Every Monday during the NBA season The Hoops Manifesto and its Bloguin bredren team up to answer some of the burning questions from the world of the NBA. In this edition we identify the teams that have disappointed us the most so far, determine whether Dallas is headed for another playoff flameout and name which point guard in the NBA we’d chose to run our team.
Contributors: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, Aaron Hodges and Peaceman from Knicks Fanatics, Diego from Leaving It All On The Court, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily, College Wolf from TWolves Blog, Michael De Leon from Project Spurs and brumbygg and Don from With Malice.
“No teams really stand out to me, however I would have thought Milwaukee would be off to a better start than 10-15.” – Jeff Fox
“That would be the LA Clippers. Their roster ISN’T that bad – it’s actually pretty good, yet here they are again… staring at the bottom end of the standings, with no respite in sight (tho’ you could probably insert the New Jersey Nyets with the same explanation!).” – Don
“The Charlotte Bobcats have really fallen off. After making their first playoff berth in franchise history, it looks like Michael Jordan needs to go back to his think tank. Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson are nice pieces, but the off-season losses of Raymond Felton – who is flourishing in New York – and Tyson Chandler have clearly hurt the Bobcats. The East looked like an open field after Boston, Miami and Orlando before the season started, but it seems very difficult to envision Charlotte making a second straight trip to the postseason.” – Diego Quezada
“The Lakers. Their decline this year has been too quick! Kobe looks like a 46 year old!” – Peaceman
“I really thought Milwaukee was going to make a little bit of a jump this year. Last year they really impressed by nearly eliminating Atlanta in the first round. The young squad looked like it was going to be a sneaky threat for the Central Division title. So far though, the Bucks have been uneven. True, Andrew Bogut is still working his way back into shape, but after adding Corey Maggette and retaining John Salmons, it seemed like this club would not have many problems. Instead Milwaukee is toward the back of the pack in the playoff race and it seems like Chicago has a firm grip on the division.” – Philip
“The TWolves. I know, I know. I didn’t expect us to be good, but seriously. We just suck. After winning 15 games last year, and entirely revamping our entire roster… most fans expected good things. I thought we could win 25-30 games. We’re on pace for another stinker 17 win season.” – College Wolf
“The Minnesota Timberwolves are probably the most disappointing team. They have more talent on their roster than their 6-22 record (1-16 on the road) would suggest. No one expected them to be a contender but they should have more than six wins at this point in the season. You could make a strong case for Michael Beasley and Kevin Love to be in the All-Star game but still something is missing. Perhaps a Ricky Rubio? Their long suffering fans deserve better.” – Aaron Hodges
“Probably Orlando. They didn’t get off to a great start and have struggled. I thought Hedo worked really well with them a few years ago and that addition should work well to address their greatest need, perimeter scoring.” – Michael De Leon
2) Dallas is on pace for their first 60 win season since 2006/07 – should we take them seriously or are they headed for another playoff flameout?
“My gut reaction is to say “flameout”, but Dallas is improved greatly on the defensive end this year and I love their pickup of Tyson Chandler. Still, I don’t expect them to be a legitimate title contender this year.” – Jeff Fox
“Flameout. And probably before the playoffs. The Mavs are all smoke and mirrors and too little substance.” – brumbygg
“I still don’t buy into them, and I don’t think they – or San Antonio – get 60 wins. Back to the Mavericks: regardless of JET’s fast start, and Tyson Chandler’s good play – the Mavs still have no real second fiddle to Dirk. Over a seven game series they’re going to be in trouble against… well, almost anyone.” – Don
“Dallas is a contender this year. I know that Mark Cuban would not hesitate to make another move at the trade deadline if it improved his team. Teams that are on a roll in the regular season should not think that they shouldn’t make any trades. Cuban has built a very deep team – Shawn Marion, Jason Terry and Brendan Haywood could all start on a lot of teams – and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mavs come out of the West at all.” – Diego Quezada
“Dallas has no toughness on that team that will extend into the playoffs. Expect a second round exit if they’re lucky!” – Peaceman
“I don’t think we will know for sure until they get to the postseason. Can that two guard system with Jason Kidd and Jason Terry work? Will a zone defense stymie teams in the postseason. Will Dirk Nowitzki show up in the postseason? We can speculate all we want (wait, that is our jobs), but we will not know until the postseason. Will this team hit 60 wins? I doubt it with the West being as tough as it is. Will they reach the Finals? Probably not.” – Philip
“Yes. Dirk is on top of his game. Their roster is the best its been since their loss to the Heat in the Finals. Roddy B. will be back soon. And most importantly, the team is playing amazing defense with the additions of Tyson Chandler and Haywood. They are really clicking right now.” – College Wolf
“The addition of Tyson Chandler gives them the tough, athletic, defensive presence that they’ve lacked in the past. Between Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, you can pick your poison on any given night. These guys can pick you apart in so many ways and they have the perfect pass first point guard in Jason Kidd that has pretty much seen it all during his career. They should certainly be taken seriously and if they can somehow manage to avoid the Lakers then they’ll have a shot at winning it all.Quite frankly I’d like to see them get a championship before Dirk hangs it up.” – Aaron Hodges
“It’s always hard to tell with the Mavericks, because they played well last season, had a high seed and then lost in the first round. I won’t take them too seriously until they prove they can be a contender, but they are looking good.” – Michael De Leon
3) We are in the midst of a golden age of NBA point guards. If you were the GM of a championship caliber team this season and you could have your pick of any point guard in the league, which one would you choose to lead your team and why?
