The NBA season is near the halfway mark. This is nervous time for players on partially guaranteed contracts. Some are going to find themselves unemployed so owners don’t have to pay them for the rest of the season. That clears the deck for the 10-day contract season, trade manuevers before or at the deadline, and for one third of the league tanking for the lottery.
It is January but 10 of the NBA’s finest are already looking at a failed season, no playoffs so keep developing the young guys. A couple of coaches are going to get fired. Players will be moved. Teams like the Lakers who don’t have a first round pick will try to sweeten the pot to get one. It’s all a fantasy. For the most part, teams in the lottery stay in the lottery for a long time. It’s hard to rebuild and do it right.
The repeaters had so much hope in October. Now it’s the same old losing and watching playoffs in May thing. No one feels sorry for them; they screwed up their own organization. The Bottom 5 have to live with their mediocrity for another year.
Sacramento Kings: 13th in the West. They have been in the lottery 11 straight years and are staring 12 right in the face. It’s a combination of disasters for the Kings. Bad front office. Stupid free agent signings like George HIll for almost $60 million. Best Lottery PIck: DeMarcus Cousins.
- The Best Thing About the Kings This Season? Z-Bo is still getting it done. 15 points, 7 rebounds, 50% shooting. 25 minutes.
- The Worst Thing About the Kings This Season? Scoring. Assists. Rebounding. Pace. Defense. So Everything.
*Kings Cap Money in 2018-19: $16 million.
Phoenix Suns: 11th in the West. They have been in the lottery 8 years in a row and are constructed to be in the lottery another five years. Devin Booker is a scoring talent but doesn’t do much else, particularly play defense. The rest of the roster is young and clueless except Tyson Chandler who is cashing a check. Best Lottery Pick: Devin Booker.
- The Best Thing About the Suns This Season? Saving Eric Bledsoe’s sanity (and ours) by trading him.
- The Worst Thing About the Suns This Season? Trailing by 50 points in game 1, a precursor.
*Suns Cap Money in 2018-19: $22 million
Orlando Magic: 14th in the East. They have been in the lottery ever since they traded Dwight Howard in 2012. They have amassed a lot of young talent but it doesn’t really matter. They either don’t fit, perform better once they leave like Victor Oladipo, or are just blah. They have athleticism but their young players haven’t developed on an appropriate NBA timetable. Best Lottery Pick: Victor Oladipo
- The Best Thing About the Magic This Season? Aaron Gordon has been ballin’ big time. Almost 20 points a game. 8 rebounds.
- The Worst Thing About the Magic This Season? Defense. 110 points a game will deliver you into the lottery every single year.
*Magic Cap Money in 2018-19: $16 million
Los Angeles Lakers: 15th in the West. They have been in the lottery for 4 years in a row. They thought this might be the year to end the streak but they also thought Lonzo was Magic Johnson 2.0 so they are dreamers. Their young players are developing like a dripping faucet, slower than slow. Best Lottery Pick: Kyle Kuzma
- The Best Thing About the Lakers This Season? Kyle Kuzma. No one imagined the season he has given L.A. The team’s leading scorer is scoring 17.2 points, 38% from three. 34 minutes.
- The Worst Thing About the Lakers This Season? Luke Walton. The Lakers lead the league in pace. Whatever. It doesn’t matter if you play fast when the consequence is turning the ball over at a Biblical rate and de-legitimizing anemic jump shooters.
*Lakers Cap Money in 2018-19: $47 million
Brooklyn Nets: 12th in the East. They have been in the lottery for 3 years in a row. They have performed better this year than anyone expected and so that lottery pick the Cavs have may not be a top-5. With Jeremy Lin out for the season and D’Angelo Russell injured, it’s hard to evaluate how their young players can gel in order to pitch a free agent. Best Lottery Pick: They traded them away to the Celtics but I guess they can cop to D’Angelo Russell by way of lottery/trade.
- The Best Thing About the Nets This Season? They can score night in, night out. It keeps them competitive and interesting.
- The Worst Thing About the Nets This Season? D’Angleo Russell’s 21 points a game has been on the bench for 24 games.
*Nets Cap Money in 2018-19: $13 million