5 NBA Teams That Will Regress the Most in 2012-13
While the NBA is very difficult to predict, certain teams don't appear too poised to repeat the results they produced last season.
Teams surprise us every year with their play, whether that level of play is high or low dictates the superlatives that are used when describing them.
Everyone knew that the Charlotte Bobcats would be awful last year, but to see them post the worst winning percentage in the league was painful to watch. Terms such as lowly, dismal and pathetic were commonly used to document their consistent failures.
The Bobcats couldn't possibly be any worse next season, but not much will be expected of them. This isn't the case for the majority of NBA teams, as their fan bases have grown accustomed to rooting for competitive ball clubs.
In order for some teams to progress, others must regress. Just like anything else, the NBA is cyclical and each new season should bring optimism to every market in the league.
Here is a list of a five teams that will regress next season.
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The Chicago Bulls entered each of the past two postseasons with the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
With Derrick Rose being out until March, the Bulls will be without their leader for more than half the season. Considering that Rose is coming off a serious knee injury, no one should expect him to have the same explosiveness right away.
It will almost certainly take Rose some time to get back to his pre-injury level and it isn't even a lock he'll regain his old form at any point this season.
Key contributors from last year's team like Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and CJ Watson won't be playing in the Windy City next season.
In their place, the Bulls signed Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed, Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli. The newcomers will have big shoes to fill considering just how successful Chicago has been over the past few seasons.
Even in a best case scenario, with Rose coming back in early March and quickly regaining his complete game, there is no way that the Bulls will be able to compete for the best record in the East.
Does anyone think the Bulls have enough to get past the Miami Heat next season?
I certainly don't.
Part of the reason for the Bulls regression is the fact that they have been so successful. There is almost no where to go but down, because there is no way that they can win a championship without Rose.
Bulls fans should be excited for this season to see how Jimmy Butler develops into an excellent small forward, but as a whole, they will regress next season.
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The Houston Rockets obtained the services of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik by offering them back-loaded deals that their previous teams couldn't afford to match due to the luxury tax.
While their roster is flush with young talent, rookies like Jeremy Lamb and Royce White will need time to adjust to the speed of the NBA game.
Lin was exceptional in in January and February, but hasn't proved that he can stay healthy for an entire NBA season, let alone be the face of a franchise.
Rockets GM Darryl Morey cleared cap space this summer in pursuit of Dwight Howard, but at this point, it appears as if he won't be able to land the star that he wants.
According to NBA.com, the Rockets currently have 23 players on their roster so they will be forced to make a handful of cuts before the season tips off.
Last season, the Rockets went 34-32 and finished in ninth place in the Western Conference, barely missing out on the playoffs.
Since then, Houston traded Kyle Lowry, amnestied Luis Scola and saw Goran Dragic sign with the Phoenix Suns.
Lin will be the starting point guard on opening night, but he won't be as productive as Lowry or Dragic will be with their new teams.
The Rockets are a team in flux, and it will be interesting to see them play if they are stuck with their current roster moving forward.
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At this point, what else is there to say about the state of the Orlando Magic?
Their best player desperately wants to be traded. They are stuck overpaying declining players' big contracts, which have crippled the team's financial flexibility, and their bright future now appears dark.
Dwight Howard has led the Magic to the playoffs in each of the past six seasons, but it appears as if reaching the playoffs for a record-breaking seventh straight season will be a long shot.
It will be almost impossible for the Magic to get back equal value for Howard because he is the best center in the game and there is no real market price for him via a trade.
Howard's presence alone virtually guarantees the Magic a playoff berth. Without him, they aren't a playoff team over the course of a full season.
It also should be noted that the Magic traded the team's second best player, Ryan Anderson, to the New Orleans Hornets for Gustavo Ayon.
While Anderson didn't have a great playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, his three-point shooting and work on the offensive glass will be missed next season.
Magic GM Rob Hennigan made the right decision in choosing not to re-sign Anderson to a big contract because it remains to be seen how he will perform without the league's best center drawing double teams.
After being bounced from the playoffs, Orlando fired Stan Van Gundy and brought in Jacques Vaughn to replace him. While Vaughn could prove to be a good head coach, Van Gundy proved himself to be a superb coach and didn't deserve to be let go.
The Magic are on the brink of beginning a complete rebuild in the post-Howard era, and it would be surprising to see a playoff game in Orlando in 2013.
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In a sudden turn of events, Steve Nash was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for draft picks.
Just like that, the Phoenix Suns have entered the post-Nash era and no one really knows what to expect. In an instant, one of most beloved players in NBA history drastically changed his chances at winning a title before he retires.
GM Lance Blanks signed Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic and Luis Scola to help guide the team in life after Nash. It may have been time for the Suns to move on since last year's nucleus had no chance of competing against the league's best teams.
Nash was not just a player, he was Suns basketball. He led one of the most exciting attacks in the league for years and his name became synonymous with the Phoenix Suns franchise.
The second-best player on last year's team was center Marcin Gortat, who benefited greatly from the play of Nash. There is no guaranteeing the fact that Gortat will be able to maintain posting double-doubles like he averaged last season.
The Suns managed to finish .500 last season, a feat that this season's team will be unable to replicate. Nash made Phoenix look better than they were last season, but he won't be there to hide their faults anymore.
Parting with Nash, while difficult, needed to be done in the best interest of the franchise moving forward.
At least Nash and the Suns parted on amiable terms, which is a rarity in today's NBA.
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Since then, the 76ers amnestied starting power forward Elton Brand and allowed leading scorer Lou Williams to leave via free agency.
To counter those losses, Philly signed shooting guard Nick Young and drafted forward Moe Harkless. While Young can be lethal when in his groove, until he becomes more consistent he won't have the same impact over the course of a season that Williams did.
Although they will still be solid on defense due to their depth at forward, the Sixers simply can't score enough to repeat last season's success.
Philadelphia started off last season on a tear and appeared to be on its way to capturing the Atlantic division before its offensive woes caught up with it.
This season, Philly will miss Brand's presence in the post and the scoring that Williams consistently brought off the bench.
Andre Iguodala is a superb wing defender and would be an excellent third option on a title contender, but he isn't a player that can carry a team. There is a reason that Iguodala has been rumored to be on the trading block in the past.
The 76ers will likely qualify for the playoffs next season, but barring another lucky matchup, they will not reach the second round twice in a row.