Updated 2013 NBA Finals Odds, Post-Draft

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IJune 29, 2012

Updated 2013 NBA Finals Odds, Post-Draft

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    Now that the 2012 NBA draft is over, some teams are looking a heck of a lot better and could have multiple playoff berths in their future. Take the New Orleans Hornets, for example.

    They filled almost every one of their needs, and if each pick pans out, from Anthony Davis to Darius Miller, only good things will happen. They won't necessarily make the NBA Finals, but it would further prove that last year was a fluke thanks to the loss of Chris Paul to the Clippers and Eric Gordon's subsequent injury.

    Yet, some teams were not so lucky in the draft. With clear needs on their rosters, they instead picked players who couldn't help at all, at least not in the way they hoped they could. In these cases, a trip to the playoffs and even the finals was instantly kissed goodbye.

    In fact, let's have a look at each team and assess their odds of making it to the big dance next year, now that they have made their draft picks.

Atlanta Hawks

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    In the draft, I thought that the Hawks were going to go for size and defense at small forward so that Josh Smith could remain at power forward and Marvin Williams could come off the bench. Instead, the team chose to go for a shooter and drafted John Jenkins out of Vanderbilt, as Kirk Hinrich is probably going to find a new team in a few days.

    At second glance, this is actually a decent move by new GM Danny Ferry. By keeping Williams at small forward, he can move Joe Johnson back to shooting guard and also watch Jeff Teague continue to blossom at the point. At the same time, he'll have an absolutely dominant frontcourt with Josh Smith at power forward and Al Horford coming back from injury to dominate the middle at center. Regarding Jenkins, he could have a definite shot at being the team's sixth man.

    However, though the Hawks are one of my favorite teams to watch and I always wish them well, they're just too young a team to make any huge impact in next year's playoffs. Besides their starters, they don't really have any effective depth on the bench. The fact that their reserves last year consisted of guys like Vladimir Radmanovic and Jerry Stackhouse says it all.

    Will they make the postseason? Most likely. Will they get past the second round?  I don't think so.

    Odds: 150-1

Boston Celtics

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    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Celtics fans, but your team will most likely be in some sort of rebuilding mode either next year or a few years down the road. Two key pieces in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are probably leaving via free agency in a week or so, and the team only has four players under contract for next season.

    Fortunately, GM Danny Ainge made some solid choices in the draft when he took Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and Syracuse's Fab Melo in Round 1, adding some much needed size to the roster. Ainge also selected Melo's college teammate, Kris Joseph.

    That said, chances are that Boston's starting lineup could look like this at first tipoff: Melo at center, Sullinger at power forward, Paul Pierce at small forward, Avery Bradley at shooting guard and Rajon Rondo at point guard, assuming Ainge doesn't pursue any big-name free agents.

    Yet, even if Ainge does add some new faces via free agency, the Celtics are going to look a lot different next year should the Big Three be dismantled. Head coach Doc Rivers did a great job of turning the team around when he first came aboard, but he may need to work that magic again pretty soon. There's no way the Celtics make the finals without both KG and Allen, with even the playoffs not guaranteed. With one last run of the Big Three, however, anything is possible; there may yet be enough in their collective gas tank, as they nearly proved again this year.

    Odds: 20-1

Brooklyn Nets

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    The success of the Nets next season depends on how they do in an event that begins on Sunday: NBA free agency. Star point guard Deron Williams is among those looking for a new contract, and chances are that the Nets will go after him with everything they have. However, even if he does re-sign, there is still much work to be done.

    Williams will be paired in the backcourt with second-year shooting guard Marshon Brooks, who is a top scorer in the making. Yet, the rest of the starting lineup is going to have some holes to fill, assuming forward Gerald Wallace doesn't re-sign along with Williams. Kris Humphries will also need to be replaced at power forward.

    The Nets have a new arena and city to offer any prospective targets, however, both of which could be very attractive. They won't make the NBA Finals next year, even if they can manage to plug all of their holes and somehow swing a trade for Dwight Howard, but one thing is for certain: The Nets could find themselves in the best position they have been in since the days of Jason Kidd.

    Odds: 75-1

Charlotte Bobcats

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    Though he's probably the greatest to ever play the game, Michael Jordan has royally dropped the ball as owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. His team is an absolute mess and has too many bad contracts on the books, specifically those of the oft-injured Tyrus Thomas and the absolute joke in DeSagana Diop. Recently, he added another bloated contract in that of shooter Ben Gordon.

