Today in the Roundtable, we talk overachieving, underachieving, who was the best and worst free agent signing, and how would you grade the Joe Dumars era in Detroit.
1. Most Overachieving Team?
David: I’m going with Phoenix. Charlotte being a close second. How the Suns came so close to making the playoffs, when they probably would be hosting a home series if they played in the East is beyond me. Looking at the roster- I still don’t. I’m a bit worried about them doing the same thing Orlando did when they overachieved.
Although it’s looking like they will not make the playoffs my pick is the Phoenix Suns. Before the season started the Suns were a popular pick to tank for Andrew Wiggins. While they might still end up with Wiggins depending on how the lottery plays out, the Suns will enter the lottery almost winning 50 games, and assuming they keep Dragic and Bledsoe together they’ll have a core that could make the playoffs next season. If you’re a Suns fan you should have plenty of optimism about the future of your team.
Bill: Phoenix Suns. Period. The NBA pundits ruled them for dead and figured that they’d be competing for a top three slot in the upcoming NBA draft lottery. My, oh, my… how they were so very, very wrong. It took three late season losses, two of which they should not have lost in the first place, to have them miss the playoffs. This is the team that could have very easily played giant killers had they made it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the other teams in the Western Conference aren’t letting out a collective sigh of relief. The saddest part in their overachieving season is that if they were in the Eastern Conference rather than the West, they’d be anywhere between the number three and five seed based on their record. Instead, they end up missing out. Much like the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, their solid record amounts to nothing in the end since they lost a few games they certainly should have won. Come next season, there will be no surprises. Everyone got to see first hand what’s going on out here in the desert.. and it’s only going to get hotter. With a very young but hungry core of scrappy and aggressive players in place and a multitude of first round picks available in the upcoming draft, next season should be very interesting indeed. I doubt the pundits make the same mistake twice.
Sandy: NY. Knicks: They are 35-45 and in 3rd place in the Atlantic division and 9th place in the conference. Carmelo Anthony is basically the whole team, He has played in 77 games and if not for the team being eliminated and having a sore shoulder he probably would have played in all 82 games. If not for Anthony they might not be in 9th place in the conference and he might not be there next year, so I think they are where there are currently because of one player.
DJ: The Raptors. When they traded Rudy Gay, the common assumption was they were tanking in order to try and draft Canada’s native son, Andrew Wiggins. Well, things haven’t exactly panned out that way. Since trading Rudy Gay on December 9th, Toronto is 39-21 (65%) as opposed to 8-12 before the trade. The Raps are the biggest overachiever, even more than the surprising Phoenix Suns because Toronto is the likely 3rd seed in the EC.
2. Biggest underachieving Team
David: Gotta be Brooklyn. You add 2 Hall of Famers to 2 All-Stars, and also keep a boarderline All-Star on the Roster- plus hire one of the best points to coach, and you get this? Really?
EJ: The Knicks I’m sure will be the popular answer, but despite making the second round last season, the Knickerbockers have missed the playoffs 9 times since the last time they made the Finals back in 1999-2000. So missing out on the playoffs is not an unfamiliar feeling in my neck of the woods. So my pick will be the Detroit Pistons. I thought the Pistons would have been a playoff team before the season started. Instead, they’re looking at the #8 pick in the draft depending on how the lottery plays out.
Bill: New York Knicks. All that talent and all that payroll, only to once again finding themselves on the outside looking in. This team has talent, but hubris seems to be their downfall. Injuries haven’t helped the team by any means either, but they still should have beaten out the Hawks for the final spot in their conference. I expect many changes to be in the mix seeing that Phil Jackson is now running the show. That said, this off season will certainly be interesting seeing as how speculation about Carmelo Anthony possibly leaving NY for somewhere else has dogged him all season. He so desperately wanted to be “the man”, wanted to play for no one but the Knicks, and managed to force a trade to get himself there. Now he’s going to potentially run off like a coward instead of being the leader and face of the franchise he believes himself to be? I surely hope not, but in this day and age you never can tell. There’s only loyalty to one team anymore, and that’s sadly become the team with the fattest contract.
