Five NBA Disappointments
by Trevor Whenham - 01/04/2008
We are about 40 percent of the way into the NBA season. That's not long enough to know which team is going to be standing when the dust settles in the playoffs, but it is more than long enough to know which teams have been disgustingly disappointing. I have kept my frustration to myself up to this point, but that ends here. There are five teams that have been incredibly disappointing and frustrating compared to the expectations I had for them coming into the season. Read 'em and weep:
Chicago Bulls - The Bulls won 49 games last year. They are overrun with impressive young talent. I can't really be blamed for thinking that they would be competitive again this year. My mistake, of course, was forgetting that Scott Skiles is an incompetent moron. Judging by the way he carried himself before getting booted on Christmas Eve it's pretty clear that his previous success was a total fluke. Things may turn around now that he is gone, but the damage is already done - the team is only 11-19 ATS, and is tied with Charlotte for the worst mark in the league. The ugliness started early for this mess of a team - they managed to cover just twice in their first 12 games. Proof that Skiles was to blame - the team has covered their last three games.
Charlotte Bobcats - I didn't get sucked in by these guys nearly as bad as the Bulls because they weren't supposed to be as good. Still, Charlotte was, surprisingly, the most profitable team in the league two seasons ago, and they looked like they might finally break through last year. I should have known better once they brought Michael Jordan into the fold. He is unquestionably the greatest player ever to play the game, and unquestionably the worst executive ever to wear a tie. It took Washington forever to begin to shed the woes he brought to them, and he's showing the same magic in the heart of NASCAR country. The future is dim. The mere fact that the most recognizable face in sports won't let himself be used in marketing the team he owns in the state he played college ball in shows just how astute he is. This time next year the team may not have covered a single game yet.
Cleveland Cavaliers - The disappointment over this team, which is just 13-19 ATS, began in the summer. They had won 50 games each of the last two years, and made a surprisingly deep run last year, but they obviously were a few pieces short of legitimate contention. So they did the logical thing to remedy their obvious problems - absolutely nothing. Anyone who has ever seen a basketball at any point in their life would know that that is no way to make a team more competitive. The sad thing is that the team isn't even underachieving - they are doing about as well as they were set up to do. What a waste of talent. The Lakers are also based on just one player, but they are so much better it's ridiculous.
New Jersey Nets - The team is 12-18-1 ATS, but they could be quite a bit better than that and I would still be disappointed. The Nets have wasted more talent in the last five years than any team in the league. Jason Kidd is still a very elite point guard, Richard Jefferson is the real deal, and Vince Carter is perhaps the best pure athlete in the league, yet this team is consistently capable of accomplishing pretty much nothing. They have a general air of apathy and underachievement that is incredibly frustrating. I blame Carter, because that same air surrounded the Raptors when he was there, too. It's not just that the team doesn't play as well as they can. It's that they obviously don't care about it.
Phoenix Suns - Unlike the rest of the teams here, the Suns don't suck. In fact, they are doing as well as they have at any time in recent years. They are comfortably ahead in their division, they have the fourth best record in the league, and they are almost as strong on the road as they are at home. The problem isn't with their record, it's their betting performance - at 14-16-1 ATS they are burning money. Their winning percentage is about the same as it was last season, but last year they were the fourth most profitable team in the league. This year they are winning, but not by as much as bettors would like. They are good, they just aren't good enough. This puts it in context - Phoenix and Memphis have the same record ATS, but Phoenix is 22-9 while Memphis is 9-22. Either the team isn't as good as people think they are, or they are content with just doing enough to get by. Either way, I expected more, and I hope things change soon.