Every NBA Team's Biggest Flaw
No team, not even the defending champion Miami Heat, is without blemish. Having great players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade doesn't shield a team from its shortcomings. At that, it doesn't make those shortcomings any less significant.
Some of the best teams can work around their defects. James, Wade and Chris Bosh were able to lead the Heat to a title despite the team's problems in the frontcourt.
Meanwhile, the seemingly ageless San Antonio Spurs went undisturbed until a young Oklahoma City Thunder team arose to deliver the Spurs a fatal blow on its way to the NBA Finals.
Teams that don't make the playoffs lay victim to the problems that plague them. The Detroit Pistons' lack of stellar pieces hold them down. The Charlotte Bobcats can't get past the fact that they're Michael Jordan's mismanaged organization.
Following is a breakdown of every team's biggest flaw and how harmful it is to the team.
Atlanta Hawks: Inadequate Offensive Rebounding
The Atlanta Hawks have much going for them, even in the post-Joe Johnson era. They're efficient, capable of scoring, good on defense and solid in a few other areas.
One thing they truly lack is offensive rebounding. They were 28th last season in offensive rebounds (652) and 26th in offensive rebounding rate (23.9 percent).
Zaza Pachulia is the only player on the team that has an offensive rebounding rate of 10 percent or more. Al Horford and Josh Smith both average more than two offensive boards per game but don't secure offensive boards often enough.
This isn't an issue that will keep them from the playoffs, but a solid rebounding team in the playoffs could eliminate Atlanta's second chances by and large if it works hard on the glass.
Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce Can't Escape the Clock on the Wall
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are getting up there in age. KG is 36, and Pierce will turn 35 in October. Garnett has seen his numbers stay roughly the same in the last few years. He's also managed to average about the same number of minutes, only dipping below 30 minutes per game in 2009-10.
Garnett had, however, missed more than 10 games in each of his first four years in Boston before last year. One must wonder when the action will take a toll on his body again.
Pierce dealt with injury and decreased production last season. He saw his field-goal percentage drop 5.4 percent to 44.3 percent. In the playoffs, Pierce fought through a sprained MCL.
Whether Garnett and Pierce will have to fight through further effects of age will be interesting to see. Both may be determined to play as strong as usual.
However, with their biological clocks ticking, they may only be able to keep injuries at bay for so long.
Brooklyn Nets: Weak Defense
The Brooklyn Nets are anything but a defensive team. They were last in blocks and 16th in steals. They were also 28th in points allowed per 100 possessions (109.6).
They didn't do anything to improve defensively in the offseason. They lost their only rotation player who allows 105 points or less per 100 possessions. Joe Johnson is a lightweight defensively. Gerald Wallace is a well-reputed defensive player, but his defensive metrics have been up and down over the years.
Scoring will certainly be there, with Deron Williams leading the charge and MarShon Brooks and Brooks Lopez picking up their scoring. However, the Nets will have to be able to score highly on a consistent basis to overcome their defensive shortcomings.
Charlotte Bobcats: Unreliable Owner
The Charlotte Bobcats might have a good general manager in Rich Cho, who makes sound choices like drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
But they still have a disappointing owner in Michael Jordan. Jordan made a head coaching hire out of left field with Mike Dunlap. He has previously made such ill-advised hires as Sam Vincent and Larry Brown.
The records speak for themselves. The Bobcats had a record-worst winning percentage of .106 last season. That was preceded by fewer than 36 wins in six of the previous seven years.
The people running the basketball operations may change, but if the person at the very top doesn't change, the franchise remains weak. Thus, the Bobcats remain stuck in neutral for the near future.
Chicago Bulls: No Backup Plan with Derrick Rose Out
The Chicago Bulls will be missing Derrick Rose for most of the season. With Rose out, the Bulls will be lacking in several areas, such as scoring, passing and defense, to name a few. With so much money committed to Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, the Bulls had little they could do for the short-term to address the issue.
For starters, the Bulls are woefully short at point guard. Kirk Hinrich returns to the Bulls to serve as a replacement starter. Hinrich isn't much of a replacement since he's only a shell of what he used to be.
