The three toughest teams to predict ahead of the new season

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With the 2016-17 NBA season almost upon us, the usual predictions for the upcoming campaign are in full swing. 

The easiest thing to predict for everybody appears to be that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will make it to the finals for a third straight year. 

However, in the midst of all the previews for the new season, there are several teams who are more difficult to predict than others.

Here are the three most unpredictable franchises for the new term:

Washington Wizards

The Wizards have been an enigma for the last few years and it's no surprise that nobody seems to know how they will fare. 

They fired Randy Wittman and replaced him with former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks in the summer and with his playoff experience, he has every chance of guiding the team back to the postseason. 

In 2014, Washington almost made the Eastern Conference finals after giving the Indiana Pacers a tough series which they eventually lost in six games. 

Many expected this to be the start of something special in the nation's capital. After another defeat in the playoff semi-finals the following year, the Wizards didn't even make it to the postseason in the last campaign. 

They have one of the most talented backcourts in the league with John Wall and Bradley Beal, but their relationship has come into question after some interesting revelations from the pair in the summer. 

So which Wiz team will we see in the upcoming 82 games? Can Wall and Beal put their differences aside and become real contenders in the east? Can Beal finally stay healthy and fulfill his potential?

At this moment, these questions are up in the air which makes them unpredictable. But they've certainly got the talent to compete.

Chicago Bulls

You may think that a talented trio of Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo can use their undeniable skills and make the Bulls a force in the east, but basketball is not played on paper, unfortunately. 

Just how the three All-Stars, who all want to dominate the ball, will fare together is another mystery heading into the new campaign. 

The early signs in pre-season have been positive but the team lacks any depth on the bench and are short on wing players who can space the floor. 

Wade is 34 and has had his share of health problems in recent years and Rondo has been a disruptive influence at his two previous teams so who knows how he'll react if things go wrong.

The two new recruits have said the right things in the press, indicating that this is Butler's team and they are happy to play a supporting role. 

But if the Bulls go on a losing streak, will D.Wade be tempted to pull rank and take over or can they figure things out?

It could be a disaster waiting to happen or a resounding success. There won't be an in between. 

Atlanta Hawks

After losing Al Horford and Jeff Teague, this Hawks team may not be the same outfit we've seen under Mike Budenholzer in recent years. 

The duo fit their coach's style of play perfectly and were key parts of back-to-back winning seasons, including a conference finals berth in 2015.

After being swept by the Cavaliers two years running, the Hawks felt it was time for a change and traded Teague to the Pacers and decided to promote Denis Schroder to a starter.

Horford, who spent his entire nine-year career with Atlanta also decided to seek pastures new by joining the Boston Celtics in free agency. 

He was replaced by Dwight Howard who continued the league's popular theme of players returning to their hometown. Not a bad replacement in theory, but the big man is coming off one of his worst seasons with the Rockets. 

Will he be a seamless fit in ATL or is he on the decline? He has looked sharp in pre-season and will be playing with a chip on his shoulder but will Budenholzer have to alter his style to suit the three-time Defensive Player of the Year as he doesn't possess the low-post moves of Horford?

German point guard Schroder showed his skills against the Cavs by outperforming Teague, so his promotion could be a smart move by the Hawks. 

But it's impossible to tell if they'll continue their success of the last few years.

Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat
Southeast Division
Eastern Conference
Washington Wizards
Dwight Howard
Houston Rockets
Southwest Division
Western Conference
John Wall
Chicago Bulls
Central Division
Atlanta Hawks

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