Today, we look at the final 10 NBA Teams’ biggest flaw. This was well overdue, and I apologize for the long wait, but I hope it will be worth it. If you haven’t read Part 1 and Part 2, I suggest reading them before you read this one.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Offense
This team architected by Sam Presti is built for one thing and one thing only: making good on the 556 draft picks that the franchise has acquired over the next few years. They clearly aren’t trying to win games, and the only players that have shown they could have a long term future with the franchise are Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Luguentz Dort. Dort is a defensive specialist, while SGA and Giddey make a very talented back court, with Gilgeous-Alexander averaging 20 points per game and 11 per game from Giddey. Other than that, the roster is made up of young, inexperienced players that could be dealt tomorrow. The Thunder don’t really know where their next points will come from, and their lack of talent (and maybe effort) shows why they are ranked 29th in points scored per game (with 99), only behind the Detroit Pistons.
Orlando Magic: Whose the Point Guard?
Mo Bamba’s emerging development has been great for the Magic, and so has that of Franz Wagner and Moritz Wagner. When Jonathon Isaac comes back from injury, this team will be even more complete in their front-court; but what about the point guard spot? Orlando has too many young point guards to give minutes to, with Cole Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams, R.J. Hampton, Jalen Suggs, and Markelle Fultz, as well as a few other players who can play point guard. While there’s something to be said for depth, having five point guards, with four of them being under the age of 25, is really unnecessary. They wouldn’t want to go with a small ball lineup and play three of these guys at once, because they have so much talent at the wing and center spots. The Magic are likely waiting to see which players will develop better and which won’t, though I fear they’ll have to make some tough decisions about who to keep or not.
Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons
The main focus of Philadelphia this year has been about the battle between Ben Simmons and the team’s front office, which is truly a shame. This saga has been going on for months now, but the 76ers are still a solid 10-9. A main reason for this is that Joel Embiid is injured and currently not playing, but we can’t forget that the team has Tobias Harris, a near All-Star level player on its roster. They also have Matisse Thybulle, an up-and-coming lockdown defender, and Tyrese Maxey, who has blossomed as the team’s starting point guard while Simmons is away. Because the team is doing so well, ownership and the front office can use this as leverage to not trade Simmons; they don’t need to unless they really want to. Once all this drama ends, I will do a deep dive into the whole saga, but until then, keep an eye on the 76ers. It’s weird to think that a team who held the number one seed in last year’s playoffs could become so underrated people sleep on them, but that’s precisely what I think will happen.
Phoenix Suns: The Ownership
The Phoenix Suns showed that their run to the NBA Finals was no fluke, and Chris Paul is showing us that he is still somehow in his prime at 36 years old (he even looks better than LeBron James). After starting their season 1-3, the Suns have ripped off 15 consecutive wins, and are the number two seed in the Western Conference, trailing only Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. On the court, the team has no apparent flaws, as Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are still performing to their high standards. The real problem lies in the front office, as a detailed ESPN report came out about accused racism and misogyny in the workplace, with over 70 employees anonymously testifying to owner Robert Sarver’s horrible behavior. It clearly hasn’t affected the Suns on the court, but the NBA is still waiting to see what will happen.
Portland Trail Blazers: Mediocrity
The Trail Blazers are a great team, with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in the backcourt. Jusuf Nurkic is still their go-to center, but here’s the thing: we’ve seen this team with the same core for the past four years or so, and their biggest accomplishment was reaching the Western Conference Finals. They haven’t gone any further than that, and with how stacked the Western Conference has become, it’s clear they won’t be making it that far again. The Blazers are clearly not a contender, yet they aren’t lottery bound, putting them in the worst place possible: mediocrity. With Lillard pledging his loyalty to Portland for his entire career (which I admire), I don’t think they will leave this state of mediocrity unless they make a big trade.
