Category Archives: NBA

The WNBA is Not a Lost Cause

By Kevin York

I haven’t written in a while (I’m sorry to all of you that have been walking around with an empty feeling in the pit of your stomach over the past few weeks…ok, the past month…) and imagine my surprise at the topic that finally caused me to sit down and write. It’s not something I ever would’ve guessed. The WNBA. Yes, the Women’s National Basketball Association (that is what it stands for, right? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it completely spelled out). You can all thank Ryan for this.

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Community in Sports

Jason Collins made big news this week by announcing that he is gay. This makes him the first active gay athlete in any professional US sport. It’s both fortunate and unfortunate that his announcement made headline news.

It’s fortunate news because I hope that Jason’s announcement paves the way for other professional athletes to be open and accepted for who they are. I think it’s an inherent right to live your life as you so wish. To feel like you can’t do that must be incredibly difficult.

To my second point, it’s unfortunate that Jason’s announcement is news. It tells me that as a society, we’re failing. This nation’s history is full of advancements in civil rights yet for some reason I feel like no one knows that. What’s that saying… those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it? We all know it, why are we repeating it? But, as with any glass full person, I have hope, and I think sports will be a pioneer as it has been time and time again to breakdown these barriers.

I can’t even tell you how many times I was at Firestone’s Grill down in San Luis Obispo watching the Lakers and Kings play each other in the playoffs. It must have been three years in a row. I’d be there watching the games with some of my best friends who were Kings fans (I bleed Purple and Gold) but would be jumping up and down, high-fiving, or hugging some random Lakers fan after the Lakers would win. Or even consoling some stranger after they lost. I didn’t know those people. I had no idea who they were, if they were gay or straight, but we had one thing in common and that’s all that mattered. Sports brought us together.

Sports brings out the best in us as a society. We’re there for each other through the good times and the bad. Except for San Francisco Giants‘ fans. They only come out when the team is winning =). But the point is: community. When people are at the games, wear their colors, and cheer for their teams, all opinions, values, and beliefs seem to go by the way side. I would hope that this type of community forming flows through to professional teams. At no point should someone’s personal beliefs dictate the support an organization shows for something irrelevant to their goal.

I hope that we’ve witnessed enough of bigotry and hatred in our past to now know that those things that we supposedly hate about someone impact our own lives negatively because it takes away from the end goal. Jackie Robinson broke down racial barriers and showed how powerful a team really can be. I hope that everything he fought for and endured will not be in vain. I don’t say that to take away from anything he’s done for modern day professional sports; I say that because we’re facing a new challenge and the lessons we learned from him apply now more than ever.

I tip my hat to Jason. Whether or not you agree with his lifestyle has nothing to do with your capability to admire his courage. I think it’s something we all need to do. It’s time to finally acknowledge people for their achievements and not who they love. Oh and treat them like people.

By @rahulrchhabria
You can contact Rahul at

On Fire – Putting the Miami Heat’s Winning Streak into Context

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

Photo Credit: (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

Yesterday someone asked me why none of us have written about the Miami Heat given their (at the time) 22 game winning streak. Good question. The obvious reason is that I’ve been swamped with work (the real work, the one that I get paid to do) so haven’t been writing as much lately (shout out to Hoa for carrying us with two strong posts in the past week). Busy isn’t the only reason I haven’t covered the Heat and their streak though; after all, I found the time to write a couple Quick Slants about the Seattle Seahawks. So why haven’t the Heat piqued my interest enough to write about them?

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More on the Warriors T-Shirt Jerseys

Warriors t-shirt jersey

We don’t feel self-conscious at all. source:

A few weeks ago Kevin let us know his feelings on the Golden State Warriors new t-shirt jerseys. I don’t know if it was just me but I sensed he wasn’t 100% on board with the change. I was ready to play devil’s advocate and give the shirts a chance. They were jarring at first but we can’t let our emotions or resistance to change stifle scientific progress and advancement of the sport. The league would still be dominated by white men in short-shorts if hadn’t been allowed to evolve. I had my rebuttal all worked out. And then I saw the game.

