Free agency has pretty much cooled down, and OBB can’t wait to start analyzing how this off-season has shifted the balance of power throughout the league. From monster moves like the LeBron signing to the sneaky low-key deals like Isaiah Thomas to Phoenix, this blog will spend the next three weeks breaking down how that has changed the culture of the league. Which teams are now the “craziest?” What roster is most likely to combust in the locker room mid-season? What team will lead the league in three-point shooting? OBB answers these questions and more in the coming weeks. Today: Which teams have upped their “cool” factors this offseason?
Yesterday, I broke down the coolest teams in the league going into next year, now that the dust has (mostly) settled on this free agency. Today, I want to break down the five LEAST cool teams going into next season.
This list is entirely subjective, and we will start with where the least cool teams ranked at the end of last season.
1. Milwaukee Bucks – Seriously, besides Giannis Alphabet, what did they have going for them last season? Abysmal offense, horrific defense, and no attendance. What’s more, there was little in the way of fun storylines, as Larry Sanders, who was full of potential and “cool” factor just a year ago, suffered through a season from hell. Luckily, that’s all changed now – but what a bad year for them last season.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers – This team blew up into a full on disaster, and better men than I publicly speculated about whether or not the Cavs should blow it up and trade Kyrie Irving. Seriously, that happened. Again, like Milwaukee, this all changed in the offseason, and Cleveland will be VERY cool to a lot of people this year. But horribly uncool season from the Cavs in 2013-14.
3. Detroit Pistons – Just a mismanaged mess of a roster that featured too many chefs in the kitchen and too many big men on the court. Josh Smith played exactly how you would expect him to play when you insert him into a lineup with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. Drummond, one of the best “upside” guys in the league, showed flashes of brilliance, but this team had little else to be happy about.
4. Boston Celtics – Okay, this hurts me to say, but the Celtics were brutally uncool last year. Their most exciting player oscillated between Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger for most of the season. Rajon Rondo came back and did little to help the team’s dreadful offense. Just not a fun situation there last year.
5. New York Knicks – The only reason they don’t rank higher is that they were an absolute entertainment circus last season and we couldn’t stop talking about them. They were about as uninteresting on the court as they were interesting off of it. The only three times I got excited about the Knicks this year were the two times a player shot an unnecessary three pointer with less than 24 seconds left in a game when they either had a lead or were tied and could have held for the last shot, and that one time that ‘Melo exploded for 63 against the Bobcats. That’s it. Otherwise, it was mostly just watching Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert make me sad.
Okay, so a pretty robust group of uncool teams right there. But lots has changed since then – it’s a new era in Milwaukee and Cleveland, and Detroit is at least moving in the right direction by making sure the team president, coach and general manager are all on the same page (since now those three positions are held by one person in total).
So, who tops the list now? The countdown from five to one begins now, as it stands today. As always, these rankings are totally subject to change once the games start being played and we get to see what actually goes on ON the court. But for now, this is where we stand.
5. Detroit Pistons – Okay, they moved down a few spots in a good way here by adding Stan Van Gundy to run the show. They still have a crowded front court that decreases the potential success and fun of their team, though, and they just overpaid for a few guys including Jodie Meeks, making basketball nerds everywhere cringe. People are worried about the Pistons, man.
4. Philadelphia 76ers - The only reason they didn’t make the top five for last year is that they played super fast and loose under Brett Brown, which was amusing and led to some strange victories in an otherwise tank-tastic season. This year it gets less amusing, when they sit out two first round picks this time around (Embiid and Saric) and will presumably trot out a mostly D-League worthy roster for the second year in a row. Nerlens Noel returning helps, and Joel Embiid’s Twitter account helps a lot – but this team is not gonna be cool for at least another season or two. Ugh.
3. Houston Rockets – This one has been a bit overblown by Morey haters, but damn – not many people are feeling the Rockets right now. I know a lot of it has to do with them striking out a perfectly reasonable gamble for Chris Bosh, but I’ve heard rumors that solid league intel knew there was “no chance he would move back to Texas” for reasons concerning the mother of his child who lives there. Seriously! That was a thing, and I had heard about it for a while before he announced he was returning to Miami. Also, as Zach Lowe and Bill Simmons have both pointed out, there are some rumblings around the league that maybe Dwight Howard and James Harden aren’t exactly the type of superstars other guys want to play with, for reasons of style of play and personality. Okay then. Sorry Houston, losing Chandler Parsons compounds with all that to make you one of the most uncool teams heading into this season.
2. Brooklyn Nets – You wanna know how Brooklyn avoided this list last season? Jason Kidd going tie-less and installing a crazy “long ball” lineup that featured Shaun Livingston at the 1 or 2 and Paul Pierce at the 4. You know who doesn’t play in Brooklyn anymore? Shaun Livingston and Paul Pierce. Sure, KG is still around to bark at people and just be generally awesome, but otherwise you’re back to where you were before all those “monster moves” they made last offseason to set them up for a title run. Look how that worked out, and now we’re here – a year older and quite possibly no wiser at all.
1. Los Angeles Lakers – OH how the mighty have fallen. They struck out on Melo/LeBron/everyone else important, and were left to retool by signing Wesley Johnson and Nick “Swaggy P” Young. I’m sorry, but I’m going to enjoy this – the ONLY two cool things about the Lakers for next season are Kobe Bryant and Swaggy P. Last year’s team was awful, but they avoided this list by playing fast and just generally having fun out there, thanks in large part to Mike D’antoni’s system and Swaggy P’s famous, well, swag. This year, the fun stops the second Kobe steps back on the court. Look, I LOVE watching Kobe play, but he’s not exactly known for patience. Coming off two major surgeries, I’m worried that Bryant won’t be the same player. That would make this team just brutal to watch. Sure, Julius Randle could be something special, but I’m not optimistic about his immediate impact on this kind of roster. Signing Carlos Boozer clinched the top spot on the Uncool rankings for this year’s Lakers, at least heading into the season.