The MMH Panel: MMH Editor Cody Tannen-Barrup, MMH Contributor Simon Pruitt, MMH Founder Sasha Klare-Avaysion, and MMH Hoops Head Chris Dodson. We took turns on all of the team recaps but Dodson handled the DJ Booth and DVD rotations for the Music and Music recommendations. Well, except one. Check out social media accounts to join that conversation!
It feels as if the NBA season is still waking up. The last two seasons have blended together so that along with the Ben Simmons drama, it’s all just a blur and NBA’s fans need a splash of coffee to really kick this season into gear. Well, the Music, Movies, and Hoops Power Rankings are just the pop of a pick-me-up that you need to get into gear. We are working off of a small sample size but there are some trends that are too obvious to ignore. Some are problems the size of an injured Zion Williamson, some the size of Kyrie’s lack of a vax card, and others just shots not falling early in the season.
So how did your team wake up after Halloween? Did they come out hot, pacing themselves on steady diet of wins to keep them in the hunt for a top seed through Thanksgiving? Or did your squad gorge on empty calories? More importantly, are they motivated to fight through the aches and pains or will they sit contently on the tank job toilet, waiting for a better year? Find out how the MMH Power Rankings Panel feels about the sights and sounds around your team!
Starting out West, the storyline is simple: To be the man you got to beat the man. The Golden State Warriors feel like they are still the lineal champs. No one beat them at full strength. The Lakers, Suns, and Clippers are all pretenders. I mean, Russ Westbrook finally made it home just to slip on the welcome mat. Will the Lakers catch themselves before they fall all the way down? Utah and Denver are just gatekeepers to the title, not contenders for one.
The first two weeks of the season served notice to the rest of the NBA, as Golden State went undefeated. Their only loss can be chalked up to Ja Morant going Supernova in an overtime game. Steph Curry is on a mission to win his third MVP award. Jordan Poole is playing solid minutes. James Wiseman might figure it out before the playoffs. Nemanja Bjelica, Andre Iguodala, and Damion Lee are playing like they have fresh legs, only their ears are tired from hearing washed-up retirement talk. Klay Thompson will actually, maybe, allegedly be healthy enough to play 40 games before the playoff run this year. Steve Kerr is leaning back into small ball in big doses. The Old Champ is back to take the Crown. Bucks versus Warriors NBA Finals anyone?
Well, that depends on how the East shakes out. The Knicks made moves but they may not have lifted their ceiling. The Bulls seem to have built a second floor on their foundation. Still, the top end seems set with the Bucks, Nets, and 76ers. The Heat and Hawks feel like second-round teams, but it may be a two will enter, only one shall live 4 versus seed situation come April. The Nets and 76ers have All-NBA talent not taking the court because of ….reasons. Once those teams find solutions, they’ll be ready for another run at an NBA Finals appearance.
There are lines of demarcation for these MMH Power Rankings. However they are labeled it boils down to Contenders, Pretenders, and Everyone in between. The Lavine-Lonzo-Vucevic-DeRozan era is off to a hot start against the NBA’s worst teams. How hot? 4-0 and headlines about how the last time that happened was 25 years ago with some guys named Jordan and Pippen. And there are bold fools betting this 2021-22 team will be better than that title-winning team of the late ’90s. No wonder Las Vegas is able to keep the lights on. Alex Caruso has proven effective outside of Lebron’s shadow but these Bulls aren’t THAT good. They beat the Pistons without Cade and the Pelicans without Zion. Those Jordan/Pippen Bulls were capital G great. These Bulls are a few levels below, but there is no doubt they are damned decent. But where do they fall in the MMH Power Rankings? Let’s get to it!
Crack Open A Six Pack Of Fearsome NBA Finals Contenders
1. Milwaukee Bucks (3-4)
(CD: 1, SKA: 1, CTB: 2, SP: 1. MMH PR Points: 5)
The defending champions deserve respect though this may not hold for long with three losses going into Halloween. The Bucks bullied the Brooklyn Nets on Opening Night. Giannis had 32 and 14. Jrue Holiday is still the most underappreciated player in the NBA. Unless injuries derail their season, Milwaukee will be ready to meet up with any challenge next April. Depending on how the Nets and Philadelphia 76ers deal with Kyrie and Ben, Milwaukee is one trade away from being the undeniable favorite out of the East. —Dodson
Milwaukee-based Movie to describe the start of the season: Hoops Dreams. Giannis, Jrue, and Kris can secure their legacies with a repeat title. Sophomore albums are tricky but the Bucks have the ensemble to create a new standard for modern-day dynasties.
Music links to Buck up the Crowd: Les Paul, known also as the “Wizard of Waukesha,” had 25 Top 40 hits but is best known for developing the solid-body electric guitar. He has been inducted in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame, the only human with such a distinction. Giannis and Jrue are both signed to long-term contracts. They could be future Hall of Famers with multiple rings when their next negotiations commence.
2. Golden State Warriors (5-1)
(CD: 2 SKA: 1 CTB: 2 SP: 2. MMH PR Points: 7)
Steph Curry is leading the league in scoring at 28.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game. That’s two more than his previous high. He continues to do whatever is needed to help this team win. Damion Lee and Jordan Poole have stepped up in Klay’s continued absence. The team is fifth in defensive rating, which has always been their sneaky calling card when they were winning titles. One key to their play on that end is that they are limiting teams’ second-chance points at the top rate in the league.
