Sunday, April 26, 2009

Instant Classic

I called it with about five minutes left in regulation. I was on the phone with a friend and declared that this game was not only going to go down to the final seconds, but that it was destined to become an instant classic. I believe my exact words in clarifying this statement were along the lines of "I mean, not the kind of classic that is going to be replayed over and over again every year, but the kind that, surely, will be played on ESPN Classic every time the Bulls and Celtics face each other in the playoffs again." Unfortunately, my friend was a female whose response to this was something along the lines of "wait, are we talking about college basketball?" So I don't know how much my calling the nature of the game impressed her. Although when I declared that Jeff Van Gundy and I had echoed each other's exact sentiments more than six times over a single quarter of the game, she did concede that I should be a professional basketball commentator. It is an opinion that I happen to share, and I was glad to hear it confirmed, even by someone who didn't know what I was talking about when complaining about the subjectivity involved in officiating the charge vs. blocking foul call.

Indeed, game four of the Celtics Bulls series lived up to every expectation one could have had at that five minute mark in the fourth quarter. The fear at that point is always one of two things. One: either team will fall apart in the waning minutes, allowing their opponent to blow the lead open and run away with it. That this game was not headed in that direction seemed like a safe bet. Two: the final thirty seconds of the game turns into a five minute free throw festival, with the team behind never actually managing to catch up and make things that exciting. This certainly could have been the case tonight if only a couple of possessions had gone differently over the last two minutes. However, I just got that feeling, as I'm sure many other viewers did. Somewhere along the way, both these teams had made it abundantly clear that they were not going to go away quietly. And, fortunately for us, the audience, they held firmly to this promise. They even gave us that rarely achieved succession of last second three point shots, one by each team no less. Of course, when a game is sent into OT due to a gutsy shot made by a player as time is running out it is infinitely more exciting than a game that remains a tie over the last five or six possessions due to shoddy execution.

Ray Allen's three pointer to send the game into the first overtime was at once both inexplicable and completely inevitable. Inexplicable because, not only was Boston's best and most clutch three point shooter left wide open as he caught and shot the ball, but he was that wide open for two whole seconds leading up to the shot itself. How in god's name Chicago allows Ray Allen more than a split-second of day light at such a pivotal point in the game is beyond me. Of course, it is also something we have seen time and time again. And the same head coach who one second calls a play at a crucial juncture of the game which results in Big Baby Davis taking a twenty foot jump shot, manages to, time and time again, draw up plays at even more crucial junctures that allow Allen those kinds of looks which he, inevitably, hits. In this way, as Boston inbounded the ball at the end of regulation, you would have been crazy to expect the possession to end any other way.

Ben Gordon's shot to allow his Baby-but-Growing-Up-in-Front-of-our-Eyes Bulls another overtime period to try and tie this fantastic series up was even more dramatic. It was one of those off-balance, fairly well covered prayers that a player never actually practices but, somehow, manages to convert more often than they seemingly should. And, if you watch the replay extremely closely, you can see Gordon almost crack a smile as he walks back to the bench. I swear. It's just a flicker really, and afterward he immediately assumes that emotionless, expressionless, "I have no personality but I hit shots" demeanor that he has so mastered. He's like a big, cuddly teddy bear, but, you know, the opposite.

Even Paul Pierce's three point attempt at the end of the second overtime, poorly executed as the play was (note who assumedly drew that play up), sealed the game's fate not when the shot actually missed it's target but when a keen defensive play by John Salmons denied the shot even the opportunity to miss. Again, while neither team executed their game plans perfectly throughout, this game was nothing short of thrilling due to the fact that it came down to which team made the biggest play last, and not which team managed to stink more thoroughly, as is so often the case in close but, ultimately, disappointing basketball games.

Sadly, this is the first game of this series that I have been able to watch. However, I am genuinely excited at the opportunity of watching how it ends, which is certainly not the case with all of the series that are currently going on. And even as I commend myself for declaring this game a classic six or seven minutes before it actually cemented its case as one, I watch the Pistons walk away thoroughly and miserably embarrassed by a Cavs team that looks far more impressive than I gave them credit for. Indeed, I said to more than one person that that would be a series worth watching, as Detroit seemed better suited to defending Lebron James than most teams in the league. What I underestimated was just how much the Piston's offensive firepower had fallen by the wayside, and just how much Cleveland's defense had improved.

Still though, we do have a couple of exciting series going on. Philadelphia is giving Orlando all that they can handle, as the Magic come to terms with the fact that they are not going to get the open looks on the perimeter in the playoffs that they grew accustomed to taking advantage of throughout the regular season. And tomorrow night I hope to see the Hornets play their butts off in the kind of defensive effort that they have shown so rarely in the last couple of months and tie up their series with the Denver Thuggettes. As always, we will see how it all plays out.

Friday, April 3, 2009

An Answer to Allen's Musings

The writing is on the wall. Iverson is unhappy being demoted to the bench (no surprise there) and has chosen to hang it up for the season instead of coming to work each day and showing everyone how much he has matured by accepting a role he is unhappy with and being the best sixth man in the league for the last couple of weeks of the season and the playoffs (mild surprise there). He has made it clear to everyone that, if forced to choose between coming back to Detroit next season in order to play bench duty or retiring, he may in fact choose the latter (ok, that is a bit surprising... at least for him to say such things publicly at this point in this season). With all this in mind, it does appear that the brief Iverson experiment in Detroit is, for all intents and purposes, over.
Now before embarking on my rant, let me point out that my colleague Jason Whetzell has warned me not to jump to conclusions on this one. He has also, understandably, advised, that it may be advantageous for me to actually read the entire interview which Iverson gave on the subject before writing my thoughts on his position. But where would the fun be in that? No, I am happy to decry Iverson's immaturity and selfishness, even without all the facts. We are looking at a team that has performed significantly better during the absence of one of the more prolific scorers in the league. True, The Answer is not what he used to be (perhaps he would be better suited with a new nickname... The Meek Suggestion?). However, he is still capable of putting up big numbers, especially in the scoring column. Indeed, he did just that in his time as a starter for the Pistons. However, the team managed to be one of the more underperforming in the league over that same period. Since his injury, the Pistons went on a spurt of beating some of the top teams in the league and remain, though inconsistent, at least competitive.

Perhaps instead of "The Answer" a name like "The Prayer" would be better suited.

