Pranav Ramasubramanian | November 29th, 2019
It’s almost December and at this point, the NBA season has shown what teams came to play to start the season and those that didn’t. It’s no debate who some of the top teams are in the league right now and who needs to reevaluate their approach before it’s too late. Here’s where the teams that need to go back to the drawing board rank.
17. Sacramento Kings (7-10)-
A slow start along with Luke Walton mismanaging minutes had the Kings looking at a lottery year. Now with the injury of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield is forced to step up and despite not shooting that well he is able to take advantage of more minutes to get the Kings some crucial wins and back on track. The Kings have no timetable for Fox’s return so Bagley must contribute to the team like he did last season so the Kings can become the fourth relevant California team.
18. Portland Trail Blazers (7-12)-
Drastic changes were made to the roster over the summer and some of them didn’t work so well as the defense has suffered from the Blazers letting everybody score on them as of late. The inconsistencies by the bench mean the primary scoring has to come from Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, which wasn’t working out too well so the Blazers rolled the dice by signing Carmelo Anthony to help out. Carmelo Anthony has hit his stride this week and the Blazers can easily be back in a playoff spot if Melo can keep up the scoring with consistency.
19. Washington Wizards (6-10)-
Offensive efficiency is big in today’s NBA with high-octane offenses flying all over the court for baskets and the Wizards are 2nd in the league at that, finding lanes to the basket along with finding holes in the defense for quality mid-range looks and it’s initiated by Bradley Beal. The offense has really been shared with the large part of the team and they have to keep scoring since there is no defense to be seen. John Wall is not likely to return this season so Isaiah Thomas and Ish Smith must continue to pick up the slack while Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant must get stronger in the paint for the Wizards to be a threat in the East.
20. Oklahoma City Thunder (6-11)-
The mentorship role that Chris Paul has taken to try and mold the future of the Thunder franchise is commendable and Paul has also helped contribute to some nice wins while he’s at it. If the players around him can get more consistent and show up on the nights when they are most needed then the Thunder wouldn’t struggle to try to run a basic offense. The minutes’ distribution for the players is whacky so whoever is in the game must play at full capacity for the Thunder to strike fear in their opponents.
21. Charlotte Hornets (7-12)-
The draft has given the Hornets some gems recently in Devonte’ Graham, PJ Washington, Miles Bridges, and Cody Martin. Some of these gems have had a great start to the season signaling that the front office may have finally done something right. The Hornets need to capitalize on the great start by playing more of an inside-out game to attack the rim for easy baskets to try and wear out the opponent to try to take over games to revive hope for their franchise.
22. New Orleans Pelicans (6-12)-
The Anthony Davis trade got them a nice young core, but Zion is still out until mid-December so Brandon Ingram must continue his breakout year to give the Pelicans a chance to win games. Their depth has helped them stay in games, but their inexperience tends to show later in games. The Pelicans will have to learn how to close if they want to try to compete for a playoff spot.
23. Detroit Pistons (6-12)-
The playoffs were possible last year because of the chemistry between Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, but Griffin was injured to start the year throwing off the vibe that was created last year. Griffin has only played in 6 games and the production can’t be matched because of the Pistons needing role players to help Griffin and Drummond not replace them. The Pistons need to consider starting Derrick Rose as Rose is still capable of playing that role in Reggie Jackson‘s absence due to injury to help them gain more of the game flow to get their team back to functioning at a good level.
24. Memphis Grizzlies (5-12)-
The weekly highlight reel will consist of at least two or three plays of Ja Morant‘s as he has been playing well enough to have himself in the running for Rookie of the Year. Morant is getting help, but it hasn’t seemed to be enough as they are getting outscored almost every game. The Grizzlies need to hold a team meeting to discuss their on-court problems before they are fighting over who gets to represent them at the lottery drawing.
25. San Antonio Spurs (6-13)-
Puzzling would be the word to describe this because of Gregg Popovich’s Hall of Fame coaching pedigree, but the laziness and lack of effort from the Spurs on both ends have them just three wins this month with trade rumors swirling around about DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray not doing them any favors. Popovich has changed his style before to suit his players so if necessary he may need to tweak it again to save the Spurs season. These lapses are often seen in younger players, but this year it seems like something that is actually a serious issue so they need to pick themselves up off the ground and focus more to get back on track.
26. Chicago Bulls (6-13)-
The benching of Zach LaVine in the Miami Heat game seemed to fire him up as he has responded by being the Bulls leading scorer for three straight games with 49, 18, and 36 even if two of the three have been losses he has done his job well. The Bulls do a decent job of giving all of their young players their time to shine as Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and Coby White have had their moments this year. If those moments can turn into stretches that contribute to winning streaks then the Bulls could climb the ladder in the East.
27. Cleveland Cavaliers (5-13)-
John Beilein is building his system around guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland so they need to find some chemistry to help their teammates also succeed. Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson have been supporting the guards well with good play so far in the paint this year. Beilein needs to adjust to NBA offenses and needs to figure out how to run his defense for his coaching to fully translate from college basketball to the NBA.
28. Golden State Warriors (4-15)-
The turnaround for this team has to be one of the worst in league history as they went from one of the best teams in NBA history to one of the worst teams in the league in a quick span of 5 months. Kevin Durant leaving and Klay Thompson‘s torn ACL in his left knee already meant that Stephen Curry had a tough hill to climb, but even he couldn’t stay healthy suffering a broken left hand being ruled out for three months. Although Curry’s injury is serious, D’Angelo Russell‘s is not and he should be back by next week. You can still expect to see the Warriors put up a fight night in and night out because of their young talent relishing their opportunity.
29. Atlanta Hawks (4-14)-
The suspension the NBA handed out John Collins for using a growth hormone couldn’t have come at a worse time as the Hawks were already reeling from three straight losses and couldn’t sustain losing any of their players. Trae Young is flashy, but with Kevin Huerter out with a shoulder injury, it makes them even more shorthanded. The Hawks just seem to be too soft when they hit the floor lacking energy and until they can toughen up it’s gonna be tough sledding for them.
30. New York Knicks (4-14)-
James Dolan didn’t do this team any favors with the way they are currently constructed and David Fizdale is asked to try and coach this roster on a nightly basis. The mediocre free agency signings are showing why they didn’t deserve their money and the only bright spot is that R.J. Barrett has showcased superstar potential. R.J. Barrett must quickly shape into a leader and big-time scorer around the basket to help the Knicks make the Garden buzzing again. Eastern Conference Standings Team Record GB
|1. Milwaukee Bucks||15-3||—|
|2. Boston Celtics||13-4||1.5|
|3. Toronto Raptors||13-4||1.5|
|4. Miami Heat||12-5||2.5|
|5. Philadelphia 76ers||12-6||3|
|6. Indiana Pacers||11-6||3.5|
|7. Brooklyn Nets||9-9||6|
|8. Orlando Magic||7-10||7.5|
|9. Washington Wizards||6-10||8|
|10. Charlotte Hornets||7-12||8.5|
|11. Detroit Pistons||6-12||9|
|12. Chicago Bulls||6-13||9.5|
|13. Cleveland Cavaliers||5-13||10|
|14. Atlanta Hawks||4-14||11|
|15. New York Knicks||4-14||11|
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