The Top 10 Improving NBA Teams
Professional sports always see constant shakeups. Teams get better, then they get worse, then better then worse. The No. 1 teams are only No. 1 for so long, before they hand it off to new teams.
This year, we saw some shakeups in the NBA surrounding the high class free agents. We will also be seeing some more highly anticipated ones in the years to come.
With all of these moves, aging players, and team adjustments, here are the 10 NBA teams whose status is going to be increasing in the coming years.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers got very lucky in the draft getting the #2 overall pick, and now with Andre Iguodala, and Evan Turner on the wings, it seems like the Sixers know what they're doing.
The PG position is a little shaky, and Elton Brand is never as healthy as Philadelphia needs him to be, but the Sixers definitely have a bright future ahead of them, despite Turner's slow Summer League play.
Last year was a step backward, but adding Nocioni, Turner, and Hawes will really help them get back to playoff status soon.
9. Houston Rockets
The Rockets have a pretty bright future after last season.
Granted, 42-40 isn't overly impressive, but I think that the Kevin Martin deal should still be exciting for Rockets fans, considering how jammed they were at PF, and how badly they needed a great shooting guard. Jordan Hill will hopefully improve, and hopefully Patrick Patterson will have been a great draft pick at 14.
Of course, a lot of their future relies on the return of Yao Ming, but whether or not he does will probably decide whether they become good or great. Without Yao, the team still has a bright future with Aaron Brooks, Jordan Hill, Courtney Lee, Kevin Martin, Brad Miller, Patrick Patterson, and Luis Scola.
Plus, their star player just won the NBA award for improving.
8. Portland Trailblazers
The Blazers have one of the best looking futures in the NBA. They're a young team that is in the playoffs year after year, and they're continuing to get better.
Brandon Roy is a terrific piece to center a franchise around, and LaMarcus Aldridge is a great #2. If Greg Oden can have a healthy season for the Blazers in any given year, they can become one of the higher seeds in the playoffs. They've overpaid for a few free agents in the past few years (Andre Miller, Wesley Matthews), but adding small pieces never hurt anybody.
As they're young players like Luke Babbit, Nicolas Batum, and Jerryd Bayless continue to improve as bench options, the Blazers will really start to see themselves becoming an elite Western Conference team.
7. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors could have been a little more productive with their 6th overall pick. They also gave away a few of their starters in a trade this offseason while still scrambling to find an owner.
But I noticed something about the Warriors this season. Their starting lineup:
Andris Biedrins, David Lee, Ekpe Udoh, Monta Ellis, and Stephen Curry.
That's a great starting lineup. They've got 2-3 All-Star caliber guys, a balance of offense with Ellis and Lee, and defense of Udoh and Biedrins, and Stephen Curry looks like one of the brightest stars in the NBA.
The team as a whole looks like it'll be a good mesh, but they have to prove it by putting some wins on the board.
6. New York Knicks
I, like many people out there, am iffy about the current state of the New York Knicks.
I like that they got quality backup players with the David Lee trade. I like how they kept Chandler and Gallinari.
But, they are completely untested, and could go right back where they came from. They've paid a lot of money to a free agent that may not work out (sound familiar?), and now they're waiting once again for 2011 where more free agents will appear.
However, if they show a little improvement this year, that will be huge for them. If Amare can play well for the Knicks this season, then why shouldn't Carmelo sign with them next season? They're future is starting to look up, and while they couldn't court the king, they'll be showing some improvement in the coming NBA seasons.
5. Los Angeles Clippers
As Blake Griffin enters his rookie year, there's a lot of excitement surrounding the 21 year-old.
Adding Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, and Al-Farouq Aminu this offseason, along with the "addition" of Griffin has a lot of people praying for the playoffs, and for a good reason too.
A team with Griffin, Kaman, Gordon, Davis, and Vinny del Negro will have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs this year, and in the coming years. Although they fell a bit short in free agency, this year looks like it could be a good one in Los Angeles, and not just because of the Lakers.
The Clippers are looking pretty good.
4. Milwaukee Bucks
If you would have said that the Bucks were a dark horse candidate to be in the playoffs last season, you'd be alone on that call. Yet one year later, the Bucks appear to be back once again, ready to take a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The future looks good for the Bucks.
The return of Michael Redd will give the Bucks some more fire power to build around Brandon Jennings, and Andrew Bogut, and adding the 30-year-old Maggette will help them as well.
But the real highlight of Milwaukee is the sophomore Brandon Jennings, and the old #1 overall pick Andrew Bogut, who both shocked the world last season when they led the Bucks to the #6 seed in the East last season.
With a season of experience under Brandon's belt, and Bogut becoming the comeback kid for the Bucks, the future is definitely filled with promise in Milwaukee.
Fear the deer.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
It's easy to see why the Thunder are on this list. The 20-year-old Durant, 22-year-old Green, and 20-year-old Westbrook took the team to the 8th seed last season, where they scared the Lakers a little bit when they took the series to a close six games.
Now they've done nothing but add to that core in the offseason, with players like Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Mo Peterson. In adding those bench pieces, and filling in that big hole at center, the Thunder have become one of the most talked about teams in the NBA.
Being the only pro team in Oklahoma, the Thunder have a never ending fan base, a great program, and an incredibly gifted group of young players.
Some people are predicting them as high as the #2 seed in the West next season. You can see why, the Thunder are going to be good.
2. Chicago Bulls
As one of the two big winners in the offseason, the Bulls kept their core group of guys, while adding Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, and a few other great pieces.
Keeping those players will make a huge difference to these guys.
Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, and Derrick Rose brought the Bulls to a 41-41 season, the 8th seed in the playoffs, and a lot of success. Adding more large pieces will make them much, much better.
A core of Noah, Deng, Boozer, and Rose will be going far soon, and adding guys like Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver will only make the Bulls better. They'll be winning a lot more than 41 games this season, and seeing how young their core group is, it's easy to see why they'll be doing it for a long time.
1. Miami Heat
Can this even be classified as an improvement? When you talk about bright futures in the NBA, you're thinking of teams with young players who are adding pieces constantly to become great.
Then there's the Heat.
With so much experience on this team, it's hard to believe that they'll be able to keep a high status for a long time. Think again, LeBron James is 25. Chris Bosh is 26. Dwayne is only 28. They're going to be an amazing team for a long, long time.
When you talk about an improvement, think about this possibility: a 5th seed team that was eliminated easily in the first round to a team that could possibly break the NBA single season record for wins one day. That's an improvement.