As ever, the grades are not meant as a means of comparing teams to each other. Instead, they are an attempt to measure a team's performance against its own capabilities. So, no matter what a team's record might be, a C grade indicates that the team is right where it should be. Similarly, As and Bs signify teams that are overachieving, while Ds and Fs indicate underachievers.There are no adjustments made for injuries, since virtually every ball club has had key players unavailable for various periods.
ATLANTA has been plagued by inconsistency at just about every spot in the lineup. Despite their heroic performance against the Celtics in last season's playoffs, the Hawks still can't play with the big boys. Nevertheless, Joe Johnson is a legit two-way star and the franchise finally has a viable future.Grade: B
BOSTON tried to run a marathon like it was a sprint. Anyway, their frontcourt subs are still too short, and if James Posey is sorely missed already, wait until the playoffs arrive.Grade: C-minus
CHARLOTTE has been on the upswing lately. So far, Larry Brown's tough love has been effective. Even so, the Bobcats have a long way to go to reach the next level.Grade: C-plus
CHICAGO's picking of Derrick Rose has proved to be a bonanza. Too bad so may other holdover young players like Joakim Noah, Aaron Gray, and Tyrus Thomas have not panned out.Grade: C-plus
CLEVELAND has finally made the quantum leap into the league's upper echelon. The kudos go to LeBron (for stepping up his defense to whatever degree he has), to Mike Brown (for opening up the offense while maintaining a focus on defense), to Delonte West (for being rock-solid at both ends), and to just about everybody else in the rotation.Grade: A-plus
DETROIT has dropped into the middle of the pack. Rasheed remains AWOL too often. Without Billups running the show, Rip and T. Prince are lost in the ozone. And while Iverson brings some temporary excitement, he'll be long gone by the start of next season. The Pistons are due for a major overhaul.Grade: D
INDIANA is going nowhere fast, despite the dramatic coming of age of Danny Granger and the return to action of Mike Dunleavy. If Jermaine O'Neal certainly isn't missed, T. J. Ford simply hasn't made enough of a difference to count the trade as a success. The bad guys are finally gone (except for the lingering ghost of Jamaal Tinsley) but the good guys simply aren't good enough to get the Pacers up to speed.Grade: D-minus
MIAMI has ridden the resurgent D-Wade back into playoff contention. For sure, they need a center, a point guard, and the absence of The Matrix, but at least the flame is burning brightly enough to see some hope in the not-too-distant future.Grade: A-plus
- Suns hold off Raptors behind Nash
- Wade turns up Heat vs. Thunder
- Galinsky: 2008-09 midseason awards
- Hill: LeBron's game still growing
- Rosen: Why Spurs are unappreciated
- Galinsky: NBA Power Rankings
- Hill: Lakers win in defeat
- Hill: What's T-Mac's future?
- Hill: Boston's offensive issues
- One-on-one with Rashard Lewis
- LeBron, Cavs crush Celtics
- 2008 year in the NBA
MILWAUKEE has responded to Scott Skiles' demand for perfection. R-Jeff has provided a defensive presence to augment Michael Redd's dynamic offense. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute plays better defense than rookies are supposed to play. Charlie V can flat-out score. Luke Ridnour runs the show with a cool hand. And Andrew Bogut doesn't often embarrass himself.Grade: A
NEW JERSEY is striving hard to achieve mediocrity, with Vince Carter, their mediocre not-so-superstar, leading the way. If their attempt to relocate to downtown Brooklyn fails, perhaps they could land in Coney Island which hasn't had a good sideshow in the neighborhood since Zelda the Zebra Lady ran off with one of the electric horses from Playland.Grade: B-minus
NEW YORK is inconsistent, but exciting. And that's enough to (almost) relegate the Zeke era to the ashcan of history. Chris Duhon is more productive in a team-concept than Twinkle-Twinkle-Little-Starbury ever was. David Lee has (almost) become an offensive force. Winston Chambers is a burgeoning star. Al Harrington's erratic shooting keeps both teams in the game. And the unheralded return of Jared Jeffries has given the Knicks a legitimate (and versatile) defender. A great job thus far by the much-maligned (especially by me!) Mike D'Antoni.Grade: B-plus
ORLANDO seems to be getting better game by game while all the other elite teams (for various reasons) are staggering. So much fire power! So many 3-point bombers! Such unselfishness! Superman can still eat glass and has even added a baby jump shot! And Hedo is a Turkish delight! Don't be surprised if the Magic can cast a spell on all opponents that will last until July!Grade: A-plus
PHILADELPHIA is better off running and funning without Elton Brand than bumping and grinding with him. And with Brand out of action, Philly's latest A.I. is finally becoming the go-to guy he's always threatened to become.Grade: C-plus
TORONTO got a boost when T. J. Ford was exported, since Jose Calderon was able to run the team without looking over his shoulder. They then enjoyed another boost when Jermaine O'Neal suffered his latest injury and Andrea Bargnani showed signs of demonstrating that he could indeed be a useful player. All of which put the Raps in the pleasant position of sorting through a multitude of offers for O'Neal. Perhaps in exchange for O'Neal (and some strategic throw-ins), Toronto will be able to stock their rather weak bench with some scorers, defenders, and rebounders. Even so, the season so far has been a disappointing one north of the border.Grade: D-minus
WASHINGTON's abysmal showing suggests an updated version of a semi-poetic couplet that was used for so many years to describe the perpetual ineptitude of the old Washington Senators:
First in war, first in peace,
And last in the Eastern Conference.
Grade: FCheck out Charlie Rosen's Western Conference mid-term grades HERE.