Today we’re once again looking at every NBA Team’s Biggest Flaw. If you haven’t read Part 1, you can do so here, and Part 3 will be coming out shortly. This list covers the next ten NBA teams, alphabetically speaking.
Houston Rockets: The Young Core
The Houston Rockets are a promising team in the future, with a great young core featuring Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr, Alperen Sengun and Christian Wood. Unfortunately, none of these players have been in the league for very long, and the team overall is very young. John Wall is a great veteran, but he and the team have agreed that he won’t play until he finds a trade, which I don’t think is wise considering how good of a mentor he could be to the younger guards. Eric Gordon, now 32, is still on the roster for some reason, although he doesn’t really belong there. The young guys will need to take time to develop, and with minimal veteran presence, they’ll have to figure out on their own how to win in this league; that I think will be their toughest challenge.
Indiana Pacers: Defense/Rick Carlisle
The Indiana Pacers got a new Head Coach during the offseason, Rick Carlisle, who last coached Dallas and Luka Doncic. The problem with Dallas when Carlisle was in command was their defense; the offense was great but their defense was simply subpar. Indiana has lots of guys that can score, such as Chris Duarte, Malcom Brogdon, and Domantas Sabonis. However, they currently rank 21st in the entire NBA in defense, a telling stat that may explain why they are below .500 and not even in the play-in picture. They are allowing nearly 20 points per game off of turnovers and are giving up nearly 15 second chance points to their opponents. Myles Turner is a great defensive player, but the rest of the team could benefit from better defense… maybe they should have hired Wes Unseld Jr as their Head Coach instead of Carlisle.
Los Angeles Clippers: Kawhi Leonard‘s Absence
The Los Angeles Clippers are a good team, but how good are they really without Leonard? The team is built for Leonard and Paul George to thrive as the stars, with everyone else playing a supporting role. Originally, some thought that Terrance Mann could fill in for Kawhi due to his incredible performances in the playoffs against the Utah Jazz (and Rudy Gobert). However, while the 25 year old is having his best NBA season yet, he’s been in the league for three years and is currently averaging 10 points per game… it’s pretty difficult to fill in for an MVP candidate and Defensive Player of the Year. Trading Patrick Beverly was not a good idea, as while Reggie Jackson has proved to be a good point guard, Beverly is a much better defender, and helps get the crowed hyped up. This team has many flaws, and without Leonard, they will likely be a play-in team, unless he returns sooner than expected.
Los Angeles Lakers: Russell Westbrook
After the first few games of the season for the Lakers, I wasn’t sure what the bigger problem was: Westbrook or the age of the Lakers. Going into the season, it was clearly the age of the roster, as they were and are the oldest team in the entire NBA. However, older guys like Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard have been playing just fine. As much as I like Westbrook, the Lakers have put him in a position to fail. They claim they want Westbrook to be Westbrook, and GM Rob Pelinka reasoned that when LeBron James is out, they will have another playmaker to rely on. When James is injured, like he currently is, that should work in theory. Unfortunately, Westbrook still can’t shoot threes, and neither can Howard and Deandre Jordan, the team’s bigs. They clog the paint, and with his countless turnovers (it’s likely he’ll lead the league in turnovers once again), the Lakers have been subpar with Westbrook leading the helm. When James is playing and Westbrook is as well, Westbrook tries to adapt his game, but can’t. He plays his heart out every possession, and doesn’t know how to take a break. He doesn’t fit well playing with James, and although everyone tried to shrug this off at the beginning of the season, the evidence is clear in our faces. As of November 10th, the Lakers are 6-5, good for eighth in the Western Conference and the 15th best record in the league, dead average. This is very concerning for the Lakers, as they are supposed to be title contenders.
Memphis Grizzlies: HELP
Ja Morant has proven to be an MVP level talent this year, improving his statistics in multiple areas. 11 games into the season, he is averaging 26 points (a career high), 5.6 rebounds (also a career high), 7.2 assists, and1.6 steals (career high), all while shooting 48.5% from the field (career high) and 36.7% from three. The Golden State Warriors have started the season 11-1, and that one loss has come at the hands of Morant, as he dropped 30 points. The Grizzlies are 6-7, which isn’t too bad in a competitive Western Conference. However, one does have to ask1: who else is contributing to this team? The team’s second option, Jaren Jackson Jr, is averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds per game, which is underwhelming for a guy who got a massive rookie contract extension. They also have wings like Kyle Anderson, Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, and Brandon Clarke, who all make meaningful contributions off the bench. However, based on the fact the Grizzlies are on a three game losing streak, I think they need more help and more contributors then what they have.
