Hoops Panchayat: Your NBA Problem Solvers are Here!

The gram panchayat is India’s village-level government institution, and stretching back to the old days, the heads of the panchayat would hear out the troubles and disputes of their people and offer appropriate solutions. Well, there is no reason that other institutions can’t borrow from the idea: there are troubles and questions abound across the NBA, and our featured panchayat advisors – Akshay Manwani and Karan Madhok – are here to offer their answers and solutions in the very first Hoops Panchayat!



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Karan Madhok
Writer, NBA India
Karan's Predictions

Lin or Beverley? While the Rockets have done well with Beverley of late, who do you think will be a better solution as a starter for the playoffs? The Rockets (who’ve been the NBA’s best team over the past three weeks) have the luxury of two capable starting point guards. Both offer various pros and cons, but eventually, it comes down to offense (Lin) vs. defense (Beverley). Houston are the league’s third-highest scoring team, so offense isn’t a problem. They should stick with Beverley as their starter to balance the defensive end and continue to use Lin as their offensive spark off the bench.

No present and no future - how do the Knicks fix themselves? The only fix for the Knicks is time. A lot of time. The Knicks aren’t good enough to contend now, and without cap space or first round draft picks, they won’t be good enough to contend next year. Their solution is 2015, when most of their big contracts (especially Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler) come off the books and they’ll potentially have first round draft picks to rebuild the team.

Portland's shaky defense, and how to win in the playoffs? Portland have the NBA’s highest scoring offense (107.7 ppg) but are bottom six on defense (allowing opponents 102.6 ppg). Unfortunately, as the Steve Nash era Suns taught us, bad defensive teams don’t succeed in the slower-paced post-season. Fortunately, Portland have the personnel (like Robin Lopez and Nicolas Batum) to excel on the defensive end; it might hurt their offense, but the rest of the team will need to practice slowing down for the playoffs.

The Pacers are 7-5 in their last 12 games while the Miami Heat have gone 10-2 in the same stretch. Can the Pacers really challenge the Heat? Every team goes through a hot and a cold streak: the best teams (Spurs, Heat) are experience enough to know exactly when to go hot, which is usually right after the All Star break. No matter what happens now, I think the Pacers can still challenge the Heat simply because they are built specifically to counter Miami – bigs to counter Miami’s rebounding struggles and perimeter depth to pester LeBron and Wade.

Phoenix vs Dallas vs Memphis - Who gets the last two spots in the West? Assuming Golden State will be safe in top six and Minnesota won’t crack above 10th, the battle for seventh and eighth will perhaps come down to Phoenix vs. Dallas vs. Memphis. I’ll go with youth over experience. Dallas will be the odd ones out, while the surprising Suns and gritty Memphis will use the advantage of more spring in their step at the last stretch of the long season to survive for the playoffs.

The best trade deadline move? Despite recent struggles, Indiana’s trade for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen for Danny Granger was the best move. Indiana didn’t need Granger to become the top team in the East, he was just a bonus. In exchange for him, they’ve received a player who averaged 17-6 per game and a decent backup big man. Turner’s value will truly show when he steps up as the troubleshooting option in Lance Stephenson’s inconsistent moments in the postseason.

Akshay Manwani
Writer, NBA India
Akshay's Predictions

Lin or Beverley? While the Rockets have done well with Beverley of late, who do you think will be a better solution as a starter for the playoffs? Beverley for sure. He is the Rockets’ best perimetere defender, a relentless gnat for opposition players. Also, since Beverley’s return from injury in the second-half of January, the Rockets have gone 14-4, which has propped them up to third place in the Western Conference standings. Also, Lin, coming off the bench, keeps Houston’s offense going while the starters rest. I like Lin, but Beverley, for certain, gets the nod ahead of him.

No present and no future - how do the Knicks fix themselves? It’s been a long, long time since the Knicks had a deep postseason run and I don’t see anything happening soon what with Amar’e Stoudemire’s huge contract and Carmelo Anthony’s decision to explore free agency. The only way then the Knicks fix themselevs is in the long term, by being patient and more circumspect.

Portland's shaky defense, and how to win in the playoffs? I never saw Portland being better than the top 4 teams as they are now in the West and to that extent, wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t go beyond the first round. There’s no embarassment in losing to any one of the Thunder, the Spurs, the Rockets or the Clippers – all of whom have enough firepower to dismantle Portland no matter what improvements the Trail Blazers make on defense.

The Pacers are 7-5 in their last 12 games while the Miami Heat have gone 10-2 in the same stretch. Can the Pacers really challenge the Heat? I would probably consider Indiana’s recent slump as some kind of a minor mid-season blip, probably originating from chemistry issues after the Danny Granger trade, and nothing more. When you have the kind of talent the Pacers have, they will challenge the Heat on any given night, particulalry in the playoffs. However, should the Pacers’ recent struggles give Miami home-court advantage in the playoffs, it will be somewhat of a psychological win for the Heat, given Indiana’s early-season commitment to that goal.

Phoenix vs Dallas vs Memphis - Who gets the last two spots in the West? It may well come down to Dallas and Memphis’ finals two games against each other and the Phoenix Suns. For now, though, Dallas have to play the fewest games away from home, but that doesn’t necessarily make the schedule any better for them given the elite teams that they host down the stretch. On the other hand, Memphis and Phoenix, even though they play more games on the road than at home, have easier opponents. I would go with them ahead of Dallas.

The best trade deadline move? I really do believe that the Clippers made two significant moves at the trade deadline by landing Danny Granger and Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis after his contract was bought out by Orlando. Both moves significantly deepen the Clippers’ bench strength, without the franchise having given much away. Granger could be a steal if he rediscovers his game with the Clippers while Davis brings with him playoff mettle and commitment to defense. Not one specific move, but well done Clippers.