10 Observations, 2 Weeks into the NBA Season

We're 2 weeks into the NBA season so it's time for my ricidulously early progress report and what I've seen so far. Sure, we won't crown a champion for another 7 months. But that won't stop us from drawing some conclusions on what we've seen so far.

1. The Utah Jazz are really bad. Worst team in the league bad. I didn't see that coming.  Getting Trey Burke bad will help. But not that much. The Jazz are actually in a good spot. They have the young core they want to build around. So the team will get better. But right now? Oof...

2. The New York Knicks are still a mess. Look, I've been beating this drum since last year. That drum beat is starting to get a little louder and I'm feeling a little more company on my island. But it's a disaster. Tyson Chandler has a broken fibula and will be out up to 6 weeks. Metta World Peace has legitimately probably been their best player not named Carmelo. Andrea Bargnani is already getting booed by fans. And oh yeah, you're gonna have to give Carmelo Anthony 5 years $120 million next summer. Congratulations New York!

3. The Spurs are still the favorite in the west. Say what you want about them. They are old. They are injury prone. They are nearing the end of their run. They are boring. All those thing may or may not be true. You know what is true? The Spurs are a a machine and are the favorite to come out of the west until further notice. 


4. Derrick Rose is rusty.  I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Not playing basketball for 18 months and one is bound to be rusty. It's far from panic time in Chicago. But The juggernaut we all thought Chicago would be is, at best, a couple months away.

5. The 76ers and Suns didn't get the memo about tanking. The tales of the Riggin' for Wiggins campaign have been grossly overstated. The idea that teams would purposely lose games to get the chance to maybe draft a player that May or may not be good is just insane. 

6. The Boston Celtics are also really bad. Don't be deceived.  I know, I know. They beat Miami! The rivalry is alive! Please don't believe they hype. This Celtics team is bad. 

7. The Cleveland Cavs whiffed on the #1 pick.   I realize 2 weeks into a rookie season is no time to declare someone a bust. So I will refrain from doing so. But I will say this, 2 weeks into his career Anthony Bennett looks absolutely terrible. In 7 games this season he's made 1 basket. One. And is only playing 10 minutes per game. Only thing saing this pick from looking like a disaster is no rookie looks to be setting the league ablaze. Although Victor Oladipo may change this. 

8. Anthony Davis will make the all star game this year. Have you watched Davis so far this year? No. Stop what you are doing, go to youtube and look at some high lights.  This guy has been a monster. We aren't far away from him being in the discussion for best PF in the game. Side note: The Bobcats have had the 2nd overall pick twice. The #1 picks in those two drafts? Dwight Howard (2004) and Anthony Davis (2012). Excuse me for a moment. I have to go vomit. 

9. James Harden is astonishingly bad at defense. Epically bad. Almost admiringly bad. By the way, in that last link you'll see Steve Blake (Harden's man) cut back door, receive the pass and swing it to the other side of the court literally before Harden moves his feet.  You have to be trying to be that bad at defense.

10. The Indiana Pacers are the best team in the NBA right now. HUGE condition on that statement. Right now. This undoubtedly will change. 

 

Dwayne's Big Question For each Team

Well everyone....We made it. The NBA season starts tomorrow. I can't contain my excitement. This has the makings of a classic NBA season. So many story lines. So many questions.  Brandon and I went through a full NBA Season preview in Sunday's episode. But I had a few more thoughts. So I thought I'd pose my major question for each team going into the season.  Here we go folks. Enjoy the season. 

Atlanta Hawks – How is this team still good?

One reason: Danny Ferry. If this team is as good as I predict them to be, they will make the playoffs and be a frisky first round opponent. Ferry has shed The contracts of Marvin Williams, joe Johnson and they didn't overpay josh smith. Oh and this teams ceiling is the same as it was with those guys for a fraction of the price. Can we start the Ferry for Executive of the Year campaign yet? 

Boston Celtics – Should they trade Rajon Rondo?

Short answer: Yes. The longer answer is, maybe. And only because the Celtics need to decide what they are and what they want to be. Right now they are a team with one blue chip player and that player has a torn ACL. Do they want to build their future around that player (who we all know to be hard to coach and a little bit of a headcase) and make this guy a lifelong Celtic? Or...take the assets you can get from him (draft picks, cap space, veterans) and build a team. It’s a tough spot for Danny Ainge to be in. Trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce last summer ushered in the rebuild. He’s got to either commit to that rebuild or convince Rondo to commit. Otherwise, they are just bad and going no where.

