With the All-Star Break upon us, we are going to take a look at all 30 teams in the NBA and issue our team-by-team basketball report cards to show which teams are on their way and which ones floundered in the first half of the season.
Eastern Conference NBA Report Cards
Miami Heat (27-7): A – The Heat are easy. They survived Dwyane Wade’s injury. They have survived all of the people that thought that LeBron James’ heart was really back in Cleveland. They’ve done it all. Simply put, this is the best team in the league, and as long as the Heat stay healthy, their fast paced style of play is certainly going to put this team in better shape come the playoffs.
Chicago Bulls (27-8): A – There were a ton of road games at the start of the year for the Bulls, and they were clearly out to do well right away. In spite of the fact the Derrick Rose has missed his share of games, Chicago has been solid this year, and there is no reason to think that this team is going to do anything less than at least make the Eastern Conference Finals this year.
Indiana Pacers (21-12): A – Be honest. You didn’t even know that the Pacers had the third best record in the East, did you? Indiana is absolutely a playoff team this year, and the addition of David West is just what the doctor ordered. The win over the Bulls at the United Center, which is still one of just the two Chicago losses at home this year, was one of the biggest victories that any team has had this year.
Orlando Magic (22-13): B- – We’re going to be rough on the Magic because we think that they have been kidding themselves. They really need to trade Dwight Howard and do it right now, or they are going to end up losing him at season’s end. At times, this team just looks downright pitiful, but at others, it looks like a bunch of world beaters. Until the Magic figure it out, they aren’t going anywhere.
Atlanta Hawks (20-14): A- – Atlanta hasn’t had Al Horford in the fold for basically the whole season, and yet the team is still firmly in the playoffs. The Hawks have big wins over the Magic and Heat this year, and those are good marks when you’re considering the fact that this team just doesn’t seem to be all that talented, especially without Horford out there.
Philadelphia 76ers (20-14): A+ – There is no team in the East that we are more impressed with than the Sixers. They have basically been leading the Atlantic Division from wire to wire, and Andre Iguodala is still not really recognized as the fantastic leader and player on both sides of the court that he is. Head Coach Doug Collins might be Coach of the Year right now.
New York Knicks (17-18): C- – Jeremy Lin is great, and he was a fantastic find, but in the end, this is still a team that just doesn’t look great. Tyson Chandler doesn’t seem to fit in, Amare Stoudemire doesn’t seem to be as athletic as he used to be, and Carmelo Anthony has had some issues meshing with Lin as well. New York just isn’t that great this year, even with Linsanity, and Head Coach Mike D’Antoni might pay the price at the end of the season for it.
Boston Celtics (15-17): F – Sorry, Beantown. Your team has been the biggest underachiever in the East this year. The C’s have some good wins, but they only have 15 victories in spite of the fact that they have already played 19 home games. This is a team that is past its prime, and GM Danny Ainge needs to make a big move, and soon or this team might not even make the playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers (13-18): B – We like what Cleveland has done this year. Kyrie Irving is a real ball player and it is showing, and he has helped transform a team that was a living train wreck last year into one that is going to probably get into the bottom end of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks (13-20): C – Everything is average about this Milwaukee team. So what if there are two wins over the Heat? There are only 11 wins against the rest of basketball. Without Andrew Bogut, this team just isn’t really all that great.
Detroit Pistons (11-24): D – It’s amazing how fast this team fell from one of the best in the league to one of the worst in the league. Ben Gordon was a terrible signing, and really save for the way that Greg Monroe has really quietly evolved into one of the best men in the league, there is nothing to write home about in Motown.
Toronto Raptors (10-23): C – The truth of the matter is that the Raptors have virtually no talent whatsoever. They still come out and compete on a nightly basis even without all of that talent in place, and they are still in the push for the back end of the playoffs.
New Jersey Nets (10-25): D – Sure, Brook Lopez has been hurt, but we just don’t know what this team is going to end up doing at the trade deadline. Getting Dwight Howard seems like a longshot at the deadline with Lopez still injured, and the squad can’t go into the offseason without getting anything back for Deron Williams. This could get messy in a hurry.
Washington Wizards (7-26): D- – The only reason that the Wizards don’t get an F is because they somehow have a victory over Oklahoma City.