So where does Iverson, in all of this, get off coming out and saying to everyone that he is unhappy with his current role and practically threatening his superiors as the entire team prepares for its playoff run? Indeed, this is the Iverson that we have all come to know and expect, no matter how many new surroundings and chances he is given along the way. And this is all coming from a person who commended the Billups for Iverson swap at the time, stating that it would certainly significantly improve both teams. That's right, I am embarrassed to say that I was sucked into believing that this was possibly the best roster for Iverson to thrive in, given that he had never really been surrounded by as talented a group and one as capable of scoring but as agreeable to deferring shots to others. The mistake I made was not seeing that Iverson's particular brand of offense does not mesh with the Pistons' offensive scheme in any way, shape or form. On a team where consistent ball movement and half court set plays are so imperative, having a player eat up the shot clock with horizontal dribbling before finally barreling towards the hoop and trying to create on his own was less than ideal.
So that contradiction in styles brings me to my next point: what does Iverson's future hold? You have to believe that he will not be wearing a Pistons uniform come next season. And the idea of him simply up and walking away from the game entirely seems farfetched, though not altogether undesirable. But what team would A) want him; and B) be capable of acquiring him by next year?

Why so pensive, Allen? We have the solution to your predicament.

The proposal I am about to make is a painful one for me, given that the team I am to suggest has a particular place in my heart. Featuring two players formerly employed by my number one team, another player who plays as gutsy a game of basketball as anyone in the league right now, and a coach who is attempting to convince us once again that old-school coaching can work given the right roster and, of course, a phenomenal coach. That's right, I am talking about the Charlotte Bobcats. It doesn't hurt that a couple of months back I declared that this team would have one of the most impressive finishes to the season. And lo and behold, the Bobcats have been routinely beating good teams (even some great ones), have been playing above .500 basketball since the All Star Break, and are making a push for the playoffs (a push that will, ultimately, prove futile since Detroit isn't actually bad enough to fall off and allow the Cats in... irony?).
I have also previously made the point that the one thing that the Bobcats truly lack which could propel them to the next level (granted, the next level for them simply means a second-tier, Eastern playoff team... but that's a hell of a lot better than what they have been historically) is a true scorer. A go to guy. Someone who, when the game is tight and the seconds are ticking away, can be handed the ball, given the floor, and let go to work. What is Allen Iverson if not this? And what coach has Iverson had the most success with in his career? More significantly, what coach has had more success in motivating Iverson to play good, team basketball? That's right, none other than the head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, Larry Brown.
It is, if nothing else, an intriguing thing to consider. Is there another team out there that could potentially benefit from the addition of Iverson the way the Bobcats might? Is there another roster full of great role players more suited for him. Is there another team that plays at such a deliberate pace which allows for isolation plays on the offensive end? Is there another team that seems so close to making the leap to relevance? Surely, you cannot answer yes to all of these questions, and that is why this move seems so tantalizingly plausible.
Again, as someone who has officially drank from the "New Iverson" Kool Aid and come out thoroughly red in the face, I am saying all this thoroughly aware of the possible pitfalls. And, again, this is not a change that I necessarily want to see occur. Besides seeing a player who I don't particularly enjoy watching play for a team that I do very much enjoy watching, it would mean a number of other things. Gerald Wallace, one of the most "balls to the wall" players in the game right now, would have to take a back seat to Iverson in scoring. That is not necessarily a bad thing for the team, though, as Wallace, for all his talent, isn't really geared to be a main scoring option. He is an ideal second or third option who gets a lot of his points off hustle plays. He is also the only player in the league who wears a mouthpiece while playing but never actually puts it entirely in his mouth. Seriously. Watch a Bobcats game and tell me if you can ever spot Wallace without that mouthpiece dangling halfway out of his mouth.

I'm sorry, Gerald, but maybe if you put your mouthpiece in you wouldn't be breaking your ribs all the time.

The change would also mean Raja Bell would be relegated to spot on the bench. Again, probably not a terrible thing for him, as his age makes playing a full season with starter minutes a chore. However, the team would lack his long range marksmanship and his vocal leadership on the floor. Also, it would require letting some players go in order to free up the cap space. They'd probably have to let Raymond Felton walk, but they have the young stud D.J. Augustine to step up in his absence. And it may require a trade or two to get rid of some existing contracts for smaller ones, a task that will not be that easy to accomplish in current economic conditions. But, while the Cats don't have a huge amount of financial flexibility heading into the off season, they are in a better position than most of the league.
That's it. Just some food for thought. Like I said, if nothing ever comes out of this, I will not be disappointed. However, if Allen Iverson is really examining his options moving forward, and wants to end up somewhere where he will not only start, but could actually be performing for the greater good of an entire team, he should start dropping some hints to his agent real soon that Charlotte could be his destination of choice.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Come June

I went to the future in my time machine and this was the only picture I took

The season is wrapping up and things are becoming more clear. The contenders, the players, the match-ups and maybe most importantly the weaknesses. Opposing fans love to bring these up to their rivals in order to plant the seed of uncertainty. I am here to do just that. Don't be too upset though, if I'm mentioning your team in this list it's because they have a chance, albeit it a miracle, one in a million kind of chance for some of you, it's a chance none the less.

Orlando Magic

If you're dumb enough to think this is cool, you might be dumb enough to think Orlando can win

The greatest big man in the game right now. He can rebound better than anyone since Ben Wallace in his prime years but he can also score. Is he a leader? Not really, he has too amiable a personality to really drive it home. They lost their starting point guard and brought in a very good option. They have been well coached and they have improved upon last season. This time last year they were slumping big time and they have avoided that even with adversity. They had excuses to fail and are still right on the heals of the defending champs. But they can't beat them in a 7 game series.
Here's why.

Depth Issues

As far as their guards go Alston is a fine starting point guard... But as good as he is playing he can't handle the entire load, especially not in a 7 game series. The eastern conference contenders have a glut of speedy guards that will exploit Anthony Johnson's aging legs. Lue would be a better option as far as speed goes, but he hasn't been used except in garbage time. It also seems to me that Courtney Lee starts to give the illusion of depth. Pietrus should start at the 2 guard and he has proven he can play in Turkoglu's absence. JJ Redick cannot defend anyone. Period.

Perimeter Dependent Offense

They average almost 27 3 pointer attempts a game. This can work against some teams, and only on those teams during the regular season. During the playoffs perimeter defense goes into effect. Without the 3 Orlando is an average team with a great center. Rashard, Hedo, Lee, and many others on this team depend on that shot. The team is basically a 3 point contest with a big rebounder that makes their mistakes forgivable. They won't be able to make that shot with consistency against Boston or Cleveland, and probably won't be able to against lesser competition in the first round.

