Blogtable: Most Intriguing Team

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe 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.


Questioning the Heat | Easy offense | Most intriguing team



VIDEO: Kevin Durant leads an OKC team that continues to intrigue

Which team do you consider the most intriguing in the league? Why?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Forcing us to choose, eh? That’s hard (and good, for an NBA scribe). I’m intrigued by a bunch of teams. Miami, for its curious new vulnerability. Portland, for its surprising prime-time readiness. Brooklyn, for how it might go about salvaging this season. Golden State, for its energy and ambition and connection with its crowds. Minnesota, for spotting the field a half season. San Antonio, for any flare-up of Game 6 PTSD. The Miss Congenialities of the East (Atlanta, Toronto, Washington, Chicago), for the chance that one or more might actually assert itself. Heck, even Milwaukee, for how – with so many legit NBA players – it has managed to crater its way into the lottery lead. But forced to choose one, I choose Indiana. The Pacers are intriguing because they have it all, certainly enough, but will have accomplished nothing new if they don’t reach The Finals. Following Indiana now feels like tracking the Titanic – and scouting for the icebergs.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: I’m still intrigued by the raw potential of the Rockets when they’re at the top of their game. They’re 4-1 against San Antonio and Portland, two of the top 3 seeds in the West. I’m also intrigued by the Rockets’ ability to often play like they don’t know which end of the ball to bounce. Witness their 1-5 record against the Sixers, Lakers, Jazz and Kings. My gut says that as a lower playoff seed, they’ll be a dangerous and tough out in the first round, but simply don’t have the poise or smarts to go deep in the playoffs.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comOklahoma City in a good way. They’re no longer the cute story about a bunch of young kids on the rise. This is about winning a championship with multiple story lines unfolding: Kevin Durant chasing his first MVP, Russell Westbrook overcoming three knee surgeries in eight months, a hand-built roster proving its deeper than any Thunder team before it, coach Scott Brooks proving he’s as good as his star players and general manager Sam Presti proving he can get it done by staying under the luxury tax and by being uncompromising in doing it his way.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comThe Clippers as they walk the tightrope. Maybe they get to June, maybe they lose in the first round again. Neither would be a surprise. And not just a team where anything is possible, but real personality and fun to watch. Blake Griffin’s improvement on offense, DeAndre Jordan’s resurgence on defense, soon the return of Chris Paul and gauging his health, will Doc Rivers deliver — one storyline after another, all wrapped into a team with everything to prove when it matters.

Manu Ginobili (Layne Murdoch/NBAE)

Manu Ginobili (Layne Murdoch/NBAE)

John Schuhmann, NBA.comThe Spurs. The way they lost The Finals still sticks in my head, so it must still stick in theirs. They’re back at the top of the Western Conference and are the only team in the league that ranks in the top five in offensive and defensive efficiency, even though they’re playing without two starters. Manu Ginobili has looked like a totally different player than he looked like in June. Kawhi Leonard has been a disappointment in his third season, but still has the potential to be a star. Oklahoma City is a tough matchup for them, but they can still get back to The Finals, and it would be fascinating to see if they can get over that hump this time.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comI’m partial to the Portland Trail Blazers, considering that they weren’t on anyone’s radar outside of the Pacific Northwest in training camp. I find myself making sure to get a power nap sometime during my day so I can make sure to stay up late enough here at Headquarters. Seriously, I don’t like watching them after the fact because there is too much high-quality basketball being played to miss it live. LaMarcus Aldridge is playing at a legitimate MVP level and Damian Lillard isn’t far behind most nights. That supporting cast strikes a really nice balance and Terry Stotts, in my opinion, has to be the frontrunner for Coach of the Year (along with Indiana’s Frank Vogel). The surprise factor, though, is what sets the Trail Blazers apart for me on the intrigue meter. It’s like NBA reality TV … the good kind (the non-New York kind). Who doesn’t love a good Cinderella story? You want to see how far this team can go.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com All Ball blog: I’ve kept my critical eye trained on Portland all season, because the Blazers have put together such a surprising start to the season. (Actually, at this point I suppose it’s more than just a start to the season. First two-thirds? What do we call this?) Yet lately there have been two teams I’ve been glued to on League Pass: Atlanta and Oklahoma City. Even without Al Horford, the Hawks have managed home wins against teams like Houston, Miami and Indiana, and they’ve been competitive in almost every game. They share the ball, capitalize on open space, rotate on defense, and basically stay in games with hustle and tough play. The Thunder, of course, were supposed to be a contender, but with Westbrook out lately, Kevin Durant is playing some of the best and most complete basketball I’ve ever seen him play, which is saying something, when you consider what he’s already accomplished. By the way? He’s still just 25 years old. Talk about must-see TV.

Aldo Avinante, NBA Philippines: The resurgence of the Brooklyn Nets has intrigued me. After a dismal start to the season they are now firing on all cylinders. They were hyped up to be one of the contenders to Miami’s throne in the East, and such a poor start was a disappointment to the fans in general. Can they keep up their high level of play or is this streak of great games an aberration?

Simon Legg, NBA Australia: There’s a few but I’ll go with Phoenix. Ask me in a month and my mind might change. Will they make the playoffs without Eric Bledsoe? Do they even want to make the playoffs now? If they made one move and added a missing piece in the offseason, could they challenge? So many questions that need to be answered. They were viewed as intriguing-bad in the offseason but rookie coach Jeff Hornacek has turned them into intriguing-good.

Adriano Albuquerque, NBA Brasil: The Atlanta Hawks definitely look like they have the potential to derail Indiana’s or Miami’s postseason run, especially if Al Horford comes back for the playoffs. Mike Budenholzer is doing a fantastic job with a group of blue-collar, hustling players like the 2004 Pistons. They add a whole lot of intrigue to the Eastern Conference.

