10 NBA Teams Whose Fortunes Will Be Drastically Different in 2012-13
In 2012-2013, a number of NBA teams will see their fortunes change from this season.
From the Miami Heat all the way to the Washington Wizards, each and every team will be looking to do something different in an effort to be victorious.
Sure, it may be a little premature to start saying who will succeed and who will fail in the 2012-2013 season, but a little looking into the crystal ball never hurt anyone, has it?
There are a number of teams whose futures looks bleak at this point in time. With a few exceptions such as the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, most every team in the league will be looking to change up their rosters in the offseason in hopes to change up their experiences from 2011-2012.
Looking ahead to 2012-2013, there are a few teams that are destined to change their fortunes from this season, and not all are necessarily in a good way.
Here's a look at the 10 teams that will have their fortunes changed next season for one reason or another.
2012-2013 Outlook: With Howard = Terrible; Without Howard = Even Worse
Never again will this pairing be seen on an NBA bench together, nor are they forced to say nice things about each other anymore.
Orlando went 37-29 this season, good enough for the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, even with the saga that was Dwight Howard and his ego clash with coach Stan Van Gundy and Magic management.
Even though Howard managed to average 20 points and 14 rebounds per game amidst all the attention he garnered for being a bigger distraction than a helper this season, his energy and enthusiasm to help the Magic win games this season wasn't there.
Orlando was ultimately vanquished when he missed much of the second half of the season, including the playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.
Now, Howard has run both the coach and general manager, Otis Smith, out of town, and he might be on his way out as well. Management has become fed up with Howard and are now willing and looking to trade Howard this summer to rid themselves of his childish, selfish attitude that has affected the entire organization.
With a new coach, a new general manager and, potentially, a whole slew of new players in a trade for Howard, the future doesn't look too bright for the Orlando Magic in 2012-2013. The wheels are turning for a Magic meltdown, and next season it could be in full effect.
2012-2013 Outlook: Overachieving Will Catch Up to Them
One team that flourished in 2011-2012 thanks to the shortened lockout season was the Utah Jazz.
Utah lucked its way into the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs, only to be bounced by the surging San Antonio Spurs in four straight games. Each game of the series saw the Spurs dominate the Jazz and come away with a plus-64 point differential in the series, highlighted by their Game 2 trouncing of the Jazz by 31 points.
For Utah, their success came from the stellar play of Al Jefferson and Devin Harris, with Jefferson averaging 19 points and nearly 10 rebounds per contest.
The big reason why it appears the Jazz overachieved this season was their record on the road (11-22) as compared to their home record (25-8). Winning on the road is a must if a team is going to be successful, and the Jazz just did not live up to that mantra this season.
Most of, if not all of, the Utah roster from 2011-2012 will return this season, but it will be very interesting to see how they fare in a season of 82 games as opposed to the 66 they played this season.
2012-2013 Outlook: Extremely Promising
For the first time since the post-Kevin Garnett era in Minnesota, Timberwolves fans are excited about their professional basketball team.
In fact, the Wolves were making some noise in the Western Conference, flirting with a playoff spot. However, as of March 10, their hopes were squashed, as that was the day electrifying rookie point guard Ricky Rubio went down with a torn ACL against the Los Angeles Lakers.
With the loss of Rubio for the year, Minnesota struggled to duplicate their style of play because with Rubio, the Wolves played an uptempo, fast-paced game that saw the young Minnesota team wow the crowd each and every game.
Of course, Kevin Love was still doing great things for Minnesota, averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds, cementing his name in the conversation for the NBA's best power forward.
Love's work ethic has rubbed off on the rest of the team, seeing the young players such as Derrick Williams and Anthony Randolph coming into their own as players and giving valuable minutes whenever needed.
Hopefully Rubio will be able to go at the start of the season and provide Minnesota with that continued energy and enthusiasm that helped rejuvenate a franchise in need. If he does, look for the Wolves to be a potential playoff team in 2013.
New Orleans Hornets
2012-2013 Outlook: Anthony Davis Approved (and Possibly League Approved)
The conspiracy theory that the NBA is a rigged system has been one that has plagued the league for a number of years, most notably after the Tim Donaghy gambling incident. Unfortunately for the New Orleans Hornets, they are now in the epicenter of controversy with this "conspiracy."
First, it was NBA commissioner David Stern—operating in the Hornets' best interest as the league owned the Hornets at the time—who vetoed a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. Instead, they gave the green light to a trade that sent him to the Clippers and also gave the Hornets a plethora of young talent for the franchise's future.
Then, in the NBA draft lottery that saw the Charlotte Bobcats, who had the NBA's all-time lowest winning percentage, fail to receive the first overall selection in favor of the Hornets, who were still owned by the league at the time of the lottery. This, of course, sparked up a lot of conversation on whether or not the league was rigged.
Regardless, the Hornets have the makings of a team with vast potential for success in the very near future. In Eric Gordon, New Orleans has the lethal scoring presence every team needs. His ability to shoot from the perimeter as well as drive to the basket ranks in the tops of the league.
However, posts Chris Kaman and Carl Landry are both unrestricted free agents this summer, both of whom were instrumental in the Hornets play. Despite their crucial role in the team, they may be willing to part ways with one of them, as the Hornets will, presumably, take powerhouse post Anthony Davis.
In Davis, they have a potential franchise pick to go along with Gordon, an outstanding player any team would love to have.
Look for the Hornets to make some waves next season.
2012-2013 Outlook: Deer in the Headlights
With a new city and new arena for next season, it would appear the Nets are already getting eaten alive by Brooklyn before they even officially make their move there.
Brooklyn has the roster to make a splash in the Eastern Conference right now, except it would appear that both Deron Williams and Brook Lopez could be on their way out of town through either free agency or trades this offseason.
One glimmer of hope is that Williams has already stated that he would be willing to do a sign-and-trade deal in order for the Nets to gain some sort of compensation for losing such a quality player. The Nets have also been looking into trading for Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, meaning that Lopez could also be on his way out of Brooklyn.
The Nets have struggled since the days of Jason Kidd running the show, and they were hoping that Deron Williams would be the guy to make them forget about him. His run didn't last long, but he could still have a lasting effect on the franchise if his trade brings in quality players.
2012-2013 Outlook: The "It Can't Possibly Get Any Worse" Approach
Michael Jordan, the player, has always been known as a winner and one of the best ever. The team's he's been affiliated with after his playing career? Not so much.
For the Charlotte Bobcats, they can't even manage to win seven games in a 66-game schedule and get the top overall pick to help build the franchise. That, my friends, is the definition of poor luck.
Charlotte lost its final 23 games of the 2011-2012 campaign and now have the second pick in the draft to boot. With that second pick, the Bobcats have a number of options ranging from Thomas Robinson to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to Andre Drummond.
Essentially, it can't get any worse than it is right now for Charlotte, so they have nowhere to go but up.
Golden State Warriors
2012-2013 Outlook: Golden
2012 was about finding a team identity for the Golden State Warriors.
Stephen Curry missed a number of games due to frequent ankle injuries, leaving the scoring punch left up to Monta Ellis. However, it had been discussed for some time to trade away Ellis in favor of handing Curry the keys to the team for the future.
With Ellis now out in Milwaukee, Curry has total control of the team, providing a confidence booster for the rest of the team as well. Ellis being around in Golden State caused issues on the offensive end as he likes to control the tempo and sometimes overshoot, causing the rest of the team to lack that confidence in their teammate.
Curry is expected to come back as healthy as ever, and along with David Lee, Dorell Wright and Nate Robinson, the Warriors have a team ready to take that first step in becoming a solidified team in the Western Conference playoff picture.
2012-2013 Outlook: Stable but Falling
No team has kept their team as consistent as the Atlanta Hawks have over the last few years.
With Josh Smith, Joe Johnson and Al Horford, the Hawks have remained the in middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference: never breaking through to the top tier of teams but never falling into the bottom of the barrel.
In this upcoming season, Atlanta could be looking at a completely different success that they aren't familiar with: failure.
There's no denying that the emergence of Jeff Teague this season helped the Hawks greatly when it came to having someone to be able to lead the offense, but how long can Atlanta keep this same core of guys without ever reaching a conference finals series, let alone an NBA Finals, and be content with that?
Not that Atlanta necessarily has to make a change, but if they want to get over the hump, they need to make a move. Be it in free agency or in the trade market, the Hawks can't remain in the middle of the Eastern Conference for too long.
In fact, if they do sustain the group they have, players could become unhappy with mediocrity and eventually want out in hopes to be on a real winning team.
Failure is not only an option for Atlanta, it's inevitable at this point.
2012-2013 Outlook: Closing Window
One game away from reaching the NBA Finals for the third time since acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the Boston Celtics actually have plenty of holes they are covering up pretty well at this point in time.
Rajon Rondo is playing like he wants to be known as the best point guard in the league, and it's hard to argue against him right now. Not only has he continued to display amazing precision passing and driving ability, but he is also slowly developing his outside jump shot. Once he perfects that, there is no doubting he is second to none.
Garnett and Pierce are playing great in these playoffs, but their regular seasons weren't the greatest as the Celtics saw themselves on the outside looking in for the playoffs for much of the season before suddenly sparking in the second half of the season.
Allen is showing his age in the playoffs, having to convince coach Doc Rivers to play him in a game already this series. Imagine what his body must be telling him if his coach is doubting he can go on a consistent basis.
Garnett and Allen are both unrestricted free agents after this season is over. Garnett is expected to be re-signed, but Allen is a less likely option, as his age may be a factor in letting him walk in favor of Avery Bradley.
Boston was able to overcome the odds in this shortened season, but that task may be a little more difficult in a full season next year.
Los Angeles Lakers
2012-2013 Outlook: Battle of Egos
It's hard to go against Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest players in the world, but it's even harder to ignore the Lakers' glaring issues with ego.
From day one, people were questioning whether or not Mike Brown could come in and lead a Lakers team used to the leadership of the proven Phil Jackson. Well, it didn't change any throughout the season or during the playoffs when on several occasions, Brown was literally pushed out of the huddle for Bryant to coach up the team.
On top of that doubt of Brown as a coach, add the somewhat childish behavior of Andrew Bynum and a recipe for disaster exists in Los Angeles.
Besides the his attitude on the floor, Bynum likes to test the waters with his coach by throwing up three-point shots. Bynum also likes to test his team by playing without any sort of energy or enthusiasm, which was highlighted in the Western Conference semifinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Two years in a row, the Lakers have been eliminated in dominating fashion from the playoffs, sending a cause for concern for a team not accustomed to being the weaker team.
Bryant is always going to be the main man of the team, and he is going to take whatever shots he wants. Whether or not all of those shots are necessary is a different story.
However, Bryant needs to be a leader on the team rather than a demanding presence. Kobe needs to try to teach guys such as Bynum how to behave and how to take over a team once Bryant finally calls it a career.
There's an issue or two in L.A., and if it continues to be an issue, their success will potentially fall to the wayside in favor of yet another Lakers' off-court saga.