NBA Roundtable: Warriors or The Field?
NBA Roundtable: Warriors or The Field?

This article is part of our NBA Roundtable series.

Welcome to the Week 14 edition of the RotoWire NBA Roundtable. Each week, our NBA staff gets together to answer questions about the biggest topics of the week, both in fantasy basketball and the league overall.

This week, we talk Warriors vs. the field, underrated players and more.

If you're picking the 2019 NBA champion today, would you take the Warriors or the field?

James Anderson: I'll take the field. Playing a fifth straight 105-game season is a daunting task for any team. They no longer have four of the 20 best players in the league. They have two of the five best players, which is obviously nice, but Klay is probably around the 25th best player and Draymond is something like the 40th-best player and a complete liability on offense in a playoff series. Their utter lack of playoff-caliber depth is an issue. Fortunately for them, I think the three teams (Raptors, Bucks, Celtics) that would give them the most trouble are out East, so they will only have to play one of those teams. They are the clear favorite, I just think it's a monumental task to ask this team to win four in five years. They were incredibly close to losing to the Thunder a couple years ago and incredibly close to losing to the Rockets last year, so it's not like it's been a cake walk to the Finals every year, and that was when they were younger and had a better bench.

Nick Whalen: The Warriors, without hesitation. Their path through the West might be as smooth as it's ever been throughout this five-year run. Toronto, Milwaukee or Boston could maybe take a game or two if some things break right, but come mid-June I think Golden State will remind everyone yet again what happens when a lineup of All-NBA players go up against a normal roster.

Ken Crites: I hate saying this, but the Warriors. That destruction of the Nuggets in Denver was crazy. And Boogie comes back Friday. I want to say the Celtics could beat them in seven, but I think they only have a 40% chance of even making the Finals. No one else has the depth to challenge Golden State.

Shannon McKeown: Give me the Warriors. Golden State marked their territory in this week's blowout win over Denver. Also, Boogie is making his debut this weekend. The Warriors will be unstoppable come playoff time.

Mike Barner: The Warriors. I can't see any team beating them over the course of a seven game series.

Alex Barutha: The Warriors. What they did to the Nuggets on Tuesday was unreal. I think a few teams – Toronto, Milwaukee, Houston, mayyyyybe OKC if Russell Westbrook improves his efficiency – could take Golden State to six games, but I wouldn't put my money on the field.

Jeff Edgerton: When Cousins joins the starting five, I find it highly unlikely that any team will be able to contain them. My money's on Golden State.

Alex Rikleen: Warriors. We all saw, or at least heard about, their beat-down of the #1 Nuggets. And they're about to add DeMarcus Cousins. They're just better than everyone.

The Memphis Grizzlies are in 14th in the West with the trade deadline just over three weeks away. If you were the Grizzlies' GM, would you try to deal Marc Gasol and/or Mike Conley to kickstart a rebuild?

Anderson: I'd love to trade both of them but their contracts are net negatives, so you'd be either attaching assets or taking back similarly crappy contracts. By all means, call around and try to get something done, but I don't think the right offer will be out there.

Whalen: Ignoring context, absolutely. But like other small markets, Memphis has more than just a balance sheet to consider. Both Conley and Gasol are iconic figures for a franchise that hasn't had many of those, and dealing one or both away would be a difficult pill to swallow, from a PR perspective. With that said, Memphis has to consider the future – especially since it owes a lightly protected, future first-round pick to the Celtics.

Crites: I'm not sure either player can get enough to make a deal worthwhile. After this year, Conley has $67 million left over two years. Ouch. Houston needs a big man but has nothing left to trade. Who else wants a pricey, aging center?

McKeown: Absolutely. Gasol has a player option for next season, which essentially makes him an expiring contract. And given their current standings in the West, Memphis would probably be best served trading the $67 million owed to Conley over the next two seasons, if they can find a taker. Conley is a solid player, but he's on the wrong side of 30 for a team that should go into full-rebuild mode.

Barner: Yes. As painful as it might be for the fan base, it's time to move on. They aren't going to win anything meaningful with those two as their best players.

