With the first month of the NBA season gone it is time to now look at what teams are considered to be known as playoff teams, which team could just make the playoffs, and for the last time what teams should tank for next season. With the season starting earlier than it has in recent memory we have seen about a good portion that we need to see to determine what team falls in what category.
These categories show what fans for each team should look forward to in the 2017-2018 season. There have been some teams that have had surprising starts so you wonder if they are actually legitimate or if they are a trade or two away from being able to consider themselves as good as they say they are. Other teams were projected to be good and they either are as good if not better than what everybody thought, or they are struggling and could need to make a move in order to take that next step. Then you have your teams who were not going to be able to compete this season and should be looking forward to not only next season but the future as well.
Every NBA team has a category that they fall in and can either make a big move that could help them, or they can just say oh well let’s focus on next season. With that being said here are eight NBA teams that should tank the rest of the season and the seven NBA teams that should make a trade.
15. Tank – Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have not had a good start to their 2017-18 campaign as they started off with a fight in practice between teammates Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic which led to both of them being out to start the seasons for different reasons. Chicago had lost their two top players from a season ago in the off season in Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade. Now the Bulls have guys like rookie Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez leading the team, and that is not going to help you win games.
Chicago needs to build through the draft and hope that some free agent will be attracted to play in Chicago long term. Otherwise, the Bulls are going to struggle for the foreseeable future due to lack of talent.
14. Trade – Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers who seem to finally be healthy have been fun to watch so far in 2017-18. With the duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons running the team, the 76ers look like they can be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference this season. Simmons has been the primary ball handler and facilitator while adding that Embiid has been playing very well down low for Philadelphia.
They need one more piece that will help them become an overall better team, and they should be getting rid of Markelle Fultz as soon as possible to do that move. With half of the league not being able to be traded yet, watch out for Philadelphia to make a move that will not only help them this season, but for the near future to make them become a contender for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
13. Tank – Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers were very high on the UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, but so far he hasn’t lived up to what the Lakers had thought he would be at so far. Ball was projected to average around 15 PPG to go along with 6 to 7 APG, well so far he is under ten points per game, and just under 7 assists per game. One big thing that the Lakers have gotten in the off-season is a potential franchise cornerstone in Kyle Kuzma.
Kuzma was part of the deal that sent their current starting center Brook Lopez to the Lakers. Kyle Kuzma was also part of the return for D’Angelo Russell and right now it is looking really well for them. The Lakers don’t look like they will contend this season, but this season shows who they can build around and who they can’t. Plus they are also favorites to land LeBron James via free agency this summer, which makes it another reason for them to acquire the draft pick so that they can help rebuild the culture for the fans of purple and gold.
12. Trade – Indiana Pacers
Here is something that I did not think that I would be saying anytime soon, but the Indiana Pacers look like a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Even after trading away Paul George, the Pacers look like they are ready to absolutely make some noise this year in the Eastern Conference. The people saying that Indiana didn’t get a lot for Paul George can really re-think that statement right now.
Domantas Sabonis is showing why he went as high as he did in the 2016 NBA Draft, as he is so far having a good season. Also Victor Oladipo is playing on a level that we have not seen him play since he was at the University of Indiana. This team is a team that has veterans all-around, but they need that scorer off the bench to make them a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Watch out for that move to become a reality once the whole league becomes tradeable in December, and don’t forget that they also have the young emerging Myles Turner as a part of the equation as well.
11. Tank – Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks need a face of the franchise in the worst way right now. Atlanta has struggled the majority of the season so far and should look ahead to the 2018 NBA Draft where they can find their next face of the franchise. In this year’s draft class there are a couple of players that can take the league by storm right away, and will look to do so next season.
So the Hawks should be preparing to get one of those guys, and then look to find a running mate for them in free agency this offseason. They have a plethora of young talent in Taurean Prince, Dennis Schroder, John Collins, etc. but they should look into what kind of veteran talent they can bring in to help shape the locker room for the future not for this season.
10. Trade – Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers look to be one piece away from being able to contend in the Western Conference past the first round. Portland already has one of the most dynamic back courts in the league in C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, but they need to either add some talent in the front court or bring in somebody that can come and score for them off the bench consistently on a night to night basis.
Portland needs a small/power forward that can help stretch the floor and can knock down jump shots from time to time. Paul Millsap would have been perfect for them, but he decided to take his talents elsewhere this past off season. If Portland can make that move look for them to have a good shot of making it into the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
9. Tank – Miami Heat
I think it is safe to say that Miami has talent, but they need to reconstruct their roster if they want to be championship contenders. One way to do that is to tank this year and get one of the better players outside of the draft and bring them in to become the new face of the franchise. Right now they don’t have a face of the franchise, and yes I know Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic are there, but they are not ‘face of the franchise’ caliber players.