As for scoring, the Bulls can get more scoring from Boozer and maybe Deng, but they can't fully make up the difference.
Above all, this is a lottery team with Rose out most of the season. Missing him for short spurts didn't hurt too much; at least they knew he'd be back guiding the team. Now, it's up to Hinrich and Deng to pick up the leadership deficit, which seems strange since the players identify with Rose so much.
Cleveland Cavaliers: A Shaky Inside Game
The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted a nice big man to complement Kyrie Irving in the scoring department. However, Tyler Zeller's game generally falls in mid-range shooting. This still leaves the Cavs without any scoring on the inside. Anderson Varejao is anything but a shooter.
Tristan Thompson has yet to develop. He shot only about 44 percent last season. Byron Scott was reported by the News-Herald to be impressed by his progress this offseason, but that must be seen in the regular season.
Without much scoring on the inside, this Cavs team could still be quite limited for the next couple years.
Dallas Mavericks: No Real Point Guard
The Dallas Mavericks have a lot in their lineup. They have an old yet still stellar power forward in Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs have a blossoming young 2-guard in O.J. Mayo. They have their best center in a while in Chris Kaman.
What they don't have is a real point guard. Darren Collison is a bit of a scorer, but he's not much of a facilitator. He only dishes out four assists per game. Collison was benched towards the end of the regular season this April by Pacers coach Frank Vogel, and Vogel stuck with George Hill throughout the playoffs.
Delonte West backs Collison up, but West is more of a 2-guard.
With two poor point guards, the Mavs might as well have Collison and Mayo, who's something of a combo guard, share ball-handling roles. Besides, Mayo did quite a bit of ball-handling off the bench for the Grizzlies last season.
Denver Nuggets: Young and Unproven
The Denver Nuggets have plenty of talent on their roster. JaVale McGee is a fun center to watch, if unaware. Ty Lawson is a capable point man. Wilson Chandler can drop jumpers. Kenneth Faried is a regular double-double threat.
However, none of them are rock-solid yet. McGee, of course, still has to mature. Chandler had trouble shooting after coming back from China in the spring. Faried needs to learn to hang tight in crunch time.
It's a blessing that they received Andre Iguodala in the Dwight Howard trade. Iguodala is an all-around leader who can help steady these young players. Eventually, under his guidance, they might become a contender.
For now, this is a team that will just make noise in the first and maybe second rounds of the playoffs.
Detroit Pistons: No Clear Strengths
The Detroit Pistons have a few pieces. Greg Monroe can score a fair amount and fight for rebounds. Andre Drummond is at least an interesting defensive prospect. Brandon Knight is a capable young point guard.
Still, nothing is clear with the Pistons. Knight still has to prove that he can create a great amount for an offense. Drummond needs to show some toughness. Monroe needs to be able to fit into a role that suits him.
Beyond those three, the Pistons have little to talk about. Austin Daye seemed like he had upside going into last season, but he didn't do much when receiving significant minutes.Tayshaun Prince is past his prime. Rodney Stuckey can score a bit, but his star has passed.
Rebuilding will take a while for this team, and what it will look like in the end is unclear.
Golden State Warriors: Too Many Shooters, Not Enough Defenders
What do you get when you put a bunch of shooters in a system run by a defensive-minded coach?
That's Mark Jackson's Golden State Warriors team. The squad boasts such talented shooters as David Lee, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and Harrison Barnes.
However, what it doesn't have is a strong, steady defender. Andris Biedrins was the only player last year who allowed less than 106 points per 100 possessions.
Lee once played defense for the Knicks, but that was a few years ago. Andrew Bogut is reputed to be a capable defender, but he's not always healthy. Festus Ezeli was drafted for defense, but he has "soft" written all over him.
Hopefully, Jackson can coach up this group to play defense effectively. Otherwise, the playoffs will remain far in the distance. The latter possibility is quite likely.
Houston Rockets: The Center Position
The big problem for the Houston Rockets is the big O. No, it isn’t the specter of Hakeem Olajuwon hanging over the arena. It’s center Omer Asik and his compatriots at the position.
