As the 2020-21 NBA year nears its halfway point, the league’s standings seem to be taking shape. Plenty of the expected competitors have clearly established themselves at the top as the season rounds into the All-Star break.
But as always, there’s a fair number of teams that have underperformed their preseason expectations. On Tuesday morning, NBA legend Magic Johnson decided to name some of the organizations that he’d been disappointed by in the earlygoing.
The former Lakers legend started out with the Celtics, pointing out their lack of size. Despite All-Star caliber seasons from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Boston has struggled to get consistent frontcourt production. Daniel Theis and Tristian Thompson haven’t been able to slow down the elite bigs in the Eastern Conference, which the Celtics will need when the postseason rolls around. Combined with Kemba Walker’s slow start after returning from a knee injury, Boston finds itself at 15-15, currently sixth in the East.
The biggest disappointments this season so far have been the Celtics, Mavericks, and the Bucks. The Celtics lack size, the Mavericks are not a great defensive team, and the Bucks are slow and unathletic.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) February 23, 2021
Johnson also named the Dallas Mavericks as a disappointment through their first 29 games. Luka Doncic and company have started out 14-15, which barely gets them into the play-in tournament in the Western Conference. The Mavericks have no problem scoring the basketball, but Johnson is among those that’s seen their struggles on defense. Dallas ranks 27th in ESPN’s defensive efficiency metric and has labored without a healthy Kristaps Porzingis.
Finally, Johnson listed the Milwaukee Bucks as his third underperforming team. After Giannis Antetokounmpo led the team to a historic No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last year, the Bucks have struggled to meet expectations with their new roster. Johnson went as far as to call Milwaukee “slow and unathletic.” Even still, the Bucks are 18-13, good enough for third in the conference.
Although all three teams have plenty of time to turn things around, each one needs to address the problems that Johnson named as soon as possible. If not, none of the organizations will be in a position to compete for a title later this summer.