The Whiteboard: Friday mailbag on Celtics trios, Ben Simmons and more

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images /

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Welcome to our Friday mailbag edition of The Whiteboard! In these uncertain times, with a ton of actual time on our hands, we figured we might as well poll the good people of Twitter and find out what burning NBA questions you all want answered!

From Boston Celtics trios to Ben Simmons‘ optimal position to Jevon Carter and the Suns Gorilla, we have a wide variety of questions to go through today. Most people already know how this format works, so let’s dive right into our first ever NBA mailbag here at The Step Back!

Aaron Somers (@AaronJSomers) starts us off: “Who would win an all-Celtics three-on-three game: Pierce/KG/Ray or Bird/Parish/McHale?”

Tough one to start! Kevin Garnett would have to take one of the two big men, which means Larry Bird would be a tough cover for either Paul Pierce or Ray Allen (or anyone, really). The 80s Boston trio could punish one of the two smaller wings with the size of either Kevin McHale or Robert Parish down low.

With that being said, 3 is still greater than 2, and with the way the game is being played now, Boston’s older trio would have a hard time covering Pierce (a career 36.8 percent 3-point shooter) or Allen (one of the greatest 3-point marksmen ever) out on the perimeter.

Parish was never a huge offensive threat, so only McHale could really make the younger trio pay down low, and KG’s airtight defense would give him fits. On the flip side, either Parish or McHale would be tasked with guarding a speedier wing they could never hope to cover. Gotta go with the Boston Three-Party in a head-to-head.

Lucho (@EchelonCopy) asks: “Whatever happened to wearing goggles in the NBA? It’s been too long. Somebody needs to step up to the plate …”

As someone who wore Rec Specs early in his own playing days, BRING BACK THE REC SPECS!

Also as someone who wore Rec Specs early in his own playing days, I can tell you why they faded from existence: The minute I switched to contacts in middle school, I dropped 20 in my first game, found more confidence with my classmates, and got my first girlfriend ever a few weeks later.

The goggles hold a special place in my heart, but those things were like viewing the court from inside a fish bowl.

Our own Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh) posits: “Which teams are going to be waaaay worse next season?”

The Los Angeles Lakers, because Anthony Davis is leaving. (KIDDING!…)

In all seriousness, the Oklahoma City Thunder seem like an obvious answer. They were one of the most pleasantly surprising teams in the NBA this season, but the health and contracts of Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari make them ticking time bombs from a win total perspective.

It also feels like the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers could be heading toward drastic changes in the near future depending on what happens with the rest of his 2019-20 campaign. Maybe a full roster shakeup is too dramatic, but don’t sleep on natural regression from these squads that are getting tired of banging their heads on the same ceilings over and over.

Des B (@Desmoney) asks the question we’ve all been stewing on: “Would Ben Simmons be better served playing small-ball 5 (like Draymond Green) going forward in his career?”

I mean, it’s possible. That lineup would certainly be viable in small doses at the very least.

Ben Simmons doesn’t have quite the same amount of versatility and destructive capability on the defensive end as Draymond Green, but at the same time, it’d be better for both him and the Philadelphia 76ers if he controlled the rock with four shooters around him in small-ball lineups.

Whether he could hold up defensively is another matter entirely, which is where Joel Embiid comes screaming back into the picture. And therein lies the problem: Simmons and Embiid represent the makings of an elite defense together, but on the other end, unless one of them becomes a 3-point threat ….

Jevon Carter Szn (@JevonSzn) from out of left field: “Is Phoenix going to give Jevon Carter an extension?? If so, what do you think they give him??”

Whenever this 2019-20 season ends, Jevon Carter will be a restricted free agent, with a $1.9 million qualifying offer. All season long, the Phoenix Suns have vacillated between him, Elie Okobo and rookie Ty Jerome for backup point guard minutes, and none of them has stood out enough to definitively claim the job.

Carter’s been the best of the three, with Jerome and Okobo being far more mistake-prone and timid at times. The former West Virginia product can sometimes grind the offense to a halt by dribbling the air out of the ball, and his shot selection isn’t always sound, but he’s been decisive, a relentless pest on defense and Phoenix’s second-most accurate 3-point shooter (39.3 percent).

When it comes to a possible extension, however, the situation becomes murkier. Carter has been the superior option of the three, but having a creator for the second unit has been a glaring issue for the Suns all season. Maybe a team-friendly, short-term deal for Carter makes sense, but even if the Suns gave up on the younger Okobo, they still traded back into the first round of last year’s draft to snag the younger Jerome. At some point, it becomes a roster crunch, especially if Phoenix brings in a more seasoned backup point guard.

Brian Sullivan (@bsull84), a Denver Nuggets fan, had to ask via DM: “I want to know if you think the Suns Gorilla could beat up Rocky. I think Rocky is too agile to lose to that clown.”

NBA fans all think their mascot is the best mascot in the NBA, but in my book, only three fanbases have legitimate claim to that title: The Chicago Bulls, the Denver Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns.

Benny the Bull has been a mainstay for a longer period of time, known for his lovable antics with a more prestigious franchise. Rocky is known for always making his backward granny tosses from half-court and his death-defying stunts. The Suns Gorilla earned his fame by jumping through rings of fire for dunks, riding motorcycles and having absolutely nothing to do with the team he roots for.

Rocky’s tricks may be the most impressive of the bunch, but if we’re talking straight fisticuffs, I gotta go with the Suns mascot. Rocky ain’t ready to catch these Gorilla hands.

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