Unlocked … 2012 NBA Season Report #5

With football gone, now we are getting the important stuff.  How have the rankings changed since we last did this?

  1. (1) Bulls (23-7)
  2. (3) Heat (22-7)
  3. (2) Sixers (20-9)
  4. (4) Thunder (21-6)
  5. (8) Spurs (19-9)
  6. (6) Hawks (18-10)
  7. (5) Blazers (15-13)
  8. (7) Nuggets (16-12)
  9. (13) Mavericks (18-11)
  10. (9) Lakers (16-12)
  11. (11) Clippers (17-9)
  12. (10) Celtics (15-12)
  13. (14) Rockets (16-12)
  14. (12) Pacers (17-10)
  15. (17) Magic (18-11)
  16. (15) Grizzlies (14-14)
  17. (16) Timberwolves (13-16)
  18. (18) Jazz (14-13)
  19. (21) Warriors (11-14)
  20. (19) Bucks (12-16)
  21. (22) Knicks (13-15)
  22. (20) Suns (12-16)
  23. (24) Cavaliers (10-16)
  24. (23) Hornets (5-23)
  25. (25) Raptors (9-20)
  26. (26) Kings (10-17)
  27. (28) Wizards (6-22)
  28. (27) Nets (8-21)
  29. (29) Pistons (8-21)
  30. (30) Bobcats (3-25)

Some notes:

  1. We start with a trip to Oakland and the league’s most Quixotic fans – Warriors fans.  For anybody who watched their shocking upset of the Mavericks in 2007, the ability of the fans to lift a team is palpable there – it sounded like the old Chicago Stadium, and that’s saying something.  Alas, that upset has been the extent of the highlights on the court.  Indeed the last few years we have had bad teams, but entertaining ones that could light up the scoreboard.  With Mark Jackson taking over as coach, there was a commitment to a more defense, championship timber club.  What is interesting though is that the defensive culture in Golden State is still as lax as ever – while the offense is actually much better.  The numbers are a bit muted as these Warriors are middle of the road in terms of pace – but this is the most efficient offense (relative to the league) Golden State has had recently.  What is particularly interesting comparing side by side is how little things have changed.  They still shoot the three both very well and very frequently.  They still don’t get to the line hardly at all – and they are a pretty shaky rebounding team (and indeed substantially worse offensively).  However – they take care of the ball a bit better and are shooting their 2-pointers a lot better, enough to be 4th in the league in FG%.  This is also though a harbinger of rough times maybe – 2 pt FG% is pretty fickle, and one thinks there might be some regression coming.  Scanning the personnel, it is not like there is a huge change in the shape of the offense.  The defense as mentioned before is as bad as ever – and they are still a horrendous defensive rebounding side, and are near the bottom in sending opponents to the line.  Jackson has the team gambling less defensively – but it has not shown in the final results.  The Warriors have a ways to go for the positive changes in ownership to reflect in the product.
  2. Checking in at 18-11, and starting to move up the ladder are the Magic.  Of course 2 weeks ago, we left them with a disastrous week, featuring a 56 point outing at Boston and blown 27 point lead hosting Boston (yay Boston).  Since then though the Magic have perked up.  Really, we always hear about the psychodrama surrounding Dwight Howard – but possibly he has found some contentment (or resignation) in the current situation.  Despite the Magic’s offensive issues a couple of weeks back, where they had been struggling was on the defensive end of the floor.  Last year the Magic were 3rd in the league defensively despite having very little defensive muscle besides Howard.  Earlier in the year the team had been scuffling, but we see them up to 12th now.  The Magic in the past have focused on defending without fouling (not gambling) and superior rebounding.  This year, the rebounding has been there but the attention to detail in defense has not – but it has improved.  Magic up to a reasonable 11th in FG%, and so up their fortunes have come with it.
  3. This week’s edition would be incomplete without noting the jump the Knicks have made.  I have no real metric argument here, just a chance to rant a bit on Jeremy Lin.  The Knicks themselves are still a shaky offensive team with a surprisingly good defense considering D’Antoni’s reputation (2nd in the league in forced turnovers, 7th in defensive rebounding – they just don’t give up a ton of looks at the basket which makes up for their meh FG%).  But Lin of course has had the best first 4 starts in league history.  You have to be realistic of course – he is not this good, very few players are.  That said, he is 6’3″ 200 lbs – basically Chauncey Billups’ size.  He has a lot of steals, rebounds, gets to the line a lot.  Unlike most small school kids, he is an elite athlete.  He needs to shoot better, but that you can improve.  Lin is a rotation caliber PG right now, and the Knicks have none of those – and there is no reason he cannot be a solid starter for a long time.
  4. The big move up this week has been Dallas.  At 18-11, it is amazing to see Rick Carlisle cobble together this start despite the issues they had with conditioning and injuries.  More amazing is how despite losing Tyson Chandler, the Mavericks have remade themselves into a defensive juggernaut.  They are 18-11 against a solid schedule despite being 20th in offense (still not getting to the line, still not getting second shots, but now missing the shots they DO take).  Instead the historically underwhelming (or undervalued) Mavs D is carrying them this year.  Yeah Odom has sucked on offense, but he is a very useful defender.  So is Vince Carter despite his reputation, and Brendan Haywood has successfully impersonated a competent C this year.  All that adds up to a team that is 3rd in FG defense and 5th in forcing turnovers.  The Mavs are top 10 in TS% and shot prevention – and that has allowed them to survive themselves.  Given the reputations and past performances of their top guys on offense – this is nothing but good news for the long term.

2 thoughts on “Unlocked … 2012 NBA Season Report #5

  1. How long with the Linsanity go on?! How come after winning 6 straight games they only move up the ranking by 1 on your list?

    1. they have played some pretty bad teams – note that there is less movement now in general … teams are finding their level. That said, Lin has been a great story and will continue to be so.

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