Year in and year out, we find teams we’re excited to watch and that we know that will be fierce competitors, but we also know have no legit shot at the ring, either because of their own flaws or because other teams that are way more suited for contention.
Having a couple of All-Stars on your squad is not enough anymore during the superteam era, and players tend to get frustrated after they struggle to succeed in the playoffs despite their biggest efforts.
So, regardless of how much money they make, every star wants to play for the Championship, and today, we’re going to take a look at 5 teams that must improve this year or will have to part ways with their franchise players.
5. New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans are coming off a hell of a year and coach Alvin Gentry has shown that he’s a great basketball mind capable of taking this team a step forward, but they had the tough luck to face the Warriors once again in the playoffs.
Anthony Davis is one of the most desired assets in the league right now and many teams would be able to part ways with several assets to land him, so if they don’t make it at least past the 2nd round of the playoffs this season, he may force his way out to play for a contender.
4. Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers were one of the most surprising teams in the Western Conference throughout the regular season but were a major disappointment after being swept by the Pelicans in the 1st round of the playoffs despite owning home court advantage.
Those poor outings in the playoffs made everybody wonders whether the team would be actually better off without Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum, so if they don’t improve this season, they’re almost a lock to trade one of them away.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
Ever since losing against the Houston Rockets in the playoffs, things have been quite tense for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rumors of a supposed beef between Tom Thibodeau and Karl-Anthony Towns quickly emerged, while apparently Jimmy Butler isn’t so happy either.
Apparently, Butler is extremely frustrated with the young Wolves’ lack of character and desire to compete, and now that he’s even declined to sign an extension with the team, they’re in serious danger of losing him in the offseason if they miss the playoffs.
2. Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors made a couple of really bold gambles this offseason by firing the defending coach of the year Dwane Casey and trading DeMar DeRozan in order to get a one year rental for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
Kawhi has already stated that he wants to play in Los Angeles when he hits free agency so they’re going to have a really tough time convincing him to stay put, especially considering how he mistreated the Spurs and showed his lack of loyalty. So, unless they make it to the Finals, expect Leonard to just walk away.
1. Washington Wizards
And finally, the team that should improve the most this season if they want to keep both or at least one of their All-Stars is the Washington Wizards, especially now that they suited John Wall’s demands of getting an athletic big by signing Dwight Howard.
Wall and Beal have never gotten along but they’ve found ways to be great next to each other. But, with tension growing by the day and the team stuck on a mediocrity spiral, they better turn things around this season or they will be forced to trade one of them, if not both.