Posted on: March 5, 2010 2:57 am
Wow I actually miss doing these. I used to do it every week last year and it really was a joy to put them out because they got so much attention on here. Now with teams having made their moves at the deadline and now that they've been able to incorporate those new players to a certain degree, this serves as an ideal time to return with the power rankings. We'll now evaluate who stands where at this point in time and who is prime to make a run, who's running out of gas and who is flying under the radar. So here's this season's first incarnation of GoHornets21's NBA Power Rankings.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (48-14) - LeBron James has been absolutely terrific this season in every way and there's nobody playing better in the league at this point in time. The injuries to Shaquille O'Neal and the "risky trade" of Zydrunas Ilgauskas really have hurt the frontcourt, and it's going to be difficult trying to get all of those players used to the rotation and back into the flow of things right at the postseason, but the Cavs have the best player in the league to help these players come along. Mo Williams has found his shot as of late and if he can get consistent at all this season, the Cavs will be even better. Antawn Jamison still looks like an odd fit, but he's putting up numbers and the Cavs could really use some scoring from the frontcourt positions so he has to be a welcome addition for Cleveland.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (46-16) - The team is still coming along slowly since Kobe Bryant's return to the lineup. That's not to say this team is better without him. If they're going to win a championship this season, they need Kobe in top form for the entire postseason. He is the player that puts them over the top. But players like Jordan Farmar, Pau Gasol and Shannon Brown were getting all kinds of touches and opportunities to create for themselves and others, that they're now having to regress back to earlier this season and allow Kobe to get his touches again. I think the confidence built up for Brown in Kobe's absence may have already gone to waste at this moment, but there's still time to build it back up. Lamar Odom continues to play some really solid basketball of late as well.
3. Denver Nuggets (40-21) - The Nuggets continue to be a mixed bag for me. Sometimes I think they look terrific and other times I think they don't have the mental toughness to be a championship team. But they've played some really inspired basketball since George Karl's cancer announcement and they continue to stand out, to me, as the Lakers' biggest threat in the Western Conference. But Dallas is hard on their heels and the Nuggets have to continue to bring it every single night.
4. Dallas Mavericks (41-21) - Currently the hottest team in the league, the Dallas Mavericks have been a completely different team since Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood entered the starting lineup. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd both have just played some really great basketball since the trade and the Mavericks look as good as they have since the year after their NBA Finals apperance. As we know, that team lost in the first round of the playoffs, though. I don't expect that to happen this season but the Mavericks still have to distance themselves from the postseason stink that surrounds that franchise. Is a clutter of assorted individual talents going to be enough to finally get Dallas over the hump? Only time will tell. But I think this group of players is a good enough fit for this team to make some kind of run. Getting that second seed is more important to them than it is to any other team in the Western Conference in my opinion so I don't see them letting up at any point the rest of this year. This is Dirk's new best chance to get that elusive championship ring. He's playing like it.
5. Orlando Magic (42-20) - I don't know what's happened in Orlando, but Dwight Howard has really came on as of late. After that dissapointing loss in New Orleans last week, the Magic have really looked focused out there and it shows in their play on the court. Rashard Lewis is slowly starting to come along this season (finally) and if he gets a consistent shot like he had last season, this team will again challenge Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. But they need Lewis to play better than he has this season. Jameer Nelson continues to be an enigma of sorts in Orlando but when he's on this team really gels. They need him to regain some kind of consistant form and when he and Lewis do, watch out.
6. Utah Jazz (39-22) - The Jazz have been flying under the radar all season but they're playing great basketball this season. They've finally learned how to win on the road this season and we all know how tough of a team they are when they're in Salt Lake City. Deron Williams really has to enter into some MVP talks with the way he's kept this team together, and Carlos Boozer is using this contract year to really step out and he is really playing hard to get paid this summer. I still think they lack the interior toughness that championship teams possess, but the Jazz shouldn't be underestimated.
7. Atlanta Hawks (39-21) - After these first six teams, it gets a little jumbled up to me. Atlanta stands out just because they have a terrific starting 5, a solid coach (I don't care what you Hawks fans say to the contrary) and a great 6th man. Also, they've beaten the only other team I would consider for this spot (Boston) four times this season, so I believe Atlanta deserves to be here. I usually roll my eyes when people say Joe Johnson is always an underrated superstar in this league, but this year is the first time I would really say that. He's been huge for the Hawks when they need it and he's had to handle a lot with Mike Bibby's struggles this year and with Jamal Crawford not really being a true point guard. But he's handled it well. Marvin Williams has played well the next couple of games, and if they can get him to play hard they'll be just fine in the playoffs. I don't know why he's been so bland this season. But this team has the starting five, they just need to start putting it together for the stretch run.
8. Boston Celtics (38-21) - The Celtics are trying to get fully healthy for the first time this season, and if they can do so the league better watch out. The Celtics really don't need home court advantage in the postseason. They've been there and done that when it comes to winning in the playoffs and all they need is a fully healthy roster. Neither Rasheed Wallace or Marquis Daniels turned out like they wanted this offseason in Boston, but picking up Nate Robinson at the deadline looks to be a good move. What happened to Glen Davis this season? After last year's run in the playoffs, I thought he was going to emerge as a great player off of Boston's bench this season. He's only had a couple good games that I can remember all season long. I guess some of it may be injury, but how much of it is possibly because he got paid this summer?
9. Oklahoma City Thunder (36-24) - Russell Westbrook continues to be in Kevin Durant's shadow this season but continues to play some of the most unheralded basketball in the league. However, there's still no equaling what Durant's doing this season. He's been the catalyst for this surprising team all season long and has absolutely no offensive weakness to his game. If you want someone to score a point for you down the stretch, I'd put him right up there with Kobe as someone who I would want to have the ball for that possession. And I whole heartedly mean that. He's been great. Jeff Green's stats have fallen off this year as opposed to last year, but I still think he's important as a glue guy for this team. He's really gotten lost in the praise shuffle in Oklahoma City, and I think his salary may be neglected this offseason and that may hurt the Thunder's progression. But there's no reason why this team can't win at least one playoff series this year.
10. Phoenix Suns (39-25) - The surprising resurgence in Phoenix continues even after a horrible month of January. Steve Nash is still playing good basketball, Amar'e Stoudemire has been terrific since the trade deadline (someone else looking to get paid this summer) and they've gotten great contributions from Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and Goran Dragic all season long. Robin Lopez had about a week where he was putting up some terrific numbers but he's regressed a bit these past few games. The Suns will need him to consistently contribute on both sides of the court if they're going to make any noise in the postseason. He's shown that he's capable, it's up to him to still find ways to contribute even when teams now make an effort to guard him.
11. Portland Trail Blazers (37-27) - The team with the worst luck in the league is slowly getting back to health and when they do, they're one streak away from convincing me they can contend for a spot in the Western Conference Finals. They're not that far off. They're incredibly deep, they have a fantastic bench, a legit superstar in Brandon Roy and one of the best home courts in the league. Getting Marcus Camby at the deadline will do a lot to soften the blow of not having Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla for the rest of this season. Juwan Howard played admirably in their absence, but no legitimately good team is going to start him at center. He probably shouldn't even be getting the heavy minutes that he is, but Nate McMillan really has no other options. They have to find a way to get healthy this year if they want to make a run, but they can do it. I like their chances.
12. San Antonio Spurs (34-24) - The Spurs continue to impress you one night, make you sick the next when they take the court. I think a lot of the inconsistency across the board is Greg Popovich's fault. All things considered, and I think Pop is the second best coach in the league to Phil Jackon, this has been Pop's worst season as a head coach at San Antonio. The main reason for the Spurs inconsistency is Pop's inability to have any stable, set rotation this season. He's given big minutes to George Hill, and that seems to be the only player outside of the big three that Pop knows what he wants to do with them. He's started Richard Jefferson and brought him off the bench; done the same to Antonio McDyess, DeJuan Blair and Keith Bogans as well. He needs to set a rotation, know who he wants in the game and go with that already. He's hurting this team's chance to get in any rhythym before the playoffs.
13. Milwaukee Bucks (31-29) - I've really been driving the Milwaukee bandwagon as of late. Andrew Bogut has come down to Earth a little bit after a terrific stretch of basketball, but Scott Skiles and company just find ways to win basketball games. John Salmons has been indescribably huge for them since coming over at the trade deadline, and let's not forget the contributions Jerry Stackhouse has made for them off the bench since coming on board midway through the season. You look at their bench, they have Luke Ridnour, Stackhouse and Kurt Thomas, those are players that can contribute for you on a nightly basis. They're more talented than people give them credit for. If Brandon Jennings finds his jump shot again at any point the rest of the season, watch out for this team in the playoffs.
14. Toronto Raptors (31-28) - The Raptors started off playing some good basketball after Chris Bosh initially got injured, but have tailed off since; losing their last four games. I thought Hedo Turkoglu would be an ideal fit for this team and the way they play basketball, but he's just been so unreliable all season long. Andrea Bargnani really hasn't taken that step forward this season that I thought he would either. There's a lot of players who have dissapointed up North, but the team still finds itself above .500 and they're still a solid team with Chrsi Bosh in the lineup. I had bigger hopes for them, though. Now, I can't see them winning a playoff series. Then again, I was wrong with them once.
15. Memphis Grizzlies (32-30) - The Grizzlies started off slow, played great basketball, tailed off, and are now starting to play great again. The team really goes as Zach Randolph goes. When he plays great, the team is unstoppable. When he's simply going through the motions and is just putting up decent numbers, it reflects in everyone else's contributions. The bench is still horrendously thin and that's probably going to keep them out of the postseason. But the Grizzlies have taken a step forward this season and the franchise at least has a pulse now.
16. New Orleans Hornets (31-31) - This was a crucial week for New Orleans and any hopes they had of making the postseason and the team didn't respond very well. Losses at home to San Antonio and Memphis have great deteriorated the Hornets' playoff opportunity. Chris Paul is said to be coming back in roughly a week, and his presence will be welcomed back among Hornets players, coaches and fans alike. Darren Collison has been terrific in his absence, but his turnovers have cost the Hornets just as many games as he's won for them. Marcus Thornton continues to be a terrific find in the 2nd round for Interim Head Coach/General Manager Jeff Bower, and the Hornets are doing the right thing by developing their young talent. This offseason is going to be critical for the direction the Hornets take as a franchise.
