An Uphill Climb for the Bottom Dwellers of the NBA

Basketball is back. The NBA season begins tomorrow, when all the off-season drama will be over and only the games will count. I was going to do a division-by-division preview but then I remembered I actually had a lot of schoolwork to do—darn you accounting—so that never materialized. But now I’m back and better than ever after my hiatus, and I’m ready to give my full NBA preview. I’ll do power rankings of the teams and categorize teams based on the state of their team going into this season. This article will feature the bottom ten teams in the NBA and their prospects going into this year.

Fight for the first pick

30. Philadelphia 76ers: This is a team content with being awful this year and for a few more. The over/under for this team is 16 and the under seems like more of a lock at this point. They won a whopping 19 games last year and this team is even worse this year with only a few true NBA players on the roster. The return of Nerlens Noel is the only thing to look forward to this year if you’re a Sixers fan as they’ll be in the hunt for the No. 1 pick in the draft.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves: Losing a top-10 player in the offseason is a never good thing. The T’Wolves got some good value out of the Kevin Love trade but no proven commodities. Their roster features a lot of young talent, which is a good thing, but lacks a veteran presence to help mentor the younger players, which will hurt them. There will be a lot of growing pains for the Wolves this year and playing in the Western conference will keep them in contention for the first pick.

What’s going on?

28. Los Angeles Lakers: As a long-time Lakers fan I know that it’ll be another rough season for the purple and yellow. Kobe is back, which is great, but have you looked at the rest of the roster? Other than Julius Randle, it makes me nauseous. Steve Nash is done for the season after carrying some heavy luggage so that’s probably a sign of how the Lakers season will go. Everyone wants to criticize Kobe for the poor state of the Lakers right now, but if David Stern didn’t veto the Chris Paul trade and Jim Buss hired Brian Shaw instead of Mike Brown, the Lakers would probably a title contender. It’s going to be another long season for this storied franchise with little hope on the horizon.

27. Indiana Pacers: Did any team in the NBA have a worse off-season than the Pacers? Indiana was on the brink of making the NBA Finals the past two seasons and now it looks like a team that’s going to go into rebuilding mode. Lance Stephenson left in free agency and Paul George suffered a gruesome ankle injury in a U.S scrimmage game that will sideline him for the year. This was a team already pressed for offense. Take off the two best playmakers from the roster, and it doesn’t look good. Roy Hibbert and David West will probably be on the trade block, as the Pacers will try to blow up their team from the past few years. An Indiana team that seemed primed to be contending for the championship for years to come had its title window slammed shut over the course of two weeks.

26. Sacramento Kings: Booooooogie!! Whenever this team is discussed, I am obligated to yell, “Boogie” in honor of Demarcus Cousins. Like their past off-seasons, the Kings had another head-scratcher. They drafted Nik Stauskas who plays the same position as Ben McLemore, who they drafted last year, so that makes no sense. The Kings also got rid of Isaiah Thomas and replaced him with subpar talent. Another bizarre off-season for Sacramento and it doesn’t seem like any improvement is on the way.

Young and Hopeful

25. Boston Celtics: This figures to be another rebuilding year in Boston, but unlike the rival Lakers, there seems to hope on the horizon for these young Celtics. Getting Marcus Smart and James Young in the draft was a win as both guys can be cornerstone pieces for the franchise going forward. Rajon Rondo will most likely be traded, but Boston can keep stockpiling the draft picks. This team won’t compete this year, but with the young talent and draft picks they’ve amassed, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting closer for the Celtics.

24. Utah Jazz: The Jazz are the second youngest team in the NBA, and they got even younger when they drafted the Australian sensation Dante Exum, who just turned 19 years old. This is a roster that features a lot of young talent and they should be on display this year. With first year head coach Quin Snyder, the Jazz are going to play a fast-pace style of offense, and with Trey Burke and Exum in the backcourt alongside Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks on the wings, they should be a fun team to watch. The Jazz seem to be a year or two away from being playoff contenders, but they should be exciting to follow this season.

23. Orlando Magic: Just like the Jazz, the Magic are one of the youngest teams in the NBA coming in as the fourth youngest team. Orlando drafted its point guard of the future in Elfrid Payton and an athletic nightmare for other teams in Aaron Gordon. Payton, tagged along with IU’s Victor Oladipo, will form one of the best young backcourts in the league for years to come. If the coaching staff can develop their younger players, Orlando can be a playoff contender this year. But if not, Orlando should be right in the thick of things throughout the coming years.

Middle of the Road

22. Denver Nuggets: This team was ravaged by injuries last year, losing Danilo Galilnari and JaVale McGee for the entire season. Kenneth Faried emerged into one of the best power forwards in the league and playing for the team USA over the summer will pay huge dividends this season. However, playing in the tough Western conference will do this team in. A mediocre roster with little cap space leaves Denver in the middle of the pack.

21. New Orleans Pelicans: This team will be a must watch this year just because of The Brow, Anthony Davis. He has emerged as one of the best players in the league and will be a force to be reckon with throughout his career. Along with Ryan Anderson, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, and Eric Gordon, the Pelicans should be a potent offensive team. But just like Denver, playing in the West will do them in. Brow power should be in full effect this year but it won’t be enough to get New Orleans into the playoffs.

Follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerDarwick and listen to him on WIUX B-side Sundays from 8-9pm