Jul 18 2013

Tank Watch 2013

Sam Hinkie has assembled a terrible, terrible professional basketball team and his timing has been impeccable. Not only is next year’s draft stacked, but several perennial cellar dwellers have decided they’re done playing the lottery.

Still, there are a few teams out there that are trying to steal a top pick from the Sixers. Below, I’ve reviewed the offseasons of 10 teams that could threaten the Sixers in the race to the bottom.

1. Orlando Magic

Additions: Victor Oladipo, Romero Osby

Subtractions: Josh McRoberts, Hedo Turkoglu (per Woj)

The Magic will compete with the Sixers for the Big 250. They’re shedding veterans and stockpiling young assets, which is a recipe for another 20-win season. At this point, they might just be the only team in position to lose more games than the Sixers.

Threat Level: Critical

Projected Draft Range: 1-3

2. Charlotte Bobcats

Additions: Al Jefferson, Josh McRoberts, Cody Zeller, Coach Steve Clifford                              

Subtractions: Tyrus Thomas, Coach Mike Dunlap

The Bobcats will be better because they can’t get worse. Plus, they got Al Jefferson. In Jefferson, they’ve added a desperately needed scorer. But the likely pairing of Zeller-Jefferson won’t be able to defend anything or anyone. They’re improving on their 21-win season, but not by much.

Threat Level: High

Projected Draft Range: 5-7

3. Cleveland Cavaliers

Additions: Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev, Allen Crabbe, Carrick Felix, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark, Andrew Bynum, Coach Mike Brown                                                                                    

Subtractions: Luke Harangody, Mo Speights, Omri Casspi, Coach Byron Scott

The Cavs picked up a ton of talent, mostly rotation players, and now have more depth than they could possibly know what to do with.

And that was before they signed Andrew Bynum.

The Cavs are going to get out of the cellar. With or without the flamenco dancer, they’re looking like a playoff team.

Threat Level: Low                                                                                                                     

Projected Draft Range: 16-20; Outside of Lottery

4. Phoenix Suns

Additions: Eric Bledsoe, Caron Butler, Alex Len, Alex Oriahki, Nemanja Nedovic, Coach Jeff Hornacek

Subtractions: Jared Dudley, Jermaine O’Neal, Wesley Johnson, Coach Alvin Gentry,

The Suns aren’t going anywhere, but acquiring Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler (and keeping Marcin Gortat), should get their win total into the mid-high 20s.

Threat Level: High

Projected Draft Range: 4-6

5. New Orleans Pelicans

Additions: Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Morrow, Pierre Jackson, Gregg Stiemsma

Subtractions: Robin Lopez, Greivis Vasquez

The Pelicans added several young, promising pieces to whatever it is that they seem to be building. They should win between 30-40 (with some awkward 3-guard lineup growing pains along the way) which would give the Sixers, who own the rights to their top-5 protected pick, a mid-late lottery pick.

Threat Level: Low

Projected Draft Range: 13-15

6. Sacramento Kings

Additions: Ben McLemore, Ray McCallum Jr., Greivis Vasquez, Carl Landry, Luc Mbah a Moute, Coach Mike Malone

Subtractions: Tyreke Evans, Coach Keith Smart

Judging by their reported pursuits of Andre Iguodala and Monta Ellis, the Kings won’t be tanking. They’ve been surprisingly aggressive this offseason, and they’re not finished.

It doesn’t look like they’ll be a threat to the Sixers, but when your team is building around an emotionally unstable DeMarcus Cousins, who knows.

Threat Level: Moderate

Projected Draft Range: 7-10

7. Washington Wizards

Additions: Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr., Eric Maynor

Subtractions: None

The Wizards were a .500 team with John Wall in the lineup last season, and though they haven’t done anything flashy this offseason, they could be in playoff contention if he stay’s healthy. Bradley Beal will be healthy after a solid rookie campaign, Wall could be playing for a max extension and Otto Porter will be a solid, Tayshaun Prince-esque addition at forward. That should make Sam Hinkie smile.

Threat Level: Low

Projected Draft Range: 10-12

8. Detroit Pistons

Additions: Josh Smith, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell, Peyton Siva, Chauncey Billups, Gigi Datome, Coach Mo Cheeks                                                                                                     

Subtractions: Jose Calderon, Corey Maggette, Jason Maxiell, Ben Wallace, Coach Lawrence Frank

Chauncey Billups, Josh Smith, and a promising rookie trio should make them playoff competitors in the lowly Eastern Conference. They’re better than the Sixers, by a mile.

Threat Level: Low

Projected Draft Range: 16-20

9. Boston Celtics

Additions: Kelly Olynyk, Colton Iverson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Victor Faverani, Coach Brad Stevens                                                                                    

Subtractions: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Coach Doc Rivers

The only player left from the 2008 championship roster is Rajon Rondo, and he might be on the move too. The Celtics will be horrendous.

With Rondo, they won’t stoop to the Sixers’ level. Without him, they might win fewer than 20.

