Scoring Caleb Swanigan's Fits On All 30 NBA Teams

Scoring Caleb Swanigan's Fits On All 30 NBA Teams

This is 6,000 words about Caleb Swangian’s fit with every NBA team, including notes on each team’s playing style, contract situation, draft status, and frontcourt depth. I’m all out of words, so this introduction is going to consist of only these words:

Biggie seems like a relic of past NBA years, with low post dominance, rebounding, and a nice jumper to complement awful perimeter defense. If you put DeJuan Blair, Tyler Hansbrough, and Jared Sullinger into a blender, and added a potential three-point shot, you’d get Biggie. You’d think it would be a risk to draft him, as the NBA has seemingly left his style behind (moving away from bruising post play, favoring bigs that can switch easily onto guards). But then you get to his motor, work ethic, and willingness to take on a smaller role to help the team win.

I’m convinced Biggie will enter the NBA with a veteran’s sensibilities, an incredible work ethic, and a base of skills that he can build into a solid 7-9 year NBA career. His style would fit better with some teams, of course, but I have an extremely hard time imagining Biggie will flame out of the NBA like other successful college forwards.

And, with no further ado, here’s how Biggie Swanigan would fit with all 30 NBA teams, starting with pick #24 (the highest he’s been on most mock drafts). The NBA draft is on June 22nd. 

Go ahead and CTRL+F your favorite team, I've got it covered.

 

Categories:

  • Offensive fit (1 being worst, 5 being best)
  • Defensive fit (1 being worst, 5 being best)
  • Coaching staff development and organizational culture (1 being poor, 5 best)


Total score:

Sorted by draft pick:

 

Sorted by top score:

 

5 best NBA fits for Caleb Swanigan:

Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat

5 worst NBA fits for Caleb Swanigan:

Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers

 


#24, #30, #42, #55: Utah Jazz                                                               Fit Score: 13/15

Offensive Fit: 4/5

Defensive Fit: 4/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 5/5

The Jazz are at a crossroads this summer. On one hand, they’re poised to be one of the most promising non-Warriors teams in the west, and reached the second round of the playoffs on the backs of fantastic seasons from their core of George Hill, Gordon Hayward, and Rudy Gobert. But Hill and Hayward are both free agents this summer, and it’s a 50/50 proposition that they’ll be able to stave away competition (read: San Antonio for Hill and Boston for Gordon). But regardless of the Hill/Hayward decisions, Utah might be an ideal setup for Swanigan to slide in.

Barring a trade, there will be a one year overlap with incumbent PF Derrick Favors, but that might not be a bad fallback plan for the Jazz’s money-crunching summer (if they resign Hayward and Hill). Boris Diaw is currently the backup PF, on a team option for next year, and might be a perfect person for Biggie to study to improve his playmaking. Gobert and Jeff Withey both posted fantastic rim protection numbers, and could be relief valves for Biggie on the defensive end. Competition with Trey Lyles, however, might limit opportunity on a roster that needs immediate production if they restock their talent this summer. But organizationally, I think this could be a perfect fit. Utah is a team of adults, Quinn Snyder is a tremendous coach for young players, and regardless of the free agent decisions Utah is in play to be one of the best landing spot for Biggie.

 

#25, #33, #35: Orlando Magic                                                              Fit Score: 5/15

Offensive Fit: 2/5

Defensive Fit: 1/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 2/5

More than anything, Orlando needs consistency. Ever since the Dwight Howard trade, Orlando has been looking for its young pieces (Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nic Vucevic) to set an organizational tone. Unfortunately, none of those players achieved levels of reliability the Magic needed, and a series of trades and signings have left a glut at power forward. Gordon is the cornerstone, but Bismack Biyombo has 3 years/$17M per year on his contract, Vucevic is nobody’s idea of a rim protector, and Payton hasn’t morphed into the playmaking point guard Orlando was hoping could pull along its recent draft picks. Frank Vogel is a great defensive development coach, so they make up a point there, but Orlando is currently transitioning its front office and somewhat of a mess going in to the 2017 draft. Biggie could help set a culture, and would definitely carve out a niche with Vogel, but this feels like a dead end franchise barring a massive change in fortunes.

 

#26: Portland Trailblazers                                                                     Fit Score: 9/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 2/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 4/5

(The Blazers also own picks 15 and 20.)

