With the 2013-14 NBA regular season in the books, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest disappointments of the campaign.
Cleveland Cavaliers – The Cavaliers came into the season with high expectations led by Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and another top draft pick. While the first three didn’t disappoint, Anthony Bennett’s rookie season has many labeling him as a draft bust after just one season. The team, in theory, wanted to compete, but the moves that were made just didn’t pan out. They experimented with Andrew Bynum and found out quickly that Bynum may never be the same player that he was with the Lakers. He was traded after 24 games to the Bulls for Luol Deng in a move that the Cavs hoped would bolster their run toward the playoffs. Deng played nearly half of the season in Cleveland, averaging 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, but the Cavs came up short of the playoffs and Deng will likely leave this summer in free agency. The team also has questions to answer regarding their general manager and head coaching positions. The Cavs fired GM Chris Grant back in February and must make a permanent decision moving forward, especially ahead of what will sure to be a busy offseason. Meanwhile, Mike Brown is on the hot seat after being hired last summer. The team will likely have another top-10 draft pick and they will also figure to be busy in the upcoming free agent class, which could be headlined by LeBron James.
New York Knicks – On paper, the New York Knicks were a team that should still be playing basketball right now. But given injuries, off of the court troubles, poor offense and even worse coaching, the Knicks managed to miss the playoffs even in the weak Eastern Conference. Perhaps one of the most disappointing things about the Knicks’ season is they won’t even be “rewarded” for their efforts as they don’t have a single pick in June’s draft. Between the team’s lack of draft picks and nonexistent cap room, there is no relief in sight for the Knicks. The team faces a huge question mark surrounding free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony and whether he will return. While Knicks fans can only be hoping he opts for the five-year max deal the Knicks can offer him, Anthony has previously stated that finances will not be his main motivation when selecting where to sign this offseason. The Knicks are in a real mess and Phil Jackson may be the only one who can rescue them.
Detroit Pistons – With new additions in Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, the Pistons were expected to win more games this season. Instead, they struggled and finished the season with just 29 wins. The Pistons gave Smith a four-year, $56 million deal and also gave Jennings $25 million over three years. After just one season together in the Motor City, there is a belief among fans that the team shouldn’t keep both Smith and Jennings, and that one of them needs to go. Smith shot a career-worst 42% from the field this past season, and an even worse percentage from three-point range. While Smith isn’t known for his perimeter shooting, he still managed to attempt the most three-point shots in his career while making just 26% of them. The team has hope, however, in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, who is a restricted free agent this summer. With Monroe’s upcoming free agency, the team could opt to keep him long-term and find a way to unload Smith’s monster contract.
New Orleans Pelicans – The Pelicans entered the season destined to make the playoffs after making a couple of big-time moves. The team added Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday to a roster that already featured Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon. The Pelicans battled inconsistency all season, which can be attributed largely to the amount of injuries they suffered. Despite the upgrades, the team still is in need of a small forward and center that can put up some points. Al-Farouq Aminu started 65 games at the three spot, and averaged just 7.2 points per game. One easy fix the Pelicans can make is by moving Evans from the sixth man role to the starting lineup permanently. Evans proved his ability to start games when he averaged 19.9 points starting versus 12.1 points when coming off of the bench. The Pelicans could also stand to benefit by having a starting-caliber center, which would only help Davis’ development.
Milwaukee Bucks – For nearly the entire season, the Bucks have been the laughing stock of the NBA. At just 15 wins, it’s hard not to have that distinction. The team went through its fair share of injuries like any other team, and its share of off the court trouble. Larry Sanders was injured in a night club fight and missed two months with a thumb injury. He was also suspended for five games for testing positive for marijuana. The team signed free agent Gary Neal prior to the season, and then traded him and Luke Ridnour to the Charlotte Bobcats at the trade deadline on February 20. O.J. Mayo was brought into Milwaukee in hopes that he would be the team’s leading scorer, but a slew of injuries hampered him throughout the season. Mayo averaged career lows in minutes (25.9), field goal percentage (41%) and the second-fewest points per game of his career with 11.7. He was also suspended for a game back in March for punching Pelicans’ center Greg Stiemsma in the throat. Multiple players questioned Bucks first-year head coach Larry Drew’s approach to games, including their defensive schemes and rotations. His job will only get tougher when developing the team’s younger players in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Josh Henson and Nate Wolters and adding a potential top draft pick in June’s draft. The fact that Milwaukee entered the season with playoff aspirations and ended up so bad is crazy.
In your opinion, which team was the biggest disappointment? Leave a comment below!