Ranking the 2014-15 NBA Season by Interestingness: Teams #25-21

by    October 21, 2014

We are back with previews for five teams that are slightly more interesting than the previous five.

25. BROOKLYN NETS

by Mark Milner (@thejockocracy):

Last season, seven players on the Nets had 11 years or more NBA experience. Last season, they were one of the NBA’s oldest teams. But unlike the league’s-oldest Miami Heat, theirs was upfront and intended to be on the court more often than not: three-fifths of their starting five was 32 or older. But it’s not that age that makes them interesting to me: it’s if they have another playoff run in them.

At spurts last year, they looked old. Kevin Garnett’s 2013-14 stat line was full of career lows, even in places that generally reward big men (PER, rebounding). On top of that, Brook Lopez only played in 17 games last year and none after Christmas, crippling their team defense. Even without him, the Nets went on a tear in 2014: they were 10-21 on January, at .500 by early March and finished with 44 wins.

Things are different now. Paul Pierce is gone and so is coach Jason Kidd. Garnett just turned 38 and Deron Williams fell apart in the postseason. Their biggest offseason addition might be Jarrett Jack, who is about to turn 31. Brooklyn is going to need a lot of things to go right for them this year: an improved defense, a lack of injuries and bounce back seasons from Williams, Lopez and Andrei Kirilenko.

But the biggest hope is that Garnett has enough in the tank to last yet another whole season. His numbers have been steadily dropping for the past few years and last year he played in just 54 games and logged a hair over 1,100 minutes, it’s reasonable to assume these will continue to trend downwards over another 82-game season.

Last season’s first-round series between Brooklyn and Toronto was fun for a bunch of reasons: great crowds, close games and memorable f-bombs. But will a 12-point, 11-rebound game seven go down as Garnett’s last great moment? If the Nets are lucky, maybe not.

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24. WASHINGTON WIZARDS

wiz-pierce-wall

by Mitch Orsatti (@thirstyvillain):

The most interesting thing about Washington is the question of progression or regression – which will reign supreme? Bradley Beal broke his (non-shooting) wrist, Trevor Ariza bolted for Houston, Andre Miller and the newly signed Paul Pierce are almost 100 years in combined age and Nenê missed 30 games (again) due to injury. John Wall is a year older and wiser, Marcin Gortat is in the meat of his prime and maybe, just maybe they can coax Otto Porter out of his shell. For a team that was a projected rising force in the Eastern Conference, it will be interesting to see if they can live up to the hype.

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by Travis Nicholson (@flgrntfwl):

While the success of last year’s Wizards team was largely credited to the development of their young backcourt (John Wall, and to a lesser extent Bradley Beal), their true identity was something much older: John Wall, Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat were all important, but Trevor Ariza, Nene and even Al Harrington were more important than Jan Vesely and Otto Porter. Beal is young at age 21, though Wall is 24 and going into his sixth season he is no longer young, yet he is not old nor a veteran.

There is the still the ubiquitous stink of the expectations placed on Wall coming immediately out of Kentucky that come up whenever the Wizards falter, and by now their star point guard may get better at his position; in 2014 he is a known commodity. This won’t stop him from wanting to prove something, especially with Beal out, but what makes Washington interesting is their set of two guards trying to work in tandem. We’ve seen the John Wall show in Washington before — it is actually Beal’s future that will be the key to this Wizards team, and that is all put on hold for now. Paul Pierce is a fun replacement but that only makes the disparity between youth and reality even farther apart.

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23. BOSTON CELTICS

by Mitch Orsatti (@thirstyvillain):

The Rajon Rondo rollercoaster rolls along in Boston with the most recent report stating he would like to stay in Boston long term; tell that to Marcus Smart. A Rondo, Smart, Bradley backcourt would be small but imposing on the defensive end and extremely challenged on the offensive end. Outside of Marcus Thornton, who lives and breathes on the offensive end (and suffocates on the opposite) there isn’t a whole lot of shot takers and makers on this year’s Celtics squad. An interesting ratio to ponder this season: how many times the Celtics fail to crack the 90 point mark versus how many times Avery Bradley causes an 8-second over violation turnover all by himself.

