With the recent schedule release on August 12, 2015, everyone is more excited than ever for the season to finally start again. We all know there is a few teams trying to tank for a potential high draft pick in order to lead their team into the future. While a few are purposely tanking, a few others are just plain bad after bad offseasons. We will discuss, who we think will be the five worst teams next season.
Philadelphia 76ers: Let us get the obvious out of the way. As everyone knows, Philadelphia is on a five-year rebuilding plan, entering year three. Sometimes it seems like they are on a 10-year plan. Anyways, the last three drafts have been dedicated to drafting big men, which has created even more endless jokes for the franchise. A few days after drafting Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia received tragic news of Joel Embiid, their first round pick from the year before, now was scheduled to miss his second straight season due to his foot injury. Furthermore, with very few skilled guards –or skilled players at all– on their roster, and the development of their current big men, Philadelphia looks to be heading once again for a top five pick in next year’s draft. Philadelphia will be an easier team to watch this year though, as Okafor provides them with some exciting offensive presence down-low, as well as watching Nerlens Noel defend the rim, which should improve with Okafor in the fold. Philadelphia could look for a possible trade using either Noel, Okafor, or Embiid as a way to speed up their growth, and acquire a guard, but for now they seem content on what they have, and are in no hurry to make a rash decision. They have very few NBA-level guys; management is clearly not trying win anytime soon. Every move they make seems to set them back even more.
Portland Trailblazers: When you lose one of your top players, if not best to free agency, things are likely to be bad the next season. Portland, besides losing LaMarcus Aldridge and three other key starters from last season, had a good offseason, in which they were able to shed salary (Batum), avoid overpaying for a former player (Matthews), sign Lillard long-term, and then finally add youth and potential to their team. Acquiring Mason Plumlee, Noah Vonleh, Maurice Harkless, and Gerald Henderson, now allows for Portland to have a younger core, as well as a player to use in trade scenarios to acquire more drafts picks (Henderson). The signings of Ed Davis and Al-Farouq Aminu give Portland a wide variety of ways to set up their frontcourt creating mismatches for opposing teams. Both are extremely versatile, young, and have plenty of room to grow their games. Portland was then able to add rookies Cliff Alexander and Pat Connaughton. Even with this busy offseason, most of these players are unproven, or do not have the skill set needed to transform a franchise. Portland has a very deep team now, and with plenty of cap room to spend next summer they could easily become a contender again, but for this season, Portland will likely be picking in the top ten, therefore adding another potential star player to work with Lillard, and whoever they sign in free agency.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Minnesota will more than likely have a bad record next season, but they will be one of the most fun, intriguing teams out there. They are young, athletic, talented, and exciting. Look for Wiggins to explode, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Karl-Anthony Towns wins Rookie of the Year. Obviously, they are far from playoff contention, but in a couple of years they can be among the elite. Think Seattle/OKC. They are building through the draft just like Seattle did. They have their potential Kevin Durant in Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine has the potential to be a Russell Westbrook-type guard. They are slowly adding piece-by-piece and it’s starting to slowly come together. And with no expectation this year, look for them to have fun and produce jaw-dropping highlights. They will be one of the more enjoyable teams on League Pass this season.
Denver Nuggets: Denver had such a strange offseason. There were rumors of wanting to sell their team to begin the rebuilding process, but instead they held onto Faried, gave Gallinari a massive extension, which he will probably never live up too, and makes him almost untradeable, and finally they resigned Wilson Chandler to a long-term deal. None of these players are stars, just role players, and would have been put to better use as trade chips, instead of building blocks. Denver did get it right with trading away Ty Lawson, but the return for him will not change things in Denver. Ty Lawson was a head case and former head coach Brian Shaw could not keep a stable locker room. Now with the hiring of Mike Malone, another player’s coach, Denver should expect more stability and it should translate on to the court. Moreover, Denver does has a bright spot at point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay, and have Jusuf Nurkic and Gary Harris to develop, but with the state of their current roster, no one should expect much from Denver this season, and they should contend for a top three pick.
New York Knicks: I liked what New York did this offseason, and being in this boat of being a bad team again is not a punishment for not being able to sign a big free agent. New York is just a randomly built team that I think will struggle out of the gate while chemistry is formed. The lack of reliable depth is also a concern for New York, and could end up costing them a playoff spot. New York, with a trade or two could contend for a playoff spot, but with that spot a likely eighth seed, some may wonder why try so hard. The Knick’s do owe the Denver Nuggets their 2016 First Round Pick, so tanking is not a good option, therefore making the playoffs is the Knicks only way to see improvement over this past year’s performances. New York’s offseason moves are solid long-term moves, but it seems like Melo’s window is closing as he ages and his body is starting to breakdown. If healthy, and everything goes right, the Knicks may be able to sneak in. however, I do not believe it will come together this year. Maybe next year New York.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17
Edited By: Hamed Qashmar, @HamedQashmar