[Trade Talk]: A Lesson Learned From the Hayward/Bagley Conundrum

Gordon Hayward. Marvin Bagley. Charlotte Hornets. Sacramento Kings. 4 very short sentences that don’t have much in common at first glance. But if we take a closer look we see that these two may be having a similar, and quite unpleasant experience.

Hayward, after being a prize free agent signing by the Boston Celtics in 2017, was set up to be the 2nd option behind PG Kyrie Irving on a revamped roster that was destined for a Championship run. Five minutes into his first game as a Celtics, he broke his foot landing on a failed alley-oop attempt and was out for the rest of the season. By the time he came back, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum had moved up in the pecking order–plus Hayward had to ease back into form. At the start of the 2019 season, Hayward finally was playing like his old self and with Kemba Walker in the fold, Kyrie and Al Horford out, and Tatum and Brown continuing to improve. Fast forward a few months Hayward suffers a broken hand, missing six weeks and derailing any momentum he had, and then sprained his ankle in the 1st round of the playoffs versus Philadelphia. Coming back from each those injuries, he suddenly became fourth or fifth option–even behind Marcus Smart in many games, whose offensive production had improved post-World Championships.

Similarly, Bagley has had an injury-riddled first 2 years in the league, only having played 75 games, and never quite been able to stay on the court long enough to get into a rhythm on what was looked like an up-an-coming Sacramento Kings squad along with De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield. In Bagley’s rookie year he started 65 games and was normally 2nd option on offense behind Hield. But fast forward two years and a lot of underachieving, roster churn in typical Kings fashion, and the emergence of Fox offensively–plus lucking into Tyrese Haliburton in the draft, and Bagley is now 5th option all of a sudden, playing only about 25 minutes a game and little to none in crunch time. Needless to say he is quite displeased. And so is his father.

What is the lesson to be learned from these parallel stories of highly skilled players who suffered from so many injuries and were unable to fulfill the lofty expectations that their franchises and fans had for them: *Sometimes a change of scenery is necessary for all*. Exhibit A: Hayward who signed a huge deal with the Charlotte Hornets this offseason, even with the Celtics offering to pick up his player option for $34.1 million in 2020-2021, immediately went back to looking like Gordon Hayward of old, back as 1st option on a young Hornets squad desperately needing leadership and playmaking, and in the first 12 games is averaging 22/5/4. And his usage rate is back up to where it was when he left Utah (see usage splits below from NBA.com).

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So what will the Kings do? Have they learned this lesson from having watched it with Hayward and move Bagley while he still has some value? Will they stubbornly keep him and hope he accepts his role knowing the backlash they will receive if he is jettisoned after having chosen him over Hall-of-Famer Luka Doncic? Will teams want to trade for Bagley with the baggage he may bring in addition to knowing his rookie deal will be up soon?

Bagley has a lot of talent and may just need a change of scenery to reemerge as a high quality starter in the league, and teams like Charlotte, Washington, Dallas, San Antonio and Oklahoma City all look like candidates who have the trade capital and incentive to make a deal for the young PF/C.

What trade would you like to see? Here’s a couple I liked via TradeNBA:

[Quotable]: Zach Lowe on Steph Curry and the Difference Between Superstar ‘Floor Raisers’ and ‘Ceiling Raisers’

Very interesting question’s raised by Zach Lowe on the December 28th Lowe Post pod with 538’s Chris Herring, as they analyzed the early season struggles of the Golden State Warriors and what category of superstar player Steph Curry fits into:

The referendum on Steph is gonna be if the Warriors are just bad, right? The referendum is gonna be: LeBron’s teams are never just bad. Kevin Durant‘s teams are never just bad. Kawhi Leonard‘s teams are never just bad. James Harden is…James Harden can go to strip clubs 80 nights a year and he’s a walking playoff birth. It doesn’t matter — he’s a walking playoff birth. Why are Steph’s teams bad? If he’s a 2-time MVP, I don’t understand–why are his teams just bad? We’ve seen other players like Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday have bad teams in New Orleans. So that’s the discussion that’s going to happen, and I think part of it is, lets TBD the whole thing, we don’t know if they’re bad yet. And we have seen other superstars helm bad teams before, but we don’t know if the Warriors are bad yet.

I do think there’s a lot of truth to the floor raiser vs. ceiling raiser player archetype–that Steph’s skills are such that he can take an okay team and a good team and make them a supernova, but he’s maybe even less equipped than a guy like Russ to take a bad team and make them mediocre through sheer physicality. Like, why can’t you give the ball to Steph 20 feet from the rim in the triple threat possession 50 times a game? Well, he’s a pretty skinny dude and do you want him getting destroyed at the rim to get you 14 free throws a game? Can he do that every night? I don’t know, but I do know that his version of that is: I got two people on me 30 feet from the basket and if you give me anybody who I can pass to that can make the next play, we’re going to be alright.

The Distillery’s Slightly Prestigious 2020 Podcast of the Year Award Winner

After much debate, our esteemed panel of NBA die-hards have selected The Hollinger & Duncan NBA Show as Hoops Distillery Podcast of the YearTM award for 2020, a prestigious award that is much sought after by podcasters worldwide. Throughout what proved to be a surreal and unforgettable year in this world we call earth, as well as the 2020 NBA season, with COVID-19 delaying play from March to July, the bubble, ever-changing rumors, news updates, rumors, NBA calendar changes, and a bizarre November draft and free agency, John Hollinger and Nate Duncan did a stellar job of corralling everything we needed to know and think through into a digestible and highly entertaining format. But what really sets this show apart from others is their in-depth analysis which is always at a very high level rarely heard elsewhere–and geared towards the intellectual fan without going overboard on salary cap or advanced metrics. Whereas many pods go a couple layers deep analyzing key news, team building, or trade rumors, they are able to go many layers deep looking at topics from the perspective of a fan, NBA insider, front office executive, owner, player or agent. That versatility combined with their basketball IQ and knowledge of all 30 teams is astounding and they truly have a pulse on everything that’s happening, which makes it so much easier for the many different levels of fan from all over the world to avoid doing the work it takes to attempt to stay in tune with the ever-changing NBA world. 2020 was an incredibly challenging year to cover, but also an amazing one with oodles of content once the bubble plan was in place. Bravo to these guys for going above and beyond to get the job done and help us all be informed and entertained throughout!

Superlatives for 2020:

Best pod chemistry: The Lowe Post and/or The Full 48 with the combo of Zach Lowe and Howard Beck

Most entertaining from a fan’s perspective: The Mismatch with Kevin O’Connor and Chris Vernon

Pod that you’re most likely to go back and re-listen to: Book of Basketball podcast with Bill Simmons

Podcast host with the most well-thought-out takes: Ben Golliver on SI’s Open Floor NBA Show

Pod most likely to make you feel guilty if you missed it: The Woj Pod with Woj

Best in-depth NBA draft coverage: Chad Ford’s NBA Big Board

Best Produced: No Dunks Podcast

Most laugh out loud funny: Knuckleheads podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles