|The tank for Wiggins (who's on the right btw) is on|
Ranking will be released in six parts, starting today and finishing up Friday. Today we're dealing with teams 26-30, otherwise known as the "Tank for Wiggins division". Let's get started.
#30. Utah Jazz (#15 in the West)
2012-13 Record: 43-39
Major additions: Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert, Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, Brandon Rush
Major subtractions: Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Mo Williams (projected to sign elsewhere)
What happens when you lose four of your five starters and leading scorers and replace them with rookies and salary cap casualties from other teams? Quite simple actually: you begin to suck. The Jazz stayed in the Western Conference playoff race until the season's final week in 2012-13 but following the season decided to part ways with their two best players in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, not to mention their two starting guards in Mo Williams and Randy Foye.
As of now their starting five figures to be Trey Burke, Gordon Heyward, Marvin Williams, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter with a bench straight out of the Golden State reject bin (Jefferson, Biedrins and Rush). While the Jazz could escape the NBA cellar if Kanter and Favors play up to their draft positions, neither player has ever played more than 25 MPG in an NBA season. The Jazz clearly decided that they have had enough of being "good enough to not get a great lottery pick but bad enough to not be a contender", taking on tons of salary from Golden State in exchange for two first round picks and going with a youth movement. The Jazz have only $5.5 million of salary on the books for 2014-15 at the moment, and could dangle restricted free agent Heyward (possibly to the team who currently employs his former coach Brad Stevens?) in an effort to both acquire future picks and make themselves worse this season.
#29. Philadelphia 76ers (#15 in the East)
2012-13 Record: 34-48
Major additions: Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams, Royce White
Major subtractions: Jrue Holiday, Nick Young, Dorell Wright
Remember 15 or so months ago when the Sixers were four minutes away from possibly upsetting the Celtics in Game 7 and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals with a young talented roster? And then a year ago when they acquired Andrew Bynum and appeared to have a core of Holiday/Evan Turner/Thaddeus Young/Spencer Hawes/Bynum that were all under 26 and looked like they could cause some damage in the East? Just another classic example of how one wrong move, in this case dealing Andre Iguodala and Nikola Vucevic for Bynum, can torpedo your franchise for years to come.
The Sixers let Bynum walk after getting a return on their investment of precisely zero games, and decided to trade their best player in Holiday to the Hornets for Nerlens Noel and a future 1st round pick. Noel figures to be out until around New Years recovering from an ACL injury, leaving Philly with a starting lineup of Carter-Williams, Turner, Young, Hawes and possibly Kwame Brown. Yikes. The Sixers also took a chance with Royce White, the former Rockets first round pick who is notoriously afraid of flying. Philly now has two first round picks in 2014 to go with their two first rounders this year, so they could re-stock the proverbial shelves pretty quickly. But this year the Sixers look like they could be one of the worst teams in the NBA.
#28. Orlando Magic (#14 in the East)
2012-13 Record: 20-62
Major additions: Victor Oladipo, Jason Maxiell
Major subtractions: Al Harrington, Quentin Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu (expected buyout)
The good news? No major subtractions from last year's squad! The bad news? Last year's squad was terrible!
Truth be told the Magic have actually done a great job of rebuilding since the Dwight Howard trade me-don't trade me-trade me fiasco. They picked up Aaron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic and three first rounders for Dwight, traded J.J. Redick for Tobias Harris (who averaged 17.3 PPG for the Magic following the trade) and sucked bad enough in 2012-13 to pick up one of the few impact players in the draft (Indiana's Victor Oladipo). Not bad for a years work. Now Orlando finds themselves in good shape in terms of young talent. In fact their core of Afflalo, Oladipo, Andrew Nicholson, Harris, Maurice Harkless and Vucevic is one of the better collections of young, cost controlled players in the league.
With all that said, the Magic are in for at least one more year of rough seas as their young guys figure out how to play together. But that's not the worst thing in the world, as the Magic could cash in on a loaded 2014 draft and enter next season ready to make some noise.
#27. Phoenix Suns (#14 in the West)
2012-13 Record: 25-57
Major additions: Eric Bledsoe, Caron Butler, Alex Len, Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee
Major subtractions: Luis Scola, Jared Dudley, Jermaine O'Neal
Phoenix is another cellar dweller that quietly had a solid off-season. While Scola and Dudley are good players, both are far better suited to be role players on good teams than building blocks in the desert. The Suns were able to pick up the super talented Bledsoe in the Dudley deal and Plumlee plus a future 1st round pick for Scola. Strong returns in both cases.
Despite some positive moves, the 2013-14 Suns are going to be bad. Really bad in fact. That's what happens when you have $24 million of dead weight in Caron Butler, Gerald Green, Channing Frye and Michael Beasley simultaneously clogging your books and giving you below average production on the court. But Phoenix appears to be moving in the right direction, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say about the next team on this list.
#26. Milwaukee Bucks (#13 in the East)
2012-13 Record: 38-44
Major additions: Luke Ridnour, O.J. Mayo, Gary Neal, Brandon Knight, Carlos Delfino, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zaza Pachulia
Major subtractions: Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings, Mike Dunleavy, J.J. Redick, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Marquis Daniels, Samuel Dalembert
What in the what? Ok so you're the Bucks and you just finished 38-44 and got run out of the building by the Heat in round 1, all four losses by 10+ points. It's clear you're not a contender and the 2014 draft is the best in 11 years. So what do you do? Well clearly you break up your roster, clear cap space, and suck in 2014, giving yourself a chance to land a franchise superstar through the draft. Again, this is Milwaukee, you aren't signing a franchise guy on the free agent front, so the draft is literally the only way to become relevant again. Seems pretty straight forward, right?
Umm..wrong. Instead the Bucks completely broke up their slightly below average team just to re-assemble another slightly below average team right in our faces.
Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings out..O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight in.
J.J. Redick and Mike Dunleavy out..Carlos Delfino and Gary Neal in.
Samuel Dalembert take a hike..welcome Zaza Pachulia to Milwaukee!
I mean what is the Bucks long term plan? Sure if all of these role players fit in they could make a run at the final playoff spot in the East..but who cares? They swapped average for mediocre, picking up every decent combo guard on the market and once again putting themselves in basketball limbo. Personally I still think this team is bad enough to potentially get a top 5 pick, but if this off-seasons' signings lift them up towards 30-35 wins the Bucks will have missed an opportunity to bring a star to Milwaukee. And that's an opportunity that doesn't come around all that often.
Alright that's #26-30, tomorrow we will be breaking down #21-25 which includes a whole bunch of Eastern Conference teams. Man the bottom half of the East is brutal this year.
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For more of my articles, click here Michael Dyer 8/04/2013 02:57:00 PM Tweet