Leadership Issues


As I said before Howard isn't much of a leader, he's just too nice. Rafer isn't either. Van Gundy doesn't seem to be much of one either. Although I hate to take Shaq's side on this one, Van Gundy does choke under pressure. People who follow him do find more success. Maybe he can prove me wrong. Remember that one in a million chance I was talking about?

Cleveland Cavaliers

Lebron blowing smoke

Cleveland is the most consistent team in basketball right now. They are winning with regularity and beating teams they should beat and competing every night. Lebron is the best basketball player in the game right now. He has amazing stats and plays hard every night which his team does their best to emulate. He has improved his jump shot and his defense which really helped to complete his already formidable talent. But... he hasn't proven he can win important games. He will most likely be MVP of the regular season but is that all he will ever be, a regular season star. Shades of Tracy McGrady. This isn't their only problem.

Undersized Backcourt

Not much to be said about this really. One guard is 6-1 the other is 6-3. It's only a couple inches but it can mean getting a hand on Ray Allen jump shot or watching it sink through the hoop. That being said Delonte is an excellent shot blocker, but only when he's guarding point guards.

Another Team with Depth Issues

Did you see Joe Smith guarding Leon Powe? Neither did Leon.


Just as the Celtics are getting healthy Cleveland is getting hurt. Ben Wallace is out for the time being and may be cleared for practice next week. They desperately need him to guard the front court players Boston will throw at them. Also Wally is down and he gives them a perimeter player but not much defense, might be a blessing.

Lebron Under Pressure

In his first finals appearance he was swept and shot well under 40% for the series. In his battle last year with the Celtics he made only 55 of his 155 shots with mostly single coverage from Pierce. So the question is, who is going to give Lebron his much needed heimlich.

Boston Celtics

One more Blackstone come June

The defending champs won't get 66 wins again. They don't have Posey, or Pj, or some other players that are at home writhing in pain from various injuries. Can they still win. Absolutely. Reasons they won't? That's too easy, that's what everyone has been saying and writing all season. How about reasons on how THEY WILL WIN.

A Starting 5 that Causes Mismatches at Every Position

Kendrick Perkins is as big as a guy you will ever see and the last guy you ever want to be mad at you. He is a strong lumbering defender and enforcer. He has bothered players like Howard, Bynum, and Shaq he is 3rd in the league in Field Goal percentage and in the top ten in blocked shots. He is a an old school center, big and mean. The center on your favorite team is probably scared of him.

Kevin Garnett is one of the best power forwards in the history of the game and he is still hungry. He has changed the way we see the 4 position, he has an amazingly consitent mid range jumper and can defend every position.

And he's also a prick.

Paul Pierce can Shoot 3's, post up, drive to the hoop, and defend. He is eveyr position rolled into one. He creates mismatches no matter who guards him. He has stopped Lebron James and Kobe Bryant in back to back series. He is the reigning finals MVP and has more confidence that maybe any man I've ever seen. He's the second hall of famer on this list and I'm not even done.

Ray Allen is the best pure shooter many of us have ever seen. It seems like every shot is going in. He spreads the floor for the other players and gives them easier shots because of the single coverage. If you over play him he has regained his quickness that he didn't have last year and he's playing like he's 25 again. The drought he had in last years first two rounds will not reoccur.

Rajon Rondo is lightning quick, the only two players that I think might be faster are Barbosa and TJ Ford. He is 5th in the league in assists and one of the best rebounding guards in the league. He is the perfect compliment to the big three.


Leon Powe is a bruiser. He's tough and he will get rebounds over taller players just based on his superior strength. His stats adjusted for 48 minutes are amazing. He just needs the minutes that PJ received last year and they will be fine.

Stephon Marbury has been passing the ball very well lately amassing tons of assists in minimal minutes off the bench. Much of the rust will have shaken off when the playoffs starts which is important because I want this next guy to be shooting the ball, not handling it.

Eddie House has been shooting 58% from the 3 point line in the past month. That's all I have to say.

Brian Scalebrine can spread the floor, rebound, and defend and will be a welcome return in the next couple weeks.

Big Baby Davis has been playing very well and had a breakout game scoring 24 points off the bench.


When they are healthy they have the best defense in the league. They make you slow it down no matter what your style is and they force you into the half court. They have great perimeter and interior defenders and everybody is on board with Thibodeau's master plan.


They've won it last year and while repeating is rare these days this would be the squad to do it. They have better developed young talent, a healthier Ray Allen and a breakout point guard talent who has become one of the leagues elite in Rajon Rondo.

I have absolutely zero bias by the way. (Go Celtics!)


New Orleans

They won't make the finals, but things could be worse

I have this team in the list and I do not have Houston or Denver. You might ask why since both those teams have better records. Well, those teams can't beat San Antonio or LA. To be honest neither can New Orleans, but I had three for the east and now I need three for the west. New Orleans have been great since getting back Tyson Chandler and have won 11 of their last 14 contests. They have every position covered by great diverse talent. They have the best point guard I have ever seen in my life. David West is the best player in the league without his own shoe. Butler and Peja are amazing from the 3 point line. Chandler is a great defender and receiver of perfect Chris Paul Alley oops. They have all this and James Posey off the bench. So what's the problem. They haven't been together all year and it took a hit on their confidence. They have a chance to pull it all together but I don't see them beating LA or San Antonio for these reasons.


They have a great shooters and an amazing point guard but it just doesn't produce enough points for them. They defend really well allowing about the same amount of points as the Celtics, but they need to score to compliment their defense and they don't. Hopefully Posey will be able to turn it on during the playoffs and get the extra 10-15 points they need to push through the first couple rounds.


They have Posey and Armstrong but the rest are players that will be liabilities on the floor, they don't compliment their starting counter parts, they are just worse versions. This was a problem Dallas had when they lost to Golden State. They had depth to a point but they poor man's version on their starters instead of players that introduce a different dynamic or exploit a matchup.

San Antonio

Maybe if I make a weird face they won't publish this photo

A tough team but an older, more banged up version of the championship team two years ago. There has been some positive additions. Roger Mason is having a MIP season and hopefully he wins that award because I think he deserves it. To contribute on an already established team like the Spurs is a great challenege and he deserves recognition for that. George Hill also showed to be a great option in Tony Parker's absence. They decided Bonner was a better option than Oberto and I think they made the right choice there but some things will keep them from the west title.