Sandy: Boston Celtics: I know what you’re thinking, but I believe they have a descent lineup and Kris Humphries really surprised me. He didn’t average a lot of points per game, but he is a good backup to Jared Sullinger , he will only get better. Knowing that all teams have injuries and when its a starter it definitely hurts the team, rebuilding is never a fun season to go through, but Rajon Rondo should be full force next year (hoping they keep him), did manage the game well in the 29 games he played in and averaged close to 12 points per game and 10 Assist per game. I think the Celtics will have a better team next year with trades and the draft, but only time will tell. They should have played better with some of the talent they have.
The New York Knicks went from 54 wins and the 2nd seed last season to 35 wins and missing the playoffs this season as the 9th team in the Eastern Conference. Granted, they had a lot of injuries but they still are missing the playoffs in a very weak EC. Only so much lipstick you can put on this pig.
3. Best Free Agent Signing
David: Al Jefferson. The Bobcats have sucked since day ONE. Al made then just a bit on the scary side, and they have beaten teams they couldn’t before, and they became a force on the inside- and even though Cody has helped the last few weeks of the season, he didn’t do squat for most of the season. Al Jefferson helped protect the rim, created transition possession, and actually gave Bobcat fans hope.
EJ: I’m going with Al Jefferson here. The Charlotte Bobcats are a playoff team and a lot of that is because of how dominant Big Al was in his first season with the team. He’s averaged 24.7 points, over 10 rebounds, and shooting at 55%. He was also the player of the month for the Eastern Conference in the month of March. I’ve admittedly not seen much of the Bobcats this season, but the All-Star snub has played his ass off for his new team.
Bill: Dwight Howard, HOU. Rarely do teams get the chance to grab an all-league talent and place that player into a better situation than what’s going on in Houston. The Rockets have seamlessly fit Howard’s post play into their run and gun offense and instantly made themselves a viable contender for the Western Conference crown. There’s no question that Howard is a far better fit in HOU than he was in LA and his resurgence as a player shows that quite clearly. Much to the chagrin of Omer Asik, Howard is now the anchor of what’s become a frighteningly good Rockets team that’s peaking at just the right time when other teams in their own division are beginning to inevitably fall off.
I think Houston had the best FA signing with Dwight Howard, while its true he can be a prima dona (many of those in the NBA), he still averaged 18 points per game and 12 rebounds, not much difference from last year with the Lakers, but He doesn’t have a superstar to compete with on this roster and sometimes that can be a distraction, when a player is telling another player how to play. The Rockets did well without another superstar.
DJ: Gonna go with Dwight Howard. He has rebounded from a down year in Los Angeles where he was unhappy and has helped Houston grab the 4 seed in the Western Conference and home-court advantage against the Portland Trail Blazers. His production (18.4 points per game, 12.3 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists and 1.8 blocks per game) has been a perfect fit on the Rockets, a team that needed a big man who could score, rebound and defend.
4. Worst FA Signing
David: Bynum. In a world of cruddy additions for some teams; Bynum stands out. Only a quick ticket out of Chicago may have saved his stench from infecting that team, I have to think Carlos Boozer must have picked him up at the airport- considering how much he fell off. Holy crap did he make everything he touched worse.
EJ: Have to go with Josh Smith here. There were some doubts about how’d he fit with Drummond and Monroe, and his play this season only justified those doubts. Josh Smith isn’t a small forward. He might have been for the first few years of his career, but he has a horrible shooting percentage from outside the paint. Detroit’s stuck with him thanks to the remaining 3 years on his deal so whoever inherits the head coach/general manager positions in Detroit is going to have to figure it all out.
Andrew Bynum, anywhere. The utter apathy this guy shows is disgusting. It’s no surprise that teams took a chance on him given that he’s still young and a massive physical presence in the paint, but with all that body comes a small brain (apparently). As sad as it is to say, Bynum has make a Kwame Brown signing look like a sure thing by comparison. If he manages to stick around in IND and get back to serious basketball rather than destroying franchises from within, they will easily have one of the best center tandems in the league. It’s all up to Bynum now, and that’s the scary part. We’ll either see him get back on track or play himself right out of the NBA.
Sandy: I think the worst FA signing was Lamar Odom. There’s not much to say about Odom, except that with Dallas he played in 50 games and averaged 6 ppg and with the Clippers 82 games and 4 ppg. I think off the court was a good reason not to sign this guy. With a DUI, cheating, alleged drug use. His alleged dealer says he spend over $50T on cocaine in 3 years and smoked before a game. The dealer also provided evidence of his claim. Spending any money on this guy is just plain dumb, Knicks might me interested in him, good luck.
DJ: I’m gonna go with a trade. The Kings trading for Rudy Gay. He’s a good player that gets his stats………on a bad team. He didn’t do much for the Kings and he and DeMarcus Cousins seem to be an odd fit together.
5. Grade Joe Dumars tenure at Detroit
I actually have a post I’m working on about that. Its hard to give a guy who earned a title a bad grade- but considering he has had 6 top 10 picks and NONE of them average over 15 points a game. He’s has 2 major free agent buying sprees- and so far has struck BADLY both times. I’m looking at a D here, unless I uncork something awesome.
EJ: It wasn’t all bad so I’ll give him a C. He did bring in Billups, Rasheed and Ben Wallace, and he dealt Stackhouse for Rip Hamilton. However, he also passed up on Carmelo Anthony in the draft, traded away Billups for Allen Iverson and paid a ton of money to Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon. He put together a Detroit squad that won a ring, and they almost won another one, but he couldn’t figure out who to keep that momentum going. So a C, an average passing performance, seems appropriate.
Bill: I’m going to go with.. a C. Dumars DID manage to bring an additional championship to Motown and had a chance to repeat in ‘04-’05, but his boys haven’t been the same since. Sure, they managed three more consecutive runs to the conference finals but couldn’t get back to the big game. Since the ‘09-’10 season, Dumars’s Pistons haven’t come remotely close of sniffing the playoffs and have averaged a mere 28 wins a season. That’s just not good enough and thus, something had to be done to stop the bleeding. It could be argued that Dumars stuck around too long and should have excused himself a season or two ago, but that’s all irrelevant now. There’s no shortage of young and hungry front office talent out there, and it’ll be interesting to see who Detroit brings in to right the ship. There’s a lot of work to be done, and it needs to start immediately.
Sandy: I think trading Chancy Billups and bringing in (me first) Allen Iverson didn’t help his cause, Iverson doesn’t even want to practice. One never knows if trades will work out, some do and some are disastrous. Up until 2008 the team was actually good, just goes to show you that even one bad trade can completely change a team, and chemistry is important, one bad apple can become a distraction and change a team into a loser. That said Dumars did well for many years, so my grade is C+, he wasn’t a complete failure.
Dumars did a lot of good in his tenure there, but the last 5 seasons have been just awful and lower what would have been a solid B before their recent struggles. The Pistons should have fired him before it came to this, but he’s as good as gone. Dumars has overstayed his welcome and will need to find a new place to call home.
I'm a fan of most sports but basketball, particularly the NBA, is my favorite. I live and die with the San Diego Chargers and San Diego Padres, but I also root for my hometown Cardinals and Diamondbacks. I'm also an alumnus of UNLV and proudly served in the US Navy.
I'm opinionated in my sports, my politics, and just about everything that can be opined about, usually with some four letter flare thrown in to emphasize the point. If you can take it, stick around and enjoy the ride as I let the opinions fly!