NBA Roundtable: Which Team has the Best Young Core?
NBA Roundtable: Which Team has the Best Young Core?

This article is part of our NBA Roundtable series.

Welcome to the Week 10 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 DeMarcus Cousins, best young cores, and more.

DeMarcus Cousins went through a full practice earlier this week and is on track to be back within the next few weeks. How do you envision Cousins' return impacting the fantasy value of the Warriors' other four All-Stars?

James Anderson: I don't think it will impact anyone in any noticeable way. He won't be getting more than 20-25 minutes, and their depth is so atrocious that this will allow them to give guys like Klay and KD some rest they haven't been getting, which could have positive ramifications.

Nick Whalen: The onus is going to be on Cousins to fit in with the Warriors, not the other way around. So I think we'll see a different version of Cousins than the one we've seen in Sacramento and New Orleans. With that in mind, I'm not too concerned about Kevin Durant or Steph Curry ceding possessions to Cousins, who will likely do a lot of his damage playing with the second unit.

Ken Crites: It sure won't help. I'm already smarting about low the return I'm getting on my Draymond Green investment. On a more positive note, Cousins did average a career-high 5.4 assists per game last year with the Pelicans. He can pass.

Shannon McKeown: Both Green and Thompson will see a slight downgrade once Cousins joins the rotation, but I don't think his return will negatively impact the fantasy value of Durant or Curry. Basically, it's almost time to part with Kevin Looney, but not much else to worry about here. I can't imagine Cousins will play average more than 25 mpg in the regular season , but playoffs could be another story.

Mike Barner: Considering how much time he has missed, I think it's going to be a while before he's playing any sort of significant minutes. However, once he does, the player it could impact the most is Draymond Green. I expect Green to not only see a decrease in rebounds, but also generate fewer assists.

Alex Barutha:I don't anticipate his presence affecting Steph, Klay, KD or Draymond. I think the Warriors will ease him in and try to get him to play the role of a distributor, three-point shooter and hustle guy. If he tries to expand beyond that and breaks the mold of the team in a bad way, I just don't think he'll play at all.

Jeff Edgerton: I think his addition is invaluable to the team overall, but Draymond Green's role could diminish with a bona fide star at the five. Curry could be the biggest beneficiary with a big target to boost his assist totals.

Are the Pacers, owners of the second-best defense in the NBA, a legitimate threat to the top-four teams in the East?

Anderson: It depends how the bracket shakes out. I can't see them beating Toronto or Boston in a playoff series, but they could definitely win their first-round series, and then if they get the Bucks in Round 2, I could see that going six or seven games and the Pacers pulling it out.

Whalen: The Pacers are firmly the fifth-best team in the East, but they're significantly closer to the top-four than they are to the Detroit/Charlotte/Miami tier. Could Indiana win a first-round playoff series? Sure. But I don't think they're a legitimate threat to Toronto or Boston, in particular.

Crites: The Pacers are just as likely as Philly to make the East Finals. This is really just me being negative about Philadelphia. The Sixers' lack of both depth and outside shooting are serious problems.

McKeown: No. Indiana will put up a fight, like they did against Cleveland last season, but they can't compete with the big four in the Eastern Conference, assuming those teams are healthy.

Barner: I think they could beat the Bucks and Sixers, but I don't think there is a chance they could beat the Raptors or Celtics. The Celtics just have too much depth and the Raptors are a superior team as long as Kawhi Leonard stays healthy.

Barutha: No. The Pacers are a good team but there's just not much upside for playoff success when your second-best player is either Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis.

Edgerton: Any speculation about the Pacers making the finals is a bit of a stretch. Their defense may be stingy, but the offense flows through Oladipo and he's had trouble staying healthy. They also lack quality depth behind him – Tyreke Evans has been wildly ineffective off the bench.

If you're an NBA GM, which young core would you rather have going forward: Lakers, Suns, Bulls, Hawks, or Kings?

Anderson: I'd take the Mavericks over all five of those, but I guess I'll go Kings just because Fox seems like easily the best young player on any of those teams and I love Bogdanovic.

Whalen: Probably the Suns, which is pretty remarkable considering they've whiffed on at least five lottery picks since 2012, in addition to trading Bogdan Bogdanovic, who's looking like a key piece to the Kings' future. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton haven't contributed to many wins, but they're among the most valuable under-23 pieces in the league. Plus, Phoenix has cap flexibility and unlike the Kings – who would probably be my second choice – the Suns own all of their own picks going forward. They'll also get a pick from Milwaukee at some point as part of the Eric Bledsoe deal.