Asik served the Chicago Bulls nicely in limited minutes as a defensive stopper inside, but he’s not ready to become what Samuel Dalembert and Marcus Camby were for the Rockets last season. Asik averaged 14.7 minutes per game in his sophomore season, a bit more than in his rookie year. He played fewer than 20 minutes in 55 of his 66 games last season.
Indeed, Asik remained productive in the 11 games that saw him play 20 minutes or more. He averaged 9.1 rebounds and 1.77 blocks per game when he played between 20 and 29 minutes and had 21 rebounds and four blocks in the two games in which he played more than 30 minutes.
However, he shot 46.2 percent in the games in which he played between 20 and 29 minutes and 40 percent when playing more than 30 minutes.
Asik isn't much of an offensive player, taking just a few shots per game. His offensive role will have to be minimized as he gains minutes, as Dalembert's was last year.
As for his defensive role, Asik will take time to grow, as most centers do. Fortunately, he will grow into a good defensive specialist. Unfortunately, in the short term, his supporting cast, which includes Sean Williams and Jon Brockman, isn't that strong.
Indiana Pacers: No Scorer Blows You Away
The Indiana Pacers have plenty of players who can score, such as Roy Hibbert, David West, Danny Granger and Paul George. However, not one of these guys will dominate the game.
Hibbert stays at home in the post but isn't a sure-fire scorer at short range.
Danny Granger is a solid scorer but doesn't take over the game. He scored 25 points or more 13 times last season.
Paul George is growing in his offensive role, but it is yet to be seen whether that could mean him going from 12 points per game to 20.
David West dropped off considerably last season, going to 12.8 points per game last season from 18.9 per game on 50.8 percent shooting the season before.
The Pacers can make it pretty far on balanced scoring. However, as they go deep into the playoffs, they'll need George or Granger to take over the scoring in a couple of games. Their inability to do so will cost them against the Miami Heat.
Los Angeles Clippers: No Frontcourt Depth
The Los Angeles Clippers have quite the tandem up front in DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. Jordan is a terrific defender who shoots effectively. Griffin is a show-stopping dunker who rebounds very well.
Behind them, the Clippers don’t have much. Jordan’s primary backup, Ryan Hollins, isn't that great on the boards (5.7 per 36 minutes) and fouls a lot (6.1 fouls per 36 minutes). The third-stringer, Ronny Turiaf, defends like a sieve. Turiaf blocks 2.7 blocks per 36 minutes on his career, but allows 107 points per 100 possessions.
Griffin’s primary backup, Lamar Odom, has serious question marks because of age and whether he can bounce back from his dismal season with the Dallas Mavericks last year. Odom averaged 6.6 points per game last season and shot 35.2 percent from the field.
Griffin's other backup, Trey Thompkins, is unimpressive. He played only sparingly in the 24 games he appeared in as a rookie.
Above all, Jordan, who played 27.2 minutes per game last season, could be missing Reggie Evans, who signed with the Nets this offseason. Jordan could see his minutes jump significantly.
Having Griffin and Jordan logging a high number of minutes will take its toll. It might not show in the regular season, but it will definitely slow them down once the Clippers reach the playoffs.
Los Angeles Lakers: A Defensive-Minded Coach Who Doesn't Get Results on Defense
The Los Angeles Lakers found a coach last offseason who would instill a strong defensive philosophy to reflect the aggression that Kobe Bryant shows on defense.
However, the Lakers didn't get the defensive production in Mike Brown's first year as Lakers head coach that might have been expected. The Lakers forced the fewest turnovers (745) and had the fewest steals (390) in the NBA. Their defense was 13th in points allowed per 100 possessions (104.4).
Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace had career lows in steals per 36 minutes (1.1 and 1.4, respectively). They were the only two players averaging a steal per game.
This was highly irregular of the disciple of Gregg Popovich. Brown's Cavaliers teams were regularly in the top 10 in steals and one of the stingiest defensive teams overall.
Their offseason acquisitions bring a mixed bag defensively. Dwight Howard is a top-notch defender, and Jodie Meeks is capable on that end. On the other hand, Antawn Jamison and Steve Nash aren't committed defenders.
The Lakers can score as much as Nash and Kobe can push them to score, but if they can't defend, they won't be able grab another crown.