Age and Injury

Oldest team in the league with an average age of 30. Finley is still productive but Bowen has fallen off this year quite a bit. Tim Duncan seems ageless and I'm sure as always his numbers will sky rocket in the post season. Still though a 7 game series will put a hurt even on a 25 year olds body, these guys in their mid to late 30s are going to be hurting after the first game to a degree. Manu's injury hopefully won't hamper his performance because they really need him at 100% to be competitive with the Lakers. They won this year in San Antonio with Manu and lost when he was injured.

Center Play

Bonner cannot guard Bynum. Even if Bynum is 80% it won't happen. Bonner had 2 rebounds in 21 minutes against him this year and was a minus 19 in the box score. Basically if Bynum is out and if Manu is in, the Spurs still will probably lose.

Los Angeles Lakers

She plays better D than Sasha

This team has the best scorer in basketball history. He can score from anywhere. When he wants to defend he does it very well. He has been passing more and scoring less which has meant more wins. He has a great team mate with Pau Gasol and a great mix of veterans and young energetic players. They have everything it takes to win a championship except.

An Answer for the Speed of Rajon Rondo

Rondo is too fast for the Lakers point guards. On Christmas day Kobe guarded Rondo, and he stopped him from scoring, but Rondo still had 12 assists. Derek Fisher can't guard Rondo, and neither can Farmar. Phil knew this and made a choice. This choice is a fluke because Kobe will not guard Rondo the whole series, it will take too much out of him. Pau is too soft on defense

An Answer for the Strength of Perkins, Powe, and Davis

These are X-factor players and they have the upperhand on the Lakers. These guys dominate weaker players and that is all the Lakers have to offer, especially if Bynum doesn't return at full strength.

Getting Over The Paul Pierce Factor

He matched or exceeded Kobe's play in every game. He forced Kobe to shoot a very poor percentage. He psyched out the whole team with a possible fabrication.

Laker's Under Pressure

This happens.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Team that Law Forgot

I hereby move that the NBA team residing in Denver Colorado officially change their name to the Denver Thuggettes. I know what you’re saying out there. “But they’ve been the Nuggets for years! There’s history to their name!” Well, guess what? History no longer matters in a franchise. Want proof? Where are the Seattle Supersonics now? Yeah, that’s what I thought. And I don’t care that they used to mine for gold in Denver. I just don’t. There are no lakes in Los Angeles. Jazz is still illegal in Salt Lake City. I am yet to determine whether there is an inordinate amount of thunder in Oklahoma City. There’s no sanctity to a name anymore.

And now for the reasons why this name works for this team. It is largely a two part argument. Firstly, this team is clearly more than a little thugged out. Let’s face it, this isn’t an organization that has placed a lot of importance on the integrity of it’s players. If you gave me the over/under on whether half of the guys had criminal records, I’d take the over, especially given that a few of them have legal transgressions that have been well documented already. It I were to open up one of these days and read a headline that stated: “Nuggets Raptors game ends in heartache as Denver player stabs three Toronto players to death,” I honestly wouldn’t be all that surprised. Instead, my reaction would be something along the lines of slowly nodding my head and muttering: “just a matter of time.” Now, the team playing the victim in this example is pretty much interchangeable (although I chose the Raptors as they are largely a bunch of pushovers and I couldn’t picture one guy on that team fighting back if his teammate were suddenly being stabbed at midcourt). However, it really only works with Denver. Not only that, tell me, if you read that headline, is there one player on the Nuggets’ roster that would immediately leap to your mind. I’d say about half of their guys would leap to my mind.

(When this is just the fifth most publicly disreputable figure on your team, you're in trouble.)

But, as post-brawl David Stern would tell you, we can’t be encouraging the type of behavior and fashion choices that the Nuggets consistently display. That is where the suffix “ettes” comes into play. Adding this to the end of the name effectively emasculates the team, rather than lending them undeserved street-cred. Let’s face it, when your team leader’s go-to move in a fight is the sucker punch into the full-on backpedal across the length of the court, your team isn’t actually thug… you just wish it was. When that same player gets caught with pot and makes his buddy take the fall for him, then adds insult to injury by blaming his friends for being bad influences on him, you guys aren’t thug. When your two best big men trade time on the bench with a plethora of injuries, you aren’t thug. When your team’s best effort to start a huge fight with another team full of miscreants is still not considered “the brawl” of the past decade, you aren’t thug. Did I mention Carmelo’s sucker punch? The point is, Thuggettes is an appropriate nomenclature for a team that desperately wants to be considered thug, but consistently falls pathetically short of this goal.

(It's easy to look tough when you're yelling at a guy from the opposite end of the arena.)

It is important that the league act on this quickly, as time is running out. The Denver brass has already made their first smart move in years by trading away the beleaguered Iverson for the upstanding citizen and true team leader that is Chauncey Billups. A few more moves like that and this team will completely lose the identity it has worked so hard to achieve. The name-change must be enacted if only to inspire the front office to now turn around and trade Billups for Jamaal Tinsley.

(Tell me he wouldn't look good in a Denver Thuggettes uniform.)

Of course, we can’t overlook the fact that my proposed name corresponds with the original by way of similar phonetics. As you have heard it said, familiarity breeds contempt, and there is no roster in the NBA more deserving of contempt than your Denver Thuggettes (ok, that whole thing might be a reach, but it was at least a marginally clever one). Let’s make this change happen, folks. For the good of the league, let’s make this change happen together.

On another note: The Pistons have just completed their dismantling of the defending champion Boston Celtics. In Boston. Without Iverson. This makes it two consecutive victories against two of the best teams in the league, both on the opponents’ turf, both without The Answer. Are they a better team without AI? Too early to say but it certainly seems that way. Stay tuned for more on this.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Waiting for Stephon

Strangle hold or Hug? Yet to be determined.

Stephon is the most capable and popular basketball player to take this long of a break since Michael Jordan. Amazingly Michael hitting under .200 for a minor league team was less embarrassing then what Stephon has put himself through. Is it understandable? No, not really. Can it be explained in any sort of rational way? Only by the most die hard of Celtic's fans.

So here we go...

Stephon was a very talented player. He was the captain of the leagues most financially successful team. I remember his quote in NBA commercials. "I want to bring excitement back to The Garden" He may have done that if he had the right mentor, the right team mates, and the right fans. The hardest most emotionally tolling year Stephon ever had was under a bumbling and inept coach. The one figure he did love and respect was his his father. His father Don was attending a game in the Garden one night against Phonix. He watched his son play a great game. Stephon scored 21 points in a losing effort to the Suns. By the end of the game his father passed away. Stephon never played the same. He only played in a handful of games the next two weeks and then went on an extended leave. That summer he became religious and his bizarre behavior made it seem like he was done for good. A mental case. His experiences with death, being booed on his home court, and being the constant discussion of rumor on every sports page in America proved too much for him to handle.