Brooklyn Nets – Is Jason Kidd a legitimate NBA coach?

Count me among the Jason Kidd skeptics. I have nothing against him. He may very well be a great coach. I am just not convinced. Jason Kidd played in the league a year ago. He guarded Deron Williams last season. I have a feeling this will not go well. 

Charlotte Bobcats – How big of a difference will Al Jefferson make?

Let's be honest. The Bobcats' goal this year is to just improve. They want to have a higher win total than the previous two seasons and they want to see growth in their young core. Al Jefferson will go a long way to helping achieve both of these goals. His presence will create spacing and will lead to multiple opportunities for the young perimeter players to develop. Will it translate to wins? That remains to be seen. But they will be better. And it will be because of Al.

Chicago Bulls – Are they the biggest threat to Miami?
I personally think Indiana is the team most likely to take down Miami in the east this year. But Chicago is a legit threat. They are arguably the best defensive team in the league and they had one of the most admirable playoff runs last season without most of their players. This year they add a healthy and very motivated Derek Rose? Be afraid Miami.

Cleveland Cavaliers  – What will they get out of Andrew Bynum?
One of the many teams who's ceiling is depending totally on the health of one of its players. The Cavs have amassed a lot of young talent via 4 top 4 draft picks in the past 3 drafts. But the key to a deep playoff push is Bynum. I am not confident he will be much of a contributor for them, considering he's just been cleared to practice and spent all of last year in Philly bowling and impersonating Frederick Douglass. 

Dallas Mavericks – Really, this is the supporting cast your giving Dirk Nowitzki?

You know what? Dirk doesn't care. He's still celebrating the 2011 championship. Moving on. 

Denver Nuggets – Are they good or did they overachieve a little last year?

I think this team overachieved last year and will take a step back this season. They lost last years coach of the year and lost Andre Iguodala. No Galinari for half the season. The tiny crack in the championship window this team had open has slammed shut. But they won't be top lottery pick bad. They are slowly playing themselves into NBA no mans land. The middle. 

Detroit Pistons – Can Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith limit the bad shots?

This might be the biggest question of the entire season. If these two guys can figure out how to play together and go through their two studs down low, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, this team has the potential to really make some noise in the East. Nothing in either of their pasts leads me to believe this will happen. But if it does, look out. A 5 seed is not out of the question for these guys.

Golden State Warriors – Can Stephen Curry’s ankle stay healthy?

Outside of Kobe's Achilles there may be no more important body part this season. If Steph can stay healthy this team has a serious shot at the west finals. Last season was the first season of his career that Curry was healthy. I fear it won't repeat itself. 

Houston Rockets – Can Dwight Howard get back to Orlando Dwight?

Yes. Listen, the tales of Dwight Howard's demise have been greatly exaggerated. He's gonna come out this year and show everyone he's still the best big man in the league. I expect a monster season from Dwight. 

Indiana Pacers – Is Paul George really a franchise player?

Regardless of my doubts about Paul George, the Pacers are all in on him. They gave him a max contract. He's their guy. This team is the biggest threat to Miami in the east in my opinion. Is Paul George good enough to be the main guy on a team to take down Miami? I'd have to say yes. So the max deal and title of franchise player are warranted. 

LA Clippers – Will Doc Rivers make the difference?

Doc Rivers is a great coach. One of the best in the league. If there is a guy that can get the most out of this Clipper roster it's Doc. I expect big seasons out of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan and Doc will win coach of the year. 

 Lakers –LA What Kobe Bryant are we getting?

The Lakers announced yesterday that Kobe will not play in the season opener. Surprise! It's crazy to me that people actually thought that he would. He's 36 with a torn Achilles people. I expect him to come back at some point this season. But will he be the Kobe we are used to seeing? I have my doubts. 

Memphis Grizzlies – Is their window closed?

Here’s the scariest thing if you are a Grizzlies fan. The Clippers, Rockets, Pelicans and Blazers all got better. And your team didn’t. Not to mention the Thunder and Spurs are still favorites to win the west. I fear the Grizzlies missed their shot at the finals last season.

Miami Heat – Can they 3-Peat?

This is the only question for them that matters. It’s their only goal. They bring back the big 3 and their band of merry men. They only lost Mike Miller. They also added Michael Beasely and a 60% Greg Oden. Beasely will provide terrific scoring off the bench for them and if they can even get an 80% Greg Oden for the playoff stretch, it’s an upgrade over Joel Anthony. All signs point to yes, they can and will 3 peat. But…I will caution you. It is tough for a team to win back to back titles. It’s very tough to three peat. And it’s damn near impossible to make FOUR straight finals.