Portland was in a tough position last summer. They had two fantastic backcourt pieces in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and a handful of young productive talent that led them to a surprise second round playoff appearance. Unfortunately for their front office, most of that young talent needed new contracts, and the NBA salary cap exploded. Portland ended up with the second highest payroll in the league (behind Cleveland), with players like Allen Crabbe, Festus Ezeli, Evan Turner, Anderson Varejao, Moe Harkless, and Ed Davis eating a good chunk of their salary. Portland primarily plays with McCollum or Lillard on the floor at all times, surrounded by three versatile wings and one center (either Meyers Leonard or the acquired Jusuf Nurkic). Though this is a promising young team with needs in the frontcourt and a great offensive coach in Terry Stotts, the style of play might not be a great fit for Biggie. If Swanigan can develop into a bruiser that can effectively space the floor and switch flawlessly on pick and rolls (compensating for Lillard and McCollum’s poor defense), he’d be an ideal Draymond Green-esque piece the Blazers have been desperately searching for. Unfortunately, I see PNR defense as a hole Biggie’s unmatched work ethic might not be able to improve upon.

 

#27, #57: Brooklyn Nets                                                                        Fit Score:

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 2/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 4/5

(Brooklyn also owns pick #22.)

Brooklyn mortgaged their future in 2013 to slot three NBA champions in Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry alongside Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez to take a crack at LeBron James’ Miami Heat dynasty in the eastern conference. Unfortunately, Pierce had just passed his expiration date and aged like milk, and KG hated the deadness in Deron’s eyes, and Jason Terry was super washed (yet is still getting 2017 professional basketball minutes in Milwaukee), and Joe Jesus was all of us and just wanted to collect his checks and not be bothered. It’s left Brooklyn without anything to build around in 2017, making its recouped draft picks incredibly valuable for second year coach Kenny Atkinson and GM Sean Marks. Taking a swing for a potential slipping star at #22 (like Harry Giles or one of the handful of foreign prospects this year) seems like a sure thing for Brooklyn, so Biggie was ruled out at that pick. But at #27, Brooklyn might want a young locker room presence, some guaranteed rebounding, and a possible backup to Brook Lopez as a low post scorer. Though it seemed to be NBA purgatory before the new GM and HC stepped in last summer, and their defense is horrendous, Brooklyn might love to have a presence like Swanigan to help their long franchise reset. Us Purdue fans might have to get ready to imagine Biggie relegated to the desert that is the Nets.

 

#28: Los Angeles Lakers                                                                        Fit Score: 5/15

Offensive Fit: 2/5

Defensive Fit: 1/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 2/5

Oh, the Lakers. In between courting every potential free agent in the league, and probably somehow tampering with Paul George’s trade value, the new GM tandem of Magic Johnson and former agent Rob Pelinka are looking to turnaround a 26 win team that doesn’t own its first round pick in 2018 (shoutout to the Steve Nash trade). Barring a surprise, or a massive trade, they’ll grab Lonzo Ball with the #2 overall pick and immediately slot him in the starting lineup alongside guards Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell, wing of the future (or trade-bait sensation) Brandon Ingram, and an uninspiring frontcourt of Julius Randle and…uuh…a literal palm tree as center.

The Lakers are poised for a trade this summer, and even if it’s not a blockbuster the entire league knows that the Russell, Ingram, Randle, and the #28 pick are on the board. But, without the aforementioned trade, slotting Biggie on this roster would be somewhat of a disaster. They have precisely zero defenders, not a drop of rim protection, and Julius Randle is functionally what Caleb Swanigan projects to be at the NBA level. Luke Walton is a fine coach, I guess, but boy would LA be a bad fit without a massive change.

 

#29, #59: San Antonio Spurs                                                                Fit Score: 12/15

Offensive Fit: 4/5

Defensive Fit: 3/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 5/5

Here’s my usual spiel on the Spurs: Gary, Indiana’s own Gregg Popovich is the best coach in modern NBA history, they’re the best culture in the league, they’ve been the best organization in the association for the past two decades, and they’re building around a top 5 NBA player in Kawhi Leonard…but, Pop has been known to be ruthless to rookies, has an incredibly short leash for mistake-prone young players, and is a very dangerous spot for any rookie to drop in and hope to stick around. I loved previous Boilermaker bigs JaJuan Johnson and AJ Hammons, but wanted them to avoid being drafted by San Antonio like the plague.

