The NBA Landscape: Basketball Paradise or Just Another Wasteland? (Part 2)

My final sixteen takes on every single NBA team after the 2019 offseason

If you missed Part 1, click here to catch up!

Memphis Grizzlies – Wasteland

Memphis actually found two players in Marc Gasol and Mike Conley who wanted to stay in Memphis through the prime of their careers, and promptly traded them both away. Granted, both have peaked and will now begin to gradually decline, but just where are they ever going to find another player, let alone two, who actually wish to re-sign with the team?

Miami Heat – Wasteland

Yeah, I know they have Jimmy Butler. I don’t care. Jimmy’s gonna Jimmy, which means he will score a bunch of points, lose a bunch of games, and generally enjoy being a rich single dude in Miami. But, the Heat won’t amount to shit until they eventually move him.

Milwaukee Bucks – Paradise

… Until Giannis Antetokounmpo leaves them high and dry next summer, that is. And, I don’t care how much Giannis says he loves him, signing Khris Middleton to a hefty contract extension – when no other team outside of the Knicks would even consider it – is a prime example of a franchise that doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Minnesota Timberwolves – Wasteland

I’m sure there are players who want to play with Karl Towns, but good luck trying to convince them to come play in Minnesota. Ask Kevin Garnett how hard it is to get help there, and he was a Hall of Famer!

New Orleans Pelicans – Wa-aaaait a damn minute now!

This team closely resembles last season’s Los Angeles Lakers squad, but with Zion Williamson replacing LeBron James. I realize this may be an unpopular opinion, but I think in some ways Williamson fits better than James did, particularly defensively. Kyle Kuzma will still be pushing James around in Los Angeles, but in New Orleans, Williamson will be erasing weak layup attempts into dust, like a basketball Thanos – OR, like James used to do!

… until his contract is up, and he ultimately signs with New York – where they hopefully make a hero out of the man who assassinates James Dolan.

Edit: Go figure some wacko OKC fan actually made death threats to the Thunder front office for pulling in a huge haul for both Westbrook and George. Now I can’t write this joke without a disclaimer to not do this. REALLY. Don’t try to kill the owner of your sports team, even if it is James Dolan.

New York Knicks – Wasteland

You have your instructions, deranged Knicks fan. You know what you have to do…

Edit: Don’t do it. Way to ruin the fun, you nutjob.

Oklahoma City Thunder – Wasteland

Imagine drafting a future NBA MVP is akin to winning the lottery. What do you think of a person who wins the lottery three freaking times, only to blow most of their winnings, and use what’s left to buy more tickets?

That’s the Oklahoma City Thunder’s GM Sam Presti right now. And he’s got a shitload of tickets.

Side note: I don’t get all the hate for this guy. It’s not his fault the team moved to Oklahoma City, and now nobody will willingly sign there, leaving them only trades and the draft by which to get better. That’s the Thunder evil owner, Clay Bennett’s fault.

Orlando Magic – Future Wasteland

I just now found it amusing that I condemned the Grizzlies for trading away a pair of sometimes-All-Stars, only to now condemn the Orlando Magic for keeping a pair of sometimes-All-Stars in Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. When you’re an NBA team that plays in a small market, you probably see a lot of these lose-lose scenarios.

Philadelphia 76ers – Paradise

Any team with a core of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons is going to be a contender, regardless of whether or not they continue overpaying for role players like Tobias Harris.

Phoenix Suns – Wasteland

The good news is they did their due diligence by locking up that poor sap Devin Booker until the 2023-24 season. The bad news is they’ll probably end up having to trade him for picks before then.

Portland Trailblazers – Paradise

I didn’t care about the Trailblazers last season. Even after they made the Conference Finals, I thought it was more like when the Utah Jazz made the Conference Finals back in 2007. More a recipient of good fortune than a truly talented team, and surely to be forgotten the following season. Boy, was I wrong.

The Blazers traded out Evan Turner for Kent Bazemore, and switched out Ed Davis for Hassan Whiteside. These two changes are small but significant, since both changes are an improvement from last season. Bazemore is a longer swingman than Turner, and Whiteside – when motivated – is an All-NBA defender.

That is the X-factor though: Can Whiteside stay motivated?

Sacramento Kings – Wasteland

Head Coach Luke Walton was a great selection by Kings management, and should be able to reach youngsters Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox. Former teammate Trevor Ariza is a consummate professional, and will serve as an excellent mentor.

Which would be all well and good if they played in the Eastern Conference.

San Antonio Spurs – Mediocre

Oh my god. As a fan of a team that plays in the Western Conference, that felt so good to type and read out loud… and actually mean it. Finally!

Toronto Raptors – Wasteland

I don’t think we have seen a championship team disintegrate this quickly since the 1998 Chicago Bulls. Thankfully, the league entered a lockout following the 1998 NBA Finals, sparing us all an awkward ring ceremony in which the starting lineup for your reigning NBA champion Chicago Bulls would have been Ron Harper, Brent Barry, Toni Kukoc, Mark Bryant and Andrew Lang. With head coach Tim Floyd!

The Toronto Raptors will have no such luck.

Utah Jazz – Budding Paradise

They have a LOT of dudes, but I honestly feel like they do a lot of the same things. I am interested to see how Conley plays with Donovan Mitchell, since I would have rather seen that they simply allowed Mitchell to run the point. And I’m willing to bet you never see Rudy Gobert and Ed Davis on the floor at the same time, since both players only play well on the same side of the ball.

They’ll be a problem when Mitchell develops, but I think he’s at least one more season away.

Washington Wizards – Wasteland

They signed Ish Smith and Isaiah Thomas in the offseason, which would lead one to believe they are going to try really freaking hard to trade John Wall and that terrible contract they gave him. And if the Houston Rockets were able to move Chris Paul, there’s some hope for the Wizards here. Does Bradley Beal stay put if the Wizards move Wall, or do they clean house entirely? Does anyone care about the Wizards?

Verdict

It’s honestly up for debate how many quality basketball teams are in the NBA today, but, without question, nine basketball paradises exist. This is a far more favorable number than in season’s past; However, when one considers roughly 70% of the league’s teams are still not competitive – with seven teams playing mediocre basketball, and a whopping fourteen are undeniable wastelands – the conclusion must be drawn that there are still far too many teams in the NBA.

I talked about contraction a couple seasons ago, and it’s a very unpopular idea, particularly with the NBA. No matter how bad a team is, the NBA – and it’s owners – still stand to make quite a profit. Why do you think Michael Jordan has held onto the Hornets for so long? It obviously hasn’t been because he hopes to one day make them competitive.

What’s funny is, since the NBA Playoffs seed sixteen teams, an NBA team doesn’t even have to be competitive to reach the post-season. Meaning, those seven mediocre teams are the equivalent of Fool’s Gold. Yes, they’ll make the playoffs, but it doesn’t mean they are any good (as I explained in my reasons why we should eliminate eight teams from playoff contention). They are simply playoff fodder. Hmmm… Perhaps Sacrificial Lamb was a better name than Mediocre?

There are some happy fans this season, sure, but there are still some understandably miserable ones. If your team falls into this 70th percentile, you have my condolences.

This has been my thirty quick takes on every team in the NBA. Follow me on Twitter, for more of my matter-of-fact NBA knowledge, as well as some random musings during the regular season. And, I mean it, crazy Knicks fans: Do NOT kill your owner!

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.

2 thoughts on “The NBA Landscape: Basketball Paradise or Just Another Wasteland? (Part 2)”

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