    On top of the contract issues, Jordan has no clue how to use the draft. This year, with great sure-thing prospects in Thomas Robinson and Bradley Beal on the board, he instead chose to select a swingman with upside, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, at No. 2.

    All of that aside, the Bobcats roster is just one full of role players save for point guard Kemba Walker, and even he is a huge maybe. Unless new coach Mike Dunlap can get these youngsters to positively respond to him, Charlotte is in danger of suffering its eighth losing season in nine years of existence.

    Long story short, there's no way this team even sniffs the NBA Finals, let alone the playoffs.

    Odds: 500-1

Chicago Bulls

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    The Bulls have been the top team in the Eastern Conference the past two years, but that could all change in 2012-2013. As we all know, star point guard Derrick Rose suffered a torn ACL these last playoffs and could miss all of the regular season. Seeing as how Rose is not only a great player, but also makes his teammates better, team management certainly has my permission to freak out.

    Save for point guard, the Bulls' starting lineup looks as follows: Rip Hamilton at shooting guard, Luol Deng at small forward, Carlos Boozer at power forward and Joakim Noah at center. Throw in solid bench options in Taj Gibson and Kyle Korver, and the bleeding doesn't appear to be that bad.

    Yet, Deng's name has been mentioned in various trade rumors all this week, and though no deal has yet been made, it's reasonable that GM Gar Forman would want to unload Deng's $12.3 million salary.

    If he's moved and the Bulls are down another key player besides Rose, then the playoffs might not even be guaranteed, which means no NBA Finals. Still, this is a deep team with a great coach in Tom Thibodeau, so the odds are greater than none that the team could be just fine.

    Odds: 15-1

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    As the Cavs enter their third season without LeBron James, they are still very much in rebuilding mode. Kyrie Irving, though, is a great point guard to lead them back into contention, and team management just acquired some great new teammates for him in rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller

    Suddenly, the starting lineup looks a lot more complete with Irving and Waiters playing guard, Zeller taking over at center, and the forward slots being handled by Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson.

    Simply put, if Irving is to step into the shoes left by LeBron James, Zeller is going to be his Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The former Tar Heel has a great game under the basket and he'll have plenty of help on defense thanks to Varejao and Thompson. This is still a young team that needs to learn how to play together and probably won't make the playoffs next year, but they'll still improve off of last season.

    With a great coach in Byron Scott manning the sidelines, Cleveland fans should have plenty of faith.

    Odds: 150-1

Dallas Mavericks

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    The Mavericks suffered the loss of Tyson Chandler to free agency last year, to the tune of finishing seventh in the Western Conference. Sure enough, their lack of tough defense led to a first-round exit at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. This summer, they're set to lose both Jason Kidd and Jason Terry to the cruel free agency temptress.

    That said, I'm still wondering what Mark Cuban was thinking at the draft. Dallas drafted a good young center in Tyler Zeller, a great improvement over Brendan Haywood. Yet, Cuban traded him to Cleveland for draft picks used to select the following players: Jared Cunningham, Jae Crowder and Bernard James. Each of these players are extreme crapshoots, so it's unclear as to why the deal was even made.

    Of course, the Mavericks are also becoming an aging team, as both Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are 34. Without an effective point guard to step in for Kidd and top scoring lost in Terry, I'm just not optimistic about the Mavs' prospects next year.

    Odds: 100-1

Denver Nuggets

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    The Nuggets are a young squad, but coach George Karl has everyone playing well together. Point guard Ty Lawson is due for a breakout season, and so is power forward Kenneth Faried, who will probably the most dangerous rebounder in the game in just a few short years.

    On the offensive end, Danilo Gallinari and Al Harrington are great scoring forwards, and Aaron Afflalo is turning into one of the best young shooting guards in the game. Last year, the former UCLA Bruin shot an astounding 39.8 percent from three-point land. Even the immature Javale McGee is doing well in Karl's system.

    The team doesn't have much going for it in the bench department, but new draft picks Quincy Miller and Evan Fournier both seem to have a lot of potential. With significant minutes, they can help make Denver a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs as the squad continues to get better.

    Odds: 70-1

Detroit Pistons

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    At long last, the Detroit Pistons have a big man to play great defense at power forward in Andre Drummond. Combined with Greg Monroe, this is a defensive duo that could put Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer to shame, especially with Drummond's shot-blocking ability.