And yet…….

Swanigan will be a different breed of NBA rookie than JJ or AJ. He’s perfectly built to withstand Pop’s coaching style, has modeled his game after Tim Duncan since high school (while rivaling most of his college records), and a great fit for the role that David Lee played this year. The Spurs almost exclusively still play with two-big lineups, and will be looking to shed salary as they pursue a bigger-name free agent at the point guard position. Landing a potentially productive rookie big like Swanigan to fill gaps of potential trade targets Pau Gasol and David Lee would be ideal for the Spurs. The one takeaway is that San Antonio has been prioritizing athleticism with some of their recent rookies (Kyle Anderson notwithstanding), they desperately need bench rim protection to complement LaMarcus Aldridge, and Biggie’s turnover issue might drive Pop into an early grave. But even with all that, Swanigan and the Spurs might be destined for each other.

 

#31, #60: Atlanta Hawks                                                                       Fit Score: 10/15

Offensive Fit: 4/5

Defensive Fit: 2/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 4/5

Kris Humphries. Ryan Kelly. Ersan Ilyasova. All soon-to-be free agent power forwards with the ability to score on the low block, can keep defenses honest from distance, and are possess quite horrific defensive talent. And yet…all of them, in the same Hawks rotation, produced decent defensive numbers (the bench was fantastic at limiting shot opportunities), scored at a respectable pace, needs rebounding help, and attempted to compliment the youth movement in Atlanta (Dennis Schroeder, Taurean Prince, Tim Hardaway, DeAndre Bembry). Coach Mike Budenholzer, a longtime Spurs alum, molded this band of mediocre older power forwards to backup Paul Millsap, who will get an extremely healthy contract this summer to be one of the better two-way true PFs in the association.

All of this to say, Coach Bud and the Atlanta staff have a somewhat odd match of roster talent. Dwight, Millsap (if resigned), and Bazemore are around 30; Schroeder, Bembry, Prince, Hardaway are closer to 20. The 5-man lineup that all made the All-Star team seems like a generation ago in Atlanta, and a power forward of Swanigan’s disposition is a yet-to-be-filled hole. They might prefer an athletic center with upside higher than Mike Muscala with #31, but Swanigan wouldn’t be a bad addition.

It would be boring, like most things Atlanta. But it wouldn’t be bad.

 

#32, #54: Phoenix Suns                                                                         Fit Score: 5/15

Offensive Fit: 2/5

Defensive Fit: 1/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 2/5

What a weird team. Two super-OK point guards (Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight) and two old men (Tyson Chandler, Jared Dudley) eat up most Phoenix’s salary cap. Their coach (Earl Watson) doesn’t have experience, a system, or a memorable playing career. Their young forwards (Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss) have incredibly high ceilings but can barely play the basket ball in 2017. And neither of their core building blocks, guard Devin Booker or center Alex Len, are much to speak of on the defensive end.

Adding Swanigan would only increase the frontcourt glut, take time away from the development of 2016 top ten picks Chriss and Bender, and wouldn’t contribute to any sort of defensive identity going forward. Tucker brings any locker room benefits Biggie would add to the bunch, solidifying this as a redundant fit. I don’t think Biggie will be on their radar…which obviously means he’s heading to Phoenix.

 

#34: Sacramento Kings                                                                          Fit Score: 6/15

Offensive Fit: 2/5

Defensive Fit: 1/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

The post-Demarcus Cousins age is upon Sacramento, who are looking square into the eyes of their hundredth rebuild since the ultra-fun early-2000s Kings. The only Indian majority owner in the NBA, Vivek Ranadive, makes me sad with an unrelenting frequency. Chainsmoking Vlade Divac isn’t entirely sure what a GM is supposed to do. The culture in Sacramento has been built with no underlying principle, failing to rise from the previous ownership’s awful depths.

And yet…Dave Joerger, former Memphis Grizzlies coach, is an extremely solid coach. Buddy Hield seemed to come into his own after arriving in Sacto, and forward Skal Labissiere blossomed once given more minutes outside Cousins’ shadow. Willie Cauley-Stein is one of the most versatile 7-foot defenders in the league, and they’ve got two top ten picks this year to bolster their wing rotation. Oddly enough, something might be slowly building in Sacramento, but given the glut of young frontcourt options (and the ones drafted-and-stashed abroad) Biggie might not be the versatile wing the Kings are looking for at #34.