On offense, they are playing classic Warriors ball as well, which means whipping it all around. They are assisting on 70% of their made field goals as a team, the best mark in the NBA. I love the way they are playing and the truth of the matter is that they are still working to gel with the new pieces and rookies they added. They will get better and that bodes well for my finals prediction (knocking on wood). —Cody Tannen-Barrup
Golden State of Mind Season Movie for the Mood: The Matrix: Reloaded. The Warriors moved across the Bay but the soul of those championship seasons and the fans remain in Oakland. In the Matrix: Reloaded, the freeway chase and “Burly Brawl” scenes were filmed at the decommissioned Naval Air Station Alameda not far from Golden State’s new arena. This season is just 82 games of building anticipation for the Warriors making one last run against whatever Agent Smith clone comes from the East.
Golden State’s Soundtrack to the Season: Tupac’s Hit’em Up. It’s that kind of season for Steph and Klay coming out of OakTown. And if you don’t know, First Off…
3. Miami Heat (5-1)
(CD: 4 SKA: 4 CTB: 5 SP: 4. MMH PR Points: 17)
Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo look like they’ve spent some time together during those Olympics Open Runs. They play hard. They play smart. They play like a Pat Riley and Eric Spoelstra team. They had the best defense in the NBA during October and it was not even close. They allow 91 points per 100 possessions, have only lost one game, and still look like they are figuring out the best way to run the offense. Butler and Lowry on the case like the newest Bad Boys in the East. —Dodson
Miami’s Playoff Marching Music: Kodak Black Calling My Spirit. Lowry’s spirit was swimming around Tampa Bay last year but he decided to migrate a bit further south for this season instead of trekking back up to Toronto.
The World Is Yours Heat Locker Room Watch Party: Scarface. Miami Ruled the Bubble with a wild run from the sixth seed. The Heat now believe they can rule the world as a top seed in the East. Perhaps Pat Riley was a mad man to think he could put this crew together but here we are, with Miami having as much steeled star power as Tony had soft powder that made you think you were a star.
4. Utah Jazz (5-1)
(CD:3 SKA: 9 CTB: 4 SP: 3. MMH PR Points: 19)
Five players are averaging at least 14 points or more going into November. Rudy Gobert is staking a claim to the best big man in the West, posting 19 points and 19 rebounds per game while getting to the free-throw line more than usual. Hassan Whiteside has found new life behind Gobert so the bench doesn’t bleed away leads. Once Donovan Mitchell finds his shot, the Jazz can take the top spot in the playoffs. Four games at altitude will test any contender. —Dodson
Mormon Country Movie of the Month: SLC Punk!- Gobert and Mitchell. Bob and Stevo. Spyder and Rudy get into some rumbles with their rivals and have a casual relationship with contending. How far punk can this team go before it falls apart, Quinn Snyder shaves his head, and they are exposed as playoff poseurs once more?
Smooth Sailing on the Slopes Soundtrack: The Diamond Empire Jazz Band Straight From Utah! Only $2000 per event! Seriously, the first annual MMH Monthly Power Rankings will take every chance to point out the ridiculousness of having a team in Utah named for anything music. Well, is an echo off the mountains music? Will Mitchell and Gobert echo the past greatness of Stockon and Malone? Or will they come off as a classically trained cover band taught beside snow-capped mountains trying to pull off a great swing number?
5. New York Knicks (5-1)
(CD: 6, SKA: 14, CTB: 6 SP: 5. MMH PR Points: 31)
We’re only two weeks into the NBA season and MSG has already rocked more than the last ten years combined. Julius Randle and RJ Barrett seem like they could be a long-term duo for the team, and their teammates have only gotten better. Adding Kemba and Evan Fournier is hugely important to a team that struggled offensively at times last season. Counting Derrick Rose, the roster now has at least five trusted offensive play-makers that can save possessions when things break down.
This team can no longer be seen as a single-season fluke, they’re just too solid top to bottom to be anywhere below 45 wins every year with this core. Rather than equate them to a movie, I see heavy parallels in their fundamentally sound play-style to season 8 of Seinfeld. By the penultimate 8th season of Seinfeld, everyone in America knew the characters backward and forwards. We knew their tropes, their most reliable comedic scenarios, and the general direction that each episode would follow. But guess what? It was still damn good. You don’t have to be innovative to be successful, sometimes playing the greatest hits will still be just as rewarding as a new project. I’ll take Randle and Barrett as Jerry and George arguing about shirt buttons at Monk’s diner all day over some new-look Raptors or Celtics team. I guess that leaves Mitchell Robinson as the Kramer of this group, which I’m totally on board with. —Simon Pruitt
Big Apple Blockbuster: Rocky III. Rocky versus Clubber Lang. Who will these Knicks be, and in which fight? Will they feel like they’ve accomplished something, resting on last year’s laurels before falling flat as the Knicks are wont to do. Or will they keep fighting, knowing this roster is probably still not on the same tier as the true contenders in the East.
Madison Square’s Musical Marquee: New York State of Mind. Jay-Z. The Knicks are hoping the uplifted feeling from this song echoes throughout the season. There is some Reasonable Doubt this roster will work though. Fall short of expectations and the fans will lose faith in the Blueprint. Same ol’ Knicks as Wee-Bay said, just marketing and Politics as Usual.
6. Chicago Bulls (5-1)
(CD: 7 SKA: 15 CTB: 3 SP: 8 MMH PR Points: 33)
The Bulls are relevant again. I texted some friends the other day a similar sentiment and no one agreed or even responded. Maybe I put in the wrong numbers. You know what aren’t the wrong numbers? The Bulls score 18% of their points from the foul line and 69.5% from two. Those are numbers that you can build around. The threes are the root of the modern game and the Bulls need to get better at them, their starting lineup only averages 32%. We have seen teams like the Rockets and Clippers go cold from long distance at the worst times. That’s why I like this team’s aggressiveness. I love the Lonzo signing and it looks like it might already be paying dividends to have a guy who can space the floor, pass, and plays defense.
