By Hocine LOUKKAF on 10/11/2021
After our first top 10 previews by conference, let’s take a a look at the bottom 10 with some teams like the Pacers hoping to reach the playoffs while others like Orlando or OKC are in full rebuilding mode.
What a fall for the Raptors in two years. After losing Leonard, they lost rim-protecting Ibaka and his fellow countryman Marc Gasol, leaving fomer MIP Pascal Siakam with a too-big-to-handle role for him. This offseason, the Raptors have lost another their heart and soul with Kyle Lowry who spent nine years with the franchise and signed with the Heat. Dragic makes the reverse path but has already expressed his will to sign with the Mavericks. The only positive acquisition is the draft of do-it-all forward Scottie Barnes from Florida State, which remains questionable as many experts felt Jalen Suggs would be a much better fit there.
If healthy, and it may sound like provocation, I prefer to have Dinwiddie handle the PG spot than Westbrook. He would form an elite backcourt with Beal and be the perfect complement to allow Beal to focus on scoring. Through the Westbrook trade, the Wizards had the opportunity to get a good amount of vets at every position who can contribute right away and bring playoff experience. Among them, Kuzma could bring quality minutes at both forward positions while Harell could handle the same role at both inside spots.
With Markannen and Mobley to help in the paint, the Cavs have been successful bringing the size and talent needed at PF as Love is expected to leave (if Cleveland can trade him). Now, can the Cavs be functionnal with a diminutive backcourt and lack of scoring at the SF position ? Okoro has displayed toughness and the potential to be a glue guy, but more will be waiting for him in term of offensive efficiency. The paint will be protected by Allen who signed a long-term deal.
A lot of questions at almost every spot and a very young roster for the Pistons once again. Detroit selected Cunningham with the #1 pick, a talented oversized guard who scored well from outside in the Summer Leagues but may struggle getting to the rim. His backcourt mate Killian Hayes is also polarizing as he’s displayed some skills but struggled being efficient last year, when he was not on the injured list. Bey and Stewart will have playing time to improve their game.
Anthony, Fultz, Suggs, the Magic has a lot of potential PGs but who is the leader among them ? On the wing, Harris and Hampton could form a stable pair but it is more difficult to name the potential starters at both forward positions as the Magic gambled on a lot of combo forwards or stretch fours like Okeke, Wagner or the oft-injured Isaac. Finally, the paint might be the most stable part of the roster with Carter, Bamba and Lopez. A lot of talent but many players who struggle getting 60 games or more per year.
New Orleans Pelicans
With Hart, Ingram and Williamson leading the pack, the Pelicans have a good base to start with. They decided to trade Adams for the more offensively polished Valanciunas. The main change is at PG as Ball has left for Chicago, which will leave Satoransky, Graham and Lewis fighting for minutes. New Orleans has apparently done a good job drafting Trey Lewis as he will bring versatility from the bench and has displayed great shooting touch in the preseason games. A good roster despite a potential weakness at the PG, but will it be enough to get a playoff berth and keep Zion in the long term?
With only one positive record since the 2004-05 season, it’s hard to imagine the Wolves getting more than 40 wins this year. Russell is talented but the management had brought Beverley to help the former Angelino be a better defender and tougher player. Anthony Edwards has displayed why he deserved to be the number one pick and if he keeps grinding and has, as stated, gained several inches, he may be one of the best scorers in the League. The main problem will be at both forward spots as these positions are pretty weak with Layman, McDaniel, Night and Vanderbilt (maybe the better fit next to KAT at PF). Finally, KAT has the same problem as DLo as his defense is not on the level of his offense.
The Rockets went from being one of the least attracting rosters to one of the most enticing this summer. Except for the very solid Theis, a better defender than Olynyk (albeit not as skilled offensively), Houston used the draft to select three potential starters in the future, with Jalen Green the big prize of the bunch at 2nd. Then, the Rockets were lucky enough to watch overseas prospects Sengun and Garuba, two very complementary players with pro experience? slip to the 16th and 23rd spots. KPJ and Wood will lead the pack while Gordon, Augustin, Tate or Wall (if not traded) will complete this potentially surprising team.
A pretty quiet summer for the Kings as the main change is the draft of Davion Mitchell aka “Off Night” due to his tenacious defense. The backcourt is very solid while Barnes, Bagley and Holmes may be too limited in term of skills and size compared to the best frontcourts in the West. The Kings were once involved in the rumors concerning Ben Simmons but his comeback in Philly may be the end of the Kings’ hopes.
With potentially half of the roster under 21, OKC will need to be patient to have a positive year. Behind SGA, some of the players are really talented like Poku, Bazley, Dort or Maledon and the Thunder got another intriguing piece with 6-8 PG Josh Giddey, although another guard was not necessary. Wait for the Thunder to develop these younsgters and maybe involve some of them in a trade to get a solid vet with potential.
Click below for our latest mock draft.