Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
Oh, Charlotte, you’ve fought hard to be this bad. You’ve started Boris Diaw at center, dusted off the old Bobkittens meme, and even had Head Coach Paul Silas to say things like “It’s been so hard. I’ve had sleepless nights.” When I start worrying about the health of your coach, you will likely find yourself near the bottom of my power rankings. Still, there are some bright spots. Kemba Walker did have a triple double, and Bismack Biyombo is the shot blocking machine we all figured he would be. So….uh…..chin up, Cats fans! *starts hiding all the sharp objects in Charlotte*
Another way to find yourself at the bottom of my power rankings? Get your coach fired in twenty games or less. It was clear Flip had to go, since the team as a whole just wasn’t listening to him, but would this prime collection of fools really listen to anyone? You really think there is a force on this Earth that can keep Nick Young from throwing up ill-advised shots? That’s a lot like telling Tony Montana not to do drugs. John Wall will be an All-Star one day, but not until he gets better running mates than Nick Young, Andray Blatche, and the Ghost of Rashard Lewis.
New Orleans know that Chris Paul isn’t walking through that door, but you have to imagine that wanted more out of their consolation prize, shooting guard Eric Gordon. Gordon has already turned down a four year extension from the Hornets, and figures to be out 3-6 weeks with injury. Jarrett Jack and Co. may be fighting valiantly, but until Gordon is back and looking interested, this is going to get ugly.
I can’t believe I picked this team to win 30 games. I’m assuming that means I need to jump on a chunk of ice and float into the ocean, away from the village of other bloggers. This team seemingly has no discernible plan for the future, with long term commitments to Rodney Stuckey and Tayshaun Prince, who are obviously not the future. A bright spot has been young center Greg Monroe, who is posting a PER of 23.34 and is turning into something of a double-double machine.
*Runs in with a bag of basketballs and an Oprah voice* And shots for YOU, and shots for YOU, and shots for YOU! Ahem…..The thing I’m trying to get across is that between Tyreke, Jimmer, John Salmons, and Marcus Thornton, there is a lot of shooting being done in Sac-Town. Just not a lot of scoring. Or Defending. Sacramento is bottom five in the league in both Offensive and Defensive Efficiency. These things happen when you fire coaches mid-season.
So is it awkward to be traded to a team, sort of with the intentions of eventually teaming up with Dwight Howard, only to learn that your team is probably not even in Howard’s top 5? I’ll be that’s pretty awkward. The Nets aren’t looking quite as bad as a really rough start looked, but Deron really needs Brook Lopez to come back soon. He’s being asked to do far too much to keep this team afloat.
Hit the jump for the rest of Jordan’s rankings…
Oh, Andrea Bargnani. No one man should have all those calf injuries. It’s quite a shame, really, that Bargs should have an injury littered season when he looked to actually be turning into an All-Star quality player under the tutelage of new coach Dwayne Casey. Also awful: the fact that Demar DeRozan is settling for jumpers more than slashing like he should. Adding the jumper might make him an offensive powerhouse in the future, but at the moment, all the attempts are just hurting the team.
#FreeSteveNash. #FreeSteveNash again. A thousand times #FreeSteveNash. And hell, #FreeGortat while you’re at it. The Polish Hammer is posting stats of a double-double a night, and his PER is over 20, making him the best big man you don’t watch because watching Phoenix is depressing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pander for Pay Pal donations to try and buy out Nash’s contract.
New coach Mark Jackson has been preaching defense, so it should come as no surprise that the Dubs are in the bottom five of the league defensively. Wait, what? Seriously though, this is a fun team with a lot of problems, not least among them the inability of Stephen Curry’s ankles to let him play basketball on a reliable basis. Have to think if somebody offered some decent pieces, Curry may make an awesome sixth man on a team somewhere.
Big, big trouble in New York. Some combination of Carmelo and coach Mike D’Antoni are being blamed for what was always a faulty roster. Amare is posting less than 20 points a game and less than 50% shooting for the first time since he played three games in ’05-’06. Baron Davis is being counted on to save the day. It’s time to stay calm and make good decisions in New York. So I’m sure management will panic and do something stupid.