17. Chicago Bulls (31-30) - I'm done trying to figure out what kind of team the Bulls are going to be this year. Outside of Derrick Rose, you don't know what you're getting out of anybody on any given night. Luol Deng has rebounded very nicely this season and is the clear cut second option, but is that necessarily a good thing? Joakim Noah's injury also is holding the team back a bit, since he was playing so well at the beginning of the season. Looking at Ronald Murray, Devin Brown and Jannero Pargo, the Bulls are probably wishing they had held on to John Salmons. Hakim Warrick has always put up good numbers on bad teams, but is now being asked to contribute for a team with postseason aspirations. He needs to deliver for Chicago.
18. Miami Heat (31-31) - The Heat's decision to not pursue a second option for Dwyane Wade may have been the right move financially, but it's really hurt the team on the court. Michael Beasley showed glimpses of being able to put it all together earlier this season but started bickering at reporters and has regressed ever since. Maybe a lot of you were right when you told me he didn't have the mental toughness to survive in this league. Outside of Beasley, who of these guys do you really want contributing nightly for your team? It's such a bad roster that I'm surprised Wade has them at .500. I know they have the money for him and another superstar, but does this team have the brass to really put a decent team together? Even if you add another great player, that's still a horrible group of players and now two good players. It won't make them a championship team.
19. Houston Rockets (30-30) - After the very publicized trade in Houston, Kevin Martin has come around to finding his shot for the Rockets. They've been without Kyle Lowry for about 9 games now (I think) and that's really been a big reason why the team has struggled as of late. They were playing so well at the beginning of the year, and with all the injury problems you kind of pulled for them to make some noise but they just don't have the talent to keep up. It doesn't seem likely, but hopefully Yao Ming returns healthy next season (long shot) and this team can make some kind of sustained run together. It's not a bad, little group of players.
20. Charlotte Bobcats (28-31) - For awhile there this team looked like a lock to make the postseason and was playing great basketball. As of late, they've really looked bad. Larry Brown hasn't been able to get a handle on this team in the two years he's been with Charlotte, and he doesn't look like he's enjoying the job either. Michael Jordan buying the team pumps some life into them, but this roster doesn't have any kind of cohesive feel to it. It's a great assortment of individual talent, but none of them look good together on the court. I still like the move to acquire Tyrus Thomas at the deadline and he can be huge off the bench for the Bobcats if he plays up to his potential. Miami is catchable, but their margin for error is slim and the team needs to get an identity and they need to do so quickly.
21. Sacramento Kings (21-40) - Even though the record isn't there, the effort, the hustle, the coaching and the potential is there to create some kind of excitement around Sacramento. The move to acquire Carl Landry while getting rid of Kevin Martin's contract was just ingenious. Tyreke Evans should run away with rookie of the year honors and overall this team has a fun feel to it. Paul Westphal is the perfect balance of discipline and structure that a group of unproven players needs, and this team can really make strides these next two seasons and be back in the playoffs by 2012.
22. Los Angeles Clippers (25-36) - The curious resigning of Mike Dunleavy and subsequent trades for cap space have once again made the Clippers a barely relevant basketball team, although their record says that they're now awful this season. This team continues to riddle even the most brilliant of basketball fans, as there's no reason for a team with that kind of talent to be as mediocre as they are. They have a good point guard, a good center, and good contributors at every position out there. But they just never can put it together. Hopefully, Blake Griffin comes back next season fully healthy and this team makes some kind of stride going forward. There's really no excuse anymore to not succeed.
23. Philadelphia 76ers (22-38) - Nobody's been able to figure out what's going on in Philadelphia all season long. Eddie Jordan just hasn't given this team any kind of identity or style and the play has been indicative of that. The Allen Iverson saga has become bigger than the franchise as of late (something that most teams wanted to avoid, which is why Iverson was so available for Philadelphia). They didn't make any moves at the deadline and I'm curious as to why they didn't, because they either need to get into rebuilding mode or spend ridiculous amounts of cash to be a playoff regular. Because there isn't a more stale team in the league than this 76ers squad.
24. New York Knicks (21-39) - The Knicks can put up numbers in bunches but still look like garbage some times on the court. That effort against the Cavaliers was pathetic but at least they rebounded to beat up on Detroit last night. David Lee has been one of the most consistent players on the court league wide and if not for him the Knicks would probably be in worst shape than they currently are. Bill Walker looks to be a great find off of Boston's bench (after hearing their interest in Michael Finley, you think they're regretting letting Walker go?) but then again, everyone looks to be a great find when they get in D'Antoni's gimmicked system. They have a bad team, but that's mainly because they've freed up the space to go after who they want this offseason. For the sake of their fans, they better get them, because if not this franchise is going to be in really bad shape.
25. Washington Wizards (21-37) - Moving Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler has been so great for this Washington franchise. It's not that those were bad players, they're really good players. In fact, their new teams are both in the top four of these power rankings. And their additions are a big reason why. But Washington needed a change in identity, and disassociating themselves from anybody involved with the team's playoff runs was a good thing for the future. Now without the constraints of commitments to veterans, Flip Saunders has taken the handcuffs off this team and their play has been indicative of such. Andray Blatche, especially, has been huge since the trade deadline and looks fantastic out on the court. They're still not a good team, but at least they're a team Wizards fans can be prouder of.
26. Detroit Pistons (21-40) - The Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva signings officially look awful. In fact, they look like some of the worst moves league wide in a long, long time. It's not as if this team has the cap space to improve, the coaching that gives me confidence things can turn around, or even the young talent that you know they can build around. Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, Austin Daye, Will Bynum, these are all nice players for good teams but they're not players you want to hitch the future of a franchise to. When you look at the paychecks that Gordon, Villanueva and Jason Maxiell are getting in Detroit, it's no wonder why this team is so average. They've invested in the wrong types of players and this franchise is in dire needs of a makeover.
27. Indiana Pacers (20-41) - They've really taken a step back this season and injuries have been a big part of it. Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy and even the likes of Jeff Foster and Tyler Hansbrough have all missed substantial time this season. It's not as if this team was stacked with talent to begin with, so the injuries just make things worse. Jim O'Brien looks as good as gone, and this is another team that really needs some kind of makeover. I look at the players Larry Bird has brought in and the players he's drafted, and I don't think he's done a bad job in Indiana. I just don't look at the roster as a whole and say "there's something to like here." Danny Granger hasn't been able to duplicate the success he had last season and neither has Troy Murphy for the most part. Those are probably the biggets reasons why Indiana has taken such a drastic step back.
28. Golden State Warriors (17-43) - Stephen Curry has really been a feel good story in the Bay City and has done a lot to lessen the blow that is how awful this team is out on the court. He's played all year and has done a fine job in his starting role, but Monta Ellis' recent injury problems have only added on to the long list of injured Warriors on the roster. This is now becoming a recurring theme every year for Golden State, and it confuses me as an observer from the outside. Why is it that all these players are getting hurt in Golden State every single year, regardless if the player has any kind of injury history or is even getting any substantial minutes to where this injury can occur. There's some kind of bad aura surrounding Golden State right now and it doesn't look bright for the Warriors.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (14-48) - Finally Corey Brewer has come around to being a servicable player in this league. Maybe still not worthy of the lottery pick the Timberwolves used on him, but a good player nonethless. Outside of him and Kevin Love, everybody that was on the team last season just has dissapeared this season. This bootleg triangle that Kurt Rambis is trying to opperate just is not working. Al Jefferson is nowhere near the player he was the last two seasons. Ryan Gomes would at least show glimpses of being a good player last year and he's been virtually non-existent this season. Jonny Flynn has put up good numbers but has done nothing to stand out in Minnesota as well. This is another team that's still a bit puzzling because you don't know when the true rebuilding stage is going to kick in. They're obviously not anywhere near playoff contention yet, but what gives you any indication they will be in the near future?
30. New Jersey Nets (6-54) - For awhile there I bought into the hype that the Nets could set the NBA record for futility and surpass the 76ers 9-63 record. After last week's win at Boston, I'm convinced this team will at least go 4- 19 over their last 23 games to get that elusive tenth victory. This team has no business being this bad, and for that reason I kind of feel as if they deserve to carry that loser label around with them. They don't try, they don't perform, they're undisciplined and they don't seem to care that they're so awful of a team. Poor Kiki Vandeweghe was told to firesale the roster with the hopes of acquiring LeBron James this offseason, but he's going to be blamed for how bad this roster is. Even with all this cap space, there's no reason for a player to want to go to New Jersey, the impending move to Brooklyn is still pending, and that Russian billionare who was going to buy the team still has yet to buy them. Even still, they shouldn't be anywhere near 9-63.
Tags: 76ers, Al Jefferson, Allen Iverson, Amar'e Stoudemire, Andray Blatche, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Antawn Jamison, Antonio McDyess, Austin Daye, Ben Gordon, Bill Walker, Blake Griffin, Bobcats, Brandon Jennings, Brandon Roy, Brendan Haywood, Bucks, Bulls, Carl Landry, Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Channing Frye, Charlie Villanueva, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Clippers, Corey Brewer, Danny Granger, Darren Collison, David Lee, DeJuan Blair, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Devin Brorwn, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, George Hill, Glen Davis, Goran Dragic, Grant Hill, Greg Oden, Grizzlies, Hakim Warrick, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jamal Crawford, Jameer Nelson, Jannero Pargo, Jared Dudley, Jason Kidd, Jason Maxiell, Jazz, Jeff Foster, Jeff Green, Jerry Stackhouse, Joakim Noah, Joe Johnson, Joel Przybilla, John Salmons, Jonas Jerebko, Jonny Flynn, Jordan Farmar, Juwan Howard, Keith Bogans, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Kurt Thomas, Kyle Lowry, Lakers, Lamar Odom, LeBron James, Luke Ridnour, Luol Deng, Magic, Marcus Camby, Marcus Thornton, Marquis Daniels, Marvin Williams, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Mike Bibby, Mike Dunleavy, Mo Williams, Monta Ellis, Nate Robinson, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Pistons, Raptors, Rashard Lewis, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Jefferson, Robin Lopez, Rockets, Rodney Stuckey, Ronald Murray, Russell Westbrook, Ryan Gomes, Shannon Brown, Shaquille O'Neal, Spurs, Stephen Curry, Steve Nash, Suns, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Troy Murphy, Tyler Hansbrough, Tyreke Evans, Tyrus Thomas, Warriors, Will Bynum, Wizards, Yao Ming, Zach Randolph
Posted on: December 22, 2009 2:58 am
2010 is coming. If you have watched basketball at all the last two seasons, all that's mentioned is the future destinations of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company. While those two are dynomite and will be worth whatever amount of cash a team throws at them, players like Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer have Juwan Howard written all over them. Because teams are guaranteed to overspend, we're going to look back at the ten worst contracts of the last ten years, starting in 2000 and ending now. We'll list each player by the team he signed with, the length and amount of the contract and their statistics for the duration of their contract.
