Teams That Will Disappoint: 2012-2013 Edition
Expectations. Every team has them. Some teams have higher expectations than others. Here are five teams with high expectations who may disappoint this season.
Don’t get me wrong. I agree with pretty much everyone else who follows the NBA. The Nets will be one of the most improved teams from last season to this season. But where I disagree is in the fact that people are talking about this team breaking into the top four of the Eastern Conference. I expect Brooklyn to make the playoffs, but as a 6 or 7 seed.
The Nets will be able to score points with anybody. They have one of the top back courts in the NBA with Deron Williams at the point and Joe Johnson at the 2. Brook Lopez is one of the top offensive centers in the game. Brooklyn also brings high scoring players like MarShon Brooks and Andray Blatche off the bench. But who on this team is known as a top defender?
Avery Johnson is a defensive minded coach. He demands that his team defends at a high level and I do not see this team as constructed as capable of achieving that. To break into the top four of the Eastern Conference, the Nets will have to step up defensively.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are a great team to watch. They have athletes all over the court. And of course they have the superstar duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Because of those two superstars, Clipper fans expect a deep playoff run which I do not see happening.
Los Angeles struggled last year to get past the Grizzlies in the 1st round of the playoffs and were then swept by the Spurs in the 2nd round. Two key players from that first round win, Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin, are no longer with the team. The Clippers will sorely miss their defensive intensity and leadership. Replacing those two with (last year’s) Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins is a big step backwards.
The Clippers will be among the top teams out West, but I see them flaming out in the 2nd round again this year. They are a notch below the Thunder and Lakers, and they could struggle to get past the Grizzlies or Spurs again.
I’ve said it before, and I will continue to say it. If the Miami Heat, as currently constructed, do not win the NBA title every year the season has to be considered a disappointment. Now, if I had to put my money on who will win it all this year, I’d probably go with the Heat. But I think there are a few more teams this year who could disrupt the ticker tape parade plans in South Beach.
I’m not sold on the small ball lineup having success over the course of an entire NBA season. The Heat’s lack of a true center could come back to haunt them in a playoff series versus teams like Boston, Oklahoma City and the Lakers. Yes, LeBron is a match up nightmare as a power forward (he’s a nightmare at any position). But will the Heat be able to use the small ball lineup for a full season and deep playoff run?
The Heat as much as any other team in the league cannot afford an injury to one of their top guys. The Miami bench is thin, particularly in the front court. Key bench players like Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem are all getting up there in age. I’m guessing that the small ball lineup takes a toll physically on the entire team and it will come back to haunt the Heat in the playoffs.
The Wolves were a team that a lot of people thought were a playoff team this season before the injury to Kevin Love, even with Ricky Rubio out until December. Some people still think that Minnesota can hold on without Love and Rubio and make a late charge into the postseason. But I don’t think the Wolves are one of the top 8 teams in the Western Conference.
Minnesota will rely heavily on Brandon Roy and I can understand why. It was not too long ago that Roy was an All Star who could get you a bucket from anywhere on the floor. But can Roy become that player again? The answer to that question will go a long way to determining the Wolves success.
There are many other questions for Minnesota to answer if they expect to make the playoffs. Can Andrei Kirilenko return to his previous form? Will Alexey Shved be an effective NBA player? Can Nikola Pekovic take the next step and become a consistent producer? Who will step up in the absence of Rubio and Love? With the season about to tip and all of these questions abound, it appears to me that Wolves fans will have to wait another year to taste the playoffs again.
The 76ers were involved in the biggest trade of the off season, moving their top player, Andre Iguodala, and picking up Andrew Bynum, one of the top big men in the NBA. It was a bold move by Philadelphia, one that brought heavy expectations along with it. Many thought it would propel the 76ers into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. But I think it may have the opposite effect, especially if Bynum cannot remain healthy.
It is never a good sign when the center piece of a big trade is almost immediately hurt. And that is exactly what has happened to Bynum. It is well known that the big man has knee issues, and that he regularly receives injections to alleviate some of the joint pain he has. But if the rumors of a surgical procedure are true, Philadelphia is in big trouble.
This season is already testing for Doug Collins and his team hasn’t even opened the regular season. Collins will also have to deal with Jrue Holiday’s contract situation hanging over the team. Collins also needs to find someone to step into the leadership role previously occupied by Iguodala. And is this the year that Evan Turner finally lives up to his lofty draft position?
Philadelphia certainly is one of the more talented teams in the Eastern Conference. But things could quickly begin to unravel if times get tough. I think the 76ers may just blow up internally and miss the playoffs.
Who do you think will disappoint this year? Let me know what you think in the comments.