The Question Every NBA Team Has Failed to Answer in 2019-20

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterApril 10, 2020

The Question Every NBA Team Has Failed to Answer in 2019-20

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    With roughly 20 percent of the NBA regular season left to be played, every team could use some extra time to sort out unanswered questions.

    Whether it be lottery-bound teams developing young cores or playoff hopefuls that are trying to incorporate trade-deadline additions, every team still needs more time to evaluate its roster.

    When the NBA resumes, these are the biggest issues teams should seek clarity for.

Atlanta Hawks: How Will Clint Capela Fit In?

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    The Atlanta Hawks gave up the Brooklyn Nets' first-round pick, a 2026 second-round pick and Evan Turner to get Clint Capela from the Houston Rockets in a four-team deal at the trade deadline. Two months later, we still have no idea how he fits on the roster.

    Capela had been sidelined with plantar fasciitis and a bone bruise in his heel since Jan. 29 and was scheduled to be reevaluated March 18. At that point there would have only been 13 games left on Atlanta's schedule.

    Since the team is stocked with young talent at the four other positions, Atlanta's trade for the 25-year-old Capela made sense. He averaged 14.9 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.7 blocks per game and shot 64.5 percent from the field in Houston over the past three years, playing strong defense that should help the Hawks' No. 28 ranking (114.8 rating) in the category.

    Spacing could become an issue given Capela's lack of shooting, but power forward John Collins is up to a career-high 40.1 percent mark from three to help ease any concerns.

    Depending on the severity of Capela's injuries, we may not get our answer until next season.

Boston Celtics: Is Daniel Theis the Answer at Center?

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    While the Boston Celtics were probably hoping to snag Tristan Thompson or John Henson on the buyout market, they'll have to settle for a center combination of Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter and Robert Williams III.

    With Theis locked in as starter, the 28-year-old is averaging 9.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and shooting 56.5 percent in just 23.8 minutes per game. Despite his modest size, the 6'8", 245-pound Theis is a good athlete who times his shot contests well.

    Come the playoffs, however, his lack of size could be an issue.

    If the postseason started with the current seedings, Boston would face the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round in a No. 3 vs. No. 6 series. That means a Theis-Joel Embiid matchup, with Embiid standing four inches taller and outmuscling Theis by 35 pounds.

    If Boston were to advance, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol of the Toronto Raptors would likely be up next, followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    While Theis has done a solid job, can he hold up night after night against much bigger, stronger competition in the playoffs?

Brooklyn Nets: Can Jacque Vaughn Get the Full-Time Job?

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    Taking over for the fired Kenny Atkinson, Jacque Vaughn coached just two games with the Brooklyn Nets before the NBA was suspended March 11.

    While he went 2-0 in those games, which included an impressive road win over the Los Angeles Lakers, he'll likely need a far bigger sample size to make a case for keeping the job past this season.

    Slapped with the interim tag, Vaughn does bring an impressive resume with him to get a contract extension.

    He's a former NBA point guard, playing 12 seasons for the Utah Jazz, Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic, New Jersey Nets and San Antonio Spurs. He's played alongside guys like John Stockton, Karl Malone, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Tim Duncan, learning from some all-time coaching greats in Jerry Sloan and Gregg Popovich.

    He also brings head-coaching experience, leading the Magic from 2012 to 2015.

    While former head coaches like Tyronn Lue, Mark Jackson and David Fizdale may all be considered, Vaughn shouldn't be ruled out.

Charlotte Hornets: Is Devonte' Graham a Star or 6th Man?

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    Devonte' Graham began his season on the Charlotte Hornets' bench before the organization quickly figured out he was its best player.

    Averaging 18.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game, Graham has become a beacon of hope on a miserable Hornets roster that still has to pay Terry Rozier $36.8 million over the next two years.

    Still, it's fair to question Graham's ceiling and role on a playoff team.

    Despite his high scoring and assist marks, the 25-year-old is shooting just 38.2 percent from the field. Of the 57 players who have taken at least 750 shots this season, he ranks last in field-goal percentage.

    A split from playing alongside Rozier may help, as Graham has a true shooting percentage of 59.0 off the bench, compared to 52.9 percent as a starter. On the season, he owns a net rating of minus-6.0 when sharing the court with Rozier, compared to minus-1.5 when Graham is in the game and Rozier sits. His true shooting jumps from 51.1 percent to 57.3 percent when getting the floor to himself, as well.