First Impressions

It was a little weird. I’m not going to lie to you. I respect you too much to do that. Even if it means agreeing with Kevin on that note. I don’t think the shirts quite match the pinstriped shorts. It reminds me of the guy in the gym that works out in his street clothes. They also did not start off with the increased explosive power that Rahul tells me his Under Armour t-shirt gives him when he’s skiing. However, where it really counts, the last few minutes of the 4th and in OT, is when the shirts came into play.

But before that I must fully disclose: I was out drinking meeting with our EIC/co-founders Kevin and Rahul and recorded the Spurs game. My DVR cut out at the end of regulation despite me adding 30min on. So the following in depth professional NBA analysis is based off of my cell phone updates while I was eating at Urban Curry. The Warriors had just gotten an energy surge to make a few crucial 3 pointers and free-throws to keep the game going. Their second wind had kicked in and they were ready to give everything they had to go out on top.

What I think Happened

(I imagine) the Spurs were slowing down and  drenched in sweat. Their muscles depleted of electolyte replenishing sports drinks. They had only brought enough for a regulation game. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say. Their muscles started to cramp and their shoulders grew sore and cold as the game went on. The Warriors, though tired, were still dry and warm thanks to moisture-wick™ technology. They surged and played loops around the Spurs like they were the Washington Generals. That’s probably what happened. I waited to see another game to see if my hypothesis held.

Second Impressions. Lets see Those Jersey’s in Action Again

The match-up against the Rockets was for the most part the same. Neither team demonstrated any explosive dominance though David Lee did play pretty well despite his knee injury. I can’t say the jersey had any impact on that. I was hoping to see a 2nd wind in the 4th and for a second it seemed like it was coming. But the momentum really slowed down and Rockets regained their lead and the game fizzled out.

Performance Enhancing? 

Get it? They look a little bit like Lance Armstrong’s Jerseys. Okay, back to my hard hitting analysis.


Goodell: There's money to be made with sleeveless QBs.

Goodell: There’s money to be made with sleeveless QBs.

ADIDAS knows how to make performance gear. I don’t think there’s a mobility or functionality issue but their color palette pattern designers leave a lot to be desired (see below). Sleeves aren’t restricting quarterbacks from launching the pigskin. Which, further-more, also, as well, leads me to the conclusion that Kevin just wishes to see NFL quarterbacks play sleeveless (see above). I cannot see that being a negative if it brings in more female (or male, I mean whatever, lets see all of Kaepernick’s tattoos) viewers.

Is this a Marketing Fad or the Future?

It just looks a little too weird right now to catch on. I can see different teams putting their touches on it. Maybe Oregon will have 200 different versions. We can call it a soft-launch. Loyal fans may pick up a few but Improvements must be made quickly or this will go the way of Crystal Pepsi. The true test is if Jay-Z decides he wants to get on board and launch a version for the Nets. That man has style and knows how to sell water to a guy-or-girl-who-already-has-water. Maybe they’ll up the ante and reveal a black-tie pin-stripe Athletic Performance Tuxedo™ that he and Timberlake can sport at their concerts.

Update: Kevin sent me this NCAA t-shirt press image. I don’t even know what to say…

New NCAA  T-shirt Jerseys

What the? –

Also Bonus Sleeveless Rodgers.


I had too much fun making Sleeveless Rodgers


By Hoa Nguyen. Whose knowledge of sports is mostly informed by video games.
Follow Hoa on Twitter at @hoabert
You can contact Hoa at


The Most Disliked Teams in America

By Kevin York

Two weeks ago I started a series on the Most Disliked entities in sports. I began this little series of posts questioning Forbes original article listing the ten most disliked athletes in America. Since I didn’t agree with all the athletes on their list, I revised it and published my own. I followed that up with a post on the most disliked coaches in America, which I decided on by crowdsourcing answers from my Facebook friends and input from the other Couchletes.