    On the offensive end, new point guard Brandon Knight is finally rid of dead weight in Ben Gordon and can finally concentrate on Rodney Stuckey and Tayshaun Prince as his go-to guys. Even Charlie Villanueva's long-range shooting will be welcome off the bench.

    Simply put, coach Lawrence Frank finally has a complete team to work with, and given how the Pistons finished10 games out of the final playoff spot in the East last year, this season could be a lot different. If you ask me, they could crawl a bit closer to a playoff berth.

    Odds: 80-1

Golden State Warriors

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    Warriors fans have lots of reasons to smile right now. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have an effective scorer to help them shoulder the load now that GM Bob Myers has drafted Harrison Barnes.

    Barnes averaged 17.4 points a game at North Carolina last year, and by getting solid bench minutes to start, he can slowly work his way into the starting lineup and eventually usurp Dorell Wright as the starting SF.

    Even in the frontcourt, the Warriors have solid scoring. David Lee is a double-double machine and once he's back at 100 percent, Andrew Bogut is going to be the great two-way center Golden State so desperately needs.

    They're a young team, but don't count the Warriors out just yet. Each one of the players has responded positively to coach Mark Jackson, and with a revamped defense this year (thanks to second-round pick Draymond Green), Golden State could strike gold very shortly.

    Odds: 50-1

Houston Rockets

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    After dealing Samuel Dalembert to the Milwaukee Bucks, I can only assume that the Rockets plan to either explore the free-agent market for a center or move Luis Scola to the 5. In drafting Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones, the team filled three needs: consistent scoring, defense and athleticism.

    Houston also has a good point guard in Kyle Lowry, who may want to stick around now that he has some help shouldering the load. Kevin Martin will also supply some straight scoring, and on defense, Scola is a force to be reckoned with.

    This year should also see further improvement from second-year player Chandler Parsons, and maybe this will be the year that Patrick Patterson finally breaks out. Also, let's not forget about last year's first-round pick, Marcus Morris, who spent most of last season in the D-League.

    This is a team that just missed the playoffs, and 2012-2013 could very well be the season they get over the hump and compete hard.

    Odds: 35-1

Indiana Pacers

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    The Pacers went on a miracle run last year and finished the season as the No. 3 team in the Eastern Conference, largely on the back of scorer Danny Granger and big man Roy Hibbert. David West also provided solid minutes at power forward and guys like George Hill, Leandro Barbosa and Darren Collison provided solid sharpshooting.

    Oh, and let's not forget the amazing Paul George.

    Still, Hibbert is a restricted free agent and the team's front office is now looking down the barrel of a gun that carries a potentially lethal bullet. If they lose Hibbert to another team, I highly doubt that Tyler Hansbrough and recent first-round pick Miles Plumlee will be solid optiond in the middle, at least compared to the former Georgetown Hoya.

    That said, I'm not liking Indiana's odds next year.

    Odds: 60-1

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Last year, the Clippers defied all expectations and finished as the No. 5 team in the Western Conference. Ready for the crazy part?  The only major adjustment made was the addition of star point guard Chris Paul into the lineup, with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan doing most of the work in the frontcourt.

    Also helping Paul with the scoring was veteran shooter Chauncey "Big Shot" Billups, but an Achilles' injury ended his season early. However, Randy Foye stepped in and went on to average 11 points while shooting 39 percent from long range. Both players are free agents this summer, so it would be wise for team management to consider bringing at least one of them back, if not both.

    Simply put, the Clippers are in a primed position to rocket up even further in the standings next year. The Lob City mentality is working and Chris Paul is the epitome of a player that makes his team better. If they can just ensure that he'll have a solid shooting guard helping out along with the forwards, and even entertain the notion of bringing back young shooter Nick Young (no pun intended), then they could easily overtake the Lakers as the big dogs of LA.

    Odds: 30-1

Los Angeles Lakers

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    On paper, the Lakers look great. Kobe Bryant remains one of the most clutch shooters in the NBA, and his defense isn't bad either. Also, it appears that Andrew Bynum is finally living up to his potential after breaking out last year and averaging career highs in all major categories.

    Yet, though they are basically automatic contenders, the Lakers' salary cap is a mess. One-sided power forward Pau Gasol is due $38 million over the next two years and Metta World Peace is looking more and more like someone who needs to become a victim of the amnesty clause.

