Image via Flickr User: Nathan Wind as Cochese
With the NBA lockout officially over, and most NBA teams playing at least 5 games this season, it’s time for an evaluation of the season so far. We all know who’s going to be on top: Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls. These three teams managed to stay on top after the lockout and are not looking to slow down after a dominant start. Along with these three teams still playing well, there are teams that are surprising the entire league, whether it’s getting better or getting worse. The teams that haven’t been meeting expectations are the 2011 champions, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, and the Los Angeles Lakers. These three teams hold the NBA championship of the last four years, and now it is evident that age is catching up to them.
As teams that once dominated the league this past decade, there are teams that are slowly building towards to be playoff contenders. Here are our top five NBA teams to watch out for in the future:
Image via Flickr user: Doug Wallick
This Timberwolves team isn’t the same team when Kevin Garnett left to the Celtics. This is a team with a new set of players, coach, and identity. During the 2011 offseason, they hired Rick Adelman as the head coach, drafted Derrick Williams with the second pick, and finally brought Ricky Rubio to America. With the rebounding machine in Kevin Love, the Timberwolves are set to become a very good team. All the Timberwolves need to do to succeed is to develop Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio, and build chemistry between this young team. The future is looking bright for Minnesota basketball.
Upcoming Minnesota Timberwolves game and tickets:
Portland Trail Blazers
Image via Flickr user: Tiago Hammil
During the offseason, the basketball world saw an early retirement of one of greatest scorers in Brandon Roy. Roy was plagued with too many injuries and was forced into retirement. How did the Portland Trail Blazers respond? They added a Sixth Man of the Year in Jamal Crawford and a solid point guard in Raymond Felton. The Blazers still have Wesley Matthews, Marcus Camby, Gerald Wallace, and Nicolas Batum playing for them. This team is the scariest team that no one hasn’t noticed. LaMarcus Aldridge continues to be a dominant force for the team and if the Blazers continues to mesh together, they would soon be a threat in the NBA.
Upcoming Blazers game and tickets:
Los Angeles Clippers
Image via Flickr user: Keith Allison
When the Lakers couldn’t land Chris Paul because of the trade getting nixed by NBA commisioner David Stern, the Los Angeles Clippers cashed in and received the point guard from New Orleans. Adding even more depth to their squad, the Clippers picked up Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups in the offseason. Now with the amount of talent that is loaded on their roster, the Clippers are now known as “Lob City.” Though they started the season with a rough start, they’re still first in the Pacific standings, just ahead of the Lakers. This was unheard of a couple of years ago, but the Clippers are for real, and they’re here to be a threat.
Upcoming Clippers game and tickets:
Image via Flickr user: compscigrad
After the exit of Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat, the Toronto Raptors were under the radar. As there are no big names on the Raptors, no one is paying attention to the Canadian team up north. But one should pay attention them. Their center, Andrea Bargnani, is one of the most underrated centers in the NBA. Currently, he is averaging 24 points per game and 6 rebounds. Jose Calderon proves to be a good point guard, currently averaging 10 assists per game. DeMar DeRozan continues to be a solid scorer for the team averaging 18.5 points. With just a couple of key additions, the Raptors will be a good team to watch out for.
Upcoming Toronto Raptors game and tickets:
Image via Flickr user: abardwell
Though the Cleveland Cavaliers are no where near contending for the playoffs like when they had Lebron James, the Cavs are rebuilding. They was awarded with the first overall pick in 2011 and picked up Kyrie Irving. They also had the fourth overall pick and picked up Tristan Thompson. While Thompson has been struggling to groove in the NBA, but one can expect him to get better over time. Kyrie Irving, however, is playing up to his expectations and is on pace to be Rookie of the Year. Irving averages 14.2 ppg and 5.3 apg and also grab boards averaging 3.7 rebounds a game. What the Cavs need are more scoring options to help pick up the slack when Kyrie Irving and Antawn Jamison needs to rest. The future is looking bright for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Upcoming Cleveland Cavaliers game and tickets: