An Update on my Fake NBA League- Eastern Conference

Posted: 03/12/2014 by levcohen in Basketball

I was thinking about what to write today. I was going to do the NL East breakout post, but I didn’t feel like doing baseball. I was going to do an NFL free agent post, but I don’t want to do that until things have settled down a little bit. I was going to do something on the terrifying Rich Peverley injury, but I terminated that in its draft stage because I just didn’t have enough to say about it. Trainers are great, the NHL is violent, Peverley is thankfully o.k. but out for the season, and the Dallas Stars probably should have paid more attention when Peverley, a player who missed the whole preseason with a heart issue, wasn’t feeling well last week and even missed a few games. He came back, played well, and then collapsed. I hope he returns to full health, and I hope he can get back to playing hockey, although I’m not sure how I feel about that. Now, every time Peverley is checked or falls to the ground, people will be fearing the worst. I don’t think it’ll ever be totally safe for him to return. Anyway, I’m not going to write about those things. I’m going to go back to my fake NBA league, started before last season, for an update. Just to make it easier, I’ll give each team a record that a team in the real NBA has, although not necessarily in the same conference.

My Fake League– Eastern Conference:
1. Atlanta Hawks, 47-17
After finishing third in the East last season, the Hawks have taken the next step, even though their sixth man, Nerlens Noel, hasn’t played at all. Kevin Durant, of course, is the biggest reason for the jump, but don’t overlook Jeff Teague, Derrick Favors, and Terrence Ross. After all three of those guys struggled last year, the young players have become reliable help for Durant. The center, Spencer Hawes, has helped stretch the floor, and while this team sometimes has trouble rebounding without Noel, they are a great scoring team. Even more scary for the other teams is the fact that this team will only get better. They have to be considered the favorites to come out of the East right now, with Durant playing out of his mind.

2. Brooklyn Nets, 44-17
Last year’s Eastern representative, and eventual loser, in the NBA finals, is back for more. They were the hands down favorite to come out of the East again, and still are favored to do so, with people pointing understandably to LeBron. Yes, it’s eerily similar to the real NBA. LeBron is on the favorite, but the favorite is in second place. The real life Pacers don’t have Durant, but it’s close. This Nets team is built to win right now. Kyle Lowry and Paul Millsap have broken out, and they have been helped immensely by James. Lowry’s attitude issues have been neutralized, and Millsap works well with LeBron, spacing the floor and allowing James driving space. Then, of course, there is Tim Duncan down low. In Duncan and James, the Nets have two of the best players in basketball, and they’ve proven that going older in the draft isn’t always a bad thing. Shooting guard C.J. McCollum, coming off an early injury, looks ready to help in the playoffs, too. This is a team rounding into shape right now.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers, 42-22
The Cavs are the surprise of the season. They drafted fourth last season after missing Kevin Love for most of the season. They drafted Trey Burke with that #4 pick, and Burke has been terrific. He has stabilized this team, and Love is back and playing great basketball. DeMar DeRozan has taken a vital step forward and has become the crucial Robin to Love’s Batman. Shawn Marion has just added toughness and a reliability that is hard to find at the small forward position. This is one of the best teams in the league, especially offensively. Love is the shooter, DeRozan is the slasher and can get to the line, Burke is the distributor, and Marcin Gortat is the finisher down low.

4. New York Knicks, 41-24
The Knicks are a team that are getting hot at the right time, and a team that can cause problems in the playoffs. There might not be a more complete starting lineup. Ty Lawson runs the point, with Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, and Andre Drummond also in the lineup. They are dangerous in the transition game, with Thompson hitting transition threes and Lawson throwing lobs to Drummond, and they are also dangerous in the half court game, with Pau Gasol stretching the floor with his shooting and Butler creating off the dribble. When Thompson is hot, the inside-outside game is hard to stop. If Thompson is hot in the playoffs, this team could pull off an upset or two.

5. Detroit Pistons, 37-26
Yes, a team with Raymond Felton running the point is 37-26. It’s in spite of Felton, though, not because of him. This is a team that finished fourth in the East last season, and are right on pace to finish close to that number again, mostly due to terrific defense and toughness. Tyson Chandler, Luol Deng, and Dwyane Wade are the anchors of this team. They aren’t young, but they each are good defenders and two of them can create offense for themselves. The Pistons have two players averaging a double double in this league. Chandler has done it, and Amir Johnson has done it in more than the 29 minutes per game he gets in the real NBA. This, again, is probably not a team that will challenge the top three in the playoffs, unless Dwyane Wade turns back into Dwyane Wade from five years ago.

