Looking into the Future of the Lottery Teams in the NBA: Eastern Conference
Just as in the Western Conference, seven teams in the Eastern Conference missed the 2015-2016 postseason and are already looking toward the next season. And in this blog, I’ll look at their chances at success or if they will remain at the bottom of the standings.
The Bulls inexplicably missed the postseason this year despite being a playoff favorite every year. The Bulls finished the season 42-40 and coach Fred Hoiberg has taken his share of criticisms for their disappointing season. With stars Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Pau Gasol the Bulls were expected to battle with the Cavaliers in the top of the Eastern Conference. But injuries and lackluster performances doomed the Bulls season and they were sent home at the end of the regular season.
Chicago has a lot of decisions to make and it starts with whether Hoiberg is right for the job. Then, they must look at Rose and Noah and determine whether to keep these stars that have battled injuries. Add to that the fact that Gasol is getting older and Butler still hasn’t proven he can be the face of the franchise. This all points to the Bulls offseason being tumultuous and possibly the start of a rebuild in the Windy City.
2017 Playoff Possibilty: 50%
The Wizards were probably the second-most disappointing team in the East this year. With John Wall and Bradley Beal leading a young, talented roster, the Wizards were expected to return to the postseason again and improve upon last season. But instead, they missed the playoffs, finishing with a .500 record.
The Wizards began their offseason by firing coach Randy Wittman. They recently hired former Thunder coach Scott Brooks and surely hope that he can change their fortunes and do what he did with a young OKC team. I’m sure they are even hoping that he can somehow lure Kevin Durant to come to the nation’s capital and join an already good roster.
2017 Playoff Possibility: 80%
The Orlando Magic finished the 2015-2016 season with a 35-47 record, a ten game improvement from the previous year. The Magic, headed by coach and former original Magic player Scott Skiles, are a young and improving team in the weaker of the two conferences. Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon, and Nikol Vucevic are leading the Magic into the future and bring hope to the franchise that has been missing for quite some time.
The Magic have had some tough luck since coming into the league in 1989. First they lost Shaquille O’Neal after he looked to be the future of the franchise. Then Penny Hardaway couldn’t stay healthy. And years later, Dwight Howard left the Magic. But the Magic currently have a strong, young nucleus and hope to make a postseason push with these guys.
2017 Playoff Probability: 60%
The Bucks made the playoffs last season in Jason Kidd’s first year as coach. Expectations were high again this season but the Bucks faltered and finished 33-49 and out of the postseason. But not everything is doom and gloom. The Bucks have one of the best young players in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Whether going up for a rebound or taking the ball down court, “The Greek Freak” is one of the best all around players in the NBA and should be a star for many years to come. Khris Middleton, the former Texas A&M Aggie, also made a name for himself this year after not being drafted until the second round in 2012. Add Jabari Parker and a healthy Michael Carter-Williams, and the Bucks have a great core to improve upon.
2017 Playoff Probability: 70%
NEW YORK KNICKS
The 32-50 New York Knicks were a long running joke in the NBA this season. From drama with Carmelo Anthony to coaching horrors and Phil Jackson’s seeming lack of interest, the Knicks were a disaster much like the Lakers. About the only positive from the season was their first round draft pick, Kristaps Porzingis. The Latvian silenced doubters with a great rookie year, but proved that it takes more than him to lead the Knicks to the playoffs.
But with little to no chance at improving this year via the draft or free agency, the Knicks look like they will be right back in the same situation next year. And maybe for a few years to come. Which makes me doubt that Porzingis will be around for a long time.
2017 Playoff Probability: 40%
New York’s other team didn’t do too great either. The Nets finished the season 21-61 and I can’t honestly think of a single positive about the team right now. With a roster lacking any star power, all signs are pointing down for Brooklyn.
This team needs a lot. However they can get talent, they need to get it. Brook Lopez is about the only good player that they have. And even he is not a star in the league. But the other players taking up a roster spot are probably not on many other NBA rosters. It’s no wonder they fire their coach this year. It is time to bring out the wrecking ball and deconstruct this team now to start rebuilding a better team.
2017 Playoff Probability: 0%
It is no surprise that the 76ers are in the bottom spot of the Eastern Conference. They have been at the bottom of the conference for many years now and it has to be a huge embarrassment for a city that takes pride in its sports teams. Philly has been stockpiling draft picks for years now and the end result is a roster that includes Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor. These three were all good to great college players but have yet to really blossom in the NBA. But it is tough to determine whether they are busts or victims of a terribly run franchise.
Regardless of that, things have to change in Philadephia soon or I have to believe that the NBA will step in. No efforts have really been made to improve and I can’t believe fans will still support such blatant disregard for a team. Hopefully, for the sake of the 76ers, things can turn around and these young draft picks can help reinvent a franchise that has a rich history. But it will not happen overnight.
2017 Playoff Probability: 0%
Daryl Karpinski, Jr.