Yesterday, I released Pt. 1 of my no-good-not-in-any-particular-order-confusing over/under ramblings. As you can see, I’ve categorized all 30 teams into four obviously distinct tiers. The final two tiers are herein laid forth below. Let me know. What do you think?
Reminder session from Pt. 1:
“Tier 1: Of Course, duh, they are either gonna be really good or really bad. None of these are really surprising” consisted of Golden State Warriors - 67.5, Boston Celtics - 56.5, Houston Rockets - 55.5, San Antonio Spurs - 54.5, Cleveland Cavaliers - 53.5, Chicago Bulls - 21.5, Brooklyn Nets - 28.5, New York Knicks - 30.5, and the Sacramento Kings - 28.5.
“Tier 2: Uhhh, I kinda see it, but for whatever reason these teams feel misjudged, either too high or too low” had Milwaukee Bucks - 47.5, Los Angeles Lakers - 33.5, Phoenix Suns - 28.5, New Orleans Pelicans - 39.5, and the Dallas Mavericks - 35.5.
Okay, here we go. Y’all ready?
Tier 3: Middle of the road — I don’t really care about them, this feels about right — teams.
Oklahoma City Thunder - 51.5
Toronto Raptors - 48.5
Detroit Pistons - 38.5
Indiana Pacers - 31.5
Miami Heat - 43.5
Charlotte Hornets - 42.5
Orlando Magic - 33.5
Thunder: Oklahoma City came out of nowhere this off-season to “win” the Paul George sweepstakes. I say “win,” with sarcastic parenthesis and everything, because there is no way PG stays in OKC past this season. As evidenced by the Lakers’ recent, uh, tampering indictment (really, $500k?! That’s all? Magic Johnson makes more than $500k just off his various real estate investments while he’s taking a nice, long, leisurely crap every morning. C’mon. Hit em with the good stuff if you ever want to send a message, Adam Silver) George is almost guaranteed to land in LA next season alongside LeBron James.
Side Note, and this deserves its own paragraph: My buddy Adam Mares (editor in chief of SB Nation’s Nuggets’ site, Denver Stiffs), is 100% convinced of this and has already been game planning for next year’s Lakers’ starting five. As he recently said in a DM group, “So it’s Lonzo - ? - Bron - PG - Nerlens. Who could that SG be?” to which Anthony F. Irwin (fantastic Lakers writer and co-host of the wildly popular “Locked on Lakers” podcast) chimed in, “Yeah. Klay Thompson by several reports is interested in playing here, too, and he’d be perfect,” to which Adam responded, “Klay is a great SG next to Lonzo. Lonzo - Klay - Bron - PG - Noel would beat GSW. Partially because Klay is gone from GSW,” and now I’m weeping in anger. IT’S TOO EARLY FOR THESE HORRIBLE THOUGHTS!
Okay moving on. Sorry, everyone. That was way too much on the Lakers for our purposes here, and the whole time we were supposed to be talking about the Thunder. Uh, quick thoughts on them. Westbrook does not win MVP again. My early pick is Giannis, or maybe Durant who will be fully comfortable within the Warriors’ offense and might put up stupidly efficient numbers, especially feeling more and more confident now that he’s won his first championship, a la Stephen Curry’s season after he won his first, when the vote was unanimous.
Dang, that still wasn’t about the Thunder. Guess I just really don’t care about them, huh? Okay, finally now moving on.
Pistons: eh, only interested to see if they trade Andre Drummond, otherwise yawn.
Pacers: eh, but Myles Turner could be nice. How long until he wants out next?
Heat: lol, only in it because Dion Waiters thinks he is better than peak Dwyane Wade, which is a hilarious thing to watch play out in South Beach. Otherwise, eh.
Hornets: eh, only in it to watch Malik Monk drop like 60 points on some random night in February and everyone on twitter loses their shit. Otherwise, yeah, whatever.
Magic: I think Jonathan Isaac could have been good on a host of other teams, but the Magic are where highly skilled but raw players go to live out wildly ineffectual, incredibly frustrating NBA careers before being traded away and never quite finding a place in the league. Sorry Jon, wish it had literally anyone else who drafted you.
Tier 4: WHOA, REALLY? DANG. THIS IS BOLD.
Minnesota Timberwolves - 48.5
Philadelphia 76ers - 42.5
Atlanta Hawks - 25.5
Timberwolves: I think the Timberwolves take a leap this year. Specifically, the addition of Jimmy Butler to the Wolves, plus the maturation of Karl Anthony Towns, will contribute to this leap. Obviously, I am not alone in this line of thinking. With Thibs manning the helm, that team is gonna be scary, especially to close out games. When the Warriors finally made their leap (from 2011-12 to 2012-13), they went from 23 wins to 47 wins. This is a totally different situation, but the odds makers have the Timberwolves jumping from 31 wins last year to 48.5 this year. It’s bold, and I like it.
76ers: Last year, Philly won 28 games. This year, Vegas thinks they’ll be over .500 for the first time since going 43-39 in 2004-05. (To be fair, they went exactly 41-41 twice during that stretch, but we are talking about over .500). Sure, going from 10 games won to 28 games won to 42.5 games won in three years is a heck of a jump, but this team (assuming health, which, never ever assume health with Philly) is going to be so, so much fun to watch. Markell Fultz could be transcendent. Joel Embiid is transcendent (when he’s on the court). Ben Simmons could be super transcendent. Plus they have a guy in Dario Saric who — oh right — almost won Rookie of the Year last year (only because Embiid got hurt). So, yeah, this team is dope. Please, please let them stay healthy. All of them, with the exception of Saric, have already dealt with major injuries.
Hawks: Okay, sure, the Hawks are in the middle of a rebuild, and haven’t made any super duper flashy moves yet, but do we really think they are going to be the second worst team in the league? You gotta think coach Budenholzer can wrangle at least a few more wins out of them that that, right? Are they going to be worse than the Lakers? Worse than the godforsaken Knickerbockers? I don’t see it. [Takes a look at their roster] Although, ugh, yeah, having Kent Bazemore as the highest paid player on your team — as much a I frickin love the guy — is maybe not the best way to compete for titles. Either way, I think this is way too low for them.
Well, there you have it. I obviously have way too many thoughts on the Lakers, and not nearly enough on OKC and some of the middling non-contenders. Philly will be super fun (I hope), and I think the Bucks and the Timberwolves jump out at us. It’s gonna be a fun year.
Are you ready?! Only T-Minus, uh, 49 days, nine hours, 43 minutes, and 20 seconds (as of this writing) to go until the season starts!