NBA Season Grades: Celtics, Rockets, Spurs get A's; Bulls in the playoffs but still a mess

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NBA Season Grades: Celtics, Rockets, Spurs get A's; Bulls in the playoffs but still a mess

Post by gyso on Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:16 pm

NBA Season Grades: Celtics, Rockets, Spurs get A's; Bulls in the playoffs but still a mess

http://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/nba-season-grades-celtics-rockets-spurs-get-as-bulls-in-the-playoffs-but-still-a-mess/

The 2016-17 season has come to a close. The playoffs are about to start and then pretty soon we'll crown a champion.

It has been a fantastic season, full of electrifying performances night in and night out and a season that has featured one of the tightest MVP races in our generation. Don't forget the drama.

There was tons of drama, whether it be players resting, the defending champion Cavs slumping, Kevin Durant overcoming injury or the circus that is James Dolan and the Knicks. In order to commemorate the 82-game grind, we wanted to get a sense of how each team fared in regards to their expectations. Here are your grades, against expectations and factoring all variables, for all 30 teams.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlanta Hawks

The good news is that Dwight Howard had a bounceback season and they secured the fifth seed despite a mass of injuries and the trade of Kyle Korver. They decided not to blow up the team at the deadline, and Paul Millsap continues to be an absolute pillar. But their offense was a disaster and Dennis Schroder was a mixed bag in his first season as starter, while Kent Bazemore really struggled. They might be more dangerous as a playoff squad, but not one of the best Hawks teams we've seen. Still, the No. 5 seed is the No. 5 seed and they put together enough runs to finish with a playoff spot for the 10th straight season. -- Matt Moore

Grade: B

Boston Celtics

Everyone expected them to be better with the addition of Al Horford, but no one saw them claiming the No. 1 seed in the East for the first time since 2008. Isaiah Thomas was absolutely incredible, putting together a season that would have had him in the MVP conversation most years, and they finished in the top 12 in both offensive (eighth, 108.6) and defensive rating (12th, 105.5). We'll have to see if this group can carry the success over to the postseason this time around, but the regular season was quite impressive. -- Jack Maloney

Grade: A

Brooklyn Nets

They finished with the worst record in the league, but given the roster Kenny Atkinson had to work with, and a key injury to Jeremy Lin, it was almost impressive to get to even 20 wins. They were bad, and they're going to be bad for a few more years due to the draft pick situation, but it appears Atkinson and new GM Sean Marks have started to form a solid foundation to build upon. -- Jack Maloney

Grade: D

Charlotte Hornets

They lost close games. That's what it comes down to. They lost close games -- 0-9 in games decided by three points or less, to be exact. And that cost them a playoff spot. They had a good net rating, good offensive rating, good defensive rating. Their bench was bad, but they figured out enough things despite Cody Zeller's injury to make it work for a while. They just lost close games. And that matters. And really, they should have been better, as to not need so many of those games. There are major questions about this team after Nicolas Batum's bad season and Marvin Williams' concerning drop-off. -- Matt Moore

Grade: D

Chicago Bulls

The Bulls get a "C" for confused, because who has any idea what is going on in Chicago? They were trapped in this strange dance between a seeming desire to tank -- essentially dumping Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott -- and Jimmy Butler's unrelenting will to drag this team to the playoffs. Eventually Butler won out and the Bulls are heading to the playoffs for the eighth time in nine seasons. Even with a trip to the postseason secure, however, it's hard to really call this season a sucess in Chicago. Given the way it played out, and their murky future, it's hard to really call it anything, to be honest. -- Jack Maloney

Grade: C

Cleveland Cavaliers

They won 51 games and secured the No. 2 seed in the East, so the season wasn't a disaster, even though it might have seemed that way at times, especially down the stretch. LeBron James turned in an unreal season while carrying a tremendous load, and they withstood some tough injuries to the likes of Kevin Love and J.R. Smith. They probably still have to be the favorites in the East because they have James, but they showed some worrying signs, most notably on the defensive end, where they were second worst in the league after the All-Star break. -- Jack Maloney

Grade: B

Detroit Pistons

What a disappointment this season was in Detroit. A season after winning 44 games and looking feisty in the first round of the playoffs against the Cavaliers, they did nothing to build on that success. The injury to Reggie Jackson obviously hurt, and the whole dynamic never seemed right even once he came back. Their 5-10 record against the likes of Brooklyn, Phoenix, Orlando, Sacramento and New York was brutal, and they fell apart down the stretch, losing 12 of their final 16 games. -- Jack Maloney

Grade: C-

Indiana Pacers

This was truly a strange season in Indiana. Except for a short stretch in the beginning of February, they've spent the entire season within three games of either side of .500. Paul George seemed on the verge of being dealt at the trade deadline, then spent the second half turning in brilliant performance after brilliant performance while also making numerous headlines for his postgame comments. Jeff Teague has had a very solid under-the-radar season, Myles Turner looks legit, but has been inconsistent, and now suddenly Lance Stephenson is back into the mix. After all of it, they're in the seventh seed in the East for the second straight season -- Jack Maloney