At this point, people have either forgotten that Bagley is on the Kings, or they’ve been begging for years to no avail for him to be traded. Unfortunately, the Kings haven’t found a suitable counterpart, and Bagley is stuck in a horrible situation. It got to the point where he even refused to check into a game. However, the Kings did just fire head coach Luke Walton, who we know didn’t pair well with Bagley. Perhaps new Head Coach Alvin Gentry can help turn the team and Bagley’s future around. There’s a lot of uncertainty with the Kings, and Bagley is clearly not in the team’s rotation, only appearing in eight games this season (starting none) and averaging 5.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
San Antonio Spurs: Lack of Talent
Dejounte Murray is a talented young point guard, and they have their lottery pick from 2021, Joshua Primo, but what else? Thaddeus Young for sure, but if we look at the rest of their roster, they aren’t many players that jump out to you. In terms of talent, and players to get excited about, the Spurs have one of the most boring rosters in the NBA. The Houston Rockets have Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr to be excited about; the Pistons’ Cade Cunningham; the Pelicans Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. The Spurs have a roster that aside from the three players above, consists of Keita Bates-Diop, Devontae Cacok, Zach Collins, Drew Eubanks, Bryn Forbes, Keldon Johnson, Tre Jones, Jock Landale, Doug McDermott, Jakob Poeltl, Devin Vassell, Lonnie Walker IV, Derrick White, and Joe Wieskamp. After trading away Demar DeRozan, the team doesn’t really have an identity other than Coach Poppovich, and I think they’d be better trying to tank this season.
Toronto Raptors: No Direction
What are the Raptors trying to do at this point? One part of me thinks they are trying to win games, as they have All-Star Pascal Siakam and an All-Star caliber player in Fred VanVleet. Scottie Barnes was a great draft selection with the fourth overall pick, and OG Anunoby has proven to be a Most Improved Player candidate so far this year. However, while it makes sense the team wants to win as many games as they can, they aren’t contenders in the East. We know this team won’t be better than the Nets, Bucks, Heat, 76ers, Wizards, Bulls, Celtics, Hawks, Knicks, and the Hornets…. and that’s every playoff and play-in spot covered. As difficult as this’ll be for Toronto fans like Drake, I think it makes sense if the team spends a year developing their younger players and trying to get a high draft pick, even if it’s bad for their ratings and fans.
Utah Jazz: Rudy Gobert‘s Perimeter Defense
The Utah Jazz have shown they are back and as good as ever, with their core still containing All-Stars Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and 6th Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson off the bench. This team has proven to be a winner, as they claimed the number one seed in a loaded Western Conference last season. However, their one biggest weakness was exploited in the playoffs by the Los Angeles Clippers (in particular Terrance Mann), and that was Gobert’s perimeter defense. Gobert is a monster in the paint, winning three Defensive Player of the Year awards; however, it’s a completely different story when Gobert is forced to guard quicker, smaller players on the perimeter. His feet aren’t slow, something that he can’t help a lot standing well over seven feet tall. We’ve seen how popular small ball lineups are in the NBA, and one has to wonder if Utah can ever advance to the NBA Finals if their defense is anchored by a traditional big man in clutch moments.
Washington Wizards: Three-Point Shooting
Sometimes three point shooting is the Wizards’ greatest strength, but other times, it is by far the Wizards’ weakness. Every game the Wizards have shot well from three, they’ve won. Every game they’ve played subpar from behind the arc, they’ve lost. Look at their most recent game against the San Antonio Spurs, for example. They shot 9 for 31 from behind the arc, or 29%. Meanwhile, the Spurs shot 8 for 18 (44%) and won the game. If we look at the game before that, which they won in an away game against the Mavericks, the team shot 37.4% from three, and the Mavericks shot 36.8% from three. It makes sense that the Wizards only won by six points, as it’s clear that if their defense continues to hold up, they’re going to need to make more threes in order to win games. This isn’t just a two game sample either. Go to almost any Wizards victory from this season, and you’ll see they shot well from three; look at the box scores from their losses, and again you’ll see a recurring theme.
Which team’s weakness surprised you the most? Feel free to debate me on any of these in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!