6. Milwaukee Bucks, 35-27
Hibbert. Aldridge. Aldridge. Hibbert. That’s about all this team has, but the amazing pairing of big men has been enough to propel the Bucks to a 35-27 record. They aren’t the type of team that is likely to surprise people in the playoffs, because they just don’t have the outside shooting or ball handling. Mo Williams is reliable but unspectacular, and for the Bucks to make strides in the playoffs, they’ll need Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Marshawn Brooks to catch fire. Pope has done well in a starting role, but has been inconsistent, and the Bucks need him to be hot when the time comes. Hibbert and Aldridge, though, can put a scare into anyone.

7. Toronto Raptors, 33-30
The pick of Lance Stephenson in the draft looks like a stroke of genius now. Stephenson has taken over the starting point guard position for the Raptors, who are now absolutely full of athletic players. Andre Iguodala, Bradley Beal, DeMarcus Cousins, Stephenson. The problem is, with the exception of Beal, nobody on this team can really shoot. Lou Williams has slumped badly since his injury last season, and has now moved to the bench with Stephenson taking his starting role. If the Raptors had one more shooter, they’d be set. But they don’t, so they are a fringe playoff team.

8. Charlotte Bobcats, 32-30
It’s a shame that Ryan Anderson and JaVale McGee both got injured. If they hadn’t, this team might just have been the most exciting in the (fake) league. Even without the two, the Bobcats have managed. Chris Paul has been, well, Chris Paul, and Trevor Ariza has had a surprisingly effective season. Add in Chandler Parsons, and you have a team that is a threat to light it up from the three point line on any given night. But this might just end up being a season of what might have been, as this team has slumped recently and is falling out of the race. If they stay in the playoffs, they can win a game or two because of Paul. I don’t think they’ll win much more than that.9. Washington Wizards, 30-34
This team had so much promise after making a run in the playoffs last year after entering as the #6 seed, but they just haven’t realized it. And by “they” I mean Harrison Barnes and Cody Zeller. Barnes, expected by many to break out this season, has been just average as the starting small forward, and Zeller has been passed by Markieff Morris at the starting power forward position. The pieces for another playoff run are still there, with Tony Parker and Greg Monroe against providing good numbers. But I worry that the prime years of Parker and Monroe have been wasted with the stagnation of Barnes and Zeller.10. Boston Celtics, 25-39
It’s been almost a carbon copy of last season for these Celtics, although they have had a little more success. It’s Dwight Howard and a bunch of shooters who don’t play defense. Jose Calderon and Danny Green have both hit a boatload of three pointers, and Paul Pierce has hit his share as well. But, while this team wins some when they get hot, they don’t win as much as they should because of lackluster defense. It’s back to the lottery for the Celtics, who are in need of a defensive stopper this time around.11. Philadelphia 76ers, 24-40
What a mess. This team was the 4th seed last year, but it’s just fallen apart. Brandon Jennings and OJ Mayo as a backcourt are not working, and Tayshaun Prince is pretty much a nothing right now. Finally, the 76ers have a Pistons-like logjam in the frontcourt, with Josh Smith, DeAndre Jordan, and Omer Asik. This team has talent, but they didn’t put it all together.12. Miami Heat, 22-42
At least their downfall has come in large part because of injuries to Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. They have decimated the team that finished second in the East last season. This team does look like a bounce back candidate next year. They’ll still have those two, with Gordon Hayward, Robin Lopez, and Carlos Boozer as complementary pieces. Maybe next year, Miami.13. Orlando Magic, 22-42
Another team that was hurt by injury, this one to Jrue Holiday. Holiday started off well, and this team did too. But since this injury, they have been in an absolute tailspin. The return of Tobias Harris and the play of Arron Afflalo hasn’t been enough to erase the stink of Amare Stoudemire and the Holiday injury.14. Indiana Pacers, 19-46
The draft pick of Anthony Bennett absolutely failed. John Wall is by himself here, with a bunch of old or ineffective players. Manu Ginobili, Danny Granger, Thomas Robinson, Kevin Garnett… That’s not the stuff of champions, or even of a playoff team. John Wall is good, though.15. Chicago Bulls, 13-51
Derrick Rose got injured again. And unlike the real Bulls, this team doesn’t have Joakim Noah to keep the team afloat without their point guard. Instead, their best players are now Kevin Martin, Jeff Green, and Kenneth Faried. All three are fine players, but they aren’t good. This team will likely pick at the top of the rookie/free agent draft for the second straight year. They drafted Green last year, and will just have to keep stockpiling talent with the hope that Rose will finally come back for good.


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