Nets Of the Round Table VIII: Franchise Player, Rookie To Watch, Chris Paul

Obviously, this is a New Jersey Nets blog, however, the NAS crew absolutely love the NBA in general. So, every week, Sebastian, Mark, Devin, and myself will answer questions regarding the L.

1) If you were an NBA GM and your owner mandated multiple titles in the next five years, and you had a choice of any player to build your franchise around, who would it be?

Sebastian: It has to be Kevin Durant.  I’m not saying he is the best player in the league (though he will be soon), but when building a team, I don’t think there is anyone better.  Not only is Durant a superstar, but he is a guy who does things the right way and he is a good teammate.

Mark: Well, up until a few weeks ago, I would have said LeBron James, because he struck me as the multi-talented do-it-all guy who could carry a team on his back and beat you in so many different ways. I guess he still is, but now that his talents are in South Beach with the Superfriends, it’s clear he doesn’t have the alpha dog gene and I want my building block to be a cold blooded killer… which given how the game has changed doesn’t leave me with many players to pick anymore. For the sake of making a choice, let me go with who I think is going to be next season’s MVP and say Kevin Durant. He’s a unique player who finds ways to score without having the kiss of death “Next Jordan” moniker or the egomania of Superfriends.

Devin: It hurts me to say it, but the answer is LeBron James. It’s possible that somebody like Kevin Durant becomes the Russell to his Chamberlain, but everything I said in my LeBron James FA Targets piece still holds true, regardless of how creepy free agency seems now. LeBron is the most talented basketball player walking this earth right now and at 25 he’s entering his prime years. If he doesn’t win multiple championships, especially now with his current line-up, he becomes the “biggest” loser in NBA History. I just don’t see that happening.

DV: I know that he’s “old” and by year five, he might not even be playing anymore, but I’d take my chances with Kobe Bryant.  (Awaits the boos at the choice).  Bryant is hands down the only closer with that crazy desire to win now that LeBron James went down to South Beach, thinking that he needs Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to win championships.  Because of that, he loses testicular fortitude points, which is something you want in a franchise player.

I don’t think there can be any argument that Kobe doesn’t want NBA titles, he needs them.  I believe that he has two more years of being a dominant player, followed by two more years of being very good to excellent.  I think by then his experience will help his teammates and the team – the wily veteran factor, if you will.  There is no doubt that LeBron is the best talent, but Kobe is the best player.  Over five years, particularly at the beginning, I think Kobe can will himself and his team a couple of titles.

2) Which rookie are you most excited to see once the 2010-11 NBA season begins… besides John Wall?

Sebastian: I am excited to watch both our rookies, James and Favors.  I am excited to see James work and play defense against some of the best players in the NBA.  I am really excited to see Favors play with Brook, working off the high post, cutting, and getting some big dunks.

Mark: I’ll go with a guy who’s been getting buzz because of the Summer League and say Jeremy Lin. What’s not to like here? An undrafted kid from Harvard who lights up the summer league playing in the offense-heavy Golden State system? I’m dying to see how this turns out.

Devin: Definitely John…Damnit, you caught me! Well, considering my post yesterday on Derrick Favors, it’s obvious that he’s the guy I’ve been studying most. However, I’m also very intrigued to see how DeMarcus Cousins plays in his first season. Outside of his clear talent, he’s also got a chip on his shoulder bigger than him & how that translates to the NBA is going to be a wild story.

DV: Being Asian-American, I have to say Jeremy Lin.  Do I think the Golden State signing is part-gimmick to appease the huge Asian population in the Bay Area?   Yes, totally.  However, Lin has some skills and can hoop… not just as an Asian, but as a person.  I’m going to be pulling for him, despite the fact that he’ll probably spend most of his time on the pine.  There will be a lot of pressure for Lin to represent Asian-Americans and that is no easy task to take on.  Of course, he really owes Asian-Americans nothing, and I hope the pressure doesn’t get to him and he actually excels.

3) Rumors are swirling that Chris Paul wants to be traded with the Lakers, Knicks, and Magic being the primary desirable destinations for him… does CP3 get traded and, if so, to whom?

Sebastian: He doesn’t get traded.  The team’s he wants to get moved do simply don’t have enough to offer to make trading your superstar point guard worth it.  Paul is still under contract and if the Hornets deal him, they are basically guaranteeing themselves a ticket out of New Orleans.  I don’t think anyone wants that.

Mark: Being in the NYC media market my guess is we’re going to see a LOT of CP3 to Knicks rumors (we already are), but as was the case with the LeBron situation last month, I don’t see how a deal is made there given what the Knicks have to offer. I can see it happening in Orlando, as they have some nice assets and an expiring contract in Vince Carter that could help even out some salaries for NOLA.

Devin: It’s almost impossible to predict this, so I’ll instead choose my favorite. Out of the three most possible teams, I’d most like to see him on the Magic. No disrespect to Jameer Nelson, who’s a very good point guard, but a core of Howard-Lewis-Carter-Paul is absolutely terrifying for opposing defenses (and offenses). The battles between Miami and Orlando would be approaching warfare. That would be AMAZING basketball. Of course, the Lakers would have the same effect: replace their obvious weak link in the starting lineup with the best point guard in the NBA when healthy.

That being said, I want to throw an extra thought out there. In this offseason, the NBA has turned into a psych ward, and the inmates are running the asylum. Three superstars conspired to create “The Dyna3” in Miami. Chris Paul is demanding a trade to one of two powerhouses or to New York with Carmelo Anthony. Fewer and fewer teams are becoming relevant as friendships and player demands weaken the force of parity. We’re going to see a lot of exciting basketball over the next year from the top five/ten teams, but the bottom 20 are going to be scrounging for scraps. With a lockout looming, many teams are gearing up for what looks like one more shot – and once we get to the second round of the playoffs, a lot of fun is going to begin. But don’t be surprised if many of the first 86-89 games are marred by ugliness.

DV:Unfortunately for NOLA, I see a trade happening.  There is so much happening there that obviously doesn’t appease Paul and I can see the organization breaking and giving in to the trade demands.  Luckily they have Darren Collison who is primed and ready to take Paul’s spot and since they won’t contend, especially out West, why not acquire young pieces/draft picks and think long-term?  Orlando makes the most sense as a trade partner, so if it happens, think about the beauty of a CP3/Dwight Howard pick and roll.  Devastating.  And, I think it happens.