The league is shaping up to be quite the battle for the Larry O'Brien trophy next season. Many have already forecasted some of these teams to make the playoffs. I am not buying the hype. I believe these teams have simply not done enough to thread the needle to a winning record. A playoff berth with a losing record does not seem plausible either.
These teams will likely be gunning for the 8th or 7th seeds or simply miss the playoffs. These are the five teams that will miss the postseason next season. Basketball will end for them in mid-April.
5. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs and the playoffs always seemed like a synonymous pairing. Times are changing. The West is too deep and the Spurs got worse this past offseason. They missed out on their big free agency signing in Marcus Morris. They overpaid for Rudy Gay who does not even fit their system of play. Gay plays little to no defense and is a black hole offensively. Ever wonder how every Rudy Gay has left got better the year after. The guy is not a winner at the NBA level. The Spurs wasted money to retain him instead of making other smarter moves.
They also made a questionable trade of dealing Davis Bertans for a 2nd rounder to Washington. Their best perimeter shooter and someone who fits their system of play. People have come to believe Popovich and the Spurs are always being overlooked and underappreciated. This year the Spurs are going to regret a lackluster offseason. DeMarre Carroll is solid, but in a West full of Superteams where would they seed. This will be the toughest team for Popovich to coach in a long time.
4. New York Knicks
I do believe the Knicks have a nice mix of veterans and young guys, but they just scream average to me. The average will hardly by you a ticket to anything. The Knicks are going to have to embrace underdog status and try to rise above their present outlook. Their best player is arguably Julius Randle. Randle does not play a lick of defense and still lacks a consistent perimeter shot. The chance for regression is extremely high. If this is peak Randle, maybe the Knicks will not sneak a peek of the postseason. I feel like every playoff team needs a leader in the locker room.
Someone to punch some sense of maturity into a fairly young team. No Bobby Portis should not be the one to throw the punch. Clench your fists, big man and stand down. Nikola Mirotic is nowhere in sight. The lack of leadership is dooming for a young team that is easily combustible. Sorry Spike Lee, this not the Knicks breakthrough broadway type season. You do not get to direct your happy ending. The Knicks can embrace underdog status, but their bark will be too weak.
3. Sacramento Kings
The Kings are going to be a fun team next year, but missing out on big-name free agents does not grant you playoff access. Another early Summer, I hear fishing is good on the West Coast. The Kings did not lose any major players, but it was the underwhelming the additions. They overpaid for a washed-up wing in Trevor Ariza. They overpaid for a back-up point guard in Cory Joseph and overpaid for a backup center in Dewayne Dedmon. The worse heist was the amount of money, Harrison Barnes is stealing from this team. The highest-paid player on the team is not even a star.
A poor man’s Tobias Harris is not greenlighting a way for this ballclub in the 2019-20 season. The Kings will have to bank on the quick development of players like Harry Giles, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Marvin Bagley III. Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox seem like a blistering backcourt. What if this band is a one-hit-wonder? It’s back to the lottery boys.
2. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks had some money to spend this offseason, but their big free-agent acquisition was Jabari Parker. Mr. “I don’t get paid to play defense”. The bright side is Parker is accepting of a bench role, but will the lack of a three-point shot and shoddy defense make him a subtraction by addition piece. I think so sadly. In my opinion, Jabari Parker is an overrated bust. We can blame injuries, but I believe he has an attitude problem too. A lack of work ethic will not see results. No Mamba mentality in this youngster. The trade for Damian Jones was solid. A decent lob target for Trae Young.
I will say this if the offseason was purely based off of the NBA draft, then the Atlanta Hawks won the offseason. They drafted three high caliber players with tremendous potential in Cam Reddish, DeAndre Hunter, and Bruno Fernando. The future the Hawks is bright, but give it another year or two before Atlanta smells basketball in mid-April. A young core of Trae Young, Kevin Heurter, John Collins, and DeAndre Bembry among others is one of the best in the league.
1. Dallas Mavericks
A big L for the Mavericks this offseason. They were able to assemble a star duo, but missing out on a big three will be the knife in their playoff hopes. The additions of Seth Curry, Boban, and even Delon Wright are all solid, but missing out on Kemba Walker, Nikola Vucevic, Khris Middleton, and even D’Angelo Russell makes the Mavericks ultimate losers this summer. Dallas may have the best attendance in the league, but their fans will have to wait a little while longer to sniff the playoffs. The post-Dirk era is off to a rough start.
The Mavericks are banking on Luka Doncic avoiding the classic Sophomore slump and Porzingis recovering from a torn ACL. Dallas will be in the mix this season, but will likely miss the playoffs in very deep West. The Mavericks are not better than the Warriors, Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets, Pelicans, or even the Portland Trail Blazers. They will be a young and gun type team, but reminiscent of Sacramento last season.