Every year there are a few teams that do more than anyone could have possibly expected of them, and this year there are a few teams that have the potential to do exactly that. Here are the top 5 teams that may exceed expectations this year:
The T-Wolves have a plethora of young talent and eventually have to make that jump, and what better year than now? They had a very good offseason. They brought in Cole Aldrich for more depth at the center position and veteran leadership in Brandon Rush. But the two biggest moves were bringing in Tom Thibodeau as their head coach and drafting the point guard out of Providence, Kris Dunn. This team is one of the scariest young teams in the league and now they have a leader who will help their defense compliment their obvious skill on the offensive side of the ball. Look out for Minnesota next season, and don’t be surprised if they sneak in as an 8 seed in the playoffs.
A lot of people are high on the Jazz this season, and for good reason. We all know Gordon Hayward is the star of the show, and they have been close to the playoffs the past two seasons. After this offseason, they have a good mix of veterans and young talent. They assured they have depth at the point guard now, which seems to be something they have been working on for a few seasons now, by acquiring George Hill and trading Trey Burke. They now have a Hill, Dante Exum and Shelvin Mack at the point guard position. Bringing in Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw could prove to be crucial for this team even if only for veteran leadership. This has been one of the youngest teams in the league for the last two years and now they have some age and playoff experience on their roster. Lastly, the play in the post is incredible on this team. Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors are one of the top 5 frontcourts in the NBA and it will show next season with their improvement.
The Magic are an interesting team because they made a lot of head-scratching moves this offseason. They now have a plethora of big men that all could make a case to be in the starting lineup, and are also all getting paid like starters. However, with Frank Vogel taking over as a proven coach, there is a belief that he can get all of these players to buy in and adjust to his system. If Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo are in the starting line up, you can enter Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic in the backup positions and Gordon and Jeff Green are both interchangeable at the 3 and 4 positions. This team has a lot of depth in the frontcourt and young talent in the backcourt. Look for them to make a push for the final couple playoff spots.
This is a team that can legitimately be a top 4 team in the eastern conference if everyone stays healthy. They quietly had one of the best offseasons in the league and it is completely overlooked because this was such an active summer. They have one of the strongest starting lineups in the league and a solid bench that they added to this offseason. Not to mention a coach that got a second chance and will surely be looking to prove that he deserves a spot in this league. Personally, I believe that the Pacers have what it takes to make an eastern conference finals run. They will have a few teams to get through, but do not sleep on the Pacer’s very talented roster.
Oklahoma City Thunder
I know that not everyone believes that the Thunder will be great now because Kevin Durant has bolted to the Warriors, but this is still an extremely talented roster, and if you think the Russell Westbrook does not have a chip on his shoulder, you obviously don’t know anything about him. His chippiness is going to rub off on the rest of his team because everyone is going to count them out. They may not go far in the playoffs, but they will still be in them, and will be a threat in the western conference.