Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
Well guys the season is at a close, and we are left with nothing but memories and baseball to tide us over until next year. The good news is that this year has left us with enough of the former to ignore the latter if we choose. There is the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, so come with me, roundball fan, on a trip through Memory Lane. With thirty pictures for thirty teams, we are here to use the past as a lens to look to the future in out 2012 NBA Yearbook.
Hit the jump for Jordan’s yearbook…
As you may have heard, the Bobs had just a bit of a rough season. Under Paul Silas (left) the Bobcats posted the worst winning percentage of any team in NBA history, and numerous questionable quotes and a confrontation with Tyrus Thomas ultimately led to Silas’s firing. The Cats have since saw fit to hire Mike Dunlap (right) to right the ship and help develop their young players, including whoever the team decides to take with their number two pick in this year’s draft.
John Wall also had a difficult year with the Wizards, with his sophmore campaign leaving much to be desired. It is still the consensus belief that Wall will develop into an All-Star, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that management will have to find a way to pair him with someone better than No-Pass Nick Young or an increasingly washed up Nene. While JaVale McGee was obviously never going to become anything in Washington, it is telling that he turned into a much more productive player once he was shipped to Denver. Washington must find a way to develop young talent like Wall and McGee or this rebuilding phase could last longer than Germany’s after World War II.
New Orleans Hornets
As you have probably heard, the NBA-owned Hornets won the first pick in the draft and the right to select Anthony “Unibrow” Davis, which as far as I can tell is not controversial in the least bit. At all. In any way. In all seriousness though, the Hornets team have conducted themselves with class in a difficult season, and deserve the pick as much as anyone. Anthony Davis has been likened to Kevin Garnett in his potential to change a game defensively, and while it may be early to be comparing people to HOFers, having a stable building block for the future is exactly what fans in New Orleans deserve. When you add in Austin Rivers, the teams other draft picks, and the future is at lease interesting in New Orleans.
2012 was certainly a season that will leave Cavs fans with mixed emotions. Lebron James, Ghost of Cavaliers Past, showed that Dan Gilbert’s now-famous Comic Sans tirade may have been a bit silly and an overall bad move. But on the other hand, Kyrie Irving wiped demolished any reservations anyone may have had about whether or not he could play in this league, winning the Rookie of the Year award and making the Cavs an unlikely League Pass team this season. After drafting Dion Waiters, the Cavaliers need only to get older and more experienced, and it will be fun to see where the future leads them
I love the Sacramento Kings. I really do. The team is comprised of an interesting mix of extremely young talent that seems like it could one day become a group to be reckoned with. The tragic thing is that the wonderful Sacramento fans may not get to reap the fruits of multiple terrible seasons after that team finally coalesces into something great. Last offseason saw a victory for the “Here We Stay” campaign, only to have that reversed as the season went on, with it again looking like the Maloof brothers will be moving the team. A horrible reminder that basketball, no matter what else we try to pretend, is a business, and the only people you can’t fire are the owners.
New Jer…ahem…Brooklyn Nets
With Brook Lopez and other members of the Nets injured for long stretches of the season, its a small wonder that Deron Williams’ first full year with the Nets didn’t necessarily go swimmingly. Williams is still one of the best point guards in the NBA though, and the fact that the Nets have managed to convince him to stay means that there is likely some playoff appearances in the Net’s future. However, while Joe Johnson is certainly a great player to put on nearly any team, one has to wonder if the Nets truly mean to keep Joe and his gargantuan contract around, or if this is merely a stopgap measure until another solution runs along.
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors had a season that started with the promise of playoffs and ended with a tank job and a new team dynamic for next year. While the team should be commended for solving the Monta/Curry debate and setting up a potentially great core of David Lee, Andrew Bogut and Steph Curry, you see the booing of new owner Joe Lacob and the recent discussions of moving the team across the bridge, and you just can’t help feeling bad for the fans in Oakland.
This season the Raptors, perhaps inevitably, continued to be the Raptors. There were a few interesting wrinkles to the team. You have the fact that Andrea Bargnani opened the season playing at a true All-Star level in his first year under Dwayne Casey. While injuries may have derailed the campaign for Bargs, it did spawn this video from the guys at The Basketball Jones, which may be the funniest thing I have ever seen. Interesting to see where Casey gets this team.
