NBA Power Rankings: The Miami Heat and Other Teams Capable of Recovering
At this point in the season we have seen trends developing, and most teams are starting to show their true colors on the hardwood.
Have we missed anything?
Of course we have.
Could there be a few teams that may have had difficult schedules thus far?
Of course there is.
While some teams have stormed out of the gates this year (Hornets, Lakers, Spurs), other teams we expected to do well have had trouble getting it going. This doesn't mean they won't be able to get things together either. This article will focus on the NBA teams that have gotten out to poor starts, but have the most chance of turning things around for a good season.
Some of these teams have been victims of injuries, others have had less than desirable schedules, but all of them have what it takes to pull things together and salvage this NBA season.
The Miami Heat
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Dwyane Wade is already sidelined (Day-to-day) with a sprained wrist. Ouch.
How did this happen you may ask?
It happened when Wade once again careened his way into the lane with no regard to his safety.
People forget that his nickname was crash before it was flash.
But let's get past that, he'll be fine in a few days. Let's get to the disappearing act that Chris Bosh is pulling (minus the one good game). We knew averages would go down, but 9.5 points pg Bosh?
Lebron seems right at home with his passing skills, but every day it seems he losses another person to pass to. First Mike Miller, then Wade, now Udonis Haslem. I wouldn't be surprised to see a ball-boy in their rotation next week if this trend continues.
These factors along with the obvious issue of building chemistry have held the Heat back, and forced them to settle with a very human record of 8-5.
But is this a real indication of how good they are?
Of course not Heat fans.
Things will come together for the Heat later in the year once they can manage to get healthy, and get a full rotation in swing. They will get used to where each other goes on the floor, and the game will begin to flow better for Miami.
How far they will climb is up to them, but I can assure you they will prove to be a far better team than they have showed us so far.
The Houston Rockets
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While the Rockets don't possess a marquee star outside of Mr. Glass himself (Yao Ming), expectations are still reasonably high in Houston.
Why shouldn't they be?
They have a great scorer in Kevin Martin, a great rebounder/scorer in Luis Scola, a feisty point guard in Aaron Brooks, and plenty of scrappy role players like Chase Buddinger to fill in the gaps.
The Rockets biggest strength however is their ability to play team basketball, Ala' the 2004 Detroit Pistons. They play lock down defense as a team unit, and everyone contributes with their personal strengths on the offensive end.
The Rockets at 3-9 have certainly been victims of the harsh opening schedules.
They played the Lakers on game night, and while it looked like they may run away with it, the heart of the champions again prevailed. They have also played the Hornets, the Spurs, the Thunder, and the Bulls.
Not exactly a friendly start right?
While I don't expect much of anything from Yao Ming, I do expect this scrappy Rocket team to get a grasp on this season. Over the next leg of the season I predict that they will string together some wins, and remind the league not to sleep on this squad.
The Milwaukee Bucks
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Sure, the Bucks have a young star point guard in Brandon Jennings.
Is that enough to make the league "Fear the Deer"?
While the Bucks are off to a pretty suspect start at 5-8, there are signs that they will be able to rebound back to the playoff bound team we thought they were. Andrew Bogut is back to his shot-blocking best in the paint, Brandon Jennings already has a triple double this season, and John Salmons has hardly even contributed thus far.
The pieces are there for Milwaukee to challenge teams in the east come playoff time, but they will need to effectively combine their talents to do so. The first step is keeping Bogut healthy. If the Bucks are going to right the course in the standings, they must keep their big man in the paint. The next step is continued growth from Jennings. It may seem like I'm asking a lot of the second year guard, but his team will need him to cut down on turnovers, and knock down the jump shot at a more effective clip for them to stay competitive.
The Bucks have also suffered from hard schedule syndrome, having played and lost to New Orleans twice already. Losses to the Celtics and Lakers also don't help their cause.
My guess is the Bucks will find their way as soon as they can string a few games together at a convenient home stand. When Corey Maggette and John Salmons start getting in rhythm there will be plenty of reasons to fear these deer.
The Sacramento Kings
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The Sacramento Kings have not had the most difficult schedule so far, they have just made things difficult for themselves.
Already having a six game losing streak (half of which was on a home stand) is not the recipe for a successful season, and yet I see light at the end of this tunnel.
Sacramento is still in the mist of a "battle of the bigs" to see who will be the largest parts of the rotation. Until this rotation is set, and bigs are getting consistent minutes, I wouldn't expect them to play their best. Once this is rectified however, the Kings could see an increase of wins thanks to an improved post presence.
Another reason I'm not writing the Kings off just yet is DeMarcus Cousins. He hasn't had the best start to the season so far, and it's hurt his team. Cousins does however have an NBA capable game, and will continue to adjust to the next level of game play. As the season progresses, expect to see Cousins score more points, and become an integral part of the Kings offense.
How have I gotten this far into a Kings slide without mentioning Tyreke Evans?
Well here you go.
Any time you have a young talent like Evans, you have hope for a better season. Tyreke will find a way as the season moves along to find his many bigs, and will continue to light up the scoreboard as well. While it may not look this way now, I have a sneaking suspicion the Kings will be in a position to snag a playoff spot come time for the post season.
The Philadelphia 76ers
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The question for Philadelphia fans is;
Should he stay, or should he go?
While Igoudala has been a human highlight reel since entering the league, most Sixer fans now want him gone. And fast.
The Sixers are off to a bad start this year, and for once it's not Elton Brand's fault. Brand has looked more like the days of Clipper land, unfortunately it hasn't helped his Sixers get W's. Some would be quick to blame number two draft pick Evan Turner, but I'm not buying that excuse.
He's played what, 13 games?
Not everyone clicks with the NBA level of play like Lebron James did. Some rookies take time to adjust to the pace of professional basketball. The fact for the Sixers is they acquired a skilled shooting guard, he just needs some time to get his footing here in the league.
All of this brings me back to none other than Igoudala, who essentially holds the Sixer season in the palm of his gigantic hands. He actually has two different ways that he could turn this season around completely.
1. He's traded for a guard of at least similar value. The Sixers have a chance of this new guard better fitting the offensive game plan, translating into increased win totals for Philadelphia.
2. He starts playing like the man they signed. If no trades go through, Andre still has a chance to redeem himself by getting out of whatever funk he seems to be in. If he would only focus his energy into scoring efficiently and locking in on the defensive end, the Sixers would have a fighting chance every night they take the floor.
It's hard to say which road this Sixer squad will choose, but I'm leaning toward them surprising the league in the coming months, and collecting a few more deserved wins.
There Is Still Hope
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No matter which struggling team you root for, every team still has a chance to turn things around.
We're still in the first leg of the 2010 campaign, and fortunes can turn on a dime at this early juncture. The most important thing you can do is continue to support the team you love. They need you in the stands cheering them on if you expect them to get those W's!