    More importantly, this team has no point guard. Ramon Sessions opted out of his contract and plans to test the free-agent market. And having untested youngters like Andrew Goudelock and/or Darius Morris suddenly tasked with running the offense is a giant roll of the dice. That said, it's no surprise that GM Mitch Kupchak explored unloading Pau Gasol this week.

    Will they make the playoffs next year? Most likely. Will they go far? I wouldn't count on it.

    Odds: 40-1

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Two years ago, the Grizzlies were the No. 8 team in the West and miraculously eliminated the No. 1 San Antonio Spurs from the playoffs before losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the next round. This year, they worked their way up the rankings and finished fourth, ultimately losing to the No. 5 Clippers in the opening round, albeit in seven games. 

    Some may view this as a step back, but I view it as a giant one forward. Here's a team that basically got lucky in the playoffs two years ago, especially considering how Rudy Gay was injured, and now they doubled their success with him in the lineup. Long story short, this is a special team, from Mike Conley running the point to Marc Gasol dominating at center.

    Team management even drafted O.J. Mayo insurance in youngster Tony Wroten, Jr.

    I look forward to seeing them continue their ascent next year.

    Odds: 25-1

Miami Heat

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    Miami is fresh off a championship and, all hate aside, I'm legitimately happy for them. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are three of the best players in the NBA, and they all deserve a ring (and D-Wade his second).

    Yet, despite the championship exterior, this team is about to become one royal South Beach mess. I'm talking a Botox job and tummy tuck gone wrong. Save for the team's Big Three, everyone else is hit or miss.

    Mario Chalmers is a decent silent assassin who can play tough defense and make threes, but he doesn't get nearly enough opportunities. Regarding Mike Miller, he's just an overpaid shooter, and it can be similarly said about Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony, who make a combined $7.38 million to stand in the middle and shut down opposing scorers.

    On top of that, the team has no real center, as Chris Bosh has been plugged into that role and Shane Battier appears to be playing power forward, which is just plain odd. Given how many bad contracts are on the books and the new luxury taxes about to come into effect, Pat Riley is going to have a lot of work cut out for him unless he wants to write a giant check to the league.

    Still, the talent on the team is undeniable and it'd be silly to say they wouldn't contend.

    Odds: 4-1

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Milwaukee already has a deadly backcourt that consists of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, both incredible scorers in their own right. However, coach Scott Skiles is a defensive coach, and next year he'll finally be able to look to other options besides his two guards.

    GM John Hammond had a great draft in preparing for the eventual departure of Ersan Ilyasova, as he drafted North Carolina's John Henson, who will help Samuel Dalembert create a deadly frontcourt. More importantly, Hammond's selecting Doron Lamb will help ease the burden on both Jennings and Ellis.

    If Hammond can also re-sign Carlos Delfino, there will be a solid defensive pest in the rotation to go with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. The Bucks probably won't make the NBA Finals, but I'd be willing to put money on them making the playoffs as a low-to-middle seed next year.

    Odds: 30-1

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    The Minnesota Timberwolves are coached by Rick Adelman, whose offense is as follows. The point guard is a great scorer and passer who also plays solid defense, the small forward shoots the lights out, the shooting guard is a defensive wizard, the center has a great under-the-basket game, and the power forward can simply do it all.

    That said, it's easy to see how well the 'Wolves have responded to Adelman. Ricky Rubio did a great job at the point last year before tearing his ACL, and I'm convinced that Minnesota would have made the playoffs had he not gotten hurt. Kevin Love has also become a double-double machine as he goes after literally every rebound and can score from practically anywhere. Nikola Pekovic is also developing into a fine young center.

    All that GM David Kahn needs to do is bring in a guard who plays defense, a la Iman Shumpert, and re-sign Michael Beasley, and then Adelman's picture will be completed. Chances are it won't be so for a couple of years, but mark my words, this Timberwolves squad is going to surprise you next year.

    Odds: 25.5-1

New Orleans Hornets

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    The Hornets have a new owner in Tom Benson (owner of the New Orleans Saints). This means that GM Dell Demps has a ton of money to work with as he rebuilds the team for the post-Chris Paul era.

    Fortunately, the draft gave New Orleans the new cornerstone of their franchise in No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, who will surely start the season at power forward. Demps also used the No. 10 pick to select Austin Rivers, who will provide some solid shooting off the bench.