Milwaukee Bucks – Why do people think this team is good?

I just can't figure out why all the basketball pundits and experts like this team. They were barely a playoff team last season, lost their two leading scorers and replaced them with OJ Mayo and.... I guess that's it. I don't see it. I think they will be bad. Really bad. 

Minnesota Timberwolves – Health? Health? Health?
Please basketball gods. Can we get a full healthy season from Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. This team has alot of talent. If they can stay healthy it's not out of the question this is the sleeper team in the west. 

New Orleans Pelicans – Can Anthony Davis make the leap to Superstar?
Not only can he. I predict he will. In the preseason ( yes, I realize it's only preseason) he was a monster. I see no reason that won't carry over to the regular season. 

New York Knickerbockers – What is this team doing?

The dark secret no one in the league really wants to address is this Knicks team is a mess. Carmelo is a great player and one of the best scorers in the league. But the rest of this roster? It’s mediocre. Tyson Chandler is a very good defender. But he’s limited. Iman Shumpert is a good young developing guard. But are you depending on him for meaningful minutes in an NBA Finals. JR Smith is JR Smith. They brought in Andrea Bargnani and his guaranteed $11 million this year for some reason. Everyone else on this roster is either washed up or not ready for prime time yet. So, what are you doing New York? The team you currently have isn't winning a championship. Melo can opt out this summer and you still have 2 years and $22 mil per of Amare on the books. I’ll say it, since no one else will. It’s a mess.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Where does the scoring come from outside of Durant and Westbrook?

Here’s the thing to realize with this team. Durant and Westbrook are 2 of the 10 best players in the NBA. Those two are enough to rack up wins and have a record good enough for at least 3rd in the west. The problem for them comes at playoff time. We've seen multiple times that you NEED that third and in most cases 4th person to step up in a Conference or NBA Finals. And right now, I don’t know who that is for this team.

Orlando Magic – Will Oladipo win Rookie Of The year?

The smart money here is yes. He will run the point for them. He'll have the ball in his hands a lot. This team is really bad so he'll put up numbers. So yes. He's the favorite to win it. But don't sleep on Ben McElmore or Anthony Bennett who quietly had a pretty good preseason. 

Philadelphia 76ers – Will they challenge for the worst record of all time?  

This team is gonna be bad. How bad? Historically bad. Like, 8 wins bad? Sadly, it’s in play. Riddle this question; Would any of the players on this Sixers roster start on any of the playoff teams last season? Let me answer for you; Nope. Not a single one would. Their two best players, Thaddeus Lewis and Evan Turner, are role players on championship teams at best. The rest of the roster is full of young guys, old washed up vets and guys that are just collecting checks (I’m looking at you Kwame Brown). They will likely win 10 or so games and avoid infamy. But this season will lead to plenty of funny fans calling in on Philly Sports Radio. 

Phoenix Suns – What is the plan here?

Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps they plan to go the Sixers route and just rebuild entirely. But the suns do have some actual decent pieces. They just traded Marcin Gortat for a top 12 protected draft pick from Washington. They could have as many as 4 first round picks next year. That could potentially be a talent loaded team. Maybe that's the plan? Who knows?

Portland Trailblazers – How good is Damian Lillard?

This team is going only where Damian Lillard takes them. He's the franchise. And rightfully so. He's legit. In 5 years, he will be on the short list of best point guards in the league. His production will take a dip this season. Not because he takes a step back. But because Portland has a bench this season and Lillard won't have to play 42 minutes a game this year. 

Sacramento Kings – Who is the leader of this team?

It's a valid question. The answer is their leader is Demarcus "Boogie" Cousins. Your 2013-2014 Sacramento Kings everybody!

San Antonio Spurs – Is Kawhai Leonard ready to lead this team?

24 seconds. 1 rebound. 1 made free throw. 1 missed Ray Allen 3. That's it. That close to a title. Ugh. Anyway...what were we talking about?

Toronto Raptors – Will they be able to trade Rudy Gay?

Right now Toronto is in that dreaded NBA no mans land. Not bad enough for a high draft pick. And not good enough to make the playoffs. They are just idling in the middle with nowhere to go. They are going to have to start over. Whether they want to or not.

Utah Jazz – Can the fans be patient while these young guys grow into a contender?

