockets, where I gave their case as the worst team in the league:
    • "They have a questionably fitting roster with virtually nobody who's played together before." This is true. This also didn't make them bad, because those pieces actually fit very well in the end.
    • "They have little depth outside their Nutcracker army of tweener forwards." Except for the part where their bench ended up being essential and their pickups like Greg Smith and Patrick Beverly totally tore up the world, I was right on with that one! (Note: That was sarcastic.)
    • "Also, their coach is awful." I've been driving the "KEVIN MCHALE ACTUALLY LEGITIMATELY DESERVES COACH OF THE YEAR VOTES" bandwagon since midseason. Reason being that -- while he used to be a terrible coach -- McHale had a phenomenally good season and he did a great job with this roster. As much respect as I can possibly give to that man.
  • MOST UNDERACHIEVING: The Los Angeles Lakers. Alright, I don't mean to be cruel to Laker fans when I point this out. I really don't. But a common trope among experienced NBA writers is to point out the difficulty of jumping to the level of a franchise-defining superstar from an all-star, and by extension, the difficulty of jumping to the level of a decade-defining superteam from merely a very good team. On the other side of the coin, the incredible disappointment of the Los Angeles Lakers -- a team that was commonly expected to challenge for win totals in the high sixties -- has to mean something a little bit more. This team was SUPPOSED to be a legendary tour-for-the-ages. It ended up being a creaky old compote with poorly-fitting pieces.

This is an interesting course of inquiry, so I may very well do a full post on this one. We'll see.

• • •

QUESTION #21: Would Scottie Pippen be the second best player in the league if he played today? (asked by @2rollz)

Dude, he's basically 50 years old. You are so rude. I can't even believe it.

• • •

QUESTION #22: What is the stupidest question you’d ever answer during a Q&A? (asked by Adam Koscielak)

Anything involving Mike Bibby.

• • •

QUESTION #23: When society ranks Tim Duncan, should he be a PF or C? (asked by Nick Sciria)

Honestly, it's an interesting query. A lot of people are starting to come around to the idea that Tim Duncan should be designated a "center" for the purposes of historical assessment, theorizing that Duncan played the role of center far more frequently than he did the role of power forward in his later years. I don't think it's quite that easy though. For the first five years of Duncan's career -- 1998 to 2003 -- Duncan played the power forward position for the vast majority of his minutes.  Even afterwards, his tendency to float outside the paint on offense makes him something of a stretch five even if you do consider him a center. He would float between the big positions, guarding the opposing team's best big on a nightly basis no matter where that placed him in San Antonio's offensive and defensive schema. He was fluid, and he had the ability to transition.

Duncan has the post up chops of many of the historical greats at the center position, and he's a lot larger than most of his contemporaries at the power forward position... but he also has a dependable long-range shot and better passing than almost any center who ever came before him. And the whole of the evidence just ends up leading you in circles. Which is kind of the point. It's impossible to say for sure which arbitrary designation fits Duncan the best, because they both do. Far more reasonable to simply say that Tim Duncan is one of the greatest big men of all time and leave it at that. Roles have changed with the generations and the exact definition of both "power forward" and "center" are completely inscrutable at this point. All we can really agree on? Duncan's a big guy. Perhaps we should just call him that and call it a day.

• • •

QUESTION #24: When will the Spurs unleash Patty Mills and (more importantly) T-Mac? (asked by Martin)

The 2016 Olympics.

• • •

QUESTION #25: Are the Heat going to win it all? Yes, or yes? (asked by John)

Probably. I'd give them a 65% chance of winning the East and a 65% of beating the Spurs or the Grizzlies, myself. Easy favorites in both of the series, despite Indiana's persnickety nature and San Antonio's tremendous upside. That said, we tend to overrate statistical certainty in matters of sporting odds, so I'd like to calculate out something for you all. If the Heat are favored by ___% in each remaining series, what percentage of the time will they win a title?

  • If the Heat are 50-50 to win each remaining series, they'll win the title 25% of the time.
  • If the Heat are 60-40 to win each remaining series, they'll win the title 36% of the time.
  • If the Heat are 70-30 to win each remaining series, they'll win the title 49% of the time.
  • If the Heat are 80-20 to win each remaining series, they'll win the title 64% of the time.
  • If the Heat are 90-10 to win each remaining series, they'll win the title 81% of the time.

So, to recap, in order for the Heat to be favored over the entire remaining field, you need to believe that the Heat are at least 70-30 odds to win each remaining series. Reasonable, but not quite what most people are generally thinking. Probability's a funny thing. The Pacers are hardly eliminated yet -- they're down 2-1 and have played Miami razor-close. The Spurs are starting to resemble a defensively-superior version of the offensive juggernaut that they were when entering game 3 of the 2012 Western Conference Finals. The Grizzlies -- if they make the Finals -- would have just dismantled the previously described team. Nothing's over 'til it's over, folks. And Heat fans (as well as Spurs fans who've started planning for the NBA Finals) should hold off the celebratory daps until such an end arrives.

Thanks for reading, folks.