Under-the-Radar NBA Teams That Could Make the Playoffs
With the majority of the offseason already complete, we now sit in limbo for the next 2 months awaiting the start of training camp and eventually the regular season.
So far many teams have drastically improved their roster, adding key pieces that will not only fortify their weaknesses but also help increase their odds of competing for postseason play.
But what franchises aren’t getting the proper attention they deserve? We already know the Cavaliers and Bulls fared well this summer, but which teams also acquired enough talent to vault themselves into playoff contention?
New Orleans Pelicans
Injuries plagued the Pelicans for almost the entire season, causing their star studded core of Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis to miss a total of… wait for it… 151 games!!!!
The chances of the injury bug passing over New Orleans like that again seems pretty unlikely, so assuming that their roster can stay fully intact, their odds of having a better record this season already goes up.
Another reason you have to like the Pelicans is due to the recent acquisition of big man Omer Asik.
One of the biggest issues this team had last season was their lackluster interior defense, allowing a 12th worst 43.8 points in the paint as well as a 5th worst 18.6 field goals from less than 5 feet.
With Omer Asik and Anthony Davis working together in the frontcourt, their defense inside should improve dramatically and more importantly allow these two to blossom into one of the most fearsome big men tandems in the entire league.
The Nuggets may not possess a superstar player on their roster, but they do have something else.
No, not Boston Celtics-like depth (too many good players with little minutes to divide), but quality depth that allows this team to thrive throughout the game at nearly every position.
PG: Lawson, Robinson
SG: Afflalo, Foye, Harris
SF: Gallinari, Chandler, Miller
PF: Faried, Hickson, Arthur
C: McGee, Mozgov, Nurkic
Of course having a deep roster won’t necessarily guarantee a ticket to the playoffs, but like the Pelicans, this team struggled mightily with injuries, as only four players appeared in more than 70 games last season.
If the Nuggets can stay relatively healthy and receive quality production from Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee (two key players that have been out for what seems like forever), you have to like their chances of getting back into the postseason, as they’re too talented not to at least contend for a lower seed.
New York Knicks
I have to admit, this prediction is a long shot.
On one hand you feel like this team could be destined for an even worse season, after trading a valuable rim protector in Tyson Chandler for a few okay but not great players in Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalambert and Shane Larkin.
But there’s also reason to believe they’ll do quite the opposite, as they acquired a highly underrated center in Jason Smith, rookie Cleanthony Early and of course their beloved superstar Carmelo Anthony.
The key to their success is how Derek Fisher adapts to running this team from the sidelines and how bad the Eastern Conference standings are this year, but for some reason, I’m feeling Phil will use some of his ‘guru magic’ to get this team into the 8th or 7th seed.
Agree or disagree? Hit me up on Twitter @fieldhoops and lets talk sports!