Words by Phlip
Okay, it’s halftime and All-Star weekend is coming up really fast. Since we have reached this point in the proceedings, it is time to take a sampling of things and look at what each team could use to improve their current situations.
Naturally, interest is not such that every team in the league should be discussed in this post. To put it quite flatly, some teams just stink and the only thing they can expect to do is stink and hope to score in the draft this coming summer.
And with that said, it is now time to discuss what YOUR team could do to improve their fortunes THIS season (if they need to).
The ones who need very little help already…
Los Angeles Clippers:
The Clippers have the deepest bench in the league and enjoy admirable team chemistry in that no one bitches or moans when they don’t get the ball or playing time, as long as they win. They do, however, still have one of the worst owners in professional sports and in such have NEVER been very far from drafting in the lottery. If they intend to continue winning now and suggest a successful enough future to keep their two bright young stars, they might want to lock Donald Sterling away for 10 months out of the year.
Their assignment is mental: simply keep everyone NOT named Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook from getting their asses on their shoulders when they don’t get a shot, or even the ball. If everyone continues to play their roles and take (and make) the shots that come to them while continuing to defend well, OKC is in an enviable position.
San Antonio Spurs:
Keep Tim Duncan doing WHATEVER he has been doing to keep himself viable for the long haul. These days, they’re always in the hunt, but somehow manage to tucker out near the finish line like in the last couple of years’ playoffs. Make no mistakes, they’re NEVER to be counted out, but they need to be able to hold down what they’ve been doing.
And then there is…
The ones who should fare well, but could use SOME help…
This “no position” basketball will be the death of them. The workload on LeBron James to work 4 or 5 positions every night has had an effect on his ability to consistently dominate games as we normally expect him to. Dwyane Wade’s health is becoming an issue again and he will need the relaxation of not having to chase a point guard or trying to defend a small forward in the post, especially in the playoffs. The answer to this is to bring in someone who can start in the NBA at center, thereby allowing EVERYONE else to return to their natural positions.
Get back to playing with the fire and chip that they had when they beat all of the top teams in the league early on in the season. Simple as that. They look good (or decent) at about every position, and anyone except the Clippers could ALWAYS stand to shore up their bench, but they have shooting, they have post/rebounding presence, they have a competent coach and everything in place. They have shown they can win games that matter, they just need to get back to actually doing it.
Add a scoring pick-and-roll power forward and a real small forward. Jeremy Lin could benefit from that PF and James Harden could benefit from not having to defend the opposing team’s best scorer. I WOULD suggest that they make a play for Pau Gasol, but the fact remains that they have literally nothing to offer the Lakers that THEY would need to make them want to do it.
New York Knickerbockers:
They’re good, but not great. They won as if they were great at the beginning of the season, but I rightly predicted that their hot shooting would not last forever. They have managed to remain viable despite this, BUT they will need to know that proper defensive play and committing themselves to an offense that isn’t “Melo and some lucky shooters” will be what they’re in need of. They have a decently deep – if “seasoned” – bench and have the personnel to be a decent team, but I have this odd premonition that they have already been as good as they will be this season.
I didn’t agree with Avery Johnson’s firing, but the outcomes resultant of it have shown that it was very apparently the thing to do. All I can say, honestly, is to keep on keeping on. Deron Williams remaining interested in the offense is key, and he does not like isolations. Being that he is more important than Joe Johnson, the thing to do is to keep him happy and apparently good things will continue to happen.
To be totally honest, I had already typed 700 words in this post before I realized that I know literally NOTHING about the Pacers, other than the fact that they fear no one in the league on any given night. Their lack of name recognition, though, suggests the lack of star power. I mean, I DO know that their one All-Star caliber player in Danny Granger is out with a bum knee. They seem to be doing decently without him there, but come playoffs time they will need to have him there and ready to go.
It is an enviable position to be in to have your all-universe star player out with an injury that PROMISES to cost him 8+ months and a noticeable amount of mobility and still get along decently while holding his spot open. The ONLY thing the Bulls need to hope – PRAY – for is that he will work on his jumpshot and makes necessary adjustments to his decision-making.
Oh, and that the reintroduction to the lineup won’t upset their team chemistry.
And now, the…
OH DEAR GOD HELP US!!!
Get young, and FAST. Have someone get in KG’s ear and have him tone it down with the kind of stuff that has made people hate his guts for years now. I mean, it is one thing to be “intense,” but another in itself to be an asshole. He has rubbed off on Rajon Rondo negatively, and I would hate to see him stunt the growth of Jared Sullinger, who has been playing well enough to help reverse their fortunes over the past couple of weeks. They would do well to replace Ray Allen’s shooting, which SHOULD likely include hiring Rondo a shooting coach as well.
Assign a guardian angel to Kevin love to have him stop fucking up his hands. That’s IT!
Team chemistry is in the dumps, seemingly because of their inability to continually entertain Josh Smith. It has reached a point where the team has had to suspend him at least once which likely means that it has been an issue before. With someone they have had to suspend over anything, they may not be able to ever expect to realistically compete (not that this would come as a surprise to Atlanta sports fans). The way to fix it is to offload him for someone whose numbers would match what they would lose in his exit.
For that, I have a plan…
All is not lost yet, but it is slipping VERY fast. Pau Gasol will not like playing off of the bench for the first time in his life – adult or otherwise – and frankly should not be asked to. If Mike D’Antoni cannot employ the skills of someone on Pau’s level, then Mitch Kupchak needs to do everyone the favor of jettisoning him. The answer can be found in Atlanta. Josh Smith is a defensive-minded combo forward who could come to LA in a straight-across trade for Gasol. This would fix Atlanta’s chemistry issues and LA’s perceived “effort” issues with Gasol. This would not only HELP with this season, but would put them in a good position for next, as retaining Dwight Howard’s services are an issue too. Bringing in someone who Howard knows personally and likes might give them a leg up – especially if it comes appended to a few wins as well.
If your team didn’t make this list, it is likely because they’ve not yet garnered the attention necessary to warrant being there. If they’re on pace for the playoffs, then take that as a good thing and accept that they’re doing decently enough without the hoopla. If not, then I am secretly saying they stink and are just going to stink. Live with it.
As ever, I am no expert and my word is not law. I have no qualms with coming back after being shown I was wrong and admitting it. As it were, though, we watch these games for a reason.
Please don’t hold it against me if you do not hear from me about the NBA until after the Superbowl, I am still kinda riding a high of the resurgence of my 49ers and that is helping to ease the blow of the Lakers’ season.