Placing fourth in the Pacific division with a dismal 23-43 record, the Golden State Warriors, and several teams like them, had a completely forgettable season last year.
As the current trend of super teams continues to pervade the NBA, less successful teams are cast behind the shadows of the more successful ones. It is expected that these dominant teams will continue their success into the 2012-2013 season.
Based on their past records, the Golden State Warriors are not one of those teams. Yet, as Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics so eloquently stated, “anything is possible”.
Here are some sleeper teams that are better than they appear.
Though they suffered a tough loss in losing arguably one of their best players, Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors still have reasons for hope.
Curry engaged in his first five-on-five action a few weeks ago taking another step forward in his recovery from offseason ankle surgery.
If Curry remains healthy throughout the season, he can continue to be the offensive force the Warriors need to win games. In addition to Curry, Golden State has locked up guard Jarrett Jack in a three-team trade with the New Orleans Hornets.
Coming off his career best NBA season, the veteran provides the backcourt presence the team so desperately needs. Jack also provides some extra insurance should Curry get injured again.
The Warriors are not yet in the conversation about contending for the 2012-2013 NBA Championship. The team still has a lot of work to do in initiating a positive streak for a team that has made the playoffs just once in the last 18 years. But, with the health of Stephen Curry and the addition of Jarrett Jack, the team has a chance to do better than they did last season.
The Denver Nuggets came off a mediocre regular season with a record of 38-28. They were the sixth seed coming into the playoffs, and were quickly defeated in a seven-game set by the Los Angeles Lakers. Nevertheless, the Nuggets are still capable of doing damage.
Denver is a deep team, with a strong backcourt consisting of such players as Ty Lawson and Andre Miller. With this depth in mind, should one of the Nuggets players face an injury, there are available players to replace him.
Speaking of Ty Lawson, he brings the athleticism and speed that gives the Nuggets an edge over their opponents. His ability to find his way to the rim is essential to the Nuggets' success down the line.
Most importantly however, is Denver’s newest addition: veteran Andre Iguodala. Iggy is a top-tier athlete who brings to Denver his stellar offensive and defensive skills. He is one of the best defensive players in the league right now and is sure to be an asset when defending hard-to-defend players on opposing teams.
With multiple players able to fill in both offensively and defensively, the Denver Nuggets will be a threat in the 2012-2013 season.
Though they were the eighth seed of the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers surely did not play like it. Last year’s playoffs showed the league that Philly is an up-and-coming team with the potential to do well next season.
Though many players on the roster are young and inexperienced, the 76ers easily defeated the Chicago Bulls thanks in part to a Derrick Rose injury. The Sixers contained the Bulls to just two games, playing shut-down defense and shooting lights out basketball to win close games. From the starters to the bench players, every member of the team was cohesive.
Their newest player, former Lakers center Andrew Bynum, provides the dominant presence under the rim. Bynum will be an integral player because he can and will protect the paint. In addition to his defensive abilities, Bynum is able to produce offensively, as he notably posted up some of his biggest numbers last season.
With Andre Iguodala’s recent departure to Denver, the Sixers will be forced to rely on each other to win games. If they can have the same team chemistry like they did on the court during last year’s playoffs, they will undoubtedly be better than the eight seed they were before.
Over the past couple of seasons, the Indiana Pacers have flown under the radar, overshadowed by flashier teams in the league. They are a gritty basketball team that plays well together on the court. They have no superstar players, only talented role players who step in and make the right plays to help the team. One of those players is Danny Granger.
In previous seasons, Danny Granger’s style of play was simple; he would either shoot perimeter shots, or force himself to the rim to score a basket.
Over the course of the last season though, Granger tweaked his game to be more of an offensive threat. In an article by Tom Lewis of the Indiana Pacers News, Granger has developed an “‘old man’ game” to maximize his longevity in the league. This is a beneficial skill for Granger as it makes him a more versatile player, which is an asset for the Pacers.
Along with their offensive weapons, the Pacers are strong defensively. Their ability to play lock-down defense and rebound well are integral to the team’s success. When the Pacers are playing good defense, they are a difficult team to beat.
Though their playoff hopes were shattered by the Miami Heat, the Pacers showed signs of dominance as they battled it out with one of the best teams in the league. During game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Pacers fought until the end to steal the game in South Beach.
If the Pacers continue playing this way, they are capable of being a dominant force around the league.