Ranking Odds for Every NBA Lottery Team to Make Playoffs Next Season

Ben ShapiroAnalyst IIIApril 27, 2012

Ranking Odds for Every NBA Lottery Team to Make Playoffs Next Season

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    As of Friday, we know who the 16 NBA playoff teams are. We know who the 14 lottery teams are as well.

    It's pretty simple: You're either "in" or you're "out," and the teams listed in this column are officially "out."

    Can they get back "in" though? What's the path back to postseason play, and how likely are they to get there?

    It's too late for this season, but next season isn't that far off. Can any of this year's lottery teams become next year's playoff teams?

Charlotte Bobcats: Odds 100-1

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    Charlotte Bobcats 2011-2012 Record: 7-59

    Odds of 100-1 are long odds to be sure, but then again this team is one of the worst teams ever assembled. Even if you were to give the Bobcats the benefit of the doubt and hand them the No. 1 overall pick in this June's draft, they've got a long way to go. They could win 30 more games next season and still miss the playoffs.

    Anthony Davis does look like an impact defensive player who'll help Charlotte if it gets him. The Bobcats will be better next season. It just seems like a long shot that they'll improve enough to play in the postseason.

New Orleans Hornets: Odds 25-1

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    New Orleans Hornets 2011-2012 Record: 21-45

    While some teams like Charlotte have nowhere to go but up, teams like the Hornets are in a more tenuous spot.

    The Hornets could potentially be worse in 2012-2013 than they were this season. It would take a number of things not breaking their way. It seems more likely that New Orleans will be better but only a little better.

    The big question is whether or not the team is able to retain Eric Gordon or even if it will bother trying. Gordon was one of the keys to the Chris Paul trade, and he missed nearly all of this season. He's a free agent this summer as a result of New Orleans failing to come to terms on a long-term contract extension.

    If Gordon were to depart, the cupboard would be pretty bare in New Orleans. While having cap money is nice, a team still has to find players willing to play on a team with only a slim chance of success in the near future.

    That challenge will prove too formidable for New Orleans to think about a postseason trip next year.

Washington Wizards: Odds 17.5-1

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    Washington Wizards 2011-2012 Record: 20-46

    In spite of another awful season, the Wizards finished with reasons for optimism going forward. The 17.5-1 odds are long, but a few months back the odds would have been even longer. The team made some trades that could yield positive results next season.

    Moving JaVale McGee helped open up playing time for Kevin Seraphin, who responded by playing quite well down the stretch. A healthy Nene will also yield positive results, and of course John Wall is still very young but very talented as well. 

    Add in another high lottery pick, and the Wizards may start to move up in the standings next year. The playoffs may be a stretch, but they're headed in the right direction.

Portland Trail Blazers: Odds 15-1

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    Portland Trail Blazers: 2011-2012 Record 28-38

    The Portland Trail Blazers are coming off a season they'd just rather forget. Nate McMillan was a disaster as a head coach. Raymond Felton had an off season at the point guard position.

    The franchise lost Brandon Roy to an early retirement as a result of chronic knee problems, and Greg Oden, the former No. 1 overall pick, was released without ever having played anywhere near his lofty potential.

    The Blazers have lots of cap space, but they also have lots of needs. With a rabid fanbase and two players in Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge to build around, Portland will be back in the postseason soon, but probably not next year.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Odds 12.5-1

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    Cleveland Cavaliers 2011-2012 Record: 21-45 

    Cleveland has Kyrie Irving, but after that the path back to the postseason gets a bit muddled. Cleveland, like New Orleans, will have cap space, but it's not exactly a team that is going to be able to sell a free agent on postseason glory in the immediate future.

    All great teams need role players and hard-working players, but if that's all your team has, that's not going to get a team into the playoffs. The Cavaliers are going to have to hope that second-year forward Tristan Thompson improves dramatically, and even if that happens, it might not be enough to get them back to the playoffs.

Toronto Raptors: Odds 12-1

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    Toronto Raptors 2011-2012 Record: 23-43

    Toronto will once again have a fairly high draft pick. If the Raptors were to actually score a player who has an immediate and positive impact, then they could be a real threat next season.

    Toronto has some money to spend. It's also a very nice city. It has never been a major draw for free agents, but if the team can add one decent player to the mix of Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and a lottery pick, then it might be a team that competes in most games.

    It wasn't that long ago that the mere addition of Chris Bosh had the Raptors making the playoffs. Bosh is not easy to replace, as evidenced by the Raptors' struggles since his departure, but he's not impossible to replace either.

    Of course, the Raptors have a ways to go. They only won 23 games in this shortened season. It will probably take about 17 to 20 more wins over the course of a full season to make the playoffs, and that's over an additional 16 games.

