Each NBA Team’s Biggest Problem
What Is Each NBA Team's Biggest Weakness?
With the NBA All-Star Game around the corner it is safe to say that the season is almost half way complete. We can start to draw an accurate looking playoff table and we can start to predict where teams will finish. Right around this time however is when most teams take time to evaluate their tea mas a whole and set out to fix the problems that they have been facing all season. Each team has problems, for some it's only one or two major issues and for some it would be easier to scrap the season and start over.
The biggest weakness that a team faces can often go undetermined until they have a long break to really search it out and even if it is found it may be harder than expected to solve it. No team is perfect and every team has some part of their game that they want to resolve. NBA fans everywhere can probably think of tons of flaws that their favorite team has and wish they were coach so they could do what they think is right. I know I have had the feeling before anyways.
The All-Star break will allow team organizations to group together and grind out a plan or a formula for success going forward that will include what they need to fix, keep the same, who they need to get or get rid of and how they could win if all else fails. Teams will begin to hatch contingency plans and may even start to look ahead to what the off-season may hold for them. Nonetheless, every team has at least one problem and here they are.
Atlanta Hawks: Go-To Scoring
The Atlanta Hawks seek to have the same problem every year; they have a strong regular season and fumble in the playoffs due to the lack of a go-to scorer. Some may say Joe Johnson was that guy for them but I don't think he was. Either way, now that he is gone Atlanta has no crunch time scorer who can effectively take over games to ensure a victory.
Boston Celtics: Offensive Rebounding
The Celtics aren't getting any younger and it shows on the offensive end. Their offense at times can be described as a stalemate and second chance points for them don't occur often. Averaging almost 21 offensive boards a game means that if a shot goes up it will most likely be collected by the other team. This can be attributed to age maybe but more likely it's the lack of big men for the C's.
Brooklyn Nets: Defensive Rebounding
Brooklyn has been the storied franchise this year and for good reasons. Here is a team that was just awful last year and with a few moves and a new location they have turned themselves into a playoff caliber team. Their problem however lies on the defensive end where they rank 19th in the league with a 72.9 defensive rebound percentage. Big men Brooke Lopez, Kris Humphries and Reggie Evans are going to need to position themselves better when a shot goes up if they want to improve in this aspect. Defense wins championships and defensive rebounds are a big part to defense.
Charlotte Bobcats: Young
The Charlotte Bobcats have always dwindled near the bottom of the league. But this year they seem to be just a little better than years past. Their biggest problem is that they are young and besides their two biggest stars (Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) the roster is virtually unheard of. That needs to change if this team wants to continue to develop.
Chicago Bulls: Three Point Shooting
Chicago ranks last in the league in three-pointers made which is hard to believe when they have three seasoned shooters. The problem is that these three never share the court together and one of them doesn't play minutes at all. With the talent they have beyond the arc is is a mystery why they can't get their shots to fall but they aren't. If Chicago wants to improve they need to rotate shooters in and out and start trusting them from beyond the arc.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Established Talent
Cleveland lacks established talent. Besides Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao their are not a lot of names that can really change the outcome of a game. Yes Alonzo Gee and Dion Waters are solid contributors but they are young and virtually inexperienced. The future looks bright for Cleveland but as for right now they are still going to linger in the bottom tier of teams.
Dallas Mavericks: Not Enough Depth
Dallas has gone from solid contenders to NBA Champions to a team steadily on the decline. Since they won the ring they have lost virtually their entire lineup except for Dirk Nowitzki and replaced them with lesser talent. Their problem is that they don't have the depth to compete every night. Besides Dirk and OJ Mayo their roster consists of players past their prime. Dallas will not be returning to championship form or even playoff contention if they don't overhaul the current roster.
Denver Nuggets: Three Point Shooting
Denver's weakness is also the long ball. They rank 20th in the league in three-pointers made with 227 and 27th in the league with a 33& three point percentage. You would think a shooter like Danilo Gallinari would fix this problem but his three-point percentage of 34.7 isn't doing the trick. The Nuggets are playing well and sitting 6th in the Western Conference right now and if they want to move up the ranking they are going to need to fix their problems beyond the arc.
