Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the five most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Who gets your early season vote for the best team with a bad record?
Steve Aschburner: Milwaukee. The Bucks have a lot of new faces, several of whom didn’t play or practice together much in October. So November has become their preseason deferred. I do wonder if coach Scott Skiles has enough evangelist/drill instructor in him to keep Corey Maggette, Drew Gooden and John Salmons focused and motivated, and I wonder if they’ll miss Luke Ridnour‘s steadiness more than they imagined.
Fran Blinebury: The Rockets had questions with Yao Ming‘s rehab process. But Fear the Deer has turned into deer in the headlights wearing a blindfold with two hooves tied behind their backs. The Bucks are the lowest scoring team in the league, ranked 29th in shooting, which means rather than a dark horse contender, they’re venison.
Art Garcia: Call me coo-coo or part of Team Coco, but I’m still digging those Rockets. Yes, losing Aaron Brooks for at least a month hurts big time, as does being without his more-than-capable backup Kyle Lowry. And throwing Ishmael Smith in as starting point guard isn’t fair to the undrafted rookie. Still, look at the talent on this roster: Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Yao Ming, Chase Budinger, Shane Battier, Courtney Lee, Chuck Hayes. That’s a playoff team, right?
Scott Howard-Cooper: Easy choice. The Rockets are not dregs-of-the-West bad, even with the lurching adjustment to Yao Ming‘s time restrictions, even with the injury to Aaron Brooks. Losing Brooks is an obvious blow, but there’s too much talent to have an entire season like the first couple weeks.
Shaun Powell: The Thunder are better than this, of course. But Oklahoma City may eventually regret two decisions. They passed on Stephen Curry and Tyreke Evans in the 2009 Draft for James Harden. And they didn’t reach for a free-agent big man last summer (Carlos Boozer, Amar’e Stoudemire?) when they could’ve spent money and then given Kevin Durant his extension.
John Schuhmann: Houston, for sure. Their five losses to start the season were all against good teams (yes, even Golden State), and even though they’re 1-5, they’ve been statistically better than a couple of teams with three wins. They have great depth on that roster and Rick Adelman is too good of a coach not to eventually figure out a way to make the 24-minutes-of-Yao thing work.
Sekou Smith: Houston is 1-5 with a rugged schedule, the only bad team they’ve played (Minnesota) they thumped. Yao Ming is doing his Jack Bauer thing with the clock ticking down on his 24 minutes in real time … on the nights he actually plays. And that’s disrupted this team’s flow. The bottom line is simple. Right now the Rockets are better without Yao than they are with him. And the sooner they figure that out the better off they’ll be.