Who are the most dangerous high seeded teams in the NBA? Teams you may have thought about and others who haven’t been relevant in 20 plus years. Let’s get into them and recap why they’ve become so good all of a sudden.
Isn’t it amazing that as soon as James Wiseman went down with a season-ending injury, the Warriors became one of the top defensive teams in the league and started winning games? Things you hate to see.
Wiseman tore his meniscus on April 12 and since then, the Warriors are 6-2. This for a team that was under .500 almost the entire time he was playing, so that is either a statistical anomaly or a sign that he’s just not that good yet. Definitely the latter.
More importantly, the Warriors aren’t winning by outscoring teams, they also have a Top 5 defense in the league since Wiseman’s injury which says a TON when your team has Oubre and Wiggins on it. Both of those aren’t exactly known as defensive stoppers.
Not only does Steph look determined to get into the play-in and grab the 8th seed, the only team in the West I could realistically see this Warriors team beat in a 7 game series happens to be the Utah Jazz, who are the top of the west. The Jazz can go cold for long stretches at a time and let’s be real, they just gave up a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets for a first round early exit.
Might just happen again.
The Memphis Grizzlies are a GODDAMN nightmare. As a Blazers fan, I am personally terrified of the Grizz, so I know other teams have to feel the same. This is the #1 offense in the NBA in the month of April, averaging an incredible 123 points a game. And if you think it’s just Ja Morant? You’re wrong. This team is FULL of bucket getters. They are 8-5 in their last 13 and now sit in the 8 spot in the West, but given the heartbreaking fashion of their losses (Luka’s lean in three-point game-winner, for example), they could have easily gone 10-3.
The secret weapon for the Grizzlies are two 22-year-old three-point shooting gods. Both top 10 in 3pt % in the league right now. De’Anthony Melton and Desmond Bane. Who? Melton is hands down the best player you’ve never heard of. A young shooting guard who’s already been traded twice as part of salary dumps. Instead of sitting his ass on the bench which is frankly where we all thought we belonged, he’s become the most improved 3 point shooter OF ALL TIME in one season; he’s gone from 28% from deep to 46% from deep. Bane, a rookie, is also at 46%. Along with Grayson Allen, Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks (who have both underperformed from three this season), this is a squad full of snipers.
I could easily see this team making life difficult for the Phoenix Suns. They are gritty, fearless and full of momentum. Beware of Memphis.
New York Knicks
PUT SOME RESPECT on the NEW YORK KNICKS. Holy Shit the Knicks are the #4 seed.
You know how I know the culture of the Knicks has changed? They are trying to become a franchise that players might actually want to play for, which has pretty much never happened during the Dolan era. A little tidbit of info came out that the Knicks were signing their G League players to two way contracts and then cutting them the next day.
Your first thought is, yeah. Fucking Dolan being a dick again. That’s fucked up. But in actuality, if you sign players on a two-way contract, even for one day? Boom. League minimum salary. Instead of making $35k a year, which is what they were making in the G League, these young players are now making $450k. So the Knicks are, and this seems BIZARRE to say, finally using the plethora of MSG money to treat players well and pay them a living wage. Just because it’s the right thing to do.
When have the Knicks ever done that? NEVER.
This is how you know former player agents are running this franchise. Take care of players now, and before you know it, players will want to play in NYC. Players like, oh, I don’t know… Zion?
The second-best story I’ve heard about the Knicks this week came from a recent Woj podcast where he had on Julius Randle. Randle talked about a dinner he had with his agent that changed the course of the Knicks future forever.
Julius Randle was TERRIBLY unhappy after his first year as a Knick. Wasn’t playing. Seen as a bust in the city. And his agent Aaron Mintz wanted to know why. Mintz took Julius out with his colleagues, Leon Rose and William Wesley (World Wide Wes). Randle’s mentor from Kentucky (Kenny Payne) happened to be in town, too, so he came along.
This dinner may have changed the Knicks forever.
Julius laid out every detail about what was wrong in New York. They apparently took it to heart. Seven months later, Leon Rose was hired, who later hired Wes along with Payne to overhaul the organization. They asked Julius what it would take for him an All Star. He said, a coach to hold him accountable, to push him every day to be better which hadn’t happened in his career. BOOM. In comes Thibs. Exactly what the doctor ordered. He established a team culture and identity that they desperately needed. On top of that, Julius also transformed his game over that summer, talking to Leon, Wes and Mintz every step of the way. And when Julius met Thibs for the first time, Thibodeau saw that he could make Randle the focal point of the offense.
And Randle has improved 25% in nearly every category (even body fat % which he dropped from 15% to 5% in the off season).
And the Knicks have gone from a laughing stock to one of the most dangerous teams in the league. The world has been waiting for them to fall off like they always do, and they just haven’t and they just won’t. You know the Knicks have become a real threat when Kevin Durant admits that no team in the league wants any part of them in the playoffs.
No one saw this trash-ass team being good at the start of the year. No one saw the Russell Westbrook trade and thought “yeah this is going to be a team that can shoot the lights out and defend.” In fact, the Wizards earlier this year were statistically the worst defense in NBA history. But after adding a player that again, casuals don’t really know, the Wizards have the #1 defense in April and a top 4 defense since the trade deadline.
The secret weapon has been a guy named Daniel Gafford who had 12 DNPs for Chicago… just sitting at the end of the Chicago Bulls bench collecting dust. 22 years old. 6’11. He’s a top tier rim protector with the 7th best block rate in the NBA. He can also, unlike Alex Len, score a few buckets. He’s gone from 6 and 3 to 12 and 6 since he got to the Wizards. One game he had 19 points. Substituting Robin Lopez for Gafford has changed this defense tremendously.
Check the stats:
Opponent field goal percentage: Mid-range (league rank)
Pre-trade deadline: 47.5% (30th)
Post-trade deadline: 41.9% (11th)
Opponent field goal percentage: 3-pointers
Pre-trade deadline: 38.5% (24th)
Post-trade deadline: 34.8% (4th)
That is staggering.
So yeah, the fact that the Wizards can score now and they are elite defensively, is fucking insane to say, it makes them one of the most dangerous high seeds in the east and I tell you what… that’s a team the Brooklyn Nets should have NO interest in playing in the first round especially since the Wizards already beat the Nets with all of their Big 3 before their turnaround. I’m not saying they’d win, but it won’t be a cakewalk.
We talk about this along with get into why Tilman Fertitta is the Daniel Snyder of the NBA and more on this episode. If you want to watch on YouTube, click the link below: