The Milwaukee Bucks are a prime championship threat. The Indiana Pacers are solid as always. The Detroit Pistons are slowly crumbling and the Chicago Bulls are still fighting incompetence. The Cleveland Cavaliers, meanwhile, are a sad laughingstock.
Nothing about the NBA’s Central Division is surprising relative to preseason expectations. Its teams, broadly speaking, are exactly who we thought they were. But that hardly means there’s no intrigue in flyover country, especially as the most active days of trade season dawn.
These are the six players from the Central Division who competing teams should be looking at hardest.
Kevin Love – $28,942,830
Don’t read too much into Love’s heartfelt, honest apology for his behavior on either side of the New Year. It’s safe to say he would still rather play for almost any team in basketball than the Cleveland Cavaliers. Less clear is what type of deal it would take for him to find his way out of Cleveland by Feb. 7.
There’s no doubting Love’s bonafides from beyond the arc, ability to punish smaller defenders on the block or his supreme impact as a rebounder. He’s just not dynamic enough to be the hub of an elite offense, though, a reality that makes his utter lack of versatility on the other end even more debilitating than it would be otherwise. Collecting the money to match his exorbitant salary, plus the three full seasons remaining on his $120 million contract extension, are factors just as prohibitive as the on-court ramifications of any potential trade for Love, too.
The Cavaliers’ ongoing and worsening dysfunction shouldn’t make finding a deal easier. It’s no secret Love wants out, and any expectation general manager Koby Altman had of netting even one objectively attractive trade chip in exchange for the veteran big man is growing less realistic by the day. Regardless, the dual pitfalls of Love’s game in a more limited role, and the massive salary slot he’ll occupy through 2022-23 will scare off the majority of playoff teams who could use some tertiary scoring punch.
If his hometown Portland Trail Blazers stay patient during a lost season, Love seems bound to remain in Cleveland for the remainder of 2019-20. Even beyond that timeframe, it’s difficult to conjure a theoretical trade that would make sense for Love, the Cavaliers and any team bold enough to take on an injury-prone thirty-something who’s an imminent defensive liability and doubles as a salary albatross.
Andre Drummond – $27,093019
It would be in the Detroit Pistons’ overwhelming best interest if they found a way to move Drummond before the trade deadline. Blake Griffin’s increasingly fragile health status and ESPN’s recent reporting that the team has already engaged in “serious talks” with the Atlanta Hawks about a potential Drummond deal suggests his departure from the Motor City is a formality.
The Pistons are going nowhere as currently constructed, and Drummond will likely opt out of the final year of his contract this summer. Moving him is a no-brainer. The problem for Detroit is that Drummond is a borderline negative value on his existing contract and will surely command a similar starting salary in free agency to the one he’s earning this season.
Acquiring his Bird Rights would be a boon for a cash-strapped team that needs help in the middle if Drummond is a good stylistic fit. But he’s clearly miscast as anything close to a primary offensive option and lacks both the playmaking feel and shooting touch to thrive in a more defined offensive role. Drummond is a helpful defender when engaged, but hardly an interior panacea around which an entire defensive system can be built.
Where does that leave his trade prospects? If the Hawks – who should be extremely wary of pairing him with Trae Young for the long haul – don’t bite, odds are that Drummond plays out the season’s remainder with the Pistons before entering free agency, where his next destination could prove just as vexing to find.
Tristan Thompson – $18,539,130
Thompson is quietly enjoying another standout campaign after it seemed like he may fade forever into mediocrity during LeBron James’ final season in Northeast Ohio. The question isn’t whether he’d be useful for a playoff team that could use some quality depth up front, but what that suitor would be comfortable giving the Cleveland Cavaliers in a trade.
His salary makes those matters tougher in a straight-up deal where he’s the centerpiece. If there’s a blockbuster potentially involving three or more teams, though, Thompson’s steep expiring contract could come in handy as a facilitator.
Wherever he may end up, Thompson’s time as a rotation player certainly isn’t over. He’s perfectly suited as a third or fourth big depending on incumbent personnel, and, at 28, isn’t declining as quickly as it appeared two years ago. It’ll be fascinating to gauge his market in free agency come July.
Myles Turner – $18,000,000
The first few weeks of 2019-20 made it seem like Turner’s days with the Indiana Pacers were numbered. He missed eight games with a sprained right ankle in early November, during which the Pacers rebounded from a dreadful start to the season by going 6-2 behind strong play from Domantas Sabonis. Widespread concerns about the viability of Indiana’s new starting tandem up front, it appeared, had already been confirmed.