Barutha: Yes. Even though there are rumblings of this draft being sub-par, the Grizzlies will probably only get worse from here by hanging onto Conley and Gasol. I'd rather cut bait now and hope to build on the addition of Jaren Jackson Jr., who is a quality rebuilding piece. Also, with Chandler Parsons on the books for $25 million next season, Memphis isn't going to be able to do anything this offseason to get better unless Gasol takes a dramatic pay cut from his $25 million player option, which I assume he'll accept.

Edgerton: Is that really enough to kickstart anything? I doubt the Grizzlies could get a substantial upgrade unless they got some 2019 picks. They've got some of young talent to build with right now, so it would depend on what kind of value they could get for the veterans.

Rikleen: Yes, I would try to trade one – preferably Gasol – but only if I'm getting back a legitimate asset. The ideal situation would be something like what the Nets did in the D'Angelo Russell heist. Find a recent lottery pick who's shown a few flashes, but who a team is ready to move on from. This works best if the team has another more recent lottery pick at the same position. Not that the Suns would ever trade for Gasol, but a situation like where the Suns picked Josh Jackson and then Mikal Bridges in consecutive drafts. The Magic, with Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, and Mo Bamba would be a good place to look.

Which is more surprising: Buddy Hield ranking 47th in Yahoo 9-cat leagues, or Jamal Murray ranking 85th?

Anderson: Jamal Murray for sure. Guys like Hield (think peak Kyle Korver) are always capable of ranking high because everyone underrates shooting percentages. However, Murray was my pick for most improved player, so I was all about him finishing as a top-30ish fantasy player this season.

Whalen: Rankings aside, I'm more surprised that Murray hasn't taken a bigger step forward. He's been better over the last several weeks after a slow start, but I really thought he'd make a huge leap this season. Hield's numbers are impressive, but my biggest concern with him coming into the season was that the rotation would be enough of a mess to restrict his value. That hasn't been the case.

Crites: If someone told me this summer that the Nuggets were going to lose Will Barton and Gary Harris for big chunks of time, I would have drafted Jamal Murray in every one of my leagues. His shooting regression is shocking, but hey, Denver is winning.

McKeown: If you looks at average production between the two, there's not much separating Hield and Murray. Most should just take this as an exercise in realizing the margin between the 45th and 86th ranked players are pretty thin. That said, I'm more surprised by Murray's ranking. The Nuggets guard has seen a dip in his efficiencies, but he's also improved in every other category. I did expect Murray to hit a higher mark of production than his current levels, especially given Denver's injury woes, but he's still showing some growth. Hield, meanwhile, began his breakout after the All-Star break last year and was a popular sleeper based on his ADP. His improvements don't surprise me.

Barner: Hield is the bigger surprise for me. He's averaging 20.1 points per game and shooting 47.8 percent from the field. I didn't see that kind of efficiency coming.

Barutha: Murray. All Hield really needed was extra minutes to get close to that number, not even much actual improvement – we knew he was an elite three-point threat. For Murray, I think the assumption was that he would both increase his volume and efficiency, but he's shot worse this season (True Shooting Percentage is down by about 6%). The raw numbers are higher, but maybe we expected too much out of him during his age 21 season.

Edgerton: Hield emerged out of nowhere to become the Kings' second-best scoring option. You'd expect Murray to rank a bit higher but few would have predicted Hield to be ahead of him.

Rikleen: Buddy Hield. I've come around on Murray, but his 56th overall ADP (and 41st on ESPN!) always felt like a stretch to me. If you told me that, at some point in his career, Hield would shoot 47.8 percent from the field (44.6 last season) and score 20.1 per game (13.5 last season), I would have assumed that you were talking about in 2021.

Who is the most underrated player in the league right now?

Anderson: Bogdan Bogdanovic. I don't think casual fans even know who he is, so that's a good way to start his case. Not only is he a lights-out shooter, but he is averaging almost five rebounds and five assists per-36.

Whalen: On a national level, it might still be Jokic. But I'll go with Malcolm Brogdon. He's been the Bucks' second-best player on a lot of nights this season and is on pace to crack the 50/40/90 club.