Grade: C

Miami Heat

Everyone JUST wants to focus on the turnaround, but this team did start 11-30. They were bad. The ability to turn that around and be the team they became is great, and shows what great coaching they have, along with some good players. But much of this was a bunch of stuff that you wouldn't call "sustainable." Career performances from so many players, mixed in with crazy, inexplicable wins, it was a special season, after a horrible one. Now … what do you do with this team from here? -- Matt Moore

Grade: B

Milwaukee Bucks

At the All-Star break, the Bucks looked to be in for another trip to the middle of the lottery, but since then they've been outstanding. They finished 17-10 after the hiatus, zooming into the playoffs despite missing Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker for large portions of the season. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been truly remarkable and, in addition to being one of the most fun players to watch, should win Most Improved Player. Malcolm Brogdon looks legit and might sneak the Rookie of the Year award in what has admittedly been a weak class. Beating the Raptors in the first round might be asking too much, but this was an impressive campaign in Milwaukee, especially with the adversity they faced. -- Jack Maloney

Grade: B

New York Knicks

Yuck. -- Jack Maloney

Grade: F

Orlando Magic

And sometimes all there is left to do is burn the office down and collect the insurance money. Elfrid Payton was good, Nikola Vucevic was terrific, especially on defense where he had so many questions. Everything else was straight disaster and I don't know how you fix this thing without a hard reset. This was truly one of the worst teams in the league for the majority of the season. -- Matt Moore

Grade: F

Philadelphia 76ers

In January, when Joel Embiid had started to figure things out and was still healthy, the Sixers were legitimately good. They went 10-5 (three of the losses coming with Embiid out of the lineup), which was tied for the fourth-best record in the month, beat the Clippers, Raptors, Bucks twice and had a defensive rating of 103.1, which was tied for third best during the month. Dario Saric can play, and so can Robert Covington. As has been the case for a few years now, it's going to come down to health with this bunch. -- Jack Maloney

Grade: C

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors didn't have quite the regular season they might have hoped for after last season's strong 56-win showing. Thanks to the return of Kyle Lowry from his wrist injury and the additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, they've closed strong, winning 12 of 15 games to secure the third seed in the East. Their defense since the All-Star break has been killer, allowing just 102.3 points per 100 possessions, fourth best in the league during that span, and they look in sync heading into the postseason. -- Jack Maloney

Grade: B+

Washington Wizards

Scott Brooks took what has always been a broken, flawed team and pulled it together. At the All-Star Break the Wizards were top 10 in both offense and defense before a post-break malaise set in. They might be the most dangerous threat to the Cavs in the East, and they have found foundational pieces for a core worth building around. Phenomenal season all the way down. -- Matt Moore

Grade: A


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Re: NBA Season Grades: Celtics, Rockets, Spurs get A's; Bulls in the playoffs but still a mess

Post by gyso on Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:16 pm

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks were a bad team that outperformed expectations the way you would expect a Rick Carlisle team to do, ironically. Harrison Barnes had a good season, Yogi Ferrell was a revelation, Seth Curry hit some shots. They still need more young talent, they still need a superstar to build around, they still need upgrades all over. Hopefully Dirk's last season comes with a playoff berth. -- Matt Moore

Grade: C

Denver Nuggets

Did you know the Nuggets have the fourth-best offense in the league? They do, and it's largely because of everybody's favorite Serbian sensation, Nikola Jokic. If they had decided to play through him from the beginning of the season, they probably would have made the playoffs. It's hard not to be excited about the Nuggets' future -- I'm bullish on rookies Jamal Murray and Juan Hernangomez -- but it's also a bit of a bummer that this roster just never figured things out defensively. -- James Herbert

Grade: B-

Golden State Warriors

Can't say I'm surprised, but the Warriors integrated Kevin Durant as seamlessly as they hoped, then kept the ship steady when he got hurt. There were lots of little stories to like: Durant's defense and otherworldly efficiency; Stephen Curry helping his new co-star before Durant told him to be his normal, aggressive self; Draymond Green becoming even more Draymond-y; Andre Iguodala playing his best basketball in a Golden State uniform. I'm not exactly sure how to grade a team that added one of the three best players in the league after winning 73 games, but I'll bet the Warriors are thrilled with how things have gone. -- James Herbert

Grade: A+

Houston Rockets

And sometimes you gamble huge before the flop, and you land a full house. That's what Daryl Morey did, going with an offense-first coach and offense-first players in free agency (Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Nene) and wound up with one of the best teams in the league. James Harden embraced the D'Antoni way, Gordon was great defensively, Clint Capela stepped up massive, the young guys contributed and Houston tore through the West. Just a marvelous season and one of the best franchise comeback seasons -- after last season's grossness -- we've seen. -- Matt Moore

Grade: A

Los Angeles Clippers

At the end of November, the Clippers were second in defensive rating and second in net rating. They looked like an upper-echelon, championship-contending team then, and that shouldn't be forgotten -- all that talent and basketball IQ is still there. The problem is they were unable to sustain that kind of excellence. Some of that can be explained by stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul missing 20-plus games; some of it just seemed like a strange malaise. I'm sure it's difficult for a team like this to get up for regular-season games when the players so desperately want to make up for past playoff defeats, but it's hard to argue that Los Angeles' regular season was as impressive as, say, San Antonio's or Houston's. -- James Herbert

