The 2014-15 NBA season is more than one third complete. The season is starting to take shape with many stories, trades and some surprises that have taken place so far. There were also a lot of key injuries (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, DeMar DeRozan) that have impacted some teams and have affected their record. It’s going to be interesting moving forward if those teams can improve or at least keep their current pace. The main story so far and has been for some seasons now are how dominant the Western Conference has been. They’ve outplayed the Eastern Conference although in recent weeks the Eastern teams have been slightly better.
The NBA’s elite teams (Golden State, Portland, Atlanta, Toronto, Chicago, and Memphis) are separating themselves from the mediocre (Miami, Brooklyn) and the bad (Orlando, Utah,) or tanking (Philadelphia, Minnesota) teams. While there have been many great teams playing well and teams that are playing better than expected there are also teams have been the opposite. It’s time to take a closer look at those teams that have been disappointing so far. There are teams (Cleveland Cavaliers) that were considered championship contenders that are currently underwhelming. There are teams (Charlotte Hornets) that were considered playoff contenders that haven’t played well. Of the 30 teams, there are 10 teams that haven’t performed up to their expectations. A top 10 list was created with some shocking picks, some surprise picks and some picks that were expected. Listed below with an explanation are the top 10 teams that have been the most disappointing so far in the 2014-15 NBA season.
10. Houston Rockets: 24-11
The Houston Rockets are on this list despite being ranked 5th in the tough Western Conference simply because they were expected to be a championship contender and be in the top three teams in the West. They are also on this list because they currently have a 8-10 record against teams with .500 or better records. Although Dwight Howard missed some games early on, they still had an MVP candidate in James Harden to help lead the team to wins. However, the Rockets still have a chance to move up in the West with the recent acquisition of Josh Smith and time will tell if they can crack the top three.
9. Denver Nuggets: 16-20
It might be a surprise pick to put the Denver Nuggets as a disappointing team in a rough Western Conference but with their talent and style of play they should have a record of atleast .500 on the season so far. With a new rookie head coach in Brian Shaw, there was a sense that Denver would be a better team than last season. It hasn’t happened yet this season as the Nuggets struggle to defend as they are 24th in the league giving up an average of 103.9 points per game.
The Nuggets are missing one of their top players in Danilo Gallinari who is out with a knee injury. Ty Lawson continues to be a stud averaging a double double in points (16.3) and assists (10.2) per game. He would be in the consideration for an All Star appearance if his team wasn’t struggling. They’ve now traded Timofey Mozgov to Cleveland for a pair of 1st-round draft picks in light of their underwhelming season.
8. San Antonio Spurs: 21-15
This might be a shocking pick to put the Spurs as a disappointing team even though they are in the playoffs and have played well enough without various players out with injuries most notably Tony Parker and the Finals MVP of last season Kawhi Leonard. They are however a disappointing team because after winning a championship and a 60+ win season from last season, they were expected to still be in the top four. They were also considered very much a championship contender. The high expectations they carry put them here.
They currently have less than a .500 record in games played against their own conference (12-13). They struggle in close games with a 4-5 record with games decided by three points or less. They also struggle in OT games where they have a 1- 4 record so far. The good news is that while it might be difficult to duplicate the 60+ wins from last season, they are still considered a very good team and can still be a threat come playoff time in April.
7. New York Knicks: 5-33
To put it lightly, the New York Knicks are bad. With their putrid 5-33 record, they are now the worst team in the NBA. They recently traded one of their best 6th men in J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have also lost 13 in a row and now Carmelo Anthony is dealing with a knee injury. After hiring Phil Jackson as the GM and Derek Fisher as the head coach, the Knicks were expecting a better start to the 2014-15 NBA season.
The triangle offense hasn’t worked well for the Knicks and they haven’t been able to win the close games. They are 1-5 with games decided by three points or less and 0-3 in games that go into OT. They struggle to score as they are ranked 29th in the league averaging 93.1 points per game. They are also second to last in rebounding, making it that much harder to score. At this point it is safe to say that the Knicks are looking forward to the lottery in the off season.
