NBA Playoffs 2012: 5 Playoff Teams Headed for the Lottery in 2013
The NBA lottery is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it's the opportunity to rebuild your franchise by drafting high-caliber talent. On the other hand, it means that your team failed to make the playoffs the past season.
No matter how you look at it, the NBA lottery is both a good place and a bad place to be. Every year, the lottery sees teams that made playoff appearances the year before that are now struggling to find their way.
This year, those teams are the Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Hornets. Both teams made playoff appearances in 2011 and are now struggling to stay competitive in the Western Conference.
So, which 2012 NBA playoff teams are headed to the lottery in 2013?
Read on to find out.
The Orlando Magic made the 2012 NBA playoffs by the skin of their teeth.
The Magic ended the 2011-12 season losing 14 of their final 20 games, including the playoffs. If that's not a bad enough place to start, the Magic also will be starting off the 2012-13 season with a new general manager and a new head coach.
Oh, and they could very well be starting their year off without their franchise player, Dwight Howard.
There are too many questions surrounding the Magic heading into next season to consider them a lock to make a repeat playoff appearance in 2013.
Even if Dwight Howard is playing for the Magic next season, they still might not be able to compete in the Eastern Conference. The Magic just don't have enough truly elite talent on their roster to compete with the big guns in the East.
In 2013, they could see a large disparity between where they where a few years ago and where they are now.
As the elite talent in the Western Conference continues to get younger and younger, the foundation of the Dallas Mavericks continues to move in the opposite direction.
Even if the Mavericks retain every player currently on their roster, they won't be able to contend in the Western Conference next season. The West is just too good for an aging Mavericks team.
With Vince Carter, Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion all at their mid-30s or beyond, the Mavericks need to start getting younger if they want to run with teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City and L.A. Clippers.
The Mavericks need to decide if they want to start the rebuilding process around Nowitzki or if they want to put it off for one more year.
No matter which direction the Mavericks go as a franchise, they will certainly be headed for a high lottery pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
New York Knicks
Remember when the New York Knicks were sitting on the brink of disaster after an 8-15 start to the 2011-12 season?
Well, Knicks fans, that's the same spot the Knicks are going to be in next year. The only difference is that Jeremy Lin won't be able to save them in 2013.
No, it's not because he won't be back with the Knicks next year or because he'll be injured. The reason why Lin won't be the saving grace of the Knicks' franchise is because, now, every team in the NBA knows about him, and they also know how to stop him.
The Knicks have already proven that they can't win with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire on the court, but that doesn't mean they won't try to make it work one more time in 2013.
This offseason, the Knicks also need to decide which free agents to bring back and which ones to part ways with.
The only way the Knicks can avoid being a lottery team in 2013 is if they ditch the Jeremy Lin experiment and move in a different direction with their point guard situation. Going after a guy like Steve Nash wouldn't be a bad option. It's just a shame the Knicks seem set on bringing Lin back to the Big Apple.
The Utah Jazz barely escaped being a lottery team this past season, and they did so by winning their final five regular season games.
The main reason why the Jazz struggled this past season, including getting romped by the San Antonio Spurs, was because of the inconsistent production they received from the one- and two-guard spots.
Devin Harris certainly amped up his game at the end of the season, but his inefficient play in the playoffs reminded Jazz fans of why they wanted to get rid of him back before the trade deadline passed this past season.
If the Jazz are able to move Harris' $8.5 million contract by the start of the 2012-13 season, they might be able to make a return trip to the playoffs, because they have one of the best frontcourts in the game. But moving Harris this offseason will be a tall task for a Jazz team without any other legitimate trade bait.
The Jazz will almost certainly find themselves in the lottery in 2013, and that's not necessarily a bad place for them to be. It will be the chance they need to truly bolster their underperforming franchise around players like Paul Milsap, Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson.
With a solid 2013 lottery pick the Jazz could become a legitimate playoff contender in the West once again.
I know it's hard to believe that a team could be in the Eastern Conference finals one year and in the lottery the next. But the Celtics will prove that it's possible, as they'll certainly be a lottery team at the end of the 2012-13 season.
The Celtics currently only have five players under contract heading into the offseason. That uncertainty surrounding what their roster will look like next year is why they'll find themselves in the lottery at this time next year.
If the Celtics re-sign both Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, they'll be holding themselves back in terms of building for their future. If Danny Ainge was ready to break up the big three earlier this season, then what's going to hold him back from doing so this offseason, after a potential early exit from the Eastern Conference finals.
It's time for the Celtics to let go of their vaunted big three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett and start building the future of the franchise around Rajon Rondo.
With two first-round draft picks this season and a potential lottery pick next year, the Celtics could be well on their way to asserting themselves as a dominant team in the East without either Allen or Garnett.
While a future without KG and Allen is frightening for Boston fans, it's undoubtedly what needs to happen.