    All that's really left for the Hornets to do is the following: make sure that restricted free agent Eric Gordon remains in a New Orleans uniform for next year, and at least make an effort to re-sign Chris Kaman, who is great when healthy. Also, now that Trevor Ariza has been traded, Demps should look to bring in a new small forward.

    This team won't make the finals next year, but I can say this much: They will definitely make the playoffs as a low seed if Davis and Austin Rivers live up to the hype.

    Odds: 35-1

New York Knicks

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    The Knicks went 18-6 under Mike Woodson last year, and now that he has been signed to a multi-year contract, fans have reason to be optimistic. His offense favors Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire doing what they do best: putting points on the board.

    Also helping the Knicks next year will be Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak getting their early-Bird rights, which will allow GM Glen Grunwald increased salary-cap flexibility to sign them.

    Yet, after that happens, the Knicks could find themselves in a bit of a pickle. Any available money they have will probably have to be used to re-sign J.R. Smith, and they'll only be able to offer the veteran minimum on any other deal if Smith does indeed return.

    Still, they managed to play well with a taped-together roster in the latter half of last year, so they could surely give it another go in 2013. I like this team to make the playoffs as a decent seed, but the finals are still a couple of years away.

    Odds: 15-1

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    The Thunder continued their upward trajectory last year and finally made it to the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant led the league in scoring and Russell Westbrook proved to be an effective scoring point guard. James Harden also took home Sixth Man of the Year and Serge Ibaka was robbed of Defensive Player of the Year by Tyson Chandler of the Knicks.

    GM Sam Presti continued his commitment to excellence by selecting Perry Jones III out of Baylor with his team's first-round pick. If Jones can stay healthy, coach Scott Brooks will turn him into a great two-way PF and at long last, Durant could very well have his championship ring.

    To be honest, there isn't one bad thing I can say about this team. I like them a lot and if my beloved New York Knicks were to lose to them in the NBA Finals (if that were to happen), I think I'd actually be OK with it.

    Fortunately for OKC, they'll be in a prime position to make a return to the finals next season.

    Odds: 2-1

Orlando Magic

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    I feel sorry for Magic GM Rob Hennigan, because his predecessor Otis Smith left him an absolute mess. Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu are all bad contracts that need to be dealt with, and Jameer Nelson is just plain bad.

    However, Hennigan has a bigger issue to worry about. Though he opted in last year, Dwight Howard desperately wants out of Orlando, specifically via a trade to the Nets. Yet, Brooklyn doesn't have any valuable trade chips at this point, so Hennigan pulling the trigger on that would essentially be the same as dealing Howard for nothing.

    That said, I'm anticipating this coming season to be an ugly one for Orlando. The Howard drama will plague the locker room and spill out onto the court. Hate to say it, but I'm pegging the Magic as a lottery team.

    Odds: 200-1

Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Sixers have a tough offseason ahead, as both Spencer Hawes and Lou Williams elected for free agency. Still, Andre Iguodala is the star of the team and incoming rookie Maurice Harkless will provide some solid minutes off the bench in the event that Williams walks.

    Still, I'm optimistic about the Sixers' future. Coach Doug Collins has them playing a team-oriented game with heavy emphasis on defense, with no one player outshining the other. If he can make Iguodala the go-to guy, no questions asked, then Philly will look a lot more dangerous.

    Oh, and let's not forget this: This coming season, Evan Turner will be an All-Star.

    Look for Philly to be more than just a No. 8 seed next year.

    Odds: 30-1

Phoenix Suns

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    In all likelihood, the Suns are going to be without Steve Nash next year. That means that the starting point guard in Alvin Gentry's run-and-gun offense will be either the underachieving Sebastian Telfair or rookie Kendall Marshall.

    Simply put, that is the worst thing that could happen to the Suns. Neither player is an effective enough scorer in that style of play, though Marshall is good at finding the open man. To leave the offense relying on Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley is a recipe for disaster.

    That said, Phoenix has to ignore any doubts and use all available resources to re-sign Nash. He is the glue that holds that team together, and if he walks, the house falls, especially since the Suns just barely missed the postseason last season.

    Odds: 40-1

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Portland was robbed of a playoff berth last year for a couple of reasons: Raymond Felton underachieving and Jamal Crawford being unhappy. On top of that, they were without Brandon Roy, who opted to retire due to chronic knee issues.

