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Ranking All 30 NBA Teams on the Midseason Panic Meter

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIFebruary 2, 2016

Ranking All 30 NBA Teams on the Midseason Panic Meter

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    As the 2012-13 NBA season approaches the All-Star game and midseason mark, for some teams this is the perfect time to panic.

    Some teams have failed to live up to lofty expectations. Others are on the outside looking in at a playoff spot or are losing standing quickly due to losing streaks or unfortunate injuries.

    While plenty of teams and fans are trapped slamming the panic button, there are also a plethora of NBA teams that can continue to cruise through the season with very little to worry about.

    Now although teams trapped in the NBA cellar can’t be happy with their current position, that doesn’t always mean their panic meter is going off at full blast. Considering many of the lovable losers never had high expectations to begin with, their panic meter is relatively silent (especially when you factor in their potential draft position for 2013).

    Ranking all 30 NBA teams from least panic to most panic, here’s where the pieces fall into place to this point in the season.

     

    Note: All statistics/records in this article are accurate as of Jan. 17, 2013 (prior to games played).

30. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Chris Paul and company are well on their way to becoming the best Los Angeles Clippers team in franchise history. The best regular season record previously for the Clips came during the 2005-06 season when they finished 47-35 under head coach Mike Dunleavy.

    So far, these Clippers already have 30 wins after 39 games played.

    The Clippers are perhaps the only team in the NBA that can successfully play all 12 men on the roster and still be impressively competitive. They have veterans, young guys and an absurd amount of depth for a basketball team. Not only that, but the Clippers have arguably the best team chemistry of any squad as well.

    Even with CP3's recent knee bruise which has caused him to miss time, it’s safe to say there’s no panic at all in L.A. Well, at least for one Los Angeles-based team.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Even though the front office in Oklahoma City made the difficult decision to trade away superstar shooting guard and Sixth Man of the Year award winner James Harden prior to the season, OKC is showing no signs of slowing down.

    Kevin Martin is certainly not Harden, but he’s done a tremendous job filling in for him as the Thunder’s new sixth man.

    The Thunder are duking it out with the Clippers for the top seed in the Western Conference at the moment. Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are playing at an MVP-caliber level.

    The Thunder are legitimate title contenders.

28. Miami Heat

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    The Miami Heat still need to be considered the favorites to win the NBA championship until proven otherwise. They won it all last season despite the fact that Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were injured in the postseason, and now they have more role players on the roster to add depth.

    However, even the mighty Heat have an Achilles heel: rebounding.

    Miami may have the best player on the planet in LeBron James, but that hasn’t helped them on the boards. The defending champs rank 29th in the NBA in rebounding. They average just 38.9 rebounds per contest.

    The rebounding issues really became a focal point following a Jan. 14 loss to the Utah Jazz. In that game, the Heat were out-rebounded 40-23.

    More often than not, the Heat have been able to overcome their inability to crash the glass. But even though Erik Spoelstra’s squad continues to win on a regular basis, the lack of rebounds and a minus-3.2 rebounding differential (tied for 25th in the league) should be a concern.

    However, the recent 92-75 thrashing of the Golden State Warriors showed exactly how dominant the Heat can be when they choose to play lock-down defense. The rebounding is an issue, but it's something Miami can overcome.

27. San Antonio Spurs

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    While the San Antonio Spurs continue to be the model of consistency in the NBA, they still have one thing working against them: playing in the Western Conference.

    The Spurs don’t have the rebounding issues of the Heat or the defensive woes of the Los Angeles Lakers, but they have to compete with conference juggernauts like the Thunder and Clippers. (Yes, the Spurs swept the Clippers in the playoffs last year, but I think we can agree that the Clips are not the same team they were last season).

    Something that has proven to be an enormous area of strength for San Antonio is their bench. The Spurs' second unit scores 41.9 points per game (tops in the league).

