Every NBA season, 16 teams go to the playoffs, while the other 14 wait their turn for postseason greatness.
During the offseason, teams that have not made the playoff's generally evaluate their players, cap space and amongst others to await the draft.
Although I am a concrete NBA and Timberwolves fan/writer, I know a good future team when I see one. Therefore here are the top 5 teams slated for a better season next year.
All Teams that did not make the playoffs: Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Memphis, L.A Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and the Charlotte Bobcats. Since All of these teams did not make the playoff's, they are our candidates.
Each of the top five points are not made in depth, but these are key points next year.
5) Washington Wizards: There are many reasons that the Washington Wizards will be a better team next year.
- Gilbert Arenas. Remember this guy, the guy that scored 60 points in a game before? Gilbert Arenas was suffering injury after injury, and kept coming back due to the Washington Wizards making the playoff's. Gilbert came back for two games, where we saw flashes of his true playmaking skills when he had back to back double doubles.
- Brendan Haywood. The starting center for the Washington Wizards will be healthy and in full strength, giving the Wizards better defensive schemes and power
- The NBA draft. The Wizards are drafting no. 5, giving them many options on guys like Jordan Hill, Brandon Jennings, etc. This can also go towards trades.
- Flip Saunders. Despite last year, he had a great past year with the Minnesota Timberwolves while Garnett was there, leading them to the Western Conference finals. He'll be head coach, along with Randy Wittman and Sam Cassell, all past Minnesotans.
- Official Prediction: 36-46
4) Memphis Grizzlies: The grizzlies had a tied record with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but had to win six of their last 10 to tie. This gives great insight as to why this team will be better.
- Three man nucleus: O.J Mayo. What more can I say about this guy, he averaged over 18 points in his rookie season, but towards the end he reached a rookie wall, where he slowed down a bit. But there's no doubt in my mind that this sophomore will be the sub conscious leader for the Grizzlies next year.
Rudy Gay. He was the scoring leader of the grizzlies, and is one of the most athletic players in the NBA. He will still continue to lead in scoring. Marc Gasol. As good as his brother? Maybe better. He averaged 11 PPG and 7 RPG in his rookie year. No doubt this is their third guy, maybe one day becoming their first guy.
- The NBA draft: They have the No. 2 pick, giving them a chance to draft Rubio. While Rubio has stated that he does not want to play for Memphis, if he still declares for the draft, can you spell T.R.A.D.E? Every team that is lacking a point guard is looking for their guard of the future, so expect the Grizzlies to get even better.
- Official Prediction: 36-46
3) Indiana Pacers. There is no doubt that this team will be a playoff contender. Here are some of the reasons as to why they will be better next year.
- Three man nucleus. Danny Granger: The most improved player of 08-09 has verbally committed to defense next year, stating he wants to make the all-defensive team next year. Danny Granger averaged 25 PPG, 5 RPG, 3 APG, 1 BPG, 1 SPG.
Danny Granger does not have long to go for the defensive team, since he averaged 1 steal and 1 block. Troy Murphy who averaged 14 PPG and 11 RPG is slated for a 18 PPG and 12 RPG improvement next season. T.J Ford who averaged 15 PPG, and 5 APG will also improve
- Return of Mike Dunleavy. He only played 18 games last year, and the return of Mike Dunleavy adding his 15 PPG in 70-80 games next year is huge for the Indiana Pacers.
- NBA Draft. Ty Lawson could be seeing playing time for the Indiana Pacers. News reports that Ty could be filling in for Ford and Jack, stating that he does not know if they are happy there. Ty Lawson is super athletic and has a knack for distributing.
- Official Prediction: 41-41
2) Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves have a great season in front of them. Here are a few reasons why.
- Return of Injured Players. Al Jefferson. The return of Al Jefferson, one of the only players to average 20-10 last year will return as starting PF or C. Corey Brewer, the defensive standout will be finally back on the roster. Randy Foye will be back and ready to add his 18 PPG.
- NBA draft. The Timberwolves have three first round draft picks, and 2 second round draft picks.
- David Kahn is the new GM, who has a good background with the Indiana Pacers going to the Eastern Conference finals in 04.
- Nucleus. Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Kevin Love. All combine for 50 PPG and 25 RPG.
- Official Prediction: 43-39
1) Oklahoma City Thunder. I can't deny that the Thunder have the best future in front of them. Here are some reasons why
- Three man nucleus. Kevin Durant. The guy is only a sophomore, and is averaging 25 PPG, 6 RPG and 2 APG. This guy could turn into a LeBron James if he develops a passing ability. Russel Westbrook averaged 15 PPG and 5 APG.
Westbrook is very well capable of being their PG of the future. Jeff Green averaged 16 PPG and 6 RPG and is what I call a "true forward", meaning he plays PF and SF, often taking advantage of his size on SF's, and quickness on PF's.
- NBA Draft. OKC has the No. 3 pick, meaning they are going to most likely get Thabeet, a 7'3'' shot blocking machine.
- Official Prediction: 44-38
Note: These are only assuming the teams have relatively the same roster, everyone is healthy, etc..