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Thread: Chad Ford Grades the NBA

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    Hey, I'm under the arrow drewdawg's Avatar
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    Default Chad Ford Grades the NBA

    Here is what he had to say about the Pacers:

    INDIANA PACERS The Pacers are the toughest team in the league to grade. Based on expectations, the team was disappointing. Given Indiana's early-season play, the Pacers looked as though they would be in the Finals. After the brawl, all their dreams turned to nightmares. Ron Artest was suspended for the season. Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson served hefty suspensions. Major injuries to O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley and Jonathan Bender just rubbed salt in the wounds. But somehow, they've persevered. Reggie Miller was resurrected beyond the 3-point line, role players such as Anthony Johnson and Fred Jones figured out how to take their limited games to another level, and Rick Carlisle proved once again that he can coach anyone and win. If the Pacers are healthy next season, watch out. GRADE: B-

    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/colum...=2039992&num=0

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    Default Re: Chad Ford Grades the NBA

    Here are the rest of the teams.

    By Chad Ford
    ESPN Insider

    EAST

    With playoff mania about to set in, there's no time like now to look back to July 1 and give a little credit to the teams that did it right since then and take a few shots at the ones that screwed it up.


    EASTERN CONFERENCE GRADES
    MIAMI HEAT What a season it has been for the Heat. First, they trade for the most dominant big man in the game while giving up one good player (Lamar Odom), one decent prospect (Caron Butler) and one terrible contract (Brian Grant). Then, the Heat's 2003 first-round pick, Dwyane Wade, decides that he, not LeBron, is the second coming of Michael Jordan and plays the role very convincingly. Add a breakout year by cheap free-agent pickup Damon Jones and what do you have? The Heat became not only the team with the best record in the East but also a team with real staying power. The Shaquille O'Neal factor won't last forever, but with Wade's emergence as a superstar, the Heat should be firmly planted on the map for years. GRADE: A

    CHICAGO BULLS It happened a year late, but finally it has happened. The Bulls are in the playoffs. No matter what happens from here on out, nothing should diminish that accomplishment. The Baby Bulls grew up. GM John Paxson realized that drafting proven college studs such as Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon and Luol Deng from top programs would pay quicker dividends. A European free agent, Andres Nocioni, and journeyman Othella Harrington gave the team some long-needed grit. And Scott Skiles, in one of the best coaching jobs of the year, got a team with five rookies to play some of the best defense in the league. Amazing. Now, can they keep it all together this summer without breaking the bank? GRADE: A-

    DETROIT PISTONS Team president Joe Dumars is still at the top of his game. Tayshaun Prince developed into a legit scoring threat. Antonio McDyess resurrected his career. The Pistons got something for nothing when they nabbed Carlos Arroyo. And the rest of the Pistons, for the most part, were able to keep up the pace from last season. However, Larry Brown's political games with Darko Milicic and Carlos Delfino will hurt both in the short and long term. Short term, the team could really use them in the playoffs. Long term, two staples for the future both want out of Detroit desperately. Look for the problem to solve itself this summer when Brown retires and Dumars brings in a guy who doesn't have a distaste for international players. GRADE: B+

    BOSTON CELTICS After a shaky rookie season, Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge has had a pretty amazing year. His three first-round draft picks (Al Jefferson, Delonte West and Tony Allen) all look as though they're going to be good. The offseason acquisition of Gary Payton wasn't the disaster we predicted. Doc Rivers has done a solid job coaching the team. And bringing back Antoine Walker, even if it was just for this year's playoff run, boosted the morale of the entire team. If Ainge can find a way to re-sign Walker for cheap and keep up the development of the young guys, the Celtics could be a serious force to reckon with next year. The only knock? He should have gone with his instincts and let Mark Blount walk to Philly. Blount's contract is going to hurt the Celtics for the next five years. GRADE: B+

    WASHINGTON WIZARDS GM Ernie Grunfeld doesn't get much press, but he deserves some. Two summers ago, he picked up Gilbert Arenas in free agency. Last summer, he traded for Antawn Jamison. The combination of the two along with the emergence of Larry Hughes as a legit All-Star candidate has the Wizards in the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Now, if they could just get Kwame Brown to register a pulse. GRADE: B