He Would have ruined your career too.

Almost 2 years later. He's free of the team that hates him and the fans that longed to get rid of him. Coaches have labeled him a headcase and journalists have called him a cancer. Now he has far less pressure. He is a backup to a budding point guard that is destined to be an all star for the next 10 years. He doesn't have to be Starbury anymore.

Stephon can score zero points for the next 20 games and Boston will still win at least 80% of them. If he can come out and lead the team while Rajon rests, then the Celtics might win more than 80% of their games, and they might get home court advantage. They might cruise through the playoffs and meet with the Lakers or San Antonio. He might have a breakout game and he might show the world what he can still do when people have faith in him. If he holds out his fist next year and you see a big shiny ring on it then I want to hear it stop. Because everyone deserves a second chance, and even if you're not a Celtics fan, by this time next year, you might want Stephon Marbury on your team. You might.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


An outspoken floor leader.
After years of playing the role of laughingstock to the NBA, the Hawks seem to have been headed in the right direction over the past few seasons. Joe Johnson has proven his worth as a second-tier superstar. Josh Smith is a young player that creates matchup nightmares for most teams in the league. Pachulia is a serviceable center and Marvin Williams and Al Horford should continue to get better. However, despite the noise this team made as an eight seed taking on the eventual world champions last year, Mike Bibby remains an odd choice for a veteran point guard to lead a group of young talent. He has never seemed like that type of personality to me and, while you still have to fear him with the ball at the end of a tight game, he is a shell of the player he once was. And Johnson leads only through his play, for he is a soft spoken person who would rather leave the impassioned war-cries to someone else. These things are evident in the way the Hawks have stayed put this year instead of taking the next step. In order to get better, they will need someone more adept at showing these youngsters the way towards reaching their potential.

(I will hold off on this in order to build up the suspense)
Give me a defending championship team with three superstar players and tons of young talent and good role players that currently sports the second best record in the league and first best record in their conference and then challenge me to find something to change about them. Am I up for the challenge? Will I tell them to stand pat? Will I cop out with small tweaks like a veteran back up point guard or a little more athleticism on the wing? No. I will flat out tell you that if this team had a coach half as good as a Phil Jackson or a Gregg Popovich, they would be a lock to entertain us with the type of dynasty that we fell in love with via the Celtics, Bulls or Lakers of years past. I will be blunt. Doc Rivers is a bad coach. His rotations are terrible. His play calling is terrible. His rhetoric is trite and uninspiring. He is lucky to have a squad talented enough to largely mask his inefficiencies. However, it is still a shame that we will not get to see just how good this team actually could be.

A scorer.
That’s it. That’s all they need. A go-to guy. Everything else is in place. They have a proven coach who will inspire confidence and commitment and dependability in his guys. Every role you need a role player for is filled. Okafur is a defensive presence inside who controls the boards. Wallace is an everything guy who hustles and fills up the stat sheet like a slightly-less-affluent man’s Shawn Marion. Augustin will blossom into an enviable floor leader and, in the meantime, Felton is a more than capable one. Diaw is a versatile frontcourt player who can pass the ball and suddenly he can hit from the perimeter too. Bell is a strong veteran leader who also hits shots and defends well. What else could a team ask for? Somewhere along the way they forgot to pick up a guy who could be relied upon to score the rock. Obviously, this isn’t the easiest kind of player to find. However, if things swing their way this upcoming draft, they could end up competing a lot sooner than many might think.

A complete change of philosophy from up top.
The good news is they might be one John Paxson resignation away! The bad news is that Paxson just made it very clear that he doesn’t plan to go anywhere. Seriously, in all this time they haven’t been able to package together some of their talented young players to bring in one great one? Don’t you think the combination of Rose, Deng and Amare Stoudemire would be better than what they have now no matter who else was on the team? And they settle for bringing in Old-man Miller and John Salmons? Absolutely mind-boggling.

For the city of Cleveland to suddenly become one of the biggest commercial hubs in the United States.

To start over.
Seriously guys, it was a valiant effort. You were a couple of complete emotional meltdowns away from multiple championships. You were a really exciting team to watch for awhile. You even have an owner who is as exciting to watch as the players sometimes. But you are done. You tried to build your franchise around a talented but mentally soft, gangly Billy Goat. You panicked and traded for an over the hill point guard who can’t hit a jump shot. You employ Josh Howard and Erick Dampier. Just start over. Keep that Juan Barea kid, but get rid of everyone else.

More leadership.
While I can’t argue with the results of the trade for Billups, it was merely one step in the right direction. Chauncey is currently 32 and already doesn’t look quite like the player he was during the Pistons’ heyday. They still have a roster made up of ballhogs, thugs and drug addicts. They need to find more GMs who are sucker enough to take on headcases for talent. Will the calming effect Billups has on this band of misfits continue once his play drops off considerably? Will Melo continue to be content with another player rationing his shots? Will Chris Anderson get everyone addicted to Meth Amphetamines? These things remain to be seen.

To blow it up.
They are suffering from the commendable decision to, until this season, stick with the team they had and see if they didn’t have another run in them when it seemed apparent to most of us that, indeed, they didn’t. But in an age when players seem as disposable as the cards that hold their image traded between kids, I can’t say that I fully blame Joe Dumars for sticking, for the most part, with the guys who brought him one championship. But with the trade for Iverson and the now completely dysfunctional offense, it seems they will be finally be thinking about the future. They have a couple of nice pieces in Rodney Stuckey and Jason Maxiell, although I’m not sure they will live up to the hype that Dumars has created. Hopefully they can use the cap space that Iverson’s contract will free up to bring in a couple more and perhaps next year a fringe contender will be willing to give up more young pieces for the likes of a Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince or Sheed.

Some D.
Just a little, ok? Don? Seriously, just give us one or two players that play a little bit of defense. What? No, I’m not saying you should slow down. I’m not saying your guys need to stop running and having fun and shooting every open shot available. Just sign a couple players that play defense. Here’s an idea: next time you address the team, mention the word defense and see how the guys react. As long as every player on the roster doesn’t immediately demand to be traded to the Knicks, you know the door is open.

To sign just one star player who is not: a) injured half of every season, b) clinically insane.
They have done an adequate job of collecting strong role players, but I’m not sure how much trade value McGrady’s back or Artest’s crazy will hold moving forward. Unless they can somehow find a way to bring in a great scorer without sacrificing too much along the way, it might be time to start thinking about the future.

