September 08, 2009

NBA Off Season Rankings (1-10)

P A T I E N C E, originally uploaded by TheProgrammerAnalyst.

I've been waiting for the last domino to fall. Ramon Sessions was that last domino, and he fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the wake of Ricky Rubio signing with Real Barcelona. So much for New York's summer. Anyway, I'd been writing pretty regularly about the off season for the first few weeks, but then it started to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Thus, the last domino approach. I know Nate Robinson and David Lee are still up in the air, but I've written anything having to do with the Knickerbockers off for the next 14-ish months. 'Kay? M'kay.

That said, I wanted to give you a last look at the off season as we move steadily closer to some real games. Following is a run down of how well each NBA team fared this off season, starting with the very best and ending with the abysmal. Questions? Okay, good, let's get right to it.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: The sneaky harboring of Leon Powe from the Celtics unsavorily cold shoulder pushed Lebron and Co. over the top. Just a strong, strong off season. They got Shaq, okay. That was the big splash. The rest of their moves were down right heady, and for the most part unsung. I’m singing. Here’s to you, Cleveland. Jamario Moon can play, and Anthony Parker has been a quiet stalwart for Toronto. They retained Varejao (no pouting off to Brazil in the near future for the Big Flopper) and did not retain Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. Good stuff, Danny Ferry. To top it all off, sounds like Lebron might be talked into signing with the Cavs for a shorter contract than most superstars are after. Anything to keep him in wine and gold, yes?

John makes a big splash, originally uploaded by Iversonic.

2. Orlando Magic: Yes, the acquisition of Vince Carter might be a wash with the loss of Hedo Turkoglu, but the Magic made so many strong moves this summer to say, “We’re here. You will reckon with us.” Maybe it’s too much. It’s like (to steal a played out Bill Simmons gimmick) when a decent looking girl gets really hot and tries to flaunt it but by doing so just reminds us how she wasn’t as hot before and is actually kind of indelicate and gaffe-prone. It could be that, or it could be like the beautiful girl donning the evening wear and solidifying her rep as bangin’ hottie. Either way, the Magic growed up this off season. Carter is the obvious push-up bra in this sordid metaphor, but Ryan Anderson is something more subtle…like the perfect set of garter belts. Brandon Bass was the acquisition that cemented their off season in my mind as one to remember, and Matt Barnes is certainly a contributor. However, retaining a barely used Gortat seemed a bit much (though I kind of dug that strong arm message it sent), and Jason Williams could just be the one step too much that they took (though by all accounts he was a team player in Miami and shouldn’t mess with the dynamic Jameer needs to get settled into right away). Time will be the fingers that undress this off-season, and a title will be the only way this ends well.

3. Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks didn’t make any huge waves this summer, but that’s not a bad thing when you’re emerging from a decade of mismanagement and instability. Atlanta was fourth in the East last year, and they look to remain so. It wasn’t like they didn’t do work this off season. They re-signed Mike Bibby, Zaza Pachulia, and Marvin Williams. Then they acquired Jamal Crawford for garbage time guys and Joe Smith via free agency. Not bad. Sure, they likely won’t get past the big three in the East, but at least they’re not bottoming out to “wait for 2010 free agents” (that won’t come; thus the quotes). The fans of Hot-lanta should be excited about this team, as a core of Joe Johnson and the still developing Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Marvin Williams is very, very solid.

4. Dallas Mavericks: Gortat would’ve been nice, but the Mavs didn’t waste time crying in their spilled (un-spilled?) milk. They re-signed Jason Kidd, who was solid last season at least on offense, and they traded for Shawn Marion. Sure, in this off-season’s trend of stacking up on past-their-prime players, Dallas didn’t really one up any of their competitors, but at least they broke even. Drew Gooden? Good. Tim Thomas? Bad. Losing Devean George and Jerry Stackhouse? Finally! Losing Brandon Bass? Sigh. Angling for a 7th seed to match up with the Spurs in the playoffs? Bring it on!

