Monday, January 23, 2012
Help needed: Worst teams in the NBA
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
|D.J. Augustin and the Bobcats have won only three of their first 17 games this season.|
The Wizards? The Bobcats? The Pistons? The Hornets? Our 5-on-5 crew breaks down the worst teams in the NBA so far.
1. Which team is currently the fifth worst in the NBA?
Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: The Raptors.
They organized everything around Andrea Bargnani, and now his calf is getting tricky, which makes things tough. There are signs of progress under Dwane Casey, but nobody can declare any kind of victory on a team that has not won a game in two weeks.
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Toronto Raptors.
Until Andrea Bargnani returns, the Raptors hold the fifth spot. They've lost eight in a row, and with three road games ahead, even Bargnani might not be enough to end the skid. In time, he might be enough to lift the Raptors over the Sacramento Kings, though.
Mason Ginsberg, Hornets247: The Hornets.
Before Wednesday, I would have made the Kings and their league-worst scoring margin my default Western Conference inclusion, but they have since won at home against the Pacers and in San Antonio. Though the Hornets have played a tough schedule, they are just 1-13 since winning their first two games of the season, which is tough to ignore.
Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak: The Hornets.
Monty Williams is doing what he can with the group. They play hard, move the ball on offense and their feet on defense, but desperately need a shot of Eric Gordon to boost their anemic attack.
Spencer Wellesley Percy, Queen City Hoops:
The Hornets are playing competitive basketball for the most part so far this season, but they cannot score the ball. The loss of Eric Gordon has definitely made matters worse on the offensive end, and NOLA would likely have about 3-4 more wins at this point with him in the lineup because of the fact their rebounding rate ranks third in the league. Effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage both rank bottom three in the league -- you have to put the ball in the basket to win this game.
2. Which team is currently the fourth worst in the NBA?
Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: The Kings.
From this point in the list down, the consistent theme is a team that either does not have team cohesion, or is just choosing to hide it for fun. But while the Kings have plenty of talent in Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson and the like, they just seem to have no concept of the bigger team dynamic, which shows up in both some of the NBA's worst offense and defense.
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Detroit Pistons.
They have twice as many losses by at least 14 points as they do wins. Their horrid offense makes their horrid defense even worse. Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight have promising futures, but both are turning the ball over too much as they adjust to large NBA roles.
Mason Ginsberg, Hornets247: The Nets.
They are allowing a whopping 108 points per 100 possessions, easily good for last in the NBA. Brook Lopez's eventual return should be enough to get them out of the bottom five, but for now they are stuck here.
Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak: Toronto Raptors.
What happened to the Raptors of the first 10 games? Gone is the defensive gusto and Bargnani buzz, and what's left is DeMar DeRozan endangering the lives of baseline photographers with a steady stream of bricks.
Spencer Wellesley Percy, Queen City Hoops: Sacramento.
This is a team with six wins and I can't quite figure out how they've been able to accomplish that. The roster is full of selfish, "score first" players, and all basically disappear on the defensive end of the floor. Keith Smart will certainly be an upgrade from Paul Westphal defensively, but Smart doesn't have a whole lot to work with.
3. Which team is currently the third worst in the NBA?
Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: The Bobcats.
Mark your calendars for Wednesday, though, when the Wizards come to town. Loser wins their choice of 30th on this list, or the award for most aggressive tanking in advance of the nice-looking 2012 draft.
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: New Orleans Hornets.
They're defending well and competitive more often than other bottom-dwellers, but they lack the talent necessary to compete. Most teams are good enough that, when everything breaks their way, they'll beat anyone in a regular-season game. Not only must the Hornets play their best to win, their opponents probably need an off night, too.
Mason Ginsberg, Hornets247: The Bobcats.
Charlotte has three wins all season against teams with a combined record of 17-29. They have losses on their record to New Jersey, Detroit and Cleveland (twice). Mullens has been a nice surprise for them to go along with Kemba and Bismack, but that's just about all that's nice in Charlotte right now.
Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak: The Detroit Pistons.
They don't make a lick of sense. After Greg Monroe, who continues to quietly produce solid stat lines, the next three Pistons in terms of minutes played are Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon and Brandon Knight. These three play the same quasi-position and lead the team in shots, while none are shooting better than 42 percent from the floor. Yeesh.
Spencer Wellesley Percy, Queen City Hoops:
Brace yourself here. The Pistons rank in the bottom three in both offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency. They use fewer possessions than any other team and also turn the ball over the most in the NBA -- not good. The stats are bad, but looking on the bright side they are seeing huge jumps in production from second-year center Greg Monroe (15.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg). He should blossom into the cornerstone of the franchise by season's end.
4. Which team is currently the second worst in the NBA?
Henry Abbott, TrueHoop:
And yes, I'm aware they just beat my Portland Trail Blazers. But look at the schedule! Thunder, Heat, Hawks, Sixers, Bucks, Knicks, with all but the Heat and Hawks on the road. Blink and they'll be 4-19.
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Washington Wizards.
The Wizards are finally moving the ball better and playing with more energy, and although that hasn't resulted in many wins, it's enough to move up from last. Things in Washington have improved so much, Andray Blatche no longer gets booed every time his name is announced.
Mason Ginsberg, Hornets247: The Pistons.
The home win against Portland over the weekend is nice, but it doesn't mask the fact eight of their losses have come by 14 points or more. It doesn't get any easier for them over the next week either, with home games against Miami and Atlanta sandwiched between trips to Oklahoma City and Philly.
Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak: The Washington Wizards.
They escape the basement by displaying a little fire in the past week or so, and because John Wall has been on an absolute tear. The worst thing about this team was watching Wall seem so uninspired, and with that changed, at least there is something redemptive about this group.
Spencer Wellesley Percy, Queen City Hoops: Charlotte.
The Bobcats are a mess right now. They have no one to turn to for offense, sleepwalk defensively and it's anyone's guess as to what the rotation will look like on a nightly basis -- Silas is trying everything. D.J. Augustin is now out for at least the next two games, so it's now Kemba Walker's mess to run and Biyombo may not be far behind as this team's next starting center. Prediction -- by season's end, the Bobcats will have the worst record.
5. Which team is currently the worst in the NBA?
Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: The Wizards.
In this flukey, compressed early-season schedule all kinds of random things are happening. But even as the whole league has been shaken up, the one constant is that this team keeps losing -- except for that one game against the Thunder, and that other one against the Raptors. Not much to hang your hat on.
Dan Feldman, PistonPowered: Charlotte Bobcats.
Where to start? Gerald Henderson is their best player. Boris Diaw started for a while. Kemba Walker can't shoot. Bismack Biyombo is too raw. Tyrus Thomas doesn't care. D.J. Augustin is injured, and so is Corey Maggette, who's shooting 30 percent. And I've run out of space with plenty of Charlotte problems left.
Mason Ginsberg, Hornets247: The Wizards.
Washington has the least efficient offense in the league, and it's not particularly close. Just two players receiving more than nine minutes per game currently sport PERs above the league average, and most expected better in his second season from one of them, Mr. Wall. Until he takes his game up another notch, they'll struggle to climb out of the cellar.
Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak:
The Charlotte Bobcats.
They have the least amount of talent in the NBA.
Though they play pretty hard, it's impossible to mask the stench of a team whose best player is either D.J. Augustin or Gerald Henderson.
Spencer Wellesley Percy, Queen City Hoops:
Kind of the same story as Sacramento here -- a group of guys who don't have very high basketball IQs and could care less about playing anything that resembles defense. They rank dead last in offensive efficiency and rebounding rate in the NBA, and second to last in TS%. After the Wizards' shocking win against the Thunder last week Nick Young summed this team up in two words, "Straight buckets!"