    The Spurs continually get counted out before each season for being too old or too slow. They repeatedly prove that isn’t the case, but beating the youth of the Thunder or the depth of the Clippers come playoff time will prove to be a tough task.

26. New York Knicks

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    The New York Knicks jumped out of the gates with a blistering start the 2012-13 season. Carmelo Anthony has played to an MVP-caliber level, and the absence of Amar’e Stoudemire in the early going did not hinder Mike Woodson’s club one bit.

    Recently however, the Knicks have fallen back to earth. They have a 5-5 record in their past 10 games and Stoudemire has struggled to fit seamlessly into the system coming off the bench.

    Although Stoudemire is still trying to carve a niche on this team, one giant bright spot for the Knicks has been the play of J.R. Smith. He's making a strong case to win Sixth Man of the Year honors at season's end.

    The outlook in New York is much brighter this season than it has been in years past, but the Knicks haven’t been as solid as they were previously.

25. Indiana Pacers

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    Danny Granger has been sidelined for the entire regular season due to injury. Paul George has shot a career-low 42 percent from the field while taking on a bigger role. Roy Hibbert has been great defensively, but he has regressed in a gargantuan way on the offensive end, where he’s shooting an abysmal 41 percent from the field despite being a 7'2" center.

    Considering that the Indiana Pacers have a 24-16 record and a No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference despite all those factors, they should be feeling pretty good about themselves.

    The Pacers are the best team in the NBA in terms of opponent points per game, allowing an amazingly low 89.1 points per contest.

    They allow the fewest points of any team, but they also struggle mightily when trying to score the ball themselves. Indiana ranks 29th in the NBA in points per game, averaging just 91.1 per contest.

    If the Pacers could become at least an adequate offensive team, they’d be a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps that change will happen when Granger returns from injury, but there's no guarantee.

    There are some areas where the Pacers need huge improvement, but they’ve been the league’s best in terms of defense and rebounding.

24. Chicago Bulls

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    The panic meter in Chicago certainly is not high. Even without team MVP and former NBA MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls have competed admirably this season.

    Joakim Noah is in the running for Defensive Player of the Year honors and Carlos Boozer has looked resurgent this season. Boozer filled the stat sheet in an overtime win against Toronto Wednesday, pouring 36 points and 12 rebounds into the box score.

    The only real concern for the Bulls is what they’ll get from D-Rose when he finally makes his much-anticipated return to the court. Overcoming an ACL tear is no small task, and although Rose is an athletic freak capable of coming back and being an MVP-caliber talent, you just never know with injuries.

    Regardless, Chicago has a tremendous supporting cast around Rose, as well as one of the best coaches in the league in Tom Thibodeau. If D-Rose makes a valiant return, this team could be a major threat come playoff time.

23. Brooklyn Nets

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    The Brooklyn Nets leaped out to an 11-4 start. They struggled from there, mainly due to the loss of Brook Lopez, and fell to an even 14-14. That led to the firing of head coach Avery Johnson (a questionable move at the time), but the Nets have caught fire once again.

    The Nets are 9-2 in their past 11 games, improving their overall record to 23-16.

    Considering that neither Deron Williams nor Joe Johnson has played the best basketball of their respective careers, Brooklyn should be pleased with their record to this point.

    The Nets don’t have much to panic about now that the coaching change appears to have worked out for the better. Even so, Brooklyn has a ton of money invested in this team. If they fail to come up big in the playoffs, those paychecks will be for naught.

22. New Orleans Hornets

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    Yes, the New Orleans Hornets have a 13-26 overall record and are in the “bizarro” race for the worst team in the Western Conference with the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings. However, the Hornets never had their roster intact and healthy until recently. Now that they have those pieces in place, they’re showing signs of being a very solid team for years to come.

    In the Hornets’ past 10 games, they sport a 7-3 record. That matches the record the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers have in their past 10 games.

    With Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis, the Hornets have quietly put together a solid core of young players.

