With the NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching, many in NBA circles are taking stock of where various teams in the league currently stand. With roughly 32 games in the books, all parties involved now have enough data on the board to draw some conclusions.
On Tuesday morning, Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson offered his insights on the season thus far.
More specifically, Johnson took a moment to identify the league’s three most disappointing teams.
In his estimation, all three came into the year with a ton of hype – only to fall short of expectations for a variety of reasons.
Those three teams?
The Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks.
The biggest disappointments this season so far have been the Celtics, Mavericks, and the Bucks. The Celtics lack size, the Mavericks are not a great defensive team, and the Bucks are slow and unathletic.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) February 23, 2021
It’s hard to argue with Johnson’s assessment.
Boston is 15-15 and currently sits at No. 6 in the East. Many anticipated this would be the year that they’d finally make the jump to legitimate Finals contenders, but that simply hasn’t materialized. The team’s front court is pathetic, Kemba Walker is perpetually hurt, the players have seemingly partially tuned Brad Stevens out, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown haven’t been able to overcome all those pitfalls.
What makes the Celtics’ struggles all the more egregious is that the organization had the opportunity to upgrade dramatically with James Harden, but opted not to for a very bizarre reason.
Boston has been linked to two major trades and is one of three teams in the running for J.J. Redick’s services. At this point, any of those moves would make them considerably better. But barring the front office doing something, the struggles will likely continue.
The Mavericks’ have started out 14-15 despite Luka Doncic entering the year as preseason MVP favorite. Him showing up to training camp fat and out of shape didn’t help. That said, at least Dallas can point to injuries and a difficult schedule as part of the reason for their early-year troubles. On the bright side, the organization is on Bradley Beal’s shortlist of five teams he’d be interested in joining, so maybe something will work out for them as the season progresses.
This is the outfit Michelle Wie wore on the day she got Rudy Giuliani so hot and bothered. https://t.co/CvM3w4iUQT
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 21, 2021
Finally, Milwaukee is probably in the best place out of all the teams Johnson referenced. Yes, the Bucks are No. 3 in the East right now, but they’re still 18-13 on the year. The organization went out and made some big changes in the offseason. Although they haven’t paid dividends yet, it’s important to remember that they’re not supposed to.
This is a make-or-break year for head coach Mike Budenholzer, but he won’t be judged on his regular season accolades. This group was constructed to do well in the playoffs, and until they succeed or fail there, judgement on the squad as a whole should be reserved.