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As is the case every NBA season, there were great teams and teams that did not get the job done. And, as is also the case every year, those teams that were bad the year before have a chance to improve in the upcoming season. Here are a few teams destined to improve on last season’s lackluster results to become, if nothing else, competent NBA teams in the coming months.
For the Denver Nuggets, last year was a complete nightmare. Head coach Brian Shaw didn’t have any control over a team that looked completely out of desire at an early stage, and the lack of passion showed in the standings where they failed to meet expectations across the board. Shaw has since been fired, and new head coach Mike Malone may be just what the team needs to get back in gear.
From a player perspective, the Denver Nuggets got rid of point guard Ty Lawson, whose off the court issues with alcohol became a problem toward the end of his time as a member of the team. To replace him, the Nuggets drafted Emmanuel Mudiay, who has a ton of talent and will be able to learn from veteran backup point guard Jameer Nelson.
It’s still unlikely that the Nuggets will make the playoffs this season, just by virtue of how loaded the Western Conference is in the NBA. But they will be fun to watch at times and will at the very least put a respectable team on the floor on a nightly basis.
New York Knicks
Last year, the New York Knicks were in trouble as soon as it became clear that their star player, Carmelo Anthony, would have to miss a substantial period of time due to injury. This year, Anthony is back and the Knicks have brought in some decent supplemental talent to surround him, which should see the Knicks be competitive if nothing else.
In addition to the return of Anthony, the Knicks brought in Robin Lopez, who is sadly one of the more competent big men they’ve had on their roster in recent years. Lopez isn’t spectacular, but is consistent, and will pair nicely with first round draft pick Kristaps Porzingis, who has impressed with his play in the preseason.
Recently, the Detroit Pistons were stuck in a stage where they had two very good centers playing at the same time, with both Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe being good enough to justify being on the floor together even if it was wildly inefficient. This year, Monroe is gone and the Pistons will benefit from his departure.
As a result of the move, Drummond will be able to realize his full potential without having to share the paint with another teammate. More importantly, though, is the fact that Detroit will be better able to spread the floor, allowing them to drive to the basket more effectively and set themselves up for easier three point shooting opportunities. They may be a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference this season because of this change.
By: Jason M. Sanin