Memphis Grizzlies: The Limits of the Transition Game
While they aren't a high-scoring team, the Memphis Grizzlies can be fun to watch with their transition offense. Steals by Tony Allen, Mike Conley and Rudy Gay often turn into fast-break points. Gay can sometimes go wire-to-wire for a score. Conley can sometimes pull off quick passes for scores in the half court.
However, the Grizzlies run into trouble with their transition play in the playoffs, as seen in the playoff series against the Clippers this spring. The Grizzlies tried to push the pace but ended up dysfunctional in the half court. They weren't always able to force the turnovers on which they thrive because Chris Paul was just too stingy.
The lesson was that the Grizzlies have to find another way to win in the playoffs. The Grindhouse must adjust in order to make it deep in the playoffs. They have to be able to take their time and break things down in the half court the way other teams do in the playoffs.
If Conley can take it easy in the playoffs, bring the ball up with patience and feed it to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph for easy inside shots, then they could push farther in the playoffs.
That remains at least a minor possibility, as Conley has grown as a point guard each year he's been in the league.
Miami Heat: Very Little in the Way of Big Men
The Miami Heat backcourt gives people plenty to rave about. Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers can rain down three-pointers. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can take over with their scoring.
However, the frontcourt is hard to notice. Chris Bosh is the only significant player in the Miami frontcourt and could end up being the only real frontcourt player in the starting lineup. The centers, Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman, are marginal helpers. Udonis Haslem is still a good rebounder, but his minutes are declining.
With little presence in the frontcourt last season, the Heat looked to James to lead the team in rebounding. This season, with perhaps no true starting center, they’ll lean on Bosh and James to try to maintain the boards.
That might work to some extent, but the Heat will probably find greater success by simply spreading the floor and being very efficient shooting the ball. That will likely work as James and company work to defend their NBA title.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Limited Backcourt Scoring
The Minnesota Timberwolves are generally a capable perimeter shooting team. Kevin Love can knock down shots inside and out. Luke Ridnour shoots well off the bench. Andrei Kirilenko could come back and be a nice perimeter shooter.
However, the backcourt doesn't provide a great deal of support for Love. Ridnour takes a decent number of shots but only puts up 12 points per game. J.J. Barea put up 11.3 points per game off the bench last season but hit just 40 percent from the field. Ricky Rubio isn't a high-volume shooter and shot only 36 percent from the field last season.
Whether Brandon Roy can come back and be effective is a mystery.
The T-Wolves will be able to lean on Love and Kirilenko to some extent, and Nikola Pekovic can dump in a fair amount inside. But the T-Wolves will be relying upon a fair amount of scoring from their backcourt. Rubio should improve his shooting a little, and Barea might boost his shooting mark a bit, but Roy won't be able to rediscover his stroke.
What the T-Wolves can put together just might be enough to make the playoffs, especially as Love's control of the boards gives them second-chance opportunities.
Milwaukee Bucks: The Defense Rests on One Man
The Milwaukee Bucks were weak on defense last season. They allowed 105.2 points per 100 possessions. Ersan Ilyasova was the only player in the rotation who allowed fewer than 104 points per 100 possessions.
Since Ilyasova is hardly a defensive leader, and Scott Skiles appears worn out, the only cause for optimism for this defense is new Buck Samuel Dalembert. Dalembert has always been a good defensive leader. He generally shows plenty of energy on defense and makes others look better on defense.
The question is whether he can help others around him become better on defense in Milwaukee. He'll be able to clean up some of the missed plays by Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but he can't put the defense completely on his shoulders.
The Bucks will improve to a degree with Dalembert leading the defense but won't become great defensively all of a sudden.
New Orleans Hornets: The Hole in the Middle
The New Orleans Hornets have taken a strong step forward this offseason by grabbing some superb talents such as Anthony Davis, Austin Rivers and Ryan Anderson. However, they had to trade away both centers, Emeka Okafor and Gustavo Ayon, to make their big deals happen.
Having realized that there was a hole in the middle, Dell Demps jumped and acquired Robin Lopez from the Phoenix Suns. Since Lopez has spent most of his career as a backup, he’s no guarantee as a starter. His backup, Jason Smith, isn’t too bad, although he missed a significant amount of time due to a concussion last season.
