The NBA season is coming. It’s a know fact. It’s here tomorrow. There are two kinds of people in regards to this: those who are excited for it, and those who are just plain wrong about life. In any case, I am not here to judge your poor life decisions of not enjoying basketball, I am here to introduce the new feature of buying and selling NBA team stocks. This is basically NBA nerd nirvana Wall Street style. Actually, this is just the excuse for me to talk about team trends in basketball in a tacky gimmick of a way.
Get your self some Magic stocks. Get yourself some Elfrid Payton stocks. Get your DVR ready to see a bunch of Aaron Gordon alley oops. This is a team that is going to excite you a lot this year, but it’s also going to frustrate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going off into the deep end and picking the magic to make the playoffs this year, but I am saying this is the year people are going to jump on the Magic.
A few things are going to happen for Orlando this season. If you think of their 2014 Draft as a puzzle, they’ve picked up two pieces that are an ideal fit. Elfrid Payton was put on this earth to throw alleys and Aaron Gordon is the perfect physical specimen to go into the stratosphere after passes, satellites and loose object. They just resigned Vucevic to a deal that will be really good once the new TV deal and CBA kick in. The Magic have the collection of young pieces, talent and contracts to be a player down the road so I’m saying get on the bandwagon now. There is only one caveat, Jacque Vaughn is a horrendous coach.
I’ve watched an unreasonable amount of Magic League Pass action last year to be able to tell that Vaughn has no idea what he’s doing and he’s just kind of guessing. There is no reason to the Magic rotation and absolutely no sense in the sets they choose to run. (PREDICTION ALERT) Somewhere around January, we’re going to hear a few trade rumors (potentially for Nicholson’s rookie contract, maybe Harkless and other pieces) as well as the whispers that Jacque Vaughn’s job is in jeopardy. And once the Magic bring on a coach who can actually thin properly and develop young talent, they’re going to make a leap.
Surprise! I don’t think there is any of the Cleveland bandwagon space left available, but if there is, you should probably jump on. How lucky can a franchise get? What if LeBron was born in South Carolina? Will Dion Waiters still lead the team in FGAs? All of those questions are irrelevant because this has just become one of the most exciting teams on earth (my prize still goes to San Antonio because watching them move the ball is almost a sexual experience).
LeBron finally gets to play with a premier rebounder who puts up NBA Jam numbers, as well as a ball dominant PG, meaning that James will get to play as a SF instead of 1-5 because the rest of the roster is incompetent. He also now has the best outlet passer. Yes, Cleveland is going to be good and you should probably get on this now.
There are still issues such as depth, lack of any serious post protection, a rookie coach who no one really knows what to expect from a number of vet contracts that are fighting old age and will not log more than 5 minutes per game in the regular season (Mike Miller is good on average for 2 minutes of NBA basketball per 4 Playoff games). This is not a lock for the NBA Championship, but they are the closest out of the East. Which is a strange reward for over 10 years of franchise mismanagement, poor drafting and personnel decisions as well as an overall bad coaching.
Go ahead and buy some of these babies because the Hornets are only getting better. They made a decent run last year, made the playoffs and even put up a resemblance of a fight with Al Jefferson doing his best pirate impersonations. Now with Big Al having use of both his legs (though still only one arm in the post), a year of success and the addition of one of the most exciting (and volatile) players on the planet, Charlotte are primed for another Post-Season run, and maybe even success once there.
Don’t over estimate the man who was Born Ready. He was BORN. He was READY! In Stephenson, Charlotte gained a premier perimeter defender to interchange with Gerald Henderson as well as a secondary ballhandler for when Kemba needs a break. They extended their guard play significantly but also added to the defensive mantra that made them so good last year (although, you wouldn’t say it from the personnel they have).
In any case, with the East in the state of flux and nothing certain outside of Cleveland running riot after the initial adjustment period, Charlotte is a good bet to establish themselves in the conference and make another run at the Playoffs.
If this were a real stock it would have plummeted to a record low this offseason, and it’s easy to see why. They lost the best player in the League (unarguable), took on some bad contracts, gave Chris Bosh a max and there is no telling which version of Dwayne Wade will play how many minutes this year. Miami seems to be in a weird position of a team that may or may not need to rebuild.