The numbers I want to watch are their defensive metrics. Nikola Vujavic and DeRozan are not known for their defense and even though LaVine has made strides, he’s not exactly All-Defense. That being said, their defense is solid. Beating the Pistons twice is nothing to write home about. That includes texting. The Jazz win is for real, though. —Cody Tannen-Barrup
Windy City Watch Party: The Blues Brothers. Hey Bartender. This team has got Soul Man. Lavine and Lonzo are like Jake and Elwood. They’ve got an NBA Trophy sitting 106 miles outside of Chicago, a full tank of gas, a pack of DVC in support, it’s dark, and they are wearing sunglasses.
Chi-Town CD of the Month: Graduation by Kanye West. It’s been decades since Bulls fans had reason for hope, unless you really believed in Joakim and Rose. Can these Bulls graduate to playoff wins immediately or will Lavine take his 808’s and leave Chicago with Heartbreak.
8 oz Can of Can They Contend?
7. Atlanta Hawks (3-3)
(CD: 13 SKA: 7 CTB: 8 SP: 6 MMH PR Points: 34)
Atlanta still feels like a roster that topped out as a second-round team. They need to make a move to really leave an impression they plan to contend now, not trying forcing a move once Trae Young’s extension is crippling the salary cap. The Hawks have been down that road before, and Kyle Korver was, like a Maury DNA test, not the answer Atlanta needed to solve the last playoff puzzle. Cue the Clint Capela music. He might be an above-average big man in the East, but he might not be the best fit next to Young.
The Hawks are still inconsistent while being too reliant on the same actions. They beat the Mavs but lost to the Cavs. They can beat Luka when amped up but not Colin when tuned out. Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter are living up to their promise, but the Hawks need another move and another season of experience to rule the roost in the East.
Gotta Hear These Hawks Out: OutKast- ATLiens. These Hawks are outcasts in the Eastern Conference contender conversation. Will Young and Capela prove to be Two Dope Boys rolling to the NBA playoffs on some Wheels of Steel? Or will they fall back to the 13th Floor of lottery picks after a surprising, fluke season.
BuckTown Locker Room Blockbuster: Remember The Titans. Remember the scene, at the graveyard. The team comes together and understands there is a deeper meaning to coming to an understanding despite differences. Well, this Hawks team was a feel-good story last year. There are some expectations this season, next year will be full of ultimatums. Everyone will be on notice to start winning before Young hits unrestricted free agency and can sign a full veteran max contract. Remember these Hawks. It will be the last time they are just fun without and funk from the critics.
8. Denver Nuggets (4-2)
(CD: 5 SKA: 5 CTB: 14 SP: 14 MMH PR Points: 38)
The Nuggets look *OK*. They are off to a solid 4-2 start, but three of those wins come against the Timberwolves, Spurs, and an up-and-down Mavs team. Joker is as Joker as ever, averaging 24-12-5.5 on blistering percentages. But what has happened to his Robin, Michael Porter Jr.? This year MPJ is averaging 10-5 on dreadful 33% FG and 25% 3FG. Keep in mind, this is a player who shot 42% from three in his rookie year and 45% in his sophomore season!
Is MPJ collapsing under the weight of receiving more defensive attention and focus? Or is it proving too daunting to live up to a $207 million contract? Only time will tell. —Sasha Klare-Ayvazian
Doubting Denver? Watch This: Things To Do In Denver When You Are Dead. It might as well be “What To Do Instead of Trying To Guard Jokic” which is roll up and die. It’s nearly impossible. Coach Pop called him a seven-foot Larry Bird. Watch some highlights and you go argue with him. Bird would just appreciate the compliment and carry on with his day.
Nuggets’ Night-Time Listening: Steady As She Goes – The Raconteurs. Jokic can put up 30 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists in three quarters and the overwhelming reaction from the SportsCenter watching audience would be “Yea, what else is new?”
9. Charlotte Hornets (5-2)
(CD: 11 SKA: 13 CTB: 7 SP: 7 MMH PR Points: 38 Points)
The Charlotte Hornets are winning games by double digits. These aren’t late runs, Lamelo Ball has played less than 30 minutes in a few of these routes. The Hornets are serious about learning championship basketball on the job, not by bringing in mercenaries to help Ball along later. Miles Bridges put up 30 in back-to-back games and looks like the frontrunner for the Most Improved Player award. Bridges’ 25.5 points per game are double what he averaged last year. Bridges, along with the rest of the roster, is about to get expensive. —Dodson
Swarming to LaMelo’s Silver Screen: The Hunger Games was filmed in Charlotte. Every team visiting Charlotte has to dodge the arrows of LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, and a rejuvenated Gordon Hayward. The young team will have to battle, prove their mettle to earn a playoff spot. Injuries took Terry Rozier away for most of the games in October so it could have been a frightening sight when looking at the standing on Halloween Instead, the Hornets went into Brooklyn and swarmed the Kevin Durant and James Harden led Brooklyn Nets.
Singing To Charlotte’s Future: Tori Amos- Precious Things places value in suggestion over distinction, with Amos suggesting that the most precious of things, for all their presumed fragility, oftentimes end up being the catalyst for our greatest strengths. LaMelo is still learning all of the things he can do better than everyone else while making it look easier. He has the fight of the third of three professional basketball brothers. These Hornets might not swing NBA Finals run but they could sting a contender in a surprise upset ala Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks last year.
10. Dallas Mavericks (4-2)
(CD: 12 SKA: 11 CTB: 9 SP: 12 MMH PR Points: 44)
Dallas went 4-2 in October despite Luka Doncic reverting back to his rookie year efficiency numbers. The two losses were blowouts, the four wins could have gone either way. Atlanta blew them out to start the season, and it already looks apparent that Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown are not long-term answers. Kristaps Porzingis has missed half of the season already, doing nothing to ease his injury concerns but forcing all of the pressure on Doncic’s shoulders. Luka has been playing pro minutes since he was a teenage. How long can Dallas ride their young stallion before he needs an extended rest period in the IR stalls? —Dodson
Drunk On Dallas Flick For The Fall: North Dallas Forty- Jason Kidd would fit right into the North Dallas Forty script. He was born of that time when athletes got by on skill, grit, and know-how. Sometimes they required aids of a dubious nature, just as the victory celebrations were fueled by other substances of questionable, well, everything back in that North Forty Dallas. Kidd, Luka Doncic, and Kristaps Porzingas do not care how they get the job done, they just need to be on the playoff job site ready to put in a shift come April. If not, this house of cards might come crumbling down like so many other franchises that never built upon a generational foundation.
Kidd’s Digg This Tune: Butthole Surfers- Pepper. This offseason has been more hectic than usual in Dallas. The longtime staff and culture of Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle is long gone. Gamblers turned executives have the team scrambling to control unflattering narratives coming from former employees and internal leaks that lead to investigations. Wait, am I doing a North Dallas Forty redux paragraph? Nah. Doncic and Kidd can both be pains in the ass. They keep surfing to their own tunes. Kidd was a great player. Doncic is on a Hall of Fame path. But can they spice this Mavs team up as a player/coach duo with a balanced power dynamic? In ode to Kidd’s spilling of a drink to slow up a game, to explain the waves of the season: Some will die in hot pursuit in fiery auto crashes. Some will die in hot pursuit while sifting through my ashes. Some will fall in love with life and drink it from a fountain. That is pouring like an avalanche comin’ down the mountain….all season, as the waves ebb and flow, then Dallas crashes into a contender in the first round. Then they’ll be like Tommy. Tommy played piano like a kid out in the rain. Then he lost his leg in Dallas, he was dancin’ with a train.
11. Los Angeles Lakers (4-3)
(CD: 18 SKA: 8 CTB: 12 SP: 9 MMH PR Points: 47)
I truly cannot take my eyes off this Lakers team. Watching Russ on this team is like watching a movie struggling to integrate a new cast member in the sequel. Carmelo Anthony seems way too important. DeAndre Jordan starts for some reason (until last night’s blowout of the Rockets, maybe an omen of a new direction)? Hell, Austin Reeves actually seems like an integral rotation piece!
At the same time, they still have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The former is playing like a grizzled king unready to concede his thrown and the latter is off to a nice bounce-back season (if you want to call last year a down year) putting up 25 PPG and 11.5 RPG.
I could see this entire situation imploding and the team trading Russ at the deadline and I could see them finding a winning identity with AD at the 5, Russ and LeBron taking turns piloting the offense, Nunn, THT, and Ariza coming back and solidifying their depth, and this team making a deep playoff run. —Sasha Klare-Ayvazian
Long Beach Listening: Going Back to Cali. It’s all about Westbrook, UCLA alum, going back to Cali. It’s all about the NBA Trophy going back to Cali before Lebron become a grandfather. It’s all about if AD has to miss games due to a Cali-flower type callus on his pinky finger. I mean, it happened in New Orleans, allegedly. He hurt his pinky waving the FedEx delivery guy out of his driveway and hit a wind chime.
Silver Screens and Second Acts: Going in Style. IMDBxMMH quick snap summary: Three friends on the dole figure it wise to rob a bank, even tried to get paid twice. Carmelo Anthony. Westbrook. And AD are getting millions to help LeBron chase another ring. Even if they fall short, they are living the high life. Succeed and they are at least small legends in Laker land forever. No matter what, LeBron, Carmelo, and Russ teaming up for one last run does have a tinge of style attached to it. It’s hard to admit, considering Russ took those $30/60 limit pots up in Blackhawk many years ago.
12. Brooklyn Nets (4-3)
(CD: 15 SKA: 3 CTB: 11 SP: 19 MMH PR Points: 48)
Kevin Durant has been Einstein brilliant on the basketball court. James Harden has been Guinness beer commercial brilliant. Kyrie Irving has been YouTube Flat Earth 5G Implementation brilliant. For fuck’s sake Kyrie, you could have made a more poignant point for CBA negotiations without going full MAGA hat. Your stance now has less merit than James Harden has free throws. —Dodson
Now Showing At Nets Night: Do The Right Thing- Spike Lee. Masks and Shots work better than Power Ranking analysis.
Banging Down Flatbush Avenue: Vax That Thing Up- Juvenile, Mannie Fresh. No really, getting your shot works better at stopping the spread of COVID than reading these rankings. The MMH Power Rankings do however help curve the effects of the pandemic more than Fox News. This is your Nets coverage for the month. Do better Bronx bullshitters.
13. Memphis Grizzlies (3-3)
(CD: 10 SKA: 21 CTB: 10 SP: 10 MMH PR Points: 51)
Imagine that an alien was sent down to Earth to study the NBA, Space Jam style. They understand the game’s rules but are totally clueless to the league’s culture or history. All they know are the games they’ve seen this season. That alien would think Ja Morant is the best player in the NBA. The 3rd year superstar single-handedly turned the Staples Center into his own personal Rucker Park two nights in a row vs the Clippers and Lakers. He’s leading the NBA in scoring and is a real candidate for a dark horse MVP run.
The team around him has already far exceeded expectations. Desmond Bane is looking like a real playoff starter, Jaren Jackson Jr is rounding into form with his first fully healthy start to a season, and Deanthony Melton is a legitimate defensive stopper. They’re not a championship contender by any means, but they’ll be a tough out for whatever team is unluckiest enough to draw them in the postseason.
As much as I love Beale Street, the premier Memphis attraction will always be Graceland. The 13-acre estate of Elvis Presley is a mausoleum of glamour and rock and roll. I’d venture to say that Ja Morant is Memphis’ greatest rockstar since the King himself. What better way to commemorate the moment this city is having by attaching a Presley song to the team? Why not the energetic “Hound Dog” to describe Morant’s frenetic playstyle? He plays each night like it might be his last, and the team surrounding him feeds off of it to perfection. His highlights have a “blink and you miss it” quality to them, and his prime might too. Let’s make sure we appreciate it while we still can. —Simon Pruitt
Beale Street Boomin: Three 6 Mafia- Riding Spinnas
Movies To Make You Think Memphis: Hustle and Flow- Hard out here for a pimp
14. Washington Wizards (5-1)
(CD: 8 SKA: 17 CTB: 16 SP: 15 MMH PR Points: 56)
The Wizards should probably be higher on our list. I think we are expecting them to fall back to earth. They are 10th in defensive rating, but they give up the most points in the NBA in the paint. On offense, they are an iso-heavy team–essentially 50% of their made field goals are unassisted, second in the NBA–yet the only guys I trust to score that way are Spencer Dinwiddie or Brad Beal. Those stats are decent but do not scream a conference-leading record like they currently share.
Still, they are where they are and Beal is getting better every game. Montrezl Harrell is a good regular season player to bring energy every game. Dinwiddie is finding his form after a year away. Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope bring championship role player experience to the court. This is all of a sudden a team with real NBA players. Beating the Hawks was a good win. Now if they can just change their name to a real NBA name. Sorry, getting distracted. I respect the upward trajectory of this team. We’ll see if we have to bump them up in our next round. —Cody Tannen-Barrup
Whistleblowing Watch Party: Wag the Dog. Who is leading what here? Is Beal leading the team to a top-six playoff seed, unexpected as that may have been this summer? Are the Wizards leading, being proactive in trade negotiations? Has the whole team increased their trade value or will Washington somehow, someway become BUYERS when the trade market fully opens? Would be some goddamn wizardry by the new regime to have turned things around so quickly. It could all vanish before the Thanksgiving turkey is ready for the over though.
Wizards Walkman Soundwaves: Angles- Wale with Chris Brown. Beal and the front office are both running angles and the whole world knows. Somehow, the Wizards are running up their win total when the franchise would be better off with a full-year tank job.
Treading Water, Trending Sideways, or Trying Out Playoff Contention?
15. Minnesota Timberwolves (3-2)
(CD: 8 SKA: 22 CTB: 15 SP: 13 MMH PR Points: 58)
It’s happening, it’s really happening. For the first time since Kevin Garnett, the Minnesota Timberwolves are kind of… fun? We’re not deep enough into the season to definitively call them “good” yet. But watching Anthony Edwards careen into the paint at full force every other possession is enough to make this team a must-watch. KAT looks as committed as we’ve ever seen him, surrounded by one of the most eclectic supporting casts in the league. The roster has offensive flamethrowers like D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasely matched by the ever-theatrical Patrick Beverley and bulldogged hustle of players like Jarred Vandebilt and Naz Reid.
Minnesota culture, or lack thereof, rests almost entirely on the back of Prince. Pointing to just one Prince song to define this Timberwolves team almost seems like a disservice to both parties, but his 1989 hit for Michael Keaton’s Batman should do the job. Prince’s “Partyman” accentuates the vibe of the Timberwolves to a tee. Intercut some DLo celebrations and Anthony Edwards dunks with Jack Nicholson trashing an art museum and you’ve got yourself nothing but a good time. —Simon Pruitt
Minnesota Makes You Move Music:1999-Prince. It’s been that long since this franchise mattered. We’ll see if that last as many weeks as Prince did on the Billboard charts. MMH is eyeing Timberwolves stock the say way crafty tech guys looked for Y2K vulnerable ATMs. It might be worth grabbing one but it’s probably best to wait it all out.
Take Me Out To The Movies: Mallrats was filmed in Minnesota and the Timberwolves have been milling around the lottery spots in the standings for far too long.As KAT, ANT, and D’LO must be thinking “If there’s anybody who can help us, it’s the two guys who have even less to do than us.” Just as the Twin Cities Big 3 says this line, 10,000 Lakes slowly turn their heads towards Malik Beasley, Naz Reid, and Patrick Beverly. Only one other player (Jarred Vanderbilt) averages more than 3.5 points per game.
16. Philadelphia 76ers (4-2)
(CD: 9 SKA: 12 CTB: 17 SP: 21 MMH PR Points: 59)
Daryl Morey coming on the mic like Snoop on the East Coast: MMH ain’t got Brotherly Love for the Leaping Liberty Bells!? Why? Not sure? Jumping Joel Embiid’s are one very close loss away from being 5-1. Oh shit, Embiid just had an MRI. I better go look at those offers for Ben Simmons again. Cheese Steak Represent! Always Philly! Woot Woot!
*drops mic —Dodson
Simon Says You Not Feeling This Beat: Beauty School Drop-Out – Frankie Avalon. Ben wants to date Dash marketing reps and live on the west coast. Sacramento has some enticing assets. Let Ben be gone like the kid that was never made out for the college or NBA championship-contending life.
