The Tanking Rankings are a summary of the NBA’s worst teams on a week-to-week basis, compiled by Kyle Neubeck and Spencer Layman. They will attempt to rank and write about the worst teams in basketball on a long and short-term basis. You can view their already obsolete preview here.
Kyle: First order of business: our boys crashing down to Earth like the comet in Deep Impact. The person in me who watches the Sixers on a regular basis is mourning a little, but pro-tanking me is beyond stoked. We’re only 2.5 games behind/in front of the Jazz!
Biggest culprit: the defense, which is giving up… wait for it…. 110.1 points per game through December 2nd. 110.1. You almost have to try to give up that many points. That’s a full seven points more than the next closest team.
Part of that can be attributed to pace, so the number is naturally inflated, but their inability to protect the three-point line is the real issue here. Opponents are shooting over 38% from three, and that meshes with what we’re watching perfectly. Between a mix of gambling for steals and poor rotations, they’re giving up way too many open looks. It’s something I’m willing to ignore at least partially for now, with personnel still in flux, but once the Sixers get more talent in here, that excuse is off the table.
With about 4/5 of the schedule left to play, the Sixers are finally headed in the direction many expected they’d be in at the start of the season. Can you see them being bad enough to pass our tanking “leaders”, especially considering the difference Trey Burke has made in Utah?
Spencer: I know pace is talked about quite a lot when bringing up how the Sixers play defense, but it’s to the point where it’s undefendable (I can’t believe that’s a word) . Ever since the beginning of the season, teams have been shooting lights out from 3 against them. This is mainly due to how Brett Brown has instructed them to play defense. There is a ‘free safety’ type player at almost all times. This causes for bad switches and a lot of skip passes. And it also has to deal with Evan Turner’s ability to guard the 3 (BOOM, ROASTED). I don’t mind the way they play defense, mainly because it’s fun, but this is definitely something that Brown will have to fix going forward.
I definitely can see them leading the Tanking Rankings, especially with the December 15th ‘free agents signed in the off-season can now be traded’ thing being lifted. I think Evan, Spencer and Thad will all be traded in due time. They can net good assets in a trade and Hinkie won’t pass that up.
I still don’t understand the Bucks. At all. They are the equivalent to women to me. They make no sense whatsoever. It seems as if all the mediocrity is catching up to them and making them more of a piss-poor team.
Kyle: What’s not to understand? They’re just not very good at basketball. The only wins they have are against other teams that are among the league’s worst (Cleveland, Boston), otherwise it has gone about as expected, especially considering the loss of Larry Sanders.
I think one of the things compounding the amount of bad teams in the league this year is the abysmal draft class. Anthony Bennett has been abysmal in Cleveland, Alex Len has played a total of 31 minutes,even Oladipo hasn’t been all that great, and I love him as a player. Here’s an astounding fact: three of the top ten picks haven’t even played yet! The bad teams have gotten almost zero boost from this year’s class, outside of our own Michael Carter-Williams.
And of course, your favorite player (wink wink), Trey Burke! The Jazz have won three of their last four games, and sure, two of those were against the Suns and a crippled Bulls team. But the Rockets win was nice, and his presence has given them another shot creator that wasn’t named Gordon Hayward. Their big guys are eons better than most of the other teams hovering at the bottom of the league, so I think they’re due for some progress in the coming weeks.
Here’s a random question to think about: is Evan Turner worthy of an All-Star selection? 21 points and just shy of four assists and seven rebounds a game on 47 percent shooting? That’s damn good, despite the state of the team. Considering the weakness of the east overall, I think there’s a decent possibility.
Spencer: Bleh. I don’t like Larry Sanders, I think he’s highly overrated. He’s solid defensively but he’s more than a black-hole on offense.
Bennett and Len will be fine, eventually. They are both young, coming off injuries/surgeries from this off-season and just need more experience. I like Oladipo, but he needs to start. If he is going to be a center piece of that franchise, they need him to start and make mistakes as a point guard so he learns in a losing year. If he was in Philly, he would be putting up all-star numbers (not really) because of his usage rate and minutes played.
And about the Jazz, it’s not that I hate Burke, I just don’t see the potential others saw, I guess. To me, Burke’s ceiling is Jameer Nelson, which isn’t horrible, but I think people need to chill on him a bit.
Eh… If you look at the Wings/Guards in the East, he would have to beat out guys like: Bron, George, Wade… wait.. Maybe there is a way for him to make it. (Just looked at the guards for Eastern All-Star ballot) Bron and PG are ‘frontcourt’ players. So let’s see.. Wade will get in for sure, John Wall, Kyrie.. Sheesh, he really could just by default. The rest of the guys on the ballot all suck or are hurt. If Evan Turner makes an all-star game, I will LOLZ myself to death.
Kyle: Dude seriously, Aaron Afflalo is a candidate to be a guard on the Eastern Conference All Star team. Brent Barry was going over his case Monday night during an intermission on NBA TV, and though I laughed at first, I started looking at candidates. Beyond Wade (who will get in on star power) and Wall (who has been a monster), he’s got a shot. Especially after that 43 point performance against the Sixers, yeesh.
His competition is probably something like Kyrie, Jeff Teague, Stephenson and Afflalo. Of those guys, you have to figure Kyrie makes it because of his “star” status, and Teague is probably the best choice of the rest. He has been really good this year, though it remains to be seen whether he’ll keep it up. Rondo’s impending return could also throw a monkey wrench in the whole thing, but Turner’s got as good a shot as anyone to get the trip to New Orleans.
Spencer: I forgot about Teague, he has been one of the best PGs in the East this year (which isn’t saying much) but just watching him play, he looks so damn good. Hopefully Evan won’t be on the team when he makes the All-Star Game.
Kyle: We’re at a nice mile marker for the season at about 1/5 of the way through, so let’s be dumb and make some half-hearted predictions:
Question No. 1: Who ends up with the worst record?
Spencer: The Sixers. Once their players get moved, it’ll be inevitable for them to lose just about every game.
Kyle: The Bucks. The rest of the teams near the bottom have at least something resembling upside on the roster. They, on the other hand, are a black hole of despair.
Question No. 2: Who is the first coach to get fired?
Spencer: I hope the first coach to get fired is a tie between Mike Woodson, Mike Brown and Jason Kidd.
Kyle: J-Kidd is the obvious candidate. Crazy Russian owner, sky high expectations, stories leaking about him feuding with assistants, it just makes too much sense.
Question No. 3: Who ends up winning rookie of the year?
Spencer: Have to go with MCW for ROY. He has been beyond phenomenal for the Sixers so far. AND HE JUST NETTED HIS FIRST MCTRIPDUB!
Kyle: MCW is the obvious choice. Typically how these awards work is that whoever grabs the narrative first has the easiest path to the finish line, whether it’s Rookie of the Year or MVP. Since he came out of the gates blazing, I think that’s where we’re headed. Also why I think Paul George is going to win the MVP (despite LeBron not getting it being a travesty of enormous proportions) but that’s a story for another day.
TANKING RANKINGS, WEEK FIVE
New York Knicks
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