    CHARLOTTE BOBCATS This is an awfully high grade for a team that won just 18 games. But as expansion teams go, the Bobcats were really pretty good. They kept games close, especially at home. They developed three legit young players to build around in Emeka Okafor, Primoz Brezec and Gerald Wallace. And they discovered that creaky old veterans such as Brevin Knight and Steve Smith could still play. They've done all this while positioning themselves perfectly for the future. The Bobcats have a great shot at landing point guard Chris Paul in the draft, and they'll go into the summer with the lowest payroll in the league. Next year they won't be much better. But by year three, if they play their cards right, watch out. GRADE: B

    INDIANA PACERS The Pacers are the toughest team in the league to grade. Based on expectations, the team was disappointing. Given Indiana's early-season play, the Pacers looked as though they would be in the Finals. After the brawl, all their dreams turned to nightmares. Ron Artest was suspended for the season. Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson served hefty suspensions. Major injuries to O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley and Jonathan Bender just rubbed salt in the wounds. But somehow, they've persevered. Reggie Miller was resurrected beyond the 3-point line, role players such as Anthony Johnson and Fred Jones figured out how to take their limited games to another level, and Rick Carlisle proved once again that he can coach anyone and win. If the Pacers are healthy next season, watch out. GRADE: B-

    NEW JERSEY NETS The Nets are another tough team to grade. They started the season miserably. The trade of Kenyon Martin was an awful mistake. It was compounded by an injured and pouting Jason Kidd. And Richard Jefferson ended up missing 47 games with an injured wrist. But credit team president Rod Thorn for persevering. He stole Vince Carter from Toronto, developed rookie Nenad Krstic and put the Nets back into contention for the playoffs. If Jefferson is healthy enough to return for the playoffs, the Nets could give the Heat a scare. If they figure out a way to get an athletic four like Stromile Swift or a veteran like Shareef Abdur-Rahim this summer, the Nets will be right back in contention next season. GRADE: B-

    PHILADELPHIA 76ers Allen Iverson had his best season as a pro. The Sixers' young players such as Andre Iguodala, Kyle Korver and Samuel Dalembert are developing. And the team, after a brief respite in the lottery, is back in the playoffs. So what's not to like? Conventional wisdom at the trade deadline (Insider included) was that the Sixers scored a home run when they nabbed Chris Webber for Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson and Brian Skinner. Now? It looks as though GM Billy King panicked and tied C-Webb's millstone contract to Philly's payroll. Webber has been awful, his legs look gone and he's pouting. That's not the worst of it. At the end of the day, his huge contract might prevent the Sixers from re-signing Dalembert or Korver this summer. GRADE: C+

    CLEVELAND CAVALIERS Ugh. A season that started off so promising ended in disaster. The Cavs were looking at the fifth seed in the playoffs in March. Now, it looks likely that, for the second straight year, a late-season swoon will cost them the playoffs. Coach Paul Silas is out of job. GM Jim Paxson will soon follow him. New owner Dan Gilbert has created enormous turbulence. And LeBron James is counting down the days (roughly 1,140 if you're counting at home) until he can cash in on those endorsement incentives that pay him big bucks to play in New York, Chicago or LA. The upside? If Gilbert can find the right GM and the right coach and make the right moves in free agency (resisting the urge to pay Zydrunas Ilgauskas big bucks to start with), he still has a shot at keeping LeBron. That's a lot of ifs, however. GRADE: C

    ORLANDO MAGIC GM John Weisbrod's rise and fall lasted just a little longer than Hootie and the Blowfish's career. The "hockey guy" projected supreme confidence in the chucking of T-Mac at the start of the season. But he knew his career really hinged on that move. "I said from the start this was the way I'd do it and I'd either be a hero or they'd run me out of town." Better get those running shoes on, John. T-Mac has been awesome the second half of the season. Orlando? Not so much. After a solid start, trouble set in and Weisbrod's hockey instincts kicked in. Before we knew what was happening, he was checking the future of the franchise into the stands. Now that confidence reeks of arrogance as his players and the city begin to turn on him. No one's happy. The team is back in the lottery. And the future of the franchise has never been in more doubt. Two solid first-round picks, Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, plus the re-emergence of Grant Hill are the only thing keeping the Magic's grade afloat at this point. GRADE: C

