Biggest Disappointments for NBA Fans This Season
Fans of some teams, such as the Golden State Warriors have absolutely nothing to be discouraged about this season. But we can't all be Warriors fans. There are fans of other teams who have plenty to be disappointed in.
Whether it's because of injuries, performance or other matters beyond their control, many fans have more than enough to be disappointed in their teams about.
Here they are, ranked according to their level of disappointment.
The Miami Heat Defense
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Instead they've had the regular season of a team that is bored, and that's the best-case scenario.
The biggest sign of this is their defense, which has been slightly above average this season. The Heat are ranked only 12th in defensive rating this year, giving up 105.1 points per 100 possessions. That's not a defense that wins championships.
The other struggle they have is defensive rebounding. They are 20th in the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage, and against teams which rebound well, they have struggled.
They've also struggled against the best teams in the East. The three teams presently seeded two through four—the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls—have beaten the Heat five times in five tries by an aggregate of 70 points, and none of their opponents were at full strength when they played.
The Heat have the rings and they might just be bored, waiting for the playoffs to come to defend their championship. Or they might not have the boards or defense in them. If they don't step things up, they might not even make the Conference Finals, as either Chicago or Indiana has the type of team that could steal a seven-game series from them.
The Awfulness of Austin Rivers
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There was a time when Austin Rivers was being labeled as the next Kobe Bryant.
I will now pause while you laugh hysterically.
Under control yet?
Now granted, Rivers is just a one-and-done rookie, so there's considerable room for growth, but the level of awfulness is, without exaggeration, historic.
In fact, in the entire history of the NBA, there is only one rotation player (with at least 20 starts and 1000 minutes), Jason Collins, who has a lower PER than Rivers' of 5.3.
Rivers may literally be the second worst rotation player in history. That's a pretty low standard for a top-10 pick.
Some fans might have trickles of disappointment, but New Orleans has rivers of it.
The Absence of Derrick Rose
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In some ways the disappointment of not having Derrick Rose was expected. In some ways the salve has been that the Bulls have been better than expected without him. So why is he here?
Technically speaking, he isn't. His absence is. The disappointment is the overall experience of watching the Bulls without him. It's like watching boring take on boring in a contest of boringness. The Bulls defense stifles offense on one end while their own offense makes the opposing defense look nearly as adept.
While the Bulls defense (when they aren't playing the Denver Nuggets) is a thing of beauty, moving in a singular, harmonious effort, defense isn't the aesthetic of basketball. Offense is.
And no offense, but the Bulls have no offense without Derrick Rose. He was the reason the Bulls were a joy to watch. He led the league in "how-did-he-do-that" moves per minute. (Those are the moves that make you go back on the DVR and watch it again in slow motion to actually figure out how he did it. This is an official stat kept logged in the memory of the writer, but I assure you, he led the league the last two seasons.)
Bulls fans are suffering, but not because the Bulls are losing. They suffer because being a Bulls fan who watches games without Derrick Rose can be a pain-inducing experience akin to operas and "cinema". Even if you think they're good and have a taste for it, there's no action.
The Dallas Mavericks' Overtime Struggles
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The Dallas Mavericks are a disappointment this year. There was a lot of chatter about how this ragtag group of misfits was talented enough to win and contend.
Instead they are 21-28. Part of the reason for that has to do with missing Dirk Nowitzki, in whole or in part, for a large chunk of the season. They plodded through without him, then when they finally got him, they lost eight of their first nine games with him.
That's not the totality of their struggles though. They've also been this year's worst overtime team having lost a league-high eight games in nine tries after regulation.
As a result, the fans of the Mavericks have a heavy disappointment factor on the season.
Maybe Dallas just doesn't want it enough. That record could easily be 28-21 if the Mavs were hungrier, because they would have "eight" more.
The Off-The-Wall Wizards
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No one is going to argue that the Wizards would be title contenders if they had a healthy John Wall this season, but they certainly are making a case that they would have, or could have, been a postseason team since he returned.
When Wall is in the lineup, the Wizards actually have a winning record of 8-7. That might not sound too incredibly special, but considering that they're 8-25 without him, it sort of raises the eyebrows.
When you start looking at some of the teams they've beaten in that stretch it also becomes more impressive. The Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers have all fallen to the Wall-led Wizards.
Washington was hoping to be a postseason team this year, and seeing how well they've played since Wall's return must be bittersweet. On the one hand, they're winning games. On the other, they have no shot at the playoffs.
Then again, they'll have another lottery pick to add to Wall and fellow backcourt rising star, Bradley Beal.
The Loss of Rajon Rondo
You don't need to be a Celtics fan, or even like Rajon Rondo, to feel Paul Pierce's pain when he learned that the Celtics would be without their All-Star point guard for the duration of the season.
Amazingly, the Celtics have responded like winners do, having won every game since Rondo went down.
Still, you don't lose a facilitator like that and not feel the impact eventually.
Even if the Celtics are able to continue winning without Rondo, it's unlikely they'll move up past the 7-Seed. There they'll be forced to face either the Miami Heat or New York Knicks.
It's even more unlikely to see them making it past either of those teams in a seven-game series.
For a fan base which had hoped for a title this year, this is extremely disappointing. At best they have a first-round departure.
The Officials' Abuse of the Toronto Raptors
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You have to feel for the Toronto Raptors. They lead the league in broken hearts, having lost a league-high six games by two points or less. This also includes only one of their five overtime losses.
That's a total of 10 losses that could have been changed by a different outcome on a final possession of regulation. How many heartbreaks can one team handle?
But what makes it worse is when not once, but twice, they were robbed by the refs to the extent the league even admitted it.
First, against the the Bobcats, the league admitted that a call should have been made against Michael Kidd-Gilchrest which would have sent Andrea Bargnani to the line with the Raptors one point down with 2.4 seconds left.
Second, against the Bulls, the officials admitted a mistake when Joakim Noah was whistled for a foul on Amir Johnson with 3.1 seconds left. However the foul wasn't ruled a shooting foul, which it should have been. Johnson would have had a chance to tie the game.
With Toronto struggling enough to close games down the stretch, they don't need the officials helping their opponents out.
And it's not whining if it's true.
The Sixers Haven't Played Bynum After Buyin' 'Im
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Andrew Bynum is averaging zero points and zero rebounds in zero minutes per game in zero games played this year. Needless to say, they were hoping for more when they traded for him.
Normally you say something is better than nothing, but in this case something is worse than nothing.
What the Philadelphia 76ers have is worse than nothing because while they've gotten nothing from Bynum, they have also put themselves into an enormous quandary. What do they do with the oft-injured, All-Star center who is due for a new contract?
If he's healthy, it's an easy decision to give him a max contract, because he has max contract talent. However he aspires to have Amar'e Stoudemire's knees, which means he's not heatlhy.
And therein lies the dilemma. How much to pay a man who may ne'er to rarely play, or who might lead them to a title if he can play?
No Love or the Minnesota Timberwolves
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Woe are the Timberwolves!
How long must Karma make them pay for their Garnettian sins?
They are a team without love!
Well at least they're a team without Kevin Love.
And they are a team without Chase Buddinger.
And they are a team without Brandon Roy.
And they are a team without Malcolm Lee.
And they are a team without Andrei Kirilenko.
And they are team which was without Ricky Rubio.
They have just one player who has played in every game, Luke Ridnour.
They have put 13 different starting lineups on the court.
They haven't played any starting lineup more than eight times.
The truth is, they should just change their name to the Timbers. As in what you yell when a tree falls. Or when another player goes down with an injury.
The Lost Angeles Lakers
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The easy thing to write here would be, "Bwahahahahaha!!!!" and leave it at that.
After all, the Lakers here are pretty much a comedy.
First they pulled the Lucy with a football stunt on their fans. They went out and dealt to get Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, two future Hall of Fame players, to add to two others, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. They also had Ron Artest, a former Defensive Player of the Year.
The Lakers were going to feature a starting lineup that had combined for three MVPs, four Defensive Players of the year, 35 All-Star appearances, 30 All-NBA teams and 18 All-Defense teams. The Lakers weren't just title contenders, they were contenders for the greatest team ever assembled.
Enter Charlie Brown. Kick the ball Charlie Brown. Fall on the ground Charlie Brown. Laugh Lucy.
As the collective Lakers Nation stands, wiping the proverbial grass from their stained pants, they realize, this is really happening.
The Lakers were losing like Smush Parker et al were in the lineup.
They thought it was the coaching staff, so they fired Mike Brown and hired Mike D'Antoni. The Mike swap hasn't helped though. The Lakers still stink.
The legendary starting five have won none of the whopping five games they started together.
They are proud owners of the 18th best record in the NBA at 21-24. They just got their doors blown off by the Boston Celtics. It was their worst regular season beatdown in Beantown since 1991.
Gasol is out with an injury. Howard is playing injured.
The team which was once favored to win a title is now considered a team which may not even have a realistic shot at the playoffs.
Bryant and Howard are sniping at one another and denying the sniping. The reality is that it's hard to see those two working things out, and with Howard entering free agency, he might not stick around in the pleasant climes of SoCal because he doesn't like the heat in the locker room.
The Lakers looked just two months ago like the empire would continue. Now the 2013 Lakers look like the 410 version of Rome. Every empire must eventually end. It looks like the Lakers' "Aleric 1" is at the gates.