Tuesday, February 1, 2011

NBA Teams On The Rise And On The Fall

The fortunes of an NBA franchise can be changed seemingly overnight. That night is usually some time around June 23rd, the night of the NBA Draft. Which similar to the NFL Draft, is like a holiday to me. The decisions made on draft night, coupled with key trades and free agent signings can turn a perennial cellar dweller into a powerhouse. So which NBA franchises have made the right moves to put their teams on the rise and which have made the wrong decisions? Lets look at a few teams as stocks considering future growth potential.

NBA Teams On The Rise

The L.A. Clippers might be the best team to invest in right now. This is partly do to how low the stock has been for basically the entire history of the franchise since it moved from Buffalo, NY in 1978. The growth potential is immense. When you take out Brian Cook, Rasual Butler and Baron Davis, the average age of the 11 other Clippers players is 24. With talented young players like Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe, the future is bright in Clipper land. Unless of course, the curse of the Clippers shows its ugly head. By "curse", I mean Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

It should be of no surprise that the Oklahoma City Thunder are a team on the rise. Actually, I'm sure many readers consider the Thunder to be a team that is not on the rise, but rather, a team that has arrived already. However, the truth is this team is still very young at just under an average age of 25. The team will also get a bit younger and free up some cap space to sign their young guns when Nick Collison and Morris Peterson are no longer with the team. Think about this, Collison makes more than double of what Kevin Durant makes/year at more than $13 million compared to Durant's $6 million. With players like J. Green, K. Durant and R. Westbrook in the fold, the Thunder are a team on the rise in a hurry.

The Chicago Bulls organization has finally put a contender together after the Jordan years. So I guess it was a good move for Bulls management to dismantle the Bulls dynasty when they did. Otherwise, we would be waiting another ten years for a "Baby" Bulls contender. In all seriousness, the Chicago Bulls are no joke. The team follows the same youth movement as the above mentioned Clippers and Thunder with an average team age of just under 28 (Kurt Thomas' 38 skews the average a bit) and they are loaded with talent. I'm not a Derrick Rose fan, but he is a physical freak at the PG position. This team also has a number of solid trade pieces if they so chose to add a different piece before the trade deadline. With Noah, Boozer, Rose and Deng in the mix, this is one stock that is loaded for the long haul.

I know the New York Knicks is a homer pick by me, but think about this. The Knicks added Amar'e Stoudemire and Rymond Felton during the past off season, who will they add this upcoming off season? That's right, I'm talking about the end of the Eddie Curry era in NYC. His more than $11 million/per will finally be coming off the books this year. The Knicks are poised to be over $16 million under the cap next year. I'm no math major, but that's some solid dough. Combine that with young and talented players like Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Landry Fields, Timofey Mozgov and Anthony Randolph, and you have a lot of excitement building in the Garden. Oh yeah, the Knicks are also the fourth youngest team in the NBA with an average age of only 25.

The Memphis Grizzlies just made the category. They are a risky stock at this point. I like many of the moves they have made through free agency and the draft in recent year. However, this team and franchise is at a crossroads. Mainly, they do not have enough talent to contend for a championship as currently constructed. Rudy Gay is an all-star caliber player, but not a superstar. Mike Conley is a very nice PG, but not an elite PG in the NBA. Marc Gasol does a lot of things well for the Grizzlies, but nothing great. Do you see where I'm going here? Basically, as constructed, the Grizzlies are a nice team that is coming very close to its plateau. The crossroads decision is whether management will make a move to bring a superstar in that can catapult this team and franchise to the next level. The good news is that Memphis is the second youngest team in the Association. Also, they will have some cap space freed up as Gasol, Z. Randolph and others will be free agents. They also have a lot of solid talent up and down the roster and many trade options. The first step is to figure out what to do with recently demoted and former 3rd overall pick, O.J. Mayo. The team needs a superstar to bring the rest of the talent together and make the Grizzlies a more enticing stock.

NBA Teams On The Fall

The Portland Trailblazers have been a team on the rise for seemingly forever. That's for good reason. Brandon Roy was one of the best players in the Association. Along with one of the youngest rosters, the Blazers management also assembled one of the best stockpiles of talent in the Association. The problem with those previous statements is that they were all in the past tense. Brandon Roy is no longer one of the best players in the league. In fact, it's uncertain whether Roy can comeback from his 1,488th knee surgery. Two of the teams starters, M. Camby and A. Miller, are 36 and 34 years of age respectively. The salary cap isn't going to do the Blazers any favors either over the next few seasons. Think about this. After all those issues, I still haven't mentioned Greg Oden. With all those negatives, there are actually a few bright spots. LaMarcus Aldridge is finally playing up to his #2 overall draft selection and $65 million contract extension. Plus, Aldridge is only 25 years old. Young wing players like W. Mathews and N. Batum are also playing well.

For some reason, I've always liked the Portland Trailblazers. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the Rose Garden in the Rose City. It might be watching Terry Porter passing to Clyde "The Glyde" for a majestic dunk. It could be Buffalo's own Clifford Robinson. Or even an amazingly smooth Brandon Roy game winner. Maybe it's all of these great moments that drive me to root for the Blazers. I'm not someone who believes in luck of any kind, but damn, this team has had some bad luck over the years. I hope Oden and Roy can come back healthy to become a team on the rise again.

The Denver Nuggets had a nice run over the past few seasons that included an appearence in the 2009 Western Conference Finals. Unfortunately for the Nuggets and their fans, C. Billups and K. Martin are not getting any younger. On top of an aging core, the franchise wants out. Carmelo Anthony doesn't see much of a future in Denver and neither do I. Nuggets management need to trade 'Melo and start all over. Too bad a young Dikembe Mutombo, Laphonso Ellis and Antonio Mcdyess aren't available to start over with. That would help to put this team's stock back on the rise.

To say the sun is out in Phoenix is an understatement. The Phoenix Suns have had a supernova over the past several months. After losing Amar'e to free agency, the Suns are left with an aging and over paid squad. In fact, it looks like the Suns will again be over the salary cap next year. And how does Vince Carter make $7 million more than Steve Nash? Someone please explain that one to me. The Suns have really been a model franchise over the past two decades, but have failed to plan for the future over the past two years. I long for the years of Kevin Johnson and "Thunder" Dan Majerle. It will take a long time before this stock is up again.


  1. Hey, we'll rebuild in the Rose City. Plans are already under way to make a new nucleus of Aldridge, Batum and Mathews. But yeah, it's a good year to be a Knicks fan.

  2. The cap problems in Portland are what's troubling because it's harder to get back on track with those kinds of commitments. I do like Aldridge, Batum and Mathews, but they are still a franchise player away without Roy.

    The future is bright in NYC, but every team is really a knee away from trouble. I just hope things continue on the upswing at MSG.

  3. lol...I clicked on comments just to see what G would say.

  4. @ Fuji, hahaha. I felt bad writing about the Blazers as a team on a turn turn, but hopefully they will straighten their concerns quickly.