Charlotte Bobcats (4-28): F – This is the worst team in the league both offensively and defensively. How in the heck could we give any other rating than that? Michael Jordan’s tenure with this team has been a horror, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better any time soon.
Western Conference NBA Report Cards
Oklahoma City Thunder (27-7): A – Duh. Any time that you can feature Kevin Durant scoring 50, Russell Westbrook scoring 41, and Serge Ibaka putting together a triple-double all in the same game, you know that you are doing something right. The Thunder might be the best team in the league right now, and they are a whopping 15-1 this year at home.
San Antonio Spurs (24-10): A – We knew that the Spurs could play at home, as they left for their Rodeo Road Trip at 13-1 in San Antonio. That being said, they were an awful road team until they left for the longest road trip in basketball, and they came back as three-game leaders in the Southwest Division. Tim Duncan and the Spurs are primed for another great run this year.
Los Angeles Clippers (20-11): B- – Okay, so maybe we’re being a tad harsh on the Clips. They haven’t been good in years, and now, they are sitting atop the Pacific Division. Still, we expected more than this from this team. Chris Paul will really miss Chauncey Billups’ presence in the fold for the rest of the season, but with CP3, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan sharing the court together, this is a team that should be doing better than this.
Dallas Mavericks (21-13): B – Dirk Nowitzki was out of the lineup for some time this year, and players like Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, and Lamar Odom haven’t meshed well together. Still, at 21-13, Dallas is a team to watch out for, because when it figures out how to put this all together, just as it did last year in the playoffs, it is one of the deeper teams in the league.
Houston Rockets (20-14): A – We give Head Coach Kevin McHale all of the credit in the world. The Rockets looked terrible at the outset of the year, and the trade that never did happen that would have brought Pau Gasol to town threatened to kill the team. Houston is the one team of the three that were involved in the offseason in the deal that was voided that truly lived to tell about it.
Los Angeles Lakers (20-14): D – The Lakers traded Lamar Odom for squat just before the season started, and now, they are scrambling to try to figure out what their team is going to look like. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Kobe Bryant are all that the Lakers have, and if that’s the case, they probably aren’t winning the NBA title this year. This has been a brutal disappointment of a season to date.
Memphis Grizzlies (19-15): B- – The Grizz haven’t played fantastic ball all season long, but they are definitely showing some promise, especially at home. Memphis will get Zach Randolph back for the second half of the season, and that’s when we’ll see just how good this team really has the ability to be.
Portland Trail Blazers (18-16): B – The Blazers have lost Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, yet they still continue to hang around in the West. They are getting great contributions from their top seven players, and though the team doesn’t have an outstanding bench, it is a bench that is good enough to make some noise in the postseason.
Denver Nuggets (18-17): C – Denver’s depth was supposed to carry it this year, but it feels like losing Danilo Gallinari has really cost the team in a big way. There just isn’t that one scorer that is going to step up and knock down that big time shot, and it is going to really cost the Nuggets dearly if that doesn’t change in the second half of the year.
Minnesota Timberwolves (17-17): A – The T’Wolves are at .500? Really? Ricky Rubio has become a legend already in Minnesota, and Kevin Love just keeps doing his thing. This is a fun team to watch, and it will continue to be that way, and if the Timberwolves can get into the playoffs, it will be a real accomplishment, especially in the stacked West.
Utah Jazz (15-17): C – This is pretty much what we thought that we were going to get out of the Jazz this year. They’re a deep team that can play with the big boys, but the talent isn’t all that fantastic outside of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.
Golden State Warriors (13-17): B- – Head Coach Mark Jackson has his team playing hard, but again, what we are seeing is that there are plenty of scorers, but no real defenders for the Warriors. The time is here that Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry really need to be split up, as they are the exact same player.
Phoenix Suns (14-20): C – Even though the Suns aren’t very good, they have some good things to look at. Marcin Gortat is rounding into the big man that they thought that they were going to get with the big trade last year with the Magic, and Steve Nash is still seemingly happy. Phoenix owes it to Nash to send him to a contender this year, and it would probably help rebuild the team a bit as well if it were to happen.
Sacramento Kings (11-22): D – The Kings have done alright since Head Coach Paul Westphal was dumped, but we can’t give this team that much more credit than this because of the whole DeMarcus Cousins problem.
New Orleans Hornets (8-25): F – But then again, what did you really expect out of the Hornets this year after having to dismantle the team to get rid of Chris Paul?