Updated April 5
April is winning time in the NBA.
Only the winners (and a few geographically fortunate Eastern Conference teams) make the playoffs.
Only the winners earn the top seeds in the postseason and thus the fast lane to a possible championship.
And only the winners advance past the first round of the playoffs, prompting the losers to lament: Maybe we should have won less in the regular season and taken our chances in the lottery.
So as we embark on the first full week of April, it's appropriate that we celebrate ... the losers.
Yep, it's time to identify the NBA's 2010-11 Most Disappointing Team. Here are the candidates:
Preseason projection: 4
Current ranking: 10
Credit the Magic for recognizing right away things were headed south and blowing things up even before most other disappointments had begun searching for a solution.
But not even one of the season's biggest blockbusters could get the Magic back to where it was supposed to be, and now it's just another decent team barely good enough to host one round of playoffs.
Preseason projection: 12
Current ranking: 18
The Bucks finished 2009-10 strong and seemed to have bought into Scott Skiles' college-type style. Alas, this isn't college and few NBA players are willing to put defense first.
It will be no surprise if Skiles doesn't make it through next season.
|The Suns are having trouble picking themselves up after losing Amar'e Stoudemire to N.Y. (AP)|
Preseason projection: 13
Current ranking: 21
Here are two reasons why Amar'e Stoudemire deserves consideration for the MVP award: 1) The Suns have gone from somebody to nobody immediately after his departure; and 2) The Knicks were better off when he was the star, before Carmelo Anthony came in and stole the show.
The Suns got involved in the Magic transformation in December. Like Orlando, they were right in foreseeing trouble, and wrong in believing body-shuffling was the answer.
Preseason projection: 8
Current ranking: 24
It's now clear how bad a situation Jerry Sloan left. Should he have gone down with the ship? That's a subject for another day.
The fact is: Sloan dared to blaze a trail Skiles has attempted to follow. Give him credit for winning as much as he did while he put most people to sleep, because now that he's gone, the Jazz is in permanent hibernation mode. It could be a decade of very long winters ahead.
Preseason projection: 22
Current ranking: 28
In the end, the Wizards would have been better off hiring John Calipari as coach and then trading away as many assets as necessary for him to bring all five Kentucky prospects to Washington.
Instead, the Wizards got only one -- and as good as John Wall is, it's obvious one isn't enough. Maybe the Calipari strategy could be reconsidered this summer given some of the talent he reloaded with this season.
And the winning loser is ...
The Utah Jazz, and it's not even close. Its 16-point drop from expectations to reality is twice as dramatic as any other team. Those picking Utah to rebound anytime soon are forewarned: No matter how low the Jazz is projected next season, it's a solid choice to be back in contention for this honor again.
That's how bad things are.
Here are your penultimate CBSSports.com NBA Power Rankings: