Now that the months of soap-opera style drama and intrigue are behind us, complete with trades between rivals, numerous social media wars, and even a face Twitter account, the real drama of the NBA season is finally upon us. So without further ado, here is a reminder of where each of the 30 teams finished up the last season, where they stand in terms of talent, and even another reason to watch your favorite team, as well as a reason to worry that the outcome may not be what you’re hoping for. A pocket-guide of sorts to your favorite team, and your most hated rivals. Because, as we all know, ball is life.
2016-2017 record: 43-39, 5th in East
Key Additions: Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee, Luke Babbitt
Key Subtractions: Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap, Tim Hardaway Jr.
Why you should watch: The rebuild is underway, and some pieces are already in place. PG Dennis Schroder was finally let out from under Jeff Teague’s shadow last season and performed well, to the tune of 18 pts and 6 assists per game. Young forward Taurean Prince showed flashes during the playoffs, and rookie center John Collins opened some eyes during summer league, and could be a starter on this team before long. Also, after shedding the contracts of Teague, Dwight Howard and Paul Millsap, the Hawks should have money to spend when the time is right.
Why you should worry: Again…the rebuild is underway…and there are nothing but unproven guys up and down the roster, including Schroder, who has yet to show he is a true team leader. There is definitely potential on this roster, but after a long run of playoff appearances, there are almost certainly some lean years and lottery picks in the near future for the Hawks.
Photo Source: SI.com
2016-2017 record: 53-29, 1st in East
Key Additions: Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris
Key Subtractions: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk
Why you should watch: There is no shortage of reasons to watch the Celtics this year, after having arguably the best offseason in the league. After landing Gordon Hayward in free agency, they followed that up with the blockbuster trade of team leader Isaiah Thomas for superstar guard Kyrie Irving. In the process, they solidified themselves as front-runners for another Eastern Conference finals date with Lebron and the Cavs, but with enough star power now to finally slay Goliath and represent the East in the NBA Finals. While none of these results are guaranteed, it will undoubtedly be an exciting season in Boston, at the very least.
Why you should worry: Last year’s Celtics, who finished 1st in the Conference, were known more for their cohesiveness and grit than for their overwhelming talent, and were largely seen as overachievers, even with Isaiah challenging for a scoring title at almost 29ppg. The key pieces on this year’s team are all new to the city, and new to one another. If Celtics fans should worry about anything, it would be the lack of continuity on a roster that performed very well last season. If they get off to too slow of a start, it could prove difficult to overtake the Cavaliers for the 1st seed in the East again.
2016-2017 record: 20-62, Last in East
Key Additions: D’Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Timofey Mozgov
Key Subtractions: Brooke Lopez, Randy Foye
Why you should watch: Let’s be honest, there won’t be too many reasons to tune into Nets basketball this season. But the #1 reason has to be to see if D’Angelo Russell can finally tap into his potential and become a player to build around. In addition to Russell, the Brooke Lopez era is finally over in Brooklyn, so Nets fans may get to see a more up-tempo style of play this season.
Why you should worry: Building talent through the draft is really the only way for this team to become promising enough to entice top-tier free agents to come to Brooklyn, even though the location is desirable. With the NBA balancing out the lottery odds this season, tanking is less of a sure thing than it has ever been, so the Nets will need some luck with the ping-pong balls if they hope to become a free agent destination in the near future.
2016-2017 record: 36-46, 11th in East
Key Additions: Dwight Howard, Malik Monk, Michael Carter-Williams
Key Subtractions: Marco Belinelli, Miles Plumlee
Why you should watch: Even after a disappointing 2016 season, the Hornets remain a solid, talented group, led by explosive PG Kemba Walker, and with solid contributions from multi-faceted wingmen Nicholas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. The future also looks bright after drafting Malik Monk to go alongside Walker in the backcourt, and adding Dwight Howard should shore up an already solid defensive unit. The Hornets certainly look ready to have a bounce back year in a largely unproven Eastern Conference that should have multiple playoff seeds up for grabs.
Why you should worry: The worry for the Hornets has always been if they have enough scoring punch to compete come playoff time, when baskets are hard to come by. Kemba is a talented scorer, but is undersized, and often ends up with a bad shot as his only option as the shot clock runs down. The X factor will be if the rookie Monk can prove himself to be a go-to type of scorer that can take some of the pressure off of Walker, and give their offense more scoring options in crunch time.
