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.
Name a player, coach or team who has disappointed you this year.
Steve Aschburner: Disappointment doesn’t necessarily require blame, so my choice is the Minnesota Timberwolves. For the first time since about 2004, there was a real buzz in the Twin Cities as the Wolves opened training camp, owing to the improvements in 2011-12 under Rick Adelman, positive updates on Ricky Rubio‘s knee-surgery rehab, some smart off-season roster moves and the continued development of Kevin Love as one of the game’s elite, and highly watchable, power forwards. Then Brandon Roy (predictably, frankly), Chase Budinger and worst of all Love went down – went down hard – with injuries. A rash of others, including rejuvenated Andrei Kirilenko and Bond villain Nikola Pekovic lost time as well. Even Adelman had to miss games while attending to his wife’s health issues. Rubio, after an inconsistent couple months back, has regained his don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it form. But from Love’s opt-out in two years to Adelman’s commitment to Pekovic’s market value this summer and more, the clock be ticking in Minny.
Fran Blinebury: Philadelphia due to the guy in that other question. I didn’t think Bynum would miss the entire season and be on the verge of a career washout. The Sixers’ grand plan to step up into contender’s class has blown up in their faces. Now they have no Iguodala, no Nikola Vucevic, no Maurice Harkless … nothing to show for the gamble. It seems the franchise has been set back for years.
Jeff Caplan: This is as equally disappointing as it easy to pick: The Minnesota Timberwolves. Injuries ruined this team since Day 1 with Ricky Rubio still rehabbing and Kevin Love breaking his hand doing knuckle push-ups. No need to get into the rest of the injury list here, it’s just too long, but before the season I picked the Wolves to finish sixth in the West. I’d have said that they’re 23-42 record would have been reversed had health prevailed.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Removing the injury considerations (Timberwolves, Bynum, others), it’s still the Lakers in what has to be an open-ended question until the end of the playoffs. If L.A. finishes as badly as it started, then we have an answer. If your favorite dysfunctional family reaches the postseason and has a nice run, though, a respectable showing gets the Lakers off the hook. That means reaching the conference finals or a good playoffs before losing in a competitive series to the Spurs or Thunder.
John Schuhmann: The Lakers are still just 36-33 and still very much in danger of not making the playoffs, so they’re obviously at the top of the list. It’s great to see Dwight Howard finally looking more mobile and I understand that injuries have been an issue all season, but this team still isn’t playing the defense it needs to play if the Lakers want to win more than a game against one of the top five teams in the West. In fact, they rank just 15th in defensive efficiency since the All-Star break. This team was supposed to be a title contender, and they’ve never looked anything like it.
Sekou Smith: Nothing but sunshine around here as usual, huh? There are plenty of candidates in each category, as we all love to nitpick the performances of specific players, coaches and teams. Even with a few good weeks since the All-Star break, the Los Angeles Lakers remain one of the most disappointing teams in recent memory. And you could go with the Lakers across the board here, Dwight Howard or Steve Nash in the player spot, Mike D’Antoni at coach and the Lakers as the team. Barring a miraculous playoff run, they’re going to occupy the entire page in the Hang Time yearbook for the biggest flop of the season. The best part, though, is they still have a chance to rewrite the ending to this story. They have the potential to provide the most drama in a first round playoff series, just by showing up in either San Antonio or Oklahoma City.