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Battle for the Basement: Trade deadline shakes up bottom of the league

Connecticut Huskies center Andre Drummond. Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
Connecticut Huskies center Andre Drummond. Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

It is week 2 of Battle of the Basement, Detroit Bad Boy's look at the league's worst teams. The most notable developments since last week's post is the arrival of the NBA trade deadline and the fact that the Detroit Pistons are in the midst of their epic 9-of-10 on the road, mostly on the west coast, and, oh yeah, that one home game is against the Miami Heat.

As a reminder, here are the parameters of Battle of the Basement: Not the Charlotte Bobcats, who look clearly like the team that will finish with the league's worst record. That leaves the Detroit Pistons along with the Washington Wizards, New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, Sacramento Kings and the Cleveland Cavaliers. That covers teams currently projected to pick 2-8. Last week, I mentioned the possible inclusion of the Milwaukee Bucks, but since then they've traded the injured Andrew Bogut for the healthy Monta Ellis and look prepped for a playoff push. Also on the playoff bubble are the New York Knicks, but they've fired Mike D'Antoni and look to have responded well to the brief Mike Woodson era.

To explain some of the information below, the future strength of schedule number is courtesy of, as well as the power ratings and the predictive end-of-season rankings. The Hollinger rating comes from John Hollinger's power rankings on ESPN. Both systems use numbers beyond strictly wins and losses and instead uses more complex methodology to examine the best and worst teams.


Detroit Pistons (16-29)

Wins: Kings
Losses: Jazz, Suns Clippers
Last 10: 5-5
L10 scoring margin: +0.07
Season margin: -5.68
To date SOS: 27
Future SOS: 22
Power Rating: 25
Hollinger Rating: 25
Predictive Rank: 26
Upcoming Week: @Nuggets, Heat, @Knicks

Comments: The Pistons are 1-3 on their road trip but have been competitive in each game. In Sunday's overtime loss to the Clippers Rodney Stuckey was clearly hobbled by an apparent toe injury. If he is out or significantly slowed it will greatly impact the Pistons offense. The Pistons should have their hands full this week as they play the Nuggets with newly signed Wilson Chandler and JeVale McGee who is replacing the injured Nene. And the Knicks look like a new team since the resignation of D'Antoni. As of now, the ESPN mock draft lottery has the Pistons selecting UConn freshman Andre Drummond. The lottery seems to have been re-calibrated with Drummond falling and Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal rising. Also new to the top 10 is James Michael McAdoo of North Carolina.

Check out the teams battling the Pistons for a lottery spot after the jump.

Washington Wizards (10-34)

Wins: Hornets
Losses: Spurs, Mavs, Hawks
Last 10: 3-7
L10 scoring margin: -8.21
Season margin: -8.23
To date SOS: 22
Future SOS: 26
Power Rating: 29
Hollinger Rating: 29
Predictive Rank: 29
Upcoming Week: @Nets, Pacers, Hawks

Comments: The Wizards traded out a big part of their offense at the deadline in JeVale McGee and Nick Young. But it also might have created a little addition by subtraction. Nene has struggled so far this year, but he could find a nice new running mate in point guard John Wall. And Wall could find it easier to run the offense with a guy down on the blocks who converts at such an efficient clip. If Nene can look anything like he did the past four years in Denver, the Wizards could be primed for a serious immediate improvement.

New Orleans Hornets (11-34)

Wins: Nets
Losses: Bobcats, Lakers, Wizards
Last 10: 3-7
L10 scoring margin: -3.7
Season margin: -5.00
To date SOS: 6
Future SOS: 14
Power Rating: 28
Hollinger Rating: 24
Predictive Rank: 27
Upcoming Week: Warriors, Clippers, Spurs

Comments: The Hornets had a pretty heartbreaking homestand last week, losing to the lowly Bobcats and Wizards while taking the Lakers to overtime but coming up short. That goes against my theory that New Orleans is actually better than they looked but were not being helped by their brutal schedule. After dropping some very winnable games the Hornets have plummeted in the advanced rankings.

Toronto Raptors (15-30)

Wins: Cavs, Grizzlies
Losses: Nets, Bobcats
Last 10: 4-6
L10 scoring margin: -0.53
Season margin: -3.80
To date SOS: 30
Future SOS: 18
Power Rating: 26
Hollinger Rating: 23
Predictive Rank: 24
Upcoming Week: @Knicks, Bulls, Knicks, @Bulls

Comments: The Raptors lost the games they probably should have won and won the games they should have lost. They have a respectable points margin, but only have 15 wins despite the league's easiest schedule. This week looks like it could easily be an 0-4 affair.

New Jersey Nets (15-31)

Wins: Raptors
Losses: Bucks, @Magic, Hornets
Last 10: 4-6
L10 scoring margin: +0.07
Season margin: -6.24
To date SOS: 19
Future SOS: 27
Power Rating: 27
Hollinger Rating: 27
Predictive Rank: 28
Upcoming Week: Cavs, Wizards, @Hawks, Bobcats

Comments: The Nets are in "win now" mode, as strange as that sounds for a team with 15 wins. But they made a big (read dumb) trade with the Portland Trail Blazers to obtain Gerald Wallace. They are doing everything in their power to convince Deron Williams to stick around this summer. And that means their predicted 28 finish might be a little deceiving. The rest of the schedule is easy, including a possible 3-1 tally this week. And Wallace might not be worth a high first rounder, but he is definitely an infusion of talent and coupled with the recent return of Brook Lopez could mean the Nets jump up in the win column.

Sacramento Kings (16-29)

Wins: Celtics, Wolves
Losses: Warriors, Pistons
Last 10: 4-6
L10 scoring margin: -2.21
Season margin: -6.52
To date SOS: 16
Future SOS: 20
Power Rating: 24
Hollinger Rating: 26
Predictive Rank: 25
Upcoming Week: Grizzlies, Jazz, @Warriors

Comments: If I had to pick any team that was most similar to the Pistons it would be the Kings. Slightly better offense, slightly worse defense, but most of the same strengths and weaknesses in personnel. For the Pistons' sake, I guess we just have to hope that Tyreke Evans pulls his own Rodney Stuckey impression and finds another gear for the rest of the season.

Cleveland Cavaliers (16-26)

Wins: None
Losses: Raptors, Bucks, Hawks
Last 10: 3-7
L10 scoring margin: -5.71
Season margin: -4.00
To date SOS: 26
Future SOS: 24
Power Rating: 23
Hollinger Rating: 28
Predictive Rank: 23
Upcoming Week: @Nets, @Hawks, @Magic, Suns

Comments: The Cavs are in a free fall. Despite the presence of rookie-of-the-year-to-be Kyrie Irving, the Cavs just can't get anything going. And trading backup point guard Ramon Sessions probably didn't help matters much.