Turner hasn’t done all that much individually in the interim to put those worries to rest. He’s been an abject disappointment defensively, failing to live up to the immense promise he showed last season as a rim-protector while remaining an abject weakness on the defensive glass. But his net rating next to Sabonis is up to a solid plus-6.4, which should give Kevin Pritchard enough hope that Indiana’s two-big alignment could work long-term – especially given a Victor Oladipo return from injury is officially set.
Teams will inquire about Turner regardless. Young seven-footers with shot-blocking instincts and still-burgeoning proficiency from long range don’t grow on trees, and there’s enough doubt about the ceiling of Turner and Sabonis’ partnership that the Pacers should pick up the phone. The same two-way traits, confined as they are, that attract other teams to Turner are why he’s a valuable member of Indiana’s core, though.
Unless a competing team makes Pritchard a Godfather offer, Turner will almost surely remain with the Pacers past the trade deadline. His future beyond that could still be subject to change.
Thaddeus Young – $12,900,000
Young made it clear last month that he’s unhappy with his role, and it’s fair to assume that the Chicago Bulls are almost equally unhappy with his play.
At least some justification for optimism about the Bulls leading up to the season can be chalked up to Young’s expected impact as a de facto sixth starter. Instead, he’s getting the fewest minutes since his rookie season and shooting a hideous 51.2 percent in the restricted area – dead last among bigs who take at least two shots from there. As disruptive as he remains at times defensively, the on/off data suggests Chicago wouldn’t take a major step back on that end without him.
But just because it hasn’t worked out for Young with the Bulls doesn’t mean it wouldn’t with a contender. Any team with aspirations of playing deep into spring could use the additional lineup flexibility and defensive versatility provided by his presence, and his salary – right in the sweet spot of easily-movable contracts that the league at large is currently lacking – makes him a helpful salary-matching fit in a potential blockbuster trade.
What would it take for an interested team to acquire Young? In addition to draft fodder, Chicago would probably want someone to replace him in the rotation, decreasing the odds he’s dealt. Players who can check most bigs and wings almost seamlessly are at a premium – which is also the biggest reason why Young should be chased by teams with dreams of May and June.
Derrick Rose – $7,317,074
Rose’s value to Detroit almost certainly wouldn’t be matched elsewhere. The Pistons’ offensive rating spikes by more than 10 points with him on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass, an easy team-high. With Griffin ailing, he’s their only reliable source of independent offense in the clutch.
Rose is a far cry from his MVP heyday. But with a renewed air of athletic oomph and improved shot-making from the perimeter, he’s been one of the most explosive reserves in the NBA this season – a role most any contender would be lucky for him to fill.
The contractual complications that inhibit Detroit in trade talks for Drummond don’t apply to Rose. He makes just below the league-average salary this season and is under contract at a slightly higher number through 2020-21. There will definitely be many teams interested in acquiring him. What the Pistons must decide is what they’re willing to accept from those that come calling.
As good as Rose has been in 2019-20, he’s still too big an injury risk for suitors to part with ultra-valuable assets. But if Detroit is comfortable moving him for a heavily-protected first-round pick that’s likeliest to convey to second-round compensation, don’t be surprised to see Rose donning a different jersey soon.
Not all of these players will be moved, and there’s even a chance that all stay put.
Love and Drummond are arguably the two biggest-name players most likely to be dealt by the deadline. It would be a minor shock if the Pacers traded Turner, and Thompson might even be a buy-out candidate. The Bulls and Pistons could decide losing Young and Rose would be pills too tough to swallow.
Nevertheless, their names will continue swirling in trade winds as Feb. 7 fast approaches.
NBA Daily: Deadline Dilemma In Toronto | Basketball Insiders
The mind cannot tell the difference between what’s being experienced in real life and what is deliberately being visualized within the constructs of the mind. High-Performers have intuitively known this.
Science is now showing this. The brain has the ability to affect physiology and improve motor skill sets without lifting a finger.
For example, through visualizing desired outcomes, a person can rewire new neuro-networks (or pathways) in the brain, requisite for acquiring optimal motor function skills. This is based upon contemporary brain-based research.
The implications of these developments on the player development and performance space could be massive. Before we dive further into how, let’s first cover some foundational brain mechanics.
The Brain’s Neuro-Networks
According to some of the latest Epigenetic and neuroscience work by Dr. Joe Dispenza, the brain is comprised of a multitude of neuro-networks.
Neuro-networks are informational highways that transfer both information and commands. These networks are wired and rewired based upon our most consistent habits and behaviors.
According to Dispenza, people can upshift physiology, performance and career success through applying High-Performance Mindfulness techniques that rewire the brain’s neuro-networks.
Employing consistent visualization helps to fire and/or rewire these neuro-networks to more efficiently execute the specific task at hand. Additionally, employing leading-edge High-Performance methods takes this one step further by supercharging the process.
The current player development landscape generally leaves out likely the most important element of unlocking human potential and high-performance, the impact that systematically firing and rewiring neuro-networks in the brain has on statistical improvement.