I considered doing a post on the most disliked owners in America, but decided there aren’t really enough that are universally disliked right now. There’s Jerry Jones and….Jerry Jones. You could make an argument for a few others, but I realized most of the owners that we as a general public don’t like aren’t with us anymore. Guys like Al Davis and George Steinbrenner. So instead of going the owner route, I’m just going straight to the final installment, the most disliked teams in America.

In deciding the teams that belong on this list, I decided not to ask for other opinions. Not because I think I’m that smart, but because these disliked teams all really stood out. I think most would agree with the ones on this list – except maybe the fans of these teams.

In reviewing this list, I noticed that the teams on it are all popular with large, dedicated fan bases. That’s part of what makes them so disliked. You’re not going to find a team like the Kansas City Royals or the Milwaukee Bucks on this list. To be disliked as a team, there a few things you need to have:

  • Success: At some point in the team’s history, they have to have seen success. It doesn’t even have to have been recent success, just prolonged.
  • Personalities: There are very few examples of teams that become disliked for reasons other than the people on the field and sidelines. We as the audience connect with people – the players, the coaches, sometimes the owners. By the same token, we develop a dislike for people, not logos or colors or cities.
  • Good fan base: It’s not always the personalities on the field that irritate us. Sometimes it’s the obnoxious people in the stands that we grow to hate.

All ten teams that I list below have all three of these characteristics. So without further ado, here they are. The ten most disliked teams in America, at least from my perspective.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Boston Red Sox

Dallas Cowboys

Duke Blue Devils

Los Angeles Lakers

Miami Heat

New England Patriots

New York Yankees

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Ohio State Buckeyes

So what teams did I miss?

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

The Walking Dead: A guide to watching the NBA’s lost causes.

By Mark Gaspar

The bottom feeders are coming for you.

The bottom feeders are coming for you.

As we cross the threshold of the NBA season’s halfway point we’re left with a lot of stories to ponder. Will the Lakers get their act together? Can anyone challenge the Heat in the east? Do the Spurs have enough left in the tank to compete for a fifth title? Could I love Ricky Rubio any more than I do now?

But there are other storylines. Deep within the dark recesses of our collective minds, in a place we don’t like to admit exists – let alone talk about – resides the walking dead; a collection of teams without hope of success. They’re just going through the motions. There will be no playoffs for them. No last second push. No absolution or chance for redemption. Only pain and suffering. Surrounding these teams is the familiar mantra “maybe next year.”

However, not all the members of the walking dead are as dead as others. Some still have some life in them. Some still offer something interesting to watch or look for. Below, I’ll break down our undead into two camps. The “Really Dead” i.e. Please watch something else, and the “Little bit of life in them” i.e. something interesting is going on.

Keep in mind the trade deadline is tomorrow so these could be meaningless by the time you get around to read this. Thanks for nothing NBA.

The Unwatchables

Charlotte Bobcats

There’s not a way to say this delicately. The Charlotte Bobcats are a bad team. Could they end up being good? At some point maybe. In the not too distant future? No. They currently have 2 ¼ serviceable players.

Player 1: I’ve only seen a few Bobcat games this year but Kemba Walker has been far and away the best thing about the team. If he can improve his defense, he should be able to comfortably reside in that top-20 PGS in the league (this is not an insult. Have you seen how many good point guards there are?)

Player 2: I really enjoy watching Bismack Biyombo. Sadly, he’s probably a minimum two years away from being a serviceable NBA player. I’d compare him to his former countrymen Serge Ibaka. Both athletic freaks and neither one of them knew what they were doing the first couple years they were in the league. Will he figure it out like Ibaka? I don’t know, but it might be worth checking in from time to time.

Player ¼: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a really good player. It’s just unfortunate he hit the rookie wall after the first month of the season. When he’s on he’s very entertaining. He defends; he passes; he can score a little bit. Has the potential to be a poor-man’s Andrei Kirilenko if he stays healthy and continues to improve.

Should you watch?: You’ve always wanted to read “Moby Dick” and by the time you finish they might be decent.

