Why Your Favorite NBA team isn’t that good Part I: “Swaggin with P”
It’s the time of the year when NBA training camps are a thing again. In the world of twitter, video recorded everything and Instagram the NBA hype machine is at the loudest its ever been and it’s easy to see why. There are a number of storylines shaping up in the league, especially around the teams with the most bandwagon fans. These stories aren’t really stories because these teams won’t be very good this season. Taige Adderley explains why.
Team: Los Angeles Lakers
Why they suck: Kobe
Kobe’s back, we know. The fanboys think that his comeback after missing basically two straight seasons with of catastrophic injuries can bring The Lakers back from the lottery abyss but the objective truth of the matter is that it probably won’t.
The Lakers are a lottery-bound dumpster fire and if you don’t believe me take a look at their roster. Their second-best player is Carlos Boozer on the downside of his career (and let’s be honest he wasn’t even good enough to be the second best player on a championship roster at his peak). Boozer, who has my favorite name in all of professional sports averaged 13 and 8 on 45% shooting on a bulls team that was dying for somebody to put the ball in the rim, so look for those numbers to go down playing with unrepentant ball-stoppers like Kobe and Nick Young. Boozer is also a doormat on defense because of his lack of length on the block.
It’s hard to say who their third best player is in this eclectic mix of has-beens like Steve Nash and NBDL lifers like Xavier Henry and Wesley Johnson, but one bright spot is Jordan Hill. Hill showed that he can really rebound the ball averaging 7.4 in only 20 minutes a game last season. He also shot a respectable 54% on field goals in about 7 attempts a game. If he can get his free throw percentage to over 70% and develop a consistent jumper 15 feet out he can actually be a pretty good serviceable NBA player.
I’m also interested in what power forward Ed Davis and combo guard Jordan Clarkson do. At only 25 Davis has bounced around the league somewhat. He’s proven that he has a nice motor, can rebound and finish around the rim but he’s never really been given the chance to play. It remains to be seen if he’ll get that chance playing on a Lakers squad that wants to push Julius Randle, who very well may be a better version of Davis, to the forefront.
We may very well see a great deal of Jordan Clarkson. The rookie guard out of Mizzou is the only other point guard on the roster other than Jeremy Lin and Steve Nash. Expect Nash to go down with an injury by game 3 of the season because he’s 75 years old and made of glass, and Lin to fall out of favor with Head Coach Byron Scott because of his inability to shoot or pass, and the fact that he plays defense like he took personal lessons from James Harden during his stint in Houston.
The cherry on the Lakers proverbial suck-pie is the man who watched Kill Bill and gave himself the same nickname Uma Thurman had in that: Kobe Bryant, he’s actually the reason they’re like this in the first place. It’s hard to blame Kobe for agreeing to the $48million extension the Lakers offered him this past year, but the fact that he would knowingly dominate the team’s salary cap despite suffering catastrophic injuries for 2 straight years, and expect the team to be a contender means that he either isn’t aware of how the salary cap works, or doesn’t really want to win. If Kobe does stay healthy (and he probably won’t), don’t expect any veteran leadership or intangibles from him. Kobe doesn’t do the teammate thing. Kobe will be chucking up shots in pursuit of the career scoring record. If you live in LA get your Clippers stuff out.
Team: Boston Celtics
Why They Suck: Inexperience/Lack of a First Option
Despite the fact that they possess a similar roster to the Lakers, the Celtics may actually be trending upwards. In the past couple years General Manager Danny Ainge has managed to purge expensive, overpaid veterans like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from while bringing in an influx of youthful talent. He also may have hired the next Pat Riley or Phil Jackson in Brad Stephens. Despite the progress, the Celtics are “two years away from being two years away.” Their young guys like Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger and may be good enough for primetime eventually but they aren’t there yet. Veterans like Jeff Green and Avery Bradley are good enough to contribute to good NBA teams, but they may not be good enough to start for one (maybe Green, definitely not Bradley).
Not helping is the fact that their highest paid player is oft-injured malcontent Rajon Rondo. They’ve been flirting with the idea of getting rid of him for awhile. His contract expires at the end of the season, don’t think they won’t ship him off to a team looking for cap relief in return for draft picks or prospects. With Rondo gone they can turn the team over to rookie point guard Marcus Smart and see if he can play or not. If he can play great, if he can’t (and he probably can’t due to him being a combo guard who wasn’t that good running a team or shooting in college) no biggie, they’ll just tank and get a good draft pick next year.
For the Celtics to be good they’ll have to see improvement from Olynyk, a finesse big in the Nowitzkian tradition with the requisite deft shooting touch, dubious athleticism and shyness on the boards. The Celtics would also like to see what they get out of Rookie swingman James Young. “Jimmy Buckets” is a lefty prototype wing out of Nal’s favorite school who came out of high school with the reputation of a shooter but managed to shoot a middling 35% from three during his only year in college. What Young did do was use his length and athleticism to attack the rim and defend. I personally think he’s going to find his shot and be a good NBA player. The Celtics’ success may hinge on whether or not Young fulfills his vast potential.
The Celtics aren’t the flaming disaster that the Lakers are but they won’t be good. Expect this team to be in full tank mode this season.