Crites: Nikola Jokic. Denver is second in the West despite injuries, and Jokic is creeping close to averaging a triple-double. Plus he's snagging 1.3 steals a game with awesome percentages. His usual slow start is behind him.

McKeown: D'Angelo Russell. In 8-category leagues, he's been a top-50 player for the season, top-35 for the past month and top-20 for the past two weeks. Russell is the primary reason the Nets are currently seeded 7th in the East, yet no one gives him credit. I finally feel vindicated for the adoration I've showered on Russell these past four years.

Barner: I'm not sure people appreciate how good Clint Capela actually is. It's a shame he went down with the thumb injury because he was in the midst of the best season of his career. He entered Wednesday night ranked 18th overall on Yahoo.

Barutha: Montrezl Harrell, maybe just because advanced stats love him. Among players who've seen at least 1000 minutes, Harrell is 11th in the league in PER (25.5); sixth in TS% (64.6); 13th in Block Percentage (4.3); 13th in Offensive Rebounding Percentage (10.6); ninth in Win Shares Per 48 Minutes (.220); 12th in Box Score Plus-Minus (5.4); 19th in Value Over Replacement Player (2.0). The Clippers still have him for only $6 million next year.

Edgerton: One was already mentioned above in Hield. Earlier in the season, I would have said Jusuf Nurkic but some standout games have finally garnered him more attention, so I'd have to go with D'Angelo Russell. People tend to forget about his athleticism and natural skills, as they've been wasting away on subpar teams these past few years.

Rikleen: Maybe I'm only thinking about Aaron Gordon because I was just talking about him in Question 2, but he's really good. I hope he does get traded, because I want to see him in a new situation. But the correct answer to this question is always going to be a lottery pick from two to three years ago who hasn't yet reached the absurd expectations he entered the league with. This year, that means Lonzo Ball, who is an incredible passer, a very good defender, and a savvy rebounder, but who has become overshadowed by the Lakers/LeBron double-circus.

With the trade deadline approaching, which player(s) would you like to see traded to a new situation in order to improve their fantasy value?

Anderson: I just want Tyus Jones to play a ton, so either trade him or trade Jeff Teague. I'd also love to see Domantas Sabonis, Zach Collins and Bam Adebayo get a starter's workload, so something that could make that happen would be nice. (Editor's note: How did Jake Layman not make this list?)

Whalen: Even though he's provided very little rationale, I'm still a believer that Aaron Gordon could be much better in a different setting. Bobby Portis could also be a more effective fantasy option in another uniform, and I'm always holding out hope that the Heat move Hassan Whiteside to clear the way for Bam Adebayo.

Crites: I wonder if Boston should deal Jaylen Brown for a defensive stopper and a future first round pick. Brown is back to the bench on a loaded Celtics depth chart. He could explode on a crummy rebuild squad, though his FT shooting drives me crazy.

McKeown: My heart was warmed to see Dennis Smith's name pop up in the rumor mill this week. I'm still a believer and expect him to blossom on a new team. I would also like to see Nikola Vucevic moved before the deadline, which will lead to nice bumps for Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba.

Barner: I'd love to see the Celtics trade Terry Rozier. Across 16 games that he started last year, he averaged 15.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.8 three-pointers.

Barutha: Any of the young guys on the Lakers (Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart). Just from a usage standpoint, I think all four can do more (though Kuzma shoots a lot as it is). After seeing Josh Hart light it up in Summer League, I think he deserves an opportunity to handle the ball more.

Edgerton: Davis trade to the Lakers would ship a lot of talent out of LA, and I think guys like Brandon Ingram and KCP could be better served on other squads. I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon, so my default answer is Jabari Parker. If he gets to a team that values his talent, his fantasy stock could return to where it was coming into the season.

Rikleen: Already mentioned Aaron Gordon and Mikal Bridges. I'd like to see a healthy Nerlen Noel somewhere where he gets to play 20-25 minutes per night. Ditto for Trey Lyles. I'd like the Knicks to trade away some guards so that we can see more Allonzo Trier.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and award winning host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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