Sacramento Kings

This team has a ton of talent on it and yet I like close to nothing about them. Demarcus Cousins is a beast. If he screws his head on right he’ll be the second best Center in the league after Dwight. However, his actions have proven that that is a pretty big IF and if/when it happens it probably won’t be with the Kings/Sonics.

As for Tyreke Evans, he’s a physical freak. Unfortunately he doesn’t really know how to play basketball.

If you’re a Kings fan… well, I’m sorry. This team drafts players without knowing what they’re going to do with them. This leads to players getting frustrated as they are rarely put in a situation where they can succeed. This isn’t so much the players fault. They didn’t choose to be drafted by the Kings but it is systemic of their entire operation. And to make matters worse for their fan base (one of the best in the league by the way) they’re probably moving to Seattle.

Should you watch?: It might be time to go out and interact with your fellow humans.

Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic are in a dark place right now. Unburdened of Dwight Howard they are a team without an identity or star. Their best player is currently J.J. Redick and there’s roughly a 100% chance he will be traded by tomorrow afternoon. Their best chance is to win the lottery. Sadly for them there isn’t a franchise-changing player to be found this year. What does this all mean? It means the Magic are going to be bad for the next half-decade, minimum.

Should you watch?: I’m pretty sure ESPN 2 is showing reruns of NFL Countdown.

Phoenix Suns

The Suns are in pretty much the same boat as the Magic but with one of the worst owners in the league. They recently parted ways with Steve Nash so they’re currently operating without an identity or any quality NBA players. They do have Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley, i.e. two very capable players who would be nice on any team competing for the playoffs. However, when you pair them with Michael Beasley, you’re not going to win a lot of games. Again, just like the Magic there aren’t any players on the team as it’s currently constructed that can give their fans much to look forward to.

Should you watch?: Isn’t House Hunters on right now?

If the Thunder or Heat aren’t playing it wouldn’t hurt you to watch them

Washington Wizards

The Washington Wizards are starting to figure things out. After a horrendous start they’ve found their footing and are starting to play if not winning basketball, at least watchable basketball.

John Wall is healthy and starting to live up to his potential. Bradley Beal has had a few moments that show what type of player he could be. Combine them with veterans like Nene and Trevor Ariza and you have a team that can compete most nights. Will they make the playoffs? No. Even with as bad as the Eastern Conference has been this year they’ll still miss out by quite a few games. But with a smart draft and a few trades/free agent signings that break their way they could be competing for the 8th seed as early as next year.

Should you watch?: If some of the teams below aren’t on I’d recommend checking out the Wiz… at least when John Wall is on the court.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the most watchable teams in the league even though they have the worst record. Why? Because Kyrie Irving is the most thrilling player to watch outside of LeBron James. His speed, balance, and decision making can at times leave you breathless, or if you’re Brad Beal, on your back.

The Cavs haven’t done a great job surrounding him with talent (sound familiar Mr. James?) but they should be in line for another quality draft pick. They just need to make sure they don’t choose another Tristan Thompson or Dion Waiters.

On the bright side, at least Anderson Varejao didn’t die from his blood clot scare.

Should you watch?: If Kyrie is healthy you should definitely watch the Cavs.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Do I have an unbiased opinion about the Timberwolves? Yes, yes I do. Should you believe me when I say you should watch them? Yes, yes you should. Just maybe not right now.

Before the season started the puppies were a trendy pick to be a 5th or 6th seed in the west. Then, Kevin Love broke his hand, Chase Budinger tore his meniscus, Brandan Roy’s knee exploded… again, Josh Howard’s knee exploded, and Ricky Rubio started his come back after exploding his knee last year. With five remaining players and two healthy knees to share the Wolves have had a hard time winning games. This trend will continue until they get a few players back.

That’s the bad news. The good news?

Ricky Rubio is starting to come back into form. Over his past 10 games he’s averaging 13.1 points, 8.6 assists, and 2.4 steals a game. These are pretty good numbers. Regardless of how many injuries they’ve had, a healthy Rubio makes this team a League Pass favorite.