5. Los Angeles Lakers: They added Ron Artest after losing Trevor Ariza, and they re-signed Shannon Brown and Lamar Odom. The Lakeshow did what they needed to do this summer and then some. Let’s just hope the and-then-some doesn’t come back to bite them in the behind. If the Candyman can go the entire season without worrying about being traded, then Ron Artest can be as crazy as he wants. Getting that contract could ease Odom’s troubled mind some, and that could be big. He’s always picked up his play after the trade deadline, when he didn’t have anything to worry about. This off season had the potential to make those concerns go away forever, but the way negotiations played out, it’s just one of at least two big questions the Lakers have to answer this year.

6. LA Clippers: The Clips lost a player to Armani Jeans Milano. Remind me to write about that someday. Sorry, on to things that “matter.” The Clippers have positioned themselves to look like a playoff team this year. They picked up Blake Griffin and got rid of Z-Bo. They even picked up internet mogul Mark Madsen. By all standards, a good off season. Maybe having “names” like Baron Davis, Marcus Camby and, yes, Chris Kaman will mean something this season. Eric Gordon hopes so. But maybe they’re still the Clippers. Yeah, that sounds right.

7. Detroit Pistons: Are they going to be a good team this year? Probably not. Did they have a good off season? Well, they needed to in order to even be in the playoff hunt. Time will tell, but at least they did something, and at least they got younger. Ben Gordon, Charlie V, Ben Wallace (with a new number), and Chris Wilcox. They lost more than they gained, but that was the point. Good bye Rasheed, Allen, Antonio, and the odd pair of Walters. Why didn’t you take Rip with you?

8. San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs, by all accounts, had a good off season. They shed some veteran detritus and picked up Dejuan Blair in the draft. Then they went out and got Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess, and Theo Ratliff. In my opinion, the McDyess and Ratliff acquisitions show that San Antonio is still valuing vets way, way too much. Roger Mason was a good pick up last off season, and Jefferson will be a help as well, but are they still starting Michael Finley? Can Manu Ginobli stay healthy? They’re saying out of the Alamo that RJ is the most athletic wing they’ve had since Shawn Elliot, but regardless of whether that’s true or not, it doesn’t bring David Robinson back. I mean, are the Spurs really going to continue starting Matt Bonner? This team lacks size, not athletic wingmen for crying out loud, and McDyess is just not the answer.

9. Toronto Raptors: Picking up Hedo Turkoglu will hamstring the Raps financially a few years down the road, and I don’t know how much it’ll help keep Bosh north of the border, but it should certainly help them for at least this coming season. The Raptors picked up a lot of bit players this summer, and frankly I’m not sure I see how it all fits together. See if any of this makes sense to you: Marco Bellinelli, Devean George, Antoine Wright, Rasho Nesterovic. Huh? I could see what they were going for with Jarrett Jack, but they should’ve seen if they could’ve gotten a renege on T.J. Ford. Jack is not the tempo change from Jose Calderon that made the pairing with Ford so potent. Amir Johnson and Reggie Evans (acquired just before the draft) look like difference makers on paper, but how will they help with Bosh and the showing-signs Andrea Bargnani taking most of the PT?

Hornswoggle!, originally uploaded by Sir Awesome.

10. Boston Celtics: Don’t get me wrong. This is a good, good team, but I just can’t see them improving on a year where they looked to have one foot in the re-tooling mode that should see Rajon Rondo lead the team into the 2010s. I still have questions about Garnett, and some of them tell me his injury last season won’t be an isolated incident. I also wonder what Rondo’s mind set will be this season after Ainge wasn’t exactly delicate with him. Marquis Daniels and Shelden Williams are nice pick-ups, and keeping Glen Davis was important. The big move, though, of picking up Rasheed Wallace? I just don’t see it working out. The Celts are going to regret losing Powe right around the All-Star break.

Y'know what, this is getting a little long. Why don't I give you a break, come back tomorrow with the ten middle teams, and then hit you with the worst of the worst on Thursday. Cool? Cool.

By Sean "Ho'omana'o" (previously "snagamat") with 2 comments


Wow, totally misinformed on the raptors!

The reason why they traded Ford was he was an issue in the locker room and unhappy. Why would they bring back trouble?

No. The point was not to bring back Ford. The point was it's his skill set that's missing. I know he was acting the prima donna. But he pushed the tempo, which made that Raptors team more potent than it is now with JUST Calderon's deliberate style. Jarret Jack offers no kind of change up.

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