The NBA Landscape: Basketball Paradise or Just Another Wasteland? (Part 1)

Where does your team play?

I have heard some opinions of the NBA’s upcoming season, and the most overwhelming opinion is that the league finally has some parity. There will finally be a season in which multiple teams have a chance to compete for a championship, instead of just the same one every season (Warriors).

But is that the case? I decided to dig a little deeper into each NBA franchise, to discover just how many actual basketball paradises exist in today’s NBA, in comparison to the death rattles heard from still way too many basketball wastelands.

What exactly is a basketball paradise? It’s a city in which professional basketball will be most enjoyed. A city in which the audience is benefiting from exclusive VIP treatment and pampering from the league.

A wasteland is exactly how it sounds. The NBA and it’s audience have forgotten all about you and your basketball team. All that remains in this bitter desert of pain and despair is your skeleton covered in dust and wearing your favorite player’s jersey.

I’ll also be determining which teams are mediocre. You don’t want to be this either.

Atlanta Hawks – Wasteland

Added rookies De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish from the 2019 Draft to pair with talented sophomore Trae Young and the newly signed big man Jabari Parker. They also made trades to acquire the expiring contracts of Chandler Parsons and Evan Turner – a combined $43.7 million dollars! If everyone stays put, and they can add a young free agent to play with their core players, the Hawks have the potential to be something special one day (although don’t ask any of them to play defense, particularly Parker); However, just who exactly fits the mold of free agent that Atlanta could spend this money on? And, if you can find anybody, would they even want to play there? If nobody wants to play there, can they even keep the guys that they do have?

Boston Celtics – Mediocre

They replaced Kyrie Irving with Kemba Walker, which is an upgrade. Walker served his time in Charlotte with nary a complaint, giving him the appearance of a character guy – which should be a breath of fresh air for the Boston faithful; However, losing Al Horford is going to hurt, and the team is pretty strapped for cash with the contract they handed Gordon Hayward two summers ago. As constructed, they are a perennial second round exit, or a conference finalist, depending on how bad the rest of the conference gets.

Brooklyn Nets – Paradise

This is not the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade, but this also isn’t the sign of Nets basketball dominance. The Nets signing two marquee free agents is simply a sign of how far the Knicks have fallen. This is what they have been dreaming about ever since LeBron James was a free agent – the first time, when they were ultimately forced to throw all of their money at Amar’e Stoudemire.

Why Brooklyn? For the same reason nobody wanted to sign with the Lakers all of those painful (for me) summers: Their owner and their front office. James Dolan has to go.

Charlotte Hornets – Wasteland

In preparation for this post, I visited ESPN’s NBA homepage. Here, you can view team rosters, statistics, schedules, even transactions. Here is a list of every single transaction the Charlotte Hornets have made so far this year:

Capture

I simply couldn’t believe this was accurate, so I checked good ol’ trusty Basketball Reference, and all I could find were G-League call-ups and send-downs. They haven’t even signed their 12th pick selected rookie yet!

What’s funny is I always bring up how the city of Charlotte didn’t care to have the Hornets, so the NBA took them away. Then the NBA gave them back, but Charlotte still couldn’t give a rat’s ass. And, can you really blame them? Google “Charlotte Hornets”, right now, and one of the questions that Google automatically answers for you is, Do the Charlotte Hornets still exist?!

This lack of activity in seven full months correctly illustrates that even the Hornets don’t want the Hornets anymore.

Chicago Bulls – Wasteland

Zach Levine is not your savior.

Cleveland Cavaliers – Wasteland

Nothing to see here.

Dallas Mavericks – Incomplete / leaning Paradise

The Mavericks are like Atlanta in that they have a young talented core, but you could make the argument that their core has already made that leap towards the right direction. One day, with Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic, Dallas will once again be among the elites (or they could just end up like Denver).

Denver Nuggets – Mediocre

I’m not buying all this “Denver is a title contender” shit yet. Maybe because it’s Denver, maybe because nobody on the team can play a lick of defense, just something tells me this team as constructed will make some noise, but won’t really threaten any of the elite teams. And I think in a few seasons, the Nuggets and their fans may begin to regret all of that money their front office handed to Nikola Jokic (at least some of it) and Jamal Murray (at least half of it).

