NBA Grades for the half-season
It's the half-way point in the season. Time to see how Dane ranks the teams.
When I was in high school, we went on a field trip to Washington DC. While there we checked out a Washington Bullets game. During a timeout, I was asked to shoot from half-court. Sadly, I missed. If I sunk my attempt, my high school would have won an SUV. Half-court shots at NBA games have won people cars, had the chance to win a million dollars, or a year’s worth of a sponsor’s product.
Recently, a gentleman sunk a half-court shot at a Knicks game. His prize was $1000 worth of scratch tickets. When he finished scratching all those tickets, he was left with a prize of $500. Meanwhile, this season a Laker fan won $100,000 dollars for sinking the same shot. Why does this matter? When a team is as bad and incompetent as the Knicks, they’re bad at every level. Even the prizes they give their patrons suck. How can a team in one of the media meccas of North America, be incapable of getting real sponsors for something as common as a half-court shot? Because the team’s front office and ownership are bad.
At the halfway point of the 2019–2020 NBA season, there’s a lot of parity at the top, and the bottom of the standings. However, while some teams at the bottom of the league look poised for growth, others appear destined to be stuck with losing records for the foreseeable future.
F Grade Teams
To get an F grade here, your team not only lose on the court; they also must have a poor culture that permeates every level of the organization. The teams displaying these qualities include:
The Cavs, Bulls, Knicks, Warriors, Kings and Suns
This list features bad owners, a coach calling his players thugs, a team riddled by injuries after letting the head of their training staff leave for the Hawks last season, and a front office that thought it was a good idea to fire a good coach for an unproven one.
D Grade Teams
Wolves, Hawks, Wizards, Blazers, Hornets, Pelicans and Pistons
Most of the above have been ravaged by injuries, or suspensions. A couple have new front offices that are resolving their predecessor’s mess. You could argue that the hornets shouldn’t be here, but the roster lacks balance and they’ve only won a third of their games. Decimated by injuries, the Blazers could still make the playoffs, but the number of teams they’ll need to leap frog to do so, places them here as well.
C Grade Teams
Grizzlies, Spurs, Thunder, Rockets, Pistons, Nets and Magic
The Spurs are a well run organization that should be selling their older assets and trying to get better odds in the lottery. Instead, they’re battling for a poor seed in the playoffs. The Rockets clearly lost the Chris Paul trade. The Pistons are rumored to be trying to trade their best healthy player, but big centers with poor shooting numbers and big contracts are undesirable in the current NBA landscape.
While these teams are in NBA purgatory, the burgeoning Grizzlies, Thunder, Nets and Magic have the potential to rise above this level. However, I think it’s time that a coach fines Kyrie Irving whenever he speaks to the media. Is Irving the most toxic superstar the NBA has?
B Grade Teams
76ers, Pacers, Celtics, Raptors, Heat, Mavs, Nuggets, Clippers, and Jazz
All of these teams have a chance to win an NBA title this year. The only team of this list with a disappointing record are the Sixers. The Pacers and defending champ Raps are finally getting healthy. The Celts and Mavs are young teams with tons of upside. Meanwhile, the Nuggets and Jazz are simply well managed teams. As for the Clippers, Kawhi already explained their record when he played for the defending champs last year, the season is just 82 practices before the playoffs.
A Grade Teams
Milwaukee Bucks, LA Lakers
Both of these teams have significant flaws. The Lakers could use an extra point guard. The Bucks could use a shooting guard for their bench. That said, both teams are acing the test that is the NBA regular season. Let’s see how they do during their final exams.