There are a few factors that go Miami’s way. Number one being is that they play in the East, which means they will get a lot of nights off on account of competition not being able to field 5 NBA capable starters. Number two is that they have a good coach, even though I hate to admit it. Spoelstra did draw up a lot of intense defensive and offensive schemes in his LeBron days to take advantage of his personnel. He can’t just defer to a player anymore, so it will be interesting to see where he goes. Three is that their roster just isn’t that bad. You still get some run out of Dwayne Wade (a huge factor will be whether or not he shows up for 1 in 3 games or all 82), Luol Deng is an above average 3 in the league, and Chris Bosh is primed for a monster year to prove that he deserves a monster contract.
With 85% of it’s global fan base now residing squarely in Cleveland, this could be a big year for Miami to prove that they were more than just LeBron + 4. In basketball numbers, this is a team with Playoff aspirations and should remain like that for this season. Hold on to it and see how it goes.
This could go one of two ways with the major factor being how well the three point guards on big contracts play along. Between Dragic, IT2 and Bledsoe the intrigue is palpable. What makes it great is that all three are so different and also that Bledsoe could potentially see some time at the 2 spot this season (he’s strong enough to defend most two guards, and given that there are maybe 2.5 elite SGs in this league, that is not a problem.
Who knows what kind of production comes beyond that. The team lost one of the best (probably the best) three point shooters on its roster (GET PAID CHANNING!!!), and Gerald Green will probably go bananas a whole lot less this year. Plus, they really didn’t add all of that much. So there is really no versatility that they had with a stretch five, unless one of the Morris Twins steps up to the plate and keeps going. Plumlee is intriguing and if he keeps growing like he has, he could have another monster season. The hope here that another person from the cavalcade of mediocre to subpar talent on this roster steps up and does some actual damage throughout the year.
I would wait on making any serious Suns calls in terms of playoffs or any other milestones until we see them play.
I really wanted to put the Spurs here just because I really want to just write about my man-crush on the Spurs, and Pop in particular, but I am not here to stay the obvious (that you should always bet on Pop) so Memphis it is.
I’ve heard many things this preseason already, something along the lines of “they’re too old,” “they’re too slow and will get ran out,” “they’re on the decline.” All valid points, however, as a counter argument – Marc Gasol. Also – Mike Conley. Also – Z-Bo. Yes, this is a team that gave Tayshaun Prince significant minutes last year and wasn’t a aesthetically pleasing offensive spectacle, but that’s their style.
In Gasol, the Grizzlies have one of the best big men in the game (if we consider Anthony Davis a PF, then Gasol is the best Center). He boards up, passes, scores and protects the rim like no one else. He makes the Grizzlies hard to scheme against because of how much he does for them. Then they have one of the more efficient point guards in Mike Conley Jr. who has been steadily improving year by year (yet is still underrated) and is perfect for running this offence. Zach Randolph will still give them 18-10 games on average, despite having a negative vertical and tortoise-like lateral quickness. Also, let’s not forget Grizzlies having a guy who they can throw on ANY perimeter threat and guard them out of a game. Yeah, you’re overpaid Tony Allen, but no-one plays defense quite like you. If you could hit an 18-footer consistently, you’d be getting so much more cash.
Memphis was quiet in the offseason and everyone is quick to point them as a team to slide out of the playoff race. Yet, they still made 50 wins. They still made the playoffs, and they still hassled some of the best teams in basketball. Besides, with Courtney Lee, Quincy Pondexter and a very low key but important addition of old man Vince, they might actually field a unit that has some perimeter threat on it. This is a team that will live and die by its grit and grind style, and with a few clever changes they will surprise you this year. Don’t be too quick to sell low on the Grizzlies. Keep that stock in your pocket boys and girls.
Sell it! Sell all of it!!! Offer people money as a condition that they also take some of your Sixers stock. If all else fails, use it as toilet paper. As I discussed earlier the Philadelphia 76ers are redefining what it means to be bad, and I have a secret, it won’t work, not even a little bit. They just lost MCW for a stretch of time and not counting Nerlens Noel they have maybe 3 NBA level players on their roster, and that’s me being generous.
