NBA / Jan 16, 2009 / 12:22 pm

5 Teams You Should Be Watching

Andre IguodalaAI

Don’t look now, but there are a host of teams that many of us counted out by the end of November, who are now showing signs of life. They’re not necessarily going anywhere, but their recent surges are invaluable building blocks towards the future.

Philadelphia – Winners of their last five, the Sixers haven’t just whooped up on the League’s garbage – they beat Houston, Atlanta (on the road) and Portland pretty handily. It could be that the Eagles’ success is rubbing off on their Sports Complex counterparts. (Watching Weapon X in action brings out the best in everyone…) But it could also be that Philly is vibing in the same way that they did towards the end of last season without Elton Brand.

It’s hard to imagine that a team gets better when a player of Brand’s caliber is out of the lineup, but Andre Iguodala (23.2 ppg over his last five) has played his best ball of the year since EB went down with that horrific shoulder injury.

Minnesota – What the hell’s going on with Randy Foye? SI‘s Steve Aschburner argues that Foye’s starting to show signs of being the player who was once swapped for Brandon Roy on draft night. He’s tallied 20.6 points over his last 12 games to go with 4.5 boards and 3.6 assists. Foye is still by-and-large a confused combo guard, but he looks like he’s playing more freely, no longer concerned about Randy Wittman‘s criticism for taking a bad shot.

“He’s easy to play for,” veteran swingman Mike Miller said recently.”He always preaches that practice is his time, games are our time. He’s always got your back and every shot’s a good shot. Anytime you have a confident coach like that, it definitely helps.”

Chicago – It sure helps when Tyrus Thomas is grabbing rebounds 12-feet in the air and swatting LeBron’s lay-ups. But the difference for the Bulls in their last two has been their level of energy. Last night Craig Sager interviewed Vinny Del Negro before the fourth quarter, asking how the Bulls have been able to stay with the East’s best team, and his answer was simple: energy.

IndianaDanny Granger has become one of the most exciting players to watch in the entire League. Sure the Pacers are only 4-4 in their last eight games, but they can rest assured that Granger is a bona fide NBA centerpiece.

Charlotte – On paper, the Diaw-for-Richardson trade looked God-awful. But it’s turned out to be pretty good for the Bobcats. They’ve quietly gone 4-2 over their last six with wins over the Celtics and the Pistons. And during this stretch, the Ray Felton trade rumors have translated into outstanding play from the UNC-product. In fact, the Felton-D.J. Augustin combination have been excellent on the floor at the same time.

Source: SI

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  • Deez

    yall love brian dawkins

  • http://www.layupdrill.com D.Michael Lee

    Philly has been underachieving all year. If Brand comes back and gets in playing shape by the All-Star break, the Sixers will contend for the playoffs.

  • JCARR

    Granger has been a pleasant surprise… Is there going to be a list of “5 teams you SHOULDN’T be watching”…?

  • JA

    That Weapon X video was sick. Dude was power-bombing guys.

  • Kobeef

    Detroit?! Denver?!

    Seriously, has there been a trade recently that has actually made both teams into legit playoff teams?

    Denver got the best of the trade but Detroit looks poised to make the playoffs AND enter the summer with $35 Million to spend on FA’s!!!

  • dmitry of jersey

    sixers should have kept the cap space instead of signing brand.

  • Chaos

    Brand and Iggy for some reason cant coexist. the team seems more athletic with Iggy at the 3 and Young at the 4

  • mavs all the way

    yo mr.D.Michael Lee, where have you been? are you really following nba games or you’re there in your couch playing 2k9? sixers WON 5 STRAIGHT GAMES AND COUNTING without brand.so having him back again coming from an injury will make them better? what do you think guys?

  • Diego

    Sixers have come together and look good. They make the playoffs (not by a lot) w/o Brand for the rest of the year if need be. (They are also missing 7 ft. Jason “I smooched with Mary Carey” whatever his name is.)

    Speights has been a real pleasant surprise. He was a bit (at least) of an underachiever 2 years at UF but is looking very good as a young first year pro.

  • nick

    hating another bad decison by raptors management to pass on granger and select joey graham. granger is killing it right now.

  • mavs all the way

    make it six teams you should be watching. throw in NEW JERSEY NETS in there. although they have lost their previous 2, they currently seating at the #7 spot in the east and is in pace to making the playoffs. I’m saying this because who would have thought they’ll be where they are at right now considering the changes they made on their roster. and i think they WILL make the playoffs; devin harris winning the most improve; mr.lopez all rookie team; vc all nba villain team.

  • Kobeef

    @Mavsalltheway

    The nets management actually built that team to tank for the next two years so they could get a couple of young starts to lure lebron..Harris, Carter and Lopez are screwing up the whole plan!

  • mavs all the way

    @Kobeef

    well, karma i guess for the management.

    so does that mean vc will be traded before the deadline? for a sack of corn or rice perhaps?

  • mavs all the way

    @ 11

    that would have been great,
    tj ford
    calderon
    granger
    cb4
    charles oakley

    title contender right there

  • dmitry of jersey

    Kobeef: not really. Nets had to trade Kidd bc he wanted out and they got a damn good deal for him. And Richard Jefferson was one of my favorite players on the Nets but without Kidd and with VC he just didn’t fit in. Him and VC never figured out how to play together and it would have been worse once Kidd was traded. Getting Bobby Simmons (who’s been healthy and productive) and Yi (who was doing decent before getting hurt) was a good deal.

    And if Nets management really wanted the team to tank, they would not have signed Jarvis Hayes, Najera, or Dooling. They brought in productive veteran players to guide the young players.. a very good move.

    As a Nets fan I was really surprised that everyone was writing them off before the season started… I didn’t see any reason why they couldn’t compete for the 7-8 spot in the East like they’re doing now.

  • vinny

    @dimitry of jersey- if the nets could get 1 more consistent scorer beside Vince(who hasnt played well the last 2 games and they lost both) and Devin- they would be a shoo-in for the playoffs!

  • dmitry of jersey

    for sure.
    the announcers last night were saying Vince is not over the injury from the Boston game. who knows.. but yeah add another consistent scorer to Devin, VC and Lopez and you got a dangerous team.

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