There are rarely surprises in the NBA standings, as the top teams in the league are usually pretty apparent. However, every year there a few teams that missed the playoffs the previous season and skyrocket up the standings. Here are five teams that were out of the postseason in 2016, but could surprise people and make the playoffs this season:
New Orleans was the hot young team in the league just two years ago as Anthony Davis was carrying this team to the postseason, but a terrible rash of injuries to everyone on their roster torpedoed their chances of success in 2015-16. Now full healthy, and with sharpshooter Buddy Hield in tow, the Pelicans should be returning to the top eight in the West - and Davis will be an MVP candidate again.
Randy Wittman’s time had simply run its course in Washington, causing the team to play uninspired and inconsistent basketball last season. New head man Scott Brooks should take care of that, and Washington used their cap space to find needed depth. John Wall and Bradley Beal will make the Wizards a playoff team again.
This would probably a year ahead of schedule for this young Timberwolves team, yet no one would be surprised to see them shoot up the Western Conference standings. Karl-Anthony Towns will only be better in his second year, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine will also be improved and Kris Dunn is a rookie capable of contributing in a big way . New head coach Tom Thibodeau is known for getting the most out of his teams, and there’s no limit to how good the T-Wolves can be.
This may be crazy (heck, it’s probably insane), but the Lakers are poised for a big improvement in their first season under Luke Walton. Their young core of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle will all flourish playing that system, and if their depth holds up, they could surprise many people.
The Knicks are not the "superteam" they might tell you they are, but that doesn't mean they won't be a quality squad this year. Derrick Rose makes this team more explosive, and Joakim Noah finally gives them an anchor on defense. Even if they get inconsistent play from them due to injuries, New York nearly made the playoffs last year without them. With a deeper bench and continued development of Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks will be in the playoffs this year - even perhaps as a top four seed in the East.Back to the NBA Newsfeed