Tags: 76ers, Amar'e Stoudemire, Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Andrei Kirilenko, Antawn Jamison, Ben Gordon, Ben Wallace, Brandon Roy, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, David West, DeSagana Diop, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Eddy Curry, Erick Dampier, Gilbert Arenas, Heat, Hornets, Jason Kidd, Jazz, Jermaine O'Neal, Juwan Howard, Kenyon Martin, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Larry Hughes, LeBron James, Luol Deng, Marcus Camby, Mavericks, Michael Finley, Michael Redd, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Peja Stojakovic, Pistons, Samuel Dalembert, Spurs, Suns, Tyson Chandler, Wizards
Posted on: December 2, 2009 5:38 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2009 6:52 pm
0-17. That's right; 17 straight losses to begin an NBA Season. The New Jersey Nets have done the unthinkable and joined an elite list in the NBA's illustrious history. Three franchises, only three in the entire history of the NBA, have started off a season with 17 straight losses. No team has lost 18 straight. While the Nets record indicates they'd be among the worst this decade, it's hard to see where they fall with teams of the past few years. So I thought it'd be fun to do a little research and come up with my own list of the ten worst NBA teams of the last decade. Beginning in the 2000-2001 season and concluding last season (which technically only makes it 9 seasons), all teams were candidates for this list. The ten that made it had problems with youth, problems with injuries, problems with coaching, problems with talent, problems with attendance and, obviously, problems with winning. So without further adieu, here's the Ten Worst NBA Teams of the Last Decade.
Tags: Adonal Foyle, Al Harrington, Al Jefferson, Andray Blatche, Antawn Jamison, Baron Davis, Boris Diaw, Brendan Haywood, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Andersen, Chris Paul, Chris Quinn, Daequan Cook, Darius Songaila, David West, Dwyane Wade, Erick Dampier, Gilbert Arenas, Greg Oden, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, J.R. Smith, Jamaal Magloire, Jason Williams, JaVale McGee, Javaris Crittenton, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Juwan Howard, Kevin Garnett, Knicks, Larry Hughes, LeBron James, Marcus Camby, Mark Blount, Mike James, Nets, Nick Young, Nuggets, Paul Pierce, Quentin Richardson, Richard Hamilton, Ricky Davis, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Shaquille O'Neal, Shawn Marion, Theo Ratliff, Timberwolves, Tony Allen, Udonis Haslem, Warriors, Wizards, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Posted on: May 28, 2009 2:20 pm
After the extremely positive feedback I received for ranking the No. 2 draft picks of the draft lottery era, I found it fitting to continue on and now rank the best No. 2 draft picks of the draft lottery era. Going over this list, there are plenty of dissapointing players and a lot of names that people will scratch their heads at. Unfortunately, everything from death, to injury, to immaturity and lack of talent has affected this crop of players and that's why this list was much toughter than the list of No. 1 draft picks. Everyone always remembers No. 1, but hardly anyone remembers who goes 2nd. Well here it is: Ranking The No. 2 Draft Picks of Draft Lottery Era.
24) Len Bias, F, Boston Celtics out of University of Maryland in 1986 NBA Draft (Did Not Play) - A lot of people will view this pick as "what could have been," but Bias drew many comparisons to Chicago great Michael Jordan and looked like one of the most promising prospects in years. Drafted by the aging Boston Celtics, Bias was supposed to be the stopgap that would allow the current Celtics to play out their years and then he would carry the team into the future. However, less than 48 hours after being drafted by the Boston Celtics, Len Bias was found dead of a coacaine overdose back at his college campus. He's one of the glaring casualties of the drug era in the NBA of the 1980s, joining David Thompson as one of the saddest stories.
23) Jay Williams, G, Chicago Bulls out of Duke University in 2002 NBA Draft (75 Games, 9.5 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG) - While in college, you had to watch Jay Williams to understand how great he really was. Leading Duke to a national championship as a sophomore, Williams would go on to win every player of the year award imaginable in his junior season before graduating with honors and entering the 2002 NBA Draft. Taken after Yao Ming, Williams was viewed as the sure bet of the two but really struggled in his rookie season. He did show flashes of brilliance, including a fantastic triple double against the New Jersey Nets, but he was largely inconsistent his rookie year. However, in the offseason, Williams' life almost came to an end after a brutal motorcycle accident that left Williams with a severed main nerve in his leg, a fractured pelvis, and three torn ligaments in his left knee including his ACL. The Bulls, a week later, drafted a point guard (Kirk Hinrich) to replace him and Williams' career was done. In a class move by the Bulls, they continued to keep Williams on the payroll through his rehab but then settled for a buyout with the player. Unsuccessful attempts to get on board with his hometown Nets followed, and Williams has now given up on getting back to the NBA.
22) Darko Milicic, F-C, Detroit Pistons out of Serbia in 2003 NBA Draft (337 Games, 5.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.2 BPG) - There were a lot of great players in the famed 2003 NBA Draft, and going into the draft it was obvious to all that Darko Milicic would be the first player selected after LeBron James. The Detroit Pistons, fresh off of a conference finals appearance, were able to land the No. 2 pick after a prior deal with the, then, Vancouver Grizzlies for Otis Thorpe. Milicic arrived with much fan fare in Detroit, but was never able to get off of the bench. Viewed as too young by coach Larry Brown, the 18 year old Milicic sat on the bench for two Pistons teams that went to the finals, and won a championship in his rookie year with the 2004 Pistons team. However, midway through his third year with the Pistons, still unable to get off of the bench, Milicic was traded to the Magic and showed the promise that people saw when he was drafted by Detroit. However, his inconsistency shined through again when Milicic signed with the Grizzlies, and it looks as if he'll never be the player he was capable of being.
21) Danny Ferry, F, Los Angeles Clippers out of Duke University in 1989 NBA Draft (917 Games, 7.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.3 APG) - A colleigate legend for the Duke Blue Devils, the sweet shooting Danny Ferry immediately refused to go to the Clippers when they drafted him and played in Italy his rookie year in order to get out of having to go to Los Angeles. After going to Italy, Ferry's rights were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ron Harper (in a good move for the Clippers) where he then signed a guaranteed ten year contract. It was immediately known after he got on the court that Ferry would never be a graceful athlete or a great player. All of the poise and posture he displayed at Duke quickly turned into decency on the court in Cleveland. He eventually won a championship on the 2003 San Antonio Spurs team and is, ironically enough, currently the general manager for Cleveland.
20) Shawn Bradley, C, Philadelphia 76ers out of Bringham Young University in 1993 NBA Draft (832 Games, 8.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.5 BPG) - An imposing presence at 7'6" tall, Bradley entered the league as the tallest player in the league's history. After blocking five shots a game as a freshman for BYU, Bradley declared for the 1993 NBA Draft following his freshman seasons. Drafted 2nd overall by Philadelphia, Bradley immediately showed a knack for blocking shots due to his height but an inability to due much else. Looking at the build of his body, it should have come as no surprise that Bradley never developed as an athlete but that didn't stop the Philadelphia media from torching Bradley when he was routinely dominated by more physical centers. After two and a half horrid seasons with the 76ers, he was traded to the Nets and eventually found his way on the Dallas Mavericks. Bradley spent the last eight and a half years of his career with Dallas before calling it quits due to knee problems in 2005.
19) Stromile Swift, F-C, Vancouver Grizzlies out of Louisiana State University in 2000 NBA Draft (547 Games, 8.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG) - A fantastic athlete, Swift bounced onto the scene in the NCAA Tournament during his sophomore season with the LSU Tigers. After being selected as one of many 2nd draft picks by the Vancouver Grizzlies, Williams sat on the bench in their last season in Vancouver before leaping onto the scene in Memphis. Paired with young point guard Jason Williams, Swift's athleticism and crowd pleasing dunks made him a fan favorite in Memphis. For reasons unknown, after signing a nice deal with the Houston Rockets, Swift's career took a huge nosedive as he was traded back to Memphis after one season with Houston, was then traded to New Jersey who promptly waved him. He currently finished the year as a non factor reserve on a Phoenix Suns team that missed the playoffs.
18) Michael Beasley, F, Miami Heat out of Kansas State University in 2008 NBA Draft (81 Games, 13.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.0 APG) - After a tremendous freshman season for the Kansas State Wildats, Michael Beasley shocked absolutely nobody by declaring for the 2008 NBA Draft. Long viewed as a lock for the number one draft pick, Derrick Rose's fantastic tournament play catapulted him to be selected first overall by the Chicago Bulls. Questons about Beasley's character and maturity then started to arise but the Heat still selected him 2nd overall. Starting off the year with many struggles, Beasley was criticized by many at the beginning of his rookie season but really caught stride the last two months of the regular season. Helping the Heat get into the postseason, Beasley's stellar play continued in the postseason and it looks as if he'll be a very good player as he continues to develop.
17) Marvin Williams, F, Atlanta Hawks out of University of North Carolina in 2005 NBA Draft (284 Games, 12.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.4 APG) - After a fantastic freshman season as a reserve on the famed 2005 North Caronlina national champion team, Williams shocked a lot of people when he declared for the 2005 NBA Draft. Viewed as a can't miss prospect, Williams was quickly snatched second overall by the Atlanta Hawks and hasn't yet took off. The last two seasons he has really come into his own as a player and looks as if he'll be a fine contributor for many years to come in this league, but because he was drafted ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul, Williams will long be a criticized pick by experts and fans alike.
16) LaMarcus Aldridge, F-C, Chicago Bulls out of University of Texas in 2006 NBA Draft (220 Games, 15.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.1 BPG) - Immediately traded by the Bulls to the Portland Trail Blazers for the draft rights to Tyrus Thomas, Aldridge eventually took the Portland fans by storm with his demeanor, work ethic and production. After a solid rookie season, Aldridge developed into a fantastic player for Portland before this season, teamed with Brandon Roy, helping lead Portland to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. The future is extremely bright for the young Aldridge, who looks like a centerpiece for something special for the young Portland franchise.
15) Kenny Anderson, PG, New Jersey Nets out of Georgia Tech University in 1991 NBA Draft (858 Games, 12.6 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.5 SPG) - As a local prodigy on the streets of Queens, Anderson went on to impress supporters with two spectacular seasons with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets before declaring for the NBA Draft. After being drafted by the somewhat local New Jersey Nets, Anderson looked like he had a fantastic career ahead of him. However, inconsistency and immaturity plagued Anderson for his entire career. Despite showing flashes of brilliance, including four seasons where he averaged above 16 points a game, Anderson never developed into a great player in any area of his game. After famously refusing to report to Toronto during a midseason trade from Portland, Anderson was then shipped to the Boston Celtics where his criticism of being "injury prone" followed him and he never materalized past being a solid player in Boston. He finished out his career with the Los Angeles Clippers.
14) Keith Van Horn, F, Philadelphia 76ers out of University of Utah in 1997 NBA Draft (575 Games, 16.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.6 APG) - A 6'10" player with an incredible shooting touch, Keith Van Horn's was drafted behind Tim Duncan in the 1997 NBA draft before his rights were immediately traded to the New Jersey Nets. He took the league by storm his first three seasons, routinely scoring above 19 points a game all of those seasons before signing a very lucrative extension with New Jersey. However, after the extension, Van Horn started to be bullied by players on the Nets team and after showing signs of being injury prone he was shipped to Philadelphia. This would start a chain reaction for Van Horn. Due to his immaturity and injuries, he was traded a total of four times in four seasons after signing that extension. He's probably most famous, now, for coming out of retirement to receive a one year guaranteed deal with the Mavericks to make the finances work in the Devin Harris for Jason Kidd deal in 2008. Horn was promptly cut by New Jersey and now has gone back into retirement.
13) Tyson Chandler, C, Los Angeles Clippers out of Dominguez High School in 2001 NBA Draft (537 Games, 8.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG) - A fantastic 7'1" athlete, Chandler was viewed as a great prospect throughout high school before being drafted by the hometown Los Angeles Clippers. Chandler's rights where immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls for Elton Brand so that he could be partnered with fellow high school prodigy Eddy Curry to form a dynamic front court for the Bulls. Neither Chandler nor Curry materialized in Chicago due to inconsistency and injuries and Curry was traded to the Knicks and Chandler was traded to the New Orleans Hornets. After arriving in New Orleans, Chandler immediately showed the promise that he displayed in high school that prompted the Bulls to trade for him. After being plagued by injuries and inconsistency again, the Hornets attempted to trade Chandler to the Thunder before injuries to Chandler's ankle and toe forced the Thunder to fail his physical and rescind the trade. Chandler is currently looking to be shipped around again and it is unknown whether he will ever become the player that he potentially could have been.
12) Armen Gilliam, PF, Phoenix Suns out of University of Nevada in Las Vegas in 1987 NBA Draft (929 Games, 13.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.2 APG) - As an intregal member of some fantastic Runnin' Rebels teams of the late 80s, Gilliam reached the final four in 1987 before graduating and entering the NBA Draft. After being selected by the Phoenix Suns, Gilliam turned out to be a solid scorer with Phoenix and turned out 13 solid seasons in the NBA. A fantastic low post scorer, Gilliam played some impressive basketball for the Hornets, Nets and Suns before finally calling it a career in 2000 after spending a season with the Utah Jazz.
11) Kevin Durant, G-F, Seattle Supersonics out of University of Texas in 2007 NBA Draft (154 Games, 22.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.1 SPG) - After taking the nation by storm following a fantastic freshman season with the Texas Longhorns, Durant declared for the 2007 NBA Draft and battled with Greg Oden as to who the number one overall draft pick would be. After the Portland Trail Blazers selected Greg Oden, the dying Seattle Supersonics franchise selected Kevin Durant, who promptly took the NBA by storm. Viewed as a player that was too small and not talented enough of a jumpshooter, Durant came into the league and averaged over 20 points a game in his rookie season, winning the 2008 NBA Rookie of the Year award. Before his second season, the Supersonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder and Durant immediately became a superstar. Averaging over 25 points a game, Durant has shown that he has the potential to be a fantastic player and dynamic scorer in this league for the foreseeable future barring injuries or any other setbacks.
10) Wayman Tisdale, PF, Indiana Pacers out of University of Oklahoma in 1985 NBA Draft (840 Games, 15.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.3 APG) - A dynamic scorer for the Oklahoma Sooners, Tisdale took the big eight by storm in his three seasons with Oklahoma by winning the conference player of the year all three of his seasons with Oklahoma. He was a member of the famed 1984 USA Olympic Basketball Team as well before being drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1985. Tisdale remained a productive scorer in the pros, immediately becoming a nice post presence for the Pacers before being shipped to the Sacramento Kings. Once in Sacramento, Tisdale's career really developed as he became Sacramento's best scorer inside for nearly six seasons. After finishing out his career as a reserve with the Phoenix Suns, Tisdale became a budding jazz musician, even releasing a score of CDs. However, in 2007 Tisdale fell down his steps and broke his leg and during an observation of the leg it was shown that he had cancer in his knee. After working to recover from the injury, he had his right leg partially amputated and went on a 21 date concert tour shortly after. On May 15, 2009, Tisdale was taken to the hospital after having trouble breathing where he was then prounced dead.
9) Steve Francis, G, Vancouver Grizzlies out of University of Maryland in 1999 NBA Draft (576 Games, 18.1 PPG, 6.0 APG, 5.6 RPG, 1.5 SPG) - After being drafted by Vancouver, in a sign of things to come in Francis' career, Francis immediately refused to go to Vancouver as a result of the distance from his Maryland home and citing that it was "God's will" that he not play in Vancouver. After being routinely criticized in the media, all was forgotten and forgiven when "The Franchise" was shipped to the Houston Rockets in a humongous 11 player deal. Once in Houston, Francis took the league by storm, becoming co-2000 NBA Rookie of the Year award winner (along with Bulls forward Elton Brand) and quickly becoming one of the more popular players in the league. After pubicly criticized Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy, who wanted to slow down the offense in favor of Yao Ming, Francis was shipped to the Orlando Magic where all looked to be forgiven again. However, after the Magic's quick start started to slow down, and the Magic traded Francis' friend Cuttino Mobley, Francis' pouting continued and he was then traded to the New York Knicks. Once in New York, Francis looked like a shell of his former self and was traded to Portland before they ate the remaining two years and 30 million dollars on his contract. Francis returned to Houston but has only played 10 games in two seasons with the Rockets and Grizzlies after suffering a quadriceps injury.
8) Emeka Okafor, F-C, Charlotte Bobcats out of University of Connecticut in 2004 NBA Draft (330 Games, 14.0 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 1.8 BPG) - After receiving every accolade imaginable in a fantastic colleigate career with the UConn Huskies, Okafor graduated and immediately was entered in the 2004 NBA Draft. After almost being assured the number one draft pick due to his defensive prowress and colleigate production, Okafor was passed over by the Orlando Magic (who selected Dwight Howard) and was promptly drafted by the expansion Charlotte Bobcats to be their franchise player. Okafor has never developed into that franchise player role due to injuries and going largely unnoticed in Charlotte. However, Okafor's career may be silent but it's been routinely productive. He won the 2005 NBA Rookie of the Year award and has manned down the center position for Charlotte for the duration of his career. He recently signed a six year 72 million dollar deal to remain in Charlotte last offseason, and looks to be a staple of the team for years to come.
7) Antonio McDyess, F-C, Los Angeles Clippers out of University of Alabama in 1995 NBA Draft (865 Games, 13.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.1 BPG) - A fantastic athlete for his size for the Crimson Tide, McDyess left college after his sophomore season to enter the 1995 NBA Draft. After being selected by the Los Angeles Clippers, McDyess' rights were immediately traded to the Denver Nuggets for Rodney Rogers and the draft rights to Brent Barry. While in Denver, McDyess established himself as a dynamic scorer and tremendous athlete. After spending a year with the Phoenix Suns, McDyess agreed to resign with Denver in 1999 and picked up his game to new heights. He routinely posted averages of 20 points and 10 rebounds for the otherwise unsuccessful Denver franchise and won a Gold Medal as a Unitd States Olympian in 2000. However, McDyess suffered a crippling knee injury early in the 2001-2002 NBA Season. Those knee problems would follow McDyess for that season and also for the next two seasons, as he played 52 total games out of a possible 246 from 2001 to 2004. After signing on to be a reserve for the Detroit Pistons, McDyess was a contributor to a team that went to the 2005 NBA Finals and has refound some of his old glory in Detroit. While never reaching the level of success he once had in Denver, McDyess has overcome the knee injuries to turn in a very successful comeback.
6) Marcus Camby, F-C, Toronto Raptors out of University of Massachusetts in 1996 NBA Draft (757 Games, 10.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 1.9 APG, 1.0 SPG) - As a fantastic player for the Hilltoppers at UMass, Camby declared for the famed 1996 NBA draft after his junior season and was selected second overall by the Toronto Raptors. After two inconsistent years in Toronto, Camby was traded to the New York Knicks where he turned into a fantastic player. While as a member of the Knicks, Camby went to the 1999 NBA Finals and was promptly given a huge contract. However, after receiving that contract from the Knicks, Camby developed a knack for being injury prone after missing 277 games throughout his career. When on the court, though, Camby's play is extremely stellar. After being traded by the Knicks to the Denver Nuggets for fellow injury prone star Antonio McDyess, Camby would win the 2007 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and would help lead the Nuggets to the playoffs for five straight seasons. He was the subject of much controversy when he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers primarily for a trade exemption for the Nuggets, but continued his stellar, if not injury prone, play in Los Angeles.
5) Rik Smits, C, Indiana Pacers out of Marist College in 1988 NBA Draft (867 Games, 14.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.2 BPG) - After playing at Marist College shortly after coming over from the Netherlands, the offensively gifted 7'4" Dutch center was snagged by the Indiana Pacers in the 1988 NBA Draft. Shortly after coming over. Smits was teamed with Pacer great Reggie Miller and helped lead the Pacers to a string of successful seasons although the team always seemed to suffere postseason defeat. After spending his entire 12 year career with the Pacers, and routinely performing past expecations in the postseason individually, Smits and the Pacers made the 2000 NBA Finals where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. After those finals, though, Smits prematurely retired from the game due to immensely painful foot injuries. Smits would later be named to the Pacers 40th Anniversary Team.
4) Mike Bibby, PG, Vancouver Grizzlies out of University of Arizona in 1998 NBA Draft (802 Games, 16.4 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG) - A coach's son, Mike Bibby would win a national championship as the starting point guard for the Arizona Wildcats in his freshman season. After following that up with a stellar sophomore season, Bibby declared for the 1998 NBA Draft, and after the Clippers selected Michael Olowkandi, Bibby was taken 2nd by the Vancouver Grizzlies. Bibby turned in three very solid seasons in Vancouver although the Grizzlies routinely were among the worst teams in the league. After a trade to the Sacramento Kings, Bibby became one of the most recognizable players in the league. His performance, with Sacramento, in the 2002 NBA Postseason made Bibby a legend in Sacramento and he was rewarded with a 7 year 80 million dollar contract. Bibby continued to be a great player for Sacramento for the next few seasons, although the team never got as close to a championship as it did that 2002 NBA Postseason. Bibby has, as of late, become a routinely injured player and was shipped to the Atlanta Hawks at the 2008 NBA Trade deadline. He has since lead the Hawks to straight postseason apperances and is now a free agent. His future in the league looks to be solid, although he may never reach the level of success he obtained in Sacramento.
3) Gary Payton, PG, Seattle Supersonics out of Oregon State University in the 1990 NBA Draft (1,335 Games, 16.3 PPG, 6.7 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.8 SPG) - After being selected by the Seattle Supersonics out of nearby Oregon State Payton was slowly brought along in Seattle before being given the reigns and taking the Supersonics to some of their most successful stretches in franchise history. Nicknamed "The Glove" for his fantastic defensive presence, Payton teamed up with Shawn Kemp to routinely help the Supersonics make postseason appearances for 12 straight seasons. In 1996, Payton won the Defensive Player of the Year award, made it to the 1996 NBA Finals and won an Olympic Gold Medal in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He would win one more Gold Medal in 2000 but success would become harder to obtain in Seattle and Payton was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. After signing with the Lakers for the famed 2003-2004 team, Payton would struggle in coach Phil Jackson's pattented Triangle Offense and his production would take a huge hit. After initially refusing to go to Boston and then going, Payton would play for five teams in five seasons to end his career before winning that elusive championship as a reserve on the 2006 Miami Heat squad.
2) Alonzo Mourning, C, Charlotte Hornets out of Georgetown University in the 1992 NBA Draft (838 Games, 17.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.8 BPG, 1.1 APG) - A bragadacious player with game to back it up, Mourning took the league by storm even though he entered the NBA the same yaer that Shaquille O'Neal did. He helped a young and upstart Charlotte Hornets team make the semifinals in his rookie season before butting heads with fellow supertar Larry Johnson. After having contractual disputes with Hornets owner George Shinn, Mourning would be traded to the Miami Heat where he enjoyed the most consistent success of his career. Routinely posting averages of 20 points and 10 rebounds, Mourning would lead the Heat to the playoffs for five straight seasons, although they routinely lost to the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks every season. During that stretch, Mourning would win the 1999 and 2000 NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards and would also win an Olympic Gold Medal with the 2000 USA Olympic Baskeball Team. In 2003, Mourning started to suffer from kidney problems and his long estranged cousin eventually donated one of his kidneys to Mourning, and Mourning became the second player, after Sean Elliott, to play in the NBA after receiving a kidney transplant. After trying to win a championship with the New Jersey Nets, Mourning would return to Miami to back up Shaquille O'Neal and would be the backup center on the Miami team that won the 2006 NBA Championship. He retired in 2008 after suffering a crippling patellar tendon tear in his knee.
1) Jason Kidd, PG, Dallas Mavericks out of University of California in Berkeley in the 1994 NBA Draft (1,107 Games, 13.8 PPG, 9.2 APG, 6.7 RPG, 2.0 SPG) - After jumping out onto the scene in the 1993 NCAA Tournament, Kidd would enter the 1994 NBA Draft a successfull follow up sophomore season for the Cal Golden Bears. After being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, Kidd would be coupled with Jamaal Mashburn and Jim Jackson and the "three J's" would bring Dallas immense hope for the future. After taking the league by storm with comparisons to Magic Johnson and routinely picking up triple doubles, Kidd would win the 1995 Co-Rookie of the Year Award with Detroit Pistons forward Grant Hill. However, Kidd quickly grew unhappy in Dallas and was shipped over to the Phoenix Suns. His play took off while in Phoenix and Kidd would routinely be named to all NBA teams. After a public battle with his wife, though, Phoenix shipped him to New Jersey where his career would finally reach its peak. Kidd would finish second in the MVP voting in 2002 to Tim Duncan with the Nets and would lead New Jersey to two consecutive Eastern Conference Championships, being swept by the Lakers in 2002 and losing in six to the Spurs in 2003. Kidd, though, would routinely demand trade request adn then rescind those request with New Jersey and would also have a falling out with coach Byron Scott who was fired as a result of the disagreement. After being traded back to Dallas, Kidd has continued his stellar play although more critics of his have emerged overtime. It's unclear whether he will ever win that elusive championship, but his greatness on the court should never be underestimated.
Tags: 76ers, Antonio McDyess, Bobcats, Brandon Roy, Brent Barry, Bucks, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Paul, Clippers, Cuttino Mobley, Darko Milicic, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dwight Howard, Eddy Curry, Elton Brand, Emeka Okafor, Grant Hill, Greg Oden, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Jason Kidd, Jazz, Kevin Durant, Kings, Kirk Hinrich, Knicks, Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge, LeBron James, Magic, Marcus Camby, Marvin Williams, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Mike Bibby, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets, Shaquille O'Neal, Spurs, Stromile Swift, Suns, Thunder, Tim Duncan, Trail Blazers, Tyrus Thomas, Tyson Chandler, Yao Ming
Posted on: April 16, 2009 11:45 pm
Rookie of the Year:
Most Valuable Player:
Coach of the Year:
Executive of the Year:
Defensive Player of the Year:
Sixth Man of the Year:
Most Improved Player:
Tags: Brandon Roy, Brook Lopez, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Chris Paul, David Lee, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Grizzlies, Heat, Hornets, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Knicks, LeBron James, Magic, Marcus Camby, Mavericks, Mo Williams, Nene, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Paul Pierce, Russell Westbrook, Spurs, Thunder, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Trail Blazers, Travis Outlaw
Posted on: January 5, 2009 1:07 am
Edited on: April 16, 2009 11:56 pm
1. Los Angeles Lakers (4) - Rejoice, Los Angeles! The beloved Lakers have reclaimed their top position. The hottest team in the NBA is boasting one of its hottest players in Kobe Bryant. As of late, Kobe and Pau Gasol have elevated their play to around the level they were at around the postseason last year. The bench is getting good production even with Jordan Farmar missing time with his injury. I don't believe adding another point guard is critical for the moment but it wouldn't hurt if they could land one for cheap.
2. Atlanta Hawks (5) - The Hawks suffered a crushing loss with a near halfcourt heave at the buzzer from Vince Carter at New Jersey. That was only their second loss in twelve games. Victories over Cleveland, Denver, Houston and Detroit highlight that stretch and prove that this team is not a flash in the pan. I'm sure they won't maintain this level of competition all season long as the team is largely unproven, but don't try to dispute what they've accomplished so far this season. Not only is this team legitimate, they're talented.
3. Boston Celtics (2) - And just like that, with a loss to a depleted Portland team and to a bad New York team (coming off a week in which they lost their first game in forever in addition to a loss to a bad Golden State team) and the Celtics all of a sudden look vulnerable. I'm not going to jump off of the bandwagon and say that they're cooked, it's not a matter of if but when this team rights the ship and gets back to playing the defense that made them impossible to beat through November and December. Kevin Garnett has slowed a bit so far this season and Paul Pierce has had to carry this unit for basically the whole season. The role players have also slowed a tad, which is the main reason for the team's struggles but they'll get it back together and they'll still be there in the end.
4. Orlando Magic (3) - Something doesn't quite seem right with Hedo Turkoglu this season. All of his statistics have dropped from last season and his field goal percentage is at a laughable 38 percent. That's either meaning he's struggling to do too much in a contract year, or maybe last season was more of an aberration for the turkish born star. Overall, the Magic have been solid all season long and if he captures the form he showed last season then they'll be right up there at the top of the eastern confrence.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers (1) - Rejoice, Cavs haters! Zydrunas Ilgauskas has gone down to injury and the Cavaliers dropped two games this week, including an embarassing defeat at the hands of Washington today. For at least a week anyways, the team looked like last season's team, which relied entirely too heavily on LeBron James. What's happened to Wally Szczerbiak this season? He's the definition of a non factor, and with his expiring contract, if he showed any bit of production they could get a really good player in return for Wally World. But so far his value is worth about the same as Eric Snow's.
6. San Antonio Spurs (6) - Manu Ginobili had a huge week for the Spurs. Greg Popovich has done a fine job with his roster and has seemingly settled on a nice rotation. Tim Duncan is having the best year he's had in the past two or three and Tony Parker is currently playing like their best player. They're a dangerous unit and they're going to be there in the end, regardless of their difficult start.
7. Denver Nuggets (7) - Carmelo Anthony played hero on two separate occasions for the Nuggets this season, even if they were underwhelming in barely defeated Oklahoma City and blowing a 26 point lead at home to New Orleans. An injury to Nene for the Oklahoma City game showed no immediate hamper on the Nuggets, but if he misses any prolonged period of time they're in bad shape. They lack serious depth in the frontcourt.
8. New Orleans Hornets (9) - They still lack the consistency that they showed for so much of last season but Chris Paul is playing the best ball of any player in the NBA. The fact that he's not up there with Kobe Bryant in all star voting is unbelievable and truly speaks to the knowledge of the average NBA fan. David West has really picked up his game as of late and don't look now, but the Hornets rank among the league's best at the defensive side of the ball.
9. Detroit Pistons (15) - I've ridden no team as hard this year as I have the Pistons, but Rodney Stuckey has resurrected what was a dead season for Detroit after the Allen Iverson trade. The readdition of Antonio McDyess is as much a factor as any in the team's current winning streak and even though they may not be blowing teams out, victories are victories and the Pistons are winning ball games.
10. Portland Trail Blazers (8) - Playing without Brandon Roy hurt this team this week as they looked bad against New Orleans and the Lakers. Overall, they managed to pull out a victory against Boston and they're still playing hard even without Roy in the lineup. McMillan will never let this team play a weak game but they can't win without their all star guard in the lineup.
11. Dallas Mavericks (11) - Today's loss at Memphis was embarassing but Dirk Nowitzki has carried the Mavericks to a very strong season thus far. They're a team of wing players and that will doom them in the playoffs, but they will exceed any expectations they were given this season. Rick Carlisle has done a really good job with the Mavericks this season.
12. Phoenix Suns (13) - Shaquille O'Neal is having his best year since his last year in Los Angeles for Phoenix and the team is maintaining a steady play so far this season. Jason Richardson hasn't added much since his addition, but the team continues to win so his presence alone must be enough for the Suns to get by.
13. Utah Jazz (12) - Word of Carlos Boozer now needing surgery has to demoralize this squad even with Paul Millsap playing as fantastic as he has this season (I forgot to mention him in my most improved players list last week). The C.J. Miles experiment has worked well with him playing so steady this season. He's never going to be more than an average starter in this league but he's solid enough to where the Jazz can continue to use Andrei Kirilenko on the bench, which has worked very well for them so far this season.
14. Miami Heat (14) - An injury to Shawn Marion has thrusted Daequan Cook into the starting lineup and I think with a shipping of Marion and his expiring contract at the deadline, that can be a nice spot for Cook. Michael Beasley has been underwhelming so far this season but has shown flashes of being a nice player in this league. It's safe to say that he was a tad overhyped coming into the draft, though.
15. Houston Rockets (10) - Tracy McGrady's play this season has been absolutely pathetic. He's beyond bad at this moment and Yao Ming is shooting a percentage in the low 40s the past few games as well. With Ron Artest in and out of the lineup as well, this team is currently in a great deal of turmoil and it's evident when you watch them out on the court. Aaron Brooks has tailed off considerably since his start this season but the talent is still there for this team to turn it around. You just have to wonder if their players are tough enough to do it.
16. New Jersey Nets (16) - They're incredibly inconsistent and continue to be without a victory when Devin Harris is out of the lineup, but the Nets still, week after week, find themselves in the picture in the NBA. Vince Carter has had his fair share of last second theatrics this season and that's been a major reason for the Nets' position at the moment. They have to wonder if a postseason appearance is worth a possible run at a championship in the next two or three seasons when it comes to Carter, but we'll see what it is they're offered for Vince.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (17) - The Bucks are a team that's so difficult to put a finger on, because they have no player who's consistently great every night and they don't really scare you in any facet of their play. Yet they've been near .500 all season long and they're still in the playoff race thus far. That speaks wonders for Scott Skiles, even though I'm confused at his reluctancy to give Ramon Sessions big minutes. I've seen an increase in Tyronn Lue as of late and I don't believe he's better than Sessions.
18. Toronto Raptors (23) - Two weeks ago the Raptors were left for dead, and since then they've had a very impressive past two weeks. Chris Bosh has found the form he displayed earlier this season and the team is winning ball games without Jermaine O'Neal and Jose Calderon in the lineup. Anthony Parker has been a steady player at the shooting guard position and the Raptors have found themselves back in the discussion as far as the playoffs are concerned. It's a nice turnaround for a team that I wrote off just two weeks earlier.
19. Philadelphia 76ers (19) - If you were to look up the word "bland" in the dictionary, you would see this team's photo right beside it. Their play hasn't inreased without Elton Brand (even though I thought it would) and maybe they are what they are, a below .500 team that can't score and that isn't even that special on the defensive side of the ball. It seems like the two years of momentum that was built up by this squad was ruined with possibly unfair expectations with the Elton Brand acquisition.
20. Chicago Bulls (18) - A loss at home to Minnesota highlights a woeful week for the Bulls which was heightened even further with a horrible showing by Derrick Rose. Ben Gordon deserves serious all star consideration this season beyond the three point shootout and he's been the team's steadiest, most consistent option thus far. That probably is why they're down here at 20, but he deserves a little bit of credit after the way he was blasted and treated this offseason. He may, yet, see his big payday this offseason.
21. Indiana Pacers (25) - Mike Dunleavy is set to debut this week for the Pacers and that should help a team that still is looking to make a run at sneaking into the last playoff spot. Danny Granger has been tremendous this season even in the dissapointing year for the Pacers and Jarrett Jack has been tremendous since being inserted into the starting lineup as of late. T.J. Ford has done fine off of the bench but you have to wonder if he's the type of player that would be content with coming off of the bench.
22. Charlotte Bobcats (22) - I still can't speak enough for Boris Diaw's play since coming over from Phoenix. This Bobcats team has raised its level of play since that trade and currently has shown that they can be a pesky bunch to put away. Adam Morrison, on the other hand, is now officially ready to be labeled as a bust. He was a horrible selection as a 3rd overall draft pick (don't even get me started on Sean May). Little known Matt Caroll is better at what Morrison does than Morrison is and that's why Morrison scored for the first time in six games Saturday night. I still remember when Dick Vitale said we were all stupid for saying J.J. Reddick and Morrison wouldn't be great in the NBA.
23. Memphis Grizzlies (20) - Darius Miles made his debut this week for the Grizzlies and Steve Francis may be set to dress up anytime soon. It's amazing that those two players found their way onto the Grizzlies roster, but it's safe to say both are in dire need to prove that their careers aren't over in the NBA.
24. New York Knicks (24) - The Knicks have lost all of the good will they built up with a strong opening to the season, but still continue to play hard for coach D'Antoni. Al Harrington off of the bench has payed huge dividends as of late, including a victory today over Boston. David Lee has been tremendous this season and if they package him with a contract of Jerome James or Eddy Curry they can get another building block for the rebuilding of this proud franchise.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (28) - The Timberwolves got back to back victories for the first time all season and got Mike Miller back from injury. Still, though, a lot is left to be done in Minnesota in order to get this team back to respectability. Kevin Love has been inconsistent in his performance this season and doesn't look like a great acquisition by Kevin McHale (and nobody honestly believed he would be) but I think, with the investment they made in him, that he needs to be shown more minutes as the season progresses.
26. Los Angeles Clippers (26) - Baron Davis, in addition to his pathetic displays on the court this season, caused controversy with a recent report of his wanting to return to the team he shafted just five months earlier. His homecoming has been nothing short of brutal but the team has got to be happy with the play of Marcus Camby and Eric Gordon as of late. They look like a team capable of hanging in tough games as long as Davis doesn't continue to shoot them out of ball games.
27. Washington Wizards (29) - The Wizards, with a run over Cleveland today, move out of the bottom two for the first time all season. Getting Caron Butler back this week has been good for the Wizards and the increase in minutes for Javaris Crittenton is a solid move by coach Tapscott. Andray Blatche has been a nice spot for what's been a dreadful season thus far and the Wizards are now starting to play harder each and every night. It's not going to amount to any kind of success this year, but it's a far cry from the team that regularly would get beat by 20 every night just a couple months prior.
28. Golden State Warriors (21) - With Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette now publicly speaking about trade requests the horrid season for the Warriors has now reached rock bottom. The dissapointing performance has taken a back seat to the fact that the group of players that they've assembled has now made the franchise one without any kind of positive direction. It's tough to be a loyal Warrior fan, and this season is a perfect explanation of why that's so.
29. Sacramento Kings (27) - Kevin Martin came back this season and looked fantastic in his return and Brad Miller has been a steady force all season for Sacramento, but they still continue to lose. This team looked like a team with a direction this season, but so far this season hasn't shown anything other than that they're a team without much talent or direction. It's tough to see what the future holds for this franchise.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30) - The Thunder are really playing good basketball as of late and I wanted to move them out of the last spot for the first time all season, but can't justifiably do so. Jeff Green, this season, has looked like a player that was worthy of the draft slot they used on him and Kevin Durant have played at a very high level as of late. They're playing with more intensity than they did earlier in the season and have showed signs of a team that's on the right path as of late. That's good for that loyal fan base.
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Adam Morrison, Al Harrington, Allen Iverson, Andray Blatche, Andrei Kirilenko, Anthony Parker, Antonio McDyess, Baron Davis, Ben Gordon, Bobcats, Boris Diaw, Brad Miller, Brandon Roy, Bucks, Bulls, C.J. Miles, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Clippers, Corey Maggette, Daequan Cook, Danny Granger, Darius Miles, David West, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, Eddy Curry, Elton Brand, Eric Gordon, Eric Snow, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jarrett Jack, Jason Richardson, Javaris Crittenton, Jazz, Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal, Jerome James, Jordan Farmar, Jose Calderon, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, LeBron James, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Marcus Camby, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Mike Dunleavy, Mike Miller, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Paul Millsap, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Ramon Sessions, Raptors, Rockets, Rodney Stuckey, Ron Artest, Sean May, Shaquille O'Neal, Shawn Marion, Spurs, Stephen Jackson, Steve Francis, Suns, T.J. Ford, Thunder, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Tracy McGrady, Trail Blazers, Tyronn Lue, Vince Carter, Wally Szczerbiak, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Posted on: December 22, 2008 1:06 am
1. Boston Celtics (1) - There's no better team in the league than Boston and they're head and shoulders above the rest of the league. They're going to approach the NBA's record 72 wins in a season though I can't see them overtaking that record. It's not outside of the realm of possibility, though and they're the class of the league.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (3) - Delonte West has settled in extremely well at the shooting guard position for the Cavaliers. They're an unorthodox bunch, what with a 6'9" point guard, two big men (one who rebounds, one who scores) and two shooting guards but they find different ways to win. Mike Brown's insistence on defense has really done wonders for this team and everyone, including some Cavaliers players, are finally starting to see why this mentality is so critical to success. Just look at Boston. An aggressive, smart defense will always keep you in ball games. LeBron James will find ways to win many close ball games.
3. Orlando Magic (4) - They've really legitamized their placement atop the league this week with big victories over both San Antonio and the Lake show. This group is dangerous when everyone's connecting. They got Dwight Howard back from injury and had a tremendous week from Jameer Nelson and he was huge in both of the victories. They're a group of misfits but they find a way to work and they play hard. Stan Van Gundy has done a tremendous job with this organization.
