We are mere weeks away from the NBA starting, so that means, you guessed it, I’ll be counting down the teams from 30 to 1 for the next 8 days. The 2 days after that I’ll do predictions and a men’s college basketball preview. And not to worry, I’ll sprinkle it some smaller blogs not pertaining to basketball over the next 2 week. I mean, I have to still do my NFL quick hits and concert, TV and movie reviews. Anyway, let’s start with the bottom of the barrel NBA teams.
At number 30 I have the Charlotte Hornets. I think pretty much every NBA person thinks they’ll be the worst team in the league by a wide margin. They lost their best, and most reliable player, Kemba Walker, and even with him, they couldn’t make the playoffs, in the East. And they replaced him with nothing. The Hornets are a weird mix of youth and veterans, but it doesn’t fit. They are the square peg, round hole team of the NBA. They guys they’ve drafted haven’t really panned our yet. Miles Bridges looked more lost than good last year. Malik Monk has been a disaster. Marvin Williams has never lived up to the hype. And they finally got rid of Frank Kaminsky. The vets are well past their prime, or overrated. Nic Batum is toast. I will never understand why they gave Terry Rozier so much money. The Hornets are, quite simply, a mess. I would be stunned, stunned I tell you, if they win 20 games this year. They’re going to stink.
At 29 I have a team that might be as bad as the Hornets, if they trade their star player. That team is the Washington Wizards. Oof, this team has fallen on hard times. I picked them to make the Finals just 2 years ago, and now, they’re one of the worst teams in the league. And it’s not like they traded all their good guys, it’s just that the good guys got old, hurt or want out. John Wall was a supernova, one of my favorite players in the league and a blast to watch 2 years ago. Now, he missed most of last year, and will miss all of this year. And his contract is an albatross. I can’t see anyone, right now, trying to trade for him. That’s a shame. Bradley Beal is so, so good offensively. He’s also gotten much better on D. He just has zero help. He could score 40 a game this year, and the Wizards would still lose by 20 points on any given night. They were lucky enough to get off Jeff Green and Dwight Howard, but those guys don’t make a difference. And they have replaced them with G League level guys. I was puzzled by them taking Rui Hachimura in the lottery. While he may prove me wrong, he still has some work to do to get better. And he will not demand defenders to open up space for Beal. Then we have Scotty Brooks. I didn’t think this was a good hire to begin with, and it’s coming to fruition. He is not a very good coach, and he’s proven that twice now.
At number 28 I have the Cleveland Cavaliers. Man has this team fallen flat again after losing LeBron. Kevin Love barely played last year, and seems marginal now. Tristan Thompson is more focused on cheating on girlfriends. Colin Sexton started off poorly, and only leveled out. Cedi Osman looks like a role player at best. I don’t get why they took Darius Garland a season after taking Sexton, and by the way, he hasn’t played meaningful basketball since high school. And they took John Beilen from Michigan. I mean, he chose to leave, but still. Also, why the Cleveland job, I’ll never know. I’ve even written about how puzzling this choice was for me. The Cavs are a lottery team, and will be for awhile. Beilen may make them more fundamentally sound, but this is the NBA, not college basketball. If he tries to coach like he’s still at Michigan, he will get eaten alive. The Cavs may be good one day again soon. But, for the time being, they’re no more than a 22 or 23 win team.
My final team today is a team I actually like, but they’re going through a total revamped youth movement, and while they’ll be fun to watch, the Memphis Grizzlies will not win a ton of games, and they are my 27th ranked team. I love the young dudes on the team. Ja Morant was my number one prospect in the most recent draft. He is super athletic, and when he gets a jumper, he can be as good as Russell Westbrook. Brandon Clarke was a great late first round pick. He’s big and athletic, can protect the rim, get rebounds and shoot from outside. He’s a steal. Jaren Jackson Jr was having a solid year before he got hurt. With Morant, they could be a deadly puck and roll duo. It’s just going to take time. I feel like those three guys are a solid building block for a future contender. But they’re all under 22 years old. Also, the Grizzlies play in the West. That’s tough when you have a good veteran team. So, while I like what the Grizzlies are doing right now, they need time to gel and learn to play in the NBA. They won’t win many games this year, or the next. But, in 3 years, if they stay together and improve each year, I could see Memphis in my top 10-15. Just not yet.
That’s it did today. Come back tomorrow for the next 4 teams.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
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