    If the Hornets don't want to move Rozier and his contract to the bench, then letting Graham thrive as a reserve may be the better option.

Chicago Bulls: What Position Should Be Addressed in the Draft?

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    Is the Chicago Bulls' rebuild at the point of drafting for position, or is this still a best-player-available sort of deal?

    That's what Chicago has to figure out, and it has more questions than answers regarding foundational pieces.

    Wendell Carter Jr. is safe at center, having averaged 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game, with a plus-4.0 on/off rating this year. Injuries have stalled his first two seasons, but he's got star potential and can anchor a defense.

    Coby White has made major improvements as the year's gone on from the point guard position, but he's not a true pass-first floor general. Zach LaVine is averaging 25.5 points per game but has spent more time at small forward this season than his native shooting guard.

    Otto Porter Jr. was brilliant after coming over in a trade from the Washington Wizards last season but has played in just 14 games this year because of foot problems and holds a player option for 2020-21. Power forward didn't look like a need with Lauri Markkanen in tow, but his production has dipped across the board.

    Center looks like the only position the Bulls should avoid in the draft, with more time needed to evaluate the other spots.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Does Andre Drummond Fit the Rebuild?

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    While the Cleveland Cavaliers can be patient with their young backcourt of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr., they may need to make a decision on 26-year-old Andre Drummond soon.

    Acquiring him for a pair of expiring contracts and a 2023 second-round pick was fine, especially with the level of production (17.5 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 1.4 blocks in 28.1 minutes per game) he's given Cleveland in his first eight games.

    With the Cavs' three young guards averaging 20 years in age, does Drummond still fit a rebuilding timeline when he's set to turn 27 in August? General manager Koby Altman seems to think so.

    "Absolutely, we consider him a potential long-term play," Altman said in a conference call after the trade deadline. "Obviously, he has a player option that if he picks up, we think we're in good shape in terms of our cap space. There's no better money spent than on Andre Drummond if he picks up his option."

    Barring a trade, Drummond will almost certainly be back with the Cavaliers next season on a $28.8 million player option.

    After that, the Cavs may be wary of investing in a non-modern center who's approaching 30.

Dallas Mavericks: Are the Mavericks Under- or Overrated?

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    When talking NBA title contenders, the Dallas Mavericks often get left out of the conversation.

    But why? Dallas has the NBA's sixth-highest net rating (plus-5.8), ahead of teams such as the Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets.

    They've also had the No. 1-ranked offense nearly all season (115.8 rating), with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis thriving in their roles.

    While this makes the Mavs seem underrated, they have their faults.

    They have fallen to seventh place in the Western Conference standings. The defense is just 17th overall, and losing Dwight Powell to a torn right Achilles in January was a devastating blow.

    Getting out of the seventh seed is a big deal, as moving up to sixth means the difference between playing the Los Angeles Clippers or the Nuggets in the first round.

    But without a postseason, we probably won't know how to properly value this team.

Denver Nuggets: Is Michael Porter Jr. Ready for a Starting Job?

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    Michael Porter Jr. has all the makings of a star.

    He possesses a 6'10", 218-pound athletic frame that seems a model for today's power forward. His 42.2 percent shooting from three on 102 attempts proves his outside game should be sustainable, and his 16.5 total rebound percentage is already better than Paul Millsap's (13.5).

    Despite all these positive qualities, Porter Jr. is averaging just 14.0 minutes in his 48 games, starting just once.

    While head coach Michael Malone doesn't appear to be the biggest fan of playing a rookie for a team with title hopes, the Nuggets will need clarity on his progress before the offseason.

    Millsap is 35 and set to become an unrestricted free agent. Backup Jerami Grant has a player option for $9.3 million that he could easily decline.

    At some point, Porter Jr. will play a big role for the Nuggets. They need to find out if he's ready for the promotion.

Detroit Pistons: How to Approach Next Season

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    By keeping veteran point guard Derrick Rose at the trade deadline, the Detroit Pistons signaled they may not be ready to dive into a deep rebuild.

    While Drummond was essentially traded for cap space and Reggie Jackson waived, Rose remains under contract for next season, and Blake Griffin has two years and $75.8 million remaining on his deal.

    Griffin had season-ending knee surgery in early January, meaning the Pistons will be hard-pressed to find a taker for his contract.

    If Griffin and Rose are both coming back, should Detroit still try to make the playoffs?

