The NBA just got underway last week, and with Kansas City in the midst of Royals-mania, many area sports fans may have missed some of the big NBA storylines leading up to the season. PNonline sports bloggers Samuel Keefe and Elijah Pittman have been following the league, though. Here are their predictions for how each team will end up this year. Look forward to teams 1-20 in the next few days.
21. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are a complete mess in so many ways. They have an overloaded frontcourt in Andre Drummond, Josh Smith, and Greg Monroe, and a point guard in Brandon Jennings whose mentality is to shoot first. They are strapped financially with Monroe’s and Smith’s huge contracts, preventing them from most trades without giving up some assets (which they don’t really have). The only bright side is they have one of the winningest coaches in Stan Van Gundy, who is basically running the team now. Expect some trades this year, or some sort of major move from this team, as well as some funny pictures of Van Gundy yelling at his players for doing stupid things.
22. Indiana Pacers
I just feel sorry for the Pacers. Paul George is a great player and a superstar in this league and our best wishes go out to him making a speedy recovery. He’s too fun to watch when he’s on the top of his game, and it’s a shame to see anyone get injured, especially the way he did. Besides that, there’s not much to say about the Pacers except they’re in for a struggle of a season. They lost Lance Stephenson to the Bobcats, and besides that, they didn’t really gain anyone new. The Pacers struggled at the end of last season, and the struggle may continue on until something changes in that organization. They could prove us wrong if Hibbert manages to carry this team. He definitely has the potential, but the last we saw of him he could barely score a point. Needless to say, the Pacers need to just toughen up and forget about this one.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves finally moved on from the Kevin Love era, which has been miserable to watch Love be so, well, miserable. They did get the first pick from this year’s draft, Andrew Wiggins, along with last year’s first pick, although he has been extremely underwhelming, in Anthony Bennett. The Timberwolves also drafted extremely athletic small forward from UCLA, Zach LaVine. While this team should be fun to watch on the highlight reels, they will, for lack of a better word, suck.
24. Sacramento Kings
BOOOOGIIIEEEEEE. Oh lord do we love Boogie Cousins. Boogie dominated this summer during the FIBA World Cup, basically winning the championship game for USA. But other than Boogie…this team is really rough. Losing Isiah Thompson is huge mistake by the Kings. Why? Because his replacement is none other than Darren Collison. Thompson was a guys who came on strong at the end of last year, averaging 20 points per game and they replaced him with a middle of the road bench player. Not a strong move for a team trying to climb out of the depths of the last place teams. The Kings had a fairly decent draft, selecting Nik Stauskas. While Stauskas can easily become a great player and could arguably come in right now and play solid minutes, this pick makes no sense. The Kings are in desperate need of a point guard and would have been better off drafting a player like Elfrid Payton. Especially since they spent their first round pick last year on another shooting guard in Ben McLemore.
25. Orlando Magic
The Magic may be the most exciting of all the worst teams in the league. With Victor Oladipo maturing and rookies Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon, this young team could be extremely exciting to watch. In free agency the Magic signed Ben Gordon, Channing Frye, and Luke Ridnour, while also trading for Evan Fournier. By getting these players, Orlando gained some serious veteran leadership on team whose majority of talent comes from its developing youth. Personally, I’m extremely big on both Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton. Payton has to most immediate pay off of the two, but with some work, Gordon could into a Blake Griffin type of player. Gordon has the explosiveness and athleticism to create some big plays and monster dunks. It’s going to be an exciting season for the Magic. They may not amount to much in terms of winning games, but it’s going to be fantastic to watch these young players perform.
26. Los Angeles Lakers
It’s a dark time for Lakers basketball. They’ve lost Los Angeles to the Clippers, and Pau Gasol went to Chicago in hopes of winning a title with Derrick Rose. Steve Nash has already been ruled out for the season And, with Mitch Kupchak refusing to tank, he signed Carlos Boozer and traded for Jeremy Lin, in an attempt to stay somewhat competitive with the league. However, on the bright side, Kobe Bryant looks to make his actual return to the NBA, and they were able to draft Julius Randle, who has potential to be an all star for Los Angeles. But, Los Angeles has a few dark years ahead of them.
27. Boston Celtics
The Celtics are going to be a rough team to watch for a few years, plain and simple. Danny Ainge has made it obvious that the team is going into a rebuilding process, one that won’t be finished for a while, but at least you can trust the Celtics to do it right. As time goes on, it’s becoming more and more clear that Boston will likely deal Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, or both. In the draft, the Celtics snagged Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart, a hit or miss player in our opinion. He’s got some big upside, but it might prove a challenge for Smart to produce offensively in this league. We’ll have to see how his game translates to the league. To go along with Smart, the Celtics selected James Young, a steal at the end of the first round. Young has a great shot and play some solid defense on a team still looking for a new identity. They managed to resign Avery Bradley, a quiet win for team who doesn’t see many wins these days. The Celtics have been making room financially and signing more role players in the hopes of landing a big free agent in the coming years. The Celtics are a ways away from being contenders again.
28. Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee doesn’t have much to look forward to this season, but the future is very bright. They drafted Jabari Parker, arguably the most NBA-ready player in the draft, and they have the steal of last year’s draft, 6’11” point guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, who plays as hard as his name is to pronounce. Giannis is a potential all-star simply due to his size at position new head coach Jason Kidd is playing him. It’ll be interesting to see this team grow in the coming years, but don’t expect anything huge this year.
29. Utah Jazz
It’s safe to say that after years of building and rebuilding, the Jazz should be looking at themselves and asking, “Are we accomplishing anything at all?”. For the past few years, the players they’ve drafted or signed haven’t necessarily done anything spectacular. In the draft, the Jazz added another point guard to their arsenal, drafting the Australian phenom Dante Exum. Aside from drafting Exum, not much else was done, except for the drafting of Rodney Hood. In free agency, the Jazz managed to match the Hornet’s offer of nearly 63 million dollars for Gordon Hayward. Hayward is a talented player who’s been able to lead this team for a while, but he’s not dominating enough to propel them into contention, or even a winning team. The Jazz also hired new coach Quin Snyder, former head coach in college and D League basketball. In normal years, they’d be number 30, but they have the Sixers to thank for being worse.
30. Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia continues to do what they do best, be absolutely awful. They continue to tank for draft picks, after getting Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel in last year’s draft. This year, they got Joel Embiid, the center from Kansas, with the third pick in the draft, who is expected to miss the entire season recovering from a back injury. So, although this will technically be Noel’s rookie season, not much will be going good for the 76er’s once again.