The trade deadline inches closer, but let everyone else speculate. I’ll just rank the teams. . .
#30 Phoenix Suns (11-41, -9.8, LW: 29)
#29 Cleveland Cavaliers (10-41, -11, LW: 30)
#28 Chicago Bulls (11-39, -10, LW: 28)
#27 New York Knicks (10-39, -8.5, LW: 27)
#26 Atlanta Hawks (16-33, -7.3, LW: 26)
#25 Memphis Grizzlies (20-31, -3.3, LW: 25)
#24 Orlando Magic (20-30, -3.5, LW: 24)
#23 Detroit Pistons (21-27, -2.6, LW: 23)
#22 Sacramento Kings (25-25, -2.1, LW: 22)
#21 Washington Wizards (21-28, -3, LW: 20)
#20 Dallas Mavericks (22-27, 0, LW: 21)
#19 New Orleans Pelicans (22-28, +1.5, LW: 13)
#18 Los Angeles Lakers (26-24, +0.5, LW: 17)
#17 Minnesota Timberwolves (24-26, +0.1, LW: 15)
#16 Miami Heat (24-24, +0.2, LW: 19)
#15 Charlotte Hornets (24-25, +0.7, LW: 16)
#14 Los Angeles Clippers (28-23, +0.6, LW: 18)
#13 Brooklyn Nets (27-24, +0.2, LW: 11)
#12 Houston Rockets (29-20, +1.6, LW: 14)
#11 San Antonio Spurs (29-22, +2.5, LW: 12)
I was torn on what to think about the Spurs coming into the season. On the one hand Kawhi Leonard is not someone you just replace. On the other hand, though, you have the best run organization in the NBA and one of the best run in all of sports. Their roster isn’t exactly electrifying, so how are they on a pace for 46 wins and 22nd consecutive playoff appearance?
Well for starters, they don’t turn the ball over (they rank third in Turnover% via basketball-reference.com), they keep their opponents off of the free throw line (second in FT/FGA allowed), and they shoot the ball effectively well (seventh in eFG%). San Antonio has built a great culture and that’s how they continually remain competitive despite the lack of high draft picks.
#10 Portland Trail Blazers (31-20, +2.6, LW: 10)
#9 Philadelphia 76ers (32-18, +3.4, LW: 4)
#8 Indiana Pacers (32-17, +4.9, LW: 6)
Victor Oladipo’s injury throws a massive wrench in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Pacers have been the three seed in the East for most of the season. Now? This seems like an empty playoff spot right now. That’s a shame.
#7 Utah Jazz (29-22, +3.6, LW: 8)
#6 Oklahoma City Thunder (31-18, +4.9, LW: 9)
#5 Boston Celtics (31-19, +6.3, LW: 5)
#4 Toronto Raptors (37-15, +5.4, LW: 3)
#3 Denver Nuggets (34-15, +5.7, LW: 7)
#2 Milwaukee Bucks (35-13, +9.6, LW: 1)
#1 Golden State Warriors (36-14, +7.3, LW: 2)
The Warriors are starting to look a lot like the dominant team everyone was expecting back in November. They have won their last 11 games by an average of 15.5 points per game and are 5-0 with DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup. Klay Thompson is playing like the Klay Thompson of old, Curry is Curry, KD is KD. I know it’s not popular to do, but for crying out loud, just appreciate greatness. We may never see a team like this again.
So today I decided to look up since 2000 how many different champions and finalists for the four major sports leagues. We know that the NBA is the absolute worst when it comes to parity – a big reason I love the league. As far as I’m concerned, give me greatness over mediocrity. But NFL fans will try to convince you that parity is what makes the league great. Some fun facts:
- The Yankees have not been in the World Series this decade. The Warriors could reach their fifth Finals. The parity driven Patriots are in their fifth Super Bowl.
- The Red Sox have four World Series since the turn of the century. The Warriors might win their fourth. The Yankees have two. The Penguins have three, as do the Blackhawks. The Red Wings have four. The Lakers have five, just like the parity driven Patriots have five.
- One team has appeared in half of their league’s championships: The parity driven Patirots.
- The parity driven NFL has had as many different champions as Major League Baseball and the NHL.
- The NFL has had fewer different teams in the Super Bowl as Major League Baseball has in the World Series or the NHL has had in the Stanley Cup Finals. And the NHL didn’t have a season in 2004-05.
How about that stark contrast to the NBA?
- The NBA has had eight different champions in 19 seasons. The NFL could have 13 if the Rams win. Five out of 19.
- The NBA has had 13 different teams lose in the Finals. The NFL has had 15, regardless of who loses Sunday. Two out of 19.
- The NBA has had 13 different finals participants. The NFL has had 18. That is five out of 38 spots.
While that first number seems significant – almost a third more – it gets erased in the next two, especially since the NFL is one game and the NBA is a series.
Look, if you love the NFL, fine. Don’t waste my time with arguments against “Super Teams” or “no salary cap”. The league is no different from the others. To be blunt, the NBA isn’t much different, either. It’s just so happens that LeBron came back to Cleveland the same time the Golden State Warriors mastered the sport and had luck with the salary cap and what free agents hit the market. If you don’t’ want to respect greatness in one league then don’t waste my time getting me to respect the greatness of a team that has been caught breaking the rules twice. Instead of comparing Brady and Belichick to the all-time greats they should be compared to McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, and Bonds. Actually, they should be compared to Palmeiro, Manny, and a host of others who were caught. After all, rules are rules.