NBA Roundtable: Time to Write Off the Spurs?
NBA Roundtable: Time to Write Off the Spurs?

This article is part of our NBA Roundtable series.

Welcome to the Week 8 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 Chris Paul, All-NBA, the struggling Spurs, and more.

1. The Spurs have lost seven of their last 10 and currently sit in 14th place in the West. Are you ready to write San Antonio off as a playoff contender?

James Anderson: Yes. I've been ready for weeks now.

Nick Whalen: San Antonio is the team I was most wrong about coming into the season. I thought the addition of DeRozan would be enough to keep the Spurs afloat, but right now it's tough to imagine them leapfrogging five or six more talented teams to sneak in as a 7 or 8 seed.

Ken Crites: The Spurs really need more outside shooting. They don't just miss Kawhi, they could use Danny Green, too. That Jazz loss the other night was painful to watch. They still have a chance, but it's more likely that they are lottery bound.

Shannon McKeown: The point differential doesn't look good, but the Spurs are only two games out of the 8th seed. The Spurs are trying to center attack around a new piece and it takes time for a team to gel. I'm not ready to write them off yet.

Alex Barutha: I think so. Bryn Forbes is third on the team in total minutes. That's a pretty bad sign. LaMarcus Aldridge has been underperforming relative to last season, but maybe his age (33) is just catching up with him after averaging 35.5 minutes per game over the past 12 years.

Mike Barner: Unless they make a trade, I don't think they have enough talent on their roster to make the playoffs. Of the teams currently on the outside looking in, I think the Pelicans and Rockets have a far better chance of making the playoffs than the Spurs do.

Alex Rikleen: Talent wise, they were never a playoff contender. People thought they'd compete for one of the last spots in the West because they control the second and third most important advantages in the NBA: Gregg Popovich, and great ownership (the most important is LeBron James). Well, they still have Pop and the team hasn't been sold. They are only 5.5 games out of first. They might not make it, but they absolutely still have a chance.

2. After missing the playoffs the last two seasons, Dallas is off to a 12-11 start. Is it in the Mavs' best interest to be a buyer or a seller when the trade deadline approaches?

Anderson: I'd be open to buying or selling, depending what's available. If they could do something involving Dennis Smith and Wes Matthews for Bradley Beal, I'd be all about that. I wouldn't want to take on long-term salary unless it was someone who I thought could be roughly the third best player on a title team -- Beal qualifies for me. Luka Doncic is in that LeBron/AD/Giannis tier where their only focus should be making sure they make smart, long-term decisions while building around him with players he would enjoy playing with.

Whalen: I understand the philosophy behind making a run at the playoffs, but this isn't the year to do it with the spectre of the Warriors still looming over the West. Sell off a few expiring and try to pick up some assets who can help you compete in 2020 and 2021.

Crites: I'm sure they'd love to get rid of the remaining year-plus on Harrison Barnes' deal, but who would be interested? Barnes has been a solid contributor, so I'm not sure the Mavs have the guts to send that message to their fan base.

McKeown: The Mavs traded their 2019 first-round pick in the Doncic deal, so there's little reason to tank. I think they should be buyers and sellers this season, looking to move expiring deals (Matthews, Jordan) to help build their long-term core while remaining competitive.

Barutha: Seller. DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews are on expiring contracts and I'm not sure either of them are worth bringing back given their ages (30 and 32), relative to Luka Doncic. Moving them for some young assets/draft picks makes more sense than gunning for the eighth seed.

Barner: If they can get the right pieces in return, they should consider being sellers. They have a lot of players set to become free agents after this year, including DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and J.J. Barea. It's not like they are going to make any noise even if they do squeak into the playoffs, anyway.

Rikleen: If you can make the playoffs, you should. It's that simple. Back in 2014-15, I wanted my Celtics to worry less about making the playoffs, and instead get a better draft pick to better stock up for what was already looking like a promising future. We made the playoffs with a losing record and got swept by the Cavaliers. Nonetheless, I was wrong. Players who would define the team's culture for the next several years -- most importantly, rookie Marcus Smart -- cite that playoff experience as having been hugely beneficial to their development. If the Mavericks have a chance to get Luka Doncic playoff experience, it is worth giving up some lesser assets to make it happen.

3. At this point in the season, which players would make up your First Team All-NBA?

Anderson: C: Nikola Jokic; F: LeBron James; F: Giannis Antetokounmpo; G: Steph Curry; G: James Harden. I'd rather list Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant over Harden, but since I'm required to list two guards, it's snub city.

Whalen: C: Joel Embiid; F: LeBron James; F: Giannis Antetokounmpo; G: Steph Curry; G: James Harden.

Crites: C: Joel Embiid; F: Kevin Durant; F: Anthony Davis; G: James Harden; G: Russell Westbrook. Curry has missed too many games.

McKeown: C: Joel Embiid; F: Anthony Davis; F: Giannis Antetokounmpo; G: Damian Lillard; G: Steph Curry. My apologies to LeBron, Kahwi, and Durant -- the forward position is stacked this year.

Barutha: C: Anthony Davis; F: Giannis Antetokounmpo; F: Kevin Durant; G: Stephen Curry; G: James Harden

Barner: C: Anthony Davis; F: Giannis Antetokounmpo; F: Kevin Durant; G: Kawhi Leonard; G: Stephen Curry. Editor's note: We'll let Kawhi slide in as a guard just this once.