4. Los Angeles Lakers (2) - Kobe Bryant has tried to do it all this week and for the first time all season, the Lakers look vulnerable. We know these tough patches come every year so I don't believe it's anything worth throwing up the white flag, but there is trouble with this team. Andrew Bynum isn't having the season he was supposed to have this year but they're getting really good production out of Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar off the bench. Lamar Odom doesn't seem as comfortable off of the bench as he did in the starting lineup. When he started against New York this week, he looked a lot like the player who was a huge contribution to last year's squad. I think Lakers fans really undervalued his importance but I doubt he'll start next season as a Laker.
5. New Orleans Hornets (8) - The Hornets are on a roll right now and are doing a tremendous job on the defensive side of the ball. Tyson Chandler has looked energized this week and James Posey continues to be a tremendous force off of the bench. Peja Stojakovic's injury is cause for concern and this week will be the true test as to if the Hornets run is legitimate, and they need a healthy Peja to really have a fair shake.
6. Atlanta Hawks (7) - Even though they loss to Boston this week (who hasn't) how strange was it to have people circling a game at Atlanta? This squad has the attention of the best team in the league and has had them on the verge of defeat two times this season. They ended the week with a strong defensive performance against Detroit and this team continues to overacheive. Al Horford has proved last season was no fluke.
7. Portland Trail Blazers (11) - I can't seem to get a firm enough understanding of this squad and I move them up between the top half of the league every week. Brandon Roy is right behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade this season as far as MVP candidates are concerned and his 52 point performance against Phoenix Thursday night was amazing. The players play well as a team and they all know who the go to guy is. Minnesota fans have to look at Randy Foye and shake their head.
8. Houston Rockets (9) - Ron Artest seems pretty comfortable off of the bench and, honestly, Shane Battier's game may be better suited starting off for the Rockets. Rafer Alston's injury doesn't help matters but Aaron Brooks has done a fine job in the starting role. The team finds ways to win basketball games and Yao Ming deserves acclaim for his job so far this season as the anchor for this team.
9. Denver Nuggets (5) - This is the lowest the Nuggets have been since Chauncey Billups' arrival but they've hit a wall this week. After Carmelo Anthony's tremendous week last week, he shot horrible from the field this week. Their lack of explosiveness in the front court is crippling and they still seem to lack something to be taken serious as a Western confrence contender.
10. San Antonio Spurs (6) - I may have gotten too crazy with their run last week but the Spurs had two tough losses to New Orleans and Orlando this week. I'm shocked at the lack of minutes being distributed to Ime Udoka and Bruce Bowen but Popovich knows best about this squad. Kurt Thomas has seen a huge increase in minutes lately and I'm wondering if the Ian Mahinmi experiement is ever going to come to fruition.
11. Utah Jazz (10) - The Jazz organization is so caught up in the Carlos Boozer situation (his injury, whether or not he'll return next season) that they're letting it overshadow a very dissapointing start to this season for Utah. They've been very inconsistent this year and they still struggle on the road (unless they're playing Detroit). Deron Williams has yet to regain that level of play he's displayed the last two seasons but I see it only as a matter of time before he gets his feet back. When he does this team will take off, but it needs to happen soon.
12. Dallas Mavericks (12) - Dallas has had a quiet season but with the return of Josh Howard I think this team is ready to start taking strides. Jason Kidd can't do much at this stage in his career, but he can run an offense and Dirk Nowitzki's production with Kidd on the court is a testament to that. They take advantage of lesser competition and that's a huge upgrade from the beginning of the season. They just need to find ways to beat the better teams.
13. Phoenix Suns (14) - The Phoenix Suns have quietly had a huge week and a monster performance from Brandon Roy is all that kept it from perfect. I know Shaquille O'Neal is a punchline on these forums but his play this year has been solid for this team. I don't believe all that much has been lost from last season, but this talented bunch isn't having fun and I guess that means you complain regardless of record. I'm getting tired of the whining in Phoenix but that's a tradition Mike D'Antoni instilled that can never be replaced amongst that bunch.
14. Miami Heat (15) - Dwyane Wade had a tremendous week and this team as a whole had a tremendous week. A big Friday night victory against the Lakers was followed with a solid performance against New Jersey and this team seems to have finally developed some kind of a groove. Shawn Marion may not be playing up to his potential and Michael Beasley may be a huge dissapointment (statistically speaking) in the rookie class, but they have to love what they found in Mario Chalmers and I think Daequan Cook is doing a tremendous job in his important role off of the bench. They got a solid little team if they can get physical inside.
15. Detroit Pistons (13) - Rodney Stuckey has performed very well since his insertion into the starting lineup. They have, legitimately, no front court, though, and that bench that was so widely praised at the beginning of the season looks incredibly weak without Stuckey on it. Players like Aaron Afflalo, Walter Herrmann and Amir Johnson have dissapeared and have not lived up to preseason expectations. Jason Maxiell plays like a guy who received a huge contract instead of the guy who for the past couple of seasons looked like he was playing for his career. It's amazing to see how lackadaisical this team is. I don't think Flip Saunders was the problem.
16. Chicago Bulls (17) - Drew Gooden's injury is an inconvenience but the Bulls continue to play solid basketball. They may lack consistency but they're a legitimate playoff threat with Derrick Rose surprisingly playing at the current level of play he's displayed. They'll be around all season.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (20) - The Bucks have had a really solid week and have played well since Michael Redd's return from injury. They've been under the radar all season long but have to be pleased with the production that Scott Skiles has gotten out of this bunch. They're weirdly assembled but they play hard every night and that's reason enough to believe in them. Scott Skilles proves once again that he's a tremendous coach.
18. New Jersey Nets (16) - Devin Harris' performance against the Mavericks was unbelievable and New Jersey has to feel it made out like bandits with that trade. Eduardo Najera also played in that game against the Mavericks but quickly collected another DNP. They've gotten good minutes out of Ryan Anderson lately and Rod Thorn's done a good job building this team from the ground up. I can't see Vince Carter staying past the deadline if the Nets have an opportunity to trade him, and he's played well enough this season to where I can see some team taking a chance on him. They need to continue and complete the rebuilding cycle.
19. Philadelphia 76ers (21) - Well the destruction I wished on that franchise didn't happen and they've played well under new coach Tony DiLeo. Elton Brand's injury will show if this team is really better suited to run a spread out, fast court game. I think that fits the styles of their players better and I think they'll play well without Brand for a month.
20. New York Knicks (19) - Seven man rotations and no defense, D'Antoni ball is in full effect over in New York. All cheap shots aside, he's done a good job with that bunch and even though Al Harrington has cooled down considerably, Nate Robinson has picked it up with a very good week for the Knicks. They probably won't make the playoffs but the fact that people are believing they have a shot speaks for the job D'Antoni has done with this overacheiving bunch.
21. Los Angeles Clippers (23) - Marcus Camby has awoken this week and played at level that he displayed while with Denver. The Zach Randolph trade has worked out well for the Clippers but Baron Davis' play is holding this team back. You have to wonder if his priorities are in order, but I guess if you willingly sign for big money to play for the Clippers your priorities are already put into question. They can't move him, he has to work out there, but he can't continue to shoot this team out of ball games.
22. Indiana Pacers (24) - The unfortunate flu epidemic nailed the Pacers locker room and they played inspiring ball near the end of the week even though they were without three of their top four scorers in Marquis Daniels, Danny Granger and Troy Murphy. Jarrett Jack gave them a tremendous week as did T.J. Ford and overall, I'd say both Ford and Rasho Nesterovic have been nice additions to the Pacers team. They lack any kind of consistency but have talent over in Indiana. I just don't know if it will ever be fully tapped.
23. Memphis Grizzlies (22) - The Grizzlies lost both of their games in a quiet week and O.J. Mayo finally scored in single digits in a game. Yes, I know it was a quiet week in Memphis. I'd like to see Hakim Warrick start to get more minutes over in Memphis, though. He does well given the lack of opportunities he truly has.
24. Golden State Warriors (25) - Jamal Crawford single handedly got the Warriors a victory, and they're getting good production out of Marco Belinelli. Monta Ellis is gearing up to return sometimes in the next month but this team still lacks a true point guard. Hopefully, though, Ellis can return to form and give this Warriors fan base reason for excitement this season.
25. Charlotte Bobcats (27) - Boris Diaw looks rejuvenated in Larry Brown's offense and has done a fantastic job in his new starting role. Raja Bell looks unhappy in Charlotte and who can honestly blame him? Aside from that, though, the Bobcats look to be open to the thought of trading Raymond Felton. To me, it's amazing that he hasn't succeeded there but D.J. Augustin's performance is quietly pushing him out of favor with the organization.
26. Toronto Raptors (18) - The drop may be a tad drastic but this team is in awful shape. Chris Bosh is getting booed, they're losing to Oklahoma City and they don't play as a team anymore. Bryan Colangelo has truly done a bad job with this bunch but they're just not that talented to begin with. Jermaine O'Neal has done fine this season but it was fair to see all season that he just couldn't be that inside guy that Toronto truly needed. This team needs to do a lot of restructuring within the organization.
27. Sacramento Kings (26) - Reggie Theus' firing infuriated me but I'm not surprised. A team full of outcats from other organizations probably should be in playoff contention. When Brad Miller is your most consistent start you're not going to be in great shape and new coach Natt's 1-3 record since taking over isn't surprising. Theus deserved better for what he did last season and I don't think stressing that this team play hard and try to win should be overlooked simply for playing younger players and accepting poor performances.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (28) - The Timberwolves are reeling big time and Kevin McHale is winless as Minnesota's coach. Al Jefferson is a fine player but he can't do it all by himself. This shouldn't come as a surprise as, even in his last seasons, Kevin Garnett couldn't do it by himself in Minnesota. This is a poorly run organization and the team is horribly assembled. They may never get better with McHale at the helm.
29. Washington Wizards (29) - Mike James has played well since arriving in Washington but it's made no change to their record. Who can be surprised? Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison are playing really hard and it's difficult to watch those two players fail but the organization as a whole just has no real direction. They're in a hole, too, with the contract that was given to Gilbert Arenas.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30) - They finally got a win this week! They're playing hard every night now, which is an upgrade, they just don't have the talent on the team to win. Kevin Durant has played fine ball since Brooks was introduced as interim coach but after him, nobody is consistent enough to really give this team a chance to win on a nightly basis. They're still a few years away.
