By Killa Keem (AKA the Artist Formerly Known as “Big Hak”)
Three weeks into the NBA season we are all starting to find out what teams are living up to all of the summer hype and which teams are massively confused as to what is going on with their lives.
New York Knicks
No team is more emblematic of this confusion then the 3-4 New York Knickerbockers. They made big moves to get Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee, and Mr. “I trash talk D-leaguers” Brandon Jennings. These were total “eye of the beholder” moves where depending on your world view (or irrational Knicks fandom). To some they saw Rose as the player ranked in the low 10 percentile in defensive rating and a plus/ minus ratio of -166 in 66 games. The saying went that if everyone stayed reasonably healthy (they have…ish), and Derrick Rose was “close” to his MVP levels (preeeetty sure those days are done) the Knicks could make the playoffs with Melo and “Young Taps” (I’m trademarking that).
Instead what the Knicks have gotten is “debatably average ” Rose, “I’m finished” Jo Noah, and stagnation in the growth of Young Taps (he don’t get the ball!). Coming into Wednesday nights game the Knicks were allowing 109.8 ppg and rank 26th in the league the problems seem deeper then not using them.
The Minnesota T’wolves had people so giddy over them, real live professional NBA writers projected them to win as many as 50 games instead, they are 2-5. Just having a competent coach was supposed to unlock the ability for the team to close out games and make a leap defensively. Instead they look like the same talented team that still doesn’t quuuuuite execute well enough to win more games then they lose.
The crazy thing about the T’wolves is that they have THREE players averaging over 20 a game including Andrew Wiggins at 24 ppg with a not bad field goal percentage of 47.6%. Then you have The Notorious K..A.T (Karl Anthony-Towns) who is already a top 25 player the best center prospect this side of Anthony Davis. The problem is if you spend 10 minutes watching a T’wolves game you quickly come to the realization that Townes is not the alpha dog on this team… Zach LaVine is. When he has it going, “The real Jewish Jordan” (ok he’s not actually Jewish) is incredibly fun to watch play but he uses possession after possession channeling his inner Kobe and everybody on the squad clearly looks to him instead of their actual best player KAT. The baby Wolves don’t seem to have go-to strategy in close games so just revert to watching/trying hero-ball.
The Washington Wizards are 2-7, and have had a lead in the fourth in all but one game this season. John Wall is averaging 21 and 9 and Otto Porter (highest PER on the team at 24.3) looks to be taking a leap. So what’s wrong?
Two words…. Trey Burke.
I can’t blame 100% of the Wizards struggles on Burke (lord knows that D is bad) but the problem with the Wizards is not the starting lineup. The team consistently plays well in the first and third and has a positive offensive rating. Then the “Burke Mob” comes in…. Despite blowing the Celtics out Wednesday night, Burke has a net rating of -24.4. Do you know how hard that is? Right now his plus/minus ranks 408 out of 437 players in the NBA. So what I’m saying here is, literally every time John Wall goes out the game the other team goes on a 15 pt run.
I’m not letting the rest of the bench get off however. Kelly Oubre wishes he were still in Vegas summer league(or at least wishing for the city of Vegas). Marcus Thornton hasn’t been good in 3 years and has deceived himself into thinking he’s still got it (did he ever?). Having said that the next 5 games are against the 76’ers, Knicks, Heat, Suns, Orlando. All extremely winnable games and suddenly perception flips on its head and Wall is an MVP candidate (?).
Which team will be turning their season around before it’s too late? The Wizards have, the most solvable issues (trying hard, not playing Trey Burke). But it’s Minnesota that is the real sleeping giant. The one thing about blowing a pair of 18+ leads is that you were doing something right before you blew it. And they have the fourth-most efficient offense (I was shocked too) in the ENTIRE NBA! This is going to be a good team. The Wolves have the talent and ability, once they figure out how to finish games expect them to make a late run for the playoffs.