    Vasquez has been a revelation this season, averaging nine assists per game out of the point guard spot, and Anderson is shooting threes as if they’re layups.

    The Hornets won’t be able to compete for anything meaningful this season, but there’s a very bright future in New Orleans.

    If only Austin Rivers’ rookie season didn’t have the sex appeal of a horror film…

21. Denver Nuggets

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    As far as this list is concerned, the Denver Nuggets would have been much higher just a week or two ago.

    The Nuggets were clinging to an eighth seed in the Western Conference while playing shoddy defense. In addition to that, Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala have all struggled offensively compared to what they’ve done in their careers.

    Despite the mediocre start, Denver has turned its fortunes around of late. They've notched a 7-3 record in their past 10 games, while jumping up to a six seed in the west. They’ve been far more efficient from the field over that stretch: shooting 47.5 percent in an overtime win against Portland and 47.8 percent in a win against Golden State.

    It took some time for the Nuggets’ rotation to get things clicking, but it appears as if their best basketball is ahead of them.

    The panic has subsided, for now.

20. Utah Jazz

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    The Utah Jazz, as they often do, continue to hang around as a borderline playoff team. Fortunately for the Jazz, Western Conference opponents like the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets have run into rough stretches, which have vaulted Utah into the seventh seed in the west.

    Utah, with their great frontcourt, are definitely a team with a chance to make the playoffs at season’s end. Despite that fact, the Jazz have to make a big decision regarding the tandem of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Both have contracts that expire this summer, so Utah’s front office needs to decide what should happen moving forward.

    The odds that Utah succeeds in keeping both players around past this season are quite slim. Should Utah trade one of those players and risk missing the playoffs, or should they hang on to them in order to make a playoff push?

    Look for the Jazz to be active at the trade deadline.

19. Houston Rockets

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    The Houston Rockets were facing a long, tough road this season prior to acquiring James Harden.

    As expected, Harden has played great basketball while embracing a much bigger role. He’s experienced a handful of ugly games shooting the ball, but for the most part he’s been as good as advertised.

    As a result of that, the Rockets started stringing wins together once Jeremy Lin got his act together. Houston looked like a surprise playoff team, but a five-game losing streak has dropped the Rockets from 21-14 to 21-19 overall.

    The Rockets are clinging to an eighth seed in the Western Conference following five consecutive losses. There’s still a chance that the Rockets hang on and make the playoffs, but they have a lot of competition and a young, inexperienced roster.

18. Portland Trail Blazers

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    There’s no question that the Portland Trail Blazers have the talent available to compete at a high level. Damian Lillard is the real deal as a rookie, LaMarcus Aldridge is an All-Star caliber player when healthy and J.J. Hickson has had a coming-out party this season in terms of overall performance.

    Where the questions about the Trail Blazers lied was with team chemistry and youth. Would the young players on the roster be able to come together and play as a unit right away, or would the revamped roster take time to gel?

    Well, Lillard has been the runaway favorite to win Rookie of the Year honors this year and the Trail Blazers have played above .500 as a result. In fact, the Trail Blazers appeared to be contenders for a playoff spot despite experiencing a transition year.

    Although Portland spent time in the playoff picture, a recent four-game losing streak has knocked them down to a No. 9 seed.

    The expectations for this team weren’t huge, so making the playoffs would be a great accomplishment. Even so, now that the Trail Blazers have raised the bar on their expectations, struggling from this point forward would be a disappointment.

17. Washington Wizards

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    The Washington Wizards’ season so far has been an abysmal failure. They have a worse record than the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, which is truly telling.

    Despite that fact, the Wizards have been without their best player and the engine that makes this team run in John Wall.

    In just three games since returning from injury (zero starts), Wall is already making his presence felt.

    In his season debut, Wall and the Wizards beat the Atlanta Hawks by 10 points. They followed that up by beating the Orlando Magic by 29 points. That was followed by a disappointing one-point loss to Sacramento, but Washington looks like a completely different team with Wall playing (no surprise).

    Wall is not getting huge minutes as he continues to work on his conditioning, but his 24.54 Player Efficiency Rating is very impressive.

    This season is a lost cause for the Wizards, but they can still build toward next season with Wall running the show.

16. Charlotte Bobcats

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    Against all odds, the Charlotte Bobcats started the season with a 7-5 record. It would have been foolish to think the Bobcats could sustain that relative success for the remainder of the season, but they’ve truly fallen off the grid once again.

    In 26 games following that 7-5 start, the Bobcats are 2-24.

    Kemba Walker averaged 19.8 points and 6.1 assists in the month of December, but in January he’s regressed to average 14 points and 4.1 assists per game.

    The Bobcats have a long way to go before they start making playoff runs, but hey, at least Bobcats fans were treated to a nice start to the season, right?

15. Atlanta Hawks

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    The Atlanta Hawks experienced a positive addition-by-subtraction effect this season following the trade that sent Joe Johnson to Brooklyn. The Hawks were among the best teams in the Eastern Conference after a 20-10 start, but they’ve experienced some glaring negatives since that time.

    The Hawks are just 3-7 in their past 10 games (now with a 22-16 record). During their skid, the Hawks have lost games to cellar dwellers like Detroit, Cleveland and Washington. But even more disconcerting than those struggles is the fact that Atlanta’s best player, Josh Smith, was suspended for one game for “conduct detrimental to the team,” according to ESPN.

    Trade rumors surrounding Smith’s name have run rampant for years. It’s fair to say that his recent suspension will do little to quell those rumors moving forward.

    Regardless of whether Smith gets traded or stays put, the Hawks don’t have enough firepower to compete for a championship unless they add more pieces.

    Atlanta had a nice start to the season, but the Hawks’ panic meter is at a season high right now.

14. Phoenix Suns

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    There’s truly no nice way to describe the Phoenix Suns 2012-13 campaign.

    Instead of competing for a playoff spot with the pieces they have, the Suns have racked up more than twice as many losses (27) as they have wins (13). As a result, they have the worst record in the Western Conference.

    Former No. 2 overall draft pick Michael Beasley has been wildly inconsistent this season. He went from starter, to sixth man, to role player, to bench warmer in a matter of months (mainly because he’s shooting 38.1 percent from the field).

    In his place, world basketball journeyman P.J. Tucker has earned a starting job in Alvin Gentry’s rotation for his tenacity, grit and lock-down defense.

    Tucker’s defense has been a revelation for Suns fans. He’s quickly joining the ranks of Raja Bell and Shawn Marion as far as Suns players who play D (a short list, I assure you). No knock on Tucker at all, but the Suns are starting a guy who hasn’t received an NBA gig since 2007.

    With Beasley struggling mightily and the defensively inclined Tucker getting minutes, the Suns’ ability to score the ball has disappeared. During a losing skid from Jan. 4 to Jan. 11, Phoenix scored more than 81 points just once (in a 108-99 loss to Milwaukee). In two of the five contests, the Suns couldn’t even notch 80 points (scoring 79 against Boston and Brooklyn).

    You’d hate to see Gentry lose a job because management did a poor job preparing for the post-Nash era. Even so, the Suns need something to shake things up, whether that’s a new coach or a big trade.

    It’s not all bad for Suns fans though. Phoenix will have what appears to be a top-five pick in the 2013 NBA draft. In addition, if the Lakers miss the playoffs, the Suns will gain an additional lottery pick.

13. Detroit Pistons

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    The Detroit Pistons won the NBA championship in 2004 and made the NBA finals in 2005. It’s hard to believe that the current Pistons roster is part of the same franchise (until you spot Tayshaun Prince, of course).

    The Pistons are experiencing another “ho-hum” losing year. They’re 11 games under .500 and don’t have many positives to lean on.

