Derek Page of HoopsWorld wrote:
Teams across the NBA landscape are continuing to gear up as we get closer and closer to the start of training camp and subsequently the start of a new NBA season. While some around the league have set themselves up nicely heading into next year, others have situated themselves with looming questions and precarious roster decisions that may derail the season before it begins.
The squads on this list aren’t necessarily doomed for the future, but next year isn’t going to be easy thanks to the way these teams were put together this summer.
For instance, while the Sacramento Kings aren’t likely to be in a great situation to contend next season, they aren’t on this list because the pieces they’ve put together have a chance to work well together both next season and in the future. The same could be said for a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference that features Kyrie Irving spearheading a young, talented and up-and-coming core.
The difference between those probable lottery squads and these is that this list features teams that will not move forward with their teams as currently constructed and the present situation could stunt future growth.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some teams that may be positioned to fail in the 2012-13 season:
Coming off of a difficult season, there is a long road ahead for this Bobcats team and a resurgence in Charlotte is not going to happen next season.
Don’t get me wrong, drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second overall pick to go along with an already talented but inexperienced young core of Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo was a good start. These players have the talent and will be expected to be key contributors over the next few seasons as the Bobcats try to climb their way out of the oblivion that was last year’s record breaking season in futility.
It’s the head scratching moves that sandwiched the draft to bring in redundant veteran parts that concerns me.
It’s understandable that dumping Corey Maggette was Charlotte’s way of justifying both drafting and starting Kidd-Gilchrist next season but the Bobcats didn’t need another undersized guard in Ben Gordon to stand in the way of more minutes for Walker.
The signing of the underrated Ramon Sessions is understandable and should be commended, but Sessions isn’t expected to step on any toes unless he wins the starting job outright. Even then, Sessions starting would prove that Walker still isn’t ready for prime time but Charlotte would still have a significant role in the rotation for a combo-guard like Walker and his skill set.
The addition of Gordon eats into Walker’s court time no matter what role he begins the season with and will most likely impede the second-year player’s growth next season. This is simply unacceptable for a team looking to develop difference-makers with both eyes firmly fixed on the future.
Signing temperamental center Brendan Haywood, who couldn’t handle a starting spot with the Dallas Mavericks his entire time there, only hinders the development of younger Bobcats chomping at the bit for more playing time. A stop-gap center is not something Charlotte needed at this point.
Let’s be clear, Haywood and Gordon are solid NBA players – especially as key role players on a contending team. This is just as much of an awkward fit for them as it is for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats are hoping that their collection of youth leads them to better days in Charlotte but that progress could be impeded by a few misplaced newcomers next season.
Even with the quality acquisition of Jeremy Lin this offseason, the Rockets still feature a discombobulated and forward-heavy roster going into the upcoming season. In the pursuit eventual Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, Houston acquired a bevy of draft picks and ill-fitting parts that will make the 2012-13 season an uphill climb from the get go.
As of now, Houston’s roster features seven forwards that will likely compete for four meaningful rotation spots at the power forward and small forward positions.
To be fair, the Rockets will feature a talented backcourt (when healthy) of Lin and Kevin Martin. However, from top to bottom, there’s really not a proven commodity other than Martin (and he missed 26 contests this past year) on this roster. The unknown that is youth and inexperience, even as talented as these players might be, is what Houston will live and die by this season.
Omer Asik, while a quality talent, still has much to proven on the NBA stage – especially as a first-time starter.
As for Lin, while he showed flashes of outstanding point guard play last season, he still must prove that he can consistently deliver and that he can be durable enough to play the bulk of an 82-game season.
Unless a major trade comes about that dramatically changes the makeup of this roster, next seasons Rockets’ season is doomed from the start.
New Orleans Hornets:
While the infusion of young talent that both Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers represents could ensure the Hornets competing in the West down the road, next season is more of a question mark. The major problem is that Rivers, who has struggled playing the point guard position, could be expected to play a pivotal role running the show for New Orleans as a rookie in 2012-13. The next alternative is Greivis Vasquez and, while he proved to be solid in 26 starts last season for the Hornets, he is just as much of an unknown in terms of his ability to run the show for a full season.
Along with inexperience at the point, this team also has serious questions with players expected to play a key role on this team this season.
One of the most explosive players in the league when healthy, newly re-signed (and with his heart possibly still in Phoenix) guard Eric Gordon hasn’t been able to consistently remain on the court over the last three seasons. Gordon missed all but nine games in last year’s lockout-shortened season and rode the bench in street clothes for 46 games combined in the two full seasons before that.
Newcomer Ryan Anderson, while potent from behind the arc and on the perimeter last season with the Orlando Magic, must prove that he has the skills to succeed even without Howard’s massive presence down low.
Of the teams on this list, New Orleans features a cast of talent that has the best case to possibly shake this rap next season. To do so, both Davis and Rivers will have to shake off any rookie struggles and this team will have figure out an answer at the point guard position to consider 2012-2013 a stepping stone year to a bright future.
The Howard saga ended earlier this month but the bundle the Magic received in return didn’t exactly wow fans of the team or pundits around the country.
Like Houston, the Magic also have a worrisome logjam at the three and four spots on the floor. Eight players, from rookies, like Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson to veterans like Hedo Turkoglu and Al Harrington, will all be fighting for court time at two positions.
At center, the Magic will hoping for a promising season from talented but inexperience second-year players Gustavo Ayon and Nikola Vucevic. While they have potential, the pressure of replacing the best center in the game will be immense.
The problem with Orlando moving forward is not just replacing a player of Howard’s caliber but making up for all the deficiencies a player of his abilities is able to cover up. It’s going to be apparent over the course of the upcoming season just how much easier Howard made life for everyone on the court and there’s little doubt it’s going to be a struggle.
The good news for Magic fans is that Orlando is expected to have plenty of cash to spend to chase free agents and drastically alter the makeup of this team next summer. But in terms of next season, it’s going to get worse before it gets better in Orlando.