As I blogged recently, ain’t much changin’ in the NBA playoffs on a year-to-year basis. The minimal amount of movement of teams into or out of the playoffs is remarkable, and (I failed to point this out in my previous posting) becomes even more remarkable when one considers that injuries to guys like Yao and T-Mac for the Rockets, CP3 for the Hornets, and D-Wade for the Heat, have a lot to do with the movement that we actually have seen.
One hoopservation about the minimal movement of teams into and out of the playoffs is that, given how little movement occurs, it can’t be a coincidence that, when movement does occur, it often involves a playoff team losing its PG and then falling out of the playoffs.
The clearest example is Detroit. The Pistons were the #2 seed in the East as recently as the 2007-08 season. Then they traded Chauncey Billups, and now they are an afterthought. I know that lots of terrible executive decisions have been made in Detroit over the last two years — for example, the decisions leading the auto industry to the verge of collapse — but the decision to trade Chauncey Billups for no perceivable reason has to rank amongst the worst. The Pistons need a bailout of their own if they’re going to make it back to the playoffs.
Detroit is the clearest example, but not the only example. This year’s 76ers are 27-54, and do not even resemble a playoff team. Last year, they were a playoff team. Then they got rid of Andre Miller, and completely lost their mojo.
Not too long ago, the Wizards were a young, exciting playoff team. Then Gilbert Arenas injured his knee. Then Gilbert Arenas injured his brain. Now, the Wizards are a joke.
In ’06-’07, the Warriors not only made the playoffs, but won a series, led by Barron Davis. Now Barron’s gone from Golden State, and the Warriors are gone from the playoffs.
Lastly, the Nets — yes, the Nets — were a playoff team in ’06-’07. They traded Jason Kidd in the middle of the following season and, well… you know what happened.
In sum, one pattern we can perceive when we look over the minimal movement that has happened into and out of the playoffs is that often a team in the playoffs screws things up when it gets rid of its PG.