    Greg Monroe has been a solid player for many years, but Pistons fans are still waiting for him to take the next step to becoming an elite big man.

    The panic in Detroit has likely subsided since the front office broke apart a championship team, but perhaps 2013 is the year for the Pistons to try and make a splash in free agency.

12. Memphis Grizzlies

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    I know what you’re thinking, this is high on the panic meter for a team that has comfortably held the fourth seed in the Western Conference this season. In fact, it may seem really high, but hear me out.

    The Memphis Grizzlies are sitting pretty with the fourth seed in the Western Conference. As it stands, they’ll have home court advantage in the playoffs as they attempt to compete for a championship.

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    Not only are the Grizzlies reportedly shopping small forward Rudy Gay, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, but they’re also reportedly looking at offers for power forward Zach Randolph, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

    Despite the fact that the Grizzlies have been one of the more consistent teams in the league, the front office is reportedly looking to make a deal that may very well eliminate their chances at competing in 2013.

    The Grizzlies’ biggest strength is their tremendous frontcourt, anchored by Randolph and Gay. The fact that both of those guys have reportedly hit the trade block hints that management doesn’t believe this team can compete with them on board.

    Who knows, maybe the front office is correct to think that. But if one of those players gets traded for future assets and draft picks, they’ve essentially mailed in the season.

11. Golden State Warriors

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    The Golden State Warriors have flipped the script in Mark Jackson’s second year of coaching. Contrary to the usual theme, the Warriors have been winning often this season, and sport an impressive 23-14 record. Nothing could derail that positive outlook, right? Oh no, here comes the bad news.

    When putting this article together, Golden State hovered around the early-mid 20’s on the panic meter compared to other teams. However, following a hideous loss to the Miami Heat and recent news that Stephen Curry is out indefinitely with an ankle sprain, according to SI.com, the Warriors’ panic meter for this season has hit an all-time high.

    Curry, who has been playing to an MVP-caliber level this season, played in just 26 of a possible 66 games last season due to ankle injuries. His absence was a major reason why Golden State struggled, and if the Warriors/Heat game is any indication, there's more struggles to come.

    In fact, we don't simply have to look at the Heat without Curry for guidance. Via Utah Jazz radio voice David Locke on Twitter:

    Warriors are 9-31 in games Steph Curry has missed - they were even trying to win some of them. Missed last night v. Miami

    — David Locke (@Lockedonsports) January 17, 2013

    Warriors fans can only hope that this setback for Curry won't snowball into something more serious.

10. Philadelphia 76ers

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    Even though Jrue Holiday is having a tremendous breakout season for the Philadelphia 76ers (despite a league-worst 3.9 turnovers per game), Philly simply doesn’t have enough firepower to compete consistently.

    The Sixers are 2-8 in their past 10 games, which matches the worst record in the past 10 of any team in the NBA.

    In addition to that, Andrew Bynum has been sidelined all season long due to a knee injury and there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever make his return.

    Holiday is a great bright spot for a young team, but the Sixers’ front office will have to make a tough decision regarding Bynum moving forward. Is he worth the risk of re-signing after missing so much time throughout his career? Can Philly afford to let him walk after giving up so much talent to get him?

    The outlook in Philly is bleak at best following an unexpected playoff run last season.

9. Toronto Raptors

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    The Toronto Raptors are truly stuck between a rock and a hard place. From the 2010-11 season forward, the Raptors have now lost 128 games. Considering that includes just one full 82-game season, that’s downright sad.

    It’s probably fair at this point to say that Andrea Bargnani needs a change of scenery. The former No. 1 overall pick has had some success at the NBA level, but he’s a seven-footer who doesn’t rebound or block shots.

    Bringing in Kyle Lowry was a step in the right direction toward changing the culture of this team, but he has experienced continued injury woes this season.