Detroit Pistons – Mediocre

The Pistons were unable to add anyone to their core of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, and will instead be another borderline playoff team in the Eastern Conference, which barely qualifies them as a team in reality.

Golden State Warriors – Borderline Paradise

I never thought whispers could echo, but adding D’Angelo Russell when losing Kevin Durant was all but certain took the kind of cunning that Jerry West – former Golden State consultant – was known for. I don’t see Russell playing to the best of his abilities with the Warriors, as the team plays a style of basketball that stresses sharing, and unless he’s on social media and you have a confession to make, sharing isn’t something that Russell does well. But, he is an asset, and the Warriors can use him – and possibly Draymond Green, whom I don’t see a smart franchise like Golden State giving max dollars to – to help bolster the roster surrounding Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

Houston Rockets – Incomplete / leaning Mediocre

https://twitter.com/cleanupglass/status/1141440688594157568

It’s rare that a trade involving one bad contract for another (plus a shit ton of picks) can be viewed as a win-win, but, in my opinion, this trade qualifies. The 2020 NBA Executive of the Year Daryl Morey was able to send Chris Paul’s albatross contract to the one team that is currently not in the business of winning games, yet savvy enough to keep an eye towards the future, in Oklahoma City. And in return, he was able to pair the 2017 NBA MVP (Russell Westbrook) with the 2018 NBA MVP (James Harden).

Are the Rockets a super team? No, they are essentially a Western Conference version of the Washington Wizards right now.

Unless, of course, they can figure things out.

If Harden plays point guard, it would allow Westbrook to become quite possibly the most dangerous player without the ball that the league has ever seen. On offense, he would be slamming in tip-ins and soaring for alley-oops. On defense, he would be flying through passing lanes and ending the fast break, in typical violent and destructive fashion.

But will they figure things out? Probably not.

Indiana Pacers – Mediocre

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Indiana Pacers basketball. Snaring Malcolm Brogdan away from Milwaukee was a great move, and Victor Oladipo will be returning from his injury. But, will they be a threat to win the championship? Sadly, no, they won’t.

Los Angeles Clippers – Paradise

As a Lakers fan, this one pisses me off to write, because I honestly see the Clippers winning a championship in the next two or three seasons.

Who will be at the parade though? My best guess is a surprisingly large gathering, but consisting of:

  • Lakers haters (30%)
  • New Clippers fans (25%)
  • Original Clippers fans (20%)
  • “LA basketball fans” (15%, and if you are reading this and happen to be a fan of two teams from the same sport, just know you are the absolute WORST kind of human being on the planet. Be a man. Pick a team and stick with them, you pussy)
  • Clueless Angelinos who joined in the festivities because, “They thought the Lakers won a championship” (10%)
Los Angeles Lakers – Paradise

Having been led on by Kawhi Leonard and his uncle Dennis for a full week into what was one of the craziest free agencies in recent memory, the Lakers recovered rather nicely. Most people were already making jokes about what the Lakers roster was going to look like if they couldn’t land Leonard, but DeMarcus Cousins and Danny Green were excellent backup plans. What’s more, is the contracts of the players they signed to fill out the roster also happen to expire the same time as LeBron James’ (when he can officially opt out). Meaning, that when James moves on to play with his son in Cleveland (when it happens, you read it here, first), the Lakers will still have Anthony Davis under contract – assuming they re-sign him – and can re-attempt signing two huge free agents to pair him with all over again.

Do you still hate Rob Pelinka, Lakers fans? Because this is exactly the type of shit that makes Dan Gilbert type nasty letters to the league in Comic Sans.

Tune in next week for Part 2, when I’ll cover the remaining sixteen NBA teams. Leave me a comment on where you think I’m wrong so far!

Author: Commissioner Dan

Unofficial-next-commissioner of the NBA. Covering all things pro basketball (mostly Lakers), even if it's not like it was in the '90's.

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