 

#36, #39, #46, #50: Philadelphia 76ers                                              Fit Score: 5/15

Offensive Fit: 1/5

Defensive Fit: 1/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 2/5

The Process has led to this point, where Philly is building around the 2017 #3 pick, point forward Ben Simmons, frontcourt depth of superstar/social media God Joel Embiid, Dario Saric aka Toni Kukoc 2.0, and Jahlil “1998 All-Star” Okafor. Coach Brett Brown is good at his job (regardless of Philly’s dismal record these past few years), but a player like Swanigan is the last thing the Sixers need. They’ll be looking for wing athleticism, guards that can get buckets, and a trade partner willing to give up a bag of peanuts for Okafor. Biggie would add a nice bench/locker room touch if Okafor isn’t on the roster, but both would be extremely redundant.

 

#37, #53, #56: Boston Celtics                                                               Fit Score: 10/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 2/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 5/5

Here’s a match that people are talking about, especially given Brad Stevens’ ability to maximize talented and hard-working players. Boston is ripe for a trade, but if they keep the band together they’ve got several great wing defenders (Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown), but desperately need to add a reliable rim protector via free agency or the draft. Rebounding and bench scoring numbers were anemic for Boston down the stretch, and Biggie can be the rare instant-impact rookie if they pair him with a correct combination of defenders (and slot in a halfway-competent rim protector).

The best comparison for Biggie in Boston might be Jared Sullinger’s Celtic years, with a much better jump shot. Sully averaged 13 points/8 rebounds for his last three years with Stevens, enjoying a role much bigger than he probably should have gotten due to Boston’s roster holes. But Sully’s wide frame in the post, putting him in lineups with great wing defenders, and creative sets getting Sully easy dump-off buckets would be a natural spot for Biggie to slide in. Boston is at the point where they don’t need any long-term rookie projects, and Biggie would be able to contribute right away. Turnovers and defense will remain an issue, but Boston might be in position to maximize Biggie’s strengths.

 

#38: Chicago Bulls                                                                                  Fit Score: 7/15

Offensive Fit: 2/5

Defensive Fit: 2/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

Chicago is a weird team. Somehow, they almost coaxed a playoff berth out of a roster devoid of real spacing, and are built around an unbelievable number of frontcourt players that aren’t great defensively but theoretically fit into Fred Hoiberg’s mythical high-tempo offensive system. Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis, and Paul Zipser take up most of the power forward minutes alongside Jimmy Butler, making it pretty tough for Biggie to crack the rotation. They’ll likely be looking to bolster their guard rotation with their draft picks this year, and Swanigan wouldn’t make much sense in Chicago.

 

#40: New Orleans Pelicans                                                                   Fit Score: 9/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 3/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

3/5 for organizational culture might be generous, as Anthony Davis has been the sole reason the Pelicans aren’t the consensus most mismanaged team in the league. (Thank the heavens for the Knicks, Kings, and Nets.) For the foreseeable future, Davis will be flanked in the frontcourt by Demarcus Cousins, and one of the two should be on the floor at all times. Solomon Hill and Omer Asik are eating an obscene amount of cap room, and Cheick Diallo is the only other player on contract that can hope to slot in at power forward. With all due respect to my favorite Boiler basketball player ever, if E’Twaun Moore is your 3rd best player, your team has a dire need for steady production.

The Pelicans at #40 seem to be Biggie’s floor, if mock drafts are to be believed. I don’t mind this fit, as Biggie’s ideal role is off the bench alongside a couple of very solid wing defenders. The PF-C combination with Cousins might be a little odd, but Swanigan-Davis could be fantastic. I don’t hate this fit at all.

 

#41: Charlotte Hornets                                                                         Fit Score: 7/15

Offensive Fit: 2/5

Defensive Fit: 1/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 4/5

Steve Clifford is a great head coach, and often gets the most defensive effort out of lackluster bigs (see Al Jefferson). But man, the roster glut on this team seems pretty rough for Biggie. Miles Plumlee, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, and Frank Kaminsky are all viable (if mediocre, outside Zeller) power forward options….and they’re all on contract for multiple years. They need three point shooting wings, or an athletic rim protector. Biggie doesn’t fit either mold, and even though Michael Jordan loves productive college bigs Swanigan wouldn’t be a great fit alongside all these frontcourt players.

