Bill Parcells once said: Potential is one thing, but ultimately you’re judged by your performance on the court, and several NBA teams have failed to live up to expectations in the first half of the 2022-23 season. Here are the league’s most disappointing teams so far.
I had the Wolves penciled in as a 50-win team and a top-four contender, but what does it matter what I think? The Wolves themselves clearly believed they needed to compete for a conference title in the wide-open West, or they would never have given up so much for 30-year-old Rudy Gobert.
This was not a long term plan. This was a team looking to build on nearly winning a playoff series last season, and now it will be difficult to even crack the postseason. Minnesota, at 23-24, is tied with the No. 11 Blazers in the loss column. The defense, which should have made a big leap, is more than two points per 100 possessions worse than last season, and the offense is more than 12 points per 100 worse with Gober on the floor. for glass cleaning.
The only way Gobert’s offensive challenges are enjoyable is if he’s leading an elite defense, and even then that’s a problem. This is a mess. Wolves have been the biggest disappointment in the league so far.
Atlanta may be riding a five-game winning streak, but this season, all told, it hasn’t lived up to the expectations that came with the Dejounte Murray trade. The defense has improved, but the offense ranks near the bottom 10 as the individually most dependent system in the league.
There is zero movement, ball or player. It’s just a my-turn/your-turn dance between Trae Young and Murray, and only the recent hot streak pushed Young’s 3-point percentage north of 35. The Kevin Huerter trade. Only the Nuggets and Bulls take fewer 3s than Atlanta, and only the Lakers take fewer.
They have crept up above .500 with this recent rally, and things could be on the upswing again. Murray and Young have both hit great from deep since the start of the calendar. But being just two games out of the last spot in the East heading into the trade deadline isn’t what anyone had in mind.
Everyone can understand how the defending champion with an aging core takes it a little easy in the regular season, but a 6-18 road record with a 17th-ranked offense and a negative point differential. Yes, Curry just missed 11 games and Andrew Wiggins missed over a month, but the Warriors weren’t playing any better before those absences.
There is some optimism in a couple of games against the Celtics, a home win for the Warriors and a loss in Boston, showing that this team can still play right with a lead, and Golden State’s starting lineup has been dominant. throughout the season. . It remains to be seen if the bench can pull even minimal weight, and the defense is no longer the unit that can save mistakes. The margin for error is all but gone for the Warriors, but they still make mistakes.
They still play rough like crazy (give up the most free throws and make the fewest). They still turn it over like crazy (29th in turnover percentage). Those aren’t the edges the Warriors can fill in the big picture, and that’s why they’re just a .500 team. We continue to give this team the benefit of the doubt, and we should. It’s earned. Stephen Curry remains at the peak of his powers. But there is much to be concerned about.
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This is an absolutely average team. Not good. Not bad. Certainly not what they expected to become when they finally shake up their roster. I still want to believe that Gary Payton II is a big difference maker and that Portland will break out at some point, but I can’t convince myself anymore.
Everyone slammed Neil Olshey for his reluctance or outright unwillingness to break up the Lillard-McColl pairing and/or make strong moves during his tenure, but this is the other side of it. It’s not easy to improve on what Portland was under Olshey and Terry Stotts, especially with a roster full of players on the court/worth more than the market (McCollum, Nurkic, Norman Powell, etc.).
Still, Portland fans just wanted to see some action from the front office. So when Joe Cronin started shipping pieces left and right and brought in Josh Hart, Jerami Grant and Payton and seemed to be building a more defensively-equipped team, everyone was excited for a minute.
But now the dust has settled, what about the Blazers? Still a bad defensive team covering a vulnerable backfield. Still, a team trying to win by the slimmest of margins, a team that has to rely on Damian Lillard (or someone else) to play the hero in the clutch, only it doesn’t happen like it did a few years ago (negative clutch differential), and suddenly this team isn’t filling 43 minutes of mediocrity with five minutes of greatness.
Bottom line: The Blazers are desperate to put together a contender to back up Lillard, and they currently have one less loss than the Lakers and are firmly entrenched in the lottery.
5. Los Angeles Lakers
Speaking of the Lakers, no one thought this was going to be a contender. But with LeBron James still playing at this level, and even Russell Westbrook looking nice off the bench (although he’s actually less efficient than last year), and with Anthony Davis playing like an MVP candidate when he’s actually on the court , is still difficult. not get caught up in the frenzy of the purple and gold, and it’s still extremely disappointing to look up to see an inferior team swimming upstream almost every night.
“Lakers” can’t hit. Davis can’t stay healthy. They’re a borderline dysfunctional defense without Davis and a lackluster offense with a 10-point differential down the stretch. Everyone is clamoring for a trade, but it seems unlikely that Rob Pelinka will do anything significant. Even when Davis returns, how long will he stay on the court this time? Let’s just get used to the idea that the Lakers are capable enough to consistently disappoint.