Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.”

I had Wolves listed as a 50-win team and contenders for a top-four spot, but what does it matter what I think? The Wolves themselves clearly believed they were in line to challenge for a conference title in the Open West, or else they would never have given up so much for a 30-year-old Rudy Gobert.

This was not a long-term plan. This was a team looking to build on almost winning a playoff series last season, and now it’s going to be tough to even make the postseason. Minnesota, at 23-24, is tied in the loss column with the No. 11 Blazers. The defense, which was supposed to make the big leap, is worse than last season by more than two points for every 100 possessions, and the offense, get this, is more than 12 points worse per 100 when Gobert is on the floor. for glass cleaning.

The only way Gobert’s offensive challenges are acceptable is if he leads an elite defense, and even then it’s a problem. This is a disaster. Wolves, by far, have been the biggest disappointment in the league thus far.

Atlanta might be coming around the corner with five straight wins, but overall this season hasn’t lived up to the hype that came with the Dejounte Murray trade. The defense has improved, but the offense is nearing a bottom-10 rating as the most individually dependent system in the league.

There is zero movement, ball or player. It’s just a my turn/your turn dance between Trae Young and Murray, and only a recent hot streak has pushed Young’s 3-point percentage to over 35. That’s not going to be enough for a team that already wants to shoot after of the Kevin Huerter trade. only the pips Y Bulls take less 3s than Atlanta and only the lakers do less.

They have slid above .500 with this recent rise, and again things could be up. Murray and Young have shot very well from deep since the schedule change. But for now, being just two losses away from the last playing spot in the East near the trade deadline isn’t what anyone had in mind.

Anyone can understand a defending champ with an aging core taking it easy in the regular season, but a 6-18 road record with 17th-ranked offense and a negative point spread? Yes, Curry missed an 11-game skid and Andrew Wiggins missed more than a month, but the Warriors weren’t playing any better before those absences.

There is optimism in some performances against the celts, a win at home for the Warriors and a tight loss in Boston, which show this team can still play well with a top-tier contender, and Golden State’s starting lineup has been dominant all season. Whether the bench can support even minimal weight remains to be seen, and the defense is no longer a unit that can bail out mistakes. The margin for error is all but gone for the Warriors, but they still make mistakes.

They still foul like crazy (allowing the most free throws and taking the fewest). They still flip like crazy (29th in turnover percentage). These aren’t margins the Warriors can make up in the big picture, and that’s why they’re simply a .500 team. We continue to give this team the benefit of the doubt, and we should. You have won. Stephen Curry remains at the height of his powers. But there is a lot to worry about.

This is an absolutely average team. Not good. Not bad. Certainly not what they hoped to become when they finally changed their roster. I still want to believe that Gary Payton II It’s a big difference-making factor and that Portland will take off at some point, but I can’t convince myself anymore.

Everyone criticized Neil Olshey for his reluctance, or unwillingness, to break up the Lillard-McCollum duo and/or make strong roster moves during his tenure, but here’s the flip side of that. It’s not easy to improve on what Portland was with Olshey and Terry Stotts, particularly with a roster full of players worth more on the court than in the market (McCollum, Nurkic, Norman Powelletc.).

Still, Portland fans just wanted to see some kind of action in the front office. So when Joe Cronin started shipping pieces left and right and brought joseph hart Y Jerami Scholarship and Payton and seemed to be building a more defensively equipped team, everyone got excited for a minute.

But now the dust has settled, and what are the Blazers? It’s still a bad defensive team that covers a vulnerable back zone. Still, a team that tries to win on the narrowest of margins, a team that has to rely on Damian Lillard (or someone else) playing the hero in clutch time, only that’s not happening like it did a few years ago (negative clutch differential), and suddenly this team isn’t making up for 43 minutes of mediocrity with five minutes of greatness .

Bottom line: The Blazers are desperate to assemble a contender in support of Lillard, and currently, they’re one loss short of the Lakers and firmly stuck in the lottery.

5. Los Angeles Lakers

Speaking of the Lakers, no one thought this was going to be a contender. But with LeBron James still playing at this level and even Russell Westbrook looking passable off the bench (although he’s actually been less efficient than he was last year), and with Anthony Davis playing like an MVP candidate when he was on the court, it’s still hard. to not get caught up in the purple and gold marquee hype and it’s still so disappointing to look up and see a mediocre team swimming upstream almost every night.

The Lakers can’t shoot. Davis can’t stay healthy. They’re an almost inept defense without Davis and a run-of-the-mill offense with a 10-point difference in bottom line. Everyone is crying out for a trade, but it seems unlikely that Rob Pelinka will do anything significant. Even when Davis returns, how long will he stay short this time? Let’s get used to the idea that the Lakers are capable enough to constantly disappoint.

Honorable Mention

By sbavh

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