After one month of minimal writing I’m back and ready to crank out some high quality NBA material here at Saving The Skyhook. In case you don’t remember, I decided to take a month off from heavy duty writing in order to decrease the chances of failing my second to last semester of college, and also because LeBron James decided to take one month off over the summer after winning a second straight NBA Title. Needless to say, I pondered coming back a little early since LeBron came into the season a little rusty and possibly even a little out of shape. Once he rounded into form and started shooting 60% from the field I thought to myself, “What the hell, I might as well keep recharging my battery. It worked for him.” Believe it or not, I have quite a few thoughts brewed up after a month of just watching the NBA. Since we’re one month into the season, my first power poll is due.
30: Utah Jazz
The favorites in the Riggin’ for Wiggins sweepstakes, or maybe because of the Mormon angle it might be more appropriate to call this the Tank Safari for Jabari (Credit to STS Editor Jack Maloney.) (Ed note: I’d love to accept credit for this idea, however, my good friend @HebertofNH came up with that.). However you’d like to phrase it, the Jazz look like the favorite early on to own 25% of the ping pong balls in the 2014 Draft Lottery. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap waltzed out of Utah without any hesitation, leaving the Jazz with baby faced Gordon Hayward, rookie point guard Trey Burke, Enes “The Menace” Kanter, Derrick Favors, and… oh wait, that’s it? Yeah, I guess that’s it for now.
29: Milwaukee Bucks
This is Milwaukee’s first month of the season in a nutshell: In the Bucks’ comeback win against Boston on November 1st, it was Caron Butler and Zaza Pachulia leading the late charge. Yeesh! Apparently that was enough to convince Bucks fans to throw in the towel on the season, and start the “Winning takes balls” campaign. Ladies and gentlemen, your Milwaukee Bucks!
28: Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers were pegged by many to make a leap of sorts this season. The only leap they’ve made is a head first leap into dysfunction. A 4-11 start… Mike Brown returning to the sideline just three seasons after he was canned as head coach… Anthony Bennett making a strong early case for worst rookie year by a #1 pick ever (22 points in eleven games played; Kwame Brown is rejoicing)… A players only meeting that was reportedly “confrontational” which seems to mean that Dion Waiters punched Kyrie Irving in the face (or at least came close to it). It’s just a catastrophe. To make matters worse, it’s only a matter of time until Anderson Varejao gets hurt or traded, Andrew Bynum goes bowling, and Kyrie Irving starts sitting out two weeks at a time for injuries that should take five days to heal. The Cavaliers might be an early write off. If you don’t believe me, just take into consideration the fact that Cavaliers play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod called rookie Matthew Dellavedova “one man gang” against Washington last week. If Matthew Dellavedova is a team’s one man gang, they aren’t going far.
27: New York Knicks
26: Brooklyn Nets
New York, concrete jungle where dreams are… crumbling quickly! I wish I could say otherwise, but I didn’t see this coming. I thought the Knicks had a hint of implosion potential, but not so much so soon. And I certainly didn’t such a slow start coming for the Brooklyn Nets. In retrospect, we should’ve been able to forecast the early season struggle of the Knicks and Nets four weeks ago. Take a look at the grocery list of everything wrong with basketball in New York City.
-Carmelo Anthony can become a free agent at seasons end, and he hasn’t handled the prospect of this with expert precision. Word of advice: when it comes to discussing free agency, just keep your mouth shut guys. Coming out and saying “I want to be a free agent,” letting that statement linger, and then two weeks later retracting and saying “I want to retire in New York,” wasn’t the best way to handle the situation.
-The powder keg that is JR Smith, Metta World Peace, and Kenyon Martin will cause some sort of debauchery by seasons end. Mark my words.
-The Knicks more stable and best young talent, Iman Shumpert (R.I.P. hi-top fade), has been the topic of many trade discussions.
-Tyson Chandler, one of the very few Knicks players who plays inspired defense, fractured his right fibula.
-Amare Stoudemire is still under contract in New York.
-After a seventh straight loss Wednesday night against the Clippers, the Knicks held a players only meeting (their second one!). Carmelo Anthony described the team as being in “a dark place.” Weird, I was expecting them to be tremendously giddy.