    One of the few teams with significant cap space this summer, the Pistons could try to entice a player such as Fred VanVleet or DeMar DeRozan (player option) to jump on board if they don't want to go the rebuilding route. Bringing back center Christian Wood (21.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game, .560/.408/.734 as a starter) is a must as well.

    With the Eastern Conference still incredibly weak toward the bottom, it's reasonable to think of Detroit as a playoff team next season.

Golden State Warriors: Can Andrew Wiggins Be Reprogrammed?

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    Andrew Wiggins has built a reputation for being an inefficient scorer who doesn't provide much rebounding or ball distribution, despite his obvious athletic gifts.

    So far with the Golden State Warriors, that hasn't changed.

    Wiggins' true shooting percentage has remained about the same going from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Warriors (53.5 percent to 54.2 percent), as have his rebounding (7.9 total rebound percentage to 7.4) and passing (18.1 assist percentage to 18.2).

    The 25-year-old small forward has never been a good defender, either, an issue that could show up more on a title-hopeful Warriors team.

    So much of Golden State's success over the past decade has revolved not just around outside shooting, but also ball movement and defense. Those aren't Wiggins' strengths.

    Six years into Wiggins' career, can the Warriors instill some of those things, or do they just have to accept that this is who he is?

Houston Rockets: Can Small Ball Work in the Playoffs?

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    By swapping center Clint Capela in a trade for Robert Covington, the Houston Rockets committed to a small-ball unit that's worked really well.

    An 8-6 record with Covington in the lineup doesn't seem that special, but the lineups he's joined have been extremely successful.

    The five-man unit of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, P.J. Tucker, Danuel House and Covington has a net rating of plus-10.7 in 164 total minutes. With Eric Gordon instead of House, Houston is still a plus-7.1 in 45 minutes together.

    In theory, this should work in the postseason when defenses regularly switch. Having extra wings on the floor who can move, contest shots and cut off driving lanes should help.

    Having to play a series against one of the Western Conference's premier bigs (Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic) could prove problematic for the Rockets, however.      

Indiana Pacers: Is Victor Oladipo Really Back?

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    Victor Oladipo only played 13 games this season before the NBA went on hiatus and looked far from the player who's been named a two-time All-Star with the Indiana Pacers.

    Without him, Indiana would probably be lucky to make it past the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. With him at his best, the Pacers have a chance at winning multiple series.

    We've seen what Oladipo can do as a No. 1 option in the postseason, pushing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to seven games in 2018. During that series, he averaged 22.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.4 steals per game, and shot 40.4 percent from three..

    In his first eight contests back from a quad injury this season, Oladipo predictably struggled. His averages of 10.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game on 33.3 percent shooting were far from what we've grown accustomed to from the 2013 No. 2 overall pick.

    In the five games after that, however, Oladipo looked much better, putting up averages of 18.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 steals and shooting 47.1 percent overall in 27.4 minutes per contest.

    The extra time off may be good for Oladipo.

Los Angeles Clippers: Is the No. 1 Seed Still Within Reach?

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    The Los Angeles Clippers were playing some of their best basketball before the suspension, claiming second place in the Western Conference behind the additions of Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson.

    Since the All-Star break, the Clippers had the best net rating in the NBA (plus-11.5), comfortably ahead of the second-placed Los Angeles Lakers (plus-6.9).

    Only the Lakers had posted a better record since the break, going 8-2 to the Clippers' 7-2 mark.

    This means no ground gained for the Clips, who trail the Lakers by 5.5 games in the West. Getting the No. 1 seed would mean home-court advantage in a potential Western Conference Finals matchup with the Lakers, a meeting that seems inevitable.

    While it wouldn't be a typical home-court advantage situation, given both teams play in the same arena, changing out the court to the Clippers' logo and covering up the Lakers' championship banners could create a psychological advantage, especially since would mean they had caught James and Co. for the No. 1 seed.

Los Angeles Lakers: Can L.A. Finish with NBA's Best Record?

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    As unbelievable as it may be, a James-led team hasn't finished with the NBA's best record since the 2012-13 Miami Heat went 66-16.

    This year, the Los Angeles Lakers have a chance.

    Sitting at 49-14, they trail the Milwaukee Bucks by only three games with 19 contests to go, assuming the NBA plays out the rest of the regular season.

