We are a few weeks away from the halfway point in the NBA season. I know, I don’t like it either. Even before that point, however, it is always easy to tell the difference between the playoff teams and the “other guys”. Today, let’s take a look at the teams that did not make the playoffs last year and we will try to determine how long it will be until they do or if they are already capable of making it.
Starting with the Eastern Conference:
- They will make the playoffs this year. Paul George’s return has been huge for them and their defensive style of play will make them a tough team to beat come April.
- They will also make the playoffs this year. Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Goran Dragic are all healthy and the continued rise of Hassan Whiteside will allow this team to be very tough with their defense and grind style.
- The Buzz are right on the fence of being capable an needing one more piece to be a playoff team. They have greatly improved their offense with the addition of Nicolas Batum and the improvement of Kemba Walker as a point guard.
- They are very capable of making the playoffs, but they will go on the backs of Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson. If these two can continue to play at a high level, then the Pistons can make the playoffs no problem.
- They probably won’t be ready until next season. They need to mature another year and need to figure out what they are going to do with Victor Oladipo. He is a potential future superstar coming off the bench. That will not last. I think they will make it next year.
- They will wait awhile. Maybe another 4-5 years before they do. I do like the frontcourt of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. That is a great set of building blocks for Philly to go with for the future. With Brett Brown at the helm, I have faith that they will make something out of what’s there now.
New York Knicks
- This year or next, they will make the playoffs. Melo is still going strong, the Zinger is a future star, and Derek Fisher has them believing in the Triangle finally. Maybe Phil Jackson isn’t doing such a bad job after awhile. Patience Big Apple, patience.
And now the Western Conference:
Oklahoma City Thunder
- Durant is back, Westbrook is a monster, and Ibaka is being Ibaka. There is no way they don’t make it this year. Absolutely awesome team to watch and can’t wait to see them back in.
- Unfortunately, this team got worse and with Eric Bledsoe gone for the year, their playoff hoped just went bye bye. I give them 2-3 years. They need some post players not named Alex Len who actually fit with this team’s style.
- They are definitely capable of making it, but they may just not have enough firepower to do so. I give them one more year before I’m confident, but I really like what I’ve seen from them this year.
- I think this team is in the midst of a full rebuild. I just don’t see them doing anything with the current roster set in place. From what I am seeing roster-wise, they are going towards playing more slowly, which defeats the home-court advantage of being in Denver’s high altitude. I don’t know, their decision. Given the weakness of the west this year, 1-2 more years.
- Without a doubt one of the most capable teams in the West. They have it all from stars to role players. If they can get their attitudes together, they will be a very good playoff team. Possibly a contender in the next few years.
Los Angeles Lakers
- Kobe is leaving, but they won’t make the playoffs this year or the next, or the next. This is because they are young, and youth does not win in this league. They have some good pieces, so I will give them 3-4 years. Hopefully less.
- Like the Lakers, they are very young, but very promising. Towns and Wiggins are the key. Keeping them and surrounding them with talent will ensure the playoffs as soon as next year possibly.