Detroit Pistons: Forcing Turnovers
Detroit cannot seem to pressure the opponent well enough. They can't force turnovers while they seem keen on turning the ball over. It's imbalanced. They force their opponents to an 11.5 turnover percentage with their leader in steals averages .5 a game. Their back-court needs to pressure the ball and pressure the ball handler into making bad passes and costly mistakes.
Golden State Warriors: Lack Of Front-Court Depth
The Warriors problem occurs in the front court; the trio of David Lee, Carl Landry and Andris Beidrins are all solid on the offensive end but they are a nightmare when it comes to closing out games. Lee is a poor defender and a liability, Landry is to small to be at center and Biedrins is a terrible free throw shooter. This trio is what is making the Warriors a legitimate team but when it comes to crunch time these three aren't helping. Side note Stephen Curry's ankles aren't helping the Warriors either. He re-injured them again which takes away a major part of their offense.
Houston Rockets: Turnovers
Houston's problems shouldn't come as a surprise seeing as who runs the floor. Their problem is turnovers and Jeremy Lin is the culprit along with James Harden. Lin brought one thing from New York and no it wasn't Linsanity, it was his knack for coughing up the ball. He averages 3.2 turnovers a game while Harden coughs it up 3.6 times a game. The rest of the unit contributes heavily as well as the Rockets lead the league in turnovers with 15 a game.
Indiana Pacers: Around The Rim Scoring
The Pacers are surprisingly good considering that they can't seem to score at the rim. They win with defense which is great but when they go up against teams like Miami in the playoffs their inability to score is going to be the end of them. They rank 29th in the league in points per possession and they sport the lowest shooting percentage inside the restricted area. To fix this the bigs -Roy Hibbert, David West and Tyler Hansbrough- are going to need to be more effective down low.
Los Angeles Clippers: Minute Distribution
The Clippers are playing like they don't have any problems recently and that might be their problem. With everyone playing so well what happens when Chauncy Billups and Grant Hill return? the starting unit and the secondary unit are air tight and both playing great basketball so where will they fit in? I don't see Billups accepting a 10 minutes a game role but Eric Bledsoe is playing outstanding basketball as the bench units point guard. Matt Barnes is playing great and so is Jamal Crawford. With both units playing so well the problem for the Clippers is going to be managing their minutes.
Los Angeles Lakers: Everything!
I'm not exaggerating when I say everything is going wrong for the Lakers, injuries combined with poor defense combined with poor chemistry is making this team the most disappointing team this year. With such a powerful lineup it's hard to imagine them not running through opponents but when your bigs don't play well together, your point guard is hurt and your coach doesn't like defense it's not really that hard to understand. Pau Gasol is playing bad and drawing trade speculations (again) while Dwight Howard is playing with a bad back (again). The only good news is Kobe Bryant who is playing like he isn't 34 years old.
Memphis Grizzlies: Too Much Depth?
The Grizzlies are in the same boat as the Clippers mainly because they don't have any real problems per say. They play traditional basketball with no "positionless" players. They play aggressive defense, and back-to-the-basket offense. They grind out games and when the Zoo Crew sits, the second unit has no problem coming in and playing the same type of ball. The problem is duration, can they continue to play like this for the entire season?
Miami Heat: Defense
Saying Miami is suffering from a title hangover is a bit extreme but there is definitely something wrong with them. They just don't seem to be playing the type of basketball they used to. Their defensive effort is fading and they are pulling in fewer defensive boards which is most likely due to their positionless basketball and the fact that they have Chris Bosh as their big man. Postionless basketball may work because LeBron James can play any position but the rest of the team cannot.
Milwaukee Bucks: Back-Court Reliance
Milwaukee's problem should come as a surprise to no one; their reliance on Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. They are the major contributors when it comes to points and given the lackluster performances that the rest of the starting lineup is giving the reliance on the two guards will only continue to grow.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Injuries
When the season started for Minnesota it looked like they would be playoff favorites. The impact of Kevin Love matched with the explosion of Ricky Rubio made fans everywhere start to pay attention to them. Unfortunately Love went down with an injury, as did Rubio, Brandon Roy and Malcolm Lee. Now the team is waiting desperately for anyone to return to get them back into contention.
New Orleans Hornets: Pace
New Orleans is trying to epitomize the fast paced offense like the Phoenix Suns did back in 2007. The problem is though that it's not working! This team is averaging 88 possessions per game, which is the lowest in the league. They need to slow the ball down and create better play selections. Anthony Davis is a bright young star and with Eric Gordon returning to action this team can compete, they just have to play to their strengths.
New York Knicks: Transition Defense
The Knicks don't seem to have many things going wrong for them. This season they have been red hot and are a major contender in the Eastern Conference. If I had to take anything away from them it would be stopping the ball on fast breaks. When the opponent outlets the ball it's usually a clear shot to the hoop with little in the way to stop them. This cannot happen if the Knicks want to contend for the title.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Turnovers
Oklahoma City has always had the same problem; turnovers. It's easy to forget about it or even pretend it's not a problem given their continued success but the fact is that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook average 3.3 and 3.5 turnovers per game. That combo is second only to ex-teammate James Harden and Jeremy Lin. We have all seen Westbrook get crazy with the ball and loose possession but again it's hard to knit pick when they are doing so well.
Orlando Magic: Creating Easy Baskets
Orlando's problem lies in its inability to create easy shots. To often are they reliant on Jameer Nelson to create shots for teammates and while that's the point guards job it is nice to see players create their own shots as well. They have little interior presence so points are going to come from the shooters and if they cannot create for themselves then Nelson is going to be in for a long season.
Philadelphia 76ers: Interior Scoring
The 76ers had such high hopes this season with the acquisition of Andrew Bynum. But when Bynum went down it seemed so did Philadelphia's attitude. They have no interior presence and no consistent shooting from the field. They often look unmotivated and slow on the court. I feel bad that Doug Collins has to try and motivate these players night in and night out. I don't know if Bynum's return could change this teams overall attitude but something has to or it's time to review the roster.
Phoenix Suns: Bad Chemistry
Phoenix is like the land of the misfit toys. They have a mixture of every type of players and none of them seem to be able to play well together. Michael Beasley acts like he is their best player but doesn't always play like it while Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola try to anchor the interior. This team is unfamiliar with one another and it is clear when they play.
Portland Trailblazers: Bench Production
Portland has always been on the verge of greatness and it seemed like they hit their pinnacle last year amongst LaMarcus Aldridge's rise to fame. This season they are still laying well but their problem comes from the secondary unit. Mainly the bench is not that good. In PER terms, only two players break the 9.0 barrier. This is unacceptable for a team with so much talent in the starting five.
Sacramento Kings: Poor Chemistry
Sacramento's problem is much like Phoenix's in that they don't mesh well. Sacramento has players who individually play well and if they were all split up could probably be the face of a team but they aren't split up and the teams identity has never been foggier. The team has no chemistry and doesn't play well together and their record shows it. Maybe a change of scenery would be best after all for the Kings.
San Antonio Spurs: Offensive Rebounding
San Antonio never seems to age. O.K. so that's clearly not true since their biggest problem is on the offensive glass. Unfortunately for the big fundamental and company they rank third to last in the league with 21.5 boards per game. Not a great mark if you want to continue to add to your legacy.
Toronto Raptors: Fouling
Toronto has never been the same since Chris Bosh left and we all know it. While that was some time ago the Raptors struggles are ongoing. They are having a dual at the point guard position between Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry and they seem to love to foul opponents whenever possible. Their opponents average .257 free throws a game, which is a league worst for the Raptors. If I were head coach Dwane Casey I would stop worrying about who should stay and go and worry about the amount of free throws your team is letting up.
Utah Jazz: Too Much Depth
Utah has a problem not often heard of; they have too much depth. Much like the Clippers, the Jazz have a starting five and a secondary five that all deserve significant minutes. Everyone in the rotations can start if necessary and rotations may be set to shift in the near future if trade offers start coming in.
Washington Wizards: Overall Talent
The Washington Wizards suffer from a problem called a lack of talent. You can never discount Nene and obviously John Wall is their best player but besides these two names the Wizards are really just a weak team. Unless Washington gets lucky and lands a few first round draft picks I expect them to continue to dwell in the cellar of the league.