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Al Harrington, Al Horford, Al Jefferson, Amir Johnson, Andrew Bynum, Antawn Jamison, Baron Davis, Bobcats, Boris Diaw, Brad Miller, Brandon Roy, Bruce Bowen, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Clippers, D.J. Augustin, Daequan Cook, Danny Granger, Delonte West, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, Drew Gooden, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Eduardo Najera, Elton Brand, Gilbert Arenas, Grizzlies, Hakim Warrick, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Ian Mahinmi, Ime Udoka, Jamal Crawford, Jameer Nelson, James Posey, Jarrett Jack, Jason Kidd, Jason Maxiell, Jazz, Jermaine O'Neal, Jordan Farmar, Josh Howard, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Kurt Thomas, Lakers, Lamar Odom, LeBron James, Magic, Marco Belinelli, Marcus Camby, Mario Chalmers, Marquis Daniels, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Michael Redd, Mike James, Monta Ellis, Nate Robinson, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pacers, Peja Stojakovic, Pistons, Rafer Alston, Raja Bell, Randy Foye, Raptors, Rasho Nesterovic, Raymond Felton, Rockets, Rodney Stuckey, Ron Artest, Ryan Anderson, Shane Battier, Shaquille O'Neal, Shawn Marion, Spurs, Suns, T.J. Ford, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Trevor Ariza, Troy Murphy, Tyson Chandler, Vince Carter, Walter Herrmann, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming, Zach Randolph
Posted on: December 1, 2008 4:02 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2009 1:26 am
1. Los Angeles Lakers (1) - They've been number one all season long, and even though a part of me really wants to move them behind Boston, I simply can't. They've been winning, they've been winning consistently and they've been winning with a new player stepping up every night (ironically, the same can be said about Boston). They, though, have been great since the start of the season and I can't move them behind Boston. Not yet.
2. Boston Celtics (2) - Kevin Garnett is having probably his quitest season. Paul Pierce has been wildly inconsistent and Ray Allen's been a steady version of last year's diminished Ray Allen, yet this team continues to win. Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo, the two unheralded starters, are giving this team quality starts and they compliment what the big three do so well. Perkins' game has really improved this season.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (3) - I hear people asking "who have they beat", well they've only lost 3 times this season-all on the road. A mark of a good team is winning games that you're supposed to win and that's what the Cavaliers are doing. Charles Barkley is right in saying that LeBron James needs to shut it and start diverting all of his attention to the game and to his team, but a part of me believes that LeBron is more infatuated with the money and stardom than he is actual results on the court, which is why he'll always be a notch behind Kobe Bryant.
4. Denver Nuggets (4) - Even though they had a dissapointing loss at home to New Orleans on Thursday, this team continues to chug along with Chauncey Billups in the lineup. This past week J.R. Smith really heated up and if he regains the form he had for much of last season then this team can only get better. Chris Andersen coming back helps, but he can't be a savior for this frontcourt.
5. Orlando Magic (6) - Rashard Lewis is starting to play really good ball (even if you would like to see better rebounding numbers out of someone his size) and Dwight Howard is improving on his free throw shooting. Losing Mickael Pietrus for three weeks will hurt but this team continues to do what they did last year, quietly win ball games.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (9) - I got some criticism putting them as high as I have the past couple of weeks but they proved me right this week. Brandon Roy is one of the hottest players in the league and they're getting great production out of players like Travis Outlaw and Joel Przybilla. They're deep and they're talented.
7. Houston Rockets (5) - They get Shane Battier back and now Tracy McGrady is having problems with his knee (he's looked dinged up all season, what with his shoulder and whatnot). They are still winning, though, and they're doing it without any of their players playing consistently great ball. Luther Head has stepped up the past couple of games, but Adelman's system allows this team to make up for whoever is struggling on that given night. That's the sign of a good team.
8. Utah Jazz (8) - They had a bad loss to New Jersey but Deron Williams is slowly regaining some of the form he showed last season. It's slow, but steady, progress. Meanwhile, Paul Millsap has been outstanding in Carlos Boozer's absence and you have to believe he's going to see an amazing increase in minutes even when Boozer comes back.
9. Atlanta Hawks (10) - They're getting better play out of Mike Bibby (which is good because teams are starting to double Joe Johnson consistently) and they're surprisingly getting great contribution from Maurice Evans lately. This team just continues to stay around.
10. Phoenix Suns (7) - I've had this team high all season but the intensity and execution they showed the first couple of games has worn off and the honeymoon period has already ended in Phoenix. Amare Stoudemire is now complaining about coach Terry Porter's system and the team is searching for an identity all over again. A tailspin may be in this team's future.
11. Detroit Pistons (11) - Allen Iverson is already missing practice and Rasheed Wallace continues to jack up three pointers. Michael Curry was supposed to bring needed change in attitudes in Detroit but the players and player styles and attitudes continue to hold this talented team back. They should be in better shape than they currently in.
12. New Orleans Hornets (12) - A good win at Denver and a quiet four game winning streak have gotten the Hornets back on track, but they still need some consistent ball out of anyone not named Chris Paul.
13. San Antonio Spurs (19) - Despite the loss to Houston, this team is above .500, they're getting good production out of their young players, and both Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are back. Those pesky Spurs just never go away.
14. New Jersey Nets (17) - People said I had them too high last week, I probably have them too high this week, but they're playing tremendous basketball. Devin Harris has played tremendous basketball so far this season and he and Vince Carter have consistently been there every night. They're supporting cast is hit and miss but they're getting a different person to contribute each and every night.
15. New York Knicks (14) - They need to get this Stephon Marbury situation over and done with, because it's clouding what's been a good season so far for the Knicks. David Lee has played great and Tim Thomas has been lights out since coming over from Clipper land. His best season came with D'Antoni in Phoenix, though, and his increase in production doesn't surprise me, and it won't surprise me when his production dips.
16. Dallas Mavericks (18) - There's not a hotter player in the NBA, currently, than Jason Terry and he's keeping this team afloat lately. They still can't get consistent production out of the small forward position and aside from Terry they can't really get an answer at shooting guard either, but Jose Juan Barrera looks like a solid backup at the point guard position.
17. Toronto Raptors (21) - They turned a horrible last week into a solid week this week until they ran into the Lake show. Chris Bosh has been outstanding this season and currently there's not a better big man in the league. They're getting great play out of Andrea Bargnani lately which is very encouraging, though the injury to Jermaine O'Neal isn't.
18. Miami Heat (13) - The Heat have been wildly inconsistent this season and it has to be frustrating for any Heat fan to watch this team win one, and then lose the very next game but at the same time they have to be happy with Dwyane Wade's production. This team is still relatively young and still has room to improve and should probably be around the playoff picture all season long.
19. Chicago Bulls (20) - All things considered, I believe Vinny Del Negro has done a solid job with this team. They're slowly starting to get healthier (and will be better when Kirk Hinrich returns) but they still are an inconsistent bunch. Drew Gooden has played well lately and Luol Deng is slowly returning to form as well.
20. Philadelphia 76ers (15) - Andre Iguodala has played like a guy with a fat new contract, in other words he's definitely underperformed but I think with the offense having to adjust to the half court offense that Elton Brand flourishes in takes away from the strengths of both Iguodala and Andre Miller. Maurice Cheeks needs to succeed this season if he wants to keep his job and it looks increasingly difficult for him to do.
21. Milwaukee Bucks (16) - They're struggling without Andrew Bogut but Richard Jefferson is quietly having a solid season. Charlie Villanueva has put up good number this season but still hasn't brought it consistently like he should in a contract year. He needs to develop a solid game and put that tremendous talent to use but he plays like a small forward and is too slow to play that position. He should look at a player like David West and try to emulate a version of his game and then he can fully reach his potential.
22. Indiana Pacers (22) - The Pacers are puzzling because they just can't seem to get over that hump and win basketball games. Danny Granger has been great, proving last year was no fluke, and Marquis Daniels has continued to play encouraging ball but they can't seem to get going as a unit. Early in the season it was T.J. Ford playing while everyone else was struggling and now Ford has lot a step lately. They need to get it together and I believe they will in the coming month.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (25) - It feels weird putting them this high but I believe they're the best out of all of the lower tier teams. Sebastian Telfair has been a steady force at point guard with Randy Foye and Mike Miller has had a couple of good games lately. They won't make the playoffs, but winning nearly 30 games this season would be a huge step in the right direction for this squad.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (27) - Jason Richardson has returned and rumors are circling whether or not he will be shopped around. Gerald Wallace has also been rumored to be out the door lately as well and this team looks to be in questionable shape. D.J. Augustin has continued to play great and looks to be the best draft pick the team has made, which is ironic because he was not drafted at a position that needed filling and therefore his selection was criticized.
25. Golden State Warriors (24) - This team has been stuck in reverse all season long and they have to be hoping that when Monta Ellis returns they will make some progress this season because this team is young and in need of a step in the right dirction. Andris Biedrins has cooled off lately and Jamal Crawford, though a need at guard, can't run the offense like they need someone to.
26. Sacramento Kings (23) - This team is reeling and is doing so in a hurry. Even with Mikki Moore's return, this team still needs Kevin Martin as he's not only their best player, he's the team's leader. John Salmons will be a great running mate when Martin returns and if Beno Udrih plays as well as he has without Martin in the lineup then this team can take off. Until then they will continue to struggle.
27. Memphis Grizzlies (26) - The team is slowly reaching irrelevance again and they're really struggling to find ways to win basketball games. I don't think coach Marc Iavaroni has any chance to retain his job which is sad as he was once a promising candidate around the league.
28. Los Angeles Clippers (28) - Zach Randolph was a good acquisition and Al Thornton has played as well as he did last season but this team is missing something. I don't know what it is, but I think this team would be making a horrible mistake in ridding themselves of Chris Kaman. Even though he and Randolph don't mesh well, Kaman is a better player than Randolph and is a much better player than Marcus Camby. They should find a way to keep him on this roster even though they could get a lot for him. Eric Gordon has played great this week.
29. Washington Wizards (29) - As predicted last week, Eddie Jordan was fired but nothing has changed with this team. They have Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and not much past those two players. Because of the guaranteed contracts, this team is in such a deep hole that they're going to be stuck in this position for the next few seasons and may lose their best player (Butler) soon.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30) - The 14 game losing streak is over and Kevin Durant and Jeff Green have played great ball this week. The offense looks a lot more fluid with Scott Brooks running the show. Why is Earl Waton still starting and how many chances is this team going to give themselves to draft a productive center in the lottery?
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