    That left much of the scoring in the hands of a disgruntled sixth man (Crawford) and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Sure enough, the team suffered and ended up trading away Gerald Wallace for a draft pick, giving them two in the first round.

    Portland used those picks to draft scoring point guard Damian Lillard and center Meyers Leonard, both who could easily start right away. On top of that, let's not forget that the Blazers also have the dynamic Nicolas Batum and J.J. Hickson probably coming back next year.

    If everything can click for this squad, then everything could be coming up roses in the Rose City once again.

    Odds: 15-1

Sacramento Kings

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    The Kings are a young team and a long way off from contending again, but they took a giant step forward in drafting Thomas Robinson out of Kansas, who will probably start at power forward right away. Also starting for the Kings are DeMarcus Cousins at center, Isaiah Thomas at the point, Tyreke Evans at small forward and Marcus Thornton at shooting guard.

    Long story short, Robinson has to be for the Kings what Amar'e Stoudemire is for the Knicks, which shouldn't be a problem as long as the volatile Cousins is OK with sharing the scoring. Robinson needs to be able to score both from the perimeter and on the inside, and he has to be aggressive in his low-post defense. If he can be effective, the Kings will finally see some improvement.

    Some improved scoring from second-year shooter Jimmer Fredette would also be nice.

    Odds: 150-1

San Antonio Spurs

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    Despite being probably the oldest team in the NBA, the Spurs managed to make the playoffs as the No. 1 seed again and finish the regular season on a miraculous run that extended into the playoffs.

    Tim Duncan wants to return next year and continue to be one of the best leaders in the NBA. Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker will also return, with DeJuan Blair providing some shutdown defense in the middle and Kawhi Leonard playing tough on the wing.

    Most importantly, however, will be the return of Stephen Jackson. San Antonio just agrees with him and he played a great role in the team's success over the season's home stretch.

    I know they're old, but the Spurs and their veterans may have just one more championship left in the collective gas tank.

    Odds: 4-1

Toronto Raptors

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    I'll level with you, dear readers—I have no idea why the Toronto Raptors still employ Bryan Colangelo as GM. Since the loss of Chris Bosh to Miami, he has done a horrific job in putting together a winning team. The only bright spots right now are dynamic point guard Jose Calderon and dunker/aspiring scorer DeMar DeRozan. Andrea Bargnani is a decent scorer, but he's really just a seven-footer who can't play any defense.

    That leaves the team in desperate need for a big man, and with Andre Drummond available to them in the draft, Colangelo instead drafted a shooter in Terrence Ross of Washington. That leaves the following as options for the team at power forward and center: Ed Davis, Amir Johnson or a miracle Bargnani who suddenly plays hard on defense.

    Simply put, this team is due for another bad year. Just how bad is something that remains to be seen.

    Odds: 250-1

Utah Jazz

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    Though they struggled for most of the season, the Jazz got it together in the end as Devin Harris finally broke out of his season-long slump and started scoring points like he was supposed to do all year. Utah made the playoffs as a No. 8 seed, and in spite of the fact that they got swept by the Spurs in the first round, they have a bright future.

    Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap make up one of the most deadly frontcourt tandems in all the NBA, and they'll continue to play shutdown defense that frustrates the living hell out of the competition. On top of that, Gordon Hayward is due for a breakout year and both Enes Kanter and Alec Burks should definitely see more minutes in 2012-2013.

    All that the team really needs is some help at SF, and I mean a player more consistent than either Josh Howard or C.J. Miles. I'll admit I had my doubts about coach Tyrone Corbin, but he seems to have finally reached the team. I'm anticipating a better finish next year.

    Odds: 60-1

Washington Wizards

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    The Wizards are a young team who, in recent years, were dogged by immaturity and the lack of a leader. Having Rashard Lewis' bloated contract on the books didn't help matters either, as the team finished near the bottom of the Eastern Conference for the past three years.

    Yet, things are different going into this season. GM Ernie Grunfeld traded Lewis to the Hornets and received Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza in return, both of whom will be great leaders on this young team. With them in the lineup alongside John Wall, Nene and incoming rookie Bradley Beal, this is a team that has the potential to be great a few years down the road.

    More importantly, this season should see second-year man Jan Vesely get more minutes. Chris Singleton will also adjust and become a shutdown forward in the lowpost. My only concern is with coach Randy Wittman, but owner Ted Leonsis seems to like him. Washington won't make the playoffs this coming season, but an improvement will definitely be seen.

    Odds: 75-1