    Rookie center Jonas Valanciunas was meant to bring some interior toughness to this Toronto team, and although he’s been decent, he’s nowhere close to competing for Rookie of the Year honors (which some pundits and fans predicted).

    The Raptors may need a big shakeup to flip the script on a losing atmosphere.

8. Orlando Magic

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    Jacque Vaughn deserves a round of applause for the job he’s done with a depleted Orlando Magic roster. Orlando respectably hovered around .500 for a while, but they’ve plummeted back to earth with their lack of talent.

    The Dwight Howard trade has decimated the Orlando Magic. They stand at 10 games under .500, and they’re just 2-8 in their past 10 contests. From Dec. 28 forward, the Magic have lost to the lowly Washington Wizards twice (including a 29-point blowout on Monday).

    The Magic have a ton of rebuilding to do moving forward, but with their current standing, they won’t even have a good enough draft pick to make that transition. Panic should start to set in for Magic fans, if it hasn't done so already.

7. Milwaukee Bucks

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    What happens when your team has a questionable identity marred by continued mediocrity? Well, in the Milwaukee Bucks’ case, it leads the head coach, Scott Skiles, to voluntarily resign from his coaching duties. Not exactly a vote of confidence for the organization.

    Brandon Jennings is a tremendous player. So is Monta Ellis. However, it’s unclear if the dueling banjos backcourt can successfully coexist and create a winning culture.

    In Milwaukee, there are question marks surrounding the two best players. Who is the best option to embrace moving forward? But that doesn’t even mention Ersan Ilyasova, who hasn’t even come close to justifying a massive contract extension.

    Larry Sanders has been a bright spot with his shot-blocking prowess, but he averages a ridiculous 3.7 personal fouls per game in just 24.7 minutes per game. In short, he has a lot of maturing to do on the court before he’s a truly special player (i.e. DeAndre Jordan).

    At 19-18, the Bucks hold the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. They’ve been mediocre at home (10-9) and on the road (9-9).

    Sure, they’ll probably make the playoffs with the current makeup, but all they have to look forward to is a walloping at the hands of the mighty Heat.

    Bucks fans need to hope that they keep at least one scoring guard moving forward (but they likely don’t need to keep two).

6. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers rank 22nd in the NBA in points per game (95) and 25th in the league in points allowed per game (100.4). Having a 5.4-point differential for the season is not going to win you many games.

    Neither Dion Waiters nor Tyler Zeller has shown great strides so far. Both first-round picks have struggled to find traction in the NBA, and Waiters has been the model of inconsistency. He just can’t seem to string two good games together.

    It doesn’t help that the Cavs lost the league’s leading rebounder Anderson Varejao for two additional months after he underwent leg surgery.

    That means that not only are the Cavs without their best post presence and veteran leader, but they also can’t trade him for a king’s ransom (which is what he was likely worth with the tremendous rebounding numbers).

    Outside of Varejao, Irving and Waiters, the Cavs don’t have much talent on the roster. Their win/loss ratio is reflecting that.

5. Boston Celtics

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    The Boston Celtics are in a tough spot this year. Like the Miami Heat, they’re one of the league’s worst rebounding teams, a stat that has become their Achilles heel.

    Although the Celtics have future Hall of Famers on the roster in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (and perhaps even Rajon Rondo), they’ve failed to attain their old allure. On a year-to-year basis, the ultimate goal for Boston is winning a championship. They lost Ray Allen to the Miami Heat, but many thought they brought in enough talent to compensate.

    As it stands, the Celtics are hovering at the bottom of the playoff picture. It appears as if Boston will be a seventh or eighth seed when the postseason rolls around, which means they’d have to play either the Miami Heat or New York Knicks.

    I’m never going to count the Celtics out come playoff time, but making a championship run as a lower seed is no easy task.

    The window of opportunity to win a championship certainly appears to be closing in Boston (if it hasn’t closed already).

4. Dallas Mavericks

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    “I always liked to think you don’t want to build your franchise on hope.”