The Detroit Pistons seem like a potentially talented team doomed to be hamstrung by their bad management decisions forever. Young center Greg Monroe became a veritable double-double machine and looks like he may become the next great NBA big man, and Rodney Stuckey even broke out for a while. But as long as guys like Charlie Villanueva are sitting like a…um…cancer on the bench, Detroit’s future will be determined by its past.
The Minnesota Timberwolves had what was probably their most entertaining season in years with Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Nikola Pekovic looking for a second there that they may be playoff bound. Rubio was dazzling us with his otherworldly passing skills, and the Wolves were easily this year’s League Pass darlings. Then that dirty Kobe Bryant ruined it all. Love tried to hold on, becoming a one man show there for a while, but the real test is next year, when they are healthy, and I’m eager to see if Rick Adelman can make the team get there.
The Trailblazers started off looking like they may have been the league’s best team, and somehow, ended in Tank Town like so many others. Hard to say exactly what happened, but the belief is that somehow coach Nate McMillian lost control of the team, leading to his firing by the All-Star break, and the team moved Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby. LaMArcus Aldridge is an amazing player, but if he doesn’t get some quality help soon, things will get ugly in Portland soon.
You have to appreciate the irony in the fact that point guard Monta Ellis has now been traded from one team where there was concerns about whether he could co-exist with his back-court mate to yet another team where there are concerns about the exact same thing. The pairing of Ellis with Brandon Jennings did seem to work for a while though, with the team nearly fighting their way into the playoffs, but with Jennings beginning to look elsewhere, and the team discussing a possible move, the time is now or perhaps never in Milwaukee.
Well guys, it looks like the #FreeSteveNash campaign will finally achieve its goal, however belated it may seem. The questions we are left with are what Steve has left in the tank, and where the Suns go from here. Nash has long been a health food connoisseur and looks like he still has plenty to give. As far as the Suns? That at depends on whether the owner is willing to actually spend any money on trying to get a team together. If not, we could be looking at dark days ahead in the desert.
The Rockets season was essentially a tale of two point guards. On the one hand you had Kyle Lowery, he of the underrated and complete game, carrying the team through the first half of the season, until a bacterial infection and multiple arguments with new coach Kevin McHale sidelined him. Then Goran Dragic stepped in and it was like Lowery never left. It will be interesting to see which point guard the team keeps, and to see if GM Daryl Morey can steal any more Omer Asiks from anyone this offseason to get this team back to the playoffs.
The Utah Jazz shockingly found a way to make it to the playoffs in their first year without Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson provided a frontcourt pairing that was able to bully past basically any team that wasn’t the Thunder or Lakers, meaning that even though the back-court is still something of a work in progress, new coach Tyrone Corbin was able to put on a fine opening performance. The Jazz remain a team that the people of Utah should be proud of, even if they had a quick first round exit against the Black Death.
The Nuggets were probably my favorite of the “starless” teams this year, due in no small part to their lightning quick pace and fun style of play. It is a testament to this franchise and Geroge Karl that this team could get so far without a real cornerstone of the offense, but at this point the fack that Karl is a great coach really shouldn’t surprise anyone. When you can turn JaVale McGee into something resembling a real live NBA basketball player, you are definitely one of a kind.
Well Hawks fans, I hope you enjoyed this season, because change is coming. While it is a worthwhile question as to whether the team would have fared any better with a more healthy Al Horford bolstering what was still a pretty strong defense, the fact that Joe Johnson is leaving the Big Peach for the Big Apple means that it will be up to Horford, Smith, and others to carry the torch in Atlanta. But in the long run, we had already seen where the current team’s model would have carried them, so moving Johnson’s contract is definitely a bit of progress for the Hawks.
Well, the Magic definitely had an interesting season. The season long PR catastrophe known as the Dwightmare should have paralyzed the team, but they limped along into the playoffs without Dwight anyway, and were summarily defeated by the Pacers. But at least we’ll always have this memory. It will be interesting to see where SVG will go, but that will be eclipsed by Dwightmare II if the All-Star Center isn’t moved soon.
New York Knicks
If the guys in New York don’t know how to have a hell of a crazy season, I don’t know who does. Between wondering if Melo was good enough to win, the rise of Linsanity, wondering if Melo could fit in, D’Antoni getting fired, the team rebounding under Mike Woodson, and then Amare going all crazy on a fire extinguisher, the Knicks had more storylines this season than Derek Jeter has had girlfriends. Hard to say if the team has reached its ceiling, but if they do find a way to make this work, than they may have a legit contender.
