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End of Season Power Rankings Part I: Bottom of the Barrel

ateneo10ateneo10 PEx Veteran ⭐⭐

30. New York

Regular season: 17-65

Lottery odds: 140/1000

Draft position: 3

Quote of the year:

Enes Kanter, Portland Trail Blazers: "At first, I want definitely to thank Knicks for waiving me..."

I think that pretty much crystalizes the entire year for the Knicks. To have a player they basically never play, go on to proceed to start for a team that reached the Western Conference Finals (and have a huge impact on the Blazers' playoff run) speaks volumes of the dysfunction of the Knicks.

That their star player asked out and they basically got Dennis Smith Jr and DeAndre Jordan back is not promising, either. Oh, I'm forgetting the biggest asset that came back in that trade: CAP SPACE. If they fall short of parlaying that into Kawhi Leonard (who they firmly believe they'll at least get a meeting with in free agency), things don’t look so bright in the light of Kevin Durant probably missing all next year and Kyrie Irving regressing to sub-All NBA. Look at this writeup: It's mostly about people who have don’t even wear a Knicks jersey.

After trading KP and tanking to the worst record in the NBA, the Knicks at least weren’t totally brutalized by the draft. Truth be told – the future of the Knicks may very well be hinged on how RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox pan out (if they don’t get traded first for something like, I dunno, Cap Space?).

29. Phoenix

Regular season: 19-63

Lottery odds: 140/1000

Draft position: 6

Quote of the year:

DeAndre Ayton [in response to Igor Kokoskov asking him to be more aggressive to start a game]: “I don’t know what he means by that.” – November 11, 2018

Did the Phoenix Suns really improve from 2017-2018? I’m really not sure. Ayton and Booker look like Wiggins and Towns, to be honest. The two best players on this team have to lead by example, and in this case, it’s the blind leading the blind. Having the 6th pick in the 2019 draft is a start, but having James Jones run your team isn’t the best way to create a viable environment to attract free agents when his biggest move of the season was to give Tyson Chandler to the LA Lakers for free.

Not a fun team to watch, young guys who don’t really get anyone excited (and that’s saying much because they already have Devin Booker who can go off for 50 points any given night), not really great direction from a GM standpoint… My end thoughts for the Phoenix Suns? Just like DeAndre Ayton: I don’t really know.

 

28. Cleveland

Regular season: 19-63

Lottery odds: 140/1000

Draft position: 5

Quote of the year:

Tristan Thompson: "We still 4-time Eastern Conference Champions, so until you take us down from that... Boston had homecourt Game 7 and lost. Philly, you guys almost got swept. Toronto, we know that story." - Sept 28, 2018

Tyronne Lue: "No tanking" - Sept 25, 2018

What were they thinking? The "Other Cavaliers" (well, plus Colin Sexton) tanked their way… out of the draft lottery's top 4. The high points of the year was Jordan Clarkson getting a lot of playing time (even if he was bricking everything when he got shots up), Larry Nance, Jr. getting consistent double-doubles to close the year relatively strong, and of course, the aforementioned Sexton. You add back a healthy Kevin Love with the growth of the young core and the Cavs would probably be able to add 15 wins next season – which isn’t saying much.

If they find someone willing to give up two first round picks for Kevin Love, they should just full-on rebuild. They might get some better first round selections for it, and they wouldn’t even be trying to be tanking.

 

27. Chicago

Regular season: 22-60

Lottery odds: 125/1000

Draft position: 7

Quote of the year:

Jabari Parker: "...they don't pay players to play defense." - July 18, 2018

Jabari Parker was supposed to team up with Zach Lavine and Lauri Markkanen to form some sort of Big 3, but it looks like Milwaukee dodged a bullet when they let Parker walk in free agency. While it will be exciting to see a healthy duo of Lavine and Markkanen, along with the development of Wendell Carter, Jr. and whoever turns out of their number 7 pick, that’s probably too soft of a silver lining for all the losing the Bulls have done under John Paxson. Lucky for Pax, there are quite a few dysfunctional stories in the league that he kinda slips under the national media radar.

Seems like seeing Chicago Bulls red playing even in May is gonna be something we may have to wait at least half a decade for.

 

26. Washington

Regular season: 32-50

Lottery odds: 90/1000

Draft position: 9

Scott Brooks [on how it would be like to go up against the Golden State Warriors]: I’ve been fortunate enough to coach two Western-Conference All-Star teams. Now, I get to coach against one.” – January 24, 2019

Although Bradley Beal played well enough to get into another All-Star game, it’s his missing All-NBA may save the Wizards a pretty penny next season as they don’t have to deal with a potential cap-crippling supermax extension for Beal. Thomas Bryant and Bobby Portis had a few good games, and trading away some financial burden in Otto Porter while still winning 30 games without John Wall means the Wizards are – just like in years past – a piece or two away from knocking on the East Finals door (if Wall and Beal can co-exist while integrating, instead of alienating, the rest of their team).

 

25. Memphis

Regular season: 33-49

Lottery odds: 60/1000

Draft position: 2

Quote of the year:

Adrian Wojnarowski:

“Washington Wizards are in advanced talks on a deal to acquire… Trevor Ariza… Kelly Oubre to Memphis… and Austin Rivers and two role players to Suns” – December 15, 2018, 11:09AM

“Deal in jeopardy over which Brooks – MarShon or Dillon” – December 15, 2018, 11:53AM

John Gambadoro: “You can not make this stuff up” – December 15, 2018, 12:20PM

If you thought New York was Dysfunctional, the Memphis season can be encapsulated in the above as well: No one knows what the shizz is going on in there either. By burying their heads in the sand and believing that Big Spain and Mike Conley are a great duo, and then adding Chandler Parsons, Memphis just set off into motion the longest drama anthology in the state history. Humanely, that experiment was put to an end, and God smiled Memphis’ way, gifting them with the second overall pick in the next draft. If they find a willing trade partner to relieve them of Mike Conley, if Ja Morant has a brain half as decent as Lonzo Ball has, and if Memphis rolls the dice with Valanciunas, Ja, Jonas and JJJ could be going places and that may change the narrative which Memphis has been stuck with for a while, which is basically that they were going nowhere and fast.

 

24. Minnesota

Regular season: 36-46

Lottery odds: 30/1000

Draft position: 11

Quote of the year:

Jimmy Butler: "You can't win without me." - Oct 20, 2018

Butler handled it the wrongest way possible, but his point was very much valid: paying Wiggins and Towns before they proved anything didn’t exactly help the Timberwolves move forward. The silver lining here is that, an entire conference (and two playoff rounds) away, hopefully KAT and Andrew learned that, even if 22 is the most God Gifted and the big man is the most talented, it takes heart to win. The Wolves having Saric and Covington and Taj Gibson make for a good core, and even if they’re saddled with some bad contracts and a thin bench – the most important thing jumps out at you is that it’s just about getting their leaders the heart that winners are made of.

 

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