The First Annual NBA Offseason Stock Report: Part One (Teams 21-29)
This is the first annual NBA Stock Report.
Basically it's rating the stock of NBA teams and how their immediate (next season) future looks.
Every team is evaluated with four categories: Good things about the team, bad things about the team, areas to improve, and ability to improve. Then I give my prediction on how the team will fare in the upcoming season.
Obviously free agency and the draft haven't happened yet, but the point is to break down each team's potential before those happen with many assumptions being made about those events. It should be interesting to look back on after those events actually are completed.
This is a reverse order countdown, so it begins with 29 (you will see why later on) and ends with 21 for part one.
So without further ado, here is Part One of the first Annual NBA Stock Report.
29. Detroit Pistons: Down
The Good: Rodney Stuckey is okay. I guess.
The Bad: This is a team of overpaid, under performing veterans who will never be superstars. It's going to take a while to build a winner in Detroit again.
What they need to improve: Overpaying mediocrity. They have given way, WAY too much money to the likes of Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon, and Rip Hamilton. Paying those three guys a combined $27 million is not a recipe for success in the NBA (Not to mention Tayshaun Prince makes $10 million).
Ability to improve team: No cap space, won't be able to get an elite guy (unless Cousins somehow drops because of character concerns) in the draft. Not good.
2010-2011 Prediction: The Lions might not be the worst team in Detroit next year. Somewhere Matthew Stafford is smiling (and Joe Dumars is not).
28. Minnesota Timberwolves : Static
The Good: Kevin Love and Al Jefferson should be one of the best C-PF tandems in the league, except that they are both natural power forwards and can't play with each other. (I know, that "good" turned into a "bad" really quickly. Why do you think they are number 29?)
The Bad: They're in Minnesota, so unless they get lucky in the draft, they're never going to get better.
What they need to improve: Backcourt scoring. Johnny Flynn and Corey Brewer aren't lighting the world on fire, or even lighting South America on fire. They need a guard to take some pressure off of KLove and Jefferson.
Ability to improve team: The T'Wolves picked a bad draft for their ping pong ball to get picked fourth. If they had the number one or two picks it would be an easy choice of Wall or Turner, but with their best two players being Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, drafting another big man wouldn't make much sense.
2010-2011 Prediction: "Basketball and Minnesota don't go very well together"- Ricky Rubio (Okay, I made that up, but it's not crazy to think he would say that.)
27. Indiana Pacers: Static
The Good: Danny Granger recently signed a contract extension and is a potential super star. How long can the Pacers expect to keep him happy though?
The Bad: No supporting cast for Granger. Troy Murphy? Roy Hibbert? Blah.
What they need to improve: Reliance on Granger. Everything comes down to Granger not having enough help and there is a good reason, because he has none. C'mon Larry, go get some help for your young star.
Ability to improve: The Pacers will always be mediocre, never being bad enough to get a super high draft pick. It actually might be better to just tank one season to get a top three pick and have a shot at the playoffs. That's not happening, and neither are the playoffs any time soon.
2010-2011 Prediction: Granger has no help, and he's not on the "superstar" level right now. The long suffering Pacers' fans get to long suffer some more.
26. Philadelphia 76ers: Up
The Good: They have the number two pick in the draft, which means they will be able to pick Evan Turner, or get rid of Elton Brand's horrendous contract for decent talent. The odds are on the former, but it's really a win-win situation, although the latter is less of a win.
The Bad: They don't have any players close to being elite players. Andre Iguodala is a good player and I like Iguodala, but as a okay number two, or an extremely good number three, not a number one.
What they need to improve: Frontcourt everything. When Sam Dalembert and the corpse of Elton Brand are manning the front lines for your NBA team, things aren't going to turn out great.
Ability to improve: Who knows how good Evan Turner will be, but everybody seems to think that he can be a big contributor right away. Hopefully, for Philadelphia's sake, he is.
2010-2011 Prediction: Evan Turner provides a tiny ray of sunshine in a dark, cloudy sky. He needs another good player to make that ray shine brighter.
25. Toronto Raptors: Down
The Good: Toronto should get something for Chris Bosh in a sign-and-trade. Woo hoo!
The Bad: Chris Bosh is most likely headed south of the border onto greener pastures. In case nobody noticed, he was by far Toronto's best player last year (and the seasons before that).