Crites: I can't believe I'm typing this, but the Kings. That said, Sacramento will find a way to mess it up. I wonder what they could get for Willie Cauley-Stein at the trade deadline.

McKeown: "Young core" rules out the Lakers for me, since you wouldn't be able to factor in LeBron. I'm not a smart man, but I will hesitantly side with the Suns. Booker and Ayton could be terrifying in a couple years, especially if they add another legitimate stud in the 2019 draft. Meanwhile, Josh Jackson and Mikal Bridges should develop into solid complementary pieces.

Barner: I'll take the Bulls young trio of Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Wendell Carter Jr. I'm not sold on Kris Dunn being their starting point guard of the future, but I think they might be able to have success with him there if they can improve at small forward.

Barutha: The Suns. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton both have tangible All-NBA upside. I don't feel as confident about any other two-man pair from that group of teams.

Edgerton: That's a tough call, but I really like the future for John Collins in Atlanta. Trae Young needs to grow into his role and while I think they are a year or two away from contending, they have a better chance of breaking through in the East.

Whether it's due to performance, lack of opportunity, or another situational factor, which rookie has been the most disappointing to you?

Anderson:Kevin Knox. I wasn't all that high on him, but I still thought he'd look better than he does. I don't see him ever being the third-best player on a good team.

Whalen:Trae Young has been awful for the last month, but that's not a huge surprise. I'll go with Harry Giles. I know he's technically part of the 2017 class, but after sitting out last season I expected him to have a much bigger role in Sacramento. He fell out of the rotation early on and really doesn't seem close to making an impact this season.

Crites: Mo Bamba, and it's 100% due to lack of opportunity. What is Orlando doing? Even a high school coach would be smart enough to stop drafting seven footers and focus on a point guard. The Magic – the Sacramento Kings of the East.

McKeown:Miles Bridges, mainly due to the lack of opportunity he's received in Charlotte. The Hornets have been more competitive than expected, and as a result, they've handed a lot of minutes to Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and other veterans. Eventually the team needs to pass the baton to Bridges.

This is also a good opportunity to mention you shouldn't get to down on rookies in your dynasty leagues. We should learn a lesson from De'Aaron Fox's sophomore breakout – The NBA is hard and it takes time to adjust. Some of these rookie disappoints won't break out until Year 2 or 3.

Barner:Trae Young has been pretty bad. His averages of 15.5 points and 7.1 assists per game look nice, but he's also averaged 3.9 turnovers and is shooting 38 percent from the field. He's been even worse from behind the arc, shooting a measly 25 percent.

Barutha:Wendell Carter Jr. He just can't stay out of foul trouble to play 30 minutes. When he actually reaches that threshold, he averages 11.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and a combined 2.7 blocks/steals.

Edgerton:Marvin Bagley is the biggest disappointment at this point. At the beginning of the season it looked like he was a lock for a starting role, but that opportunity failed to materialize. He's also struggled to stay healthy enough to make an impact.

Both Memphis and the L.A. Clippers have swooned over the last two weeks. Is either team still a legitimate playoff threat in the West, or was it all just an early-season mirage?

Anderson: I don't think either team could win a first-round playoff series and I wouldn't be surprised at all if neither team even gets in at this point.

Whalen: Both teams benefited from other Western Conference teams getting off to slow starts, and now that things have begun to stabilize, the Clippers and Grizzlies are looking more like the teams we thought they'd be. I wouldn't be shocked if either team makes the playoffs, but it might be in the Clippers' best interest to sell off an asset or two at the deadline, rather than chase a chance at being swept the Warriors.

Crites: I bet both make the playoffs and both lose in the first round. I don't see how either team does better than a No. 6 seed, which probably means they're overmatched.

McKeown: No, I don't consider either team a true threat in the West. Nor is Sacramento or Dallas. I will be amazed if any team outside of Golden State, Denver, OKC, Lakers, Houston, Portland or Utah advances to the second round of the playoffs.

Barner: If either team makes the playoffs, it will likely be as the seventh or eighth seed. That means they could play the Warriors, Nuggets, Lakers or Thunder. I don't like their chances of beating any of those four squads.

Barutha: I don't think so. If I had to pick between the two, I'd lean Grizzlies just because of Conley/Gasol.

Edgerton: I think the Clippers still have what it takes to compete. They play at a fast pace and have a lot of bench depth. They've taken a hit recently with Lou Williams out of the lineup, but when he returns I think they'll be back on track.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. 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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