 

#43, #45: Houston Rockets                                                                   Fit Score: 10/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 3/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 4/5

Houston is already one of the most potent scoring rosters in the association, and that’s generally what you would expect when you pair James Harden with Mike D’Antoni. Slotting Biggie in this fast-tempo offense would force him to emphasize conditioning and an outside shot, shooting for the primary backup role to Ryan Anderson. Could Biggie be a bully-version of Anderson if he improves shot consistency, even if he doesn’t have the absurd range? It might be one of the more outlandish questions on this page, but I’m not sure it’s completely out of the question. The Rockets desperately need bench rebounding, and Biggie would provide a great change-of-pace with a bullying mentality that Chinanu Onuaku and Montrezl Harrell don’t provide. Slotting alongside a decent rim protector in Clint Capela would be a great fit, but defense isn’t necessarily a *must* in Houston. This one might be a sneaky-great fit.

 

#44, #58: New York Knicks                                                                   Fit Score: 7/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 3/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 1/5

The Knicks are kind of a mess. Phil Jackson still thinks it’s 1993, Carmelo Anthony hates everything, somehow Joakim Noah still has 3 years and $55 million left on his contract (this isn’t a typo), and Kristaps Porzingis bailed on end-of-season meetings because they were such a mess. But all that being said, Porzingis is one of the best young assets in the league, Willy Hernangomez is a great young running mate forward, and one of Mindaugas Kuzminskas (real name, no gimmicks) or Marshall Plumlee is bound to solidify their long-term frontcourt rotation. They need backcourt youth, takers for Noah and Courtney Lee, and a trade that sends Melo to the Clippers.

If Melo is indeed playing outside Madison Square Garden next year, the Knicks might need another offensive punch off the bench, and Biggie might be a great fit alongside Kristaps and Hernangomez. They already have great bench rebounding, but bolstering a strength with a locker room culture piece like Swanigan is an asset. Any bit of stability is desperately needed on the Knicks.

 

#47: Indiana Pacers                                                                                Fit Score: 8/15

Offensive Fit: 4/5

Defensive Fit: 2/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 2/5

“I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as awful about the Pacers future,” said Michael on our latest podcast. Larry Bird walked away and handed the GM keys to former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard, Frank Vogel was ditched last year in favor of the lackluster Nate McMillan, Paul George is a top ten player that hates the moves Indy has made in recent years, and who knows if the 2017 Pacers will be bottom-feeders after a PG trade or still on the treadmill of mediocrity in the East’s 6th seed yet again.

Either way, the undeniable bright spot is at center. Myles Turner has been fantastic in his first two years as a pro, and might be the perfect description of a player Swanigan would thrive alongside. Having two bigs that can bully inside, keep defenses honest outside, with Swanigan handling thicker defenders and Myles cleaning up everything at the rim? That sounds like a great option for a 2nd quarter lineup. If the Pacers blow it up, trade PG, and opt for youth, I’d love for Biggie to be one of the young’uns Indy uses to rebuild the locker room.

 

#48: Milwaukee Bucks                                                                          Fit Score: 11/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 4/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 4/5

Here’s a spoiler: I love this fit for Biggie. If there were future odds on Eastern Conference teams to get around the LeBron road block, Boston would probably be #1…and Milwaukee would be a close #2. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a 7-foot point guard that shouldn’t be possible for human beings, Jabari Parker is recovering from yet another lower-limb injury but when he’s healthy he professionally gets buckets, Khris Middleton is the perfect 3-and-D wing, John Henson can swat away everything at the rim while standing on the three point arc, and there’s no way around it…Jason Kidd is a tremendous coach. Giannis, Middleton, and Henson are fantastic defenders, and Milwaukee has a host of guards with similar defensive strengths.

Greg Monroe has one more year on contract as the super-6th man, who has gone from borderline All Star to relic of the past incarnation of basketball, and now all the way back to incredibly productive bench player in a great system. This is the prototype for Swanigan to seek to emulate, even though Monroe has a solid two inches on Biggie. A beast in the post, respectable in the mid-range (but never takes threes), and is fine on the boards. I think Biggie would be a perfect long-term replacement for Monroe off the bench, winning minutes from Thon Maker and Mirza Teletovic in the process.