Photo Source: hoopshabit.com
2016-2017 record: 41-41, 8th in East
Key Additions: Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen
Key Subtractions: Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo
Why you should watch: After trading away franchise player Jimmy Butler, aging superstar Dwyane Wade, and enigmatic PG Rajon Rondo, the Bulls have clearly begun the youth movement. Guys like Bobby Portis, Jerian Grant, Markkanen, Dunn, and LaVine will get every opportunity to take the lead on a team that shed all of its leaders in the offseason. With that said, there is plenty of young talent on this team, and if all goes well, they could be a key acquisition or two away from being good again sooner rather than later.
Why you should worry: Any team built on young talent is also built on uncertainty. Dunn has yet to prove himself worthy of the high draft pick, and guys like LaVine and Grant are more likely to be complementary pieces than they are to be stars. Even with the substantial crop of young talent, the Bulls feel like a ship without a rudder, and will likely require an unlikely source to step up and guide the ship.
Photo Source: sbnation.com
2016-2017 record: 51-31, 2nd in East
Key Additions: Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose
Key Subtractions: Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, James Jones
Why you should watch: Lebron James. You should always watch when Lebron James is on your team. Beyond that, there is sure to be plenty of drama in Cleveland this year, with Lebron’s old buddy Dwyane Wade joining the cause, the seemingly ever-present tension within the Cavs locker room, the pressure for Lebron to bring another title to Cleveland, and Kyrie and the Celtics knocking on their door louder than ever. There is no shortage of reasons to watch in Cleveland this year.
Why you should worry: Many of the reasons to watch are also the reasons to worry. The Cavs locker room often reminds more of a high school campus than a professional basketball team, with the constant in-fighting and tension. The Celtics have more star power this year, and promise to be an even bigger challenge. Not to mention the team out West that may be the best basketball team ever assembled. Oh, and Lebron isn’t getting any younger. Did they do enough this offseason to get past the historic juggernaut that is the Golden State Warriors? Some might say they got worse, trading Irving for the smaller Isaiah Thomas, and adding another ball-dominant, aging superstar in Dwyane Wade. Some would say they improved. Only time will tell.
Photo Source: cbssports.com
2016-2017 record: 33-49, 11th in West
Key Additions: Dennis Smith, Jr., Josh McRoberts
Key Subtractions: DeAndre Liggins, AJ Hammons
Why you should watch: To watch one sun set, and another hopefully rise. The Mavericks probably won’t be very good again this year, but they’re still home to one of the great players of this era in Nowitzki, and Mavs fans should soak in every last beautifully arching shot he has left in his career. On the other end of the spectrum, Dennis Smith, Jr has shown his immense talent in the preseason, and is currently their best option for a bright future.
Why you should worry: With Dirk clearly in the middle of his swan song, much of the Mavs hopes rest on Smith, and his extended injury history. He has already battled ankle issues during this year’s preseason, and promises to be a risky proposition as someone to build your future upon, despite the immense talent. The Mavs will need to draft some reinforcements in coming years in order to have any hope of a quick rebuild, but with Dirk still in the fold, will likely not quite be bad enough to land a Top 5 pick. Dallas may find themselves in that dreaded NBA purgatory until Nowitzki finally decides to hang them up.
Photo Source: nugglove.com
2016-2017 record: 40-42, 9th in West
Key Additions: Paul Millsap
Key Subtractions: Danilo Gallinari, Roy Hibbert
Why you should watch: Despite having a roster relatively thin on talent, the team from the mile high city proved themselves contenders in the stacked Western Conference last year, only narrowly missing a playoff seed due to a lackluster finish to the season. This year, the Nuggets have added a bona fide star presence with the free agent signing of Paul Millsap from the Hawks. He will undoubtedly add a tough veteran presence to the likes of Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler.
Why you should worry: While Millsap sets up to be the current franchise player, make no mistake, Mudiay is supposed to be the future. While he shows flashes of dazzling court vision and explosive slashing ability, the lack of consistency and a reliable outside jumper should make Nuggets fans a little bit nervous for their long-term future.
Photo Source: nba.com
2016-2017 record: 37-45, 10th in East
Key Additions: Avery Bradley
Key Subtractions: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris
Why you should watch: The Pistons have some very raw, young talent with room to develop. Explosive PG Reggie Jackson is coming off of a sub par season that he is primed to bounce back from, Tobias Harris remains one of the league’s most underrated players, and former 1st round pick Stanley Johnson has yet to find his stride in the league, but also possesses a lot of talent. And if nothing else, this unit should be able to defend almost anyone, with Johnson and newcomer Avery Bradley two of the league’s more pesky defenders, and rebounding monster Andre Drummond manning the middle.
Why you should worry: Consistent scoring will be a challenge for this team all season long. While Jackson is probably their most talented scorer, he also isn’t terribly efficient, which makes them prone to scoring droughts, especially when the opposing team goes hack-a-Drummond and his 38 ft%, scoring becomes particularly difficult to come by. The team also isn’t very deep, especially with the loss of Caldwell-Pope, and one of the Morris twins, your guess is as good as mine. Let’s face it, do we REALLY know it’s Marcus?
Photo Source: opencourt-basketball.com
Golden State Warriors
2016-2017 record: 67-15, 1st in West
Key Additions: Nick Young, Omri Casspi
Key Subtractions: Matt Barnes, Ian Clark
Why you should watch: Why wouldn’t you watch? This is likely the most talented basketball team on planet Earth, and likely every other planet, unless we can find out where the Monstars currently live.
Why you should worry: Injuries would be the only worry that could possibly de-rail this freight train. Even then, it would likely take season ending injuries to both Durant AND Curry to seriously cripple their championship hopes. Basically, as long as the entire team doesn’t try to go skydiving together without parachutes, the reasons to worry this season should be slim to none. Sit back and enjoy the show, Dubs fans. Many trophies await.
Photo Source: rockets.clutchfans.net
2016-2017 record: 55-27, 3rd in West
Key Additions: Chris Paul, PJ Tucker, Luc Mbah a Moute
Key Subtractions: Patrick Beverly, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams
Why you should watch: The Rockets are good. They shoot a TON of threes. They don’t play much defense. All that makes for an entertaining viewing experience, and now they’ve added CP3 to the mix to take some of the pressure off of James Harden, who was again among the leaders in usage rate last year. The Rockets should be near the top of the West again this season, and at very least will make a deep playoff run that will be fun to watch.
Why you should worry: Taking the ball out of Harden’s hands may very well be a devil in disguise for the Rockets. While Paul is obviously a great addition to any team, and a future Hall of Fame PG, Harden thrives with his one-on-one style, slashing and drawing fouls. With Paul as likely the main ball handler bringing the ball up the floor on most plays, Harden will likely have to learn to play off the ball a bit more, which could take him away from the style of play that has made him so successful, and make him less effective overall.
Photo Source: en.hispanosnba.com
2016-2017 record: 42-40, 7th in East
Key Additions: Victor Oladipo, TJ Leaf, Cory Joseph
Key Subtractions: Paul George, Monta Ellis, Jeff Teague, CJ Miles
Why you should watch: Losing a Top 10 player always signals one thing – rebuild. After also letting go of Monta Ellis, Jeff Teague, and CJ Miles in addition to Paul George, the Pacers have clearly joined the ranks of the teams going with the youth movement for the upcoming season. Pacer fans should keep a close eye on 1st round pick TJ Leaf, as well as young forward Myles Turner as key pieces to build around, as well as being hopeful for the continued development of Victor Oladipo, a talented player who has yet to reach his potential in the league.
Why you should worry: A team that has had a long run of playoff appearances is about to embark on a dry spell, and head coach Nate McMillan will have to guide a crop of raw young talent toward the hope of a bright future, which is always a risky proposition for a team without a star player in such a top-heavy, star driven league. To make things worse, they lost George in a lopsided trade with OKC that could set the franchise back several years. Settle in, Pacers fans. This could be a long rebuild.
Photo Source: grizzlybearblues.com
Los Angeles Clippers
2016-2017 record: 51-31, 4th in West
Key Additions: Patrick Beverly, Danilo Gallinari, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams
Key Subtractions: Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford
Why you should watch: After the shocking departure of Chris Paul to Houston, the short answer to why you should watch the Clippers is to see for yourself if Blake Griffin can take the next step in his NBA Superstar journey, and prove that he can carry a team without the constant lobs from Chris Paul.
Why you should worry: Counting on Griffin to be your sole star player in a stacked Western Conference seems like an uphill battle, and after giving lucrative deals to Griffin and Deandre Jordan in consecutive years, the Clippers may not have the cap space to be a championship contender in the near future.
Photo Source: lakeshowlife.com
Los Angeles Lakers
2016-2017 record: 26-56, 14th in West
Key Additions: Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brook Lopez, Andrew Bogut
Key Subtractions: D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov, Nick Young, Metta World Peace
Why you should watch: The Russell era has ended almost before it began, the Ball era has begun, and the Lakers have become interesting again. While they will likely not be very good again this year, they certainly have some immensely talented young talented on the squad, led by Ball and Brandon Ingram, and a solid group of veterans in Luol Deng, Lopez and Bogut. To add even more intrigue to this season, Kyle Kuzma has come out of nowhere and burst onto the scene in the preseason, to give Los Angeles yet another young talent to hope upon for what seems to be a very bright future under the bright lights of L.A.
Why you should worry: As with any other super young, rebuilding team, inconsistency and frustration will likely be a theme throughout this coming season. Especially under the weight of the history and expectations of one of the most storied franchises in the sport. The young bucks will have to have broad shoulders to carry the weight of this team, and only time will tell if they are able to handle it.
Photo Source: nba.com
2016-2017 record: 43-39, 7th in West
Key Additions: Tyreke Evans, Mario Chalmers, Ben McLemore
Key Subtractions: Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Vince Carter
Why you should care: The Grizzlies always seem to be just on the cusp of success, but rarely ever get to actually taste it. Ravaged by injuries last season, but with a still talented core of Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Chandler Parsons, and up-and-coming head coach David Fizdale, the Grizz promise to be competitive again this year if they can remain healthy.
Why you should worry: Two of the cornerstones of the current era of Grizzlies basketball departed this offseason, in Zach Randolph and Tony Allen. Likely no other Grizzlies better embodied the experience of coming into the “Grind House” more than those two. As they were not replaced with anyone of note, Grizzlies fans will have to rely much more heavily on Gasol and Conley this season, which could prove difficult in the top-heavy Western Conference. A complete rebuild may be in the cards for the Grizzlies soon if nobody new emerges from their roster this season, especially with the Warriors not looking like they will vacate their throne anytime soon, the Grizzlies window may very well be closed.
Photo Source: allyoucanheat.com
2016-2017 record: 41-41, 9th in East
Key Additions: Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo
Key Subtractions: Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Luke Babbitt
Why you should watch: To find out if they are the 30-11 team from the second half of last season, the 11-30 team from the first half, or something in between. The Heat brought back almost all of their key pieces from that impressive run last year, added Olynyk to bolster the front court, and took a flyer on uber-athletic forward Bam Adebayo out of Kentucky in this year’s draft. The Heat will be relying heavily on their continuity, employing an unselfish, ball-movement style of play on a team with a lot of talent, but without a true superstar. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside are the most recognizable names on the post Big 3-era Heat, but Dion Waiters, James Johnson and Tyler Johnson all produced breakout seasons last year for the team from South Beach. Erik Spoelstra employs a positionless style of play that promises to be up-tempo, and highlights the versatility of the talent on their roster.
Why you should worry: This league is about stars, and they don’t have one. Also, were some of these breakout seasons, such as with Waiters and Johnson, just a one year fluke? If so, this roster could set up to be a disaster for this upcoming season and into the future, as much of the core were signed to four year contracts this offseason. There is certainly reason for optimism in Miami, but also reason for some significant doubt for the future of the franchise, as they have almost no cap flexibility to sign big name free agents in the near future.
Photo Source: behindthebuckspass.com
2016-2017 record: 42-40, 6th in East
Key Additions: Brandon Rush, Gerald Green
Key Subtractions: Michael Beasley, Spencer Hawes
Why you should watch: The Bucks are a young, athletic, talented team that finally made the leap last season to serious East contender. Giannis Antetokounpo spent last season becoming comfortable with being the primary ball handler, and is poised to solidify himself as one of the top 5 talents in the game. That alone will give Bucks fans plenty to watch this upcoming season. In addition, a full season from Kris Middleton, and another step forward from rookie phenom Malcolm Brogdon will go a long way toward the Bucks taking even another step forward.
Why you should worry: Health and inconsistency will be the only things to slow Milwaukee down this season. Middleton was sorely missed when he went down last year, and oft-injured Jabari Parker provides some athleticism to a front court that also includes man-child Greg Monroe, and also Thon Maker. For all the talent this team possesses, they are also relatively thin at key positions, and injuries in key places could easily de-rail their season, especially if the Greek Freak misses any significant amount of time.
Photo Source: dunkingwithwolves.com
2016-2017 record: 31-51, 13th in West
Key Additions: Jimmy Butler, Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson
Key Subtractions: Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn
Why you should watch: In Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the Wolves already have one of the most impressive young duos in the NBA, and they just added a bona fide star to the mix in Jimmy Butler. Wiggins was just rewarded with a lucrative extension, as they have gone all in on this core and the possibilities it could bring. And make no mistake, they will be fun to watch this year, and they added even more scoring punch during the offseason with perennial 6th man candidate Jamal Crawford, and Hawks cast-off Jeff Teague. There will be no question they’ll be able to score, and Butler also brings a defensive toughness that has not been present. Towns and Wiggins will also need to prove themselves to be more defensive minded as well, if Minnesota is expected to contend this year.
Why you should worry: Besides the aforementioned defensive questions, the Wolves have also bought themselves a new dilemma this season. Towns, Wiggins, Butler, Crawford, and Teague all need to dominate the ball to be at their most effective, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone left to get it to them consistently. Ricky Rubio departed to Utah, and was not replaced with a pure point guard, as Teague is more of a scoring guard. Rubio was the glue that held their offense together, and the worry would be that there will be too many times where the offense falls apart without it.
Photo Source: pelicandebrief.com
New Orleans Pelicans
2016-2017 record: 34-48, 10th in West
Key Additions: Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen
Key Subtractions: Donatas Montiejunas, Quincy Pondexter
Why you should watch: In a surprising turn late last season, the Pelicans now have arguably 2 of the top 10 players in the NBA on their team. In Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, they also likely have the most dominant front court in the league. They have also bolstered the backcourt this offseason, adding Rondo and Tony Allen to a unit that already includes Jrue Holiday. Granted, those 3 players probably combine to create the ideal point guard, with Holiday’s scoring ability, Rondo’s court vision, and Allen’s defensive toughness. But hey, at least Davis and Cousins are fun to watch, right Pelicans fans?
Why you should worry: As was hinted above, they are really, really thin beyond their top 2, as both Cousins and Davis have been haunted by their entire combined careers thus far, and now get to suffer that particular injustice while on the same team. There is very little scoring beyond their top 3, and even less outside shooting, Odds are one of their forwards will lead their team in 3 point makes this year, and that is definitely a bad thing in today’s NBA.
Photo Source: bleacherreport.com
New York Knicks
2016-2017 record: 31-51, 12th in East
Key Additions: Tim Hardaway Jr, Enes Kanter, Jarrett Jack, Michael Beasley
Key Subtractions: Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose
Why you should watch: Honestly, this section could easily be left blank, as there promises to be very little positive happening with the Knicks this season. The Carmelo era has finally come to an end in New York, and presumably the Porzingis era has begun. Kristaps is undoubtedly an outstanding talent who will finally get the freedom to jack up as many shots as he can handle. Just don’t expect him to be aware of anything that was covered during his exit meeting last year.
Why you should worry: For all the credit the sports media gives New York as a place everyone wants to play, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore in the modern NBA. Guys now create their own fame through social media, and this shift in culture has probably hurt the Knicks more than anyone. Not to say that a top free agent wouldn’t play there, but the Knicks will have to begin this rebuilding process through the draft, until they have stockpiled enough young talent to entice potential free agents, similar to what the TWolves and Sixers have done. And they have shown precious little ability to do this in recent history.
Photo Source: thunderousintentions.com
Oklahoma City Thunder
2016-2017 record: 47-35, 6th in West
Key Additions: Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Patterson
Key Subtractions: Victor Oladipo, Enes Kanter, Taj Gibson
Why you should watch: Because if you blink, you might miss a spectacular play made by Russell Westbrook. Russ single-handedly kept the Thunder competitive last year, with Enes Kanter and Oladipo as his most capable companions. Those two have now been replaced by Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. The team has taken a clear leap forward in talent this year, and it should make for a fun season in OKC.
Why you should worry: Because the game can only be played with one basketball at a time. Honestly, this is an issue. The Thunder’s new big 3 combined for 4,678 field goal attempts last year. For comparison, the entire Utah Jazz team only put up around 6,500. Something has to give, and it isn’t likely to be Russ. This leaves Carmelo as the clear 3rd scoring option, which could render him a liability out there, given his defensive woes and lack of consistent rebounding.
Photo Source: nba.com
2016-2017 record: 29-53, 13th in East
Key Additions: Aaron Afflalo, Marreese Speights
Key Subtractions: Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks, CJ Watson
Why you should watch: Even with one of the worst records in the league last year, the Magic proved themselves tough and talented, with emerging years from Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon. Scoring isn’t likely to be an issue for Orlando, with Terrance Ross, Mario Hezonja, Nikola Vucevic and Elfrid Payton also providing plenty of scoring punch. The only issue there is that none of those guys who were just mentioned do very much in the way of guarding anyone. With that said, this year will likely be another showcase to show the league what they have so they can try to get into one of the big upcoming free agent classes.
Why you should worry: Aside from their lackluster defense, ranked 22nd in the NBA last season, with so much raw talent and the lack of a proven star, the offense can also stall at times, with also resulted in the 27th ranked offense, despite no shortage of individual talent. Orlando sorely needs a star, and none of those seem to be banging down the doors, fighting to join their cause.
Photo Source: section215.com
2016-2017 record: 28-54, 14th in East
Key Additions: Markelle Fultz, James McAdoo, JJ Redick, Amir Johnson
Key Subtractions: Gerald Henderson, Tiago Splitter, Sergio Rodriguez
Why you should watch: Don’t let the record fool you, the 76ers are one of the most talented teams in the NBA. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid can both do things that players their size simply shouldn’t be able to do. Fultz will be given time to develop, but is also immensely talented. Dario Saric is also someone to keep an eye on, and they added outside shooting punch and a proven veteran presence this offseason in JJ Redick. Whether their overall record reflects their talent again this year is doubtful, but look for this season to be the one where “The Process” finally begins to bear its fruits.
Why you should worry: Injuries. Injuries. And more injuries. If Embiid and Simmons can’t prove that they can withstand an entire NBA season, then look for this season to be another disaster, ending with another lottery pick in Philadelphia.
Photo Source: talkingstickresortarena.com
2016-2017 record: 24-58, Last in West
Key Additions: Josh Jackson
Key Subtractions: Leandro Barbosa
Why you should watch: Devin Booker showed flashes of stardom last season, Josh Jackson is explosively talented, with a jump shot that doesn’t seem to be as close to broken as it was rumored to be before the draft. They were also able to retain proven scorer Eric Bledsoe. This version of the Suns, which also includes Marquese Chriss and the talented Brandon Knight, should prove just as fun to watch as they are young and green. Don’t expect it to translate to overall record this season, as another lottery pick is certainly in their future, but Phoenix seems to be headed in the right direction under the guidance of up and coming head coach Earl Watson.
Why you should worry: There shouldn’t really be much reason for worry in Phoenix this season, as there are no real expectations for team success. This year is all about the young players taking another step forward and proving they can be consistent NBA players in the future.
Photo Source: oregonlive.com
Portland Trail Blazers
2016-2017 record: 41-41, 8th in West
Key Additions: Zach Collins, Anthony Morrow, Archie Goodwin
Key Subtractions: Allen Crabbe, Festus Ezeli
Why you should watch: The Blazers always seem to be just on the fringe of real contention, with one of the most productive backcourt duos in the league in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who averaged a combined 40ppg last season. With those two in the mix, it promises to be another competitive season in Portland.
