Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bottom of the Barrel

You might notice that we spend a lot of time here talking about some of the most boring, worst teams in the league. And there's a reason for that. The worst teams are usually shaking up their lineups, suffering from injuries, or changing strategies. They're the ones you want to keep your eye on, because new stat-stuffers can emerge, with new possible pickups on your waiver wire. The good teams, they stick with what's working, and what we said about them a few weeks ago probably hasn't changed much. So on with the saga of the worst teams in basketball.

New Orleans Hornets

"Even the worst teams in basketball will score a good 70 or 80 points per game. "
- Me, 11/15/04

" Even the most pitiful of teams will score at least 80 points a night."
- Basketblog Cohort, 11/29/04

"Oh YEAH?"
- Byron Scott, Coach of New Orleans Hornets, 11/29/04

On Friday Night against the Phoenix Suns, the Hornets scored a respectable 47 points in the first half. Then, in the second half, center Jamaal Magloire went out with a broken finger. Without him for much of the second half, they scored only 39 points. Magloire is now out for up to 3 months with his finger problem. Since he went out, the Hornets have played 4 halves of basketball, and scored, successively, 42, 34, 39, and 28 points in those halves. They've shot 37%. Is there anything positive about this team? Not right now. David West is getting minutes, and is putting up numbers you would expect out of his teammate, PJ Brown. In his last 2 games he's gotten a start and 38 mpg, and responded with 11.5/9, with very little else. Not much to get excited about, but if you need a much more pedestrian Zach Randolph, he might be your guy.

Atlanta Hawks

At least the Hawks are doing a decent amount of scoring, putting in about 88 points per game. Unfortunately, right now there are only two Hawks worth owning, Antoine Walker and Al Harrington. Walker has been about as good as advertised, getting 21/8/4 with not-too-bad FG%, abysmal FT% and 1.6 3's and 1.3 steals. Harrington has been a little disappointing with only 16.9 points, horrible FT% (59%, well below his 72% career average), and 7.2 boards. The rest of the team, well, it's hard to tell. It's almost like a mini-Hubie Brown setup, with six players in no-man's land territory, getting between 18 and 26 minutes per game.

There is one player to keep an eye on. Tony Delk missed the first few weeks of the season with a knee injury, but since returning his minutes have increased in every game, going up to 33 minutes on saturday against Charlotte. He could be a nice, cheap source of 3's if you're desperate, but this early in the season he's going to hurt you too much anywhere else. If you find yourself in a bind for 3's late in the year, though, he could be a nice pickup.

New Jersey Nets

Somebody get Richard Jefferson some help! After 13 games, the Nets are 2-11, and there are no signs of life in the Garden State. Jefferson is scoring and rebounding at career-high rates, but as predicted, with defenses keying on him, his FG% has plummeted down to 41.6%. He's also not hitting his 3's at all (a miserable 24%), or passing well (.2 fewer assists than a year ago). And no one is stepping up as a clear number two on this team. The second leading scorer is Alonzo Mourning, and let's just hope they're not looking for any more than the 10 ppg they're getting from him right now. The only non-Jefferson player getting over 28 mpg is Eric Williams, and he's not exactly blowing up right now.

The amazing thing about the Nets is how meddling their lineup is. There aren't even any one-category helprs. Outside of Jefferson and Mourning, nobody averages 10 points, or 5 boards, or 2.5 assists, or 1 steal, or 1 block, or 1 3 pointer. While the other teams we've talked about today can at least help you here or there, the Nets have one player worth owning, one that is sorta borderline, and that's it. Terrible.

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