NBA Roundtable: Hornets' Future Clouded, At Best
NBA Roundtable: Hornets' Future Clouded, At Best

This article is part of our NBA Roundtable series.

Welcome to the Week 12 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 most improved players, trade possibilities and more.

Which player is most likely to be traded this season: Brad Beal, Anthony Davis or Kemba Walker?

James Anderson: Kemba Walker. I don't think the Wizards will get a good enough offer for Beal and I don't think Dell Demps has enough job security to trade Davis in season. I'd probably bet against any of those three getting traded this season, but Walker is such an obvious player to trade, I'll give him the edge.

Nick Whalen: I don't know that any of these players' teams want to trade them, but there's a case to be made that it makes the most sense for all three to be dealt. With that said, Charlotte isn't going to trade Kemba a week before hosting the All-Star Game, and unless someone comes in with a godfather offer, it makes the most sense for New Orleans to wait until the summer for any Davis deal. So the answer, by default, is Beal. It'd be a tough sell to the fan base, but Beal would command a strong return that would ultimately benefit the Wizards long-term.

Ken Crites: Beal. With Wall lost for the season, the Wizards have to rebuild, even if somehow GM Ernie Grunfeld stays on for an unbelievable and undeserved 16th season.

Shannon McKeown: I have to go with Kemba Walker. He's the only one of the three on an expiring deal. Of course, the Hornets will need to drop out of playoff contention for Walker to be moved.

Mike Barner: With how quickly things are unraveling for the Wizards, I think Beal is the most likely to be traded out of this trio. It would be a PR nightmare for the Hornets to trade Walker when they are in the hunt for a playoff spot and trading a transcendent talent like Davis in the middle of a season is no easy task.

Alex Barutha: Bradley Beal. It would shock me if the Wizards failed to take John Wall's injury as a blessing in disguise that could allow them to fall into a top-five pick this summer. Beal is a phenomenal trade asset and nearly every team in the league would throw out an offer. Plus what are the chances he'll want to re-sign? Getting young assets and/or picks to combine with their own high pick in the 2019 Draft could propel the team's rebuild.

Jeff Edgerton: It's looking more likely that we'll see Davis exit New Orleans in the offseason, so my money would be on Beal. The Wizards seem primed to blow up and start over after losing John Wall, and Beal will have a lot of suitors.

Which Yahoo season-long ranking is more surprising: Nikola Vucevic (9th overall) or Russell Westbrook (32nd overall)?

Anderson: Neither is that surprising if you've been paying attention at all. Kind of surprised Westbrook is that high, to be honest.

Whalen: The answer is probably Vucevic, but I really didn't expect this level of regression from Westbrook. It's pretty difficult to lead the league in assists and steals and rank outside the top 30.

Crites: I'm glad you are looking at rankings for a league including turnovers. Vucevic is more surprising, though we should have expected more from him given that this is contract season. Still, it's hard to ignore Orlando's habit of repeatedly drafting bigs.

McKeown: Vucevic. After the Magic selected Mo Bamba, I expected Vucevic to see a decline in production this season. Instead, he's putting together a monster campaign. Westbrook has always had troubles with his efficiency and he's at or near career-worst marks for field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, free-throw percentage and turnovers this year. Pair those issues with a decline in scoring and it's not hard to see why Westbrook's fantasy value has dipped.

Barner: Vucevic being ranked inside the top-10 is the most shocking for me. He's had some very productive seasons, but nothing like this. Not only is he averaging 20.3 points and 11.8 rebounds, but he's also averaging a career-high 3.6 assists per contest with the Magic lacking talent at point guard.

Barutha: Vucevic. I'm pretty sure I referenced him as a potential bust in a preseason article, assuming the Magic would split time between him and Mo Bamba while tanking for another top pick. But, of course, continuing his legacy from Charlotte, coach Steve Clifford has made Orlando frustratingly eighth-seedy by riding Vucevic into the ground and playing at the fifth-slowest pace in the league. Westbrook being 32nd is still shocking, but we know he's a high-volume shooter who isn't efficient.

Edgerton: Westbrook started the season with an injury and he usually has a stronger second half, so that's not too surprising. I could think of better name picks than Vucevic, but the numbers are clearly there. Those who drafted him in the middle rounds got great value.

As of today, who would get your vote for the NBA's Most Improved Player?

Anderson: De'Aaron Fox

Whalen: De'Aaron Fox. I was low on him coming out of Kentucky and thought I was proven right last season, but he's been a completely different player in Year 2. His development has almost single-handedly changed the Kings' future outlook.

