In a league of quickly changing fortunes, what NBA teams offer the least hope to their fans because they failed to make necessary changes in the off-season?
Every year teams rise and fall in the NBA. Not long ago, Paul Pierce seemed like the only player in Boston. One spectacular off-season changed everything for the Celtics and led to a championship.
The fact that things can change very quickly in the NBA can be a frustration to fans of teams that have languished in the losing column for years, missing the playoffs season after season. For those fans, change cannot come quickly enough.
With every off-season, in this age of free-agency, there is a resurgence of hope, a tantalizing glimmer in the idea that “this could be the year everything changes”.
Whatever hope there was going into the off-season that an All-Star might land in Minnesota or Golden State has been thoroughly dashed. It’s now time to deal with reality.
Now, after the draft and the free-agency moves and the trades, some fans have to face facts and see that this year does not promise to be any better than the last.
Sometimes teams gel and players improve from one year to the next without trades, free-agent signings or high draft picks. A team does not necessarily have to make “big moves” to instill its city with the hope that this year might be a playoff year because sometimes improvement kind of just happens.
However, we all know that history suggests these “natural growth spurts” and unforeseen improvements are few and far between.
This year we’ve already heard the news about the teams who have greatly changed and improved. Miami is a different team this year compared to last year. Los Angeles has kept its talent and added more. Boston picked up Shaquille O’Neal.
We already know about the teams that made the news with signings and trades that inspire fans to hope. But which teams will enter training camp worse off and which teams will have fans grasping at straws for arguments in support of their teams’ prospects? Which NBA teams offer the least hope to their fans because they failed to make significant (positive) changes?
Golden State Warriors
With two high-scoring and exciting guards, the Golden State Warriors are fun to watch, yet cannot be expected to win a lot of games. Don Nelson has been the coach in Oakland for a long time now, putting some surprising and entertaining teams on the court, but failing to institute the elusive “culture of winning” that marks the successful franchise.
If Monta Ellis hadn’t been signed to such a huge contract a few years ago or if Stephan Curry hadn’t shown so much promise in his rookie year last season, the Warriors might find themselves in a position to trade for size. However, large contracts and position-crunch is the norm for now in Golden State and fans are in for another year of high-scoring games that end with the opponents 125 and the Warriors 124.
Is it a race in north central California to see which team can pull itself up from the muck sooner, a new kind of rivalry between the Warriors and the Kings?
In a way, it is. The Kings drafted well last year and looked to improve in the off season through a trade that sent shooting guard Kevin Martin to Houston for forward Carl Landry.
The move makes more space for promising guard, Tyreke Evans, and adds substance to the notion that the Kings may be a team that has taken a new direction.
Big man Samuel Dalembert is now on the roster (from Philly) and though he still has something to prove to the league, it is his un-proven quality that puts doubt before hope in the mind of the fan.
Of the teams on this list, the Kings are the most likely team to make the playoffs this season, despite the fact that they are playing in the western conference where the competition fpr a playoff spot has been quite stiff for the last decade.
This may be the year that the east evens up with the west and it may be the year that hope returns to Sacramento. But, let’s not start buying division champ jerseys yet.
Toronto Raptors & Cleveland Cavaliers
The story in Toronto is very similar to the story in Cleveland. Of course, Cleveland suffered a heavier blow because it chose the path of denial right up to the moment LeBron got up on TV and because it lost the best player (arguably) in today’s game, but Toronto also lost its franchise player in Chris Bosh.
It’s rebuilding time in both small-market cities where falling into the NBA background is a serious possibility.
Cleveland fans should thank Mr. James for pulling the team up from the bogs of the NBA backwater for almost a decade. But, naturally, they will choose to rue the day he left them and decided to send them back, back to the bogs and the bottom.
New Jersey Nets
The Nets entered the off-season as a potential host for any number of free agents. They didn’t get any.
They had some young talent, quite a bit of it, and they decided to trade some. Though the Nets traded talent for talent in trading Courtney Lee for Aaron Brooks, they didn’t solve the “hope” problem.
As we saw last year when the Nets threatened to claim the title for worst season ever, young talent without a player or a specific motivation or a coach to rally around does not quickly find its way to wins.
Signing Jordan Farmar doesn’t seem like the answer to their question of how to win. Then again, you never know.
Detroit, Minnesota, and Indiana are each in rather hopeless positions as well. More hopeless than Sacramento are the leaderless and aging Pistons, the young but aimless Minnesota Timberwolves and the bland Indiana Pacers. Yet, these teams have a greater opportunity to play well this season than the experimental Sacramento Kings.
The Kings are a whole new team. At least in Detroit, Indiana and Minnesota, they’ve been losing together for a while.
…wait, that didn’t come out right.
Where there is a ball and a hoop, there is always hope.