Power Ranking: Diving Into Depression
In this week’s Power Ranking, I’ll be positioning 11 teams that are currently filling their respective fanbase with a deep, dark case of depression. Most of these are teams we already thought would be terrible, but others are groups that looked to torpedo others before imploding on their own. Highly paid free agents can do that to you, and unrealistic expectations are sometimes a fan’s greatest reason for pain.
11) Toronto Raptors. Record Last Week: 3-1. The defensive intensity they started their season with gave birth to a new found optimism rarely seen on the streets of Toronto in the last half decade. But in the face of Andrea Bargnani’s lingering injury, those early rays of sunshine have been blotted out. The defense has dropped come back to earth, and based on his improvement from year one to two, DeMar Derozan isn’t developing at quite the rate we expected in year three. Toronto’s season is quickly becoming yet another huge bummer.
10) Orlando Magic. Record Last Week: 1-4. The home and away losses against a Boston Celtics team we last saw twitching in a puddle of blood were really (REALLY) bad. Then there’s the super obvious anvil Dwight Howard is currently dangling over the team’s head. Getting inside the mind of another person is impossible. We can only go by what they tell us, and right now Dwight’s comments are similar to those of a teenager being asked if he’d like a corvette or a mustang for his 18th birthday. Chicago, Boston, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, it doesn’t really matter. They’re all better than riding a bike in Orlando.
9) New York Knicks. Record Last Week: 1-3. The Knicks are a top heavy team who’s heavy lifters are playing like role players. The result? A bad basketball team that might be the league’s most disappointing. For a group that came into this season with expectations teetering on sniffing a championship (or at the very least, winning the division), being a Knicks fan is hard work these days. With a roster that’s thinner than Landry Fields’ skin, the team’s fate is currently resting on the health of Baron Davis, a player whose motivation has been placed under the microscope several times in the past. If Davis is unable to get into shape (rendering both Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire into offensive turtles) then there’s a good chance New York won’t make the playoffs. It’s truly a sad situation.
8) Sacramento Kings. Record Last Week: 0-3. I hate giving up on a player so soon, and I’m not ready to completely abandon ship, but Jimmer Fredette has hit a wall on offense and looks as bad as most feared on defense. He’s shooting 44.7% in spot up situations, but just 26.3% in isolation. That’s deplorable. He isn’t shying away from contact, which is good, but the calls aren’t coming his way when he leaves the air and collides with another body, which is bad. Defenders are playing him honest, his pump fakes have become the NBA’s “Boy Who Cried Wolf”. Watching him take on defenders one on one and continuously struggle has been difficult to watch.
On defense, according to Synergy, he’s allowing 0.63 PPP which is outstanding. But if you actually watch these plays, Fredette gets routinely burned off the dribble, with his man either missing a routine shot, or getting thwarted by a larger Kings defender. You wonder how much better he would’ve been on a different team, with mature veterans, and a cocoon of positive influence to wrap around him like a security blanket. It goes back to the “Royal Jelly” theory David Thorpe spoke about on last Friday’s NBA Today podcast. It’s beginning to look as if Fredette won’t have success in Sacramento, and it might be in everybody’s best interest to trade him into a more conducive situation. When you’re losing as much as the Kings are, things are obviously bleak. But when your lottery pick isn’t showing flashes that he can be a helpful piece in the future, it’s especially awful.
7) Phoenix Suns. Record Last Week: 1-3. Steve Nash speaking on his team’s lack of offensive talent is both true and painful, but did it need to be uttered in the first place? Sometimes the obvious is better left floating in the azure Phoenix sky.
6) Washington Wizards. Record Last Week: 2-2. Firing a head coach isn’t the be all end all when it comes to turning around a disappointing season, but at the very least it’s recognition that things aren’t working. It’s a step in a different direction, which is all Washington’s fans can want at this point. John Wall is still around, and he’s beginning to show flashes of a prodigious genius. But so are Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, and Nick Young: three players who align themselves with all things that are not synonymous to winning basketball games.
5) Milwaukee Bucks. Record Last Week: 2-2. This is obvious: Andrew Bogut’s hurt yet again. The Bucks are playing for a wide open #8 seed in the Eastern Conference, but in reality what’s the point? They won’t beat Miami or Chicago in the first round, and they’ll shut the door on an already slim chance of receiving a high pick via the lottery. Milwaukee is middling, and in the NBA that’s fatal.
4) New Orleans Hornets. Record Last Week: 1-3. With Chris Kaman being actively shopped like a house that’s mortgage is soon to expire, it’s so interesting to see where David Stern’s influence begins and ends. Is it Dell Demps, or the league that believes Kaman’s presence on the team is no longer needed? Despite the move qualifying as a smart and matter-of-fact, because it’s New Orleans doing the deal this makes for weird stuff. Then there’s also Eric Gordon—the centerpiece from the Chris Paul deal who has one eye on joining the Indiana Pacers next year—leaving the Hornets’ extension on the table. At least they play hard.
3) Detroit Pistons. Record Last Week: 0-4. Survey the aftermath of a hurricane/nuclear warhead/apocalypse and what you’ll find should be pretty similar to Detroit’s current roster.
2) New Jersey. Record Last Week: 2-2. As is customary in the history of our great nation, New Jersey is all sorts of depressing right now. The devastating injury to Brook Lopez has certainly hurt the team’s on-court chemistry and two-way production, but more importantly, it put the kibosh on any early season blockbuster swap for Dwight Howard, which is something Nets fans have been clinging to ever since Jay-Z failed to lure his friend LeBron James on over. Deron Williams is beginning to play up to the superstar title he’s earned, but it’s at the cost of getting everyone involved and playing to his true strengths as a game-changing point guard. Double Deron, and you’ve effectively destroyed the Nets’ offense. With each passing day, the chances of New Jersey getting Dwight Howard shrink, while the likelihood of Williams leaving town gradually grows.
1) Charlotte Bobcats. Record Last Week: 0-4. Apart from the lottery, this team has absolutely nothing to look forward to. They have a TON of young miscreants, but unfortunately, none of them look to have what it takes to ever make an All-Star team. Some may turn into effective rotation players, while others could find themselves off the team sooner than later. If you’re a Charlotte Bobcats fan, chances are you’re not having a ton of fun watching professional basketball.