More time.
They are still in post-brawl withdrawal. Give them time to get over that and we’ll reassess. Just a few more years now…

Pass. Or, well, maybe just an owner who isn’t an open racist? No, I don’t know. Pass.

Just a little grit.
That’s it. This team has all the components on paper but they remain a little too soft. Especially with Bynum sidelined once again, when the going starts to get tough and Gasol and Odom crack under the pressure and Bryant takes on the role of doing everything on the offensive end once again, who will be there to enforce on the defensive end? Trevor Ariza is a nice player and serves this purpose, but they need more. It would have been nice to see them trade some offense (Radmanovic) for some defense (not Adam Morrison) before the trade deadline. Now, they will have to hope this gets it done for them this time around, before reassessing again in the offseason.

And maybe add one strong veteran presence to help these youngsters along. And a good coach who can reign them in. And to trade Darko. Other than that, they have compiled an astounding amount of great young talent that, on paper at least, looks like it should mesh well together moving forward. As long as these players are able to play together and off of each other, they should have a promising future. I think the biggest risk here is Mayo becoming too much of a chucker, to the frustration and chagrin of his teammates. That is where strong leadership comes in. However, Gay’s athleticism, Conley’s court vision, Gasol’s front court presence… these are all strong building blocks for a team that could be competing down the road. Patience is a virtue here.

More talent.
They have one superstar and two other players that are of NBA caliber, one of which is injured all the time and the other looks really good in a tricked out Hummer. Honestly, even though Wade got the first ring, it is hard to watch him struggle with a JV team while Lebron James’ team gets better every season. Chalmers has potential though, and Wade is still young, obviously. The main thing they need is for the guys on the team that are going to be around for awhile (hint: not Jermaine Oneal) to resist the trap of learning how to lose. I guess you can replace my stated need with “Resiliency of mind and faith that better days will come with hard work.” It’s not as punchy though.

A rabbit’s foot.
There is a lot of talent on this squad, but not a lot of luck. I mean, their mascot is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Perhaps they could afford to send away some offensive talent in order to bring back one or two hustle guys that will set a good example by embracing Skiles’ philosophy and working their asses off every play. Other than that, I’d say they see what the draft can get them and hope for better luck next year.

A cohesive game plan on management's part.
This is, perhaps, the opposite situation in which we find the Grizzlies. The T-Wolves have managed to put together a lot of young talent that, on paper at least, doesn’t mesh at all. Two good scoring big men who are undersized and don’t play defense in Kevin Love and Al Jefferson. A scoring point guard who doesn’t have court vision and doesn’t play defense in Sebastian Telfair. A couple of inconsistent athletic scorers who aren’t known for their defense in Randy Foye and Corey Brewer. A scrappy veteran shooter who, nonetheless, doesn’t offer a lot of defense. Mark Madsen. I don’t see McHale figuring this thing out anytime soon.

To hope for the best.
Devin Harris is really good. He is. I believe that. But other than that, what do they have? Brooke Lopez will be a good player in the league, but he strikes me as more of a role player than anything else. Same with Yi Jianlian. Vinsanity can still be explosive from time to time, but his days as a consistent premiere scorer are over and he has never been especially efficient in that category. My feeling is that the Nets will soon recede back into near oblivion and have to employ their drafting abilities to gain respectability again.

A coaching change.
Let me just state: I like Byron Scott. I think he is a really smart guy. I even think he can be a really good coach. However, he is old school. He is of the Larry Brown, Scott Skiles ilk. He is hard-nosed. He is a dictator. His players need to tune in or tune out. Right now, seems like they are choosing the latter. You see, a coach like that needs to have the perfect roster in order to ultimately be successful (see Brown’s version of the championship Detroit Pistons, and even they wearied of him after awhile). Otherwise, they are very good at getting under-talented teams to commit to defense and over-perform (see the Chicago Bulls under Scott Skiles for one year, or what Larry Brown is in the process of achieving in Charlotte). Scott reached that peak last season with these Hornets. But with guys like Chandler and Peja growing tired of playing lockdown defense, and a lack of any real offensive explosiveness from the wings, this team is not going to reach the next level with Scott at the helm, forcing Chris Paul to direct one of the slowest offenses in the league. It’s time for a change and Scott is the man to go. Sorry, Byron.

For the next year and a half to just fly by… as if a dream upon waking.
There is probably some tweaking they could get done in the meantime. But they ain’t getting rid of Curry’s contract and the thought of Starbury getting excited enough at the prospect of playing for a contender that he will give more than 5% of his salary back seems a pipedream at this point. So really, they’re left with having as much fun as possible playing D’Antoni ball before seeing what the magical summer of 2010 yields.

To cross their fingers and hope that karma does not exist.
They have a lot of good players on this team. In Kevin Durant, they have someone who will be the top scorer in the league for years and years to come. Russell Westbrook is a great young point guard. They have another explosive scorer in Jeff Green. They have a versatile big man in Nick Collison. I even believe that they should be secretly happy that they didn’t get Tyson Chandler because I think that his attitude could be detrimental to a team so young and impressionable. So these are all good things. Still though, you have to wonder if owner Clay Bennett’s shady business maneuvers will unfairly come back to haunt this young and promising team. Do I hear a wolf howling in the distance?

A better playmaker.
It’s not a knock on Jameer Nelson. He’s a solid player. However, it should make a basketball fan salivate to think of Dwight Howard playing alongside a true passer. Plus, there is the fact that if Rashard Lewis was rewarded for taking the ball to the hoop with a highlight reel alley-oop once in awhile, he might, you know, actually do it. Of course, a Steve Nash or a Chris Paul is hard to come by. This team has obviously done a good job putting some solid talent around Howard and they have played above expectations under the leadership of a great coach. However, if at any point in the next few years they have the opportunity to trade some young talent for an aging point guard who is still the best open court passer in the game, they should jump at it.

To not follow your most promising year in ages by spending all your money on a player that plays the opposite type of basketball that has produced said year.
The sad thing is that Brand isn’t even going to have much trade value after such a disappointing season.

How about one NBA ready player above 6’8” that is not named Shaquille Oneal?
With Amare’s eyeball choosing to displace itself at the worst possible time (seriously, could the timing on that injury, less than 24 hrs after the trade deadline, be any more gut-wrenchingly hilarious?), and Robin Lopez still playing JV basketball, Phoenix is left with a frontcourt consisting of his Cactus-ness and any combination of Matt Barnes, Louis Amundson and Jacob Dudley. What? That’s Jared Dudley? The point is, no matter how fast this squad manages to run for the remainder of this season, it is hard to argue that that is going to get it done against any of the elite teams in this league. And I choose to focus only on the remainder of the current season for this team because after that the future just looks too bleak.