What they need to improve: Defense. When Andrea Bargnani is patrolling the middle, that's not a good sign for a team's post defense. And their guards aren't exactly All-NBA defenders either.
Ability to improve: When a team's best player, and perennial All-Star power forward, leaves, then that team isn't improving. That team is the Toronto Raptors.
2010-2011 Prediction: Torontonians (I looked it up) will be looking forward to the Maple Leafs season, and that's not a good thing (To NBA fans not familiar with hockey: The Maple Leafs are in a state of awfulness right now).
24. Sacramento Kings: Static
The Good: Tyreke Evans had one of the best rookie seasons of the past 20 years and should be around for a while. He's the real deal.
The Bad: Tyreke Evans is all they got. There's a reason a rookie who was the fourth pick puts up 20-5-5 besides the fact that he is good- he had to.
What they need to improve: Like Danny Granger, Tyreke Evans is running a one man show. The Kings need help everywhere.
Ability to improve: Sacramento is young, so everybody should be improving. Picking at number five, they could get lucky and snatch a guy like Cousins and hope he ends up fulfilling his potential.
2010-2011 Prediction: The Kings are stockpiling decent young talent. Eventually they could break through, but not next season.
23. Golden State Warriors: Up
The Good: Stephen Curry looked like a perfect fit for the Warriors last year, and had a torrid second half. He was definitely the steal of the draft and is the building block for Golden State's future.
The Bad: There are bad defensive teams, and then there is Golden State. They gave up almost five more points per game than the second worst NBA team. How is Don Nelson considered one of the best coaches ever after that embarrassing display?
What they need to improve: Get rid of some of their "chuckers" and get some guys who actually try/know to play defense. Get something for Monta Ellis while he's putting up numbers. Defense really does win championships in today's NBA.
Ability to improve: The pieces are there. Golden State has plenty of young talent and trade pieces in Steph Curry, Monta Ellis, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Morrow. They could have somebody who fits the team perfectly fall into their laps in the draft as well. But will they improve? It's impossible to tell with the Warriors.
2010-2011 Prediction: It all comes back to defensive woes for Golden State. Warriors games should be very fun to watch, but maybe not for Warriors' fans.
22. Washington Wizards: Up
The Good: John Wall is all but headed for the nation's capital and brings Washington their most bankable player since Wes Unseld.
The Bad: Gilbert Arenas might stall Wall's development and possibly threaten to shoot him. To make matters worse, Gilbert is practically un-tradeable with his cringe worthy contract and off court antics. Arenas could take some pressure off Wall and be a good scoring option still, but it's more likely that he will stall Wall's development slightly.
What they need to improve: Team chemistry. The Wizards clearly weren't the closest nit team last year. Whether it was the whole Arenas-Crittenton gun thing, or the fact that their two best players were traded mid season, the team was not a real team last year. That doesn't change over night either.
Ability to improve: John Wall is coming to town, and Gilbert Arenas will be able to play again. That should give them at least 7-8 more wins than last season.
2010-2011 Prediction: John Wall gives some hope for the franchise and they will also have hope that they can land the number one pick for next season too. Washington is still a year or two away from turning things around (at least they're doing better than their next door neighbors over in the Capital building and White House).
21. New Jersey Nets: Up
The Good: At the very least, new super-rich owner Mikhail Prokhorov will spice things up a bit. They might not land a marquee free agent like they want to, but there's no way the Nets will win fewer games than last season.
The Bad: This is still a team that won only 12 games last year. Teams that win 12 games just don't become suddenly good the next season. That is, unless Jay-Z convinces his boy LeBron to come over to Jersey (In the words of Steven Tyler: "Dream on").
What they need to improve: The losing atmosphere. The Lions went 0-16 in the NFL and it was clear that they weren't suddenly going to go 10-6 the following season. It doesn't get much closer to 0-16 than 12-70 in NBA terms, so New Jersey is going to have to mentally tough it out next year. If they land a big name free agent this is a moot point, but I don't see it happening.
Ability to improve: Any team that wins 12 games is going to improve, especially a team with Devin Harris, Brook Lopez (might be the second best center in the league now), the number three pick in the draft, and tons of cap space.
2010-2011 Prediction: The Nets will be substantially better than last season, but that could mean a variety of things. The offseason is a big wild card for New Jersey and I don't see any big name free agents going there. If I am wrong, and somebody does, they could very well be a playoff team. I don't think I'm wrong (C'mon, who does?).
Part Two: Coming Soon
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