    MILWAUKEE BUCKS It looks as though those amazing 2004 Bucks were one-hit wonders. After reaping major praise at the end of last season, the Bucks had nothing go right this year. T.J. Ford sat on the IL all year. Terry Porter, a legit coach-of-the-year candidate last season, is on the chopping block. Michael Redd is heading into unrestricted free agency. And even Larry Harris, one of the best young GMs in the business, is apparently in trouble. If Redd leaves this summer, the franchise will crumble into Hawks territory. GRADE: C-

    ATLANTA HAWKS When one of your players refers to the team as Afghanistan, you know things are ugly. If the Hawks were an expansion team, fair enough. But they're not and have been so bad for so long it's tough to muster much enthusiasm. Their two first-round picks, Josh Childress and Josh Smith, look like legitimate building blocks especially Smith. After that, it's not pretty. Al Harrington is solid, but no one believes he's going to be more than just a little above average starter in the league. The rest will be replaced via the draft and free agency if Atlanta can persuade a couple of free agents to come. Ideally, the team gets either Chris Paul or Andrew Bogut in the draft, then finds a way to bring in Samuel Dalembert and a guy like Marko Jaric or Earl Watson. But even if the Hawks do all of that, how much better will they be? GRADE: D

    TORONTO RAPTORS The Raptors are such a disaster right now they're counting on Wayne Embry to be their savior. Chris Bosh has been great, but FEMA might have to cross the border to investigate the rest of the Raptors. GM Rob Babcock messed up on draft night, taking Rafael Araujo about 10 to 15 places too high. Then he gave away Vince Carter in what will be remembered as one of the worst trades in the history of the NBA. Then he compounded the error by not trading Donyell Marshall while he still had the chance. Toronto heads into the summer with no cap room and a couple of draft picks. If Raptors chairman Larry Tannebaum has his way, the whole front office and the coaching staff will be looking for jobs in the next 48 hours. GRADE: D

    NEW YORK KNICKS Who would've thought that 18 months into Isiah Thomas' tenure in New York, Knicks fans would actually be referring to the Scott Layden era as the good old days. The Knicks were as bad as any team in the league the last two months. Their $109 million payroll next season and limited flexibility in trade options mean that we're a few months away from the Knicks' joining Isiah's other "success" stories in Toronto and the Continental Basketball Association on the garbage heap. GRADE: F

    WEST

    Just 36 hours and the real season finally can begin. Then 82 games become an afterthought.

    For many NBA fans, the regular season is really a long, long preseason. A warm-up for the real event.

    The Suns can win 62 games this season, up from 29 the year before. But if they lose in the playoffs, some will argue that the team was a disappointment.

    "Everyone talks about the playoffs," Suns point guard and MVP candidate Steve Nash told Insider. "I don't know why it's not important in the NBA to be the best team in the regular season. It's an 82-game season. It's pretty silly. In Dallas, even making the playoffs wasn't important enough. Even making the Western Conference finals wasn't enough.

    "I care about how we play every day. I want to win every game. The playoffs are the playoffs. My job is to play hard every game."

    Can't argue with Steve. In the end, only one team will win the title. A miracle shot (just ask the Spurs) or a miracle block (just ask the Pacers) can end months and months of hard work.

    So with playoff mania about to set in, there's no time like now to look back to July 1 and give a little credit to the teams that did it right since then and take a few shots at the ones that screwed it up.


    WESTERN CONFERENCE GRADES
    PHOENIX SUNS
    They had the second-worst record in the West last season. They drew criticism in the summer when they "overpaid" for Steve Nash and Quentin Richardson. Mike D'Antoni was laughed at when he said he was going to play small ball with Amare Stoudemire manning the middle. And they finished the season with the best record in the league playing a style of basketball that has electrified the league. If that doesn't deserve an A, nothing does. GRADE: A

    SAN ANTONIO SPURS
    The Spurs are about to get a lifetime achievement award. They have emerged, next to the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers, as an elite franchise that always seems to find a way to get it right. Tim Duncan helps, sure. But it's the supporting cast of Tony Parker (29th pick), Manu Ginobili (57th pick), Bruce Bowen (undrafted), Devin Brown (undrafted) and Beno Udrih (29th pick) that makes the difference. If a team wants to know how to build through the draft and with role players, the Spurs are the model. GRADE: A