Other bright spots: Kevin Love will return in the next few weeks. Chase Budinger will too. Will it be too little too late? Yes. The Western Conference is so stacked this year that a team is going to need close to 50 wins just to get the 8th seed. However, NBA fans will get at least 15-17 games to watch this team as it was originally constructed. It should be fun. And it sets them up well for next year.

Should you watch?: Watch the Timberwolves. Bet on their opponent.

New Orleans Hornets

The Hornets are a lousy team. So why are they on the watchable list? Well, they have Anthony Davis, one of the best big men prospects of the last decade. When he’s healthy he’s a defensive terror and turns NOLA into the Cajun Lob City. Do they have weak links? Yes, Austin Rivers is putting up numbers that put him in the running for worst basketball player of all time. Eric Gordon can’t stay healthy, he doesn’t like the team and the fans don’t like him. However, they have a new owner, a new name as of next year, and they should be in line for another decent draft pick. If they can find a good small forward to pair with Davis and Greivis Vasquez they could have a nice little nucleus.

Should you watch?: This year? Sure, as long as you’re doing something else useful.

By Mark Gaspar
Follow Mark on Twitter at @markgaspar
You can contact Mark at

Valentine’s Day advice from Ricky Rubio

By Mark Gaspar

For men around the country, today is a day of romance, possibility, and crippling fear. We’ve spent months, weeks, days, or maybe hours planning something perfect. Something that will make that special someone in our life appreciate and love us all the more. It can be tricky, we all know that. But thankfully Mr. Rubio is here to provide us with a little pre-rising stars challenge advice (this honors my commitment to write an all-star post. In short, watch the rising stars challenge and be amazed at what Ricky Rubio can do when nobody plays defense).

His advice? It’s better to give than to receive.

Pretty simple. To illustrate his advice (and get you in the mood for tonight with some very sexy giving) I’ve included 9 minutes of Ricky Rubio passes. Enjoy.

By Mark Gaspar
Follow Mark on Twitter at @markgaspar
You can contact Mark at

On Short Sleeve Basketball Jerseys

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Adidas)

Photo Credit: (Adidas)

On Monday, the Golden State Warriors announced that for three of its remaining home games, the team will wear the NBA’s “first modern short sleeve jersey.” The only question I had upon hearing this news was, why? After seeing the first few photos released of these new jerseys, I was still left asking why.

Anyone that played in a summer basketball league growing up knows what it’s like to wear a sleeved t-shirt while playing. It’s not ideal. The sleeves can affect the movement of your arms when shooting, rebounding, passing, actually they can affect movement in nearly every facet of the game. That’s why most kids in those leagues cut off the sleeves (that, and to a lesser degree, for looks). It allows for better range of motion with the shoulders, especially when it comes to shooting. When I saw these new sleeved home alternates that Golden State unveiled I was pretty shocked. Not only is it a t-shirt, it’s a tight t-shirt. I know Adidas, the manufacturer, raved about how light the jersey is and how the fabric stretches so the sleeves aren’t the type of hindrance that traditional sleeves can be. They went so far down the ‘innovative’ path that they tied the Warriors wearing the new jersey to the team’s proximity to Silicon Valley. Innovative jerseys for a team based in an innovative area. Sure, Adidas. Seems like a stretch to me, and not a good stretch like your new jerseys are supposed to allow.

Photo Credit: (San Jose Mercury News)

Photo Credit: (San Jose Mercury News)

I don’t know about you, but that photo doesn’t make the sleeve look like it would allow you to move around a lot.

Let’s be honest. Adidas didn’t introduce these because they wanted to make some big basketball jersey performance innovation. The performance enhancements seen from a jersey are minimal anyway. They introduced these for money, pure and simple.

The problem is, THESE THINGS ARE UGLY. If another team was going to follow Golden State’s lead, it would be for money reasons, not for performance reasons. Big mistake by Adidas. Did they expect teams to line up their door, wanting their own t-shirt jersey? Will the Nets, widely seen as the team now at the forefront of basketball fashion, be trotting out in these things next year? No, we won’t see another team adopting these things. Who ever thought this was a good idea? Are we seeing that many problems with the traditional jersey style that every team in the league wears? No, we’re not seeing any problems.

