Apr 07 2015

Silver Lining 2015: What I’ll Miss About the 2015 NBA Teams Out of Playoffs

The NBA regular season is drawing to a close – and next week, I’ll be coming through with the annual Bandwagon Report for the qualifiers.

But for the teams that miss the playoffs, this will have to suffice. While their challenges will define their season and guide their offseason, the Networks United will make the effort to highlight a positive takeaway from teams that fail to qualify for the postseason 1:

New Orleans PelicansAnthony Davis looked like a KG clone to me as a rookie. He became an All-Star last season. He became an MVP candidate in Year 3. It’s crazy to think about this, but The Brow could have been a senior on that Kentucky team this year. The Pelicans have a chance to get into the postseason, but the Rule of Clutch suggests they won’t come through for the fourth straight season. I’ll gladly eat the crow if Oklahoma City misses out.

Phoenix Suns: The Suns faded even worse this season than they did last season. I have no sympathy for teams that fail to finish in the top 8 in the conference, and the Suns have a losing record post-trade deadline. But despite the drama, Eric Bledsoe established himself as the man in Phoenix, playing 2,000+ minutes for the first time in his career while maintaining most of his breakout efficiency and volume from 2013-2014.

Utah Jazz: It took some time, but the wait for Derrick Favors to turn into a consistent presence is just about over. Favors, in his fifth season since being the 3rd pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, finally dropped his foul rate to an acceptable level and started drawing more fouls. The result is a career-high 16 points per game and the start of what should be a dominant defensive front with second-year C Rudy Gobert.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers are in a dogfight for a playoff spot with the Bucks, Nets and Celtics. They just got Paul George back, but a player who really emerged was point guard George Hill. It’s unfortunate that Hill missed almost half of the season, as the Pacers had a winning record with him in the lineup. The Pacers needed somebody to score with George recovering, and Hill proved to be up to the task for the most part, averaging a career-high 15 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field. Hill also added career-highs in rebounds and assists per game.

Miami Heat: The defending Eastern Conference champs are hanging by a thread, and even when All-Stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were available, the team failed to win more than three games in a row all season. But they found a gem in center Hassan Whiteside, who came out of obscurity to average nearly a double-double with 2.5 blocks per game on 62 percent shooting from the field.

Charlotte Hornets: Yet another playoff participant from the Southeast division that fell off. The Hornets started poorly (6-19), appeared to had turned it around by the All-Star break, but busted again in the spring. It’s a shame that the Hornets failed offensively once again, because their defense remained a top-ten defense in 2014-2015. Al Jefferson gave the Hornets what he had this season, averaging 16 points per game and leading the team in rebounds. After 11 NBA seasons, it’s appropriate to wonder if we’ve seen the best of Jefferson already in the NBA.

Detroit Pistons: Year One of Stan Van Gundy’s quest to remodel the worst Eastern Conference team of the last six seasons didn’t quite work out. But Andre Drummond came through with another season of 13 points per game and 13 rebounds per game with nearly two blocks per game added on. Van Gundy can at least recreate a significant portion of the production he used to get from Dwight Howard in Orlando with Drummond in Detroit.

Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets were one of three teams to fire a head coach, and this was their worst season in a dozen years. Point guard Ty Lawson’s shine wore off some this season for myriad reasons, and his scoring dropped to a four-year low at 15 points per game. But the only starting point guard with a better assist-turnover ratio than Lawson’s 3.86 this season is Chris Paul.

Sacramento Kings: Speaking of teams firing coaches, the Kings changed coaches twice this season. Since 2006, Sacramento’s last appearance in the postseason, the team has had an NBA-most eight head coaches. DeMarcus Cousins is a beast though, and he joined Chris Webber, Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson as the only players in franchise history with back-to-back 20-10 seasons.

Orlando Magic: No team has lost more games than Orlando since GM Rob Hennigan was hired in 2012, and this season saw the Magic fire the coach that was hired with Hennigan, Jacque Vaughn. The best asset that Hennigan acquired in the Dwight Howard trade was center Nikola Vucevic, who averaged over 19 points per game and over 11 rebounds per game to lead the Magic. Vucevic has more career double-doubles in four NBA seasons (127) than everyone else who ever played in the NBA from the University of Southern California combined (115).

Los Angeles Lakers: This is the nadir period of the franchise history of the Lakers – first time ever that the Lakers racked up consecutive seasons of 50+ losses. I think everyone would agree that if Ed Davis wants to be a Laker next season, he should ensure that he’ll average more than 23.2 minutes per game. Davis dunked more than ever this past season, averaging career highs of 8.2 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, and 1.3 blocks per game. Davis also “shot” 2 a career-high 61 percent from the field.

Philadelphia 76ers: The 76ers didn’t lose 73 games, but this was still a forgettable season. For the second straight season, Philadelphia lost 60+ games. The 76ers may also have the NBA Rookie of the Year for the second straight season, as center Nerlens Noel put up eye-popping numbers after the All-Star Break. Noel joins David Robinson as the only rookies in NBA history to rack up 130 steals and 130 blocks.

Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves lost 60+ games for the ninth season. Only the Clippers have more seasons with 60+ losses with 11, and the Clippers have a 19-year head start on the Timberwolves. Minnesota also extended its league-long playoff drought to 11 seasons. Veterans Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Garnett will finish this season with around 100 games played combined. But at least the team knows that center Gorgui Dieng can be a starter, as he led the team with 8.3 rebounds per game and 1.7 blocks per game to go with nearly 10 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field.

New York Knicks: The Knicks lost 60+ games for the first time in franchise history. At least Carmelo Anthony made the All-Star team. Right?

Show 2 footnotes

  1. This is a projection, of course
  2. Davis rarely attempted field goals outside of three feet from the basket, but still.

2 pings

  1. 2015 NBA Offseason Maintenance Report »

    […] TEAMS DRAFTING IN THE LOTTERY (also see The Silver Linings) […]

  2. 2015 NBA Playoffs: The Bandwagon Report (Adjusted!) »

    […] « Silver Lining 2015: What I’ll Miss About the 2015 NBA Teams Out of Playoffs […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.