Smith and Lopez might not be able to produce a great amount, but at least they have scorers around them like Eric Gordon, Rivers and Anderson, as well as rebounders like Davis to fill in what they can't do.
New York Knicks: Star Players Don't Fit Together Well
Having three of the best players at each of their positions is great on paper, but it doesn't always pan out in reality.
This is the case for the New York Knicks. The Knicks have premier players at center (Tyson Chandler), power forward (Amar'e Stoudemire) and small forward (Carmelo Anthony), but the dysfunction is very noticeable. Chandler is the only strong defender of the three. His offense comes largely off others' misses.
Stoudemire isn't that good on defense and demands the ball on offense. Melo doesn't do much defensively and also craves the ball on offense. Melo wants to create for himself, and Stoudemire wants others to create for him.
This is not going well. Melo has already caused Mike D'Antoni to be fired. Mike Woodson plays things loose in his offensive system, which may placate Melo, but it doesn't save morale.
Woodson might be able to create a beneficial offense, but he's no master when it comes to corralling egos.
Eventually, something ugly will happen, and Melo could end up being traded.
Orlando Magic: The Best Player on the Team Passed His Prime Early
The shakeup of the Orlando Magic roster that came with the Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson trades left Jameer Nelson as the best player on the team. As things often happen with teams that suddenly jump into rebuilding mode, the core isn't exactly balanced in Orlando.
Nelson, who ends up as the best player on the team, passed his prime in the last couple years. His shooting figures have gone down in the last three years. The 30-year-old's turnover rate is also higher than it was then.
Indeed, the Magic will eventually move past Nelson, as well as veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu. Nelson was signed on this offseason for three more years to help steady the rebuilding process. He could help teach young players like Andrew Nicholson and Arron Afflalo.
But with Nelson's skills diminishing already, don't expect him to carry the Magic anywhere in the next couple years.
Oklahoma City Thunder: No Depth
The Oklahoma City Thunder might be able to get away with having a coach who isn't much of a tactician, as long as the players can find creative ways to score.
However, Scott Brooks might not be able to carry the Thunder over the hump if the bench can't come through. James Harden is the star off the bench. After him, nothing is certain. Nick Collison can rebound a bit, but he isn't that tough inside. Eric Maynor is coming off ACL surgery and may take some time to become truly effective.
Daequan Cook had his moments in the playoffs but isn't really a sharpshooter.
The Thunder rely heavily on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to make things happen offensively, and the defense virtually hinges on what Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka can do. The Thunder have to hope for the best in order for the core group to stay healthy and key reserves to be able to provide decent relief.
Philadelphia 76ers: A Very Stoppable Backcourt
The Philadelphia 76ers have plenty of players who can score. Andrew Bynum will lead the way, as Jrue Holiday and company will do their best to feed the ball to him. Holiday and his backcourt mates can help out.
Holiday put up 13.5 points per game last season while shooting a nice 43 percent from the field. Evan Turner scored 9.4 per game and 12.8 per 36 minutes while shooting 44.6 percent from the field. New addition Nick Young scored 14.2 points per game and 18.3 points per 36 minutes.
However, these shooters can be contained. Young is streaky, hitting 40.3 percent from the field. He's also a high-volume shooter, taking 12.6 shots per game last year. That could interfere with some attempts that should go to Bynum or others.
Turner can be shut down if he's pushed outside his range. Holiday can be limited if he's pushed to take mid-range shots. According to basketball-reference.com, he shot 34.7 percent from between three and nine feet and 41.2 percent from between 10 and 15 feet.
Indeed, stopping these players takes a complex effort. If an opponent can take two of these players out of a game, then they could be held to a one-round run in the playoffs.
Phoenix Suns: Not Much Scoring
The Phoenix Suns reworked their scoring-challenged lineup quite a bit in the offseason, but it remains limited in its ability to stack up points. They picked up Luis Scola after he was amnestied by the Houston Rockets, but Scola, who averaged 15.5 points per game last season, is on a steady decline.
Michael Beasley arrived in Phoenix after averaging 11.5 points per game in Minnesota last season, down 7.7 from the season before. Beasley has never really fulfilled his potential as a strong scorer.