To stay the course and temper expectations for what Oden will become.
They have a great young roster and a future superstar in Brandon Roy. Lamarcus Aldridge can become a beast if he gains enough confidence in his own game to become consistent. Travis Outlaw is better than anyone seems to realize. Fernandez is a good outside threat and will get better. Even Pryzbilla is a solid center. All they need from Oden is for him to be an imposing defensive presence inside who grabs boards and the occasional put-back. That is it. Other than that, they are in great shape

A great, young, big man.
Yes, they are a big of a mess right now and have been for a number of years. However, Kevin Martin and Beno Udrih are pretty solid young guards who can score the ball. Bringing in Nocioni was a good move. They need to pick up a big man who will be great for years to come in the draft. This may mean actually drafting that player or trading their pick for someone already in the league. Either way, it requires them coming up with very high draft position so the fans need to hope for the best.

Well, the Spurs front office has obviously done a phenomenal job keeping this team a perennial contender for the past decade. Even the last couple years when it seemed as if they were too old to compete, they surprised everyone by hitting the gas after the all star breaks and proving all the doubters wrong. This year could prove to be another repeat of that too. Duncan and Parker have been playing as well as ever and Ginobli’s injury could just leave him that much fresher for the post season. However, the fact remains that, while Parker is still just 26, Duncan and Ginobli will begin to fade at some point and the team has compiled very little young talent to step up when this happens. Of course, the front office seems to have a knack for finding diamonds in the rough that is the later draft rounds so if you are a Spurs fan, you needn’t necessarily feel like your team’s window is closing too fast.

Shawn Marion… six years ago.
Shawn Marion’s is exactly the kind of skill set they needed to bring in. GM Bryan Colangelo is assumedly open to the idea of playing a fast-paced brand of basketball after seeing his Phoenix Suns blossom under the leadership of Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash. And they have good pieces for this. Calderon is a great floor leader. Bosh is a versatile scoring big man who can pass. Bargnani is a long player whose speed and range can draw opposing big men out of the paint. They have some shooters. An athletic, highflying slasher that plays great perimeter defense and takes some of the rebounding pressure off of Bosh is exactly what they needed. The problem is this team is not making the playoffs this year. Probably not competing next year either. And all the while, Marion is getting older and his athleticism is diminishing. They also need some depth.

To buckle down, stay healthy, and win one goddamn championship for Jerry Sloan.
Seriously, the guy has been a stellar coach his entire career but has not yet been rewarded with a ring to show for it. Or is that just a sign that he’s overrated? Either way, this team has had a lot of talent for the last couple years and, if they are fortunate enough to get completely healthy for next season, they should have a shot at competing for a championship with the core of Boozer, Williams, Okur and Millsap still intact. But if they lose Boozer, know that Millsap is not a good enough player to compensate for that loss and they will be back to searching for extra pieces to get over the hump.

To pray that Gilbert Arenas heals.
Let’s face it. If Arenas is forever a gimp, this franchise is screwed for a long time. I’m not saying that even if he does fully heal he is an ideal franchise guy. But at least then they have options. It is possible that they will find a team desperate enough for a versatile big man who can score but not defend to trade some good defensive, hustle type guys for Jamison. If that is the case, they will be competitive in the East with Arenas as their main scorer, Butler as their second option, and a bunch of gritty role players around them committed to defense. It is also possible that a team hard-pressed for scoring is willing to ship out some young guys for Gilbert. Again, though, this all hinges on the Hibachi actually returning to form.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

NBA Team Needs

This has been a nightmare year for many NBA teams. Teams have either been plagued with injuries (Lakers, Phoenix, Boston, Houston), bad coaching (Chicago, Phoenix), bad management (Phoenix) or have just been through a rebuilding phase (too many to list). A lot of teams are struggling. Even the best teams can get a lot better, so I would like to address every team's needs for this season and upcoming ones, if success is out of reach for them this year.

Atlanta Hawks

Size of teeth disproportionate to production on court

It seemed like they were destined for great things after the 7-game Boston series but they are having a very similar season to last year's. Some missing players (Childress) and some injuries (Horford) could be the blame but I think it is more a mix of being too young and having leaders that are not very good at leading (Bibby, Johnson). They have a very talented team but everyone seems to be happy to underachieve. Josh Smith and Marvin Williams could be playing much better, but seem complacent. They need a guy that will motivate them and if it can't be the coach, then it has to be a veteran that isn't quiet (Johnson) or obnoxious (Bibby). I heard Sam Cassell is free. By the time they're good enough to compete, I'm sure they will decide to send Joe Johnson to another rebuilding team.

Boston Celtics

Only in shape during the off season

Never have I seen such a good team have such glaring deficiencies. They have two inexperienced backup power forwards (Powe, Davis). One is fat and both get too many fouls. Both thought they would start during KGs absence but both got slighted since the red headed one (Scal) spreads the court. They also don't have a backup point guard (Sorry Eddie House, but you pass as much as Wilt Chamberlain. And I mean the buried and dead Wilt; not the one that played basketball). Last year PJ Brown was an asset and Sam Cassell was a liability. They've basically broken even, so hopefully they'll get better with their selections. It would have been nice to get Nocioni since the absence of Posey is notable, but they will have to settle for the oft injured Tony Allen. Mikki Moore will help with his size and athleticism. He is the perfect guy to come off the bench. Even though they felt like they may have settled for him (after Joe Smith decided to stay with OKC) I think he addresses more of what they need in the front court. I have a feeling Stephon will be a model citizen, not because he's a nice guy but because he wants to prove everyone wrong and show NY what they're missing. He's also in a contract year.

Charlotte Bobcats

They've already addressed an issue with the J-Rich trade. They go two solid players instead of one borderline problem player. They have two really good point guards so they probably should have traded one to sure up their center position. I would like to see them move Emeka over to the PF. A combo of Vlad Rad and Diaw in your front court is too soft to compete with most teams. Hopefully Hasheem Thabeet will be available when they make their draft choice.

Chicago Bulls

Not in charge for long

Absolutely nothing except a new coach.

Cleveland Cavaliers

They will need plenty in 2010, but who cares anyway right?

Should have traded Wally for anything and anyone. Wally can't defend against any Boston player....
or any player in general.