Rikleen: C: Marc Gasol; F: Tobias Harris; F: Kawhi Leonard; G: Kemba Walker; G: Stephen Curry. I know Harris is not going to actually make the season-ending All-NBA team, but when a team was expected to miss the playoffs and then outplayed the Warriors for 20 games, someone deserves to make this list.

4. Which team currently outside the top-eight in the West are you most confident will make the playoffs?

Anderson: The Pelicans, since they have the best player. Their guard depth is horrific, but I like their top four players and AD is going to carry them to a crazy month at some point this season.

Whalen: I want to see Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday back in the playoffs, but I have to go with Houston. Whether its via trade or buyout, they'll add the depth they desperately need to get back into contention.

Crites: This might sound crazy, but I'm going with Utah. I like the nice little Kyle Korver deal they just completed. With Rudy Gobert, they have the highest defensive ceiling. Mitchell has missed four games with nagging injuries -- I think his shooting will improve.

McKeown: My vote goes to the Rockets. The core of Harden, Paul, Capela and Gordon is still elite, and I expect the front office to add more pieces.

Barutha: Houston. It's shocking that the Rockets only need to lose five more games to tie last season's mark (17). But it's also hard to believe they've regressed so dramatically that they'll miss the playoffs. They take the most threes and allow the second-most three-point attempts, so maybe the high level of variability inherent in three-pointers is responsible for some of the struggles.

Barner: The Rockets. I can't see James Harden and Chris Paul not finding a way to get this team into the playoffs. They will also likely be active in the trade market to help improve their chances.

Rikleen: Utah. I predicted the Rockets would fall outside the top-four in the preseason (Trevor Ariza is important). In the West, outside the top four, the difference between playoffs and the 10th spot is only a couple games, which is to say I always thought the Rockets were at risk of missing the playoffs. The Jazz, on the other hand, were tied for fourth last season and, theoretically, got better. Their early schedule has been brutal. I still think the Jazz get home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

5. With Lauri Markkanen back in the lineup, and Bobby Portis and Kris Dunn set to return soon, how should fantasy owners be valuing players like Justin Holiday, Jabari Parker, and Wendell Carter?

Anderson: I think you have to hold Carter. They are going to want Lauri and Carter to play together as much as possible, since they're their two best players. I think the only guys who need to be owned on that team are Lauri, Carter, LaVine and Dunn. Jabari will be droppable soon if he's not already. Holiday contributes in unique ways, so you may want to hold him in deeper leagues.

Whalen: Holiday has been huge thus far, but it's hard to imagine a scenario in which his minutes aren't slashed. I think Carter's role is safe, but Parker's opportunities will likely wane a bit. The best-case scenario for fantasy owners might be the Bulls dealing Portis before he becomes a restricted free agent this summer.

Crites: Trade them! For keeper leagues, you obviously must keep Carter. But move Holiday as fast as you possibly can.

McKeown: I'm not too worried about Carter's value. He's one of the Bulls' core building blocks and will continue to see decent run. Parker and Holiday should be sold immediately, though, if that's even possible. Both players will still hold value in many formats, but they're peak production for this season has passed.

Barutha: Holiday will probably need to be cut in standard formats. Parker and Carter are legitimate parts of the Bulls' rebuild and I assume they'll be given as much run as possible. You may not want to start Parker or Carter every week, but they should still be quality bench pieces for fantasy teams.

Barner: I'd sell high on Parker if you can find someone to take him. I wouldn't be shocked if he doesn't play much once Portis returns. I don't think Carter is impacted a ton, but Holiday isn't going to average 35 minutes a game like he is now. If the Bulls are smart, they should be looking to trade Holiday.

Rikleen: All of them are likely to take a hit. There are 240 player-minutes per game. Conservatively, Markkanen, Dunn and Portis will account for 80 (30, 30, 20, respectively). That is 33 percent of the rotation joining the team between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The entire rotation is about to change radically. Of the three, I'm most worried about Holiday, even though the other two will face more direct threats to their depth chart status.

6. At age 33, Chris Paul is averaging near-career-lows in a number of key counting and advanced stat categories through 18 games. How concerned should fantasy owners be?

Anderson: Very worried, since his draft-day price tag was clearly too high. I think he'll be fine on a per-game basis, but I would expect him to miss a lot of time over the rest of his career.

Whalen: Paul definitely looks a step slow this season, but I'm still confident he can get right and play at an All-Star level in the near-term, provided his hamstring holds up. That said, I don't think we're too far away from the Rockets regretting handing an injury-prone 33-year-old a four-year deal with a $44.2M player option for his age-36 season.

Crites: Owners should be very concerned. He just missed three games a week ago and I'm sure more nagging injuries are in his future. Deal him while his big name still enamors fans.

McKeown: CP3 came at a vast discount in most of my drafts/auctions. He's still performing at a top-20 clip based on per-game averages this year, so I don't think there's much to worry about here, just know he's past his prime.

Barutha: I don't think he's washed, but miles and injuries are piling up. It wouldn't surprise me if this year, at age 33, we started seeing tangible decline from CP3. He might be worth hanging onto in redraft leagues, but I'd float him out in trade offers in dynasty formats unless I was a contender.

Barner: I find it hard to believe he's going to continue to shoot just 42.4 percent from the field, but injuries are always a concern. Now's not the time to try and trade him, but if he goes on a hot streak, it might not be a bad idea to gauge the level of interest for him in your league.

Rikleen: Very concerned. Paul was always old for his age. And 33 is old most NBA players. His play is down across the board, but fortunately he hasn't fallen off a cliff. I think it's reasonable to expect his current level of play to continue throughout the season, and that we're at the point in his career where we expect some amount of continued decline each subsequent season.

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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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