The first team with a winning record on my Power Rankings, which should be fairly predictable. The games the Magic are losing, they are LOSING. Dwight Howard is calling out his team on his way out the door, and while that sounds like a petty thing to do, you really can’t blame him. I tweeted that management needs to trade him fast to spare the Orlando fans this tragedy of an on court product, and I truly believe that. Even if it does mean that Dwight comes back for the All Star Weekend in a different uniform.
I feel like you could place the Bucks higher possibly, but with Andrew Bogut out (again! L) until early April, I feel caution is needed. I do love seeing that Brandon Jennings’ shooting percentage is up, and his increased scoring is reflecting that. If Stephen Jackson’s poor showing thus far changes, and Bogut comes back ready to play, then we may be Fearing the Deer once more. But it’s just too early to tell for sure.
Lebron who? Okay, so yes, the Cavs still have a losing record, but you have to give Kyrie Irving credit. He is shooting better than fifty percent, has a PER of 22.86, and is already assuming the role of closer, which is good, since he seems to be able to get lay-ups at will. The kid is proving the doubters wrong, and definitely looks to be a superstar in this league. If the season ended today, you have to give Kyrie the ROY award over even Ricky Rubio, even if Ricky is dreamier. And good thing too. I do have me a soft spot for the Cavaliers.
You have to hand it to Doc Rivers. No matter who goes down, no matter how bad it looks, no matter how many people (myself included) write them off, he keeps this team chugging along. The team has gone .500 over the last ten while dealing with Ray Allen and Rondo missing time, and Kevin Garnett finally starting to look his age. Paul Pierce is starting to look more like himself, and you can just tell the Celts are still looking to slink into the playoffs and try to win a series or two. I still don’t think they are serious contenders, but I should have known that Boston would not accept defeat quietly.
Powered by the amazing superpowers of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, the T-Wolves have looked absolutely froggy over the first third of the season, giving close games to almost everyone they have played. The offense is running much smoother, and the defense is hovering around league average, a marked improvement from last year. They may be a year or two away from being serious, but with Love’s contract extension helping to cement a young core, it’s impossible to ignore the good vibes in ‘Sota.
I feel kind of bad for having Utah this low, but there is something I’m just not buying about the Salt City ballers I can’t put my finger on. It feels like a young team outperforming expectations more than anything else. I love to see the flashes of stellar play from the young guys like Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter, and Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson have been wonderfully effective. But with this team having most of its games at home so far, where the Jazz are historically good, I’ll have to see how they do with some more road games before I sign off here.
The Grizzlies find themselves at the .500 mark despite Zach Randolph’s injury and the fact that they can’t sneak up on anyone after their performance in last years’ playoffs. Of course, this is largely due to the fact that Marc Gasol is playing very well, averaging a double-double on his way to a PER over 20. It’ll be interesting to see how Z-Bo gets reintegrated back into things after he comes back in late February or early March, but if he, Gasol, and Rudy Gay can all play nice, then Memphis stands to move up these rankings late in the season.
After the teams plans were affected by the recent Chris Paul trade that wasn’t, you had to wonder how the Rockets would respond. Well this is a team that is sadly used to disappointment, so naturally they would respond by winning the majority of their games, powered by the play of point guard Kyle Lowry, who is averaging 14.8 points with 8.3 assists and 6.6 rebounds a game. He’s a point guard, who is out rebounding his starting power forward Luis Scola. Get your head around that. Then call me and tell me how I can do the same with mine.
Somehow Lamarcus Aldridge keeps slipping my mind when I start thinking about top power forwards in the league, which is amazing when you consider how he stepped into a leadership role so well last year, and continues great play this year, averaging 22.5 points on nearly 50% shooting. Couple that with the fact Marcus Camby’s 87 hobajillion year old body just refuses to stop rebounding and blocking shots, along with Portland’s legendary home court advantage, and you have a team that could be dangerous this year.
I seriously can’t tell if I’m too scared of the Lakers, or not nearly scared enough. On one hand, the Lakers’ Big 3 are playing well in spite of learning a new system. Gasol and Bynum are both averaging a double-double on above or near 50% shooting and Kobe is playing out of his mind, scoring his face off. On the other hand, no one else on the team is contributing with any reliability. And then they are thinking of picking up Gilbert Arenas. At this point in time, “thinking of picking up Gilbert Arenas” is kind of code for “Oh my dear sweet Lord we have NOTHING at PG.”
