Indiana, Chicago and Atlanta. Those are the only teams Eastern Conference teams over .500 with about an eight of the season in the books. In other words, the East is awful. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that four of the five most tanktastic teams at this point in the season are from the East, including 3 from the Atlantic division.
In the past I have tried to shy away from putting teams with high pre season expectations on this list. But with losing streaks of four and three games respectively there is no way I could keep New York and Brooklyn off this list any longer. Eventually I have no doubt that both teams will sky rocket up the standings but, until they show me some positive signs they will continue to make the list.
The Bottom Five:
1. Utah (1-12): Well, there isn’t much to write about this team that isn’t covered by one win and twelve losses. This team is last in offensive rating and second to last in defensive rating. Most people think of tanking as a situation in which players and coaches attempt to lose to get a good draft pick. The Jazz aren’t losing on purpose, they just happen to be an awfully coached team with no cohesion at all.
2. Boston (4-9): Boston fans were starting to think that this team could be decent after they won four games early in the year (with a chance to win all of their first 8 games). The C’s are currently in the midst of a five game losing streak that will probably climb to 7 before they play Charlotte on Monday. The Celtics have decided to start all their young players in an attempt to improve at the expense of wins now, this happens to be the strongest sign that a team is tanking.
3. Brooklyn (3-8): The Nets are losers of three straight games. Jason Kidd looks overmatched as a coach, with rumors swirling that he is a figurehead who has his assistants do all the real coaching. Deron Williams is hurt as usual, KG and Pierce look ancient, and Brook Lopez is out tonight. Their offense and defense are in the bottom third of the league. This team will almost certainly turn it around but if not look out for the Hawks to add a blue chip talent with Brooklyn’s pick.
4. New York (3-8): Without Tyson Chandler the Knicks are a team that plays terrible defense. Even with Chandler the Knicks are a team that takes terrible shots on offense. When your best two players (Melo and JR Smith) are often uninterested in defense and are ball stoppers on offense, you are not in for a good season. The Knicks will get Chandler back, improve on defense but this is a flawed team that will become even more flawed when Carmelo Anthony leaves in free agency after this year.
5. Milwaukee (2-8): To me the most important players on the basketball court are a distributor on offense and a back line defender on defense. The Bucks are a worse passing team (last in assists) this year than last year’s Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings lead back court, that would be impressive if it wasn’t so sad. On defense, they are struggling to protect the rim with LARRY SANDERS! out and are dead last in the NBA in defensive rebounding when they do force a miss. Larry Drew is doing an awful job of coaching the Bucks, on the bright side, he is doing a spectacular job of tanking.
Top Five Prospects
1. Jabari Parker 22.4 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.4 APG, 2.0 BPG, 65% from 3
I am a Parker guy through and through. Maybe Wiggins has more potential, maybe Wiggins is a better athlete, but Parker is a better basketball player. I will always take a sure thing like Parker over great potential like Wiggins. Against East Carolina this week Parker did it all, blocking six shots, rebounding, pushing the pace, and finishing in transition.
2. Andrew Wiggins 17 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, 33% from 3
For someone who has built his case to be the number one pick on potential rather than production, Wiggins has been impressive thus far. His numbers are great for a freshman, playing at an elite school but he simply does not fill up the stat sheet quite like Parker. On a side note, the Kansas fans need to step up. Jabari Parker has had a new highlight gif come out after every game. Thus far the gif bellow is the only one to be found with Wiggins in a Kansas uniform. Come on Rock Chalkers step up your internet game!
3. Julius Randle: 20.8 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 72% from the free throw line
Julius Randle might be the best player in the country. Too bad post play is a rarity in today’s NBA. If he had come out ten or 15 years ago he would be the consensus first pick, but with the emphasis on wing scoring in the new NBA he gets lost in the shuffle behind Parker and Wiggins. If post play is to make a renaissance in the NBA, don’t be surprised if Randle is the one to lead it.
4. Marcus Smart 20 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 4.3 SPG, 38.5 % from 3
Marcus Smart moved up this list by virtue of his 39 point 5 steal 2 block 4 assist 4 rebound performance in a drubbing of #11 Memphis on Tuesday. The biggest positive about this game was how it showcased Smart’s improved shooting stroke (5/10 from 3). With his lack of shooting being the biggest knock on him last year, his stock is bound to soar if he continues to knock down the outside shot.
5. Joel Embiid 9 PPG, 8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1 BPG, 67.2 field goal percentage
A new comer to this list, Embiid really impressed me with his performance against Iona (he will impress you too if you watch the video below). In that game he exhibited a soft touch, good passing skills (he is the one throwing the pass to Wiggins in the GIF above), excellent footwork and NBA ready body. At the ten second mark in the video below he receives a pass and executes a euro step from the top of the key to the hoop. So this guy, is seven feet but coordinated enough to successfully euro step after having only played basketball for THREE YEARS! The sky is the limit for this kid, he is the least NBA ready of the prospects listed but he just might end up being one of the best.
(Removed from last week’s list:Aaron Gordon)