It’s been a busy summer for basketball with a number of players moving teams and the Summer League providing fantastic entertainment and giving us a slight preview for the upcoming season.
A number of teams have made significant changes to their rosters during this offseason through free agency and the draft - here are five teams who didn’t have a great season last year but could make a decent run at the playoffs this time round.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers had an okay campaign last season, finishing with a win percentage of .403 and not missing the playoffs by much.
However, they have had a very active offseason and have transformed in to a team being tipped to make the playoffs.
Portland have recruited a number of new faces to their roster to little expense. CJ McCollum and Alen Crabbe have been acquired in the draft and will provide good cover for the current guards and add a shooting threat off the bench.
The Trail Blazers were also in need of a center and have brought in Robin Lopez from New Orleans.
It’s unclear who will be the starting center for Portland this year between Lopez and Meyers Leonard but Lopez is a good signing and will be effective whether he is starting or coming off the bench.
The Blazers were really lacking cover for Damian Lillard last season and have also brought in Earl Watson and Mo Williams to give the Rookie of the Year more of a rest. Portland have also acquired cover for the forward positions with Thomas Robinson and Dorell Wright added to the roster.
The Blazers showed a lot of promise last year and if key players like Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge have another solid season then the players they have signed will help push them over the line and in to the playoffs.
Washington started last season in terrible fashion and there was real worry for the team. However, once point guard John Wall returned from injury, the ship was steadied and the Wizards ended the season well with the team particularly impressive at home.
It’s been a relatively quiet offseason for the Wizards but they were awarded the third pick in the draft and acquired small forward Otto Porter from Georgetown and he will offer a huge amount on offence for Washington.
The frontcourt of Wall and Bradley Beal is very talented and they have the potential to hurt other teams. However, they’re not great on defence and that could stop them going far in the playoffs but I definitely think this roster is capable of making the playoffs.
The Wizards are a team with bags of potential and I can see them being an entertaining team to watch this season.
Another thing to note is that the Wizards have a lot of free cap space so if they take a sensible approach to future free agencies they could become a championship contending team in the years to come.
The Pistons had a terrible season last year but like Washington, they are a team with a lot of potential. They have had a productive offseason and now look like a team who could make a push at the playoffs this season.
The Pistons finished the season with a win percentage of. 354 and it was evident changes were needed at the Palace. A new head coach and new signings make the Pistons look like a strong team for this year.
There weren’t many big name players available in this year’s free agency but Detroit managed to acquire two of them.
Firstly, Josh Smith joined from Atlanta and then Brandon Jennings from Milwaukee. These two players are extremely talented but sometimes fail to play to their full potential, therefore, these signings are a risk.
However, with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond at center and the re-signing of Chauncey Billups at the point, the Pistons have a very powerful team and if it works, they could be difficult to beat this season.
It’s difficult to predict what will happen for Detroit this year. It could be a success and the team could make the playoffs or it could go wrong and they could end up in a similar position to last season.
One thing’s for sure, this is a team who has the players to challenge for a playoff spot and possibly a title in the future, it’s just a matter of whether they can work together and produce the results.
The Cavs have had a tough time since the loss of LeBron James and they had another season to forget last year after they finished with one of the worst records in the league.
Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving was hit with injury problems and the team struggled without him. However, after a busy offseason, the Cavaliers look like a team ready to contend for playoff positions again.
The Cavs were awarded the number one pick in the draft lottery and decided to pick forward Anthony Bennett from UNLV.
The Cavs are desperately looking for strength on defence and they hope Bennett can provide that. Another player acquired to help out on defence is Andrew Bynum. The big man has gone through a difficult spell with injury but he’s ready to help the Cavs make a push towards the playoffs and he’s definitely a player who can impact the team.
Bynum was a solid center before his injury and Cleveland will be hoping he can replicate his performances which gave him such a reputation.
The Cavs have also added some players to come off the bench and do a job. Earl Clark has joined from the Lakers and will offer some defensive stability and Jarret Jack has been added from Golden State.
Jack is one of the best sixth men in the league and he will provide brilliant cover for Kyrie Irving. Cleveland have a very strong frontcourt of Irving and Dion Waiters and they could be difficult to contain this season.
The Cavaliers look like a transformed team and they should put up a strong fight for a playoff spot.
One cause for concern is the health of some of their key players like Irving and Bynum and if they have problems then Cleveland could have some problems but if they stay healthy then the Cavs should have a solid season.
New Orleans Pelicans
Last season was a bit of a nightmare for the Pelicans but New Orleans have a new team name and are looking like a new team altogether.
The Pelicans have made some great additions to their team and I really think they are a certainty for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The current Pelicans roster has a lot of potential and will be stronger this year. Anthony Davis didn’t have the rookie season he was looking for but this season he will be determined to make a bigger impression.
He will have new faces to help him do so and most notably Jrue Holiday has joined from Philadelphia. New Orleans drafted Nerlens Noel but decided to trade him for the point guard.
Holiday is an all star point guard and will head a dangerous offense for the Pelicans. Eric Gordon will continue at shooting guard and he is still looking for a breakout season.
Gordon will have the cover of Tyreke Evans who joined from Sacramento. The former Rookie of the Year will be a key player off the bench and surely has to be considered a good bet for sixth man of the year.
The Pelicans have also added Anthony Morrow, Jeff Withey and Greg Stiemsma to come off the bench to provide some depth in the roster. Morrow will add a shooting threat off the bench at the guard position, while Stiemsma and Withey will back up the Pelicans big men.
The Pelicans have transformed in to an impressive team with a ton of depth in their roster. If the team can gel and the bench players can make a desired impact then the Pelicans shoul be a goo shout to reach the playoffs.
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