Threat Level: Critical

Projected Draft Range: 1-3

10. Utah Jazz

Additions: Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert, John Lucas III, Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson

Subtractions: Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Jamaal Tinsley, Randy Foye, Mo Williams

They let their mediocre frontcourt walk in free agency and cleared out three guards, paving the way for a developmental season focused on Trey Burke. They’re in tank mode.

Threat Level: Critical                                                                                                              

Projected Draft Range: 3-5



  • Noah

    I have to think that a year of even incremental improvement from the youngsters (Vucevic, Harkless, Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson) and the addition of Oladipo will make the Magic significantly better than the Sixers. I see this as a 30-win season from them.

    Same story for the Jazz, who will get to see what Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter can do as starters, and should see improvement from Gordon Hayward (and maybe even Alec Burks). Throw in Trey Burke, and I’m not sure we’re looking at a tanking team.

    • Wesley Share

      On Orlando: Vucevic will put up similar numbers to last year probably a little better. Nicholson, Harris and Harkless are all role players. Their improvement could help them notch an extra win or two, but their off-the-bench production won’t bring them 30 games.

      On Utah: I’m interested in seeing how Favors does, but Kanter hasn’t shown anything his first two years that would indicate he could be a 30 minute per night guy on even a decent team. He’s efficient, but not a good rebounder. The same goes for Hayward, he’s been playing 30 minutes a night the last two seasons and posted the same stats, what indicates he’s ready to make a big stride in his fourth year?

      Plus, the main indicators of Utah is tanking is that they absorbed the two expiring deals to clear future cap space and they let their starting frontcourt walk. Not exactly signs of a team planning on making an immediate playoff push.

      • Noah

        Re: Orlando – During his 27 games with Orlando last season, Harris averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. He might not be a star, but his ceiling is definitely above role player. Harkless and Nicholson combined to play over 3000 minutes last season as rookies, or about 40 minutes per game. Again, not superstars, but above average as rookies and looking to see their minutes and production increase this year.

        Re: Utah – Gordon Hayward is a career .45/.40/.80 shooter who’s scoring numbers have increased significantly for 3 straight seasons, and he’s only 23. Kanter and Favors both have decent rebounding numbers given their limited minutes, though I’ll admit I haven’t spent much time watching Orlando. As far as letting their front-court walk, I think that was more prudent financial planning than fire-sale. They expect younger, cheaper players to be able to replace Jefferson’s and Millsap’s production.

        • Wesley Share

          Re: Orlando: I say what you’re saying, but I think Harris’ numbers, like Vuc’s are indicative of the fact that Orlando has no one to compete with Harris for field goal attempts, and in Vuc’s case, no one to compete with for rebounds. For example, Vuc averaged 11 rebounds per game, the same as Omer Asik. Is Vuc as good of a rebounder as Asik? Just about every metric stat would say no. If Vuc was on a competitive team he wouldn’t be averaging those numbers.

          I don’t have a specific comparison for Harris. I do actually like him a lot, and I love what Orlando has done the past year, but none of their prospects are at a point where they can contribute enough to be a 30-win team. Most of their current prospects are going to end up rotation players to their Wiggins/Jabari centered roster.

          Re: Utah: I’m not in any way trying to say Hayward is a bad player. He’s not. He could be a good complimentary player on a competitive team. But he’s not a player who will ever be the deciding factor of a win or a loss; he’s not a make or break player.

          On the Favor-Kanter front, maybe it’s not my room to speak. Aside from maybe two games vs. Philly this year, I haven’t watched them play. Judging from knowledge/what I’ve read/the minimal action I’ve seen, Favors has a ton of untapped potential. He could be a 16 and 10 guy in his prime I think, but still needs a couple more years and more minutes. Kanter I really don’t know much about. Metric stats say he rebounds at a great rate, but this year will be his first real opportunity start.

          It sounds like they’re both still a couple years away. That paired with absorbing the expirings points to a tanking year.

          • Noah

            fair assessment. we shall see.

  • korman

    I don’t see a reason for Detroit to be on this list ahead of teams like Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Toronto – although I’m beginning to like Toronto’s starting 5 of Lowry/DeRozan/Gay/Johnson/Valaciunas with Ross off the bench.

    • Wesley Share

      This is last years worst 8 teams plus the Celtics and the Jazz (for obvious reasons).

  • hk99

    The big advantage that Utah holds in this regard is that they look to be the West’s worst team (with maybe Phoenix in competition) whereas the Sixers, Celtics, Bobcats and Magic all play each other three or four times and one team will have to win each of those games.

    • Wesley Share

      Good thought. Didn’t think of that actually.

  • hk99

    By trading Luis Scola for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a future 1st, the Suns have increased their odds of finishing last. Sam Hinkie, it’s your turn…

    • egoldwein

      Thad’s gotta go, right? Some great tanking competition out there.

      • Wesley Share

        Phoenix and Utah, as you (hk99) pointed out, now have a huge advantage because their in the west. I think they’re both better than the Sixers, but could lose more games because of their competition.

        To General Hinkie: dump Thad for any combo of prospects/picks.