 

#49, #51: Denver Nuggets                                                                    Fit Score: 10/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 4/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

Denver is legitimately three-deep at virtually every position, split 50/50 with youth and veterans. The one concrete building block is Nikola Jokic, the perfect center of the future with this style of the NBA. He’s a great rim protector, a tremendous passer, and a very good shooter with a fantastic basketball IQ, and can play alongside any power forward style, from Kenneth Faried to Juan Hernangomez. Faried is an athletic freak, with a nose for rebounds but a feel for very little else on the floor. Hernangomez is a very good young piece, along with a host of wings for coach Mike Malone to juggle.

Denver is better positioned than any middle-tier team for a trade, upgrading some of their wing depth to a single, All-Star level piece. That would leave a frontcourt hole that Biggie could fill fairly well, particularly for a coach who thrived with Demarcus Cousins in Sacramento. A low-block and floor spacing threat alongside rim protectors in Jokic and Mason Plumlee, plus a host of good backcourt and wing defenders? A potential great fit for Biggie, if he slips this far.

 

#52: Washington Wizards                                                                    Fit Score: 8/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 2/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

Washington finally played up to their talent level this year, reaching the second round of the playoffs on the backs of John Wall and Bradley Beal, with great performances from young complementary pieces in Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, and Markieff Morris. The major frontcourt rotation minutes are occupied by Porter, Morris, Bojan Bogdanovic, Marcin Gortat, and the corpse of Ian Mahinmi, with the former four serving as productive playoff pieces.

Though Biggie would be a welcome cheaper productive piece for Washington, I don’t think he’ll last on the board by #52 and he won’t get the minutes he needs for the Wizards, relegated to the bench until contracts expire in the next two years.

 


Now for teams without a 2017 draft pick in the #24-#60 range. These are teams who can grab Biggie before #24, trading up, buying a pick, or if he somehow goes undrafted.

(Teams are listed in alphabetical order)

 

Cleveland Cavaliers                                                                                Fit Score: 7/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 1/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

LeBron James, LeBron James, LeBron James, LeBron James, also LeBron James and LeBron James. With a dash of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but mostly LeBron James. (Spoiler: It really helps to have the best basketball player on the planet, and one of the three best basketball players ever.)

The Cavs are in need of rookies that can contribute right away on extremely cheap salaries (LeBron, Kyrie, Love, and forward Tristan Thompson will occupy roughly $90 million in 2017-2018), so that poses a slight opportunity for Caleb Swanigan. Unfortunately, they’re continuously retooling with only one team in mind: the Golden State Warriors. Their frontcourt (LeBron, Love, Thompson, Channing Frye) are all tailored towards grabbing infinite rebounds, stretching the floor from beyond the arc, and (most importantly) being able to switch every screen and stay in front of every position. Love is such an overwhelmingly good shooter and rebounder that his lackluster defense of smaller players is mitigated (2016 NBA Finals Game 7 shutting down the unanimous MVP, notwithstanding). Swanigan would be an addition that bolsters their strengths but doesn’t cover any weaknesses, and would be a redundant (but cheap) piece for a team expecting a championship every year.

 

Dallas Mavericks                                                                                     Fit Score: 8/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 2/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

Don’t take that 3/5 for coaching and culture as a shot at head coach Rick Carlisle, who is in the five-man top tier of coaches in the league. But, like I wrote with AJ Hammons last year, Carlisle is one of the coaches well-known for having a short leash with his rookies. Playing through mistakes is necessary for development, and Carlisle (and legend Dirk Nowitzki) desperately want to win during Dirk’s twilight. The reality, though, is that they’re nowhere near good enough to contend now (barring a blockbuster trade) and the best parts of their roster are in their youth movement (Nerlens Noel, Yogi Ferrell, even 25 year old Harrison Barnes).

For Swanigan, the offensive basketball fit is there. The Mavs need a bench scoring punch, an influx of promising and steady young players to set up for the post-Dirk era, and has a good bench defense. The only backups for Dirk at the power forward slot are in Dorian Finney-Smith (who isn’t bad) and Jarrod Uthoff (who will always have a place in my heart but is extremely OK). Though the turnover issues are sure to drive Carlisle mad, I have a feeling that a rookie with Swanigan’s drive is exactly what Dirk is looking for.

