The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, we are now just over the half way point of the season.
1st Half grades for all the teams in the Eastern Conference.
When all is said and done Brad Stevens will be an elite coach. Night in and night out he gets the most out of every man on his roster and the players seem to respect and love him. Stevens is such a good coach,under his watch, Isaiah Thomas averaged 28.9 points per game last year. Thomas can’t even find a team now. Kyrie Irving has been “Mr. Everything” since coming over from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The man they call, “Uncle Drew” is averaging 24.8 points and 5 assists per game. Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown are averaging a combined 28 points and 10 rebounds per game and Al Horford leads the team in rebounds and assists. This is a very good team, but they aren’t great. They simple don’t have a legitimate #2 scoring option and that will hurt the come playoff time.
Boston gets an A- grade.
The Raptors are a feel good story. Since 2013, they have won more than 48 games every year. The problem here is they are the Kansas City Chiefs of the NBA. They will have a very good regular season and come up short in the playoffs. It is only a matter of time, in a game 5, Kyle Lowry will shoot 4 for 19 when his team needs him most. Enjoy the regular season Raptors fans, that is all you have.
Raptors get a B grade.
The Cavs “Cleaned House” at the trading deadline. This was a move that had to be done. This team had no chemistry, no passion and zero confidence in one another. Gone is Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder and Dwayne Wade. In comes Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, George Hill and Rodney Hood. Hill will be the starter at point guard and the other three should warrant major minutes. Look for Larry Nance and Hood to play in the 4th quarter late in games. Nance will be at the five and Hood can shoot with the best of them. The Cavs got better but can you win an NBA final with LeBron and Kevin Love as your #1 and 2 options?
Cleveland gets a C- Grade.
Milwaukee Bucks …30-23.
Jason Kidd was fired during the season and Joe Prunty has seemed to turn this team around. The Bucks have won 7 out of their last 10 and they have won 3 straight games. Giannis Antetokounmpo will be an MVP candidate this season. He leads his team in points, rebounds and assists. The addition of Eric Bledsoe has been a huge boost for this team. When Jabari Parker gets healthy they should be a tough out in the post-season. I would not be shocked if they make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. The man hey call “The Greek Freak.” is the best two way player in the Eastern Conference right now.
Milwaukee gets a B- Grade.
John Wall is out with an injury, and the Wizards have underachieved all season long. Washington has lost over 12 games this year to teams with a record under.500. I would be very shocked if head coach Scott Brooks is coaching this team next year. Bradley Beal has had a fine season, he is averaging almost 24 points per game.
Wizards get a C Grade.
The Pacers have over achieved this season. Victor Oladipo has stepped up his game. He is leading the team, averaging 24.5 points per game. Domantas Sabonis has thrived since coming over from the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is averaging 13 points, and leading the team in rebounding, pulling down 8.5 per game. I am not sold on head coach Nate McMillan, he has a career record of 520-492, but he has done a fine job thus far.
Indiana gets a B- Grade.
Miami Heat… 29-26.
When I watch the Miami Heat they can look like a great team, other times they look at a bad team. I don’t know what their identity is? Their highest paid player, Hassan Whiteside is owed 75 million over the next three seasons, and he is playing 25 minutes per game. How far can the Heat go when their leading scorer is Goran Dragic? (17.4 points per game). I would not be shocked if they don’t make the playoffs.
Miami gets a C Grade.
For years the 76ers brass have been saying, “trust the process”. Well the time is now for this organization to finally make the playoffs. They have two of the best young players in the NBA in Joe Embiid and Ben Simmons. How Simmons is not an all-star this year is a slap in the face. He is averaging 16 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7,8 assists per game. JJ Reddick has provided outside scoring and veteran leadership averaging 17 points per game. If the 76ers don’t make the playoffs they need to fire their head coach.
Philly gets a B- Grade
Say it out loud, four years in Detroit, Stan Van Gundy has a record of 32-50,44-38,37-45 and 27-27. Adding Blake Griffin should improve this team, but if they don’t make the playoffs, Van Gundy should be fired. He has underachieved. He is the 5th highest paid coach in the NBA, making $7 million per year.
Detroit gets a C- Grade
Many consider Michael Jordan the greatest NBA player of all-time. I consider him the worst president and GM of all-time. Since 2010 the Hornets have had 2 winning seasons and haven’t made it past the first round of the playoffs. Besides Kemba Walker, how many of Jordan’s draft picks have helped this franchise? Jordan is a terrible basketball decision maker.
Charlotte gets a D Grade.
New York Knicks…23-33.
The Knicks have lost Kristaps Porzingis to a season ending injury. If I am the former 4th pick in the 2015 NBA draft, Porzingis, I leave this team in the off-season. The Knicks picked up, point guard, Emmanuel Mudiay at the trade deadline. Why would they do this? Mudiay is 21 and the Knicks drafted Frank Ntilikina (19 years) old with the 8th pick in last year’s draft. This team is dysfunctional, and the hiring of Jeff Hornacek was a terrible move.
New York gets a C- Grade.
Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks All get D or below Grades.
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Next article… The Western Conference Mid-Season Grades.