Adidas is calling these the “adizero NBA short sleeve uniform system.” Really? System? It’s a shirt, guys. A more fitting name might be the “bizarro NBA t-shirt jersey.”

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

Defending the Triangle: A Theory on Why the Lakers Passed on Phil Jackson

I haven’t published a post since November 1st. That’s the longest I’ve gone without writing something in quite some time, and truth be told, over the last couple weeks I’ve been pretty out of touch with what’s happened in the sports world. I had good reason though. I got married on October 27th and was on my honeymoon until until November 13. I promised my wife that during the honeymoon I wouldn’t do any writing for the Couchletes. I also didn’t check email during the trip. So I came back refreshed, rejuvenated and tan still pale… (I burn instead of tan so SPF 50 was my best friend) to find that my fellow Couchletes published a grand total of zero posts during my absence. Apparently it was a break from writing for all of us… The wedding did give us a chance to all hang out together, in person, as a group for the first time ever though.

While during the honeymoon I didn’t follow sports as much as I usually do, there was one story that really caught my eye – the firing of Mike Brown by the Lakers and the subsequent hiring of Mike D’Antoni. A story this big has already been covered by, well, everyone (except Rahul, who I was expecting would have something to say about it), so I don’t need to recant it for you. I do however, want to give my perspective on an aspect of it that hasn’t been covered yet. It’s my theory on why the Lakers management chose D’Antoni over previous Lakers coach and 11-time world champion coach, Phil Jackson.

The official story from Laker GM Mitch Kupchak is that D’Antoni was the unanimous choice by owner Jerry Buss, senior team official (and Jerry’s son) Jim Buss and Kupchak. The story also goes that the three decided on D’Antoni solely for basketball reasons and that issues like salary (Jackson is expensive) and travel (Jackson has voiced a preference for not going on long road trips) did not play any part in the decision.

I’m not buying it. Let’s take them at their word though, at least on part of the rationale. Let’s say that the cost of Jackson and side issues like a special travel schedule for him played no part in the decision. What basketball issues would make them lean toward D’Antoni, a fine coach, but one who has won nothing? Apparently, much of the decision revolved around Jackson’s famed Triangle offense. So why would Kupchak and the Buss family not want the triangle?

The Intelligence Factor
It’s come out that it was difficult for the current Lakers team to pick up former coach Mike Brown’s Princeton-style offense. Lakers management thought that given that, it would be just as difficult for the team to now learn Jackson’s similar triangle offense. Who exactly are the players that they think would have trouble learning the triangle? Ron Artest Metta World Peace learned it… Who do they think would struggle? If Peace learned it, I’m pretty sure the rest of them could.

The Big Man
Some would say the triangle isn’t designed to be run by a team with a talented big man like Dwight Howard, pointing at Jackson’s days of running the offense in Chicago with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and such world renowned centers such as Bill Wennington, Stacey King and Luc Longley. My counter to that? Shaq ran it. He did pretty well, no?

The Point Guard
Some would also say the triangle isn’t designed for a team with a talented point guard like Steve Nash, pointing at the likes of BJ Armstrong, Derek Fisher and Ron Harper, who all ran the offense under Jackson. They think the offense holds back a talented point guard by moving the ball around too much (doing the job of a traditional point guard to some degree). Steve Nash is a smart guy though, a smart guy that wants to win a title. He doesn’t care about his personal stats anymore, he wants to win. And for those not knowledgeable of the triangle offense – it’s designed to open up opportunities for everyone. Why do you think Jackson ran it while having such stars as Jordan and Kobe? Because it forced a defense to stay honest and not overcommit to the star on the team. Second point – do you really think a smart coach like Jackson wouldn’t make some adjustments to it to take advantage of Nash’s talents?

Any other reasons the Triangle wouldn’t work for the Lakers? I can’t think of any…

Here’s my theory:
The Buss family and Kupchak knew that if they brought in Jackson, everyone would expect the team to win now. If they didn’t win, the blame wouldn’t go to 11-time champ Jackson. He’s won everywhere he’s been with every personality type. Senior management spent considerable money to bring in Howard and Nash. It’s more likely that the blame would shift to Kupchak, Jim and Jerry for spending money on high priced assets that didn’t integrate well enough and left the team without a bench. They knew if they brought in D’Antoni, they’d see a faster paced offense that LA fans would love and they’d have one more scapegoat if things didn’t pan out.

So I don’t think the decision came down to the Triangle offense or any other basketball reasons. I think it was ego and a case of CYA, quite simply.

The NBA in 2012: The Good, the Bad and the Hopeless

This post continues our 2012-2013 NBA Preview. You can view all our NBA preview posts here.

Many people talk about parity in the NFL and how great it is for the sport. Every year, each team (for the most part) has a shot (some being long shots) at the playoffs. For the most part, I see the truth in that, but Cleveland Browns fans might disagree with me. I don’t buy into this parity talk as much as some people. There are certain teams we know will just be bad. However, I do think the NFL has evolved into a league where a team can turn things around relatively quickly. You don’t see teams laboring at the bottom of the cellar with no hope for years and years (sorry, Cleveland, I’m overlooking you for this post).

Baseball isn’t talked about as much as being a parity driven league because it doesn’t have a salary cap. So teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs and all the other wealthy, big market teams can spend at will to build contenders year after year. Yet, we don’t see that happening. The Red Sox were horrible this year and the Cubs are more often horrible than not. And we’ve seen a number of low spending, small market teams contend over the past couple years. Tampa, Oakland, Cincinnati. The Nationals were a team that had been dreadful since re-establishing as a franchise, but had the best record in the bigs this year while not spending exorbitant amounts of money. Teams like Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Cleveland were teams that were in contention at various points of the year.

In the NBA, we don’t see this type of parity. There are a few really good teams, a few really bad teams and a mess of teams in the middle in a category many would call hopeless. They’re not good enough to contend as built, but aren’t bad enough to get a lottery pick and start to build younger, better pieces. The general thinking is you want to be really good or you want to be really bad (so you can get good in a couple years).

There’s a problem with this thinking though. It’s not that simple to rebuild through the draft anymore. Players coming out of college are less developed than in past years because they’re younger. It takes a little longer for them to adjust to the NBA and reach their true potential than it did rookies ten years ago. Many teams won’t wait around for a player to reach that potential. They give them three years and then move on, so another team ends up getting the benefits from that player’s talent and potential (see: Michael Beasley, Hasheem Thabeet, Adam Morrison, Devin Harris, etc.). Along these same lines of thinking, the job of the NBA general manager is getting more difficult. They need to find players that will contribute in the near term, but they also don’t want to miss out on that guy that develops and emerges as a viable star in his fourth year in the league.

Evidence? Look at the teams that finished near the bottom of the league last year. Charlotte’s been bad for a while. Cleveland’s been bad ever since LeBron left town. Sacramento and Golden State have been consistently poor over the past five years. Detroit, New Jersey and Toronto have been in the bottom third of the league for years as well. Each of these teams have young players they can build around, but how long will it take them to get to the point where those players can contend with the Kevin Durants, Dwight Howards and Dwyane Wades of the league? Or will they ever even get to that point?

It’s a difficult situation to fix because while the NBA has a salary cap, many of the game’s top players are now deciding that they’ll accept less salary in order to play with other great players for a chance at NBA Championships. Who would look at Sacramento or Detroit and decide they want to go play there? How does a team put itself in position to be one of the franchises that people want to go to?

They could go in a different direction than the draft and build the pieces first and then go after the star. However, teams like Houston have tried to do that and failed. Stars want to join stars. So it seems teams will be forced to continue to build through the draft. No easy solution exists to bring the kind of parity we see in football and baseball to basketball.

With that, I’ll move on to making my predictions for the good, the bad and the hopeless this year.

The Good
Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs

The Bad
Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Bobcats, New Orleans Hornets

The Hopeless
New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Portland Trailblazers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets

Not surprisingly, the Hopeless category has the most teams in it…

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york