Sacramento Kings: Odds 10-1

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    Sacramento Kings 2011-2012 Record: 22-44

    The Kings might not know exactly where they will be playing next season, but it's likely that they're going to be a better basketball team regardless of where it is.

    This is a team that had several players step up their individual games this year. DeMarcus Cousins may have had issues with maturity off the court, but his on-court game was great this year. Isaiah Thomas emerged as a viable point guard in spite of being chosen low in the second round of last year's draft.

    Marcus Thornton played well at shooting guard, and the team will once again enter the draft lottery with a shot at acquiring yet another talented player to add to the mix.

    The Kings play in a deep Western Conference, but there's enough talent on this team to make a push to a playoff berth next year. Will they make it?

    They might, but it's going to be a real challenge.

New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets: Odds 10-1

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    New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets 2011-2012 Record: 22-44

    To properly assess the destiny of the 2012-2013 Nets, one must first determine the whereabouts of one Deron Williams.

    The All-Star point guard is a free agent, as are forwards Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries. If all these talented players return to the Nets along with MarShon Brooks and they can luck out in the draft lottery with a top-three pick, then the Nets could have a pretty good first season in Brooklyn.

    That's a lot of "what-ifs" though. If the free agents leave, then the team will have a ton of cap space, but they'll also be nearly starting from scratch.

    The above listed 10-1 odds are sort of splitting the difference. If everything breaks their way this summer, they could really make a serious run at postseason play. If things break the other way, those odds could shoot up to 20-1 or higher.

Detroit Pistons: Odds 10-1

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    Detroit Pistons 2011-2012 Record: 25-41

    The Pistons as currently comprised aren't awful. They're not good enough though. The real question is how much better can they get this offseason?

    The unfortunate answer is that this might be an offseason without enough major events for the Pistons. The team has limited cap space and is unlikely to score a very high draft pick.

    They're not bad, but they might not get all that much better this summer, which makes a trip to the postseason next year a bit of a stretch.

Milwaukee Bucks: Odds 4-1

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    Milwaukee Bucks 2011-2012 Record: 31-35

    Milwaukee is yet another team that has been and is undergoing some major changes. A nucleus of Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and Drew Gooden will be a starting point for next fall.

    The Bucks have limited cap space and will have only a first-round draft pick. They are unlikely to add any major pieces to their roster, but they also finished only four games out of the Eastern Conference playoffs this season.

    A year of continuity and a decent first-round pick could easily make up the difference between just missing and just making the postseason next year.

Golden State Warriors: Odds 3-1

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    Golden State Warriors 2011-2012 Record: 23-43

    If the Golden State Warriors can stay fairly healthy for the bulk of next season, then it's not a stretch that they'll make the playoffs.

    A starting five with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Dorell Wright, David Lee and Andrew Bogut is more than just solid. However, Bogut and Curry aren't known for their durability, and the team's overall depth is not a strength.

    Things are looking up in Golden State, and a healthy Warriors team will compete for a playoff spot.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Odds 2-1

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    Minnesota Timberwolves 2011-2012 Record: 26-40

    Next season's promise really comes down to one player: Ricky Rubio.

    It the dynamic young point guard can recover from ACL surgery in time to play—and play effectively—then Minnesota seems like a decent bet to make the playoffs. If Rubio's recovery is delayed or if it takes him significant time to get back up to speed on the court, then Minnesota will likely watch other teams make runs at the postseason.

    It's not that the battery of Kevin Love, Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic isn't very good. There's a lot of talent there. They still need a point guard to lead them, though, and Rubio will be that guy provided he's healthy.

Phoenix Suns: Odds Even or 6-1 (the Nash Factor)

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    Phoenix Suns 2011-2012 Record: 33-33

    Plenty of teams lose free agents, but for Phoenix, losing Steve Nash could be a crushing blow.

    The veteran point guard would leave the team without any other major top-tier NBA players. Center Marcin Gortat is a good player, but he's far from the level of Steve Nash.

    Phoenix will have a lottery pick, and it's got plenty of available cap space, but it's hard to envision this team making the playoffs next year if it was to lose Nash. If he decides to stay, then it's worth mentioning that the Suns were already a .500 team this past season.

    It's not a stretch to suggest that the Suns need only make a few minor adjustments should they retain Nash. A .500 record will get plenty of NBA teams into the playoffs.

Houston Rockets: Odds Even

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    Houston Rockets 2011-2012 Record: 34-32

    If Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin weren't both hurt, who's to say this team wouldn't have made the playoffs this season?

    The Rockets will shuffle the lineup a bit this summer. They have almost no cap space, so don't look for them in any of the major free-agent derbies.

    They will do their best to try to find the one key missing part, a big man. Even without the big man, this team was of playoff caliber this season.

    If both Martin and Lowry are back healthy next season, then this team could be in the playoffs even if the center position remains somewhat of a question mark.