Matt on 08 28, 2009
Just missed the cut: The Memphis Grizzlies: I’m sure some of you expected them to be on this list, but they actually have a decent core: OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Hasheem Thabeet, Mike Conley, and everybody’s favorite head case: Zach Randolph. I think this team will be a hair better than the five below.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: There’s a glimmer of hope for the future because Al Jefferson is one of the best centers in the league, granted he’s the same player after tearing his ACL. After that? The roster is putrid: Corey Brewer, Wayne Ellington, Jonny Flynn, Ryan Gomes, and Kevin Love. Love and Flynn are going to be good players, but where does the scoring come from on this team? If Ricky Rubio can somehow afford his buyout with DKV Joventut and decides to play for them, Minnesota has a chance to move off this list. Rubio’s that good. That’s a big if. 24-25 wins sounds right.
4. Milwaukee Bucks: “Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2009-2010 Milwaukee Bucks!” They didn’t even make an offer to Charlie Villanueva. They traded away Richard Jefferson for expiring contracts. Their general manager John Hammond must be high. Ok, clearly, they’re dumping salary, but this is pathetic. Their team is now banking on Michael “I’m an overpaid spot up shooter” Redd, Andrew “my back hurts” Bogut, Luc “8 middle names” Mbah a Moute, and Brandon “I showed up late to the NBA draft” Jennings. 22-23 wins will turn heads. Bucks fans, grab another beer! I should know…I live in Milwaukee.
3. New Jersey Nets: After trading away Vince Carter for what is essentially Courtney Lee, this team gets worse. They have some pieces to work with, but not much. Their core is now Devin Harris, Brooke Lopez, Yi Jianlian, Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston, and Terrence Williams (who wore a Barbie backpack in high school and SpongeBob socks in college). Things aren’t looking good in the swamp. Harris is definitely one of the best point guards in the league, but he can’t carry a team offensively. Lopez had a great rookie year, but I don’t see him getting a whole heck of a lot better. He’s not athletic enough. Who knows with Yi. This team is way too young to compete every night. 20-21 wins is realistic.
2. Sacramento Kings: Kevin Martin. That’s the only Kings player you need to know. The rest of their core will be Tyreke Evans, Francisco Garcia, Spencer Hawes, and Jason Thompson. The Maloofs cannot be happy. Kevin Martin is someone who the casual NBA fan doesn’t know, but he’s easily one of the best scorers on the planet. He’s just never on national TV because he came along right after those great Kings teams with Webber and Bibby fell apart. Martin should get about 25 points a night, but he won’t get much support. Their frontline is incredibly soft; they don’t even have a true center. You won’t be hearing many cowbells this year. Possibly 20-21 wins.
1. New York Knicks: The 2009-2010 Knicks have a shot to join some of the all time worst. Their core features Chris Duhon, Al Harrington, Danilo Gallinari, Jordan Hill, Larry Hughes, Wilson Chandler, David Lee and Nate Robinson are still unsigned, and the one, the only, Mr. Darko Milicic has joined the party. Ouch. Who do they give the ball to in crunch time? Their best shot is to run and gun, what D’Antoni does best. Their defense will be embarrassing. There’s not one all star on this team. Nobody even comes close. Will one guy even crack 16 points per game? Eddy Curry might eat this entire roster before the season’s over. I’ll say 18-19 wins will be an accomplishment. No, I’m serious.