MCW had a great season, but now with all of his surroundings gone, chances are he will get more attention on himself when he’s healthy. Teams can afford to do that and be fairly confident that no one from the other 4 players on the floor will make a play. As good as Nerlens is athletically and on defense, he is still not nearly refined enough to be an offensive weapon or create for himself. At some point he will need someone to set him up, and with teams locking down Michael Carter Williams, there are no more playmakers.
Even when Joel Embiid comes back this team will be two years and 4 trades away from being 2 years away. Yes, they got a potential franchise big but no one has yet seen him play in the NBA, and even when he can play there is not telling how long it will take him to unleash all of his Dream Shake potential on us. Philadelphia is just a horrible team, with horrible management, and they’re two injuries away from playing Larry from Seat 32, Row C as their back up shooting guard.
Steve Nash got the best contract in the NBA – $10-million a year plus season tickets to watch the Lakers. Except the Lakers just won’t be very good this year. Or anywhere in the near future. It’s hard to see the direction of the franchise that has made THIS MAY curious decisions over the last few years. And this coming from a Lakers fan.
I get the strategy, load up on one-year deals and hope to have enough cap space when a Durant-sized superstar hits the market. Except that you have no assets to lure the superstar to your team with. Who are you going to surround him with? Xavier Henry and Jeremy Lin?
The Lakers have been bafflingly bad at preparing for the Kobe Bryant transition era (although, maybe they have some stem-sell regenerative technology investments lying around). Their entire strategy has just been curious. Kobe is not okay with losing and tanking, so while he is making his $24-million a year the Lakers simply cannot do that. The problem is, the rest of this team isn’t even close to making the playoffs. NOT. EVEN. SLIGHTLY. Name one person who will play defense on the 2014/15 Lakers? I’ll wait. You can use Google if you want. The LA Turnstiles are going to be horrendous.
On top of that, playing with Kobe and other ball-heavy players such as Boozer, Swaggy P (WHY IS THERE A P? Where is there a P in words “Nick” and “Young”?!!!), Jeremy Lin and the rest of the Peanut gallery, will stunt Julius Randle’s development. The atmosphere in that locker room will be toxic. And Byron Scott’s decision to not shoot threes this season is statistically baffling. This is just a team in so much flux and uncertainty that it’s hard to see any light at the end of any tunnel. This might be a trench. And they might be sinking.
The only thing they have going for them is how excited Robert Sacre is about everything, which is… Seriously, sit the hell down, you’re down by 20 to the Timberwolves. They could dress him up as a cheerleader though.
At some point Utah made a number of curious decisions. They needed to see progress in their rebuild so they let Paul Milsap go to Atlanta and Al Jefferson go to Charlotte (both made the playoffs last year, Utah did not) while also committing to Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. Then this year they made Gordon Hayward a max-player even though there was better use for that money (throwing it off a cliff, or perhaps signing Lance Stephenson with that cash while Charlotte was tied up with Hayward?). In essence, the put their rebuild in reverse.
Instead of keeping one of Milsap or Big Al as well being smarter with their free agency, Utah is now tied up in a weird spot with a weird rotation and no leader (except for Hayward of course). Dante Exum is intriguing enough to buy high on, especially given his recent preseason performances, and Trey Burke should continue to grow. The problem is that the rest of this team just isn’t very good.
Gordon Hayward’s production will never match the obscene number on the cheques he will be getting for the next 4 years. Derrick Favors is yet to prove he is anything better than an off the bench big who can block some shots, and the rumour is that the coaching staff has green-lit Enes Kanter threes…
(I specifically ended that paragraph early just so you could really think about the notion of Enes Kanter taking threes as a viable offensive strategy).
If nothing else it will be fun to watch this team self-combust into another mediocre season. On the bright side, they might be a candidate to buy low on if Exum and Burke figure out a way to play together, Exum translates his skills to the NBA well and Rudy Gobert actually stole some of Gasol’s skill by blocking that one shot at the FIBA Tournament (seriously internet, it’s one block, I’ve seen it, it’s like preseason highlights, who gives a damn).