 

Detroit Pistons                                                                                        Fit Score: 8/15

Offensive Fit: 2/5

Defensive Fit: 3/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

The drop-off for Andre Drummond’s ceiling these past few years has been precipitous. When coach Stan Van Gundy took the job, Drummond was basically Dwight Howard 2.0 (and that was a compliment): an unstoppable pick-and-roll rim wrecker who could protect the rim with his size and length. Now, it looks like he’s on track to be a worse version of DeAndre Jordan in LA.

That being said, he’s still a viable back-line defender for power forwards who are a half-step slow. Hey, Biggie Swanigan! This is an interesting fit, as Marcus Morris/Kentavious Caldwell-Pope/Stanley Johnson/Henry Ellenson will all see minutes at power forward, but it seems like Stan Van is sick of every single person on his roster (minus maybe Johnson). Matching SVG’s practice insanity with Biggie’s supernatural drive might be great, and Detroit needs to find its identity to reinvent in a crowded middle-of-the-pack Eastern Conference. I’m not sure Biggie would be there target if they trade back into the draft, but the fit is intriguing.

 

Golden State Warriors                                                                          Fit Score: 9/15

Offensive Fit: 2/5

Defensive Fit: 2/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 5/5

Listen, despite my constant shade thrown their way post-Kevin Durant signing, this is the NBA’s standard bearer. The Warriors have accumulated talent almost exclusively through the draft (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green were all drafted/developed by Golden State) before adding KD last summer. They’re on a cakewalk to multiple titles these next couple of years, so why would they needlessly buy back into the draft?

Well...both of their MVPs (Steph and KD) are free agents this year. Steph will almost assuredly be paid $Texas after playing the last four years for a comparatively-paltry $11 million, and Kevin Durant is freaking Kevin Durant. Golden State might have to part ways with Andre Iguodala (too expensive) and David West (gonna be old/washed soon), and will need their cheap rookies to fill those roles seamlessly.  Reliable bench scoring for the 82 game slog of a regular season is what they’ll look for (basically, 2nd/3rd quarter bodies), and their Iggy replacement (Patrick McCaw) and young rim protector (Damian Jones) are already filled for next year. That leaves the need for a David West replacement…and Swanigan could be perfect. He’s turnover-prone, but isn’t averse to the pace-and-space, passing-friendly style Golden State plays. Just like Houston, this spot would force Biggie to develop his outside shot, but man if they’re looking for an easy locker room addition and a West replacement Biggie might be their dude.

 

Los Angeles Clippers                                                                              Fit Score: 7/15

Offensive Fit: 2/5

Defensive Fit: 2/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

As we’ve learned with E’Twaun and JJ, being a rookie for Doc Rivers is a nightmarish purgatory that could make a young’un hate professional basketball. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are both free agents this summer, and though both are expected back in LA next year it still leaves the Clippers with an identity crisis. How do they improve on the last six years, with largely the same group of players? The Clippers under Doc have been allergic to the contributions of rookies, relying instead on washed old bodies like Paul Pierce to carry them through the 82 game marathon. I want Biggie to avoid Doc Rivers with every fiber of my being, but a bench unit with Swanigan and DeAndre Jordan would be a badass front line that only Memphis might be able to counter. He’d be competing with fellow Class of 2015 5-star Diamond Stone, but Biggie has dominated Stone at every moment of their careers so we’re good there.

 

Memphis Grizzlies                                                                                  Fit Score: 12/15

Offensive Fit: 4/5

Defensive Fit: 4/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 4/5

Like Michael and I discussed on the latest Basketball Beat Podcast, the Zach Randolph/Caleb Swanigan comparisons are pretty lazy. ZBo is a freaking ox with the inside touch of an angel, who can’t jump over a single sheet of printer paper but has a unique type of horizontal athleticism that couldn’t be stopped in his prime. Biggie has the same low center of gravity, but ZBo’s ferocity in the paint is otherworldly. ZBo took a while to develop that floor-spacing shot, and Biggie should be able to walk into the association with a decent looking jumper.

