There’s a clear difference in a team that’s attempting to tank and a team that is flat out bad. There are teams that are constructed to be bad. Take the Philadelphia 76ers for example. The roster consists of players like Elliot Williams, Lorenzo Brown, James Anderson and Brandon Davies. Bless your soul if you know who any of those players are.
Then we have the teams on this list that have rosters that should be playoff-contending on paper. If you play with these teams in 2K, you will probably find yourself falling in love with them, as I have done. Then, we must remember that 2K doesn’t account for the antics of Boogie Cousins and J.R. Smith. Sorry, there’s no arguing with refs (and teammates, for that matter) or untying of shoes in 2K, well… maybe in 2K15. You can also control the mind of one, Josh Smith, in 2K, by not forcing him to shoot terrible long twos and three-pointers (per Synergy, Smith is shooting 28.7 percent in spot-up situations, which account for 21.5 percent of his offense). These teams might play well on the virtual hardwood, but this isn’t the case when it comes to the real game.
For one reason or another, it just hasn’t worked out this season for these ten teams. Even though some of these Eastern Conference teams might find themselves in post season contention, we all know it will be a short lived consolation prize for an underachieving season. So, without further adieu, let’s discuss some of the top underachieving teams in the NBA this season.
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10. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
15-21, 7th seed in the Eastern Conference
Are you surprised to see the Bobcats on a list of underachieving teams? This might be a first, I know. This isn’t so much about their place in the Eastern Conference, as their record. The Eastern Conference is just horrible and it doesn’t matter what their seed is, the record should be better. I know everyone assumes the Bobcats are just a terrible team season after season, but this season they have legitimate talent. This is a franchise that has only made the playoffs once in their 10-year history and that was a first-round exit. The Bobcats also have a rookie coach in Steve Clifford, who hopes to stick around longer than a year like the last coach (Mike Dunlap), who was given the axe after one season. The Bobcats are starting to look like the Cleveland Browns in the way they get rid of their head coaches after giving them incompetent rosters that are incapable of winning.
The crazy thing about the Bobcats is that they are one of the best defensive teams in the league, only giving up 95.8 PPG (third in the NBA). Defense does win championships, but not if the team is incapable of putting points on the board. The ‘Cats are scoring a paltry 92.9 points per game, which is second-to-last in the NBA. The ‘Cats have been without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for over a month now and it’s impressive that they have been able to remain one of the top defensive teams. MKG is one of the best wing defenders in the league and the Bobcats will surely welcome his presence back into the lineup. Per Synergy, opponents only score on MKG 42.3 percent of the time, regardless of the type of shot. Besides Gilchrist, the Bobcats have been floating above water due to the play of Kemba Walker, Al Jefferson and Gerald Henderson. Walker is the leading scorer at 18.4 PPG, while Al Jefferson is putting up 17.0 points and 10.1 rebounds and Henderson is scoring 15.4 PPG. No. 4 overall pick, Cody Zeller, has been underwhelming and is facing the same problems he found in college. Zeller is only averaging 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per game.
The Bobcats need scoring, plain and simple. My suggestion? Get the New Orleans Pelicans on the phone immediately and find out what it will take to get Pierre Jackson to Charlotte. The Bobcats would be smart to search the D-League for some type of scoring and sign someone to a 10-day contract. The D-League Showcase just ended and plenty of players showcased their talents. The Bobcats need scoring help immediately if they want to secure a playoff spot in a weak Eastern Conference, which would be a good boost of confidence for their franchise. There should be no tanking in Charlotte, go grab that playoff spot!
9. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
17-18, 10th in Western Conference
The lack of success in Minnesota this season makes me sad, very sad. The T’Wolves haven’t had a winning season since 2004-2005 and it finally appeared that this season things would change. Kevin Love was healthy, Rubio was healthy and Kevin Martin would handle the perimeter shooting. Happy days right? So far, this roster just isn’t turning out victories. The other night, against Phoenix (without Eric Bledsoe), the Timberwolves completely collapsed in the fourth quarter and the Suns stole a game from them. Want some statistics? The Timberwolves are now 0-10 in games decided by four points or less this season. That right there tells you all you need to know about why the Timberwolves aren’t winning games.
The T’Wolves offense is second in the NBA at 107.3 PPG, while the defense is 25th in the NBA, giving up 102.7 PPG. The defense isn’t in the top-half of the league, but with an offense as lethal as Minnesota has, it should be able to keep them afloat. Not being able to win close games is the Achilles’ heel of the Timberwolves now. If they can even win half of those 10 games decided by four points or loss, that would put them in playoff position. If the Timberwolves can’t win close games in the regular season, then they won’t win close games in the playoffs (if they make it). It’s sad, because the roster is loaded with talent.
Kevin Love is arguably the best power forward in the game, averaging 26.1 PPG and 13.2 RPG. Kevin Martin has been rejuvenated and is scoring 19.7 PPG on 40 percent shooting from deep. Even Nikola Pekovic is having a great season, averaging 17.9 points and 9.3 rebounds. The player that isn’t meeting expectations, however, is Ricky Rubio. I’m not sure there’s a word in the English language that describes the play of Rubio this season — let’s just call it bad. He’s averaging 8.8 points and 8.3 assists, but shooting 35 percent from the field. Rubio has no outside shot to speak of and he’s not finishing at the rim. Per SportVU, Rubio is converting on 41.6 percent of his attempts at the rim. That’s not good at any level of basketball. In order for the Timberwolves to pick things up, Rubio has to become more of a threat than simply passing the ball. Ricky Rubio may hold the keys to success in Minnesota, which might be a bad thing for Timberwolves fans to hear.