The season began in Philly looking like they may be able to make it without a star player, and then ended with most of the basketball community realizing that that was most assuredly not the case. While the Sixers may have the best “supporting cast” around, they are doomed to be a first or second round team as constructed. With Rose and the Bulls and the Heat and Lebron around, you have to be more than a Thanksgiving dinner with no turkey in the East these days, or you may find yourself starving.
With the first round exit that the defending champion Mavericks wound up with this season, it is time for owner Mark Cuban to put his money where his mouth is. The team chose to deal Tyson Chandler and others for a shot at some free agents this offseason, and the team has been involved in rumors around Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and others. Good thing too, since it would be a shame to waste Dirk’s twilight years with a team unable to compete.
After their completely unexpected defeat of the San Antonio Spurs last year, the Grizzlies’ defeat at the hands of the new-team-on-the –block Clippers feels like a bit of a letdown to many people who went as far as claiming that the Grizz may actually make it out of the West this year as a dark horse pick. Like, um, me. The team has been rumored to be trying to move Rudy Gay, and it they could get a few perimeter shooters for him, it may not be a bad move.
The Pacers are something of an enigma to me this year. They are obviously a very talented team with chemistry to spare, but do you try to keep that together and take another run at the Bulls and Heat next year, or do you try to package some of that talent for a true star? Are we still relying on Danny Granger to turn into Batman, or do we admit he may be more of a Robin type at this point? It will be interesting to see what Indiana decides to do this offseason.
Los Angeles Clippers
Lob City’s inaugural run wasn’t really a disappointment, but it definitely wasn’t a success either. A second round exit smells of mediocrity to be sure, and it was a shame to see the team decide to keep Coach Vinny Del Negro, whose crunch time coaching acumen seemed to be rather limited outside of “Let Chris Paul do something.” This team’s future success hinges on whether Blake Griffin can round out his game, and if DeAndre Jordan can become the next Tyson Chandler. If not, this team likely doesn’t climb much higher.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers may not have made it to the title round this year, but I’m still reluctant to write this team off. I feel like if they could only poach a few bench players from somewhere they would be right back on track for next year. Also, while this season may be remembered as Andrew Bynum’s coming out party, it was a shame to see Pau Gasol go to waste. If you aren’t going to use Gasol, who still has some dreamy post moves, then deal him for some bench players. It seems the Lakers may be looking to do just that.
The Boston Celtics were written off before the season began as being too old to possibly make much of a splash in the East this year. While they definitely proved that wrong, they now find themselves in the predicament of having time and money be more of a threat than age ever was. With Ray Allen passing out his resume and flying around the country on meetings, it seems clear that the Big Three era in Boston is likely over. It truly was a pleasure guys, and you should be proud.
The Bulls ended the year on one of the city’s greatest tragedies since the Great Chicago Fire. Derrick Rose crashed to the court in a grimace of pain, not to be seen again until some point late next year. The injury and subsequent playoff defeat throws into sharp relief several of the team’s big questions. Is Rose asked to shoulder too much of the offensive load? Can the team find a way to improve this offseason? Can part of those improvements please be amnestying Boozer?
San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs rolled into the playoffs looking like an unstoppable zombie death machine destined to kill all in their path on their way to the Finals, and if Kevin Durant hadn’t caught fire, that is likely exactly what would have happened. Not bad for a team that featured the first ever player to get a “DNP-OLD.” The lesson of course is don’t ever say the Spurs are done. Gregg Popovich will let you know when that time comes. With a one-word answer.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder’s season ended with tears from Kevin Durant, but don’t cry too bad for these small market wonders. Their season saw the Thunder become the Western Conference champions many said they were destined to become, and if not for a few mis-steps from Scott Brooks and James Harden, they could very well have a trophy. They will be back. And God help anyone who runs into Durant and Westbrook when they get there.
The Big Three of the Miami Heat won their first title together, and answered some questions en route. Lebron finally got the “title-less disappearing choker” monkey off his back. Erik Spoelstra can stop looking over his shoulder and seeing if Pat Riley is coming to take his job. But this is the team that promised over seven titles, isn’t it? Is it the birth of a dynasty? A little early to say. All we can do is wait and see what happens next year.
I already can’t wait.