Been Waiting To Watch: Trading Places. Simmons passed up easy dunks, there won’t be an easier decision than to move him for Buddy Hield and spare parts. There won’t be a better option either. Find a move and when it comes to thinking about ‘what if’ for this time of The Process…Forget About It Already!
17. Cleveland Cavaliers (3-4)
(CD: 20 SKA: 16 CTB: 13 SP: 11 MMH PR Points: 60)
If I had written this last Friday morning, I’d be singing a different tune. At the time, the Cavs were sporting a 3-2 record on the back of impressive consecutive wins against the Hawks, Nuggets, and Clippers. That was before back-to-back losses to the Lakers and Suns over the weekend pushed them under .500.
To their credit, they held with Lakers until veteran savvy and the bright Staples lights proved too formidable. The Suns game was more of a head-scratcher. With 5:00 left on the clock and only down 12, Bickerstaff pulled all his starters. Maybe he thought to win the war they need to concede some battles? Certainly seemed a bit early to raise the white flag.
Nonetheless, the light of hope burns brighter in Cleveland than it has since LeBron decried, “This is for you Cleveland!” in 2016. The source of this light? Two words: Evan Mobley. It looks like the Cavs secured the best player in the draft with the third pick. Through the first seven games of his young career, Mobley is averaging 13-8 1 STL, 1 BLK, 50% FG, 80% FT, and looking like a third-year vet.
It was just two seasons ago that the Rockets swapped Clint Capela for Robert Covington and pushed small ball to a new stratosphere. But man have things changed. The Cavs are starting three 7-footers in Mobley, Allen, and Markannen. Any of whom could serve as the sole big in many modern-day lineups (well perhaps not turnstile Markannen). But the experiment seems to be successful! As Paul George attests:
“Just the length. I mean, this is a lengthy team. And so, regardless if we got stops, they were rebounding. You know, they were crashing the glass, they were getting extra possessions. That’s really what’s the difference. And again, I still thought we got some good shots, we got some good looks, but I mean, only difference, they had the size and it kept possessions alive because there were three 7-footers on the floor. That plays a big factor.”
Despite the weekend losses, the only tune that feels appropriate for the Cavs is “Cleveland Rocks!” —Sasha Klare-Ayvazian
Quote This Movie, Cleveland Edition: Major League. Well, maybe Cleveland does not suck that bad after all. You know the quote. You know all the quotes. You’re MMH Major League Certified talent. You know to bring live chickens, just like you know this Cleveland team finally deserves respect. Now, how do the Cavs shed Kevin Love for something useful?
CavsCome Up Song: Bone Thugs and Harmony Cleveland is the City….that is finally doing the come up that David Griffin thought he’d lead. Griffin is gone, headed down the Bayou. Lebron is not walking through that door, he is home in Hollywood. This Cleveland ComeUp will be capital O Organic and Orgasmic once they start winning consistently. How’s Grffin doing by the way? At a Crossroads you say? Cleveland is in a better place by all accounts.
18. Boston Celtics (2-4)
(CD: 21 SKA: 10 CTB: 18 SP: 17 MMH PR Points: 66)
The Celtics are mind-numbingly frustrating. I suppose they’ve also been thrilling except for the fact that they keep losing. Boston has played five overtime periods in five games. That’s nuts! They average the most blocks per game so that’s a good stat. They are 20th and 19th in offensive and defensive ratings respectively. That’s not great. They are a team of athletes that plays at only the 13th fastest pace. As you may remember from a sentence ago, their offensive power isn’t one that encourages slowing it down.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are incredible two-way players. Al Horford still has some defensive tricks and Robert Williams is a menace, both to himself and to the opposing team. Dennis Schroeder…is on the team and plays an important role. With so many close games, perhaps they are just a few bounces away from being 4-2 instead of 2-4 and perhaps they have no reason to panic. I’m not panicked. I’m not. —Cody Tannen-Barrup
Bland Day Boston Blockbuster: Good Will Hunting. Danny Ainge could never find the trade. Will Brad Stevens figure out the championship formula. How much Good Will does this front office and coach staff have, and how long will it be before Tatum and Brown go hunting for better opportunities to win?
Song That Cel-tics On the Boxes For the Season: Pixies Where is My Mind. With your feet on the air and your head on the ground. Try this trade machine idea and spin it, yeah. Your dreams of titles will collapse if no one buys in it. And you’ll ask Lucky the Leprechaun, Where is my mind?
19. Phoenix Suns (2-3)
(CD: 23 SKA: 6 CTB: 22 SP: 20 MMH PR Points: 71)
I might be turning into the MMH Suns guys. Thus, it is my displeasure to report that they are not playing well. I don’t quite know what to make of this team. They lost in the finals, which can affect teams. They signed some of their crucial guys, Mikal Bridges and Chris Paul, to big deals. They also signed a guy that I do not believe is that important, Landry Shamet, to a larger than expected deal. They did not sign one of their core three, Deandre Ayton, to a deal. Those dynamics can affect a team.
Their starting five–the same group from the finals–is top five in scoring, which is helpful, The team as a whole is 22nd in both offensive and defensive rating, which is not. THey’ve played the Lakers, Nuggets, and Trailblazers in their first five and so perhaps their record is the result of a tough early schedule. Or…something isn’t clicking right now. Either way, they’re underachieving and that’s why they’re this low. —Cody Tannen-Barrup
Icarus Flew Too High, And So Did These Suns Last Season Flick: Toy Story 2.
Somber Song of the Setting Suns: Sting Desert Rose.