    While there's still a chance the Clippers close the 5.5-game gap in the West, the Lakers should be motivated to get home-court advantage because of a potential Finals against the Bucks.

    James has begun his last five NBA Finals on the road, ever since starting in Miami in 2013. Opening a Finals in Los Angeles for a pair of games would be huge, especially considering Milwaukee is 28-3 at home this season.

Memphis Grizzlies: How Does Justise Winslow Fit?

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    Justise Winslow has yet to play a game since he headed over from the Miami Heat in February in the Andre Iguodala trade, as a back injury's kept him out.

    Having just turned 24, Winslow fits the Grizzlies' young core in both age and upside. He's one of the NBA's most versatile players, spending time at point guard, shooting guard, small forward and power forward for the Heat this season.

    He brings a unique skill set to Memphis as well.

    At 6'6" and 222 pounds, Winslow played with the ball in his hands a lot for Miami last year, showing the ability to get others involved while picking his spots to attack. He's not a consistent outside shooter yet, with a 33.7 percent mark from three for his career.

    While Memphis can use another ball-handler to give Ja Morant a break, Winslow will have to be a good enough floor-spacer to keep Morant's attack options open.

Miami Heat: Can Jimmy Butler Be the Best Player on a Title Team?

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    There's no doubting Jimmy Butler's talent. Few carry as good of an overall game or bring the competitiveness that the five-time All-Star does every night.

    Still, few players can carry an NBA team to a title. James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Curry are the only active players to be considered the best player on their respective title teams, with Giannis Antetokounmpo looking like the next one in line.

    Has Butler reached this level yet? At age 30, will he ever?

    He's played second fiddle to Derrick Rose, Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid in the past, looking like a phenomenal No. 2 option.

    While he's got plenty of help in All-Star Bam Adebayo, Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragic, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and Iguodala, Butler will have to prove he can push the Miami Heat over the top.

Milwaukee Bucks: Is Donte DiVincenzo the Secret Weapon?

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    Losing Malcolm Brogdon last offseason severely hurt the Milwaukee Bucks' backcourt and forced them to start 33-year-old Wesley Matthews at shooting guard.

    Signing veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver helped ease the loss, but the 39-year-old can no longer play big minutes.

    Instead, the answer to the position may have already been on the roster.

    Donte DiVincenzo was the 17th overall pick in 2018 before injuries plagued his rookie campaign. Now as one of the team's major bench pieces, he's growing closer to claiming the starting job.

    His last four games were perhaps his best, with averages of 15.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals and a slash line of .575/.429/.727.

    If Eric Bledsoe once again undergoes a disappointing playoff stretch, DiVincenzo could be Milwaukee's secret weapon.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Has D'Angelo Russell Finally Found a Home?

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    Playing for his fourth team in five seasons (and third in his last two), D'Angelo Russell may finally stay put.

    His time with the Lakers—after being selected No. 2 overall in 2015—lasted just two years, as did his stay with the Nets. Although he made the East All-Star team last season, the Nets cut a check to Kyrie Irving instead and dealt Russell to the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade.

    It was a no-brainer when the Timberwolves had the chance to get Russell and unload Wiggins' contract for a 2021 first-round pick in February.

    Russell is under contract for the next three seasons, so he won't leave on his own. However, the combination of him and Towns has to work, since the Wolves won't part with their cornerstone anytime soon.

    Russell's early showing with the team has been positive (21.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.4 steals in 32.7 minutes per game), and there's a young core in Malik Beasley, 23, and Jarrett Culver, 21, that could make up for any defensive struggles Russell has.

    He's finally going to stay somewhere for more than two years, right?

New Orleans Pelicans: Is Lonzo Ball Approaching Star Status?

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    Lost in the Zion Williamson frenzy and the All-Star play of Brandon Ingram has been Lonzo Ball, who's quietly developing into a good all-around player.

    Over his last 16 games, Ball averaged 14.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.8 steals and shot 45.7 percent from three on 6.6 attempts. The New Orleans Pelicans went 9-7 over that span, closing the gap behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed to just 3.5 games.

    Though Ball is blessed with physical gifts that include a 6'6", 190-pound frame, his outside shot and overall offensive game were rough coming out of UCLA. He made just 36.0 percent of his shots as a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers, including 30.5 percent from three.

    While it took Ingram until his fourth season to become a star, Ball is starting the transition in year three.

    For now, it appears the Davis trade is working out for both sides.