Grade: B

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers spoiled everybody with their remarkable 10-10 start, so now the whole season looks like a disappointment. This was always supposed to be a year of development, though, and through that lens this wasn't a massive failure. In fact, if their dismal record results in them keeping their top-three protected pick, then you could argue this was the best possible outcome. As chill a bro as Luke Walton is, though, I'm sure he's furious about his team finishing dead last in defensive rating and net rating. -- James Herbert

Grade: C-

Memphis Grizzlies

They should have been better, really. The Chandler Parsons contract is not over, which either means it can't get worse and can only get better, or it's the start of a miserable four years. The Grizzlies got better on offense but were inconsistent and lost to too many bad teams. They wasted chances to put themselves in a position for a playoff run and now face very poor odds of going past the first round. They need an influx of talent, which is what they were supposed to have gotten last year. -- Matt Moore

Grade: C

Minnesota Timberwolves

Sigh. Defensive genius Tom Thibodeau didn't transform the Wolves into an elite team defensively right away -- they were 26th in defensive rating -- but perhaps that was never a fair expectation for a roster this young. If you were paying attention in the few weeks after the All-Star break, though, you saw everything you hoped to see at the beginning of the season. I wish I could give them a better grade because of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins' development, but I can't get past their mind-boggling inconsistency. Shoutout to Ricky Rubio for playing the best basketball of his career after Minnesota reportedly almost traded him. -- James Herbert

Grade: C

New Orleans Pelicans

They were fine. Honestly, they came in short on talent, but managed to fix their defense and hang around in the playoff race. There's a whole lot to figure out with DeMarcus Cousins, with a whole lot riding on it, but it was a move worth making. They fell short of the playoffs and were a bad team, but they have a remarkably different direction now. Anthony Davis was incredible and E'Twaun Moore was great, but their second-most-valuable player might have been Jrue Holiday, who was excellent on both ends of the court. -- Matt Moore

Grade: C

Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell Westbrook has been a revelation. He played the same way he always did, only better, carrying Oklahoma City to several victories just about single-handedly. Beyond that, this is the best rebounding team in the league, plus it ranks first in points in the paint and third in fast-break points. The Thunder are an unconventional team built around a unique superstar, and they have exceeded expectations in their first season of the post-Durant era. Credit the front office for nabbing Taj Gibson from Chicago at the deadline, too. -- James Herbert

Grade: A

Phoenix Suns

The Suns' stated goal was making the playoffs and they barely beat last season's 23-59 record, with the third-worst defense in the league. That is embarrassing, and their shameless resting of their veterans down the stretch attracted more attention than just about anything else they did -- aside from Devin Booker's 70-point game, of course. Eric Bledsoe took a major step forward, though, and they have an enviable collection of young players. Maybe next season they'll have something resembling a cohesive team. -- James Herbert

Grade: D

Portland Trail Blazers

It started ugly, but you have to respect the way they stuck together and got themselves back into the playoffs. After the All-Star break, they ranked sixth in offense, 11th in defense and second to only the Warriors in net rating. Much of the credit will go to Jusuf Nurkic, who played like a star in Portland after losing his spot in the rotation in Denver, but Damian Lillard's final couple of months were unbelievable. Overall the Blazers took a step back, but they salvaged a season that looked like it was going off the rails. -- James Herbert

Grade: C+

Sacramento Kings

The nicest thing I can say here is that the Kings finally picked a direction. It's weird that it happened right as the All-Star Game was ending, but at least they realized that chasing the eighth seed wasn't doing much for their long-term outlook. Sacramento was not a good team with DeMarcus Cousins, and it was downright awful without him, but hey, there were real, encouraging signs from Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere. If the front office makes some good decisions on draft night, maybe next season Sacramento will look like a normal rebuilding team instead of a dysfunctional mess. -- James Herbert

Grade: D

San Antonio Spurs

They're the Spurs. They had a typical Spurs season. Kawhi Leonard was MVP-caliber. They had one of the league's best defenses despite losing Tim Duncan and playing Pau Gasol heavy minutes. Dewayne Dedmon made a name for himself. Davis Bertans showed he can play. Tony Parker still has wheels. The Spurs won more than 60 games, again. They've been at a 50-plus-win pace for 19 consecutive seasons. Death. Taxes. Spurs. -- Matt Moore

Grade: A

Utah Jazz

The good news: They made "the leap," and their two most important players -- Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert -- are now full-fledged stars. George Hill, their biggest offseason acquisition, fit in swimmingly, and their depth and defense helped them survive yet another season of injury trouble. The bad news is that Derrick Favors just hasn't been able to stay healthy, and that's a problem if the front office is still trying to decide whether his partnership with Gobert makes sense long-term. Utah is even better than its record, and regardless of what happens in the playoffs, it needs to do whatever it can to bring Hayward and Hill back in free agency. -- James Herbert

Grade: A

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