Blogtable: Teams Rising, Teams Falling

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Week 9: The trouble with DeMarcus | What to do with the Bobcats | Teams falling, teams rising

Give us a team that is finally ready to break out? Which team has its best days behind it already?

Fran Blinebury: Assuming Steve Nash stays healthy, it’s got to be the Lakers.  They surely can’t disappoint more.  Though over in the Eastern Conference, when Derrick Rose comes back, the Bulls go from feisty and tough to truly threatening again. As far as the team that’s already peaked, I’m going with the Knicks.  Won’t this be the 40th straight year they’ve let the NY media down by not defending that 1973 championship?

Jeff Caplan: Improvement: How can this be any team but the Lakers simply as a product of their 9-14 start? Steve Nash has a way of putting smiles on people’s faces. Best days behind: NYK. Hey, I still like the Knicks, but the law of averages is catching up. I mean, they weren’t going to make half their 3s all season. It’s an old team and I can’t see them winning at their early season pace. Are they a top 4 team in the East? Absolutely.  Do they challenge the Heat for the No. 1 seed as they have for the first third of the season? Sorry, but no.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Most improvement: For a statistical turnaround, it’s New Orleans. Anthony Davis is back, Eric Gordon appears close to coming back, and that is not a roster that finishes with 15 wins as long as Gordon lasts in the lineup. But for real acceleration, it’s Minnesota. Ricky Rubio is back and likely headed for an increase in playing time, and Brandon Roy may return soon as well in another boost for a roster hit hard by injuries. Best days behind: Sorry to say Houston. Great story with a plus-.500 record amid tragedy and an early roster shakeup, but it’s hard to imagine the pace holding unless the Rockets do better on defense and with taking care of the ball.

John Schuhmann: The obvious answer to the first question is the Lakers. Not only did they just get Steve Nash back, but their point differential (+4.2 per 100 possessions) is that of a team much better than 14-14. Denver is another clear candidate because of the brutal, road-heavy schedule they’ve had thus far. And I think Brooklyn will eventually get things together. For the second question, I can’t help but look at the Knicks, because I really think that Amar’e Stoudemire can only hurt them. I still believe in them as the second best team in the East, but just not as unstoppable offensively as they’ve been.

Sekou Smith: If Steve Nash stays healthy, no team has the room to improve that the Lakers do. There is just too much firepower and so much ground to be made up (14-14 through Christmas is not what the natives had in mind for their beloved Lakers). They have true title-contender talent but have not played up that standard so far, though their five-game win streak is a decent start.

As for the the crew that we’ll see sailing in the wrong direction, and you hate to put this tag on anyone, but the Brooklyn Nets don’t have the look of a team on the rise. Between the rumblings about the offense from the face of the franchise to the fact that every time the Nets are presented with an opportunity to prove they belong on the big stage they fall off the stage (the latest disappointment being their work against the Celtics on Christmas), little has gone well. It just seemed like there was a lot to work with in Brooklyn; the offseason acquisitions, all of the hype surrounding the move to Brooklyn and the fact that, on paper, there aren’t three teams in the Eastern Conference with better raw materials to work with. But the forecast just doesn’t look good from here.


  1. Kamote says:

    Team to watch:
    Golden State – Steph, Klay, Jack and Lee are playing well while H. Barnes has a lot to improve. Bogut’s arrival would definitely boost Mark Jackson’s defensive preachings.
    Minny – Still haven’t played healthy yet. Once everyone is on board, this team would go deep in the playoffs.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I seriously doubt the Knicks are done. Amar’e has already stated that he will come off the bench. This means that Stoudemire’s return can only help New York, who admittedly has had the look of fatigue in the past few games.

    Teams that are failing? Why has no one mentioned the Boston Celtics? They are on a slippery slope to nothingness right now. They were completely blown out by the Clippers a few minutes ago, for starters. I really want to say the Nuggets and the Warriors have already peaked but for the most part they appear to be okay, aside from a few brutal losses. Houston looks like they are getting better, but how long can that last?

  3. steppx says:

    Why does everyone think Nash can still play? I mean sure, he’s ok. But a savour he is not. Not at forty. I d say Denver is the team to watch. A long home stretch and they are already on a 7 game win streak at home. I think Portland will continue to be the team nobody talks about.

    Houston and GS wont last and knicks already have the wheels coming off. The most interesting discussion is Brooklyn .–Does avery johnson get thrown under the bus because deron is having ANOTHER terrible year? Not that AJ is a very good coach. And what of Milwaukee? Thats another team to watch…………

  4. 🙂 That’s ok, everybody can sleep on the Celts as people usually do!!! Closer playoffs come, articles are going to be saying Celts & Heat fighting for #1 seed & who can contend w/ Celts in the east & in the finals!!! COMONMAN!!! Yall been sleepn on them since after “08 ring!!! See yall back on Celts bandwagon come after all star wkend into april, may, june, july-while us Celts faithful stay W/em all season!!! 🙂 GREENALLDAY18BANNER18’SACOMIN!!!

  5. ko0kiE says:

    I have to disagree with S.Howard-Cooper: Houston looks to me like a team on the rise.. they are veery young and are still learning to play with each other.. the last few games looked very promising.. they beat memphis, chicago, ny, minnesota and almost the spurs … and they have what most teams don’t: a closer.. if you saw todays game.. just give him the ball either pick and roll or isolation and he gets you a bucket.

  6. X FACTORS says:

    Indiana ( Granger)
    Philly ( Bynum)
    Minnesota ( half the roster)
    Lakers ( NASH)
    Golden State ( Bogut)
    Knicks ( Amare)
    Denver ( Gallinari)
    Houston ( J-LIn)
    BROOKLYNE!!!! ( D-Will)

    I don’t know what to expect from this…. ………

    • Chico says:

      Gallinari is an excellent player, although he is very inconsistent yet. Maybe with some maturity, he will be THE factor for the Nuggets.

  7. mark says:

    Scott Howard Cooper must be from Nw Orleans. There is no way on earth that New Orleans does significantly more than it does now. The West is too deep and the East is very over-rated. New York is the team that has seen its best days this year. If they were in the West, they would still be a Lottery team. Houston is the team that is on the rise. They are just now learning to play together (as the youngest team in the league, they will just improve over time). They are just starting to play better on the road and against Western Conference foes. They are likely to be 25-5 versus the East and if they finish 26-26 against the West, they will be 51-31 this year.

    • Dylan says:

      There is no chance the rockets are going 25 and 5 against the east, and probably won’t even be .500 against the west.
      Golden State is the team to look out for in the west. They playing ridiculous right now and most of their wins have been on the road.

    • dattebayo says:

      The Rockets are currently 11-2 against the East, but they played 8 of those games at home. While those wins against New York and Boston are impressive, there are still a lot of good teams in the East and there are 10 road games left, so 20-10 would be more en route to me. It doesn’t really matter though, because every West team has the same advantage against the East.

      I think the Rockets will go 46-36 and still miss the playoffs, it’ll probably take 50 wins to make the playoffs like in 2010..