    DENVER NUGGETS
    Forget about the awful start. Just remember the end. The 31-7 record since new head coach George Karl took over. The re-emergence of Carmelo Anthony as an All-Star. The dominance (finally) of Marcus Camby in the middle. The intensity of Kenyon Martin on the block. The steadying influence of Andre Miller running the show. The pure energy of Earl Boykins coming off the bench. Kiki Vandeweghe found the right pieces, he just needed Karl to put them all together. Since Karl came onboard, no team in the NBA has been better. That will keep the Spurs up at night. All things being equal, the Nuggets are probably the third best team in NBA right now and even that might be an understatement. GRADE: A-

    DALLAS MAVERICKS
    The loss of Steve Nash and the questionable signing of Erick Dampier with the money Mark Cuban refused to spend on Nash notwithstanding, the Mavs seem headed in the right direction. Dirk Nowitzki has emerged as a legit MVP candidate, Jerry Stackhouse is one of the best sixth men in the business and the Mavs finally are playing some defense. Combine that with a nice young stable of talent including Josh Howard, Devin Harris and Marquis Daniels and the Mavs should only get better. GRADE: B+

    SEATTLE SUPERSONICS
    The Sonics have fallen back to earth the last few weeks of the season thanks to injury and chemistry issues. But it shouldn't take away from what they accomplished. Head coach Nate McMillan did a great job of meshing disparate pieces into a real team. Many (Insider included) picked the Sonics to finish last in the conference. Instead, they won their division. What happened? Ray Allen played his butt off for that last contract, Rashard Lewis emerged as a legit All-Star candidate, Vladimir Radmanovic found his calling in life as a sixth man, Luke Ridnour proved he could guard a chair, Antonio Daniels might have been the best backup point guard in the league and Danny Fortson and Reggie Evans were relentless on the glass. GRADE: B

    HOUSTON ROCKETS
    It took them awhile, but Tracy McGrady and Jeff Van Gundy finally saw eye to eye. Ever since that seminal moment in December, the Rockets have been on fire. Yao Ming has progressed more than he's gotten credit for. GM Carroll Dawson turned nothing into a pretty decent backcourt of Bob Sura, Mike James, David Wesley and Jon Barry. They still have a ton of holes to fill this summer, but the important thing is that T-Mac has the Rockets in the playoffs. GRADE: B

    LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
    Ignore their record. If Marko Jaric and Shaun Livingston had stayed healthy all season, the Clippers would have made the playoffs. Livingston still looks like he has the potential to be the best player in the draft class of 2004. Jaric looked like he was on the verge of a breakout year before injuries slowed him down. Bobby Simmons was No. 2 on my ballot for most improved. Corey Maggette is now averaging 22 ppg. Elton Brand remains one of the most steady players in the league and Chris Kaman has gotten better all year. If Donald Sterling is willing to re-sign Jaric and Simmons and spend the money for one more piece, the Clippers are one lottery pick and one free-agent signing away from making a big move in the standings next year. GRADE: B-

    GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
    Their season started off in typical Warrior fashion. GM Chris Mullin overpaid Derek Fisher and Adonal Foyle in free agency, destroying all their cap flexibility, fired a good coach and replaced him with an inexperienced one, then watched his team actually take a few steps backward. But Mullin was finally able to do something his predecessor, Garry St. Jean, couldn't. He made a great trade. Mullin gave up very little to acquire a legit point guard in Baron Davis. He's made all the difference. Paired in the backcourt with Jason Richardson, the pair has been unstoppable. If the Warriors can find a way to land an athletic shot blocker up front via free agency or the draft, we might have to start talking about the playoffs next season. GRADE: B-

    SACRAMENTO KINGS
    You can't blame them for trading Chris Webber or Doug Christie. Despite what was written on the night of the trade deadline, Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson and Brian Skinner were actually great trades for Sacramento. Still, this team is snake bit. Just when they thought they'd be coming into the playoffs at full strength for once with Brad Miller and Bobby Jackson set to return, Peja Stojakovic goes out with a bad groin pull. Hire an exorcist. GRADE: C+

    MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
    It has been a rocky season in Memphis. The team started off miserably. They overpaid for Brian Cardinal in free agency. Last year's breakout player, James Posey, was hampered by injuries. And, when nothing else could go wrong, coach of the year Hubie Brown resigned on Thanksgiving. However, the team has played better under Mike Fratello and thanks to a monumental collapse by the Timberwolves, is back in the playoffs. Enjoy it while it lasts, Grizzlies fans. It's probably going to get worse from here. With Stromile Swift, Earl Watson and Bonzi Wells likely to leave this summer, and no budget to replace them, the Grizzlies might have lost their bite again. GRADE: C+

