Welcome to the Second Edition of the NBA Roundtable! This week the J Brothers are off figuring out how Derek Fisher still has a job, so you have the Yin and Yang of MMA, Joao and David rolling on the Hardwood (No Gi)
Are there cracks in the Heat Armor?
Joao: There are now, especially with the interior game. They have improved their perimeter game but not the interior presence. That was something that was also true last year during the regular season, and more so during the playoffs (see Pacers, Indiana).
On top of that Dwyane Wade is showing his age, something that happens at a relatively early age for guards who rely heavily on their speed; and he is piling up small injury after small injury, which isn’t obviously a good sign going forward. To compensate for that, Chris Bosh has stepped up his game and he is now clearly the second option the Heat have to score.
But these cracks are what they are. I had the Miami Heat as favorites, before the season kicked off, to win it all, and I still rank them at the top of the NBA. 11-3 as we speak, leading the Eastern Conference, good for the second best record in the NBA. They are still the team to beat, especially seeing as though the Lakers are off to a shaky start. David: No less then there were last year. Wade and Ray look old, LeBron is still the best in the league by far, and Bosh is still lost at times. As Joao said, Bosh looks better, and if this was the 80s this team would have no shot. Also if Dwight Howard had heart, this team would have no shot. But in todays NBA, with todays “centers” they still are the odds on favorites.
Just how good are the Grizzlies?
Joao: I think they are good, very good. But not this good. They are not good enough to hold the best record in the league, which is the position they currently stand at. They are good enough to make a deep playoff run but not to represent the West in the Finals. In summary, they can only get worse.
It has been incredible how their starting 5 produces so much and their bench looks so thin. Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph have been playing lights out so far, with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley showing tremendous improvement on their respective games.
But I do think that, longer term, their lack of bench production (due in no small part to the loss of OJ Mayo), the fact that more teams will take them seriously and just overall grind of the regular season, will cool them off and somewhat. Look for them to finish the regular season sitting 4th in the West.
David: I don’t trust them. Any team with Ru-De as the best player just don’t scare me (unless its the Spurs) I do think they are peaking early, but a solid bet for homefeild in round 1. Matchups still determine how far they get.
Have we seen the end of Brandon Roy?
Joao: Tragic. Brandon Roy is a very talented player and all-around great guy and, really, a man who you like as an ambassador for the sport. His comeback is/ was inspiring but, while I am no doctor by any means, things look grim when considering his future as an NBA player.
He didn’t play well in the 5 games for which he suited up and now he is down for the count. Knee problems were the question mark on everyone’s mind and things seem to have turned for the worse.
I do not think any NBA fan wanted to see this and I personally compare this with what happened to Grant Hill.
On top of that, the Timberwolves seem to be just about the unluckiest team in the league regarding injuries. With a fully healthy roster, I could see them fighting for homecourt advantage in the first round.
David: Yes. Sad to say.
How do you fix the Warriors? (And no, you can’t trade for LeBron)
Joao: Last year, Mark Jackson promised the Warriors would be in the playoffs and… oh wait, that didn’t happen.
The Warriors are currently 9-6 and that is a record they won’t be able to maintain going forward. It’s just not going to happen.
Their 2 best players are liabilities when looking at health considerations. I am talking about Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut. Especially the Aussie; the Warriors have to decide if they want to keep both players as building blocks and risk their future, or try to ship them elsewhere for – probably – less talent but less overall risk.
Andrew Bogut’s contract is a nightmare. Even though several teams are thirsty for talented big men, his contract is just too heavy. The Warriors will have to wait 2 years and let him go, use the cap space to get good talent.
Then you have Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins. The former is almost a grandfather and the latter somehow forgot how to play basketball along the way. These are the two worst contracts on this roster. But wait, again two years remaining for each player.
The way I see it is there are no easy fixes this year and for the next season. In two years from now? They can become a key player on the free agent market.
David: The Problem with the Warriors is Stephan Curry. He is a MONSTER player, who should be the third best player on a title team. You can’t build around him. Bogut is the same way. You add Durant, Rose and/or a (young)Duncan to this team and its a megaplayer in the West. They have very good players, but almost no on-floor leadership. The Best way to fix this team is to drop Curry before his value is GONE (ala half the Bulls of 4 years ago). I think you can keep Bogut and make him a part of a foundation, considering how few low-post players are out there.
Who is the worst team in the NBA?
Joao: The Wizards. They are still winless!
The Pistons are recovering somewhat from the abysmal start, the Cavaliers can complain about not having Kyrie Irving, the Raptors aren’t terrible (just plain bad), the Magic are actually better than initially advertised, the Kings have kept a predictable pace and the Hornets will get slightly better.
But the Wizards? The team whose coach has stated “I don’t know who to start, who to play…”? That team? Absolute worst in the league.
Being fair, when John Wall comes back they’ll have to improve, they just have to. But right now, they are in the basement.
David: Gotta be the Wiz, I just wanted to hear it wasnt the Bobcats anymore.
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Nothing on Gasol?
Sorry, I missed out on this one. Wade does look pretty old. All the knocks he’s taken has gotten to him. It probably won’t hold them back from repeating but the decline in his game is something to keep an eye on going forward.