17 Comments

  1. Celtics-Because Green Runs Deep! Don’t sleep on my boys-WORD UP! :)

  2. NBA-Blog-A-Holic says:

    yeah.. who stood out in the USA games.? Kobe.. The Lakers are intriguing because without Kobe, Gasol looks lost, Swaggy P is too weird and there is no identity even though they have the best bench..

  3. TTKIN says:

    I remember when Charles Barkley said he’s sick of seeing coaches who have been fired 3 and 4 times getting jobs out their. It’s time to give rookie coaches a chance, see what they can do. Almost every rookie coach has impressed me this season.

    BOS
    ATL
    PHX

    Just to name a few.

  4. Marco29 says:

    What about Denver and Chicago? Denver is as inconsitent as it gets streaking for 4 or 5 wins before losing 3 or 4. They can beat OKC, GSW and Memphis and lose to Utah, Cleveland and Phily. Galinari is out for the season and Farried is a bit disapointing this year while Lawson is playing at All-Star level and they get good production from Hickson and Fournier. Currently, they are not in the TOP 8 in the West but still at 0.500 (which would place them #6 in the East but that is another debate) and could be a tough match for a top seed come PO time.
    In the East, as good as Indiana has been and as intriguing the Nets turn around is (but they are still only at .450 even though they are #7 in the East), I find Chicago more intriguing still competing for a top seed while loosing again D-Rose for the season, trading Deng and having almost every player hurt at some point in the season. They have overcome difficulties in the past but this season seems even worse. After a difficult time after the new Rose injury they are 8-2 in their last games with a Triple OT win and some hard fought wins. Anchored by Thibs and Noah, this team just won’t let go while some suspected they might tank the season.

  5. Kamote says:

    I’d go with the Pacers. A lot of people are looking for them to dethrone the Heat, to the point where they may be even overhyped as the East’s elite. But the thing is, the Pacers haven’t reached their full potential yet. Granger was still wayyyy below his All-star self, PG has run a cold streak, but the Pacers still manage to win games despite of.

    For the past couple of years, we’ve seen the Heat at the top of its game (LBJ having crazy numbers, Wade healthy and dominant in the playoffs, Bosh being reliable as the 3rd guy). That hasn’t happened yet for the Pacers. PG is just starting to tap his potential, Granger still has to be healthy, Stephenson, Hill and Hibbert are still maturing in their roles. They already challenged the mighty Heat last year even though they still have ways to improve their team.

    Barring any injuries, major trades or any other misfortunes, the Pacers could be one of the most dominant teams in the years to come.

  6. jdub4551 says:

    the heat because of playing inconsistently in games…

  7. dustydreamnz says:

    Well said Eastbrook Russell. I picked the Blazers to make the playoffs, I had the Suns last.
    The Spurs are leading the west but going under the radar again, amazingly consistent franchise. Possibly the best in pro sport.

  8. LakersWillWin says:

    I don’t know why Vogel isn’t getting any nods for COY.

  9. roneb says:

    @steppx: Have you watched the Blazers play basketball? Stotts has them playing a true TEAM brand of ball and they have all bought in. The team was supposed to be borderline to make the playoffs and he’s had them battling for best record in the West all season. He makes incredible half time adjustments. Check the stats. The Blazers are among the very best in the league in point differential in the third quarter. He is widely acknowledge around the league for calling great plays out of timeouts. Right now Hornacek is the only other coach within sniffing distance of Stotts for COY.

  10. eastbrook russell says:

    If the Suns finish with a +.50 record and Jeff Hornacek doesnt win the coach award it will be a travesty. On pretty much everyone’s radar Phoenix was predicted to be in the 3, max 5 worst teams in the league. Find me someone else who will make Gerald Green an ownable player in fantasy, one that guides Bledsoe straight into stardom after a 7th man role, and has his 2 guards shooting over 47% from the floor. Did I forget to mention their starting, 30+ minute center is Miles Plumlee? That they play in the most competitive Western Conference of the last decade? It’s easy to overlook because it’s already been 40 games, but what the Suns are doing is plain incredible. Now sit back and watch Barbosa turn the clock back.

    • Mike says:

      Totally agree. The only reason he wouldn’t win it is because there’s so many other good choices this year. Hard to argue against Stotts, Vogel, and even Budenholzer, too.

  11. steppx says:

    I dont grasp the idea of Stotts as COY. But then whats the criteria? Improving a team? Getting the most out of the least? Or just winning? Pop is always a candidate. But him aside, i cant see Stotts really, but I would give Hornacek consideration, and maybe Budenholzer. If atlanta can keep this up without Horeford, its hard to argue against Bud.

  12. rr says:

    The Miami gets far to much from the referees and media!

    • KDfan says:

      Amen to that. Watch what the refs do when (if) the time comes. My personal opinion is that the refs killed the OKC on critical calls especially in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th championship games against the Heat, especially game 2 which OKC lost 96-100. I’m also in no way discrediting the Heat talent and game

      • justsayin says:

        Hah – I just said the exact same thing in another thread about games 2-4.

        They manfactured the Bron brand out of it for things he was more given credit for than had to earn on his own that year – a gold medal, an mvp, a ‘chip, some kind of athlete of the year award. And all at KDs expense – who wouldve had all that if not for at least the ‘appearance’ of foul play in that officicating. Not to mention the biased result made me feel like I had wasted every min I watched a game all year.

        Thank goodness at least the fans have freedom of speech – if a player were to let on he believed this he’d be fined/suspended into oblivion.

    • Chris says:

      As individuals, KD and LBJ cannot be denied – them being great makes their teams very intriguing to watch. It’s also intriguing, and agonizingly sad, how bad NYK are playing compared to last season (the sky-high payroll taken into account)