    That’s what Dallas Mavericks’ star player Dirk Nowitzki had to say earlier this month as he questioned the organization’s offseason moves, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

    It’s never a good situation when your team’s best player shows evident frustration with the franchise (cut to Orlando Magic fans nodding glumly). Nowitzki cited the Mavs “hope” to land Deron Williams, Dwight Howard or Chris Paul moving forward. Unfortunately for the former champs, they’ll have to hope once again during the 2013 offseason or make some positive changes in the meantime.

    The Mavs have consistently been a playoff contender, but this season they are six games under .500 at 17-23. Unless current playoff teams start to struggle while the Mavs start to play much better, the chances Dallas makes the postseason aren’t great.

    There’s always next year for Mavericks fans, but Nowitzki’s career won’t last forever.

3. Sacramento Kings

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    The Sacramento Kings’ panic meter is spiking for a reason that extends past the basketball court.

    Although nothing has been set in stone, there have been reports that the Maloofs are gearing up to sell the franchise to a Seattle-based group of investors for approximately $500 million, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

    If that sale does indeed come to fruition, the Zombie Sonics will more than likely be brought back to life, leaving Sacramento high and dry.

    The Kings have undoubtedly struggled in recent years, but their fan base has always been rock solid. It’s bizarre to think back to the Mike Bibby/Chris Webber/Doug Christie hey-day given the team’s current spot in the NBA cellar, but Sacramento used to be a basketball power.

    Now fans are not only having to deal with the prospect of losing their franchise, but they also have to stay up to date on repeated setbacks from DeMarcus Cousins, as well as the possibility that Tyreke Evans could be traded since disappearing after his stellar rookie year.

    Again, nothing has been set in stone regarding a sale of the team. In fact, Sacramento Bee reporter Ryan Lillis provided a silver lining via Twitter:

    NBA Commissioner Stern on #NBAKings: ‘The one thing we do know is no purchase and sale agreement has been submitted to us.’

    — Ryan Lillis (@Ryan_Lillis) January 17, 2013

    The NBA community would love to see Seattle get a new team, but hopefully it won't be at the expense of Kings fans.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    If only the Minnesota Timberwolves’ roster had been healthy recently. They could have been rattling off championship after championship.

    Alright, let’s not get carried away, especially considering that Kevin Love has yet to lead his team to an eighth seed in the Western Conference, let alone a championship run.

    Love has repeatedly vented to the media about his frustrations with management in Minnesota, including this article by Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. At some point however, the responsibility of winning needs to fall on Love’s shoulders.

    This has been yet another disappointing season for T-Wolves fans, as both Love and Rubio have battled the injury bug while other players on the roster fight to make a playoff spot.

    As it stands, Love’s days in Minnesota may be numbered now that he’s experienced even more regular season frustrations.

1. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Remember when rabid Los Angeles Lakers fans and some NBA pundits were calling for a 73-9 season for the revamped Lakeshow? For some people, this team had enough talent on paper to de-throne the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls 72-10 regular season mark.

    Well, as is stands, the Lakers have been downright abysmal. The only player who has performed as expected has been shooting guard Kobe Bryant, who is having arguably his best NBA season ever.

    The Lakers’ bench, headlined by the struggles of Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks, has been as dismal as it was a season ago (which was thought to be impossible given how dreadful last season’s bench unit was).

    Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol have all played below what they’re capable of while experience a round robin of injuries.

    Mike Brown was fired after a 1-4 start and although the expectation was to woo Phil Jackson out of retirement, Mike D’Antoni took over a struggling defensive team (never a good recipe).

    I got ripped by Lakers fans for predicting a modest 59-23 record and a No. 3 seed in the Western Conference out of the team prior to the season. From what we’ve seen so far, the reeling Lakers may not even make the postseason.

    The panic meter is on full blast in Lakerland, even with the recent positives (if you want to read too far into home wins against Cleveland and Milwaukee).

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