Crites: Vucevic is tempting, but I gotta go with Montrezl Harrell. He's the Clippers de facto starting center. He's doubled his blocks per game and is scoring almost five more points per game. The guy was just a throw-in in the Chris Paul sign-and-trade.

McKeown: De'Aaron Fox is the front runner, followed by Pascal Siakam and Zach LaVine. It's a jam-packed field, though, as Domantas Sabonis, Buddy Hield, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, D'Angelo Russell and a dozen others also deserve consideration. And we should give some love to Caris LeVert, who may have been Fox's primary challenger before suffering a season-ending injury.

Barner: De'Aaron Fox. His averages are up across the board and he's made huge improvements with his percentages. He shot 41.2 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from behind the arc during his rookie year, but he's shooting 46.8 percent and 38.7 percent, respectively, this season.

Barutha: Pascal Siakam. He certainly gets a bump due to Toronto's success, but he's a rare case of seeing a massive increase in role (going from 20 mins off the bench to 30 mins in the starting five) while also becoming more efficient across the board. He's essentially doubled his free-throw rate and is shooting 13% better from three this season compared to last year. De'Aaron Fox, John Collins and Domantas Sabonis also deserve consideration.

Edgerton: That's a tough call, but i would probably go with De'Aaron Fox. I think JaVale McGee might get some votes but I think his upward trend is more about a new environment than anything else.

Looking ahead to the next three years, which franchise has the bleakest future?

Anderson: It's close between the Cavs and Hornets. Both have horrific owners who tend to meddle where they shouldn't, and the best young player either roster is Miles Bridges. The worst contract on either roster is Kevin Love. I'll say the Hornets, since at least the Cavs have a decent shot to get a top-3 pick this year.

Whalen: Charlotte. They're about overpay a borderline-All-Star who is just good enough to keep them out of the high-lottery for the next few years. Their second-best player (Jeremy Lamb) is a free agent this summer, and Charlotte owes a combined $30 million in player options to Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in 2019-20. And that's before considering Nic Batum makes $26 million next year and $27 million in 2020-21.

Crites: Washington. Wall was slipping well before this latest surgery. They are stuck paying him max money through 2022-23. Can you believe Grunfeld thought Dwight Howard would help?

McKeown: I'm not excited about the Pistons long-term outlook. Andre Drummond seems to have reached his peak, and it seems unlikely Blake Griffin will play at this level AND stay healthy for remainder of his hefty contract. That albatross of a contract also means the Pistons won't be able to bring in any quality free agents. But since John Wall's contract puts the Wizards in an even tougher spot, let's go with Washington.

Barner: It's going to be a long, long time before the Cavaliers are any good again. Yes, they have Kevin Love, but they really don't have much young talent. It's hard to envision anyone prominent signing there, either. The only positive is that they did trade their 2019 first round pick to the Hawks, but it is top-10 protected in both 2019 and 2020, so at least they probably won't lose either of those.

Barutha: Charlotte, mainly because they're as capped out as the likes of Miami and Detroit, but have the massive decision about Kemba Walker looming over them. If Kemba is back, he'll be 31 by the time the team is free of Nicolas Batum and Cody Zeller's combined $42 million. If they dump Kemba, they'll still have to wait until 2020-21 to dump either of those two veterans as expiring contracts. Plus, Malik Monk's future as a starter is cloudy at best and, as much as I love Miles Bridges, his ceiling is probably Tobias Harris.

Edgerton: The Wizards, by a mile. Bottom-dwellers like the Nets and Suns have building blocks, and you can't say the same for Washington. If they're smart, they should tank their way into the Zion Williamson sweepstakes.

Who is your dream field for the 2019 dunk contest at All-Star Weekend?

Anderson: Other than Nick Whalen, I don't think anyone watches the dunk contest anymore (Editor's note: This is was totally uncalled for). I'll say Derrick Jones Jr., Miles Bridges, Chandler Hutchison, Hamidou Diallo.

Whalen: APPARENTLY, I'm the only one giving this question the sincere consideration it deserves: Derrick Jones, Terrance Ferguson, Mitchell Robinson, Miles Bridges

Crites: Vermont microbrews and Arrested Development. I hate the dunk contest. (Editor's note: Also uncalled for)

McKeown: Giannis, LeBron, Zion Williamson and any member of the Bucks Rim Rockers.

Barner: I want to put Vince Carter on this list, but I'll avoid the temptation. Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons and Zach LaVine.

Barutha: Picking guys who haven't done it: Joe Alexander, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons (Editor's note: RIP to SeeJoeDunk.com)

Edgerton: Tim Hardaway, Jaron Blossomgame, D'Angelo Russell, Luka Doncic

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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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