They will look to sign whomever gets rejected by Boston.

Dallas Mavericks

He wants everyone to be educated on flags and black people

They need a screaming mad man to pump some adrenaline into this mechanical team. This is actually a team that could use some attitude. They need some pompous jerk that isn't complacent from smoking too much weed.

They also need more offense. When Josh and Dirk sit, it's downright embarrassing on offense. I still don't see why Gerald Green doesn't come in during those instances. Sure he doesn't play defense but at least Dallas will be on SportsCenter for the first time all year.

Denver Nuggets

Jared for MVP!

They made the best possible move already and now they just have to wait for those things to fall into place even more so. I see good things for this team, but I still think JR Smith is an asshole.

Detroit Pistons

Total rebuild just about. AI might be seen as a bust but they will have a ton of cap room and they will be able to get a solid PF out of the deal. With the way things are going they might get a decent draft pick as well. ;)

Golden State

Monta Ellis is like the JV version of Jay Williams

They have some good young pieces, but nothing seems to fit. They can score in large numbers, but their defense is atrocious. Every player is talented at every position but they're too young and the coach doesn't seem to preach discipline. Their team leader was once the shame of the entire NBA. I don't know if they need anything other than accountability.

Houston Rockets

Houston's new team shoe

In a race with the Phoenix Suns to see who can be the biggest disappointment. To win that, they just need one more injury.

Indiana Pacers

If only they could play the four best teams in the NBA over and over, they would be around .900

They need another SG and someone to backup Troy Murphy. The draft is pretty deep. I could see them landing Jrue Holiday and letting him know that he isn't a point guard.

They need to deal with the Jamal Tinsley situation. If they buy him out, look for the Celtics to pick him up, unless he's 50 pounds overweight hanging out in some other country.

LA Clippers

A picture of LA's second biggest disaster

I don't see any worthwhile pieces. Baron is injury prone and can't lead. Kaman is injury prone and goofy. Thornton is destined to be 15 and 7 for life. Eric Gordon will try to sign with someone else just to shed the horrible uniform and to play with others who deserve to be in the NBA. They need a new coach and new personnel. While they're at it, they should change their name since "Clippers" has become synonymous with failure.

LA Lakers

Kobe did this to himself after watching Sasha play defense on Ray Allen

Everyone praises their depth, which they have to some degree, but they are very slow footed at PG and Rondo will exploit that. So will Mo Williams, if Cleveland gets lucky. The truth is, if they don't get some speed at that position, Tony Parker will exploit it and they won't even see Boston or Cleveland.

Memphis Grizzlies

I liked Kyle Lowry, he played great defense; but giving Conley some confidence was also a good move. I love the pieces they have so far and with a good draft they could grab another PG to shake Conley's confidence. Or they could be smart and upgrade the frontcourt.

Miami Heat

He doesn't play as big as he should

They thought they were getting a good forward but instead got an insecure head case. Hopefully he develops or they might need to get another forward. Oh regrets, management must have missed this.

Milwaukee Bucks

Over two dozen sold

Their 2 best players are injured, their draft was a bust and no one cares about them. Yet they're still hovering around 500. Although I like Ramon and Luke, I think they're weakest at PG and the draft has plenty of them.

Minnesota Timberwolves

They need McCants back and 11 other players just like him.

Just kidding.

They need a point guard and a backup for Foye that isn't married to Whitney.

New Orleans Hornets

Tyson was instantly reminded of Hornet's management

I think some God out there loves the Hornets, because they tried to implode and one little (big) toe wouldn't let them.

New York Knicks

He even wears street clothes in video games

They could have used a faster, more athletic big man. Someone like Amar'e but with a better eyeball. I could see them snatching Joe Alexander next year and making a man out of him. Of course this team will stay about as good as they are now until around 2010.

New Jersey Nets

The Lopez twins grew up so fast!

They're really lucky they picked the right brother.

Orlando Magic

JJ Redick's new look

I thought they were done when Jameer went down. Then they got two solid point guards in less than a week. I didn't know there were that many solid point guards in the league.

Oklahoma City Thunder

They don't look like they're rebuilding, do they?

My pick for most improved team next year. Durant and Westbrook are downright scary. I like the addition of Krstic so they don't have to play the weird 7 footers they drafted with the retarded management they had before. They're going to have a great draft pick and I think they should trade it for a really good veteran and sneak their way into the playoffs as an 8 seed.

Phoenix Suns

This photo was taken 1 week ago

They need a backup PG; they have always needed one. Nate Robinson would have been nice and Rondo would have been pretty good. Maybe they shouldn't trade away whoever they draft this year.

Philadelphia 76ers

Elton's Brand

A healthy Brand isn't going to do the trick; they need someone more athletic. They would have been better off with Corey Maggette. Andre Miller is going to leave town next year and they will need a point guard. However, none are available except this guy.

Portland Trailblazers

They're really lucky that they have the best backup center in the league. It is really hard to say what this team needs because they mainly just need to develop. I love their coaching, their athleticism, their depth, and their leadership. A lot of their talent is raw and tender, but if you don't think he looks like Hakeem right here, you're crazy.

Sacramento Kings

He was so loyal to the Kings, he refused to play well for any other team

I might have to write a whole other article just on this team. Not only are they horrible, they aren't fun to watch either. Their best player has no personality and their second best player would easily be waived by any of the top 4 teams. If you combined the best players from the Kings and the Clippers, they would still lose to UCLA.

San Antonio Spurs

Youth Movement

Everyone thought they were too old (and they are), but all the other teams got worse, so they're back in the top 5 teams in the league. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and three guys in wheelchairs would still be above .500

Toronto Raptors

Don't worry kid, they're actually harmless.

Too slow to be run and gun and too small to be good in the half court. Bosh is leaving anyway so does anything matter for this team? At least they will have plenty of cap space.

Utah Jazz

Where have the real men gone?

First off I want to say Deron is not as good as Chris Paul. Not even close. That being, said he's the second best point guard in the league. Please stop looking for comparisons between them, there are none. I love Sloan; he should be coach of the year this year. I like their depth and if they can stay healthy, I like their chances to go deep into the playoffs. Bad seeding will be their early demise. They could use a defensive-minded backup point guard that isn't 5'10.

Washington Wizards

Gandalf isn't the only wizard you should be crying about

I don't like Blatche; he isn't starting material. Jamison, Butler, and Arenas couldn't make it happen when they all were healthy so until they get new pieces to help those guys (bigger front court, better bench), they will be between 1st round losers for years to come.