In this Q&A, Kelly Scaletta talks tips on becoming an acclaimed writer in the sports industry. We talked strategy and about what’s next for him. Lastly, BASKETBALL TALK. Enjoy!
Although the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers squared off in the NBA finals for the past two years, both teams have made adjustments to improve their roster. As you witnessed in Game 1, the Warriors annihilated the Cavs. Golden State adjustments shined the brightest in the first game of the finals.
First, and foremost, Golden State and Cleveland are the best in their own respective conference. However, changes were made to their roster specifically to compete against each other in the finals.
The Warriors made an ultimate upgrade at the small forward position, while the Cavaliers upgraded their bench with great offensive veterans. Even though Kevin Durant joined the Warriors, LeBron James hasn’t shown any signs of regression to give in to the Warriors. Both teams’ records are 1–1 in the finals against each other.
When the Championship game is over, the NBA community never dries out; that’s when the fun begins! In the offseason, trades/signings and the draft will start as soon as the winner has risen their trophy.
This offseason should be interesting for the NBA world. One of the main reasons is because this draft class arguably has the most talented players since James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, etc., in the 2004 draft class.
Other than the draft, star players like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Paul George will possibly be in a different uniform this summer.
With all of that said, former Chicagoan in Texas, Kelly Scaletta of Bleacher Report and FanRags, joined me to talk about the possible landing spots for those players, NBA draft, and the NBA finals.
Jonathan Bates: Before I start to ask sports related questions, Kelly, how did you thrive to become such an acclaimed sports writer? Everybody I know always brings up your name up when talking sports articles. What’s the secret or tips to writing unordinary unique sports articles?
Kelly Scaletta– Now that you have described me as acclaimed, I’m going to add that to my resume!
All I can tell you is my approach to writing. I think there’s a lot of “stats vs. eye test” discussions that happen. I think you need some of both. So when I’m writing, I try and back every point with some of both.
Bates: You’ve been putting in work for over five-plus years as a writer. You’ve written for now Bleacher Report, BBallBreakdwon, FanRagsports, Fansided, Hoops Habit, Huffington Post and The Cauldron. Are there still some goals you want to accomplish or try in your career that you haven’t done yet?
Scaletta– My next goal is to write a book, which is something I’m currently working on. It’s a book about how basketball has evolved over the years from the game that John Naismith invented in 1891 to the present, and how the stars and rules shaped one another to get to this point.
NBA Finals Questions
Bates: After Game 1, what’s your prediction on the series and what was your prediction before game 1?
Scaletta– Before the playoffs started, I predicted the Warriors would go “Fo, fo, fo, fo” and nothing I’ve seen so far these playoffs has changed that.
Bates: Durant outplayed LeBron James, do you believe he will sustain some same level of play throughout the series?
Scaletta– I don’t know if Durant will keep that up. I don’t know that he needs to. The problem with Golden State is that you have to give them something; they are smart to enough attack what you give them and capable enough to do it well. The Cavs will do something to adjust to Durant going to the rim the way he did, but that will open up the 3-point line.
Bates: If you were in Tyron Lue shoes, what would you do to adjust to this super team?
Scaletta- Pray. Hard.
Bates: You’ve lived long enough to see numerous championships team, where do the Warriors rank if they annihilate the Cavaliers?
Scaletta– They’d have to be up there with the ’96 Bulls as one of the greatest teams ever. Their record is 251-53 over a three-year time frame, regular and postseason. That’s just crazy.
Bates: If LeBron James manages to defeat this super-duper Warriors team, would you think of putting King James over MJ or close to?
Scaletta– I’m just going to say I’ve only ever seen one player in history dominate the way LeBron has this postseason, and his name was Michael Jordan. Bu Jordan’s legacy isn’t six rings or 6-0 in the Finals; it’s six Finals MVPs. I don’t know if James would have to get to six to surpass Jordan, but he needs one or two more. I also think we also forget about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in this conversation, whom I have no. 2. If James won this year, I’d bump him over Kareem.