20. Portland Trail Blazers (3-3)
(CD: 19 SKA: 19 CTB: 20 SP: 18 MMH PR Points: 76)
Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little might be worthy of playoff minutes. Norman Powell might not rest the rest of the season’s minutes. The Damian Lillard–Larry Nance Jr. duo has a 16.3 net rating in 58 minutes this season, blitzing teams on both ends of the court. CJ McCollum heard the trade rumors, watched the Last Dance, and took things personally. Still, this may be the Last Few Months of Portland as we knew them.-Dodson
Pump It In My Binging Veins: Portlandia. It’s all a satirical farce now. We all know Dame is going to be shipped out because this roster is not winning 16 playoff games not matter who is coaching.
Blaze One Beat Down Beat: Dame D.O.L.L.A The Right One with Lil Wayne and Mozzy. The right trade. The right contender. The right time for Dame to say yes to getting his Dollars from another team.
21. LA Clippers (1-4)
(CD: 25 SKA: 18 CTB: 19 SP: 16 MMH PR Points: 78)
Paul George scores 40, LA takes a loss. The Clippers and Paul George have been relegated to small market status. Reggie Jackson has been sunk in the harbor of focused scouting reports. Marcus Morris, Serge Ibaka and Kawhi Leonard are dry docked on the injury report. —Dodson
Sunset Strip Soundtrack For A Step Tenant: Waiting On Sunshine. Kawhi.Sunshine. Same thing. The LA Clippers might as well be Alaska waiting on the summer sun until Kawhi comes back. Until then, George can score as much as he wants. The Clippers do not have the depth to scare anyone.
Rodeo Drive Re-Watch: Is this the same old LA Story for the LA Clippers. Yea. LA Story. Oh you haven’t seen it? Well, disregard the re-watch part of this title the same way you disregard the Clippers as anything more than a playoff nuisance.
22. Toronto Raptors (4-3)
(CD: 14 SKA: 23 CTB: 23 SP: 22 MMH PR Points: 82)
The Raptors are back home, winning the games they should win. They beat Indiana and Orlando but have had trouble staying with the tougher teams on the schedule. Fred Van Vleet and Pascal Siakam will have help figuring things out in a post-Kyle Lowry world. Scottie Barnes has adjusted quickly, averaging 18 points and 9 rebounds per game. -Dodson
Top Down Tunes In T-Dot: Drake Hotline Bling. Ever since the Raptors left the city you…know they haven’t won as many games. But now they home, crispy dollars no pocket change. Siakam still has room to grown and FVV can put 40 on some heads now.
Syrup Thick Feel Good Flick: Canadian Bacon. Ah, Toronto. It’s like Tampa, only colder.
23. Sacramento Kings (3-3)
(CD: 17 SKA: 24 CTB: 21 SP: 25 MMH PR Points: 87)
The Good: A guard hierarch of DeAaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, rookie Davion Mitchell. The bad: Marvin Bagley is burning bridges ever minute his is banished to the bench and Harrison Barnes has cooled off just a little bit from his hot first week. The Kings did not win a home game in October yet still sit in the middle of the early playoff race. Maybe Richaun Holmes can find a way to tilt the scales in the Kings favor more nights than not. If not, Sacramento is used to the late lottery pick.-Dodson
King of the Remote: History of the World- Mel Brooks. It’s funny because history repeats itself and you just have to laugh at The Same Old Kangs.
Singing In Sac-Town: Same Ol’ Road- Dredg. Lucas Studios. “Here we go down that same ol’ road again. Sympathy unfolds the shell that holds all the beauty within. Here we go down that same ol’ road again. A memory, a regret, a hope. Here we go down that same ol’ road again.
Empathy controls the wind that blows and tickles our skin. A memory, a regret, a hope, a stimulant….Same Old Kangs…
24. Indiana Pacers (1-6)
(CD: 29 SKA: 20 CTB: 24 SP: 24 MMH PR Points: 97)
It has been seven straight games of heartbreak for the Indiana Pacers. With a 1-6 record, the Pacers lost their first two games by just one point, before edging out a win in OT against the Heat. They haven’t won since, despite staying competitive throughout. The worst place to be in sports is in the middle, the Pacers are firmly on the middlest of the middle class. They’ll be able to hang with every team, but likely won’t put the pieces together to make a playoff appearance. Maybe this is a side effect of keeping the exact same roster together for 3 years and hoping that a revolving door of coaches will make a difference. It hasn’t, and it won’t. Pacers management needs to blow it up, or their team might do it for them.
The team is caught in a seemingly never-ending cycle of average seasons with middle-class players and performances. 2019’s Vivarium is a movie about just that. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, the film follows a young couple who buys a new house in an idealistic yet mundane neighborhood. Soon after, the couple finds that they are unable of ever leaving the neighborhood and are stuck in the lifeless repetition of their environment. The film later switches lanes and turns into a critique of American capitalism through the lens of psychedelic horror. Maybe this isn’t too far off from what’s going on in Indiana. We won’t see the walls of the Gainbridge Fieldhouse move in on each other or the sky change colors as a demon child hunts an innocent family, but another wasted year of Sabonis’ prime and scapegoating Rick Carlisle might be close enough.
