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Teams With Higher Hopes in 2016-17

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Many NBA teams have been very inconsistent by going in and out of the postseason for these past several years. Just 4 seasons ago, it appeared that the New York Knicks were ready to play for the Eastern Conference championship, until they were taken down by the Pacers and have went nothing but downhill ever since by going 86-160 the past 3 seasons. The Brooklyn Nets went from a Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams led super team, to one of the biggest laughing stocks in the NBA after their departure.

After each team’s staff has done their job in the offseason making acquisitions, the ones that make the wrong moves will continue to suffer and hope for a high lottery pick; the ones that make the right moves will give the team, as well as the fans a lot higher expectations with the newly built team to succeed and finally get on the right track. We’ll see the teams that should have a lot to cheer about this season after all of their jeering last year.

Utah Jazz

Photo From Basketball fan piece

Photo From Basketball fan piece

Record in 2016-17: 40-42

The Utah Jazz have had a long journey since their last playoff appearance in 2012. Only 3 players from that roster remain, including Gordon Hayward who has found his identity in this league and is on pace to have another big year. Utah made some very under looked big moves this offseason by trading for 8 year veteran George Hill and also signing a huge bench presence in Boris Diaw. Although they didn’t sign or trade for some bigger names or any superstars, these moves will be crucial for their attempt at making the postseason. The Jazz finished one game short to slide into the 9th seed in the West and just miss the playoffs. This season should be a lot different, now that Hayward has evolved into an All-Star caliber player this season, along with a more experienced roster. Utah’s frontcourt will continue to do damage down low, with Derrick Favors (16.4 PPG) and premier shot blocker Rudy Gobert (2.2 BPG). Rodney Hood has also managed to find his role on this team and will be a huge scoring threat at the shooting guard position for this talented roster. The Western Conference will be less competitive with the Thunder no longer being a 50+ win team and the Houston Rockets giving no help to James Harden, the last 4 Western Conference playoff seeds could be up for grabs.

 

Projected Record in 2016-17: 48-34

 

Minnesota Timberwolves

Photo From Herald Online

Photo From Herald Online

Record in 2015-16: 29-53

We aren’t going to see a very new look from the Timberwolves this season, they’ve kept most of the players they’ve had for the past couple seasons; but that’s what is going to turn them into the team that’s finally taking a big leap this year. The Wolves have had tremendous young talent and continued to add more and more of it to their roster each season. By drafting Zach Lavine in the 2014 NBA Draft and acquiring the number 1 overall pick from the 2014 NBA Draft Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota was on track to become a dangerous team in years to come. It only added more fuel to the fire when they earned the number 1 pick in the 2015 Draft, only to select Karl-Anthony Towns. After having back to back Rookie of The Year award winners on their team, 2016 is the year that the Wolves are ready to be taken seriously. KAT has turned into the hero that Minnesota thought they were getting with 3x All-Star, Kevin Love. Towns has already became a top 3 Center in the league and is destined to become a superstar. Now that they’ve added Rookie Kris Dunn to the roster, it might be time to join the Timberwolves bandwagon before it’s too late.

 

Projected Record in 2016-17: 44-38

 

Milwaukee Bucks

Photo from Bball breakdown

Photo from Bball Breakdown

Record in 2015-16: 33-49

After the tragic loss of Khris Middleton (18.2 PPG) before the season had begun, many people had written off the Bucks. Middleton is a huge piece to this young and versatile roster, but his great supporting cast will be able to make up well for his loss. With Giannis Antetokounmpo running the point in his 3rd NBA season, after improving drastically in nearly every statistic each season; Antetokounmpo has shown he can run this offense exceptionally along with the guidance of legendary playmaker Jason Kidd as his coach. Drafting Thon Maker wasn’t a bad move either, as he brings more length and range to the roster. Their starting 5 has improved almost every year and now that Jabari Parker should be able to play a full NBA season, he’s going to be able to show much more of how promising of a player he is, especially with the absence of Khris Middleton. Now that all of their weapons have the chance to show they’re a legitimate team this season, along with young prospect Rashad Vaughn ready to blossom with enough touches this season, the Bucks can bring this young athletic team to the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

 

Projected Record in 2016-17: 46-36

 

New Orleans Pelicans

Photo from The Bird Writes

Photo from The Bird Writes

Record in 2016-17: 30-52

The Pelicans were a complete disaster in 2015, with all of their core players taking a lot of time off dealing with injuries; this last season may have given them the perfect chance to right their wrongs and build a decent, healthy team around star Anthony Davis. Now that Tyreke Evans is back in full affect, he will show why he and Davis are going to be a tough duo to deal with in the NBA this year. Evans will run the offense a lot as a point forward and be able to open the floor for the other offensive threats on the Pelicans. New Orleans is relieved to finally have Eric Gordon off of the team, as he had never meshed with the starting 5 very well. Their replacement for Gordon will pay off huge throughout the next couple seasons with Buddy Hield. Hield had no business being drafted outside of the top 3, but the Pelicans got a huge steal by getting the NBA ready rookie to be apart of their team. Lastly, with Jrue Holiday finally having a fully healthy season as a member of the Pelicans (knock on wood), this team will be more than ready to make a postseason run. With very few threats just 2 seasons ago, when New Orleans made the playoffs; they now have a lot of talent on this roster and assets on their bench with Norris Cole and Lance Stephenson. As long as the Pelicans remain healthy, Anthony Davis and co. will find their way back into the playoffs to finally give Davis another chance to shine in the postseason.

 

Projected Record in 2016-17: 49-33

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About Juwan M. Davis

Editor/Writer for NBALEAD. Born and raised in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Living in Los Angeles. Minnesota Timberwolves fan. Twitter: @JuwanMalikDavis

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