The 2014-2015 season has reached the All-Star break. With little then 2 months left in the season and with the NBA all-star breaking be here, it’s time to recap all 30 teams and give them a grade on what they have done thus far. Let’s dive right in and let’s get to grading.
Atlanta Hawks: A+
If you would have looked at me during the off-season and said to me, the Atlanta Hawks would have been the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference at the all-star break, I would have looked at you crazy. Some people placed the Knicks over the Hawks which looks like a total dumb move now. The Atlanta Hawks are almost a direct comparison to the San Antonio Spurs under head coach Mike Budenholzer.
Boston Celtics: C+
The Celtics traded away their best player in Rajon Rondo, and acquired more draft picks for other players on their team like Jeff Green and Brandan Wright. If you would just grade them on getting draft picks, they’d earn a solid A+, but you can’t get a very high grade with a bad record.
Brooklyn Nets: C
The Nets have played at the level that most of us expected. They are in connection for the playoffs and have pulled off some nice wins. It all depends what they do in the second half of the season, that will make or break their season, in which they could get a C or D.
Charlotte Hornets: B-
The Charlotte Hornets started out on a struggling note. With Lance Stephenson being called the problem in Charlotte which was the Hornets big off-season signing, it looked to be a down year for the Hornets after they made the playoffs last year. They have since turned it around and are fighting for the 7th and 8th seed in the Eastern Conference with another few teams. It should be a great finish.
Chicago Bulls: B+
Everything looks to be finally right for the Bulls this season. With Derrick Rose finally back on the court playing over 10 games, and the addition of Pau Gasol which has given them a more force in their offense was huge. Also, Jimmy Butler has been the most improved player to this point, and Tony Sell and Nikola Mirtoic are having solid seasons. Expect the Bulls to get a 1-4 seed in the East.
Cleveland Cavaliers: B+
It started off shaky for the NBA’s newest big 3, kind of similar to the last big 3 LeBron James was apart of with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but the Cavaliers are clicking on all cylinders now. Since the Cavaliers acquired J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov, they have put together impressive streaks of wins and great games from Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and of course, LeBron James.
Dallas Mavericks: A-
The Mavericks shocked the NBA world when the news of them acquiring Rajon Rondo from the Celtics broke. Even before the trade, the Mavericks were playing at some of the best basketball in the tough Western Conference, as their offense will be able to run more smoothly come playoff time, when Rajon Rondo gets more fiamilar with guys like Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler, and Dirk Nowitzki.
Denver Nuggets: D-
The Nuggets have had a dreadful season once again. It just seems like after the team fired George Karl after his 57 win season with the team, they have had a curse. Not everything has been bad for the Nuggets this year as players like Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried have made tons of noise.
Detroit Pistons: C-
After another poor start to the Pistons season, the Pistons cut Josh Smith. They then went on a tear which had some people potentially putting them into their playoff picture. Since the Pistons lost their starting point guard Brandon Jennings for the season due to a torn Achilles he suffered versus his former team the Milwaukee Bucks, the Pistons are unlikely to make it. Don’t count them out, however.
Golden State Warriors: A+
Many called the Warriors firing Mark Jackson, one of the worst decisions they could have made. Steve Kerr thought otherwise. Since Steve Kerr has became the Warriors head coach, they have became the 1st seed in the Western Conference, and have even been able to get Stephen Curry’s name into MVP conversation along with a few others. It seems like the Warriors are being used in away Mark Jackson couldn’t do.
Houston Rockets: A-
The Rockets have officially classified themselves as one of the elite teams in the NBA. Without Dwight Howard for good parts of their season, James Harden has really stepped up his game, and taken it to a superstar level that has him in MVP talks. If the Rockets are able to land a point guard like Goran Dragic before the NBA’s trading deadline, look out.
Indiana Pacers: C
The Indiana Pacers are in the playoff discussion. After the off-season they had, which they lost Lance Stephenson to the Hornets and Paul George to a leg injury, you wouldn’t even be thinking about the Pacers and the playoffs right now. With Paul George on track to return in the middle of March, the Indiana Pacers could receive a A depending on what happens.
Los Angeles Clippers: B-
It’s been a strange season for the Clippers. One minute they are getting blown out, and one minute they play like one of the best teams in the Western Conference. With Blake Griffin being out an extend period of time, the Clippers could end up failing their season if they are unable to reach the playoffs.
Los Angeles Lakers: D
Not much was expected out of the Lakers this season, but the injury bug may have a big affect on the current record of 13-40. With season ending injuries to the Lakers lottery pick Julius Randle and the Lakers franchise player, Kobe Bryant, this season has been nothing but something Lakers fans don’t ever want to think about again.
