The concept of Power Tankings was to poke a little fun at the teams setting themselves up for success by failing now. With how blatant the tanking appeared in the summer and preseason, it was going to be a lighthearted look at some teams that were preparing for the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery when prized players like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and many more players are going to be expected to turn around the misfortunes of franchises around the NBA.
After the first week, the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers have flipped this concept over on its head. Even the Orlando Magic have proven to be a tough team to start out the season like we saw in their first season after Dwight Howard was traded. These teams haven't just been competitive but they've been winning. The four teams from the first week of Power Tankings went 8-5 in our first week of action.
Does that mean we're abandoning the Power Tankings concept? Absolutely not! If anything we'll find ways to throw new wrinkles into it because eventually the prospects of bringing in a 19 or 20-year old franchise player next draft will outweigh pride and apathy shown toward these underdog opponents. Until then, these will look completely ridiculous. But we will have our day, you rogue tankers.
Here are the Week 2 Power Tankings:
|1. Boston Celtics|
Record: 0-3, Net Rating: -8.9 points per 100 possessions
Staying afloat until Rajon Rondo comes back has always been the plan for a team that is reloading and not rebuilding, as they claim to be. But even after three games it looks like this team is in desperate need of a flotation device or else they may drown in the regular season. The scary thing is they haven't even started tanking yet and they barely looked competitive in the first three games.
The Celtics get destroyed whenever Vitor Faverani, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, or Courtney Lee take the court. Avery Bradley (29 points on 41 shots) might be this season's Michael Beasley in terms of tracking "more shot attempts than points." What are the odds that Gerald Wallace just can't take it anymore in January and instead of demanding a trade, they've just broken his will to compete and he retires? Pull yourself together, Boston.
|2. Charlotte Bobcats|
Record: 1-2, Net Rating: -10.7 points per 100 possessions
The Bobcats have at least won a game early but they already have the worst net rating in the NBA at -10.7. Their offense is sputtering after three games, having scored just 88.4 points per 100 possessions. That's the second lowest mark in the league in front of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but I don't think anybody expects a Kyrie Irving run offense to be that bad for now. Is it possible that the Bobcats got worse on offense after adding Al Jefferson? Probably not but they need a lot of weapons to step up every game for them to be more competitive than what we've seen.
Michael Jordan just came out and said his team would never tank. He didn't believe in it, probably because he's the greatest competitor in NBA history. I wonder if Rich Cho, the Bobcats' GM knows that though? There isn't a single player that's played more than five minutes this season that has a positive net rating for the Bobs when they're on the court. Tanking might just be one of those things you don't discuss on the golf course with the boss.
|3. Orlando Magic|
Record: 2-2, Net Rating: +5.2 points per 100 possessions
In the first edition of Power Tankings, I said the Suns and the Magic were two teams tanking the correct way. They were giving their fans something to love on the court in terms of competitive play while still losing enough games to bolster their chances for ending up with a franchise player in next year's draft. After a four-game week in which the Magic went 2-2 -- and could have conceivably been 3-1 if they didn't blow the victory in Minnesota -- Orlando looks like more of a problem than an all-out tanker.
We saw this from them last season too but a couple of injuries in the middle of the season ripped the team apart and sent them deep into the lottery. Will that happen this season? It's hard to know, but they do have two straight convincing wins over the New Orleans Pelicans and the Brooklyn Nets. Only Jason Maxiell and the extra helpings he's getting from the buffet are hurting this team on the court. Everybody else has been a net positive. This is not how you tank!
|4. Phoenix Suns|
Record: 2-1, Net Rating: +3.6 points per 100 possessions
They started off the season with two wins at home, trouncing the Blazers on opening night and then getting a buzzer-beater from Eric Bledsoe to take down the Jazz the next game. After that, they faced the Oklahoma City Thunder for their home opener and just happened to run into Russell Westbrook on the court. They predictably lost that game but I'm not sure you can just assume it will start to fall apart from here on out. They have a tough stretch of games over the next two weeks (at Pelicans, at Spurs, home for Nuggets and Pelicans, at Blazers and then home for the Nets), but after that it gets easier for the rest of the month (Kings twice, Jazz twice, Bobs and Magic all in there).
The key to tracking their tanking will be how much time they give to Gerald Green. The rookies (Archie Goodwin and Alex Len) have not been good on the court but they also haven't played that many minutes. Green has them at a -10.3 per 100 possessions in his 62 minutes of play. If he starts getting starters minutes, you can pencil them in for a top 3 pick this coming June.
|5. Philadelphia 76ers|
Record: 3-0, Net Rating: +4.5 points per 100 possessions
Philadelphia, what do you think you're doing? There are preseason predictions calling for your historic demise. We've been laughing at you all summer. We thought not hiring a coach until the middle of August was a sign of just how serious you were going to take this season as you prepared for the future. You had the coach talking about only having six NBA players and not knowing if Nerlens Noel would even see the court this season. Now look at yourself!
You're 3-0, and whether it's due to opponents not taking you seriously or you guys trying to reenact a Disney movie that leaves everybody feeling all warm and fuzzy when the credits roll, your winning ways are making some of us (namely me) look like fools! I don't need that kind of help from you. Michael Carter-Williams couldn't hit the broad side of a barn if he tries to throw it in the ocean a week ago and now he's the ideal NBA 2K14 My Player creation? This is heresy.
|Honorable mention: Miami Heat|
How you got here: 114-110 loss to the Sixers
There could be a certain point in which losing to the Sixers this season will no longer bring you into the Power Tankings but for now, this is the punishment for losing to a team pretty much everybody in the NBA world believed would be horrendous and laughable. I don't think the Heat took the Sixers all that seriously and they paid for it. It's good to know the Sixers are capable of making that happen. It will push them into that Suns/Magic realm of tanking fun.
|Honorable mention: Washington Wizards|
How you got here: 109-102 loss to the Sixers
Every year the Wizards look like they're ready to take a step forward and then they go and start off the season like this. They should not have lost to the Sixers. I don't think they should be a lock to win, but they have more talent than this team. It's almost as if they don't have the proper leadership and game planning to take the next step forward. But that couldn't be because they have Randy Wittman as the coach...
|Honorable mention: Chicago Bulls|
How you got here: 107-104 loss to the Sixers
Derrick Rose, please come back from your injury soon. We miss you and more importantly the team misses you.