Miami Heat: Depth
The Miami Heat are an incredible team, with flaws difficult to find. Tyler Herro has been averaging over 20 points per game to start the season, Kyle Lowry has proved to be a seamless fit on the team, and All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are having resurges from last year. They all have a winning mentality, buying into the Heat culture laid out by Pat Riley. The only thing I can think of that may be a problem is depth. Aside from Herro, their best players off the bench are Dewayne Dedmon, Cody Martin, Markieff Morris, Victor Oladipo (who was an All-Star in 2018), and Udonis Haslem (who is 250 years old now). This is a solid bench, but the rest of it isn’t very notable, and if Miami suffers injuries, it may be more difficult to bounce back, especially in a stronger Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks: Reliance on Stars
The Bucks have proven that when they are healthy, they are a championship team. Unfortunately, during the offseason, they lost PJ Tucker, who was instrumental in their 2021 championship run. The Bucks blew out the Nets on opening night, but after Khris Middleton got injured, they haven’t looked like the same team. They currently sit at 6-7, and if that’s without their All-Star second option, imagine how horrible the franchise would look without MVP/DPOY Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks are one fluke injury away from a wasted season, and no amount of depth can compensate for the loss of a player who is considered top five in the entire NBA.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Defense in the Paint
The Timberwolves have a much improved roster from the previous year, as Anthony Edwards has once again emerged as a scoring threat, Malik Beasley is still scoring at an elite level, and D’Angelo Russell… well, he’s playing a bit below average. However, the centerpiece of this team, Karl Anthony-Towns, is back and completely committed to the Timberwolves, despite the fact that he liked a tweet with the hashtag “Free Kat.” (He claims someone hacked his twitter and did that, but why would someone hack his account only to like a single tweet? Not buying it) The Timberwolves roster is overall well balanced, with the exception of the center position. Towns is carrying the lion’s share of the burden, with his only backup at the position being Naz Reid. With the revival of the big man and players such as Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis, KAT needs to be dominant in the paint, and he is… on offense. The problem is that KAT is a defensive liability. While the addition of Patrick Beverley will help with perimeter defense, it’s a whole other problem in the paint. Because the Timberwolves have to rely on Towns so heavily in the paint, they have to rely heavily on his defense, something that hasn’t yet improved and will continue to hurt the team.
New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson‘s Weight Issues
When healthy and playing without minutes restrictions, Williamson is a beast, dominating the paint in ways we haven’t seen since Shaquille O’Neal. Unfortunately, he seems to have inherited some of Shaq and Charles Barkley‘s weight problems, as he weighs over 300 pounds currently (just look at this video). Williamson had offseason foot surgery, which was amazingly kept a secret until training camp, and it is widely believed that David Griffin lied to Pelicans’ season ticket owners about Williamson’s return time table in order to sell more tickets and increase their revenue. Without Williamson, the team has a very small chance at winning; however, without All-Star Brandon Ingram, the team has next to nothing to be excited about. Jonas Valanciunas is a very reliable big man, but he doesn’t get fans and season ticket holders excited. Without their two All-Stars, the Pelicans are one of the worst teams in the entire NBA, and if Williamson doesn’t get these problems under control, the Pelicans could be headed for yet another horrible season.
New York Knicks: They Aren’t Contenders
The Knicks are a fun team to watch, and are a great team in the Eastern Conference. It’s clear they are a playoff team, but they lost in the first round last year. People respect New York now, but let’s be honest: they’re not a championship contending team. In a conference filled with the Bucks, Heat, Nets, 76ers, and Bulls, the 76ers will be lucky to make it into the second round, and short of a miracle like the Atlanta Hawks pulled off last year, the Knicks will be sent home early once again. Their best option would be to make a trade for another All-Star caliber player, and I think they have the assets to pull it off.
Part 3 will be coming soon, so don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!
1: To anyone asking themselves why the MEMPHIS Grizzlies play in the Western Conference, the answer is that they used to play in Vancouver, and it would unbalance the conferences if the Grizzlies switched to the East.