Ranking the 10 Most Overrated Teams in the NBA Entering 2012-13
Now that the NBA preseason is underway, fans are frothing at the mouth in anticipation for the regular season to begin. With this comes the crime that every basketball fan has been guilty of at some point or another: overhyping their favorite team.
Though the league does have some squads who are indeed very talented, there are some that are just plain overrated. While they may do well, their flaws will ultimately catch up with them. As a result, their fans will be forced to eat some crow.
One team that particularly stands out in this case is the San Antonio Spurs, which is odd considering how they have finished top in the Western Conference each of the past two seasons, even making the Conference Finals last year. In the end, however, age caught up with them and the team lost to the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder. Yes, the team knows how to win games and is the definition of team chemistry, but they aren't the best all-around team in the league by a long shot.
Sadly, the NBA is full of teams that are highly overrated, and once the 2012-13 campaign is over, some fans will have traded in their wide-eyed ambitions for disappointment, especially in the following cities.
No. 10: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers were the surprise of the season in 2011-12, thanks to the acquisition of All-Star point guard Chris Paul and the subsequent creation of a fast-paced offense that came to be known as Lob City.
In doing so, the team made the playoffs as the No. 5 seed and even advanced to the Conference Semifinals. Sure enough, the Clippers remained hungry in the offseason and added the likes of Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill and Lamar Odom, all three of whom could help put them over the top.
However, the Clippers need to do more than just add depth in order to continue competing in the tough Western Conference. Crawford will definitely add a jolt off of the bench, but he'll only be able to do so much. On top of that, Odom is coming off of the worst season of his career, and while Hill can still play, it cannot be ignored that he is 40 years old. With a balky second unit, the Clippers' chances immediately start to change.
Moreover, the rest of the teams in the NBA will enter the new season with a plan as to how to defend Lob City. As fun as it was to watch last season, it made the Clippers' offense predictable and one-sided. Just like teams coached by Mike D'Antoni, Los Angeles could very well fall victim to tough defense.
In the blink of an eye, the dream could be over.
No. 9: San Antonio Spurs
As good as the Spurs are as a team unit, their age always seems to get the better of them. Of the team's starters, four are 30 years old or older, as is bench player Stephen Jackson. When matched up against younger teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder or Miami Heat, this usually comes back to bite them.
While the second unit players like Gary Neal and Tiago Splitter have slowly been playing an expanded role in coach Gregg Popovich's system, it just hasn't been enough to bring another championship to San Antonio. Unless the team starts moving away from the old and slowly brings in the new, then the Spurs will keep on digging a hole that in the next couple of years will be too deep to get out of.
No. 8: Boston Celtics
The Celtics may have gone to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they are one of the most overhyped teams in the NBA.
Rajon Rondo is a fine point guard, despite being awful at free-throw shooting, and when push comes to shove, Paul Pierce is one of the most clutch players in the game.
Still, as good as Pierce is, the Celtics rely on him a bit too much. He and teammate Kevin Garnett are 34 and 36 years of age respectively, and their skills are slowly starting to decline, especially Garnett's. At some point, this is going to come back to haunt GM Danny Ainge.
More importantly, however, the Celtics have virtually no reliable bench with the exception of new sixth man Jason Terry. The rest of the second unit is either untested rookies or ineffective career backups, with the only other exception outside Terry being Jeff Green, who missed all of last season recovering from heart surgery.
Unless the youngsters can step up and prove their worth, then the Celtics are doomed to be an overrated team headlined by aging players.
No. 7: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have a lot of potential with their new-look lineup featuring future Hall-of-Famers in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, but the sad truth is that GM Mitch Kupchak could very well become a victim of his own ambition.
Sure, the team looks great on paper, but four of the five starters are over 30 and one of them, 32-year-old Metta World Peace, is already looking like a shell of his former self. On top of that, sixth man Antawn Jamison is 36 and is nowhere near as dangerous a scorer and rebounder as he was in the prime of his career.
That all being said, though the Lakers are almost certainly going to make quite a statement in both the Pacific Division and the Western Conference this season, their success is going to hinge on the older players staying healthy. The team has put itself in a position where anything less than a trip to at least the Conference Finals is unacceptable and if one wheel should fall off the collective wagon, the season is going to be a disappointment.
Of course, that can all be blamed on fans overhyping the team from the get-go.
No. 6: Minnesota Timberwolves
After showing a good amount of improvement last season, 'Wolves fans are naturally excited. Had rookie point man Ricky Rubio not torn his ACL, Minnesota could have very well made a run for a playoff spot. Yet, though Rubio is expected back mid-December, the Timberwolves are anything but a contender.
