In the Paint
Join Date: Dec 2007
CBS Sports grades teams at the halfway mark
Oklahoma City Thunder
They're great. They're the best team in the league this season, hands down. Beard, no beard, Harden, no Harden, they're terrific. On the road, at home, on a boat, with a goat, in a box, with a fox, it doesn't matter. This team is a lightning storm (complete with thunder, get it!) wrapped in a gigantic lazer gun.
Los Angeles Clippers
Not sure what more you could want from the first half of the Clippers' season. They're legitimately in the hunt for the best record in the West (within a game), they have multiple All-Stars and one of the deepest teams in the NBA. And they still have guys to get healthy and add to that rotation. The Clippers might be the best team in the regular season when the season is over.
Golden State Warriors
Everyone said if Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut can be healthy, this team will make the playoffs. What nobody said was "if only Curry is healthy of the team, this team will get home-court advantage in the first round." Can't say enough about the way the Warriors have responded to the coaching and teaching of Mark Jackson and their coaching staff. Nobody wants to play them in the first round of the playoffs.
San Antonio Spurs
Just rolling along. Another season, another stellar record and legit shot at contention. Tim Duncan is playing incredibly well, Tony Parker has taken over the team's responsibility as the go-to player and their depth is once again an obvious strength.
The best defensive team in basketball isn't pretty, but their record is. The first couple weeks of the season were shaky, and the inconsistent play of Roy Hibbert has remained a concern, but the Pacers have a defensive identity and a palpable toughness that they live by. They might've found a star in Paul George. And if Danny Granger can add to what they have going rather than disrupt, the Pacers very well might be the top threat to the Heat in the East.
For a couple weeks, the Grizzlies appeared to potentially be the team to beat in the Western Conference. Everyone knows their strength is the inside game with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, but Rudy Gay was putting things together as a quality closer and the bench was becoming a weapon. Some curious losses have pumped the brakes a bit on the title talk, but Memphis is obviously going to be a team to be reckoned with in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Heat have not been dominant in any way outside of what LeBron James is doing on the court. Their offense is pretty solid with a scary looking perimeter attack. Their defense looks out of sorts and susceptible to being broken inside. They're still sitting atop the Eastern Conference because there is no team to truly challenge them. This is probably going to be the case until halfway through the playoffs.
Despite firing their coach and going through a horrible December, the team is right where it needs to be, closing in on home-court advantage in the first round and second in the division. P.J. Carlesimo has done a fantastic job, and the team has rallied. They're on track, against all odds. And yet still below dollar value.
New York Knicks
A regression was inevitable. The Knicks weren't going to shoot 75 percent from three or whatever they shot in the first quarter of the season. They were going to come back down to earth. And as the offense has drifted back to only "really, really good" (third in offensive efficiency), the issue that's bigger is the defense. They're ranked 15th, and that's a problem. If this keeps up, it could be a long season.
They're not good, OK? Maybe they'll turn it around, maybe they'll convert everything like they have in 2010, 2011 and 2012. But the defense is suspect, the offense is inconsistent, Avery Bradley is not the savior, the old guys are old and the young guys aren't stars. They have major problems. Looking forward, we still like them to make the playoffs.
The Pistons are continuing their very frustrating trend of being bad but not bad enough. They have a disturbingly mediocre roster and no clear direction out of it. Andre Drummond appears to be a find, but how are they going to go from perennial 30-win team back to a contender?
The Wizards before John Wall's return to the lineup were a pathetic bunch of subpar role players who somehow managed to beat Oklahoma City to improve to 5-28. Then Wall returned, and the team appears to have some life in it. They're 4-2 since Wall's return and look to be a team in the second half of the season that might be pests for their opponents.
The Suns have forced Alvin Gentry out, Marcin Gortat is barely a functioning member of NBA society, Michael Beasley has attempted more shots than he has scored points in the first year of a three-year, $18 million deal and Jermaine O'Neal is fighting with the GM. Phoenix also has the worst record in the Western Conference. Other than that, everything is great in the desert.
Andrea Bargnani has been hurt, but Raptors fans consider that a good thing. The team made a brief surge with some home games against some awful teams, but reality has returned. This team could contend for a playoff spot with a better roster. But even with Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and Terrence Ross' terrific play, there's just not enough talent right now. Change is needed.
Los Angeles Lakers
Two things about the Lakers' season so far:
2) see below
Last edited by LX; 01-23-2013 at 01:56 PM.