But I’m having a fever dream imaging Biggie in Memphis. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley are the paragons of professionalism and toughness, and coach David Fizdale matches the grit/grind ethos in a picture-perfect fashion. The Grizzlies have a tough decision regarding ZBo this summer (he’s a free agent), and if they want the same kind of power forward toughness off the bench, except 15 years younger…we’ve got their man. But I’m afraid that, if they decide to let ZBo go, they’ve got a huge selection of young forwards from last year (free agents JayMichal Green and Troy Williams, along with Deytona Davis, Jarell Martin, and James Ennis) who will probably get looks before Biggie. But a man can dream.

 

Miami Heat                                                                                              Fit Score: 11/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 4/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 4/5

46-year-old Erik Spoelstra is the second-longest tenured head coach in the NBA, behind only Gregg Popovich for coaching stability. Miami has been the butt of a ton of jokes since LeBron came (and left), but the organization Pat Riley has built is as stable and secure as any in the league. Like a lot of teams, they’re at a crossroads: the unexpected (and depressing) early retirement of Chris Bosh has left a massive roster hole, with great complimentary pieces in guard Goran Dragic and center Hassan Whiteside needing a go-to forward to carry them to the playoffs. Tyler Johnson and Justise Winslow are both great young pieces, but Miami might be ready to flip them in a blockbuster trade to secure another star for South Beach (cue the Jimmy Butler/Paul George alarms).

Offensively, Biggie would be able to use his jumper to slide in the frontcourt rotation next to Josh McRoberts and Willie Reed, and defensively Whiteside can make up for most mistakes at the rim (even though he chases blocks a little too often for my tastes). This would be an unlikely, but very stable, landing spot for Swanigan.

 

Minnesota Timberwolves                                                                     Fit Score: 8/15

Offensive Fit: 2/5

Defensive Fit: 3/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

NBA nerds often zone out at work, daydreaming about what the TWolves’ core could become in a year or two. Karl-Anthony Towns is the center of the future, Andrew Wiggins is a Tasmanian devil, Zach Lavine can jump all the way to Jupiter (but is nursing a torn ACL), Kris Dunn and Nemanja Bjelica could be great complementary pieces, and they’ve got the #7 pick in this year’s draft. Ricky Rubio is still there, and is somehow only 26 years old. They’re primed for a huge jump in wins next year, and coach Tom Thibodeau is ready to win.

Biggie would give them toughness that Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Garnett were supposed to give these past few years, only their bodies gave up on their basketball dreams halfway through the respective contracts. But alongside Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, and Bjelica, it might be tough for Swanigan to see minutes in Minnesota.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder                                                                        Fit Score: 8/15

Offensive Fit: 3/5

Defensive Fit: 2/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

Russell Westbrook is perfect, let’s start right there. I’m not sure if he’ll retire in OKC, but he’ll surely play 2017-2018 there, and defines OKC’s entire identity. Coach Billy Donovan has done a fine job juggling the minutes of incumbent bigs Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, and Domantas Sabonis, and if they’re going to buy back into the draft they’ll certainly be looking for a sweet-shooting wing that can help compliment Russy better than their current crop of mediocrity. If they unload Kanter and his $17 million for the next two years for salary cap reasons, Swanigan could step seamlessly into that role (though there’s a height difference), but with both on the roster it would be too redundant.

 

Toronto Raptors                                                                                     Fit Score: 10/15

Offensive Fit: 4/5

Defensive Fit: 3/5

Coaching staff & organizational culture: 3/5

Toronto has been searching for a workable power forward rotation for years, finally pulling a trade for Serge Ibaka this year in hopes of challenging LeBron and the Cavs. Unfortunately, The King is not forgiving and had no patience for Canada’s dreams, sweeping the Raptors into an existential crisis. Center Jonas Valanciunas has all of the measurables of a great center, but he still doesn’t have a single elite skill to build a starter’s career out of. The forward rotation behind free agent Ibaka (Jokob Poeltl/Bruno Caboclo/Pascal Siakam) is perfectly OK, but only Siakam might stick. If Toronto wanted a little more depth on the cheap side, and Swanigan was falling in the second round, they could buy their way back in to mitigate the inevitable loss of Ibaka

Purdue Basketball Beat #48: Biggie Swanigan's NBA Profile

Purdue Basketball Beat #48: Biggie Swanigan's NBA Profile

Handsome Hour #105: A BS Farewell -- Biggie Swanigan Departs Purdue

Handsome Hour #105: A BS Farewell -- Biggie Swanigan Departs Purdue

0