New York Knicks: Was RJ Barrett the Right Pick?

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    With Morant and Zion thriving as rookies, the No. 3 pick hasn't been as successful.

    While RJ Barrett is second on the Knicks in scoring, he's doing so while shooting just 40.2 percent overall and 32.0 percent from deep. He ranks 126th among 136 shooting guards in ESPN's real plus-minus, even behind fellow rookies Culver, Jordan Poole and Ty Jerome.

    With other rookies such as Herro, Garland, P.J. Washington, Rui Hachimura and White showing strong upside, was the Barrett pick mistake?

    More time is needed, but recent results have been promising.

    Over his last eight games, Barrett was up to 18.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals and was shooting 48.2 percent overall and 37.5 percent from three.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Should Chris Paul Still Be Traded?

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    After searching for and failing to find someone who would take Chris Paul from them last summer, will the Oklahoma City Thunder even want to trade the future Hall of Fame point guard now?

    Paul has OKC in the fifth seed at 40-24 as an All-Star this season who's averaging 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 31.8 minutes per game.

    His leadership has been tremendous, and fellow point guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder are thriving next to Paul—even though it means sharing the ball more than they're used to.

    With Paul's stock up and another year chopped off his massive contract, teams are sure to call this offseason to check in on what he'd cost.

    For OKC, it's probably still worth moving him. Paul will turn 35 in May, is owed $41 million next season and holds a $44.2 million player option in 2021-22. As good as he's been, there's just no way his production will come close to matching that salary.

Orlando Magic: What's the Future of the Center Position?

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    While the Orlando Magic could use additional talent in the backcourt and on the wing, their frontcourt has plenty of capable bodies.

    Nikola Vucevic is Orlando's best player and lone All-Star, averaging 19.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.9 blocks and 1.5 three-pointers per game. The team's starting center for the past eight seasons, Vucevic is still only 29 and is under contract for three years and $72 million.

    While it doesn't make sense to look for an upgrade yet, what will become of Mo Bamba?

    The No. 6 overall pick in 2018, Bamba is only receiving 14.5 minutes per game off the bench and will likely need more of an opportunity to grow. He's already a better rim protector than Vucevic (8.9 block percentage to 2.4 percent) and has shown better potential as a shooter from outside the arc. Bamba has the best rebound percentage on the team, pulling down 18.5 percent of all available boards.

    Keeping both seems like a waste of Bamba's talent, but promoting him to the starting lineup and benching Vucevic wouldn't make sense either.

    Orlando needs clarity on the future of the center position, and who better fills the spot long term.

Philadelphia 76ers: Will Bully Ball Work in the Playoffs?

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    While the season hasn't gone as smoothly as the Philadelphia 76ers would have hoped, it won't be deemed a failure or success until the playoffs end.

    Al Horford, 33, is quickly deteriorating, and the fit with him and Embiid is clunky at best. Ben Simmons still isn't shooting threes regularly, and the offense has stumbled to 18th overall.

    While their floor is a first-round playoff exit, this team can still make the Eastern Conference Finals.

    A sixth-ranked defense should be good enough to give even the Bucks, Raptors and Celtics problems, and Philly has the size and physicality to beat up opponents over seven games.

    Experience still matters, and this team has played four playoff series over the past two years and added Horford, a veteran of 11 postseasons and 120 total games.

Phoenix Suns: When Will Potential Equal Wins?

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    This was the year the Phoenix Suns would turn upside into wins.

    A new head coach in Monty Williams. A veteran pass-first point guard in Ricky Rubio. The continued growth of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Kelly Oubre Jr.

    A 7-4 start to the season made it seem like Phoenix was putting it all together. Since then, however, the Suns have gone 19-35, tied with the Charlotte Hornets for 22nd in the NBA.

    Booker has been brilliant as a first-time All-Star who's increased his efficiency in a 26.1-point, 6.6-assist per-night effort. Rubio is third in the NBA with 8.9 assists per game, and Ayton is up to 19.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per contest.

    The talent is there to make a playoff run, or at least show progress.

    With a net rating on the year tied with the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies (minus-1.0), the Suns have a shot to start winning.

Portland Trail Blazers: Will Reinforcements Be Enough for a Playoff Run?

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    Even at 29-37, the Portland Trail Blazers' playoff dreams aren't dead.

    Unlike for the Pelicans, Spurs and Kings just behind them in the standings, reinforcements are coming.

