Day 2 of my NBA countdown has done usual suspects that fall low on my list, but also a new team that is trying to rank it seems.
Coming in at number 26 I have the Phoenix Suns. I proclaimed them as my new favorite team, but after this offseason, I may have to jump ship. I don’t get some of the moves they made. Why did they sign Frank Kaminsky? Couldn’t they get more fit Josh Jackson? What is going on with that front office? The Suns have a good amount of problems right now. That being said, they still have Devin Booker, and that dude can score. He is a walking bucket. But isn’t he just a poor man’s Brad Beal? He could go for 30 a night, but will it really matter? I still have high hopes for Deandre Ayton. I think he can be really good if he fully buys in. Yes he was a rookie, but he looked lost and preoccupied at times last year. He also got eaten up by bigger centers. I still have faith in him though. I think Ricky Rubio was a solid signing, they just gave him too much money. Booker could thrive with a point guard like Rubio, but Rubio has never really lived up to the hype. He’s been solid, but never great. I also am not a fan of them letting TJ Warren leave as a free agent. They need guys like him. Guys like Kelly Oubre are good and well for a solid game here and there. But, he’s not consistent like Warren. The Suns have 2 really solid building blocks, but they have a ton of work to do. And they need to win if they want to keep Booker.
At number 25 I have the Chicago Bulls. This may seem far too low for some, I’ve heard some people say they can push for the playoffs, but i think that says more about the East than the Bulls. They have okay players, but that’s it, they’re just okay. Zach Lavine is not a guy you want to build around. He’s an average scorer, an excellent leaper and a so so defender. That’s it. Lauri Markanen can shoot, but he’s soft. Kris Dunn is a bust. I love Coby White, and I want him to be good, but it will take time. Wendell Carter was playing okay, but he got hurt. I just feel like the Bulls have far more questions than answers. And, if they do make the playoffs, I’d be stunned. They still seem a ways off.
At number 25 I have the OKC Thunder. This is another team that I don’t know what they’re doing, but smart people, smarter than me about the NBA, seem to think they could push for the playoffs. I say no way, especially in the West. The Thunder need to fully embrace the rebuild. Their stars are gone. All of them. They’ve moved on. And I know they acquired Chris Paul in the Westbrook trade, but he’s old and has been on the decline for the past couple years. And, I don’t think he’ll be on the team come All Star break. Same goes for Steven Adams. I don’t think he’s going to want to be around on a team that’s rebuilding. He’s getting to the back end if his career, and for a player that’s been in the playoffs every season, I think he will want to keep that streak alive. What this team needs to do is give the keys to Shai Gilgeous Alexander. Build around him. He’s young, he’s good and looks like a team leader. He had big moments last year in LA, and looks ready to take the next step. You can pair any number of the other young guys, like Terrance Ferguson for example, with SGA, and start a rebuild from there. They also have about a million draft picks in the next couple drafts. The Thunder are in a perfect position for a good rebuild. Take that route, use picks, trade old vets for more picks and younger players and be ready to be a threat in 3 or 4 years. That’s what I would do anyway.
My final team for today, coming in at number 23, I have the Dallas Mavericks. Here’s another team that will win 35-40 games, but are just not ready to compete in the West. Not yet anyway. Luka Doncic was every bit as good as advertised. Now he just needs to keep it up. Keep getting better, stay in shape and improve the little things. The Mavs traded for Kristaps Porzingis last year, of which he played zero games, and they seem to think he will come out on fire this year. I think it’s going to take time for him to get back to his good days with the Knicks, and don’t forget, he was accused of sexual assault this past offseason. Some people may have forgotten that, I didn’t. Outside those 2 guys, this team is cobbled with an odd mixture. Tim Hardaway Jr is still there, and he will have a 25 point game here and there, but he’s much more prone to scoring 12 points on 3 of 15 shooting. JJ Barea is somehow still in the league even though he seems like he’s 60 years old. Boban is on the team, but he’s more of a spectacle than a player of circumstance. They have the less talented Curry. Courtney Lee is there to shoot threes and be trade bait. Jalen Brunson is fine, but he’s a bench player at best. And Justin Jackson left Sacramento, where he was a non factor, to come ride the bench here. The Mavs will win games, and Luka is legit, but I don’t but them as a playoff team. They have work to do, but they’re on the right track.
That’s it for 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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