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22. SACRAMENTO KINGS

(I WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW I WANT THE KINGS HIGHER!!!)

A message from Mitch in our e-mail correspondence for these rankings: “I WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW I WANT THE KINGS HIGHER!!!”

by Travis Nicholson (@flgrntfwl):

The single greatest moment to come out of NBA pre-season was this shot from DeMarcus Cousin’s Instagram of Canadian rookie photo’ing cash from a few days per diem on the team’s private jet. If Boogie and Nik can be close friends, and possibly even best friends, uniting to create basketball magic the same way they created internet magic, there is hope for NBA basketball in Sacramento.

There are real reasons to avoid the Kings, too: this team is not going to make the playoffs, watching Rudy Gay shoot 5 for 16, there will be many blowouts, Rudy Gay shooting from 21 feet with 21 seconds on the shot clock, the careers of Derrick Williams and Ben McLemore being a total bummer, the omnipresence of Shaq, and now that James Dolan no longer needs his legions of Yes Men and Donald Sterling has been left somewhere in the sun to die, it seems Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadive is absolutely clueless and now has the largest harem of Yes Men in the league. Fun times in Sactown.

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by Mitch Orsatti (@thirstyvillain):

Myboi @boogiecousins goal for this year. 5 Technical this season. I feel like he can do it.

A photo posted by Joker Evans (@reggieevans30) on

This vow, as documented on Reggie Evans’ Instagram account, makes the Sacramento Kings upcoming 2014-15 season one of the most interesting of them all: DeMarcus Cousins has set a goal of ONLY five technical fouls for the entire season! Five! Let’s not question whether Boogie can abstain so much over 82 games, but let’s break this down by asking one question: if/when he picks up his sixth technical foul, are all bets off? Is Boogie going to go to technical town and just try again next year? This season is going to be amazing.

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21. DENVER NUGGETS

kenneth-faried-manimalism

by Mitch Orsatti (@thirstyvillain):

Don’t call it a comeback! With Aaron Afflalo returning to the Mile High City via trade with Orlando, Denver will be sporting an eerily similar team to their 2011-2012 campaign where they lost to the Lakers in the first round of the Playoffs. With maturation from Lawson, a USAB stint (and fresh contract) for Faried and the return of Gallinari and McGee from injury, the Denver Nuggets may end up surprising a few teams out in the West.

JaVale McGee is returning to the league. If that’s not enough interesting in and of itself, then try this on for size: JaVale McGee is going by his “alter-ego” Pierre on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Vine. Still not enough? This should do it.

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by Travis Nicholson (@flgrntfwl):

I’ve decided that Javale McGee needs to go away. (The only alter egos of NBA big man I am interested in are Ronny Turiaf’s inevitable journeyman role as a character on Game of Thrones and the secret and very particular way Hasheem Thabeet has blended the seemingly opposing lifestyles of NBA player and a time traveler.) If I have any authority to revoke McGee’s calculated antics from all my prefered avenues of NBA coverage I will thoroughly abuse that authority. McGee is a wannabe Dwight Howard with a more obvious schtick and an eighth of the talent. (Also let me make this clear: I vehemently dislike Dwight Howard.)

Independently of the unwarranted attention Javale McGee receives, the Nuggets are always a delight for the basketball nerd set. As the Western Conference ascended to obvious supremacy over the Eastern Conference last season, the Nuggets weren’t part of that club: they were only 15-14 against teams from the East. In only chalking up 36 wins (13 wins away from the 8-seed Mavericks), the Nuggets were perhaps the biggest casualty of the West’s dominant reign.

Luckily for everyone, the better the Nuggets are depends largely on how well they succeed with a high-tempo style. This means nasty Lawson to Faried alley-oops and some fantastico fast-break threes from Gallinari on the wing. Let’s see how much Brian Shaw let’s things that need to happen, happen.

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The next batch of teams comes tomorrow, each more interesting than the next! Part 1 available here.

is currently made up of Travis Nicholson, Mitch Orsatti and Mark Milner. Many collaborative articles can be found here, or at the individual author archives linked above.

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