Memphis Grizzlies: A
Everyone knew the Grizzlies were going to be a playoff team, most of us just didn’t think they would be a top 3 seed in the Western Conference at the all-star break. With the addition of Jeff Green mid-season, the Grizzlies are very dangerous team that no one wants to play in a playoff series, as if you remember, they took the Thunder to 7 games last year.
Miami Heat: C-
You can’t replace LeBron James, but the Heat weren’t expected to be fighting for the 7th and 8 seeds at the all-star break. With 2 members of the big 3 staying in Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, and with the additions of Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger, and others, it wasn’t supposed to be this bad. Sure, injuries have de-railed them, but the lack of depth is catching up to them when the injuries hit.
Milwaukee Bucks: B+
You look at the Milwaukee Bucks and think to yourself, how are they still this good? The Bucks lost the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft Jabari Parker to a torn ACL, and lost point guard Kendall Marshall to the same injury. New head coach Jason Kidd has had some affect on it, and should get more serious consideration for coach of the year, for during a 15 win team last season, to a playoff team in one year.
Minnesota Timberwolves: C-
Similar to the Lakers, there really wasn’t much expected of the Timberwolves, but there have been a few bright spots for them. Andrew Wiggins is looking like a runaway candidate for rookie of the year, and other players like Shabazz Muhammad, Ricky Rubio, Anthony Bennett have all improved this year. In a few years, the Timberwolves may be one of the better teams in the league.
New Orleans Pelicans: B
The Pelicans are in contention for the 8th seed in the Western Conference, thanks to Anthony Davis and company. If they make the playoffs, they could end up with an A, but for now it’s a B. With players like Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans starting to take new strides and becoming even better players, the Pelicans will be a force soon enough in the NBA.
New York Knicks: F
This season has been a disaster for the Knicks with no bright spots. Carmelo Anthony is done for the season and J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are winning games in Cleveland now. The only good that will come out of this bad Knicks season is a top pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Oklahoma City Thunder: B-
With the amount of time the Thunder’s best two players missed in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, it’s amazing how they’re still in the hunt for the playoffs. I fully expect the Thunder to make the playoffs, and be deadly match-up for whoever they face, because the Thunder may be a dangerous low seed come playoff time.
Orlando Magic: C-
The Orlando Magic have played decently for a team that is dealing with head coaching changes this season. Despite just only having wins, the Magic have shown that they have one of the brightest futures in the NBA. Victor Oladipo appears to be the brightest part, and it’s only a couple of years away until the Magic are playing in the playoffs again.
Philadelphia 76ers: D
The 76ers have shown off what their head coach Brett Brown wants them to be: a top defensive team as they are ranked one of the better teams in terms of defense this season. Michael Carter-Williams is also following up his rookie season with a great year, and some other players like Nerlens Noel, Tony Wroten, and K.J. McDaniels have also shown sights of hope.
Phoenix Suns: B
The Suns are right in the mix for the NBA playoffs, but they will need some other places to add talent as outside of the point guard position, there really isn’t much talent around their other positions. If they make the playoffs, expect there grade to go up to a A.
Portland Trail Blazers: B+
The Trail Blazers are having one of the best years out of any NBA team, as the duo of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge looks more and more deadly everyday. Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews have also been underrated in the Blazers success this season, and can match-up well with any team in the Western Conference.
Sacramento Kings: D-
After a promising start from the Kings, they have fell off pretty badly. DeMarcus Cousins however, has turned into the NBA’s best center as he looks like he has change his attitude. The Kings however will need to add more talent before things get better. The Mike Malone firing was dumb, but George Karl can get this team turned around.
San Antonio Spurs: B+
Every year, people count out the Spurs or don’t acknowledge how good they have been playing. This year is another case as the Spurs still remain one of the elite teams in the NBA after they were questioned to be “too old” yet again. Greg Popovich’s system has kept guys like Tony Parker and Tim Duncan play the best basketball possible.
Toronto Raptors: B+
The Raptors dealt with a injury to one of their best players in DeMar DeRozan earlier this year, but didn’t miss a beat due to Lou Williams filling in so nicely, as he could easily win 6th man of the year this season. Kyle Lowry is an all-star and guys like Amir Johnson and Terrence Ross have played fairly well, as maybe the Raptors can cause some noise in the NBA playoffs again.
Utah Jazz: C
The Jazz have shown off their best talent this year, as Gordon Hayward is living up to his big contract, and guys like Alec Burks and Rudy Gobert have played pretty well this year. We also can’t forget Derrick Favors, Trey Burke, and Dante Exum as they add to what is expected to be a great Utah Jazz team soon.
Washington Wizards: B+
The Wizards have lived up to last years surprise season, as John Wall and Bradley Beal continue to show why their one of the NBA’s best back-courts. Marcin Gortat has done pretty well, as other players like Otto Porter Jr. have taken newer strides. The addition of Paul Pierce was huge as it could lead the Wizards to the conference finals and beyond.
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