“I’m probably biased since we are both Canadian and the same age, plus I used to play with/against former Canadian National Team teammates of his (Two Degrees of Steve Nash?!), but I’m going with Steve Nash. The fact of the matter is that he is the best shooting point guard in NBA history, so teams have to respect his shot and can’t foul him late in games without giving up an automatic two points. Plus, he is still the premier passer/playmaker in the League, has been through plenty of playoff battles, has no ego and is tough as nails. And he’s a very underrated help defender, always among the league leaders in charges taken.” – Jeff Fox
“Rajon Rondo is doing things unlike any other PG over the past 12 months. The knock on him is still that he can’t shoot the J, but a team with plenty of firepower doesn’t need another scorer, rather they need someone who can give the rock to someone who can. He’s also capable of some game-changing plays.” – brumbygg
“I’d go Deron Williams. I think Paul’s more talented, but he’s like fine crystal – looks awesome but fragile as hell. Williams is a bull. Can you imagine if LA had Williams? Sure, the triangle doesn’t require an elite point, but still… can you IMAGINE Williams a Laker? Ok… wake up Don!” -
“Since I’m a Heat fan, I’m going to play the role of Pat Riley here. If I could add one point guard to my team, I’d pick Devin Harris. Since my team has Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, the Heat don’t need a ball-dominant PG. Harris has proven that he can be a complementary piece in Dallas, but can chip in double-digit points and defend quick point guards well. Miami won’t acquire him, but I’d choose him if everyone was on the table.” – Diego Quezada
“Rondo. Although he still needs a jump shot, he make everyone around him better!” – Peaceman
“I would take Deron Williams. He has a great mix of size and speed and the ability to see over smaller defenders to make nearly impossible passes. When I watch him play, I cannot really take my eyes off him. He just has such great vision and his ability to play at both transition pace and halfcourt. He really has it all. And when he is on offensively, he is almost impossible to defend.” – Philip
“There are too many great point guards, so I’m going to cheat a little here. If I had a better offensive team, I’d go with Rajon Rondo because his defense is superb. Not only that, I think he’s a top three overall PG anyways. If I had a better defensive team, I’d go with Deron Williams, because he’s my choice as the best PG in the league, despite the fact that Rondo is a better defender.” – College Wolf
“It’s a very difficult decision and it’s a toss up between between Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams. After contemplating for endless hours I eventually gave up and decided that consulting my local Black Magic Gypsy woman would yield a better conclusion. She has advised me to go with Deron Williams. She told me that Rondo is more likely to be mistaken for E.T. and abducted by aliens. On top of that disturbing premonition she also told me that Williams matches up better against bigger guards, drains the 3 at a much higher clip and has earned a reputation as “The Comeback Kid.” I was stunned by her wealth of basketball knowledge. I trust her. Give me Williams!” – Aaron Hodges
“I’m going to make kind of a homer pick here, but aside from last season when he was fighting nagging injuries, Tony Parker has been one of the better and more underrated point guards the last six years. While he doesn’t have the crazy assist and steal numbers, he has three rings and a Finals MVP and there’s no arguing that. Ask Steve Nash how hard it is to guard him. He’s as fast as any of the other point guards, he can put his team on his back when they need it and his assist number are improving every year, so he’d be my choice. Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and Deron Williams would also get some consideration.” - Michael De Leon
4) Game of the week – pick the winner – Miami @ Lakers, Christmas Day
Record so far: 4-3
Consensus: Lakers (five votes to four)