Cohen 8-Ball: The NBA Cycle
January 29, 2013
Josh Cohen’s Analysis: NBA success works in cycles. We tend to be narrow-minded when we scope out the league, but generally speaking, NBA franchises ride a looping, spinning and rather bumpy roller coaster. After trading Dwight Howard this past summer, the Magic began a renovation and are presently in the infantile stages of such a rebuild. With several promising young players, like Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless, impending salary cap space, high draft picks on the horizon and a slew of trade assets, the Magic will rise again and it will probably happen relatively quickly.
Cohen’s Analysis: Three seasons ago, the Cavaliers, Magic, Mavericks and Suns were four of the best teams in the league. Now, they are all in the midst of a rebuild. The Knicks, Nets, Clippers and Warriors, on the other hand, were all planning for the future in 2010. Now, they are all assured to be in the playoffs and hope to make a Finals push. CLICK NEXT to learn about six teams that just three years ago seemed to have no hope but are now on the bright end of the cycle.
Los Angeles Clippers (29-53) – Cohen’s Analysis: We all know the Clippers are historically one of the worst franchises in pro sports. But some patience and wise decision-making since 2010 has catapulted the “other” L.A. team into title contention. Drafting Blake Griffin (with some lottery luck), utilizing a collection of assets to land Chris Paul and attracting proven veterans like Jamal Crawford to hop aboard has revolutionized the reputation of the Clips.
Brooklyn (New Jersey) Nets (12-70) – Cohen’s Analysis: The Nets, then across the river, had traded Jason Kidd and Vince Carter and were in the infantile stages of a renovation. They stockpiled on lottery draft picks, including Brook Lopez, and used other pieces like Derrick Favors to acquire stars like Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace. The addition of Joe Johnson has solidified the Nets, three years removed from one of the worst seasons by any team in league history, as a major menace for challengers in the East.
New York Knicks (29-53) – Cohen’s Analysis: Despite playing in the biggest media market, the Knicks were abysmal for an entire decade. Isiah Thomas’ rickety decision-making, which included acquiring Eddy Curry and Steve Francis and signing Jared Jeffries and Jerome James, cost New York an entire decade of quality hoops in the city. But gradually, with the intellect from Donnie Walsh, the Knicks liberated cap space and eventually landed Carmelo Anthony via a forced trade. Now, just three years after a horrible season, New York is a championship contender.
Indiana Pacers (32-50) – Cohen’s Analysis: After Reggie Miller’s retirement and the brawl at the Palace involving Metta World Peace, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal, the Pacers started a renovation and the rebuild involved the drafting of Danny Granger and Paul George and the signing of David West. In 2010, they were practically in the gutter but just three years later are the best defensive team in the league and a threat in the Eastern Conference.
Golden State Warriors (26-56) – Cohen’s Analysis: Just a few years after stunning the nation with a memorable playoff victory over the heavily favored Mavericks in 2007, the Warriors had sputtered again by 2010 and were in the midst of another reconstruction. Drafting Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and signing David Lee has suddenly rejuvenated the franchise.
Memphis Grizzlies (40-42) – Cohen’s Analysis: Slowly but surely the Grizzlies made some sharp transactions, including acquiring Marc Gasol in the Pau trade with the Lakers and obtaining Zach Randolph when seemingly nobody wanted him and his massive contract. Now, with a healthy Rudy Gay, though he is on the trading block because of luxury tax complications, Memphis is a fringe championship contender.