The Spurs (and get ready for this, because I know it’s going to shock you) continue to be the Spurs. As Mark pointed out a while back, they continue to find production in unlikely places in the absence of Manu Ginobli, and Tony Parker continues to be the guy you always forget in Top 5 point guard conversations, even though he deserves to be there. Well, Manu is scheduled to bring his deadly Euro-step back in mid-February, and I would not be surprised if San Antonio moves up a rung or two next month.
In the first month and change of this shortened season, the Indiana Pacers have looked every bit the scrappy possible contender they have been cast. Despite it being David West’s first month with the team he is posting the second highest PER on the squad, behind only Roy Hibbert, who is showing a lot of grit on his way to dispelling any questions about his viability as a starting center in this league. Throw in Danny Granger and solid contributions from guys like Paul George, and you have a team that is dangerous on any given night.
You could conceivably put the Sixers higher in your rankings, with their Offensive and Defensive Efficiency both ranking top 5 in the league. But then you look at the games they are losing, and you see that most of their losses come against other potential play-off teams, and the efficiency rankings are inflated by a number of landslide victories over bad teams. Make no mistake though, this is a good basketball team, and a deep one to boot, and if they can get better than a 7 seed then they should win a playoff series.
Can you guys just re-read the last paragraph, putting “Nuggets” where “Sixers” is? No? Please? Okay. I do love the gameplan in Denver of winning without a star, exhibited by the contracts given to Gallinari, Nene, and Afflalo. Can a deep team full of solid rotation guys win a title under the steady tutelage of George Karl? Call me a wet blanket, but probably not. But that is one prediction that I would be thrilled to be wrong about.
Okay, I’m actually wondering why I don’t like this team more, and the only thing I can come up with is I must be haunted by the Ghost of Hawks Past or something. Top 5 in defense, and Top 10 in offense, Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, T-mac with good minutes off of the bench, what’s not to love here? I’m going to make concerted effort to try and like you more, Hawks. Please don’t burn me. Like, for real. I’m begging you.
Yes, I know, there are five teams behind the Clips with better records that I am ignoring by placing them this high. But remember kids, Chris Paul was out for some of those games, and this is still a team that is integrating a number of parts. I almost feel like that 7-3 over the last ten is about what you can expect over the rest of the season if they stay healthy. Blake Griffin is still murdering people with savage dunks. DeAndre Jordan had more blocks last month than I had bowel movements. Chris Paul is still Chris Paul. This team will be good.
Remember when everyone was panicking at the beginning of the season when the Mavs weren’t looking great? That was fun. Dirk and JET are returning to form, Roddy B and Vince Carter (yes, even Vince Carter) are having productive games lately. I’m not saying that Dallas’ rehab program for Vince included Mark Cuban dangling him out of a helicopter and saying “Play or DIE!”, but I’m also not saying it didn’t. A combination of Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi are replacing Tyson Chandler much better than expected. Now if they can get Lamar Odom to produce anything near his per minute LA numbers, this is still a strong contender.
I know they have the best record and basketball. I know the defense is still absolutely amazing. I know that Derrick Rose is still really, amazingly, superbly, insert-thousands-more-positive-adjective-here fast. But I am still haunted by the ideas that once the playoffs start, too much is being asked of Rose, and that he may unfortunately fail once again. Derrick will win titles. I’m just not entirely sure that this team, as currently constructed, can do it. D-Rose needs a running mate, and it he isn’t on this roster, they have to find him. I hear Dwight is interested.
Other amazingly ridiculous early season storylines included the one where Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were actually rivals that stole each other’s girls and poured sugar in each other’s gas tanks and such. The funniest part of that last sentence is it is only slightly more exaggerated than some of the things that were actually being said. The Thunder are the clear-cut best team in the West, for my money. Look for them to revisit the Western Conference Finals. And likely win them.
The Miami Heat have looked much scarier than they did last season. And for most of last season, they looked pretty darn scary. Bosh and Wade are both playing well. Lebron is quietly having an absolutely monster season. The addition of Shane Battier, having a healthy Udonis Haslem, and getting solid minutes out of both Mario Chalmers and rookie Norris Cole is all adding up to make Miami as terrifying as envisioned. The only two teams I give a chance in a seven game series and the two listed right behind them.
Jordan Akin these power rankings specifically to aggravate you, you silly (insert your team here) fan. You can tell him he’s a big dummy face on Twitter @jakin1013, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.