Interesting article posted by Ben Golliver of CBS Sports, ranking the 2011 NBA rosters as they stand, and weighing heavily not just talent on the floor and bench, but horrible contracts as well. I found a few surprises.
OKC at #2 didn’t really surprise me. I was almost surprised they weren’t at #1. The Thunder are like the Brady Bunch. Everyone looks alike, fits into their rightful spot, coexists well together, and nobody ever asks for money. What more would you want out of an NBA roster? I suppose Russell Westbrook losing his freakin’ mind in the playoffs, and the notion that OKC has only about a two year window before they’ll have to shell out big bucks to keep everything intact, are the two variables that kept the roster out of the top spot in these rankings.
Orlando at 29! Sweet merciful. Is it that bad in Disneyworld? This is a playoff contender, right? But taking a closer look, the ranking seems harsh, but actually is just about right. If Howard leaves, this team is up the creek, about twice as bad as Cleveland was this year. What it really comes down to is how the franchise has constructed the team around Howard. They’re built to win now, and not necessarily long term. That’s not a problem for teams like Boston or San Antonio, but for Orlando, it’s a big one. The “win absolutely now” roster is generally one of the older rosters in the league. Such is the case in Orlando. They’ve got Hedo Turkoglu, Gilbert Arenas, and Jason Richardson all playing heavy minutes, and Jameer Nelson is entering his 30’s as well. Throw in Quentin Richardson, and you’re a pretty old team. Now take Howard out of the equation. Say he does leave. The Magic are left with absolutely nothing; just a bunch of aging former-studs with little trade value. The Magic will literally need to go through two or three sub-20 win seasons to even begin the rebuilding process. Marcin Gortat was their one good piece. Not a star, but a valuable center teams would give up prospects for. But they gave him up for Richardson, only setting themselves further onto the ledge if Howard should leave. If he does leave–which I think he will–Orlando is done for a good while.
Phoenix at 23. Going into this, I would have thought Phoenix would be right at the bottom. Even as frustrated as I am with the Jazz, I would hate to be a Suns fan. The team has been standing pat for sometime now, each year falling further and further away from a championship. They’ve made a few moves, but really, Richardson for Carter? In the realm of NBA trades, that would be the definition of spinning your wheels. I don’t see how Phoenix is in any better shape than Orlando. In fact, I think they’re in worse shape. At least Orlando can be proactive, and follow Utah’s lead by trading their star before he bolts. Phoenix has no choice but to go down with the Steve Nash Ship. They won’t get much for him besides a handful or role players. He’s a player for a team that’s on the brink. But the only team on the brink that doesn’t have a point guard is Miami. What’s Miami going to give you? Chalmers? James Jones? Yikes. At least Orlando has an option. They could get Gasol and two prospects or draft picks out of LA. Phoenix has got nothin’.
Was surprised to see Charlotte down at #25, with all their young talent. Nice to see Memphis up there at #7. And the Jazz–the team that has provided the small market blueprint on what to do when your star hints that he might take his talents elsewhere–comes in on the rise at #12.
Pretty good piece. Check it out: http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22748484/30879011