The only real problem I had with the way the NBA All-Star starters vote turned out last week was the placement of Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins over the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns. I thought the final frontcourt spot in the East was a tough call between Joel Embiid (who has missed nine games) and Andre Drummond, but given the way the two teams have played lately, Embiid was the right call.
Wild card: Draymond Green, Warriors. Whether Green makes the team will be the big question in the West — he would have to beat out Damian Lillard, Nikola Jokic and DeAndre Jordan. Green averages only 11.3 points, and he is making 31.2 percent his 3s, but he averages 7.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists. As the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, he is vital to the Warriors’ defense, which ranks fifth. He gets the nod.
It makes some sense based on where the Hornets stand for general manager Rich Cho to consider a serious shakeup. Charlotte is seven games under .500 (18-25, 11th in the Eastern Conference) with a team payroll north of $115 million, and not much will change financially next season. It’s difficult to cut that kind of check when the Hornets are heading toward the lottery for the second consecutive season after a 48-34 finish in 2016.
As is his scheme-changing ability to shoot efficiently off the dribble. Over three seasons, he’s averaging 1.045 points per possession over 242 pull-up attempts, per Synergy. This season, he ranks in the 96th percentile nationally and is converting 54.9 percent of his attempts. He’s also made 16 unassisted 3s this season, per Hoop-Math. That puts him on a pace similar to Markelle Fultz (the pre-broken jump shot version).
Still, Brunson doesn’t grade out as more than a second-round pick on our recent draft board because he lacks the type of athleticism that makes one confident he’ll be able to create his shot against elite NBA length. He will also likely struggle on the defensive end where his steal and block indicators aren’t exciting, and his size is a limitation. There’s some low probability starter upside with Brunson, but his most likely path is as a long-term backup.