The NBA season is set to tip-off on December 22nd. Last season was different in many ways due to the pandemic, but hopefully this season there will be more stability. With the season about to begin, there are several sleeper teams in the NBA, and I wanted to preview five NBA teams poised to bounce back this season. All of these teams failed to make the playoffs last year, but will be good contenders this season.
After going undefeated in the bubble, the Suns still missed the playoffs. Devin Booker played the best basketball of his young career in the bubble, but optimism should be high in the desert. Acquiring CP3 in a blockbuster trade with OKC will certainly help the Suns playoff chances after Paul led the Thunder to a postseason trip of their own. Booker and Paul will be joined by rising star Deandre Ayton to form a dangerous trio. Re-signing key role players Cameron Payne, Jevon Carter, and Dario Saric was a huge win. Furthermore, adding Jae Crowder, Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, and rookie Jalen Smith will help the depth of the Suns roster. Phoenix turned in a solid off-season that will help them once again compete in the tough Western Conference.
We all know Trae Young gets buckets. However, the Hawks were the second worst team in the Eastern Conference a season ago. Their off-season acquisitions mixed in with the young core of Atlanta should boast a more competitive team. Danilo Galinari signed a big three-year deal for $61 million, Bogdan Bogdanovic signed a lucrative four-year deal worth $72 million, and veteran PGs Kris Dunn (two years, $10 million) and Rajon Rondo (two-years, $15 million) were also added. Now, these moves don’t guarantee Atlanta a postseason spot, however, they should be way better on the court. A young core of Cam Reddish, John Collins, De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, and Young look to grow and take their games to the next level. Something’s brewing in Atlanta, and they can take a big step forward this season.
New Orleans Pelicans
Zion’s first season in the NBA was no disappointment. We saw the young kid flash his electric play and thunderous dunks. Moreover, he won’t have a minutes restriction this season according to new HC Stan Van Gundy, so watch out. New Orleans biggest off-season move came in trading veteran PG Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee for a substantial package of Eric Bledsoe, George Hill (traded to OKC as part of Steven Adams trade), multiple first-round picks, and pick-swaps. The Pelicans have a young and fun roster, and the veteran additions of Bledsoe and Adams will definitely help. Similar to many teams on this list, the Pelicans are poised to make a leap this season.
The Chicago Bulls cleaned office, firing GM Gar Forman, HC Jim Boylen, and demoting VP of Basketball Operation John Paxson to a senior advisor role. The new front office along with new HC Billy Donovan will look to turn things around in the Windy City after failing to make the playoffs since 2017. Chicago does have one of the most exciting young cores in the game. Zack LaVine, Coby White, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Daniel Gafford, and rookie Patrick Williams form a solid core in Chicago. Veterans Tomas Satoransky, Otto Porter Jr., and Thaddeus Young will serve as key contributors on the court, and provide excellent leadership off of it. If the Bulls can stay healthy, they have a legitimate chance to snap their playoff drought.
Golden State Warriors
It was a lost season for Golden State last season will all the injuries. Unfortunately, Klay Thompson will be out once again this year. However, Steph Curry is back alongside Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kelly Oubre (acquired from Phoenix), and rookie James Wiseman. This is not the Warriors team we are accustomed to watching, but they still have a solid roster. With HC Steve Kerr and Curry back, there is no reason to sleep on Golden State this season.
Join the discussion