-Deron Williams, the Nets best player, hasn’t been totally with it since 2010.
-The Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce/Jason Terry acquisition is looking like one of the biggest trade catastrophe’s in recent memory. Again, in retrospect, this should’ve been something that could’ve been sniffed out. Those three are a combined 109 years old.
-Andrei Kirilenko signed for an absurdly cheap $3 million per year, and he somehow hasn’t even come close to earning that money yet—or the several million more that Mikhail Prokhorov promised him under the table.
-Another Garnett and Pierce point: They didn’t even show up to the arena to play against former coach Doc Rivers a couple of weeks ago. Maybe it was out of respect to Doc, or maybe it was just to avoid the vicious beat down that was about to be handed to them.
-The amount of productive coaching done by Jason Kidd this year could’ve been done by a Jason Kidd Fathead—in Kidd’s defense, a Fathead couldn’t have orchestrated “Spill-Gate” like he did. Kidd looks completely lost and ineffective on the sideline, a surprise given how great of a court general he was. Maybe he needs to ditch the suit and rock some warm-up attire, similar to Bob Huggins, to find his mojo.
25: Sacramento Kings
I promise you this; if the Kings had moved to Seattle and become the SuperSonics, they wouldn’t be ranked 25th. And no, I do not have any evidence to support this position.
24-19 (In alphabetical order): Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards
Unfortunately, eight teams from the Eastern Conference are obligated to make the playoffs each year. The five left to be mentioned I will tentatively put in the playoff picture. One of those two duds from New York will make it—it’s just going to happen, and at gunpoint I would bet on that team being the Nets. Two of the six mentioned in this ragtag cluster will also stumble ass-backwards in, and you can actually make a legitimate case for any of the six. Boston has miracle worker and proven overachiever Brad Stevens at the helm, with Rajon Rondo’s looming return acting as a metaphorical ace in the hole. Detroit has size, sweet ‘Motor City’ alternate uniforms, and the highest expectations of any of the teams. Orlando has a nice young nucleus in place (not even counting Tobias Harris who has been injured) and Arron Afflalo is quietly having a kick ass year (21.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 48% shooting). Philadelphia has six NBA players. Toronto has the bewildering Rudy Gay/DeMar DeRozan duo that is shooting roughly 40% on nearly 38 shot attempts per game and Drake in their corner. Washington boasts not one, but two breakout players in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Spending a bunch of time trying to figure out the order of these teams would be like stressing over what brand of batteries you want to buy. Some brands might be better than others (let’s say Energizer and Duracell), but the item is so insignificant and the difference in effectiveness is so minute that it doesn’t really matter if you go with Rayovac. In basketball terms, that means it doesn’t matter what order you place these teams in. They would all get thumped in the playoffs anyway.
18: Charlotte Bobcats
For whatever reason I find myself watching the Bobcats just about every night they play. Their games are slow and ugly (at least next year their uniforms won’t be ugly; long live the purple and teal!) but oddly enough, they are weirdly fun. Yes, believe it or not, I’m calling the Charlotte Bobcats fun. It’s similar to how you would say that one of those ugly Pug dogs is cute. It’s miles and miles from cute, but there is something endearing about how atrocious that face is. Enter the Charlotte Bobcats. Maybe it’s just the joy of watching Josh McRoberts shoot three pointers (I have no idea how he’s shooting 37 percent from downtown; he’s shooting 3.9 three’s per game, making 1.5 per game, and I can’t recall a single one that he’s made), Kemba Walker and Michael-Kidd Gilchrist’s likability, the perplexing ability of Gerald Henderson to look like a completely different human being after shaving his head, and the potential of the team once Al Jefferson gets fully worked into the rotation. I’ll go way out on a limb and say that the Bobcats make the playoffs this year even though they are last or nearly last in points per game, field goal percentage, three point percentage, and free throw percentage. Go ahead and chalk that up as a bold prediction! And for a not so bold prediction, Michael Jordan will not be playing in a game for the soon to be Hornets this year. MJ will play another game for the Toon Squad before he goes to war with Ramon Sessions, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh McRoberts and Bismack Biyombo.
Wait, did I really just declare the Bobcats a playoff team? Oh God. I think I might need a little more time to recharge my battery. I’ll be back tomorrow.