This approach is much like honing muscle memory in a very specific, supercharged way, weeding out unproductive subconscious programs while installing productive programs, having the effect of boosting physiology, focus and, of course, performance.
Probably the most leading-edge and powerful way to do this is through the implementation of Brain-Based – Player Development methods. These methods can be applied for performance optimization and in the injury recovery process. More on performance in a minute, but first, let’s look at the recovery piece.
High-Performance Mindfulness for Injury Recovery
According to Dr. Milo Sewards, Head Orthopedic Surgeon of Temple University Athletics, one of the biggest areas that is left unaddressed during the rehabilitation process is the unhealed psychosomatic element. This is especially true after players are cleared to physically play.
“Players have to be able to clear that final mental hurdle that prevents them from being able to get back to not just participating but performing,” Sewards says.
According to Dr. Sewards, tools like this are a powerful way to address these issues.
“I have seen some incredible things happen, some efficacy with these techniques, and getting some guys back from injuries with these techniques back to a very high level of performance,” he says. “I would love to see all of this take off and be widely accepted.”
High-Performance tools addressing the mental hurdles that Dr. Sewards mentions above have been shown to quickly and effectively eliminate leftover psychosomatic elements from past injuries, but that is not all.
Take, for example, a study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology in 1992, where three test groups were used. Group No. 1 employed five, one-hour physical workout sessions per week for four weeks to improve arm strength. The second group just mentally rehearsed the same arm exercise that Group 1 did, without physically lifting a finger. Control groups did not exercise their arm or mind.
As you would expect, at the end of four weeks, Group 1 exhibited a 30% increase in muscle strength. But get this, the group that purely mentally rehearsed the exercise without any physical training, displayed a 22% increase in muscle strength!
Fascinating stuff, right? Another study, performed by Harvard researchers, took a group and divided it in half. One group practiced a five-finger piano exercise, two hours a day for five days. The other group’s members mentally rehearsed the exercise as if they were sitting at the piano without physically moving their fingers in any way.
Brain scans of both groups after the exercise revealed that they created a significant amount of neural activity. The group’s brain scan that only visualized the outcome was very similar to the group that had physically rehearsed.
There is big-time relevance here in regards to helping players improve.
Science continues to show that there are tangible improvements and progression taking place through Rep’ing the mind in a very specific way.
Optimizing Load Management
Efficient workflows are valued over old paradigm, sheer workload routines like never before. This is part of the reason why Load Management has become a priority. Career longevity and injury prevention have moved to the center.
Brain Psychology Player Development, that allows players the chance to improve on-court performance and physiology without increasing repetition of physical wear and tear, is an extremely valuable organizational asset.
Methods that optimize mental focus, emotional dissonance and statistical performance, without increasing the physical load on the body, are at a premium. For these reasons, combined with the scientific efficacy mentioned above, there could be a perfect storm brewing for massive market disruption.
The work-harder-for-longer model of player development is not resonating with the players as it once did. Combine this with leading-edge techniques shared within coming online, and the standard practices of improving basketball performance could change quickly. Players such as Aaron Gordon, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are infusing their routines with mind-based methods.
Considering that very few teams currently employ these methods in a systematic or customized fashion, there exists a HUGE opportunity for those forward-thinking organizations.
Optimizing On-Court Statistical Performance
High-Performance – Player Development Coaches have been showing that these methods influence on-court statistics upwards.
Case studies showing 10%, 20%, 30% and sometimes 40% improvement in the same season, have become routine and commonplace for the professional, national team and college players who trust and employ these processes.
You may want to read The Next Step in Player Development and How to Improve Shooting Percentages Installments. I discuss this at more length there.
Both players highlighted below experienced improvement in no less than five statistical areas in the course of the same season after implementation of mind-based methods. Here are examples of players describing how this work positively affected their game:
FIBA Cup, Daequan Cook: https://vimeo.com/361200434
FIBA Cup Captain, Tal Dunne: https://vimeo.com/322145121
For players and teams looking to gain a distinct edge in the development & performance space, the most efficient way to do this is through employing systematic processes that fire and rewire subconscious neuro-networks and produce high-performance.
Mind-based methods have been shown time and time again to facilitate this.
Based on growing empirical evidence, results and social proof, the next frontier in basketball could be mind-body methods that unlock performance.
Report: Lauri Markkanen Out Four-to-Six Weeks with Stress Reaction in Right Pelvis
Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen underwent an MRI of his right hip at Rush Hospital on Jan. 23 which revealed an early stress reaction of his right pelvis. Following a period of rest, Markkanen will resume basketball related activities with a full return anticipated in 4-6 weeks. Further updates will be provided as appropriate. Source: […]
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