6. Brooklyn Nets: 16-19
After losing to the Miami Heat in the playoffs last season, the Nets were no longer considered a championship contender but were still expected to be a playoff contender even after losing Paul Pierce to the Washington Wizards. They are a disappointing team because they are underperforming and have the talent to be a better team than their current record indicates.
Last season they were the only team to go undefeated against the Miami Heat (4-0 in the regular season series). However this season they are the only team that continues to lose to the Lebron-less Miami Heat (0-3). They struggle to score, as they are ranked 24th in the league averaging 95.8 points per game. They also cannot win against teams with .500 or better records as they are 2-12. The Nets still have time to turn it around but they will need to figure out a better offense in order to do so.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder: 17-19
The Oklahoma City Thunder have had a rough start so far after lengthy injuries to current league MVP Kevin Durant and one of the top point guards in Russell Westbrook. They were considered championship contenders but due to the injuries and a hard conference are not in a playoff position right now. They are considered a disappointing team because they struggle in games that are decided by three points or less with a 3-4 record. They also struggle against teams with records of .500 or better with a 6-13 record. In OT, they are currently 1-2. They also do not pass the ball well as they are last in that category averaging just 19.6 assists per game. It’s a toss-up as to whether the Thunder will make the playoffs or not.
4. Miami Heat: 15-20
After Lebron James left the Miami Heat, the Heat were no longer considered championship contenders. However, they were expected to be a playoff contender because they still had Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh and the East is the weaker of the two conferences. They are in the playoffs at this moment but they are a disappointing team due to their current record.
They are 27th in scoring averaging just 94.1 points per game. They are last in rebounding and like the Thunder don’t pass the ball very well. They are 28th in the league averaging just 19.8 assists per game. They are 11-12 in games played against their own conference. They are 1-2 in games decided by three points or less. Against teams with .500 or better records they are 5-13. The Heat can still play better but they like the Nets need a better offense as well as a better effort to rebound the ball.
3. L.A. Clippers: 24-12
The Los Angeles Clippers have been a top team in the Western Conference in recent years and this season so far they are a little underwhelming, in 6th place. The Clippers are a disappointing team because they were considered Western Conference Finals contenders and so far haven’t played like it at all. In games where the Clippers face teams with .500 or better records they are 7-10. They are currently 24th in rebounding with just 41.1 rebounds per game. If the Clippers want to improve they are going to have to figure out ways to beat the good teams and learn to rebound better.
2. Charlotte Hornets: 13-24
The Charlotte Hornets are so far the second most disappointing team. They were last season’s surprise team and despite being swept in the playoffs by the Miami Heat last season, things were looking up for Michael Jordan and his young team. However, this year hasn’t been the same. They currently have the 25th ranked offense in the league averaging just 95.4 points per game.
The addition of Lance Stephenson hasn’t been an easy one as he is rumored to be in many trade talks as Charlotte continues to struggle. Al Jefferson continues to be a solid player averaging 18 points and 8 rebounds a game. If his team wasn’t struggling, he would be in consideration for the all-star game. Even with a name change from the Bobcats the Charlotte franchise needs wins and they need them quickly if they are to make a run towards the playoffs.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: 19-17
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the most disappointing team of the season in the first third of the NBA season. After Lebron James came back to Cleveland, the Cavs were considered to be a championship contender along with the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference. However, the Cavaliers have not lived up to expectations as they are only two games above .500. If they were in the Western Conference, they wouldn’t be in the playoffs.
So many things have gone wrong for the Cavaliers as there is controversy over David Blatt and whether or not he should be the coach. Lebron James is currently out with an injury for two weeks and the Cavaliers just traded Dion Waiters and Lou Amundson to the Thunder in exchange for J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert from the Knicks. It got even worse as the Cavaliers recently lost to the Philadelphia 76ers who are second last in the Eastern Conference and are in tanking mode. They’ve also now made the addition of Timofey Mozgov, at the expense of two 1st-round picks.
The Cavaliers are just 3-3 in games decided by three points or less and have an 8-10 record against teams with records of .500 or better. They are also 26th in rebounding with just 41.1 rebounds per game. At this point, the Cavaliers are no longer considered a championship contender unless they dramatically improve which has made them the most disappointing team of the 2014-15 season.
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