The Pacers were supposed to be good, the continuity was there between Sabonis and Turner. So what’s with the blown leads to supposedly lesser talented teams early in the season? —Simon Pruitt
Indiana Broadcasting Network Presents: Close Encounters of a Third Kind
Music To Pace A Season By: Tom Petty Last Dance With Mary Jane
Sad Sack Six Looking At Lottery Picks
25. San Antonio Spurs (2-4)
(CD: 22 SKA: 26 CTB: 25 SP: 26 MMH PR Points: 99)
The Spurs are not winning like a Popovich team yet but they sure are playing like one. The Spurs are a tough out every night playing behind the young energy of Dejounte Murray, Devin Vassell, and Keldon Johnson. They have some close losses and a tough win over the Milwaukee Bucks. —Dodson
San An-tone Ticket To Stardom: No Time To Die. The Last Days of Popovich…
Spur-ing Along the Soldies Soundtrack: Folsum Prison Blues…is locked up in this young team…
26. Houston Rockets (1-5)
(CD: 24 SKA: 25 CTB: 28 SP: 23 MMH PR Points: 100)
Oh, Houston Rockets. It seems like every other game they’re down by 30 at some point in the first half. Their “PG” Kevin Porter Jr. is averaging 5 AST and 5.3 TO. They have an offensive rating of 98.5 and a defensive rating of 105.9, not necessarily a prototype for success…Why is Eric Gordon on this team? Someone please send that man to a playoff-bound franchise.
Yet there remain signs of hope. Jalen Green looks like Taz in basketball shoes: wild and out of control, but unprecedentedly fast and explosive. This dunk is burned in my mind. And early returns suggest the Rockets have something in 13th pick, low post bruiser Alperen Şengün.
The Rockets song this month has to be Beyonce’s “Countdown” because this franchise is counting down to liftoff—and we shouldn’t hold our breath. —Sasha Klare-Ayvazian
Rollin Round H-Town: Bobby Bare I Can Almost See Houston From Here. I mean, I can almost see how a rebuild might happen…
Red Carpet Rockets: Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. James Harden. Chris Paul. Russell Westbrook. John Wall. DeMarcus Cousins. Dwight Howard. No matter what kind of star you are or were, it seems you’ve found a way out of Houston. If not, you’re definitively trying to jet out like a NASA astronaut. These Rockets are the rejects of every other team basically. Can they come together to play competitive basketball? How much more can this roster be stripped for parts? Only time will tell.
27. New Orleans Pelicans (1-6)
(CD: 30 SKA: 27 CTB: 26 SP: 27 MMH PR Points: 110)
The only team worse on offense than the Zion Williamon-less Pelicans are the Pistons without Cade Cunningham. They’ll be without Brandon Ingram for a 4-game road trip to start November. Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes have not lived up to the hype. The fans are starting to turn into a disgruntled mob. There is no trust, and this was a career-defining season for David Griffin. —Dodson
Knuck To You (Pass The) Buck Sound Note from Griffin’s Church Choir: Silk the Shocka Aint My Fault. If David Griffin needed walkout music before every Zion Williamson injury update, this would be the song.
Pelican’t Stop Thinking This Is A Horror Film At the End: Pelican Debrief, because it’s a goddamn gumbo of a murder mystery why Zion cannot stay under 300 pounds so as to keep his lower limbs in tact.
28. Orlando Magic (1-6)
(CD: 28 SKA: 28 CTB: 27 SP: 28 MMH PR Points: 111)
Orlando decided after some therapy counseling they could not recapture the Magic of their marriage to Nikola Vucevic so they sent him to Chicago. The hard reset starts with Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz and RJ Hampton. It’s great to have a young core already in place to start the Jamahl Mosley era, but they’ve yet to be healthy enough to play together. It makes it hard to evaluate and raise trade values.
Orlan-Do You Want To Believe In Magic Matinee Attraction: Fantasia. Obviously.
Just Keep The JukeBox Jumping: Steppenwolf Magic Carpet Ride. Who am I? David Blaine? You submit some ideas to MMH on Twitter or IG.
29. Detroit Pistons (1-5)
(CD: 26 SKA: 29 CTB: 29 SP: 30 MMH PR Points: 114)
Cade Cunningham plays, Detroit wins. If only it were that simple. Enjoy the good times, disregard the dumpster fires in between. That’s the mantra for Motor City this season. For instance, Cunningham scored only two points in 19 minutes, shooting 1-of-8 from the field in that win. -Dodson
Detroit Rock Shitty Soundtrack To Another Lottery Pick: Kid Rock Wasting Time. Bad music to waste time too. If feels good sometimes, with friends, if you thing about the time and not about the asshole singing the tune. Same goes for these young Pistons and ownership.
Pissed Off Point And Click Flick: 8 Mile- One Shot. Eh, maybe they do something special after a few hiccups during open mic night. You never know. Right?
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-5)
(CD: 27 SKA: 30 CTB: 30 SP: 29 MMH PR Points: 116)
All those years of rebuilding, all of those assets in the war chest. Only Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to show for it. Lu Dort was a playoff revelation but he isn’t carrying a team through a regular season. Alexsej Pokusevski is an intriguing unicorn, and much like horses with horns Poku is rarely seen with a positive plus/minus. He is hard to miss on offense but gets hunted on defense far too often. Darius Bazley and Josh Giddey are talented enough to be on a roster but not proven enough for any playoff team to trust with minutes. Oklahoma will need to get creative to bust through this glass ceiling of a rebuild. -Dodson
Grooves to Move the Season: Garth Brooks When the Thunder Rolls. But nothing strikes. That year with Chris Paul was a fluke. It was a blip that knocked the storm of OKC’s rebuild off course. Now it’s a cold front pushing forward hoping it will be developing into something worth paying attention to. Until then, OKC might as well be a honeybee farting in a hurricane. These Thunder have no chance of being playoff tornadoes.
Okla-Home is Where The Heart Is Feel Good Film: Where the Red Fern Grows. Maybe something will bloom from the death of the Westbrook era. SGA and scraps though? Might as well though some more fertilizer (re: shit) at the wall and hope something grows from where it falls.