First off, the only player who is a lock for effective production is double-double machine Kevin Love. Aside from him, Minnesota seems to be relying heavily on a breakout season from center Nikola Pekovic and All-Star production from Andrei Kirilenko and Brandon Roy, both of whom have been away from the NBA for a year.
Throw in an inconsistent second unit whose only saving grace is the pesky JJ Barea, and Minnesota fans appear to be counting their chickens before they've hatched.
No. 5: Denver Nuggets
Like Minnesota, the Nuggets are a talented team cursed by youth and inexperience. They have the potential to make a statement in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, but the fact that their go-to players are so young will ultimately keep them from taking the next step forward.
Now that Andre Iguodala is on the team, however, that could very well change.
Still, even if Iguodala does assume a positive leadership role, the Nuggets just don't have the necessary depth to compete amongst the more experienced teams in the NBA. Apart from Wilson Chandler and an aging Andre Miller, coach George Karl doesn't have much in terms of bench players.
As the past few NBA champions have taught us, depth means a lot in the big games. Denver will be able to keep up in these types of contests but once the final minutes start ticking away, youngsters like Kenneth Faried (pictured) and Ty Lawson will be left on the outside looking in.
No. 4: Dallas Mavericks
OK, so the Mavericks are only two years removed from winning an NBA championship. Yet, the fact that they underachieved so badly last season speaks to how overrated they are. Besides Dirk Nowitzki, the rest of the squad was a model of inconsistency.
While GM Donnie Nelson may have improved the team through the draft and free agency, Dallas still has a long way to go before getting back to the NBA Finals.
Nothing against new shooting guard O.J. Mayo, but he is inconsistent from the floor and appears to prefer working behind the three-point line. On top of that, new big men Chris Kaman and Elton Brand are almost certain to spend more time on the trainer's table than on the court.
Simply put, next year's Dallas team could very well be a repeat of last season. It will be the Dirk Nowitzki Show, and nothing more. Unfortunately for the fans, that doesn't spell championship.
No. 3: Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers had a good thing going for a bit last season, as coach Doug Collins had them playing a team-first game in which the ball was shared regularly and no one player stood out over the others. Unfortunately, this was the team's undoing as they slipped to No. 8 in the East and only advanced in the playoffs due to Derrick Rose's knee injury.
This year, barring major changes in the gameplay, it looks like Philadelphia could be headed for a repeat performance, or even a worse one.
You see, the team is now without Andre Iguodala thanks to the Dwight Howard trade. Now, they have Andrew Bynum playing center and he is coming off a career season, so he could potentially take over as the team's go-to guy.
However, Collins runs a tight ship and Bynum's attitude issues are well-documented. With not as much pressure to win on the Sixers as there was on the Lakers, he could easily go on autopilot and do just enough to get by. Unless someone like Evan Turner or Jrue Holiday steps up, then Philadelphia is in for another disappointing basketball season.
No. 2: Brooklyn Nets
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants his team to win immediately in their new home, and he has gone to great lengths to put together a good team. For the most part, he has done so.
As of now, the team's starting lineup consists of guards Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, forward Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace, and center Brook Lopez. On paper, this group looks like one that could put up some incredible numbers.
However, as is the case with many teams on this list, the Nets are overrated in that they have next to no bench. The only surefire producers in the second unit are second year player Marshon Brooks and veteran C.J. Watson. Besides them, coach Avery Johnson is putting his trust in the hands of untested international prospects like Tornike Shengelia and Mirza Teletovic or ineffective/aging veterans like Jerry Stackhouse and Josh Childress.
Unless at least one of those players besides Brooks and Watson absolutely stars off the bench, the Nets are going to struggle down the stretch. All that needs to happen is for one of the regulars to get hurt, and the dream could be over.
No. 1: Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers may have been the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference last year, but let's be honest, heart can only get a team so far during a season. In 2012-13, the Pacers will come back down to earth for one reason: they have no reliable man at the point.
For one reason or another, team management chose to trade point guard Darren Collison to the Dallas Mavericks for a backup center in Ian Mahinmi. That left them with two options at the 1: George Hill and free agent signee D.J. Augustin. Simply put, trading Collison is going to be Indiana's undoing.
Hill is little more than a shooter who plays little to no defense and barely passes the ball, and Augustin has never been a consistent scorer in his career, though he is an average distributor.
Still, as a whole, the Pacers have a giant hole at the point and as last season's New York Knicks showed us, the lack of a leader at that position could prove to be a nail in the coffin.