They can help contribute to any team, but they can’t be the main reason why the Heat would be considered championship contenders. The Heat need a guy who they can rely on getting 20 to 25 points a night for them, and that is neither Dragic or Whiteside. Whiteside is a great rebounder, but he can’t lead a team all by himself.
8. Trade – New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans, or I should say the DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis team, is a trade away from being a legitimate playoff contender in the Western Conference. Jrue Holiday, DeMarcus Cousins, and Anthony Davis are a solid core but you need guys either off the bench or in the starting lineup that can help you put some points up on the scoreboard.
Right now DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis both average over 20 points per game, while Jrue Holiday averages over ten points a game. The Pelicans need a good solid wing player that can help with not only defense, but to put points up on the board. Look for the Pelicans to make a trade that will help them in their journey to make a playoff run.
7. Tank – Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic started off hot to begin the season, but it is only a matter of time before they cool off. Orlando is one of those teams that you never really know how good or not good they are because their roster makes no sense. The Magic have some guys that you can build a team around in Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, but then they have a bunch of role players on their team that either make or difference or they are nowhere to be found.
The Magic need a new face of the franchise like they did when they had Shaq, and Dwight Howard if they want to be a playoff team again. With how deep this year’s NBA draft class is, now’s the time to tank. Orlando has had bad luck with their top picks in the past, but this is the year that with their top pick they will not mess it up.
6. Trade – New York Knicks
The best thing the New York Knicks did was trade Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder. So with that being said they could use another trade to help solidify them as a playoff team. Obviously building around Kristaps Porzingis has looked goods so far, but they need to get him a running mate. Eric Bledsoe would have been a good one for him, but Bledsoe got traded to Milwaukee instead.
The Knicks need help in their backcourt and should be looking at all the players available and to find someone that can help improve their backcourt, or find a small forward who can shoot and play solid defense. This Knicks team is very gritty, and should be looked as a team that will bully you around on the glass, and wants to play physical rather than shoot the ball from behind the arc.
5. Tank – Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz have a good frontcourt with Rudy Gobert leading the charge, but they are nowhere near a playoff team in the Western Conference. With the plethora of quality players in this year’s NBA Draft it makes it easier for Utah to sit there and realize that maybe tanking this year isn’t all so bad.
With guys like Michael Porter Jr., Marvin Bagley III, and company who are small/power forwards could help change the dynamic of the Utah Jazz franchise. Plus if Utah can get a top pick, they can have a young core in Gobert, Hood, Mitchell, and their young first round pick. Look for the Jazz to take a step back and decide this is not their year, and focus on the future.
4. Trade – Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns had some controversy to start off the season with Eric Bledsoe showing that he didn’t want to be in Phoenix anymore to go along with the firing of head coach Earl Watson after a horrendous three game start of the season for the Suns. Now, Phoenix did trade Bledsoe to Milwaukee for Greg Monroe and protected draft picks, but it is time for them to focus on looking at another trade.
That trade should be to upgrade their point guard spot. Unfortunately they couldn’t find a deal where they could of gotten a starting caliber point guard that they believed in, but there are still some names out there that could be of some use to Phoenix. Now that the Suns are Devin Booker’s team, look for them to make a move so they can be competitive in the Western Conference.
3. Tank – Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks have not figured out what is going on, and their roster does not look as talented as it has been in year’s past. Dallas needs to focus their rebuild on building around Dennis Smith Jr., and Harrison Barnes. Plus if they can add like a DeAndre Ayton or Mohamed Bamba out of the draft this year we could be looking at the next wave of superstar talent for the Mavericks.
With Dirk Nowitzki on the way out, Dallas needs to start figuring out who they want to have playing for them moving forward, and who it is time to let walk. Look for the Mavericks to take into consideration what their best move going forward is and to figure out who they would like the new face of the franchise to be.
2. Trade – Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies have been a surprising team so far to say the least, but I feel if they can keep their big three healthy they can make the playoffs in the Western Conference. Who is Memphis’s big three you might ask? Well they have the two obvious ones in Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, but you sit there and ask yourself well who is the final piece to their big three? It can’t be Chandler Parsons because he hasn’t lived up to his contract, so who in the world could it be?
That player is none other than Tyreke Evans who is healthy and looks like he is resurrecting his career with the Memphis Grizzlies. Evans looks like he did during his rookie season and still shows that he can be a factor in this league today. Look for the Grizzlies to find a starting caliber small forward that can help them make the huge push down the stretch when it comes to the months of March and April.
1. Tank – Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings had an intriguing offseason where they added young talent and veterans to help shape the locker room and to build a culture for the Kings organization. Adding Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph will help their young stars of De’Aaron Fox, Skal Labissiere, Harry Giles, and Justin Jackson not only with everyday NBA life, but can help them to be a professional on and off the court.
Look for the Kings to realize that they are a couple of seasons away from being a threat, and decide that they are going to tank and get a young stud in the draft. Look for Sacramento to be fully interested in Luka Doncic which they will feel will be the savior of their franchise.
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