NBA Draft Questions
Bates: Let’s shift towards the offseason and teams expectations and needs. I saw your article, “Could LaVar Ball cause Lonzo Ball to drop in the 2017 draft?” At the first round with the number two draft pick, do you believe the Lakers will not draft Ball because of his distracting oriented father?
Scaletta– Not the Lakers. It seems they’re pretty enamored with him. I think if another team had the second pick, it might have caused them to think twice. It’s also worth pointing out that LaVar has stayed out of the locker room and that Lonzo seems to be less brash.
Bates: The Suns have one of the most exciting young players in basketball, Devin Booker. The Suns are in the fourth spot first round in the draft, who do you think the Suns will draft to pair up with Devin Booker?
Scaletta– I think they should take Jayson Tatum with that pick, assuming that he’s still there. The Suns have all kinds of guards. They need wings. Tatum should be a nice fit.
Bates: De’Aaron Fox, possibly a future stud in this league, has been getting John Wall comparisons from around the league, where do you see Fox going and which team would he fit best on? Everybody wants to know Fox or Ball, who is better and who will have a better career in the NBA.
Scaletta– I’m not a draft expert, but those I’ve read and talked to who are tell me Ball is the better option here. Fox outplayed him in the tournament game, but that’s a bit of an oversimplification. I don’t want to pretend I know what I’m talking about with college ball, so that’s all I’ll say about that.
Bates: Enough of the draft Kelly. Let’s talk about free agency. One of the most talked about the team heading into the offseason is the New York Knicks. Where do you see Carmelo Anthony taking his talents to in the summer?
Scaletta– The Knicks are in a bind. How do you get fair trade value back from ‘Melo? He’s got a year and an option left on his contract, which is around $27 million per year. That means to acquire him; another team is going to have to send back $27 million worth of player(s).
Who have the players to send back and offer a reasonable return in the process? Are the Knicks really ready to take Austin Rivers back as the main piece in an Anthony trade? And then Anthony can veto any trade, as well. I think he’s in New York next year, just because I don’t see where the trade happens.
Bates: As you know Kelly, Derrick Rose just came off another tragically torn meniscus surgery. What team do you see giving Rose another chance and how would his contract look?
Scaletta– I think Rose goes to a secondary market team hoping to sell tickets. Or possibly the Sixers? Not sure, really. Maybe the Kings are dumb enough to overpay him.
Bates: Once again, the Raptors couldn’t get past King James, is it time for a rebuild and let Lowry walk? The Raptors have young guys like Norman Powell, who needs more attention.
Scaletta– I think they have to try and keep going with what they have. If every team in the East starts rebuilding for the post-LeBron era, the East would be even weaker. Yikes!
Bates: Players like Chris Paul, Paul George, Blake Griffin and Jimmy Butler seems to have a lot of interest from teams. All four players have a good chance of being in another city this summer. Can you rank them?
Scaletta– Of those, the most likely to end up elsewhere is Paul George. He’s not happy, and he has tremendous trade value. Blake Griffin is next. If the Clippers are going to change at all, that’s probably where they try and figure something out since they did well enough without him last year. Chris Paul is leaving too much money on the table to go somewhere, but maybe he wants to win. The Bulls seem too content to trade Jimmy.
Bates: Just like you, I grew up in Chicago liking Chicago teams; however, I love the Cubs and disliked the Cardinals. I know some of your Cubs friends were bashing you in 2015 when the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the NLDS and won the World Series last year. What made you decide to be a Cardinals fan instead of your hometown team?
Scaletta– I actually didn’t grow up in Chicago. I moved there when I was 29 and lived there for 15 years, though, which is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere.
I was living in North Dakota when I started following baseball. I was listening to the scores on the radio and they said: “The St. Louis Cardinals lost to…” So I ran upstairs, opened up the paper and saw the Cards were in the last place. But a deal was a deal, so they were my favorite team.
That winter they traded my favorite player, Gary Templeton, for a guy who couldn’t hit named Ozzie Smith. Needless to say, I ended up liking the trade.
One of Kellys’ famous quotes – Why would I want a lifetime of disappointment and discouragement?