    Both center Jusuf Nurkic (leg) and power forward/center Zach Collins (shoulder) were close to making their returns from injury before the season went on hiatus, with their additions perhaps being Portland's last hope at getting the eighth seed.

    Nurkic averaged 15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 blocks per game last season, while Collins put up 9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and was shooting 42.9 percent from three in his three games this year.

    Nurkic was arguably the second-best player on Portland's roster last season, and when healthy, he represents a big upgrade over Hassan Whiteside. Collins is just scratching the surface of his potential and can play either post position while stretching the floor.

    Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony can only do so much, and getting Nurkic and Collins back may be enough to get the Blazers into the postseason.

Sacramento Kings: What Does Buddy Hield's Future Hold?

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    Buddy Hield was the primary returning piece from the 2017 DeMarcus Cousins trade and looked primed for a breakout after signing a four-year, $94 million deal this past offseason.

    A dynamic scorer and one of the league's best three-point shooters, Hield seemed like a guaranteed starter.

    Instead, head coach Luke Walton switched Hield to the bench after 44 starts, making Hield the team's new sixth man and starting Bogdan Bogdanovic. Sacramento has gone 13-7 since.

    While the strategy seems to be working, is it sustainable? Or will Hield ask out of Sacramento if he's forced to come off the bench?

    Bogdanovic can leave in free agency this summer if the Kings don't match any offer sheet he receives, but not trading him at the deadline probably means they will.

    That leaves Hield in limbo.

San Antonio Spurs: What Will DeMar DeRozan Do with His Player Option?

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    While the San Antonio Spurs may still have to fight what's likely a losing battle for the final playoff spot in the West, a more interesting story is what will take place in the offseason.

    DeMar DeRozan leads the Spurs in scoring (22.2 points per game) and assists (5.6), shooting a career-high 52.6 percent from the field.

    He can also become a free agent this summer, as he has a $27.7 million player option.

    DeRozan could take the money given the lack of teams with cap space—the Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets are projected to have significant room—and enter free agency in 2021, or try to cash out now before bigger names hit the market.

    There's still a chance that he and the Spurs could agree on a multiyear deal, assuming Gregg Popovich isn't ready to retire and San Antonio feels it can make another playoff push next year.

    DeRozan's decision will have a huge impact on the franchise.

Toronto Raptors: Is a Repeat a Real Possibility?

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    While it seemed impossible after losing Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green last summer, could the Toronto Raptors win the title again?

    No team has a better record over the past few months than Toronto, which has gone 21-4 since Jan. 13. Only the Milwaukee Bucks have a better net rating (plus-8.9 to plus-8.3), and the Raptors are 6.5 games back of first place in the East.

    During that stretch, Toronto has posted the league's fifth-best offensive rating and No. 2 defense. The Clippers are the only other team ranked in the top five in both categories during that time.

    The experience is clearly there, and the core of Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka remains.

    They won't be the favorite to come out of the East with Milwaukee around, but the Raptors should still probably be considered a title contender.

Utah Jazz: Which Version of Mike Conley Will Show Up in Playoffs?

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    It's been a rough adjustment for Mike Conley in his first professional season outside Memphis.

    He has been shuffled from starter to reserve and back to starter again, all while trying to adjust to his new surroundings at age 32.

    His averages are arguably the worst they've been since his rookie season: 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists per game and a true shooting mark of just 52.7 percent.

    Even with Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles all handling the ball, Utah needs Conley to make noise in the playoffs.

    The good news? The former Ohio State star was up to 16.1 points, 5.3 assists, 1.3 steals and just 1.9 turnovers over his last seven games while shooting 45.8 percent from three. Utah went 5-2 in that time.   

Washington Wizards: How Long Will Bradley Beal's Patience Last?

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    Bradley Beal is second in the NBA with 30.5 points per game, adding 4.2 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.2 steals and playing 36.0 minutes per night.

    One thing he wasn't, was an All-Star.

    While the production is clearly there, playing on a woeful Washington Wizards team doomed his chances of being picked.

    In the 10 games Beal has scored 40 or more points, the Wizards are 1-9, including 0-2 when he goes for 50-plus.

    While an October contract extension prevented him from being traded before the deadline, that ban will have been lifted by the time the next offseason begins.

    After another lottery-bound season, the Wizards should be wary of a trade request.


    Salary-cap info via Spotrac.