Yes. I think the Utah fans are smart enough to see what the end game is here. And it's not this season. The Jazz won't win a lot of games this year. But they have a young core of Kanter, Favors, Hayward, and rookie Trey Burke. That has the potential to really be something. Utah fans will let it cook.

Washington Wizards - Will they make the playoffs?

Yes. This is a playoff team in the east. I worry that that is it though. I'm not sure what this teams ceiling is. They seem to have assembled their core and are ready to compete for the playoffs. Which means they won't be adding much more talent via the draft. In fact they just traded away their 1st round pick for next season (top 12 protected). So I'm not entirely sure where this team is headed. I would like to put this into the universe...In the Summer of 2017, the Wizards will be on the books for just $28 million for John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. They will have their young core and plenty of cap space. Guess who is a free agent that summer. Washington D.C.'s own...Kevin Durant. That's a long way off and alot will change between now and then. But I'm just putting it out there now.

The Sixers Are Worse Than I Thought

We are less than 2 weeks away from the start of the NBA Season. Which means we are right in the thick of the most pointless part of any American Sports season; NBA Preseason. It means nothing.  Preseason only serves two purposes; to figure out how much weight Raymond Felton has gained over the summer and for Rookies to start to make connections in cities they will be visiting throughout the season. That's it.

But occasionally, teams do play games. And one such game took place today. My beloved Charlotte Bobcats played the Philadelphia 76ers.  It was the epitome of preseason basketball. Sloppy. Uninteresting to anyone but die hard Basketball dorks (like me). And it was also a little deceiving. The Bobcats beat the Sixers 110-84 and when I tell you it wasn't even that close, I'm not exaggerating. The Bobcats aren't nearly as dominant as they appeared in this game. The Sixers played no defense. And what defense they did play, was terrible.

Which brings me to the thought I posed in the title.  The Sixers are really really bad. Like...really bad. No seriously. They are really bad. It's not a matter of getting blown out in one preseason game. It's a matter of how they looked. 23 turnovers. Lack of hustle back on defense.  The ease at which the Bobcats were able to move the ball around.  Those things do not bode well for a team that lacks any talent coming to the rescue.

Now, they will improve. They were without 3 starters. The Good news: they were without Even Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes. The Bad news: Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes are their 3 best players. Reread that sentence a couple times. Let it sink in.  Yeah, it's gonna be a long winter in the city of Philadelphia. 

But hey, cheer up Sixers fans.  The season will likely go by fast and you will have the best odds to land Andrew Wiggins.  Yes, you will.  And you will also likely have a lottery pick from New Orleans you got in the Jrue Holiday Trade. In the mean time, you can cry on my shoulder. As the fan of a historically bad team myself, trust me, I feel your pain.

Michael Jordan is Not Playing This Season

It's the time of the year wear everyone is giving out their previews for what to expect this upcoming season in the NBA. We here at 2 guys are no different. (Check out our Sunday Podcasts where we are previewing a different NBA division every week till the start of the season.) Over at Grantland.com, Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons are previewing all 30 teams over the next month.  So far they've been entertaining. Not very informative. But entertaining enough. (Check them out here.)

Today they put up a clip teasing their Charlotte Bobcats preview. In it, Jalen Rose dropped the jewel that I have linked in the video above. He predicts that Michael Jordan will come out of retirement and play one game for the Bobcats this season. Sigh. We're really gonna do this? Yeah? Fine. Lets do it.

This is idiotic. And not idiotic in an everyone is entitled to their own opinion type way. Idiotic as in do you even pay attention to basketball.  Michael Jordan is not playing for the Bobcats this season.  First of all, Michael Jordan is the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. The NBA prohibits owners from playing for the team they own. So in order for Jordan to suit up for the Bobcats, he would have to sell his stake in the team then get the new ownership to put him on the roster. This is just simply not happening.

Also, Michael Jordan is 50 years old. 10 years younger than my mom. 10 years older than Grant Hill. Since he retired from the Wizards, he's had a heavy dose of steaks, wine and cigars. He is no where near basketball shape. 

And also, explain to me why the Bobcats would even want this to happen? For added jersey sales? Shoe sales? They are becoming the Charlotte Hornets next season. Merchandise sales are about to sky rocket. It all makes no damn sense. This was just a classic case of an NBA "analyst" not having anything informative to say about a team he knows nothing about and pulling something out his ass. Hey Jalen, do just a little research next time. Leave the dumb comments to us amateurs on the internet.