The only impressive haul was Goran Dragic, who averaged 18 points and 8.4 assists per game in place of Kyle Lowry late in the season. Dragic is a terrific lead guard who can create for others. He could help others discover their scoring touch. However, that depends on Beasley's motor, Scola's game-to-game ability and how well Dragic can create for Marcin Gortat.
If Beasley and Dragic can kick it up a notch, this team could compete for a playoff spot. Still, Beasley has remained an enigma and may hold the team down.
Portland Trail Blazers: A Ragtag Bench
The Portland Trail Blazers have plenty to be happy with in their lineup, with a star in LaMarcus Aldridge and solid scorers in Wesley Matthews, Nic Batum and rookie Damian Lillard.
Questions loom regarding the bench. There's talent there, to be sure. Whoever the backup is between Meyers Leonard and J.J. Hickson should be capable, although both raise some questions in terms of toughness.
Luke Babbitt was an intriguing prospect coming into the league but didn't take up the cross heartily when he was called upon to start late in the year.
Jared Jeffries showed flashes of potential with the Knicks but never did much.
If the Trail Blazers can get some production from their second unit, then this team will be very competitive. However, with many questions looming over the bench players, a Blazers playoff team would be one reliant on its starters.
San Antonio Spurs: Father Time Doesn't Like This Team
As much as Gregg Popovich rests his star players, and as hard and as smart as they may work, the fact remains that the core of the San Antonio Spurs is getting old. Manu Ginobili is 35 years old and showing every bit of it. Same goes for Tim Duncan's 36-year-old frame.
The bodies of Duncan and Ginobili are grieving, to say the least. Ginobili has struggled with injuries in three of the last four seasons. Duncan has dealt with his fair share of injuries in his career but has stayed healthy in the last couple years. Still, he needs his rest to stay healthy and effective.
Duncan and Ginobili aren't as scary as they once were. Ginobili isn't as explosive as he once was and had to play fewer minutes than the typical postseason this year.
Duncan isn't an immovable force in the post like he once was, as shown in the last three games of the series against the Thunder, when he gave up 108 or more points per 100 possession in each game.
Tony Parker is older than some basketball players would be at 30 since he's played 10 seasons in the NBA. Parker isn't quite the speedster he used to be. He can still run around and drop buckets at will. That will probably last a couple more seasons.
Duncan will be able to keep up his level of play for another two years as he continues to sip the elixir of basketball life. That he continues to play with his intensity and physicality won't hurt his game too much, as Pops will continue to give him the proper amount of rest.
Ginobili will probably continue to be plagued with injuries. When he does play, he'll continue to be effective, although it will be in around 20 minutes per game.
The Spurs will continue to manage to compete for a spot in the NBA Finals as the trio ages because Pops fits good players around them. Danny Green is emerging as a reliable scorer in Ginobili's stead.
DeJuan Blair has been a fine complement for Duncan in the frontcourt. He posted 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game in 2011-12. Blair will blossom little by little as his role increases.
Kawhi Leonard gave a nice scoring boost in some parts of the year and will grow as a supporting scorer.
Sacramento Kings: Absent on Defense
The Sacramento Kings can be fun to watch when they run the floor. DeMarcus Cousins is capable of putting up a ton of points, as is Marcus Thornton. Isaiah Thomas is a sparkling point guard.
However, the Kings are not at all pleasing on the defensive end. Cousins was the only player last season in the rotation who allowed fewer than 108 points per 100 possessions. As a team, Sacramento was last in points allowed per game (104.4) and next to last in points allowed per 100 possessions (109.8).
The team allowed the highest field-goal percentage to opponents (47.6 percent).
That the Kings had the second-lowest defensive rebounding percentage (70.6 percent) didn't help.
The rotation hasn't changed much. The only two significant additions are Aaron Brooks and Thomas Robinson. Brooks, who played in China last season, has allowed 110 points per 100 possessions in his career.
Robinson, the fifth overall pick in this year's draft, is a strong inside defender and a very capable rebounder, but since he's only one man, he can only change things a little.
The Kings will continue to struggle on defense. Unless they find a way to score as efficiently as the Oklahoma City Thunder, their defensive woes will drown them once again.
Toronto Raptors: Too Many Mistakes
The Toronto Raptors did themselves in by making numerous mistakes last season. They turned the ball over far too much and committed too many fouls.
The Raptors were 26th in the league with a 14.8 percent turnover rate. Aaron Gray had a 21.9 percent turnover rate. Amir Johnson turned it over once every five possessions.
The Raptors committed more fouls (1,532) than any team in the league. Johnson committed 3.3 fouls per game and 4.8 per 36 minutes. Gray committed 2.6 per game and 5.6 per 36 minutes. James Johnson committed 2.9 per game and 4.1 per 36 minutes.
The high number of fouls caused the Raptors to allow more free-throw attempts (1,795) than any other team. That led to a high number of extra points given up, with 21.5 percent of points allowed coming off free throws made by opponents.
Toronto's offseason acquisitions don't address these deficiencies.
The Raptors' new point guard, Kyle Lowry, doesn't help the foul issue. Lowry committed 2.8 fouls per game and 3.2 per 36 minutes.
He also isn't an efficient ball-handler, holding a 17.8 percent turnover rate.
Landry Fields had a 17 percent turnover rate last season.
Jonas Valanciunas is an exciting addition, as the 2011 first-rounder arrives from Europe. However, his 3.2 fouls per game in this past Eurocup campaign isn't a good indicator for his start in the NBA.
The return of Andrea Bargnani will help somewhat. Bargnani has learned to keep his hands to himself over the years. He committed 1.8 fouls per 36 minutes in 31 games last season and 2.4 per 36 minutes the season before. The departure of James Johnson will also help a bit.
Still, the Raptors will struggle with these mistakes, which will continue to bog them down in the coming season.
Utah Jazz: Not Enough Defense to Hold Off Opponents
When it comes to offensive play, it's all hands on deck for Utah Jazz players. Their four regular starters last season, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap, Devin Harris and Al Jefferson, produced more than 110 points per 100 possessions.
Harris' replacement, Mo Williams, is also a high-volume offensive player, amounting 107 points per 100 possessions on his career.
The other new Jazz starter, small forward Marvin Williams, posts 110 points per 100 possessions for his career.
However, Jazz players aren't so committed on defense. Despite being grounded at the defensively-minded Butler University, Hayward allows 110 points per possessions on his career. Mo Williams and Marvin Williams allow 110 and 108 points per 100 possessions, respectively.
Millsap and Jefferson pick up the slack with 102 and 103 points allowed per 100 possessions last season, respectively.
As a team, the Jazz allowed 106.1 points per 100 possessions while putting up just a little bit more at 106.9 points per 100 possessions.
Utah managed to shoot its way to the playoffs last season, but the team might not be able to withstand its defensive troubles again this season.
Washington Wizards: John Wall Is His Own Worst Enemy
John Wall inspired a great deal of hope when he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Washington Wizards in 2010. Now, after two years of ineffectiveness, all he inspires is hope that he can change his game with a somewhat different cast around him.
Wall has run himself into problems in his first two years by running the Wizards offense with no coherent rhythm. Wall sometimes rushes plays, putting the offense out of sync.
This has led him to unimpressive productivity. He was seventh in the league in turnovers (261) as a rookie. Last season, he led the league with 255 turnovers. In 2010-11, he had a 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. As a sophomore, he had a 2.08 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Part of this was the result of boneheaded players like Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee throwing off the offense.
The Rashard Lewis trade alone made the team a little more mature, bringing in two grown-up players to a team that had been quite childish. Emeka Okafor is a pure craftsman of the interior. Trevor Ariza is a disciplined swingman. Also, Washington has a determined rookie sharpshooter in Bradley Beal.
Also, the departure of Blatche helps.
Granted, a few new players may not change the culture of a team. Wall will likely have to work out his floor general issues on his own. He'll have to jell with his new teammates and learn to feed the ball to them the way they need to receive it.
The success of the Wizards in the next couple years ultimately depends on whether Wall can fix his game. If he improves how he runs the offense, the team will become much better. This process would take two years to take shape.