15th Los Angeles Lakers
For the Lakers they won’t be quick to forget Kobe Bryant’s final season, but in comparison to well over a decade of successful basketball that the ‘Black Mamba’ brought to LA, last season was one of the worst Lakers fans have seen with Kobe on the court.
Now a new chapter must begin, but it will follow in a very similar vein to the last one’s ending.
D’Angelo Russell should begin to show signs of improvement, while rookie Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle can form a solid looking partnership in the front court. Luol Deng brings along a wise head to this youthful team, but like in his short spell in Cleveland, this won’t be a fun time for the Small Forward.
14th Sacramento Kings
The talent is there, but the direction that this franchise is headed is very murky indeed. Star player DeMarcus Cousins has about as much of an idea of what the Kings are planning as the general public do, and their questionable acquisitions on draft night did little to keep their franchise player happy.
The futures of Ben McLemore and Rudy Gay have been unclear all summer, and should they make trades or not, this is going to be a pretty awful season for the Kings.
Cousins is good enough to win the Kings a good handful of games on his own, and he may well need to, because in spite of some nice pick-ups in the offseason, there just isn’t enough talent to complement their Center.
13th New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis may be the future superstar of the #NBA but right now he is going to get little chance at showing it. If Davis can stay healthy throughout the season, then that will be a victory in itself for the Pelicans as they attempt once again to build around the future of their franchise.
Buddy Hield has developed excellently in College and should make a seamless transition to the NBA, while Jrue Holiday (out indefinately while he is supporting his wife who is set to undergo brain surgery), Tyreke Evans and Lance Stephenson – if he can re-kindle his best form – can be a very effective trio of players.
But health has been the biggest concern for the Pelicans in recent seasons, and key players are likely to pick up their fair share of knocks again this year.
12th Phoenix Suns
A lot this season depends on the health of Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe as well as the continued improvement of second year player Devin Booker.
The latter the Suns can rely on, but the former is far more of a shot in the dark with the duo of guards not being in the best of health last season.
Jared Dudley will prove a quality pick-up and two lottery picks in the draft should help with their issues in depth.
But this season really could go one of two ways, it could be a basement season for the Suns or they could be a dark horse contender for the postseason. I’ll sit on the fence with this one and say they’ll be somewhere in-between.
11th Dallas Mavericks
This is the bottom of a small group of teams that will be in the loop for a playoff spot all the way through the regular season.
For me the Mavericks will be the furthest of that group away from 8th spot, in spite of the nifty signings of Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and Seth Curry.
However, Bogut is always a risk with injuries, and it may take some time for Dirk Nowitzki to gel on the defensive end with his new team mate. Then there is the added pressure this season on JJ Barea and Curry off the bench especially if starting Guards Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews suffer from any injury problems.
And while he was the underappreciated piece in the works for the Golden State Warriors, Barnes isn’t necessarily a star player. His numbers will be solid, but without a consistent three-point shot they won’t be spectacular, although expect him to be a more reliable starting figure than Chandler Parsons was last season due to injuries. #Western Conference