The NBA regular season is over. Sixteen teams are going to the playoffs, and the Utah Jazz aren’t one of them. They didn’t end as the worst team in Jazz history but they came close. But I for one am glad the Tank Watch is over. Never again will my head and heart do battle while I watch a jazz game. I want them to win. Every time. So now let us see where the lottery teams finished and what’s next for them.
The offensive/defensive numbers are from NBA.com/stats.
1. MILWAUKEE BUCKS (15-67)
OFF Rating: 26th
DEF Rating: 29th
NET Rating: 29th
They have some soul-searching to do. Larry Drew had coached the Atlanta Hawks to three winning seasons before he took over Milwaukee, but he did a terrible job. The Bucks were allegedly trying to get back to the playoffs, but offensively and defensively they never clicked. They went from being the 12th best defensive team in 2013 to the 29th. The trade of Brandon Jennings for Brandon Knight was a downgrade, the signing of OJ Mayo bore little fruit, Larry Sanders was out most of the year, but he was a detriment when he was in. Their one bright spot was the development of rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo. They have ten guys under contract next year, and the new ownership probably wouldn’t mind moving a couple of those contracts so they can reboot.
2. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (19-63)
OFF Rating: 30th
DEF Rating: 27th
NET Rating: 30th
They won their last two games. Was it a coach saying “Hey, we’ve got the 2nd slot in the lottery locked; let’s go try to win now”? The front office went all in on this year’s lottery. If they slide to fifth, will they still think it’s worth it? Well, they have the tenth pick too, so I think they’ll still be happy. And let’s not forget Nerlens Noel. And they have all the cap space in the world. I would have to assume head-coach Brett Brown is back next year.
3. ORLANDO MAGIC (23-55)
OFF Rating: 29th
DEF Rating: 18th
NET Rating: 25th
Head coach Jacque Vaughn led this team to three more wins than last year. Did the front office expect to not see too much improvement so they’d have another good draft pick? My guess is he’ll get another year, and they finally have some cap freedom.
4.(tie) UTAH JAZZ (25-57)
OFF Rtg: 25th
DEF Rtg: 30th
NET Rtg: 28th
Lockers were cleaned. Questions were asked. Lives were changed. The 2013-2014 Utah Jazz season is officially over, and now it’s time for decompression. I’ve heard most of the interviews today and there’ve been some interesting take-aways.
- Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams received a lot of credit for helping Ty Corbin keep the locker-room together. Conversely, Enes Kanter asked if this year wasn’t about winning a championship, why not play the young guys together more?
- The F5 played together for a total of 119 minutes for the entire season. That’s 2 1/2 games. In those 119 minutes, the Jazz had a 1.096 PPP with an eFG of 49.3% while their opponent had a 1.189 PPP with an eFG of 52.2% Compare that to their season rank of 1.058 PPP and 48.1% eFG but with their opponents at 1.143 and eFG of 51.5%. In other words, the offense was better and defense was worse when the F5 were all on the floor at the same time.
- Dennis Lindsey said he’ll take a few days to decide on Ty’s future, but I didn’t hear anything that would make me believe that Ty will be back.
- Free agents Jefferson and Brandon Rush are gone. Second year on John Lucas III’s contract is not guaranteed, and he shouldn’t be back either. Marvin Williams would probably come back if the money was right for both parties. Diante Garrett, Marcus Thomas, Ian Clark have team options, and they will probably be at summer league, but I don’t put much faith in them actually being on next year’s roster. If they re-sign Gordon Hayward, then they’ll have Hayward, Kanter, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert and Jeremy Evans. They have three draft picks in June, which would fill spots 8, 9 and 10. If Raul Neto comes over (and I expect he will), that’s 11. If Ante Tomic comes over (and I’d be surprised if he ever does), that’s 12. They need a vet or two on the roster. It fills up quickly.
- The Jazz started 1-14, had a 20-23 stretch, and ended on a 4-20 note.
4.(tie) BOSTON CELTICS (25-57)
OFF Rtg: 28th
DEF Rtg: 20th
NET Rtg: 26th
How much do coach Brad Stevens and GM Danny Ainge like Gordon Hayward? That’s sure to be a question this summer. Ainge will want to make a splash. If the Celtics don’t land in the top three, I expect Ainge to trade his high pick as part of a big move.
6. L.A. LAKERS (27-55)
OFF Rtg: 21st
DEF Rtg: 28th
NET Rtg: 27th
Kobe Bryant’s about to learn just how many players want to play with him. The more important question to me is: Who is going to coach this team next season? Keeping Mike D’Antoni would be a giant mistake, in my humble opinion.
7. SACRAMENTO KINGS (28-54) – They always seem to end right around here.
8. DETROIT PISTONS (29-53) – They’ll be begging for ways to cut ties with Josh Smith.
9. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (33-49) – Is Kyrie a max player or just another Starbury?
10. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (34-48) – At least Anthony Davis is a stud.
11. DENVER NUGGETS (36-46) – This is what happens when you fire the Coach of the Year.
12. NEW YORK KNICKS (37-45) – First playoffs miss in Carmelo’s career.
13. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (40-42) – Wolves should trade Kevin Love now.
14. PHOENIX SUNS (48-34) – Man, Jeff Hornacek’s a good coach!
Now for the ping-pong ball purposes, the Jazz will have to split 207 with the Celtics. Do they flip a coin to see who gets that extra ball? Or do they flip before-hand to declare one fourth-place and the other fifth-place? I’ve seen conflicting stories now on that’ll be handled, so we’ll just wait and see until something definitive comes out. If the Jazz were alone at 4th place, they have a greater chance at landing 5th (35.1%), 6th (16%), 3rd (13.3%), 2nd (12.6%) or 1st (11.9%) than staying at 4th (9.9%).