4X4 With CLNS Media: A Weekly Discussion on the Boston Celtics and the NBA

This new weekly segment brings together the CLNS Media Celtics content team to discuss the latest in professional basketball news.

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Who won the Blake Griffin trade?  

Hunter Perkins: This one’s interesting, and I think it’s pretty clear that injuries and free agency will define who the winners and losers of this blockbuster are. Blake Griffin, when healthy, is an animal. Him and Andre Drummond easily make up one of the best frontcourts in the league, and they complement each other pretty well. The real question is does he want to stay, or even play, in Detroit? With the Clippers, they garnered two proven players that are still relatively young. Avery Bradley is a great on ball defender and in the right system can be a perfect cog. Tobias Harris is underrated and can do a lot of the things necessary to win games. Honestly, I liked the trade from both sides, but we won’t know who the winner is for a while. If I had to choose right now I would say Detroit won. Blake is there for four more years and hopefully they will be able to attract another big name or two.

Cory Prescott: Blake Griffin was perhaps the best player during the 2014-15 playoffs, putting up numbers only known to the great Oscar Robertson. Since then, he – like the Clippers franchise as a whole – has been snake bitten with injuries and self-inflicted maladies. Although his numbers look good on the surface this season, he’s clearly not the same player. And at age 28, he’s lost the one thing that separated him from the pack – his out-of-this-world athleticism. The Clippers get out from Griffin’s $171 million contract and get decent assets to boot, making them slight winners in this blockbuster trade.

Matt Gignac: The Clippers won this trade hands down. Despite the loss of Griffin and his max money on the books for the next couple years, L.A. is back in rebuilding mode, or maybe more importantly, recruiting LeBron James mode. As for Detroit, if there is a coach in the league that can manage a frontcourt of Drummond and Griffin, old Stan Van is on the shortlist.

Mike Walsh: Blake…Oh, you were looking for a team? The Detroit Pistons brought a superior talent to the weaker conference. ESPN’s preseason player ranking had Blake at No. 24, with only six Eastern Conference players ranked higher (one of which was Gordon Hayward). I want no part of the Griffin-Drummond Pistons in the playoffs.

Should we worry about Jaylen Brown’s and Jayson Tatum’s recent skids?

Perkins: You kind of knew we were going to have to talk about this at some point this season. I mean, you can’t (feasibly) rely on a 21-and 19-year old to give you consistent scoring the entire season. Brown and Tatum have exceeded a lot of people’s expectations this season. All it takes is one game and fans are back to thanking the basketball gods that the Celtics have them. Brown helped hold Kevin Durant to 20 points on Saturday while also putting up an efficient 20 himself (6-9 from the field, 3-4 from deep, 5-6 from the charity stripe.) Jayson Tatum has been struggling since he jammed that finger. Look for the All-Star break to be great for both players as they look to get back on track.

* Kristaps Porzingis is wondering why Jaylen Brown is not in the dunk contest.

Prescott: Rookie and sophomore slumps happen. It’s atypical for young players to be consistently great – they’re young for a reason! I’m not concerned about either Brown or Tatum. The all-star break provides players with nine days of rest, and perhaps most importantly, Brad Stevens’ team structure puts every player in a position to succeed. Considering the Celtics will use the Designated Player Exception and possibly other assets to add proven talent, Boston’s deep roster will help carry Tatum and Brown through the finish line this season.

Gignac: Trials & tribulations are what is to come and what is to be expected from both Brown & Tatum at various points in their young NBA journey. The physical and mental grind of the NBA season can create lapses on any given night, but within Stevens’ system of next-man-up basketball, there is such little time to take your foot off the gas when performance is everything in a system of winning. On a given night when they may not have a solid scoring touch – but are relied on heavily – these two athletic freaks can affect the game in different ways. And isn’t that all we really want?

Walsh: Tatum was never going to be sustainable for a kid who had probably never played more than 35 games in a season. Stevens is smart with minutes, but this is a lot for the kid and there just isn’t any way to give him more blow without seriously hampering the team. Brown thinking he is an All-Star is more concerning to me than his meh performance of late. Jesus, the East is really that starved? Did I mention Blake Griffin won the Blake Griffin trade? I mean, it’s named after him.

Is LeBron the greatest player you’ve watched play in your lifetime? (he became the fastest player to score 30,000 points)

Perkins: Yeah, and it’s not close. I’m 23-years old and missed out on the golden era of basketball. I missed MJ, Magic, Bird – all of those guys. Instead, I have watched LeBron dominate literally every year. LeBron is like a really nice Swiss Army knife but on steroids. I don’t like the guy. But man, the Cavaliers would easily be one of the worst teams in the league without James. I love jabbing at Cleveland and their struggles this season, but Playoff LeBron is a different animal. He’s simply the greatest I have ever seen.

  1. Lebron
  2. KD
  3. Kobe
  4. Duncan / Garnett
  5. Steph

Prescott: Tim Duncan is one of the best teammates ever – leaps and bounds better than Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James – but when going through my library of greatest players I’ve seen play, it has to be LeBron. I watched Jordan late in his Bulls career (and during his Wizards tenure as well), but have gotten to enjoy James intently since he was a senior in high school. There are no comparisons to the 33-year old, 6’8, 250-pound James. Considering that LeBron is still perhaps at his best in year No. 15, he’s the greatest player I’ve ever seen play.

Gignac: Despite glimpses and astounding moments from Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and an aging MJ—LeBron James is the player that no matter the organization, coach, or teammates around him, can single handedly control, dominate, and conquer a team or even league on both sides of the floor with relative ease. Through unbelievable physical tools and a mental game that no opponent has today, LeBron and his now hard-to-fathom 15-year NBA career have defied his critics by truly becoming the moniker given to him as a teenager, The Chosen One.

Walsh: Please, dude can’t carry Tom Brady’s pack of Spalding inflation needles. On the basketball court, though? For sure. As much as I can’t stand Nick Wright’s delivery and as vague as my memories of MJ are, I’m with Wright here. LeBron is the greatest basketball player ever. He’s MJ and Magic with the body of a refrigerator.

Super Bowl prediction?

Perkins: One team has the GOAT, while the other team’s quarterback looks like a goat. 38-31 Patriots.

Prescott: Pats 28 – Eagles 27 The Jaguars game took years off my life. I’m not ready for this.

Gignac: Patriots knock off the Eagles and take it 28-24…*knocking on wood*

Walsh: Patriots 24, Eagles 21. I look forward to another night of total misery that ends in unbridled joy.

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