Why you should worry: While the Blazers always seem to remain competitive, they are also never in a position to add any real talent, as they are already paying Lillard and McCollum, and never end up being able to add star level talent through the draft. They are also never quite good enough to be in true championship contention. Blazers fans should worry that the stellar career of Lillard will be wasted as a perennial 8th seed, without ever getting him any real help to put them over the edge.
Photo Source: barstoolsports.com
2016-2017 record: 32-50, 12th in West
Key Additions: De’Aaron Fox, Harry Giles, Zach Randolph, Justin Jackson
Key Subtractions: Rudy Gay, Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Tyreke Evans, Darren Collison
Why you should watch: Fox, Giles, and Jackson all have the chance to be outstanding NBA players, and that’s with everybody forgetting about Buddy Hield, who might be the best of the bunch. After shipping Boogie Cousins to New Orleans last season, the runway has been completely cleared for the youth movement to begin in Sacramento.
Why you should worry: With both Fox and Giles being willing passers, this sets up Hield as their main option for scoring, and he has yet to prove himself as a consistent NBA scorer. As much fun as it will be to watch at times, there are going to be some rough stretches in Sacramento next year, so Kings fans should brace for another season in the cellar, because I’m not sure the light at the end of the tunnel is quite visible just yet.
Photo Source: sbnation.com
San Antonio Spurs
2016-2017 record: 61-21, 2nd in West
Key Additions: Rudy Gay
Key Subtractions: David Lee, Dewayne Dedmon
Why you should watch: Another year, another deep playoff run for the most consistent team this side of the Patriots. Led by all-around quiet superstar Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs promise to be a force in the West yet again this season.
Why you should worry: Aside from Leonard, the core of Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Gasol is another year older, and even LeMarcus Aldridge didn’t consistently show the ability to be a reliable 2nd options. The window has seemingly been closing on the Spurs for a few years now, but with the Warriors massive road block in front of them, they may want to think about re-tooling before they look up and find that Kawhi’s prime is passing them by.
Photo Source: nba.com
2016-2017 record: 51-31, 3rd in East
Key Additions: OG Anunoby, CJ Miles
Key Subtractions: Demarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, Patrick Patterson, PJ Tucker
Why you should watch: Despite pundits lack of faith in the Raptors seemingly every year, they still seem to find themselves near the top of the East just as often. Given a healthy season from the explosive backcourt of Lowry and Derozan, there’s no reason to think the same won’t hold true again this season.
Why you should worry: This seems to be a team built for the regular season, as they never seem to have quite enough to get over the hump come playoff time. And they seem to lose another key piece every year, whether its Demarre Carroll, Terrance Ross, or PJ Tucker. If you like early playoff exits, then this is the team for you, because without any significant additions this offseason, it looks to be more of the same for the team from Canada.
Photo Source: hoopshabit.com
2016-2017 record: 51-31, 5th in West
Key Additions: Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha
Key Subtractions: Gordon Hayward, George Hill, Boris Diaw
Why you should watch: One of the NBA’s best defensive teams just got better defensively, adding one of the NBA’s most underrated defenders in Rubio. Fans should watch to see if rising star Gobert can take another step offensively to boost a unit that struggled at times last year, and will struggle even more with the departure of star wing player Gordon Hayward.
Why you should worry: The loss of Hayward may prove too much to handle for a team already thin in terms of scoring. Their defense will keep them in most games, but who will get the tough buckets come playoff time? Rubio has not shown that he can shoot consistently, and returning guards Alec Burks and Dante Exum have yet to prove themselves.
Photo Source: bulletsforever.com
2016-2017 record: 49-33, 4th in East
Key Additions: Jodie Meeks
Key Subtractions: Trey Burke, Brandon Jennings
Why you should watch: Plain and simple, John Wall and Bradley Beal are one of the most explosive guard combos in the league. Surrounded by shooting in Meeks, Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre, and a solid front court in Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris, and Ian Mahinmi, the Wizards are deep and talented. Fans should expect another high seed and deep playoff run this season.
Why you should worry: Beal can’t seem to stay healthy a full season, and Wall may not be a consistent enough shooter to carry a playoff team. He will need the entire roster to contribute at a high level if they want to make a finals fun this season, which is something they have yet to prove to be able to do consistently.