Friday, November 9, 2012

The Worst NBA Team You've Seen So Far

(Yesterday, I took a poll from the MAMBINO crew asking who the worst team they've seen this year was. The answers I got were the following two teams that have performed the most joyless form of basketball. I happened to agree whole-heartedly. And wept uncontrollably. Tears of blood.)

The Detroit Pistons

There's no doubt in my mind that the 0-5 Pistons are the worst squad in the league, even this early in the season. Only one player has registered a double double, which would be burgeoning star Greg Monroe. More impressively, one of those was actually a triple-double, a career first. Against the lowly Sacramento Kings. In a Detroit loss. But other than that, he's getting zero help; no one else on the team has registered more than 10 rebounds or scored more than 20 points. In fact, the team has shot just 43% over five games and ranks 28th in points per 100 possessions.

The rest of the starters are truly the unit that's sinking the Pistons. Second year man Brandon Knight has a really nice looking stroke, but that's it, quite frankly. He's only got 2 assists to every turnover he commits, and not even that can truly capture how poorly he sets up his teammates for quality shots. He's a wretched shooter in general, which is super duper convenient for the Pistons, considering he's taking 10 shots a night and is Monroe's main pick and roll partner. His backcourt mate Rodney Stuckey has been especially terrible in a nightmare first week for the Pistons. Detroit's starting shooting guard is 8 for 46 to start the year, a staggering 17% from the field. But it's not like Stuckey is shooting poorly because he hasn't made a three pointer or is just taking long, contested two-point shots. He's shooting less than 20% from every single area on the floor. Good to know he's not discriminating against the hardwood. Luckily for Stuckey, he still has a 3:1 assist to turnover ration and is still making free throws (84% on 16 shots), so at least he's doing the right things his team lose.

Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell are fine players still, but both are past their prime and should be coming off some team's bench at this point. What's really shocking about the Pistons is about how little they seem to care about defending, especially considering how athletic the majority of their players are. There was a moment after a breakaway lay-up by the Lakers the other night that none of the Detroit starters got back on defense. Lawrence Frank immediately called for all five players to be replaced at once, a really stunning indication for a young team that should play with a lot of energy. In the games I've seen, the Pistons play like a lottery team in game #78...not a young team with up and coming prospects in game #5.

Looking at the bench, they're the mismatched bag of parts we thought they'd be to start the season: young and inexperienced prospects with potential, tied with bust lottery picks and washed up veterans. Their 2012 first rounder Andre Drummond has shown flashes of why he was once considered a future #1 overall pick...and also why he slid all the way to the 9th selection last June. He's all of 7 feet, 270 pounds, but throws his body around the court like he's an indestructible Allen Iverson in his prime. On two different possessions against the Lakers last Sunday, I saw Drummond lounge towards the rim going for a lay-in or a rebound, only to miss and fall to the hardwood. He bounced right back up (partially because he's 19 YEARS OLD), but his recklessness is sure to lead to injury. Oftentimes Drummond looks as Hasheem Thabeet-esque in his basketball education, except Thabeet grew up in the mothereffing Congo and didn't know what basketball was until a few years ago. On the positives, Detroit's young prospect has shown his potential by emphatically finish dunks and grabbing rebounds over anyone. The team's other rookie, former Duke standout Kyle Singler looks like he could compete on a contender right away, as San Antonio clubs themselves in the face for not drafting this born-to-be-a-Spur. Will Bynum and Jonas Jerebko round out a bench that plays extremely hard for coach Lawrence Frank, but simply can't make shots or defend consistently enough.

The Detroit Pistons can't score, don't defend, and do both without any energy. The epitome "worst NBA team".

The Los Angeles Lakers

What did you expect? The Lakers were picked by many, including this illustrious blog, to win the NBA championship. After a 1-4 start and a vocally distraught Kobe Bryant on November 9th, there's no doubt that the Lake Show has been one of the worst teams thus far.

Much like the Pistons team that the Lakers pummeled for their only win of the season, it hasn't looked pretty on the other side of the ball. LA has broken the 100 point barrier only twice in five games, looking confused and discombobulated on offense. Head coach Mike Brown has brought in a Princeton scoring attack to try and get the team's ample floor spreading shooters more open looks, as well as giving big men Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol room to operate down low. The Lakers have been extremely slow on the uptake, which is a combination of the scheme's intricac and also the natural growing pains of a team learning how to play with one another. Injuries to Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant haven't helped matters, not to mention a still acclimating Dwight Howard. This team was always going to have a hard time accomodating for one another, but adding in another level of complexity has made an already turbulent situation even more clumsy.

The result is the slow, uncoordinated mess you see before you. The Lakers are tossing pass across the court seemingly into the hands of the defense as well as watching balls sail out of bounds as teammates mis-time lobs to each other. The team has been partially bailed out by their poor play-making with a sensational Kobe Bryant, whose .560/.429/.917 shooting line has been unreal. After a great first game, Pau Gasol seems tentative and shy, not picking up the point guard responsibilities with Nash sitting out. His fellow big man has been, as mentioned, still working himself into shape after not performing basketball activities for nearly six months. He's self-admittedly a couple steps slow still, which is impeding a passing scheme that's not being finished off even when successfully executed.

The bench isn't playing at all as well as expected, with Antawn Jamison looking very uncomfortable as a sixth man and Jodie Meeks not even cracking the rotation. Jordan Hill, along with Metta World Peace, are the only other players aside from Kobe that looks comfortable in their own skin, a development which would have had me fall out of my chair laughing if I typed that last year at this time.

Overall, the most stunning and off putting development in watching the Lakers has to be their lack of defensive intensity. Perhaps it's just a byproduct of the team concentrating so hard on the offensive part of the game and thus not being able to focus on defense, or an unhealthy team trying their best to move around the court. However, the void of defense could also be an indication that team doesn't care about playing hard for their coach, or isn't invested in whatever defensive plans he's preaching. Most likely, it's a combination of both. Out of everything Mike Brown can control, it's how hard his guys are playing, and right now they look about as interested as Andrew Bynum in a physics lecture.

The Lakers haven't been the exciting team that people thought they'd be this year, not only from an offensive perspective, but because of how terribly disinterested they've looked at being on the court. In some ways, they've been even more unwatchable than a team like the Pistons, because at the very least, no one expects much while watching Detroit go to work.

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