    UTAH JAZZ
    On paper the Jazz looked awfully formidable. On the court, not so much. Injuries to Andrei Kirilenko, a point-guard plague, a rocky start for Mehmet Okur, a tough ending for Carlos Boozer and slow development of the two rookies, Kris Humphries and Kirk Snyder, might just drive head coach Jerry Sloan into retirement. If that happens, downgrade them to a D. GRADE: C

    LOS ANGELES LAKERS
    Kobe Bryant, the player, put up a pretty amazing stat line this year. Kobe, the teammate, found a way to alienate almost every player on the Lakers' roster. Kobe, the coach, helped push Rudy Tomjanovich into retirement. Kobe, the GM, traded away the most dominant big man in the game for a bunch of lottery balls. As the Clippers continue to rise in the West and the Lakers sink, were we really that off this past summer when we told Kobe he should choose the Clips? GRADE: C-

    MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
    Kevin Garnett is disgusted again. Wally Szczerbiak is demanding a trade. Sam Cassell is mouthing off. And Latrell Sprewell can no longer feed his family. The Wolves' window is closed and there's very little Kevin McHale (as coach or GM) is going to do to open it. They'll let Sprewell walk this summer and try to trade Cassell, but it's looking more and more like KG's dream of a title will never come in a Wolves uniform. GRADE: D+

    PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
    It can't get any worse, could it? That's what we said two years ago and we're still saying it. The Blazers have no concept of the term rock bottom. Every veteran on the team seems unhappy. Every young player is a ways away. Do the Blazers just trade everyone and hand the team over to a 5-11, 19-year-old point guard who can't shoot? Weirder things have happened in Portland. Paul Allen needs to fire everyone and start over from scratch. GRADE: D

    NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
    Injuries were the reason for the Hornets' early season free fall. Stupidity made up for the rest. We had no problem with the Hornets giving up the chronically injured and grumpy Baron Davis. But look what they got in return. This is another team that seems to lack vision and that could mean that they're stuck in this rut for the next five to six years.

    GRADE: D


    Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.


    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/colum...=2040150&num=0

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    Pacer Junky Will Galen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Chad Ford Grades the NBA

    "Al Harrington is solid, but no one believes he's going to be more than just a little above average starter in the league."


    Ouch!

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    Default Re: Chad Ford Grades the NBA

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Galen
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    "Al Harrington is solid, but no one believes he's going to be more than just a little above average starter in the league."
    Except Al...

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    Default Re: Chad Ford Grades the NBA

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthem
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    Except Al...
    Ouch!

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    Default Re: Chad Ford Grades the NBA

    Quote Originally Posted by drewdawg
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    NEW YORK KNICKS Who would've thought that 18 months into Isiah Thomas' tenure in New York, Knicks fans would actually be referring to the Scott Layden era as the good old days. The Knicks were as bad as any team in the league the last two months. Their $109 million payroll next season and limited flexibility in trade options mean that we're a few months away from the Knicks' joining Isiah's other "success" stories in Toronto and the Continental Basketball Association on the garbage heap. GRADE: F
    Well, at least Zeke was a big success in Indy.

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    Default Re: Chad Ford Grades the NBA

    Quote Originally Posted by Bat Boy
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    Well, at least Zeke was a big success in Indy.
    Yes - I am proud to be a fan of the only team that graded an "F."

    It's nice to feel special - can't really argue with it though. I just think we maybe should have some company - Toronto & Utah (considering the Carter & Arroyo debacles) for two.
    The poster formerly known as Rimfire

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    Default Re: Chad Ford Grades the NBA

    Quote Originally Posted by DisplacedKnick
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    Yes - I am proud to be a fan of the only team that graded an "F."

    It's nice to feel special - can't really argue with it though. I just think we maybe should have some company - Toronto & Utah (considering the Carter & Arroyo debacles) for two.
    Atleast everyone knows Jalen Rose is an overpaid cancer in Toronto.
    Isiah still thinks Starbury is the Knicks future. Well maybe he is, but that just means that nobody else will take him and it isn't a very bright future.

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