We're starting to get a better feel for how this tanking thing is going this season. While we didn't expect to have the Utah Jazz and the Boston Celtics in Power Tankings so consistently this early in the year, it makes sense that they haven't been able to put together much momentum. The Jazz still don't have a point guard that plays acceptable basketball because of the Trey Burke injury. The Celtics are missing Rajon Rondo. They have good reason to be struggling this early.
As for the Philadelphia 76ers, it's good to see them settling into their rightful home in Power Tankings. I don't say that to be mean; I am really glad they're still playing exciting, chaotic basketball while racking up losses. They're trending toward a real slide soon but we're still engrossed in their games because it's a fun, bad team to follow.
We also have three teams that none of us expected to keep an eye on this early in the season, if at all. Let's dive right into who is doing the best tanking job after a few weeks.
Here are the Week 4 Power Tankings:
|1. Utah Jazz|
Record: 1-10 (1-3 this week), Net Rating: -13.2 points per 100 possessions
Going into this season, I really thought the Jazz would lose a lot of games but be ultra competitive. I figured they would be a tough out most nights. Considering they have the worst net differential in the NBA right now and it's not even close, I would say only one of those assertions was correct. The Jazz are losing games but they're getting killed in the process. They finally got their first victory of the season in their ninth game in a win over the Pelicans.
Then they went right back to losing by big margins. They lost by nine to the Spurs and by 14 to the Warriors. Even with their lack of success and competitiveness this season, I was ready to drop them down in the Power Tankings, due to a curious move that shows they're not interested in tanking. They cut Jamaal Tinsley during the week. It's a big move becase he started five games for them and was shooting 20 percent from the field. By not keeping him around, they're clearly not committing to tanking yet but they're still not competitive enough to lose their top spot.
|2. Philadelphia 76ers|
Record: 5-6 (1-3 this week), Net Rating: -6.6 points per 100 possessions
Yes, Philadelphia. YES! Let the tanking wash over you! Let it fill your hearts with sorrow and ping pong balls! This is what you were made to do. While it's concerning the Sixers grabbed another win this week over the Rockets in an overtime affair, the rest of the week was a huge success. Could it be any coincidence that we had a phenomenal showcase of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle in the same week that the Sixers lost their three games by a combined 71 points (including a 37-point loss to the Pelicans)? Of course it could but that's not any fun to think about.
The 76ers are sliding down the net rating standings quickly, which should indicate a sign of things to come. Since their 3-0 start, they've gone 2-6 and only one of those losses wasn't by double digits. The biological clock on an Evan Turner or Thaddeus Young trade is ticking like Marisa Tomei stomps her feet in My Cousin Vinny. Once that happens, this could get ugly quick.
|3. Sacramento Kings|
Record: 2-7 (1-2 this week), Net Rating: -5.9 points per 100 possessions
This Kings team seems to be more competitive than it's showing this season. The numbers have the Kings as one of the worst teams in the league because of net rating. Their defense has barely improved from last season (29th to 24th in defensive rating) and the offense has fallen off considerably as well (13th to 22nd). So why do I feel like this team might be better than it is showing?
With a new system/coach and a couple of new cogs to the machine, it makes sense that they would be slow to adapt to a competent way of playing basketball. They still have a lot of bad tendencies to work out of their routine on the basketball court. I'm liking what I see out of DeMarcus Cousins and if they can get any consistent, positive production out of the two wing spots, this team could be really annoying to deal with throughout the season.
|4. Boston Celtics|
Record: 4-7 (1-3 this week), Net Rating: -4.0 points per 100 possessions
The Celtics got through a relatively easy stretch of basketball by stringing together some wins. Now reality sets back in with this roster, which means we're that much closer to a weary Gerald Wallace going on a legendary tirade. After losing a home game to the Bobcats, the Celtics dropped a back-to-back against the Blazers and Wolves. It's about to get pretty brutal for this team over the next six games.
Boston will face Houston and San Antonio on the road before coming home for a game against the Pacers. Then the Celtics go on the road to Atlanta and Charlotte before coming home for the Grizzlies. If they walk away from this stretch with two wins, I'll be impressed and feel better about the idea of them being competitive enough to approach 30 wins this season (assuming Rondo comes back). This Celtics roller coaster is doing all kinds of twists and turns, including Jared Sullinger taking 3-point shots (16 attempts in nine games).
|5. Milwaukee Bucks|
Record: 2-7 (0-4 this week), Net Rating: -9.9 points per 100 possessions
The Bucks are second to last in net rating and they're 27th in offensive rating. The offensive rating shocks me because it just seems too high for them right now. I don't see where their points are coming from. Their three leading scorers happen to be O.J. Mayo (18.4), Caron Butler (13.3) and Gary Neal (12.6). They're going through this ordeal with Larry Sanders, who got injured swinging bottles in a bar/club. For some reason, John Henson isn't playing 36 minutes per night. Nate Wolters has been one of the bright spots of the season and he's shooting 37.2 percent from the field.
The Sanders injury could turn the Bucks into a tanking team without them even knowing it. Sometimes, it sneaks up on you. It's like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense. (SPOILER ALERT) He's already dead but feels like he's living his life normally. The Bucks probably feel like they're trying to win games, except their point differential and the makeup of what they're trying to do on offense says they're tanking. I wouldn't even be against that. Add one of those amazing forwards in the draft to put next to Sanders and Henson. Then make the playoffs. Seems like fun.
|Keeping an eye on: Cleveland Cavaliers|
Record: 4-7 (1-3 this week), Net Rating: -6.6 points per 100 possessions
There won't be any in-between with the Cavaliers from here on out. This players-only meeting that Kyrie Irving called after their embarrassing loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves is a fork in the road for this team. They can either find themselves rallying around this moment and letting Irving lead them toward a big turnaround. Or they can completely unravel and become one of the tanking teams in the league. They've been horrendous this season and haven't shown us any signs that they should have been picked to make the playoffs.
Mike Brown sounds positive right now but he was positive five games into last season when the Lakers canned him. The Cavs could be regulars in the Power Tanking soon if they don't show some improvement.
|Honorable mention: Houston Rockets|
How you got here: 123-117 OT loss to the Sixers
Even without James Harden, you can't possibly lose to the Sixers and allow Tony Wroten to rack up a triple-double on you. James Anderson went for 36 points in that game and there are still members of the Anderson family that don't know he got picked up this season. Rockets, if you want to be taken seriously as a team, you can't let games like this happen. I don't care how well Jeremy Lin played in that game; this can't happen again.
|Neeeeeewwwww YORK in the house!|
Combined Record: 6-12 (both are 3-6)
What is going on? The Brooklyn Nets are 23rd in the league in net rating at -4.9. The New York Knicks are 24th in the league in net rating at -5.7. Neither of these teams can score right now. Neither of these teams can defend right now. Tyson Chandler is out. Deron Williams has injured his ankle once again. Kevin Garnett doesn't know training camp is over. Iman Shumpert is in trade rumors because James Dolan is hilarious. Let's hear it for New York!