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The NBA’s biggest surprises, halfway through the season–Part 1

There are only three teams over .500 in the Eastern Conference. Lance Stephenson is somehow not just a rotation player, but a…great one? I still barely know who Lance Stephenson is. The casualty list of serious injury to franchise cornerstones is higher than usual: Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Russell Wesetbrook, Chris Paul, Marc Gasol, Brook Lopez and Al Horford, amongst others. Derek Fisher is still getting major minutes for one of the best teams in the league.

It’s been a weird NBA season. Very weird.

Somehow, we’re almost at the halfway mark of the year and I’ve been astounded at every turn. Just to round up how we’ve gotten to where we are, here are some thoughts on some of the biggest surprises of the year:

The Brooklyn Nets are getting better, but have generally been pretty horrible

Pretty easy to summarize: a ton of injuries + a bad coach = a bad team.

However, what’s most surprising is how none of us saw this coming. Even this prestigious blog predicted the Nets would finish third in the Eastern Conference. I would have locked that in knowing just how completely barren they are of competent teams east of the Mississippi. Most of us figured that adding the defensive monstrosity of Kevin Garnett, the late game shot making of Paul Pierce and adding pieces like Jason Terry and Andre Kirilenko to the bench would make this one of the toughest, most physical teams in the league.… Read more...

From historically bad to just plain bad? Charlotte Bobcats Season Preview

Starting five: PG Kemba Walker, SG Gerald Henderson, SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, PF Cody Zeller, C Al Jefferson
 
Key bench players: PF/C Bismack Biyombo, SG Ben Gordon, PG Ramon Sessions, PF Josh McRoberts, C Brendan Haywood
 
Offseason additions: Al Jefferson (three years, $41 million), Cody Zeller (4th overall pick)
 
Offseason subtractions: C BJ Mullens, PF/C Tyrus Thomas, C Desagana Diop, SG Matt Carroll
 
FACT OR FICTION: Will the Bobcats post under 50 wins in three years combined?
 
FICTION. Almost every franchise goes through a rebuilding period. There’s bottoming out, slowly rebuilding with young talent, going to the fringes of playoff contention and hopefully making a jump to a legitimate championship contender.
 
But what if your timeline was set much lower? What if your favorite team just didn’t seem like they were working towards…well, anything, really? Year after year, the team you watched night-in and night-out was mired in mediocrity. Things never seem to get better. The back court always featured under-sized guards that either couldn’t stop chucking shots with embarrassingly inefficient selection or couldn’t get the rock out of their hands fast enough. The front court, with rare exception, always featured long-term projects rife with gangly arms, insane athleticism and less polish than a shoe in Bratislava. As a supreme sign of their eternal stink, the team experienced a 14% increase in wins last season. That only resulted in 21 victories. 21!
 
What if the bar your team set for itself was to go from historically terrible to run of the mill terrible to almost not a joke?
 
That’s what you’d be dealing with if you were a Charlotte Bobcats fan. If anyone was a Charlotte Bobcats fan.… Read more...

(Not So Instant) Trade Analysis: Andre Iguodala to the Golden State Warriors and the Jazz dumping salary

Golden State Warriors get: SF Andre Iguodala (four years, $48 million)
 
Utah Jazz get: SF Richard Jefferson, C Andris Biedrins , G/F Brandon Rush, 2014 and 2017 unprotected first round pick (from GS), 2018 second round pick (from Denver), cash
 
Denver Nuggets get: G Randy Foye (three years, $9 million)
 
Atlanta Hawks get: PF Paul Millsap (two years, $19 million, via free agency)
 
Charlotte Bobcats get: PF/C Al Jefferson (three years, $41 million, via free agency)
 
If the two unprotected first rounders didn’t suggest it, the Warriors are in “win-now” mode. Duh.
 
The Warriors are going all-in with their current team after just their second winning season in almost twenty years. In a three team deal, the Warriors sent Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush (almost $24 million in salary for next season!) to the Utah Jazz, with Andre Iguodala coming to the Warriors and Randy Foye going to the Jazz, along with two unprotected first round picks. In two separate transactions, former Utah Jazz big men Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson will leave unencumbered from Salt Lake City, heading to the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Bobcats, respectively.
 
The Dubs will pay $39 million to just Stephen Curry, David Lee and Iguodala next year, without figuring in $9 million to Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green, as well as $14 million to center Andrew Bogut. The roster is capped out for the foreseeable future, especially when taking into considering at Thompson will most likely sign a eight figure extension in the next year or so, and Barnes doing the same the year afterwards. … Read more...